On 20 October, The Hague Institute welcomed Baroness Patricia Scotland QC for a lecture on Pursuing and Applying Justice in a Globalized World as part of its Distinguished Speaker Series.
Baroness Scotland noted at the outset of her lecture that “every region of the world has its disturbances and pressing issues. At the root of it all is a cry for justice, a thirst for the rule of law.” Drawing on her experience as a senior Cabinet Minister, Attorney General of the UK and a leading global legal practitioner, Baroness Scotland discussed how the commitment to the rule of law enshrined in the Magna Carta 800 years ago remains relevant today.
Addressing a range of contemporary challenges from climate change and armed conflict to corruption and poverty, Baroness Scotland asserted that whether these challenges become windows of opportunity or insurmountable obstacles depends on global cooperation.
On the subject of global justice, Baroness Scotland argued that we require transnational responses to transnational challenges, such as organized crime and terrorism: “What we see is a (transnational) conspiracy of the criminal. What we need is a (transnational) conspiracy of the just.” Baroness Scotland underscored the importance of harnessing the talent and potential of the entire global population in addressing these challenges, noting that discrimination against women and domestic violence impede progress in this regard significantly.
As Dominica’s candidate for the Secretary-Generalship of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland emphasized working together to build resilience into legal systems as an example of the how the Commonwealth can support the effective economic and social development of its 53 member states, and foster the rule of law worldwide. Referring to the Commonwealth a ‘family’, she presented her vision for improving technical assistance and cooperation between member states to find common solutions to common problems. The Commonwealth, she argued, is an important platform for sharing knowledge, pooling expertise and exchanging best practices in order to improve national jurisprudence and global justice.
When asked during the Q&A whether the Commonwealth is an outdated postcolonial construct, Baroness Scotland opined that the Commonwealth presents an opportunity to form alliances of the willing because of its strength as a loose federation and its lack of rigidity when compared with constructs such as the United Nations. “Its time has come rather than that its purpose has been in the past,” she posited.
In her concluding remarks, Baroness Scotland reflected that the jurists of 1945 created a legal and political system in response to a world which was threatened by interstate conflict. In contrast, the jurists of 2015 are challenged with adapting the current international architecture to respond to threats arising from intrastate conflict. “We have to choose to work together,” Baroness Scotland emphasized. “If we fail to do that, we will not do justice to the jurisprudential fathers of 1945, and we will not solve today’s global problems.”