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The Inaugural IBA-ILSA Conference

by Kaitlin Ball 2013-2014 ILSA Student President

er its host venue, London, is known for having. Held from August 16-17, 2013, at the University of Law, London, the IBA-ILSA Conference en- compassed six panels and a keynote all directed towards law students interested in international law and recent law school graduates.


In her opening speech, Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar Council for England and Wales, regaled a rapt audience with London’s rich legal history, going back as far as the Knight’s Templar. Additionally, McGowan illustrated some of the many challenges facing future lawyers, repeatedly stressing the importance of distill- ing the very complex into something simple and understandable, what she called “clarity of thought.” As McGowan made clear, the Univer- sity of Law was part of a history of British bar- risters that had turned this “clarity of thought” into an art form.

Following McGowan’s opening remarks, the IBA- ILSA Conference followed with a presentation by the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), chaired by Phillip Tahmindjis, the Director of IBAHRI, with a panel consisting of Alex Wilks, Senior Programme Lawyer with IBAHRI, Shirley Pouget and Nadia Hardman, both Programme Lawyers with IBAHRI. The panelists shared some of their own experiences working with IBAHRI, including assignments in Egypt, Ta- jikistan, Afghanistan, Brazil, and Myanmar.

The IBAHRI panelists stressed the important

he inaugural conference of the Interna- tional Bar Association (IBA) and Interna- tional Law Students Association (ILSA) was greeted by some of the gray weath-

role capacity-building, the process of strength- ening state or organizational institutions with a particular eye towards meeting international law obligation, plays in many of their portfolios, and expressed great enthusiasm at how rewarding capacity-building projects can be. Wilks, who was involved with helping found Afghanistan’s first bar association, also shared with the audi- ence his experience with encouraging grass roots initiatives in Brazil through contests that awarded the winning initiative with a networking trip to visit successful initiatives based in South Africa. Hardman additionally explained her work related to both Tajikistan and Egypt, expressing a belief that IBAHRI might have to undertake a remote mission to Egypt before releasing their report on the country. Equally, Pouget related the IBAHRI’s poverty work, and encouraged the audience to take a more comprehensive view of human rights abuses by drawing connections between human rights abuses and taxes.

Following a lunch break, the delegates returned for a panel entitled “International Law Stu- dents Association Chapters Networking and Programme Building Session” chaired by ILSA Programs Director Vivian Shen and ILSA Stu- dent President Kaitlin Ball. In what was one of the more relaxed panels of the conference, Shen and Ball used the panel to engage with the student audience. After a quick exercise that allowed students to get an idea of the various countries and backgrounds represented at the conference, the panel launched into a question and answer session that allowed students to get a better idea what ILSA offers including the Jes- sup Competition, networking opportunities, ac-

ILSA Quarterly » volume 22 » issue 1 » October 2013


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