The ICJ and Geneva Bar Association launch ambitious global project

The ICJ, the Geneva Bar Association and the Geneva legal community have joined forces to launch the ICJ-Geneva Lawyers International Cooperation Initiative. Under the Initiative, Geneva lawyers will join ICJ missions on the five continents to support the independence and integrity of lawyers and judges at risk, and to promote the Rule of Law.

The Initiative launches with a mission tomorrow, May 21st. A lawyer from the Geneva Bar Association will go to Guatemala to work the ICJ team and lawyers investigating and fighting the forced displacement of the indigenous community of La Laguna de El Petén.

Missions under the initiative will typically involve, among other things:

– Trial observations;

– Fact-finding missions;

– Support for the independence of lawyers and bar associations;

– Capacity building and training activities;

– Expertise and academic support.

Since its founding in 1952, the ICJ has played a unique and preeminent role as a non-governmental organization for the defense of the Rule of Law around the world, and the independence of judges and lawyers.

With the presence of its headquarters in Geneva for more than 60 years, through the Initiative the ICJ is further deepening its special bond with the city, to spread and share the spirit of Geneva.

“International support and solidarity are crucial to the work of lawyers defending the human rights of those who are often marginalized from power,” said Michaël Sombart, Director of Strategic Partnerships of the ICJ. “With this project the ICJ can help lawyers around the world benefit from the reputation and high standing of the Swiss legal community and bring the message of the Genève humanitaire beyond borders.”

“This initiative is welcome and we support it with commitment,” said Sandrine Giroud, member of the Geneva Bar Council and Chair of its Human Rights Commission. “The Rule of Law is under attack around the world and lawyers play a vital role in its defense and the impartiality of justice. Our support for the ICJ-Geneva Lawyers International Cooperation Initiative is in line with the lawyer’s mission as a bulwark against the arbitrariness and the defense advocacy tradition of the Geneva Bar Association. We welcome this collaboration, which is part of the fight for justice and respect for fundamental rights and guarantees. ”

Nicolas Gürtner, First Secretary of the Young Bar Association of the Geneva Bar Association, said: “This project offers a remarkable opportunity for young lawyers to work alongside the jurists of international repute of the ICJ in favour of the guarantee of Rule of Law.”

 The Steering Committee for the Initiative includes:

– The ICJ;

– For the Geneva Bar Association: the Commission on Human Rights and the Young Bar Association;

– Representatives of the Geneva judicial and academic world, including Professor Robert Roth, former President of the Court of Cassation, former director of the Geneva Academy, Professor Emeritus of the University of Geneva

Contact :

Michaël W. Sombart, ICJ, Director of Strategic Partnerships, t: +41 22 979 38 31 ; m: +41 77 965 98 45 ; e: michael.sombart(a)


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