From April 15-19, Professor Marjorie Cohn attended the 18th Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers in Brussels. She was reelected to the Bureau of IADL and she continues to serve as Deputy Secretary General and chair of the IADL Scientific (Scholarly) Committee.
Progressive lawyers from more than 56 countries representing 50 national associations attended the meeting, which was held on the campus of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The four official languages of the conference were English, French, Spanish and Arabic.
Professor Cohn served as co-president of the all-day Commission on Impunity and International Justice, at which she also presented papers on “The Struggle for the International Criminal Court’s Jurisdiction to Punish the Crime of Aggression,” and “The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ vs. the United Nations Charter.”
The other commissions included Peace and the Crisis of International Law; Democratic Peoples’ Justice, Independence of the Judiciary and Protection of Lawyers; Labour and Trade Union Rights in the Neo-Liberal System; Rights of Migrants and the Struggle Against Racism; The Right to Resist, to Protest and to Organize; Crisis, Debt and the New Democratic International Economic Order; Lawyering for Defending and Promoting Peoples’ Rights; The Human Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment; and The Struggle for Gender Equality and Against Discrimination.
Professor Cohn also moderated a discussion on achieving justice and compensation for the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, in cooperation with the Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange. It focused on the use of chemical weapons by the United States during the Vietnam War and its devastating consequences. A resolution and a plan of action emerged from the workshop. Professor Cohn is co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign in the U.S.
Professor Cohn also convened a meeting of the Scientific Committee, which includes native English, French, Spanish and Arabic speakers. The Committee is collecting scholarly papers on topics presented at the Congress in order to publish a book. The Committee also assists in the publication of the IADL Review, prepares submissions to the UN Economic and Social Council in the New York, and will present webinars to educate lawyers about international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
In addition, Professor Cohn participated in the committee that drafted the Final Declaration of the Congress.
Highlights of the Congress included an address by Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director of Greenpeace International, who spoke about “The Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment,” President Emeritus of Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner’s talk on “The Age of Surveillance,” and UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order Alfred de Zayas, who spoke about his mandate.
According to Professor Cohn, “The IADL holds its Congress every five years. This is the fourth Congress I have attended, and I am more impressed than ever at the high level of discussion and work by these talented and committed lawyers whose organizations include thousands of progressive lawyers around the world. I am honored to be part of this organization.”