IAFL Panel at the World Law Congress

Posted: 24 Jul 2023

IAFL participated in the World Law Congress at the Headquarters of United Nations and the New York Bar Association on 20 and 21 July.

The World Jurist Association (WJA) celebrated the 60th anniversary of the First World Law Congress in New York, returning to where it was formed; the United States of America. The WJA was formed in response to an international outcry for a free and open forum where Judges, lawyers, law professors and other professionals from around the world could work cooperatively to strengthen and expand the Rule of Law and its institutions.

For the first time, the World Law Congress had a panel on International Child Protection Issues and I was privileged to be asked to select and Chair the panel. The global panel included a number of IAFL Fellows and consisted of: 

Adelaide Benneh Prempeh (Ghana) who discussed the strides Ghana has made in the field of child protection including the ratification of The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption in 2016, but also drew attention to the need for States to ratify other Conventions for the protection of children, emphasizing that Ghana has not signed The Hague Convention 1980.

Andres Conde (Spain), CEO of Save the Children, made us look at child protection from the point of view of the child. Children are subjects of rights, holders of these rights and not objects of protection. He stated that legal systems are not adapted to children around the world and advocated for the need for a more child friendly Justice System.

Rachael Kelsey (Scotland), our President Elect, presented on parentage and the work of the group of experts formed by the Hague Conference on International Private Law.

Daniela Horvitz (Chile) emphasised the need to protect children in the work undertaken by legislators and focused on the Chilean Constitution and the protection to children that its first draft provided.

Sulema Jahangir (Pakistan) presented on the law and practice surrounding child marriage. She also spoke about forced religious conversion of children coupled with child marriage. She explained how legislation needs to be brought in to tackle the issue of child marriages and that there is much needed clarity and guiding principles required from the Superior Courts so Courts do not make inconsistent decisions. Sulema is the Chair of the IAFL Forced Marriage Committee.

Lavanya Regunathan Fischer (India) presented on Child protection issues and the balance to be struck between plural legal traditions to create an efficient and enforceable protection mechanism within India. She highlighted the ambiguities within the written law and otherwise quite robust statutory structure.

Maria Juliana Ruiz Sandoval (Colombia), former First Lady of Colombia, introduced the efforts made by the Government to protect children from domestic abuse. The enthusiasm and positive findings of the initiatives brought a lot of optimism to the topic.

Pamela M. Sloan (USA- NY) presented on the protection of transgender children worldwide. The powerful slogan by the media that Gender affirmation is suicide prevention resonated in the room. Only 13 countries recognised transgenderism in children. Pamela is a member of the LGBTG committee of IAFL.

The Congress concluded with the concession of the World Peace & Liberty Award to the European Commission. The Award was accepted on their behalf by the President of the EU, Ursula von der Leyen. The ceremony and the award was presented by H.M. King Felipe VI of Spain and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

The IAFL was honoured to be part of this Congress and we hope the collaboration with WJA continues for the protection of Families and Children globally.

Carolina Marin Pedreno, IAFL Vice-President

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IAFL is a worldwide association of practising lawyers who are recognised by their peers as the most experienced and skilled family law specialists in their respective countries.

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