Category: About the WJA

Digital Resources for Climate Law

Digital Resources for Climate Law

On December 1, the World Jurist Association (WJA) and World Law Foundation (WLF) organized the Opening Session London of the World Law Congress New York 2023. Co-organized with Climate Policy Radar, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change & the Environment of the London School of Economics, and Laws Africa, environmental law experts discussed about open source “Digital Resources for Climate Law”.

The online session addressed how digital technology can facilitate the effective use of legal data for climate law research, policy making and litigation. All of this, with a focus on protecting human rights and preserving the Rule of Law around the world.

In his introduction, Diego Solana, international advisor of the World Law Foundation, contextualized the current European energy crisis derived from the invasion of Ukraine, emphasizing its great impact on the economy and the Rule of Law. Likewise, he pointed out that this debate is a continuation of the Permanent Forum on Energy Transition and Climate, which will culminate in the World Law Congress New York 2023, to be held on July 20 and 21, 2023.

Open access to climate data and legislation is a guarantee of rights

The panel was chaired by Lord Robert Carnwath, former judge of the UK Supreme Court, member of Landmark Chambers and associate professor at the LSE Grantham Research Institute. Panelists included Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University and leader of Climate Change Litigation Database, USA; Michal Nachmany, CEO and founder of Climate Policy Radar, UK; Greg Kempe, Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Laws.Africa; and Catherine Higham, Coordinator of the Climate Change Laws of the World program at the LSE Grantham Research Institute.

After commenting on the relevance of access to climate legislation, case studies and jurisprudence for all nations, the former British judge gave the floor to Michael Gerrard, who presented two databases on climate change litigation that he and his team began working on in 2007. This exhaustive research also refers, with the United States as a sample for analysis, to the legal models for the pursuit of decarbonization and climate regulation around the world. “With these databases we have found the particularity that they can be used globally for climate litigation and their usefulness and functionality for society lies in the fact that they are freely accessible in all parts of the world.”

After a round of questions to Gerrard on the challenges and limitations in research, Carnwath passed the floor to Michal Nachmany, who explained that “sharing knowledge” was the “motivation” for starting Climate Policy Radar, a contribution to the academic community, but also to society. “We are building the world’s largest and most comprehensive open knowledge base on climate policy, law and litigation.” The database is structured, intuitive, available in multiple languages, and is also “open source and free”, which allows “discovering national climate legislation from any country of the world”.

Greg Kemple then stressed that, in Africa, there is no transparency or free access to the country’s own climate laws, which is a barrier to securing rights. This is a challenge that requires special attention, especially considering that the effects of climate change in African countries are greater than in other latitudes. Considering that the fundamentals for the use of legal information are impact, use, understanding, access, knowledge, and availability, Kemple ended his speech by stressing that “enabling free and effective access to the law is essential for government, administration, business, the fight against corruption, the environment, and human rights”.

After Carnwath’s review of the presentation, the floor was given to Catherine Higham who emphasized the need for lawyers to be updated and aware of the uses of artificial intelligence, technology and the different open access databases presented throughout the session. The coordinator of Climate Change Laws of the World focused on the global and individual importance of climate legislation and practical cases, pointing out as a problem that “not all countries in the world have access to legal data on climate policies and laws”. Therefore, it is necessary to understand “what is the impact of failing in a climate case against cooperation” and the importance of an international consensus agreeing the digitization and liberalization of information on climate litigation.

At the end, after a final presentation of ideas by the speakers and a debate on the subject, Diego Solana concluded the session by explaining the importance of experts in international and climate law. He also emphasized the importance of raising awareness and freeing access to databases on climate laws and enabling the development of the Rule of Law in different countries around the world, such as Africa. To conclude the Opening Session, Solana stated: “if it is not accessible, it does not exist“.


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The World Law Congress Awarded Best International Legal Initiative

The recognition has been awarded at the Legal Marcom National Law Gala 2022, the first Spanish-speaking awards that honor professionals in the sector.

