IBA pledges £25,000 to aid war-torn judiciaries

The business law section of the International Bar Association (IBA) has pledged £25,000 to help found a consortium to aid in restructuring legal systems in war-torn countries.

The International Legal Assistance Consortium’s (ILAC) aim is to coordinate immediate international assistance to rehabilitate judicial systems and establish accountability, preventing organisations from duplicating each other’s efforts and working at cross purposes.

Chair of the business law section William Rowley QC made the announcement at the opening ceremony of the IBA conference in Amsterdam, saying that the contribution is in line with the interests of the group. He says: “Investment [into these countries] will not come without protection.”

The consortium was conceived three years ago by Mark Ellis, the IBA’s new executive director, and will hold its founding conference in Stockholm in December.

Ellis says: “The fastest way to generate economic growth is foreign investment, but foreign investors will not invest in a society where there is no legal system. A transparent, consistent and independent legal system is the basis for doing business in any country.”

Ellis welcomed the contribution of the business law section, saying: “I thought it was far-reaching and visionary for the section on business law to make that commitment. It shows that they really understand what is missing in these societies after conflict.”

Corporate lawyers are expected to play an ongoing role in the future of the consortium, which plans to have its HQ in London.

“They have resources that they can bring to the table to make this a reality,” says Ellis.

The business section seed money will be used to start a database of experts from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments, business sectors and other bar associations.

Ellis says: “There is no other organisation in the world better suited to doing this kind of outreach and pro bono work around the world. I hope to be able to lead the organisation in doing that.”

Ellis says the work of ILAC will complement that of the UN, which has given its support to the initiative.

He says: “When the UN sends in peacekeepers, its mandate does not necessarily incorporate the issues that we at ILAC will focus on.”