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Seminar to discuss growing threats to rule of law

24 Jun 2021 / rule of law Print

Seminar to discuss growing threats to rule of law

A panel discussion on defending human rights lawyers in authoritarian times will take place online and in-person today from Geneva.

The online event runs from 12.30pm to 2pm Irish time and is co-organised by the Geneva Human Rights Platform, the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders and the Ordre des Avocats Genève.

The IBA has said that it is concerned that, in the past ten years, a worrisome trend towards authoritarianism has grown in certain democracies.

Security apparatus

‘Strong man’ governments typically employ the rule of law and its trappings – courts, police, and security apparatus – to exert control, the IBA points out.

“Rather than be seen as valuable pillars of the rule of law, hundreds of lawyers inside these regimes are routinely harassed, intimidated, jailed or even killed for defending human rights cases and causes. Increasingly such regimes are unresponsive to outside pressure, and indifferent to diplomatic sanctions or public outcry,” the IBA says.

Today’s expert panel will discuss:

  • Growing authoritarianism,
  • What strategies and tactics can effectively defend and support human rights lawyers, and,
  • How can Geneva play a role to protect lawyers from intimidation in their home countries?

Opening remarks will be by Felix Kirchmeier of the Geneva Human Rights Platform, and the moderator is Sandrine Giroud, chair of the Human Rights Committee, ODAGE.


  • Xu Yan (wife of lawyer Yu Wensheng, Martin Ennals Award Laureate 2021, China),
  • Ayşe Acinkli (Lawyers Association for Freedom, Turkey),
  • Tatsiana Khomich (human rights activist, sister of Belarussian political prisoner Maria Kalesnikava),
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC (Director, International Bar Association Human Rights Institute, member of the House of Lords),
  • Diego García-Sayán (United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers),
  • Phil Lynch (director, International Service for Human Rights).

To register your participation online via Zoom please click here.


Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland