Qatar Conference Draws Heavily from HLS

From left: HLS Professor William Alford ’77; Lord Woolf; Pius Langa, chief justice of South Africa; K. G. Balakrishnan, chief justice of India; and Chan Sek Keong, chief Justice of Singapore

From left: HLS Professor William Alford ’77; Lord Woolf; Pius Langa, chief justice of South Africa; K. G. Balakrishnan, chief justice of India; and Chan Sek Keong, chief Justice of Singapore

Harvard Law School was well represented in the inaugural Qatar Law Forum in late May—an unprecedented gathering of legal luminaries from some 35 nations, including 12 chief justices, the presidents of the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and prominent legal officials, legal educators and practitioners. (Watch video from the forum.)

Conceived of and led by Malik Dahlan, LL.M. ’01 [Photo below], chair of the Institution Quraysh for Law and Policy (headquartered in London), the forum featured sessions that addressed globalization and the rule of law, Shari’ah and legal reform in the Arab world, diversity in the legal profession, and legal education, among other topics. The Times of London (one of several international newspapers to cover it) reported that “[t]here was debate, for instance, about what the rule of law meant: did it require democracy? How could it be considered before the need to feed a hungry population? And what of the way it was interpreted in different places (one person’s rule of law could breach another’s human rights)?” In another part of the forum, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, prosecutor of the ICC and former HLS visiting professor, engaged in a vigorous exchange over his decision to refer Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for prosecution because of Darfur.

Several Harvard Law School faculty and alumni played prominent roles at the event.William Alford ’77, vice dean and Stimson Professor (as well as one of Dahlan’s teachers at HLS), together with Lord Harry Woolf, who recently stepped down as chief justice of England and Wales, led seven chief justices (from Bahrain, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, and Uganda) in a plenary session discussion of the challenge of globalization before an audience of some 1,000.

International Court of Justice President Hisashi Owada, who has been a visiting professor at HLS on multiple occasions, and Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani LL.M. ’56, former minister of petroleum and mineral resources of Saudi Arabia, were featured speakers at other plenary sessinos.

Professor of Practice Ashish Nanda, research director at the HLS Center for Law and the Professions; Clinical Professor Robert C. Bordone ’97, director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program; former HLS faculty member Frank Vogel; and Dr. Nazim Ali, director of the HLS Islamic Finance Project each led panels. And several other HLS alumni, including Lord William Goodhart LL.M. ’58, chair of the Harvard Law School Association international section; and Sir Bernard Rix LL.M. ’69, president of the HLSA of the U.K., joined the meetings.

Rob Shapiro ’78, partner at Ropes & Gray, former HLSA president and chair of the board of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., delivered a dinner address at the new Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I.M. Pei, on the intersection of law and culture. Because of the presence of so many HLS graduates, the forum also provided the occasion for the inaugural meeting of the HLSA of Arabia.

At the forum’s conclusion, Qatar’s Minister of Justice Hassan Al-Ghanem and Assistant Foreign Minister Mohammad Al-Rumaihi bestowed the ”Qatar Pearls of Praise Award” on Vice Dean Alford, Lord Goodhart, ICC Chief Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo, ICJ President Owada, Sir Bernard, and Sheik Yamani in recognition of their commitment “to the Rule of Law.”