April 5, 2017
On 16 March 2017 the Law Society, making use of its ECOSOC consultative status, organised a side event with Lawyers for Lawyers on “The independence of the legal profession” at the United Nations in Geneva.
The side event was held in the margins of the 34th Human Rights Council session and was co-sponsored by the Missions of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Paraguay and Australia.
Mr Diego García-Sayán, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, appointed in December 2016, was the keynote speaker. It was Mr García-Sayán’s first public speech in that capacity. He outlined the importance of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and emphasised the principle that lawyers should be able to practise their profession independently, without fear of external interference and/or intimidation, and without being identified with their clients. Mr García-Sayán also highlighted some priority areas, which he would be exploring further during his mandate, such as corruption and the role played by non-state actors in undermining the rule of law and the independency of the judiciary.
Lawyers from Turkey, Cameroon and Azerbaijan also shared their experiences and extensively discussed the serious challenges facing the legal profession in their respective countries.