International law reformers ‘peering over the horizon’

Monday, 10 April 2006: What will our legal and regulatory systems need to do to manage the rapid advances in the sciences and in information technology? How will those societies facing an HIV/AIDS crisis cope when almost an entire generation is wiped out by the epidemic?

What should be the regional and international response if global warming endangers the very existence of Pacific Island states? How do we maintain civil and political rights if the security environment worsens?

These questions are among those being considered by the world’s top law reformers, meeting in Sydney this week for the Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference (ALRAC) 2006 from 10–12 April. Hosted by the Australian Law Reform Commission, it is the largest gathering of law reformers ever held, with over 100 delegates—representing over 30 law reform agencies from 24 countries.

“Apart from the strong representation of law reformers from Australia, NZ and the Pacific Islands, this conference is unusual in drawing large numbers of participants from Indonesia, Macau, Sri Lanka, Malawi, Kenya, Namibia, Lesotho, Tanzania, South Africa, the UK and Ireland, and Canada–which should make for some very lively debates,” Commission President Professor David Weisbrot said.

“The first half of the conference will focus on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of law reform, such as strategies for increasing public engagement with the law reform process, accommodating the perspectives of different cultural groups within the one legal system, and promoting greater harmonisation of laws.

“Then we will be ‘Peering Over the Horizon’, trying to predict and prepare for the major challenges we will be facing in the coming decades. We’ve invited the leading thinkers in their fields to guide us through this exercise, including top experts in genetic science and community medicine, demographics, the environment, human rights, international security and the ‘new media’.

“We have asked them to outline a vision of future developments in these field, to provide law reformers with an opportunity to debate the challenges that will be posed for law reformers and policy makers,” Prof Weisbrot said.

Conference details: Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference (ALRAC) 2006, hosted by the Australian Law Reform Commission. Manly Pacific Hotel, 55 North Steyne Road, Manly.

Conference highlights:

9.30am, Tuesday 11 April: The Hon Michael Black AC, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia on ‘The Business of Law Reform’

9.00am, Wednesday 12 April: The Hon Justice Ronald Sackville, Federal Court of Australia on ‘The Future of Justice’.

‘Peering Over the Horizon’ sessions on Wednesday, 12 April are likely to be of particular interest:

9.40am: Science and Medicine/ Environment and Sustainability (Parallel Sessions).

11.20am: Changing Demographics/Human Rights (Parallel Sessions)

1.45pm: The New Media/ National and International Security (Parallel Sessions)

A full conference program is available online or from the Australian Law Reform Commission.