Climate change is dramatically affecting the planet and its people. While causes and impacts of climate disruption have drawn specific focus from scientists and global policy makers, legal concerns regarding justice and human rights issues from climate change impacts are exponentially increasing. The International Bar Association Presidential Task Force on Climate Change Justice and Human Rights, comprising legal and human rights experts, was established in early 2013 to ensure the IBA, as the voice of the global legal profession, plays a key role in bringing forward critical solutions that address these issues. In this 2014 Showcase Session from the IBA Annual Conference in Tokyo, highlights of the IBA Presidential Task Force report, 'Achieving Justice and Human Rights in an Era of Climate Disruption', were presented. Preliminary remarks were given by Michael J Reynolds, President of the International Bar Association.
The impressive line-up of keynote speakers included three former country Presidents and a former Vice-President: • Mary Robinson, United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change; President of Ireland, 1990 to 1997; UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1997 to 2002; President, Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice. • Al Gore, 45th US Vice-President; co-recipient, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Chair, The Climate Reality Project, a non-profit devoted to solving the climate crisis; author of bestsellers including Earth in the Balance, An Inconvenient Truth, The Assault on Reason, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, and most recently, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. • Felipe Calderón, Chair, Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, former President of Mexico. The Global Commission and its flagship project, The New Climate Economy, were established by seven countries to help governments, businesses and society make better-informed decisions on these crucial issues. Its report was published in September 2014. • Prof. Shinya Murase, Professor Emeritus, Sophia University, Tokyo; National Judge of the Permanent Court of Arbitration; former Chair of the ILA Committee on the Legal Principles relating to Climate Change (2008-2014); Special Rapporteur, ‘Protection of the Atmosphere’, UN International Law Commission. • Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of the Maldives island republic. A figurehead in the promotion of human rights and democracy in Islamic countries and an icon for international action to curb greenhouse gas emissions that threaten his and other island nations, as President he also started the Maldives on track to become the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2020. The UN awarded Nasheed with its ‘Champions of the Earth’ environment award in 2010, and in 2012, The Island President, a documentary feature film about Nasheed, was released in theatres worldwide.
Professor Cherif Bassiouni discussed issues regarding the Middle East, post Arab Spring, in the context of the shifting balance of global politics.
Professor Cherif Bassiouni is one of the foremost authorities on international criminal, human rights and humanitarian law. He served as Chair of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry established by Royal Order of the King of Bahrain to investigate and report on the events that took place in Bahrain in February and March 2011 (and thereafter), and to determine whether the events involved violations of international human rights law and norms.
Nobel laureate and leading economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz shared his views on matters including the eurozone crisis and the world economy. He also participated in a question and answer session with audience members.