PILS Project and PILA Joint Conference 2012

PILS Project and PILA Joint Conference 2012

June 2012

The PILS Project and PILA Joint Conference, held on 7 June 2012, was attended by over 100 people, including a wide range of legal practitioners and representatives of non-governmental organisations from Northern Ireland and the Republic, showcased practical and innovative ways to incorporate international human rights standards in strategic legal challenges.

PILS Project & PILA Joint Conference 2012

The title of the conference was Using International Standards Beyond the European Convention on Human Rights, and was scheduled to feature Asma Jahangir as keynote speaker.

Unfortunately Ms Jahangir, a renowned international human rights lawyer and activist, had to cancel her appearance after she received serious and credible death threats shortly beforehand. 

Overview of Presentations

Dr Gordon Anthony BL, also a Reader at Queen’s University Belfast, spoke about how unincorporated treaties can plan an indirect role in domestic UK proceedings. This potential to use international standards indirectly was mirrored by Michael Lynn BL’s presentation. He gave the example of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (which Ireland has ratified), and how it can assist courts with the interpretation of Irish constitutional rights. FLAC Senior Solicitor Michael Farrell stood in for Asma Jahangir, and his presentation considered other opportunities to use or promote international standards through Council of Europe and United Nations instruments. Examples of these instruments are the European Social Charter (Council of Europe), and visits and reports by international rapporteurs and commissioners.

In the afternoon there were three breakout sessions that enabled attendees to flesh out and debate the practical ideas from the morning presentations. These sessions were focused on using international human rights law to protect and advance economic and social rights, to protect and advance non-discrimination and equality; and on how lawyers and NGOs can collaborate to increase the use of international human rights law in the courts.

Feedback from the conference was overwhelming positive, including many comments on the usefulness of the speakers’ comparisons of the different situations in the North and South. 

Speaker Papers

PILS Project & PILA Joint Conference 2012