The World Law Congress was recognized as the Best International Legal Initiative at the Legal Marcom 2022 Awards. The jury, comprised of 40 general counsels of prestigious transnational companies in Spain and legal journalists, awarded 28 prizes in twelve categories for Spain and Latin America.

At a different country every two years, the World Law Congress brings together different legal organizations that focus on the Rule of Law as a guarantor of freedom and development for nations. Given the great leading role of the Organizing Committee, the last editions of the congress gathered more than 2,000 leaders from around the five continents. Panelists include heads of State, presidents of international and national courts, judges, academics, lawyers, journalists, politicians, businesspeople, and students, who discussed topics as diverse as human rights, regulations for artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies, refugee crisis, democracy, high education trends, climate change, mediation, intellectual property, among many others. 

The Legal Marcom 2022 National Law Gala is an “enriching meeting point for the legal sector”, as Marc Gericó, managing partner of Gericó Associates, points out, and “a benchmark in the legal world”, according to Fernando Díaz Barco, member of the jury and director of Legal Counsel at Sacyr. About the 28 awards presented, Ana Prado, general counsel of Mercedes-Benz Spain, emphasized that “it was very difficult to decide as there were many very good candidates”, emphasizing “the great initiative and the good health of the sector”.

Rule of Law, Energy Transition and Climate

The Opening Session Helsinki of the World Law Congress New York 2023 gathered prestigious judges and academics who presented current environmental cases and their relevance in protecting human rights and the Rule of Law.

On November 7, 2022, the World Jurist Association (WJA) held the Opening Session Helsinki on Rule of Law, Energy Transition and Climate, which featured presentations by expert practitioners and academics from different countries. The presentations included theoretical and practical presentations of current international cases on environmental and climate mitigation issues, highlighting the relevance of sentences and sustainable energy policies in the global context and as a guarantee of the protection of human rights and the environment for future generations.

The online meeting, prior to the 28th edition of the World Law Congress to be held in New York on July 20 and 21, 2023, was presented by the executive director of the WJA, Teodora Toma, and moderated by the president of the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland, Kari Kuusiniemi. It also featured presentations by Ekaterini N. Iliadou, Professor at the Law School of Athens, Greece; Luc Lavrysen, President of the Constitutional Court of Belgium and President of the European Union Judges Forum for the Environment; Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court, Australia; Ania Rytel-Warzocha, Professor at the University of Gdansk, Poland; and Christina Voigt, Professor of Public International Law at the University of Oslo, Norway.

Advocating for the Rights of Future Generations: Climate Policy and Sustainable Energy

In his introduction, judge Kuusiniemi described the impact of human activity on the “radical changes” in the environment and the European complexity given that “Russia is using energy as a weapon, which makes the energy transition necessary”. He then pointed out that “institutions must take care of the environment, support human rights and protect future generations.”

Meanwhile, Professor Iliadou focused on the European Union’s policies towards energy transition, emphasizing the need to establish climate laws as a top priority. She stressed that, being “energy a common public good, both in companies and homes, public intervention to guarantee it is essential”, adding that energy “impacts on the environment and on local and regional pollution”. She also justified the need for public intervention in the energy sector, as it traditionally rests on three pillars that protect future generations: “security of supply, affordability, and environmental protection”.

Judge Lavrysen then focused on the nexus between environmental and energy guarantees and the separation of powers and constitutionalism to protect the Rule of Law. “Climate change policies are complemented by constitutional rights such as corporate freedom, equality before the law, non-discrimination.” He reviewed European jurisprudence towards climate neutrality. The president of the Belgian Constitutional Court concluded, asserting that “the demanded policies are insufficient in relation to compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, potentially conflicting with the separation of powers and thus with the Rule of Law.”

In this vein, Justice Preston explained the Australian government’s accountability in the face of climate litigation. He referred that the government “must take the lead in establishing and implementing the strategic, policy and legal frameworks necessary for effective climate action.” However, Preston stated that the administration, in some cases, “adopts policies, but does not implement them” and it is then when “the judiciary must hold the administration accountable for compliance”. Among some of the incidences he identified and exemplified in his intervention are the failure to adopt climate policies, the adoption of illegal policies, the failure to implement policies or their inadequate or illegitimate implementation, and the failure to take adequate measures or the failure of the duty to take them.

