For International Women's Day 2022, Edite Ligere suggests that humane principles should be valued, encouraged and appreciated.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”.
I am honoured to be invited by the Bar Council to contribute to its marking of International Women’s Day. Inspired by the universal suffrage movement started in New Zealand, International Women’s Day originated from labour movements in North America and Europe in the early 20th century. At the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference, the German delegates proposed “a special Women’s Day” to be celebrated annually without agreeing on a day for such celebration.
Following the granting of universal suffrage (by Prince Georgy Lvov shortly before his fall from power) in Russia in 1917, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his alias Lenin, declared that 8 March should be known as International Women’s Day. It was associated with far-left movements and governments until its adoption by the global feminist moment in the late 1960s and the United Nations in 1977.
I have always been sceptical of International Women’s Day as it rather suggests that all other days of the year represent a celebration of men. The significant contribution of women to every walk of life should be valued, encouraged and appreciated every day, not just on 8 March!
My earliest memories of International Women’s Day are from what was at the time Soviet Latvia, then a part of the United Soviet Socialist Republics, now a member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. After three decades of successful nation building by many former Soviet republics, including the Baltic States, the values associated with the rule of law, democracy, human rights and the fabric of the international legal order are currently tested by another Russian Vladimir, the Russian President of the past 22 years, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
I have been a member of the Bar Council’s Law Reform Committee for some time and an elected member of the Bar Council between 2020-2022. I am currently working on the Bar Council’s response to the recent consultation by the Ministry of Justice on reforming the Human Rights Act 1998, the Bar Council’s Working Group on Retained EU Law and the joint Bar Council’s and Law Society’s Working Group on Cybersecurity.
Throughout my work with the Bar Council, the commitment of our legal system to the rule of law, democracy, freedom and justice have been and continue to be palpable. These are not just words on a piece of paper. They are principles the operation of which is manifest in everyday life.
While no system can ever be perfect, our legal system is credible and incorruptible. We should not take it for granted, particularly at a time when our values are under attack, brought into sharper practical focus by the weariness inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the transition triggered by the digital and green revolutions.
We should not allow the political winds of the day to compromise the integrity of our legal system which is a beacon for many around the world. A breach of international law no matter how small and fact-specific it may be said to be, is still a breach of international law and, consequently, unacceptable.
Inherent differences, frequently leading to conflict and battles of ideologies, are an inescapable part of the human condition. However, the peaceful and civilised resolution of conflict without recourse to barbaric atrocities is what differentiates homo sapiens from other creatures, including robots, at least, it should be!
I hope that in the days, months and years ahead the rule of law, commitment to human rights, international peace and security, the international legal order, the sovereignty, territorial integrity and self-determination of states, common sense, and collaboration on the challenges facing humanity will prevail. It is only by cooperation and compromise that we can hope to solve the challenges facing the world today or at least make meaningful progress.
I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to serve the Bar Council and proud to be a member of my profession. I wish all humans of every distinguishing feature recognition, tolerance and acceptance of our differences as well as our common humanity, the fulfilment of potential, peace and cooperation on International Women’s Day and every day thereafter.
Edite Ligere is a barrister at 1 Crown Office Row.
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