The President of the International Bar Association has made a statement addressing climate crisis which he described as an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to humanity and life on the planet. He ejoins legal practitioners to be prepared as the legal profession would play a leading role in maintaining and strengthening the rule of law, and supporting responsible enlightened governance in an era marked by climate crisis. The full statement reads:
As I continue to work closely with International Bar Association (IBA) Officers and staff to encourage your engagement with the wealth of excellent written, audio and visual content produced by our organisation, I feel very proud that we continue to address such a wide range of global issues, despite not meeting in-person.
Leaders of the different constituents that make up our Association tell me repeatedly that in this time of great upheaval and uncertainty, we must not lose sight of important non-Covid-19-specific matters, though they recognise there is usually some confluence with this coronavirus.
One such topic of major concern to me, and many others, is the climate crisis – an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to humanity and life on the planet. As I believe the legal profession must be prepared to play a leading role in maintaining and strengthening the rule of law, and supporting responsible enlightened governance in an era marked by climate crisis, I have approved the adoption of the IBA Climate Crisis Statement (‘the Statement’). The five resolutions included in the Statement recognise the role that lawyers can and must play in combatting the climate emergency.
The Statement encourages lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies to take action in their daily legal practices, including in relation to the activities of clients. The Statement also identifies and commends the work of previous members and groups within the IBA in this area. It is the product of significant and long-term collaboration between lawyers in the IBA Legal Policy & Research Unit, the IBA North America Office and senior IBA Officers in the following groups:
Legal Practice Division Council;
Section on Public and Professional Interest Council;
Bar Issues Commission;
the Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure Law (SEERIL);
Corporate Counsel Forum;
Business and Human Rights Committee;
Human Rights Law Committee;
Poverty and Social Development Committee; and
War Crimes Committee.
Undoubtedly, a global response to the climate crisis will give rise to increased disputes, with lawyers representing the legal interests and rights of all sides. Parties to these disputes will include states, corporations, communities, civil society organisations and individuals who are most vulnerable to the impacts of this particular crisis.
The cross-constituent collaboration and hard work of those involved in drafting this Statement, is an excellent example of how resolution can be reached across divides.
I thank you for your ongoing commitment and support of the IBA, and I wish you and your loved ones well.
Horacio Bernardes Neto
President, International Bar Association