About the IBA

Divisions and committees

Grouped into two divisions – the Legal Practice Division and the Public and Professional Interest Division – the IBA covers all practice areas and professional interests, providing members with access to leading experts and up-to-date information.

Through the various committees of the divisions, the IBA enables an interchange of information and views among its members as to laws, practices and professional responsibilities relating to the practice of business law around the globe.

Publications and conferences

Additionally, the IBA’s high-quality publications and world-class conferences provide unrivalled professional development and network-building opportunities for international legal practitioners and professional associates.

Bar Issues Commission

The IBA’s Bar Issues Commission provides an invaluable forum for IBA member organisations to discuss all matters relating to law at an international level.

Representatives from Bar Associations sit on the IBA Council which is the governing body of the IBA.

IBA Human Rights Institute

The IBA Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) works across the Association to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.

Other IBA institutions

Other institutions established by the IBA include the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the International Legal Assistance Consortium.


A quick PDF guide to the structure of the IBA

Aims and objectives

The principal aims and objectives of the IBA are:

  • To promote an exchange of information between legal associations worldwide
  • To support the independence of the judiciary and the right of lawyers to practise their profession without interference
  • Support of human rights for lawyers worldwide through its Human Rights Institute

The IBA works towards these objectives through three main areas of activity:

  • Services for individual lawyer members through its divisions, committees and constituents
  • Support for activities of bar associations and in particular, developing bars
  • Support of human rights for lawyers worldwide

IBA history

Inspired by the vision of the United Nations (UN) and with the aim of supporting the establishment of law and administration of justice worldwide, representatives of 34 national bar associations gathered in New York on 17 February 1947 to create the IBA.

IBA membership grew steadily and in 1970 was accelerated by the admission of individual lawyers to the Association and the formation of the Section on Business Law.

In 1974 the Section on Legal Practice was formed and in 1982 a third section, the Section on Energy and Natural Resources Law, was created.

The Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Just Rule of Law was formed in the 1980s. In 1992 an Action Plan was adopted to establish a Trial Observer Corps and investigate cases where judges and lawyers or the independence of bar associations was threatened. In 1995, the formation of the Human Rights Institute expanded this work and gave the opportunity for member organisations and individual members to contribute actively.

Since its inception in 1948, over 200 bar associations and law societies worldwide have joined the IBA. Together, they make the IBA ‘the global voice of the legal profession’. The bar associations also form the governing ‘Council’ of the IBA which passes resolutions and guidelines that influence and support the worldwide legal profession.

More about the history of the IBA

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