Ban Ki-moon opens IBA 2020 - Virtually Together Conference

Monday 2 November 2020

Ban Ki-moon opened the IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference on Monday 2 November with a pre-recorded address videoed especially for the 10,000 delegates attending this year’s International Bar Association (IBA) Annual Conference, which, for the first time in its history, is taking place solely online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. During his address, the Former United Nations Secretary-General (2007-2016) and former South Korean Foreign Minister discussed the importance of coming together to discuss ‘the crucial issues of justice equality and the Rule of Law.’ Further, he spoke of being ‘deeply concerned by attacks on lawyers around the world, sometimes from the highest levels of government.’

Mr Ban, as Deputy Chair of The Elders – a group of independent global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007 – recalled a recent meeting of the group in his address, in which:

  • grave concern was expressed around ‘the failure of global leadership in response to the pandemic and the inequality it has both exposed and exacerbated’;  
  • it was observed that in the meeting of the G20 (Group of Twenty) ‘geopolitical rivalries trump humanitarian priorities’; and
  • it was confirmed that ‘justice has a central role in building back better.’

Other topics included in Mr Ban’s address included the lack of access to justice for many of the world’s poorest people; the disproportionate use of force by security forces to quell protests in Nigeria; the lack of progress around equality for women; the Black Lives Matter movement; gender equality; and the recently deceased associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Read the full speech here.

IBA President, Horacio Bernardes Neto said in his opening remarks: ‘2020 was an extremely difficult year, and the pandemic will never be forgotten in the history of mankind.’ He went on to lament the one million deaths, the negative effect on the global economy and the ‘threats to the rule of law perpetrated under the excuse of the pandemic.’ In search of an optimistic note, Mr Bernardes said in spite of the negatives, ‘I think this year marks positively the compulsory acceleration of the unavoidable insertion of technology in our lives and in our firms. And at a time in which although physically apart, there was an enormous amount of contact between people. And we have given the necessary importance of taking care of each other, be it personally or  professionally.’

The IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference, taking place from 2 – 27 November is an ambitious undertaking by the IBA to bring together lawyers from across the globe, as it usually does each year at an in-person event. More than 10,000 delegates are registered for this month’s event, which is comprised of:

  • 250 working sessions relating to all areas of law and covering current international issues;
  • 100 networking sessions; and
  • 1,000 speakers, including:
    • - Dr Fatou Bensouda Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
    • - John B Bellinger III Senate-confirmed Legal Adviser to the Department of State (2005-2009)
    • - Amal Clooney Deputy Chair of the High Level Legal Panel on Media Freedom
    • - John Kerry 68th United States Secretary of State (2013-2017)
    • - Martin Luther King III Global Human Rights Leader
    • - The Honourable Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, GBM Chief Justice of the Hong Kong Court   of Final Appeal
    • - Mary Robinson President of Ireland (1990-1997)
    • - Ambassador Thae Yong-ho Former senior official of North Korea

A selection of other participating speakers are listed here: www.ibanet.org/VirtuallyTogether-speakers

The Showcase Sessions will cover a wide range of topical issues, including:

  • International trade wars – attack on the rule of law. What is the impact on the future of the World Trade Organization and global business strategy?
  • The attacks on media freedom –  a growing phenomenon
  • Reinventing global legal education to address the ongoing transformation of the legal professions: a blueprint for change
  • Climate justice
  • Rule of law in the time of COVID-19.

As a service to the legal profession, the IBA is providing 60 sessions outside of the paywall that are free to attend. Details can be found here: www.ibanet.org/VirtuallyTogether-open-sessions

Live sessions are scheduled to suit all time zones to give maximum opportunity to legal professionals across the globe to participate.


Notes to the Editor

For further information, please contact:

  1. Click here for full information about the IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference. www.ibanet.org/VirtuallyTogether-2020
  2. Click here for a quick link to the Daily schedules (online)
  3. Click here for a quick link to the Weekly schedules (download)www.ibanet.org/VirtuallyTogether-weekly-programmes
  4. The International Bar Association(IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

    In the ensuing 70 years since its creation, the organisation has evolved from an association comprised exclusively of bar associations and law societies to one that incorporates individual international lawyers and entire law firms. The present membership is comprised of more than 80,000 individual international lawyers from most of the world’s leading law firms and some 190 bar associations and law societies spanning more than 170 countries.

    The IBA has considerable expertise in providing assistance to the global legal community, and through its global membership, it influences the development of international law reform and helps to shape 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.

Romana St. Matthew-Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association
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