A $100,000 (£700,000) donation has already been handed to the IBA by the Soros Foundation for use over the next 12 months. The foundation was founded by the well-known financier George Soros, who runs a network of foundations operating in 31 countries. The IBA hopes that this donation will encourage other donors to come forward.
IBA chief executive Mark Ellis said: “Previously, in situations where events have generated real concerns of this sort, we've had to set about the process of raising the funds to respond effectively. Now we'll be able to take immediate action.
“Recent events around the world have underlined just how important this kind of capability could be”
Mark Ellis, IBA
“Recent events around the world have underlined just how important this kind of capability could be.”
The IBA said the fund will enable it to send investigative missions to countries which abuse the law or threaten the independence of a country's legal system. It will provide an on-the-ground presence and first-hand reports to alert national and international communities about what is taking place.
A recent seven-day visit by an IBA-led international delegation to Zimbabwe has resulted in an in-depth report on the legal situation in the country, where it reported that the rule of law is “in the greatest peril”.
Similarly in Sri Lanka, a separate delegation found that intimidation and summary dismissals were threatening the independence of the judiciary and the media there.
Last Saturday (23 February) the IBA, which represents 16,000 lawyers and 180 bar associations and law societies, held a conference of private investment funds.