IBA conference kicks off with Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz speech

The economy was put front and centre at the International Bar Association’s (IBA) annual conference in Dublin with a keynote speech by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

Stiglitz’s speech was the highlight of the opening ceremony on Sunday (30 September), kickstarting a week of discussion and networking in Dublin. He told the conference that the world had not solved the problems of financial crisis and that austerity measures could be damaging for the global economy.

Europe would be in financial turmoil for some time, said Stiglitz. “People are seeing not hope but despair. And that is explosive,” he told the conference, according to @IBAnews.

However he said Europe should commit to a fiscal union both for economic reasons and to create greater solidarity.

Stiglitz also spoke about the US, supporting the re-election of president Barack Obama in November and warning the election of Republican rival Mitt Romney would lead to a worsening of both economic and societal problems.

The 5,200 delegates were also addressed by Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who said the conference topics reflected the most urgent issues facing governments and societies.

“Human rights, poverty, economic development, taxation, family law, corporate law – the things that preoccupy politicians and that in some cases, can make or break, a life as it is lived,” said Kenny. “And with such high stakes, and for government to get it right, we rely on your expertise as lawyers to inform our decision-making.”

Kenny also said Ireland was on the road to recovery and had become more competitive as a place to do business.

IBA president Akira Kawamura also spoke. He said Ireland’s history of law made it the perfect venue for the conference.

“It is noteworthy that, in recent years, the legal profession of Ireland has accomplished great work in defending the people’s interests from the hardships of the global financial crisis. I think that the impact of the aftermath of the [crisis] was lessened by the hard work of Irish lawyers, and I admire them,” he said.

The conference began this morning with sessions including trade and investment in the BRIC economies and banking and finance arbitration issues.

For more on the IBA conference, bookmark our page of full coverage.

For live updates from the conference follow our reporter Yun Kriegler who is in Dublin today @thelawyerAsia.