Tokyo 2014 – Speakers confirmed for Rule of Law Symposium

With just over four months until the start of the 2014 IBA Annual Conference in Tokyo, session and panel speakers are now starting to come in. The Friday of the Conference will once again see the annual Rule of Law Symposium take place. This year’s symposium is comprised of two sessions – freedom of expression’ in the morning and the ‘independence of the judiciary’ in the afternoon. The afternoon session will feature a keynote speech from ICJ Judge Hisashi Owada, with a number of other eminent speakers participating in both the morning and the afternoon.

Rule of Law Symposium, Friday 24 October 1000–1700

In Prague 2005, the IBA Council passed a Rule of Law Resolution. It was followed by a rule of law initiative in 2006. The Rule of Law Action Group has been given the responsibility to encourage, urge and assist the IBA membership in supporting and promoting the rule of law. Since 2006, the final day of the IBA annual conferences has been dedicated to rule of law issues. Following successful rule of law symposia in Chicago, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Vancouver, Dubai, Dublin and Boston, the final day of the conference in Tokyo 2014 will again be devoted to the rule of law.

Freedom of expression 1000–1230

This session will examine the doctrine of freedom of expression which is a fundamental norm of democracy and the rule of law. For democracy to function and flourish it is crucial that all people should be able to express their ideas freely. The doctrine also embraces freedom of the media to report on any issues and importantly those that are unpopular or critical of those in government. At the same time, freedom of expression is not absolute and is limited, for instance, to avoid libel, hate speech that is calculated to incite violence and copyright infringement.

A panel of distinguished experts the ways in which different democracies provide for freedom of expression will be examined by a panel of distinguished experts, including:

  • HE Masaki Mori – Japanese Extraordinary Minister of State
  • Beatrice Mtetwa – Zimbabwean Human Rights Advocate
  • Dr Chee Soon Juan – Leader of the Singapore Democratic Party

Independence of the judiciary 1430–1700

Independence of the judiciary is recognised as being a fundamental pre-requisite for the rule of law. This follows from the recognition that equal treatment of all under the law is not possible without independent and unbiased judges to interpret and apply the law. However, in some countries, the judiciary is perceived as interfering with the will of the majority. It is resented by some leaders and legislators that unelected women and men are empowered to thwart the will of the majority.

The judiciary is wholly reliant upon the executive authorities for compliance with its decisions and orders. The respect of the legislature and executive for the independence of the judiciary is thus cardinal. This session will examine these issues so essential and important for the rule of law wioth input from speakers, including:

  • Hisashi Owada – Judge at the International Court of Justice
  • Jeffrey Jowell – Director, Bingham Centre on the Rule of Law
  • Upul Jayasuriya – President, Sri Lanka Bar Association

Presentation of the IBA Human Rights Award 2014

The IBA award for outstanding contribution by a legal practitioner to human rights recognises personal endeavour in the field of law which makes a contribution to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights and the rule of law. The 2014 award will be presented to the winner at the IBA Rule of Law Symposium.