All this can lead to climate change affecting fundamental rights, such as the rights to a clean and safe environment, life, health, food, water and development, among others. Prof. Rytel-Warzocha further elaborated on this issue, adding that “in the global context, those most affected by climate change are usually those who contribute the least to it”, and that “its impact will also affect the rights of future generations”. Exemplifying the case of Poland, she concludes that environmental regulations are extensive, but reflect “the need for legal instruments to ensure that climate change is effectively combated to avoid its impact on the human rights of current and future generations”.

For her part, Professor Voigt presented a Norwegian case study in which the government was accused of violating fundamental rights by granting ten licenses for oil exploration in the Barents Sea, which would generate a large export of CO2 emissions. After passing through various Norwegian courts, the case is currently before the European Court of Human Rights. Despite Norway’s request to dismiss the case, it is a juncture that “opens the door to the recognition of climate damage as a violation of human rights”.

Judge Kuusiniemi closed the panel by inviting those present to continue the discussion at the World Law Congress New York 2023 and stressing that “this Opening Session is one further step towards the mitigation of climate change by legal means, by the efforts of the courts and academia”. 




Will War Accelerate Energy Transition?

The World Jurist Association (WJA) organized the panel “Degassing Europe: Will War Accelerate the Energy Transition?” which is the first Opening Session of the “on-going” World Law Congress 2023. This virtual meeting brought together Miguel Arias Cañete, former European Commissioner for Climate Action; Cristina Lobillo Borrero, Director of Energy Policy at the Directorate General for Energy of the European Commission; and Javier de Cendra, Dean of the Law School of the University Francisco de Vitoria and expert in Environmental Law. 

Viviane Reding, vice-president of the World Law Foundation and former vice-president of the European Commission, moderated the debate, inaugurated by Javier Cremades, president of the WJA. During his speech, President Cremades stressed that “the energy transition is taking place in an unprecedented context in the 21st century. With the war in Ukraine, the conflict unleashed by Moscow, violating international law, has revealed the dependence of Europe and many other regions on Russian fossil fuels”.

During the debate, the panel agreed on the fact that the European Union is fully committed to the objectives of decarbonization by 2055, which implies a progressive abandonment of fossil fuels, and its total substitution by clean energies: renewables, green hydrogen, etc. The so-called energy transition process, which is currently taking place, will achieve a triple objective once complete: cheaper, non-polluting and self-sufficiency.

It was also mentioned that the war in Ukraine has highlighted the urgent need to eliminate the current EU’s energy dependence on Russia by 2030 at the latest, and if possible, by 2027.

Panelists also agreed that energy transition towards decarbonization and independence from Russia are not contradictory goals; on the contrary, they are mutually reinforcing. The most effective way to achieve European energy self-sufficiency is to accelerate the transition in all its dimensions: increasing the contribution of renewables, energy efficiency and savings, new technologies, and in particular, green hydrogen. This philosophy underlies the Commission’s Repower communication, which confirms and reinforces the general objectives contained in the Fit for 55’s communication, approved by the European Council.

The world is currently immersed in a global crisis, which goes beyond the war in Ukraine, and even beyond the post-COVID 19 pandemic. Panelists remarked that this situation poses major challenges to the energy transition process. For example, questions relating to the availability and cost of innovative technologies and that of the raw materials required; questions relating to the world economic situation, inflation, contraction, and growth; and of a geopolitical nature, the duration and extension of the conflict, de-globalization, and disruption of supply chains, etc.

The rise in energy prices is undoubtedly, and especially in its “energy poverty” dimension, one of the greatest causes for concern and a major challenge to the energy transition process. The panel agreed that corrective measures must be implemented, but they must not jeopardize either the progress achieved or the road ahead. The European energy market, as the data shows, has worked very effectively, particularly for consumers and to encourage investment in renewables. The current problem is caused by rising gas prices, and that must be solved with specific measures, targeted at vulnerable sectors.

