President's Blog, April 2020

Posted: 16 Apr 2020 by Mia Reich-Sjögren

Being President of the IAFL these days is very different from what I expected when I was elected. I was and am still glad to have been given the opportunity to serve the IAFL. When I was elected, I looked forward to working closely with all of you and to be able to meet and enjoy the friendship, experience, collegiality and so much more.

My first year met my expectations: a lot of work and a lot of travelling but exciting. It was hectic but always interesting and the first meeting of mine, Melbourne, turned out to be very successful. It felt really good. We continued to plan my next meeting in Oslo and I very much looked forward to taking you to a wonderful city and a lovely country.

Fall came. William Massey together with Ali arranged the most wonderful meeting in Palma, Mallorca. We had a lot of fun but also as always, an interesting educational programme and excursions. It was great.

All of us looked forward to the next time we would meet which should have been Bangkok and the first Asia Pacific Chapter standalone meeting.

In November I travelled to Chicago for the annual AAML meeting there. This time a few of us from the IAFL had been invited to present and speak about international family law in our different jurisdictions. The presentations were well received, and we had the opportunity to promote the IAFL as we wanted.

I came back home and unfortunately my husband Sverker had a femoral fracture with all that that means. He is quite well now but of course I was a bit worried about all the travelling I had planned for the IAFL. But then Corona came…

In February I was still able to go to Vienna for the Annual European Presidents’ conference for a few days but already at that time we had started to see meeting cancellations. The management group and the Executive Committee had started to question the possibility of our going to Bangkok and we decided to postpone that meeting.

The Introduction to International Family Law conference in Kyiv was also postponed and we started to discuss what to do with my meeting in Oslo in June. I wanted to think that by then things would be OK for a meeting but quite soon and actually very quickly things changed drastically. I understood that we had to cancel that meeting. We were not going to Oslo. It is not possible to postpone the meeting since we have a very full calendar for the next two years and so much is already planned.

We then also had to cancel the Toronto meeting in September as well as another mini meeting, supposed to be in Amman in October.

So, next time we hope to be able to meet physically will be Prague in December and I really hope that it can happen. I know that we all miss being together, but that time will come, we just have to live through this and be strong…

Since we have not and will not be able to meet physically, we are trying hard to find ways to be together in other ways. The USA Chapter, Jorge and Nancy, have started a regular chat on Zoom and Fellows sign up for it in advance. This has been a real success. It can take a maximum of 100 participants. All Fellows are invited to take part but participation may sometimes be difficult for some with the time differences. We are looking to find more ways.

Since the Oslo meeting will not take place, we have decided to make the same week as it was planned an IAFL week. The Executive Committee Meeting, the Asia Pacific Chapter Annual Meeting, the Annual Meeting of IAFL Fellows, the Annual Meeting of the IAFL Board of Governors and some of the Oslo Educational Programme will all be held virtually at various times during that week. You will receive more information about this in due course. We will even be able to have the Audrey Ducroux lecture presented by Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee. It will be exciting to have a virtual annual meeting but I am sure we all will miss being together the real way.

I feel strongly that all of us together will do what we can for the IAFL and for ourselves so that we can meet again as soon as ever possible. Let us stay in touch, one way or another.

In June, during the so called IAFL week, Marlene Moses will be ready to take over as President. I am convinced she will be excellent in her position. She will continue the work done until now and I wish her a better time for her Presidency. Until then I will continue work with the Executive Committee and others who have made my time as President what it is and for which I am so grateful. I will have a chance, I hope, to thank each and every one for that, if not in person, then in other ways. I look forward to being able to meet you all in person again somewhere and hopefully in Prague in December 2020.

Be well!!!


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