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Looking Back: Lawyers of the World Unite

September 1962

Lawyers of the World Unite

By Dr David L Watson


It happened in Edinburgh, quietly, soberly, at the Convention of the International Bar Association, at the Assembly Rooms in George Street. There were no trumpets.

Why then, as I fiddled with my headphones and receiver, did such warmth come into my heart? Why did I find the skilled fellowship of this gathering so full of hope for all of us?

The answer is that there was no propaganda, no heated accusations, no ads, no headlines. In four languages, friendly men, cool, logical, articulate, polite, got acquainted, pooled their knowledge and experience, and took decisions. Here in Edinburgh was one world in operation – the thing the race of man most needs: unity in thought, action, spirit.

And present in the large American delegation was the man who has perhaps worked harder than any, to promote a world law – Charles S. Rhyne – a law the same for men of every nation.

On one day this fellowship discussed the means by which you and I and all of us may get protection when necessary from officialdom. In this Sweden leads the world. For there, as Ormonde Goldie told us, they have a whole-time officer – the Ombudsman – whose job it is to take the part of the citizen when necessary against the bureaucrat.

On another day the convention heard a progress report from its child organisation, the International Legal Aid Association. While politicians fret and pose, I.L.A.A. quietly rolls up its courtroom sleeves to speed the day when no one anywhere will suffer injustice without an expert to help him fight back.

Yes, I grant you – other international conferences may well inspire such hope: I.L.O., or U.N.E.S.C.O. or the World Council of Churches. But when at length our human race “gets the point”, when we get to writing a law, a constitution for the world, the key men for the job will be the men whose business is the law: the men who met in Edinburgh.

When next they meet two years from now, in Mexico City, let the International Bar Association invite to join the representatives from other professions, trades, and walks of life. Let these keen lawyers share the good thing, the infinitely hopeful thing, they have created, with doctors, ministers, scientists, farmers, carpenters and engineers.

If they do, the way will be open to the Parliament of Man – the Federation of the World. Hope will be possible.

But the time is short.

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