The European Union began the energy transition process two decades ago, and has already achieved important results: in particular, the fulfillment of all the objectives set for 2020 and the positive forecast, even in anticipation, with respect to those of 2030. The EU has the most complete legislative tools and financial instruments in the world to achieve decarbonization by 2055. Although the current crisis presents significant risks, there is a conviction that the EU has the capacity to overcome them, even to accelerate the process. 



Colombian Democracy, awarded with the World Peace & Liberty Award

The President of Colombia, Iván Duque, was in charge of closing this edition of the World Law Congress and received from the hands of King Felipe VI, the World Peace & Liberty Award, granted by the World Jurist Association. He did so on behalf of Colombian society, recognized with this award for being the longest-lived democracy in the region, and which has an impact on the strengthening and promotion of freedom and the rule of law above the vicissitudes. Iván Duque assured that “Colombian democracy has been solid and will be solid because it has passed the most arduous tests, has faced civil wars, terrorism, drug trafficking, the vicissitudes of natural disasters and has had to undergo demanding tests, but we full of joy that it is one of the oldest in the entire continent”. Along these lines, he recognized that “democracy is a triumph for regulating human activities, renewing leadership and leaving decision-making free for the people.” For Duque, “it is a moral duty to raise one’s voice against the Maduro dictatorship, because keeping silence is being accomplices. Acting within the framework of legality, international law, denouncing this regime before the International Criminal Court is what our peoples expect of us. Extending a helping hand to those who want to have hope is a categorical imperative”. of international law, denouncing this regime before the International Criminal Court is what our peoples expect of us. Extending a helping hand to those who want to have hope is a categorical imperative”. 

For his part, King Felipe VI, recipient of the World Peace & Liberty Award 2019, highlighted “Spain’s firm commitment to Colombia in its role as an Ibero-American strategic partner”, and recognized that “our government, our institutions, our cooperation and our The legal community will continue to bet on this country and its citizens”. Of the Colombian democracy, he said that “it has stood firm in the face of risks and will feel recognized, comforted and encouraged by this important distinction, because it is based on harmony, freedom and equality.” Adding that “the rule of law is not only a guarantee of freedom, but also an essential requirement to achieve economic and social development with stability and justice, because development must be built by seeking coexistence, guaranteeing security and favoring the well-being of all citizens”.

Present at the award ceremony was the president of the World Jurist Association, Javier Cremades, who remarked that “Colombia has become the best country in the region, and it is one of the few stars that shine in the sky of freedom. Today Colombians are not forced to emigrate”. He also underlined that “they are a reference and model for those countries that want to establish the peace and freedom of their fellow citizens on the right”.

The former president of the American Bar Association, Hilarie Bass, was in charge of reading the act of awarding the World Peace & Liberty Award; and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, praised Colombian democracy. The academic director of the World Law Congress and emeritus magistrate of the Constitutional Court of Spain, Manuel Aragón Reyes, gave voice to the reading of the Barranquilla 2021 declaration.

The closing ceremony also hosted the presentation of the World Jurist Association medals of honor which, on this occasion, were presented to Antonio Ramón Villaraigosa, former mayor of Los Angeles, Hilarie Bass, former president of the American Bar Association, Patricie Lee Refo, former president of the American Bar Association, to The World Justice Project, to the Constituents of the Political Constitution of Colombia 1991, to Cheol-Kyu Hwang, president of the International Association of Attorneys General, to José Igreja Matos, president of the Union Magistrates International, and Reginald Turner, President of the American Bar Association.

The Rule of Law Index was also presented by Elizabeth Andersen, Executive Director of the World Justice Project. 

Viviane Reding, Vice President of the World Law Foundation and former Vice President of the European Commission, read the act of awarding the World Peace & Liberty Award to be presented in 2022 to Angela Merkel, former Chancellor of Germany.

