October, 17, 2017
In October 1991, SAARCLAW was established in Colombo with 175 members of the legal communities including judges, legal practitioners and academics of the SAARC countries, signing the SAARCLAW Charter, which provided for its establishment. Its preamble articulated the basis for its formation. On the same day, the first ever SAARCLAW Conference which was organized by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka was inaugurated by the then President of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Ranasinghe Premadasa.
The first President of SAARCLAW was Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya, P.C. and the first Secretary General was Mrs. Dhara Wijayatilake, both Attorneys-at-Law of Sri Lanka.
In 1994 SAARCLAW was accorded the status of a Recognized Regional Apex Body of SAARC.
Twenty-five (+1) years later, the SAARCLAW conference returns to its country of birth to celebrate this significant milestone. This marks the third occasion that the conference will be held in Sri Lanka.
“It is in recognition of this fact that the Executive Committee of SAARCLAW unanimously decided that Sri Lanka should host the 14th conference in Colombo, to coincide with its Silver Jubilee,” said President’s Counsel, Nihal Jayamanne, President of SAARCLAW (Sri Lanka).
During these 25 years, judges and lawyers of SAARC countries have come together in one of the SAARC countries to discuss issues of mutual interest with shared learning in the fields of law reforms, enforcement, administration of justice, good governance and social justice.
Past Presidents of SAARCLAW have been, Mr. Ranjith Abeysuriya, P.C. Sri Lanka, Hon. Dr. Justice Nasim Hasan Shah Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. K.K. Venugopal, Sr. Advocate of India (current Attorney General of India), Barrister Amirul Islam, Sr. Advocate of Bangladesh, Hon. Justice Laxman Prasad Aryal, Chief Justice of Nepal, Mrs. Dhara Wijayatilake of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mehmood Mandviwalla of Pakistan, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sr. Advocate of India, Hon. Justice Lynpo Sonam Tobgye, Chief Justice of Bhutan and Hon. Justice Kalyan Shreshta, Chief Justice of Nepal. The current President is Mr. Mehmood Mandviwalla of Pakistan.
Since 1995, the Conference has also been the occasion for a Meeting of Their Lordships the Chief Justices of the SAARC countries. This is a closed-door event attended only by Their Lordships the Chief Justices. This meeting has provided an exclusive space for Their Lordships to deliberate on issues of relevance to the judiciaries of our countries. The Colombo Conference will see this event being held for the 11th time concurrently with the Regional Conference.
The Conference will be held at the Taj Samudra Hotel from October 27th to 29th, 2017. The inauguration will be held on Oct 27. The technical sessions will be on Day 2 (Oct 28). The valedictory session will be held on day 3 (Oct. 28) at which all Chief Justices attending will address the delegates.
This year’s conference will take the form of eight panel discussions under the Conference theme “Emerging Legal Trends in SAARC Countries”. Topics are - (1). Artificial Intelligence and Human Aptitude Working in Tandem, Towards Defining Humanity’s Future, Legal Awareness, Ethics and Employability, (2). A Common Regional Platform for Combating Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, Depletion of Habitat, Decimation of Wildlife, Deforestation, and Promoting the Protection of Fauna, Flora and Sustainable Development, (3). The Confluence of Law and Technology, (4). The Role of The Law and Judicial Activism, In Order to Secure the Paramount Societal Interest, (5). The Role of Law and Lawyers in Advancing the Fundamental Principle of The Separation of Powers, (6). Promoting Foreign Direct Investment and Cross Border Transactions in the SAARC Region, Through the Introduction of an Investment Friendly Legal Regime, (7) The Role of Law in Ensuring Compliance with Corporate Governance Rules, and (8). The Role of National and International Counter-Trafficking Laws in Combatting Issues of Trafficking and Forced Labour in International Labour Migration in South Asia. This session will be hosted by the Solidarity Centre.
An eminent array of speakers from the SAARC countries will serve as panelists at these sessions.
The Conference will be inaugurated with the participation of H.E Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka and Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka who will deliver the keynote address.
Over 200 foreign delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Maldives, and Philippines have already registered. For registrations, please visit www.saarclawsl2017
The official airline sponsor of this event is SriLankan Airlines.
Photo caption: Mr. NIhal Jayamanne and Mrs. Dhara Wijayatilaka speaking at the media conference