Preserving a Free Society: Governmental Power and the Rule of Law


A series of bipartisan discussions on the rule of law –
its critical importance to free societies and how best to sustain and defend it

The International Bar Association (IBA) announces the launch of a six-part series of live events, featuring former and current senior government officials and other distinguished guests, to discuss contemporary rule of law challenges faced by societies around the world. Each panelled event will bring a mix of perspectives on rule of law issues, including what the often-used phrase means; its implications; what practical meaning it has for public citizens and for those in government; and its importance to the institutions, traditions and durability of free societies.

The inaugural event, titled ‘Governmental Power and the Rule of Law’, will be held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, on Thursday 19 April 2018 at 1830 local time and will be live-streamed. Click here to watch the live-stream, or click here to register to attend in person.

Participating will be United States former senior government officials:

  • George J Mitchell Jr, Former Democratic Senator for Maine and Senate Majority Leader, Special Envoy for Northern Ireland and Special Envoy for Middle East Peace;
  • Carla A Hills, Former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Ford Administration), Former US Trade Representative (George H W Bush Administration);
  • Thomas B Griffith, Judge, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (appointed by George W Bush), Former Senate Legal Counsel of the US; and
  • Moderator: Homer E Moyer Jr, Former appointee in both Democratic and Republican administrations, Founder of the Central and East European Law Initiative (CEELI) Institute, an independent rule of law institute in Prague.

Having held senior positions in the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, the panellists will share their views on the responsibilities and limitations that the rule of law imposes on officials in the three branches of government. They will consider such questions as:

  • What is the appropriate role of each branch of government in safeguarding liberty and preserving the rule of law?
  • What must officials of each branch do to ensure that the government respects the legal limits of its own power?
  • On a day-to-day basis, what does the rule of law cause senior government officials to do, or refrain from doing?
  • To what extent do unwritten rules and established traditions protect free societies and reinforce the rule of law?

All six events will be live-streamed and thereafter posted as both a video and a podcast on the IBA website and on the website of the cooperating organisation providing the venue: either the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars or the National Archives. Enquiries should be sent to Michael Maya at

This IBA project is supported by the IBA Foundation.



  1. To watch the event live, click here or paste the following link into your browser:
  2. To attend the 19 April 2018 event in person, click here or paste the following link into your browser:
  3. The International Bar Association (IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London, United Kingdom. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, United States, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law Programme (ICC & ICL) is managed from an office in The Hague, the Netherlands.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works 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.

For further information please contact:

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