The 27th edition of the World Law Congress in figures

The World Law Congress Colombia 2021, which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Constitution of Colombia and the 200 years of the Constitution of Cúcuta, brought together more than 2,500 attendees from more than 60 countries and has had a program featuring 52 round tables and more than 300 world-class speakers.

This edition will give way to the one to be held in Geneva (Switzerland) in 2023.

The international legal community inaugurated the World Law Congress Colombia 2021

More than 1500 attendees are participants in the 27th edition of the World Law Congress that for two days besieged Barranquilla as the world capital of law. A congress organized by the World Jurist Association (WJA), which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Constitution of Colombia and the 200 years of the Constitution of Cúcuta.

Javier Cremades, President of the WJA, inaugurated this congress in which, he says, “a noble objective reigns, which is the defense of the freedom of each one of the people in all corners of the world, because tyranny and arbitrariness continue occupying spaces of power”. He was accompanied by Wilson Ruiz Orejuela, Minister of Justice of Colombia and President of the local organizing committee, who recognized that “this event is built between all, like democracy “, and pointed out that” we must involve the different actors of society in strengthening justice in the world, ensuring that rights are realities for all and not privileges for some. ” As minister, he showed “the absolute certainty that the Ministry will always work for an open and harmonious dialogue.”

For his part, Jaime Pumarejo, Mayor of Barranquilla, insisted that “democracy be promoted and promulgated among the youngest” and stressed that “all human beings must have the dignity of having rights.” Also participating in the opening of the event was Margarita Cabello, Attorney General of the Nation of Colombia and former Minister of Justice, who pointed out that “during the pandemic we managed to reconcile democracy and law, maintaining control of the rules without sacrificing a situation marked by the urgency; and the law responded”. Francisco Barbosa, attorney general of Colombia, recognized that “if there is no justice, democracy cannot be sustained in a territory, because once the prosecution or justice is lost, obviously the rule of law cannot be upheld.” Viviane Reding, Vice President of the World Law Foundation and former Vice President of the European Commission, she was also part of the opening ceremony, along with Cheol-Kyu Hwang, President of the International Association of Attorneys General, as well as Dairo Mora, President of Civilec. José Igreja Matos, president of the International Union of Magistrates, stressed that “without legality there is no freedom.” Manuel Aragón Reyes, academic director of the WLC and emeritus magistrate of the Constitutional Court of Spain, ruled that “without the rule of law, legal security and social and economic development are not possible.” President of the International Union of Magistrates, stressed that “without legality there is no freedom.” Manuel Aragón Reyes, academic director of the WLC and emeritus magistrate of the Constitutional Court of Spain, ruled that “without the rule of law, legal security and social and economic development are not possible.” President of the International Union of Magistrates, stressed that “without legality there is no freedom.” Manuel Aragón Reyes, academic director of the WLC and emeritus magistrate of the Constitutional Court of Spain, ruled that “without the rule of law, legal security and social and economic development are not possible.”

The round of interventions was closed by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, who intervened telematically and assured that “the laws and regulations designed to keep people safe have faced intrepid resistance from the public. , and some governments have abused emergency measures to justify repression. This has become a two-way pandemic. “

Throughout the day, the 52 tables that make up this congress and that dealt with the Rule of Law as the axis for the development of nations and democracy, digitization, the pandemic and sustainability, energy and climate change. The panelists included personalities such as Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Manuel Valls, former Prime Minister of France, Leonel Fernández, former President of the Dominican Republic, judges of the International Criminal Court, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the European Union Court of Human Rights and presidents of high courts, among others.

World Peace & Liberty Award

In the afternoon, the World Peace & Liberty Award monument, located in the Plaza de la Paz, was inaugurated. It is a donation made by the WJA to Colombia, in whose civil society and democracy, the longest in Latin America, it recognizes the defense, strengthening and promotion of the rule of law over and above the vicissitudes. This event was attended by the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, His Majesty the King of Spain, the Mayor of Barranquilla, and the President of the World Jurist Association, among other prominent legal personalities who were in Barranquilla. They were in charge of making this award official on the second day during the closing ceremony with the reading of the award ceremony.