About the IBA


The International Bar Association, established in 1947, is the world's leading international organisation of legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. The IBA influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

It has a membership of more than 80,000 individual lawyers and more than 190 bar associations and law societies spanning over 170 countries. It has considerable expertise in providing assistance to the global legal community.

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

Areas of the IBA

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.

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.

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.


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

Other IBA institutions

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