The ILA’s 150th Anniversary: Paris and Beyond
The commemoration of the ILA’s 150th anniversary in 2023 is in full swing. The year-long program involves the publication of future-directed white papers that have been prepared by specialized committees around the world on a variety of important topics, monthly webinars by experts, a symposium in Paris on the theme of “Build Tomorrow,” a commemorative mural and a 704-page volume that was published in time for the symposium. Entitled “To the Benefit of International Law,” the book included multi-authored chapters on “The Moment 1873,” the histories of individual branches, and the influence of the ILA’s work on the development of international law.
The centerpiece of the sesquicentennial was the symposium held at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris on June 18-20. The symposium program can be found here. Some sixteen American Branchers attended the event-packed program and gala activities that unfolded with an artistic flourish of modern dance and music in the opening ceremony. It then featured top officials from the French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs, international organizations and academic institutions. ILA speakers included President Manuel de Almeida Ribeiro from Portugal and Executive Chair Christine Chinkin from the U.K. A highlight of the opening ceremony was the unveiling of a spectacular commissioned mural by Goinaz Afraz. It will be hung in the Cité Internationale.
The opening ceremony was followed by a “Welcome Cocktail” reception hosted by ABILA. ABILA Chairwoman Leila Sadat opened the reception by congratulating the ILA on its 150th anniversary and welcoming participants to the conference. Jim Nafziger traced the history, development and contribution to the ILA of ABILA since its foundation in 1922, noting America’s role fifty years earlier in establishing the ILA’s precursor, marked by the Alabama Claims Award and the leadership of David Dudley Field. Nafziger’s remarks were drawn from a history of ABILA, co-authored with John Noyes, that appears in the ILA’s commemorative volume.
The “Build Tomorrow” theme of the well-attended symposium lent itself to forward-looking themes of substantive panels ranging from a new relationship between hard and soft law to ethics in international economic relations. A concluding session offered all attendees an opportunity to make suggestions to help guide the ILA’s future. One suggestion, for example, was to expand the organization’s capacity to notify and maintain dialogues with significant individuals and entities concerning the work-product of committees. ABILA was well represented on the panels by Andrea Bjorklund, Chimene Keitner, and, Leila Sadat. The three-day celebration included a gala dinner at the unique Musée des Arts Forains, with toasts especially to Professor Frank Latty president of the French Branch, and Professor Emerita Catherine Kessedjian, the extraordinary chair (for more than two years) of the organizing committee for all of the 150th anniversary activities.
The ILA’s Executive Council, meeting just before the opening ceremony of the symposium, considered several of the rules and guidelines of committees and study groups. In addition to the normal financial and housekeeping items on its semiannual agenda, the Council also approved the establishment of two new branches–Senegal and UAE–subject to timely objections. The Council also endorsed the formation of two new committees: Protection of People at Sea and Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in All Stages of Armed Conflicts. Finally, the Hellenic Committee announced that the venue of the ILA’s 2024 Biennial Conference had just been changed from Delphi to Athens. It is scheduled for June 24-28, 2024. Please put that in your calendar!