On 11 and 12 of July 2019 representatives of the G7 Bars and Law Societies met for the second time, after their last meeting in the course of the the last G7 in Rome in 2017. The DAV was represented by its president Edith Kindermann. The meeting concluded in the signature of the Proposal to the G7 Governments, underlining the legal profession’s strong position in civil society. The DAV took an active role in shaping the recommendations and introduced an important paragraph connected to the human rights. The project European Lawyers in Lesvos stresses the significance of legal aid by independent lawyers as part of humanitarian aid. This point of view was shared by all participants and included in the chapter concerning the fight against inequalities and promotion of Access to Justice under paragraph 12. In total, ten recommendations and proposals could be agreed on, calling the G7 governments for reflection, involvement and action. Furthermore, the jointly signed Declaration against the Death Penalty illustrates the lawyer’s position in safeguarding human rights and protecting them. Notably, the Japanese delegation proposed this Declaration. Closely linked to protecting human rights, lawyers often need protection themselves. Nasrin Sotoudeh was convicted to a de facto death sentence in her capacity and exercise as a lawyer. The Bars and Law Societies strongly condemn the basis for this proceedings and asked for the immediate and unconditioned pardon of the Iranian lawyer by signing the Resolution Demanding the immediate release of the Iranian lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh.
Since Artificial Intelligence and the progressing digitalisation accompany all professions the Bars and Law Societies agreed on a Resolution concerning opportunities offered by digitalization and artificial intelligence in the judicial system.
The G7 summit is a forum that brings together leaders from the EU (France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom) and Canada, Japan, United States. Confronted with the French government who called for civil society groups to have a real say in the G7 works in 2019, the Bar Associations and Law Societies of the G7 countries came together for the first time with a representative of the European Council of Bars and Law Societies, the CCBE.
In creating the G7 engagement group of lawyers the legal dimension is underlined in all aspects of the G7. It is the profession of lawyers, which is close to the citizen and which is at the heart of all debates, conflicts and challenges, solved by means of law. There is not a single topic dealt with by the G7 which would not call for the law which is defended and applied by lawyers.
The role of lawyers is not limited to defending and applying the law, but beyond that to call for its modernisation and development striving for justice systems where justice prevails over politics and emotional debates. This is why we were extremely grateful to the Japanese delegation who brought forward a declaration for the abolition of the death penalty.
Since April 2019, the respective ministers and Sherpa of the G7 countries have been meeting to prepare for the G7 summit in Biarritz on 24-26 August 2019. For several years now, various social groups of civil society come together to exchange their points of view and communicate them to the heads of government.
The French Presidency has set three objectives:
The French Presidency has identified five thematic areas for this purpose:
- Combating inequality in health, employment and education; promoting gender equality - girls' access to education, combating violence, economic empowerment of women
- Preserving our planet - protecting biodiversity, oceans and climate
- Commitment to peace and the fight against global terrorism, primarily on the African continent.
- Exploiting the opportunities offered by digitisation and artificial intelligence and setting up a group of artificial intelligence experts,
- Promote fairer and more sustainable trade, tax and development policies; create a competition policy adapted to digital change.
After the first G7 Bars meeting on the occasion of the G7 Summit in Rome upon invitation of the Consiglio Nazionale Forense, the CNB took the opportunity to take advantage of Macron's stronger involvement of civil society to make the voice of the advocacy community in a G7 advocacy interest group sound as well.
It is important that lawyers show that they are not only part of the administration of justice, but furthermore the voice within society that has to aim at better law making and to push for the adherence of the rule of law. Lawyers in their role as intermediaries between citizens, businesses and the state are guaranteeing equality before the law and unhindered access to justice. Consequently, the German Bar Association gladly participated in the second G7 Bars meeting in Paris, in preparation of the G7 summit taking place in Biarritz in August 2019. We noticed with pride that our proposals were already heard by the Sous-Sherpas during their meeting in Paris at the very moment of the G7 Bars meeting. We would welcome future meetings by the Bars and Law Societies of the G7 countries in 2020 in the US, 2021 in the UK and perhaps 2022 in Germany.
The respective governments are invited to consider the following proposals and recommendations:
- to support the participation of bar associations, court systems and others in activities that promote awareness of the system of Justice and the rule of law from an early age by organising awareness days in schools with lawyers (Anwälte in die Schulen)
- to promoting gender and other equality in society and in the workplace
- to commit to including legal aid by independent lawyers as part of humanitarian aid; a claim that is of particular importance for the German Bar Association in light of the project European Lawyers in Lesvos giving pro bono legal advice to refugees
- to promote a meaningful debate at international level on the need to address matters regarding Business and Human Rights
- to ensure that all are equal before the law and that the law protects lawyers in the performance of their duties.
- to ensure access to a counsel of one’s own choosing, the confidentiality of the lawyer client relationship, the right to prepare a defence and the right to a fair trial and an independent judiciary.
- to ensure that all legislation, being it anti-terrorism legislation or tax legislation, as implemented in practice must respect fundamental rights and freedoms, including confidentiality between the lawyer and its client and the right to a fair trial.
We are proud, that although not signed by the ABA for own policy reasons, the six other delegations did also call for a resolution concerning opportunities offered by digitalisation and artificial intelligence, in which we call on governments
- to ensure that court decisions are not solely based entirely on artificial intelligence and
- ask governments to work in partnership with legal professional bodies, universities and other stakeholders to establish an independent mechanism to assess the impact of the use of algorithms in the judicial system.
We were extremely happy about the positive reception of those proposals found at the sous-Sherpa meeting.
Moreover, we would like to highlight the braveness of the Japanese delegation who proposed a declaration against death penalty that in times of characterised by increasing populism is more important than ever even in countries which already have abolished death penalty.
Last but not least it is of utmost importance that bar associations – by addressing such tendencies individually or like on the occasion of the G7 by a group of G7 states – call for lawyers to be respected and protected in their work for the administration of justice by the state and not to be identified with their client's situations and prosecuted. In this light, bar associations signed the Resolution demanding the immediate and unconditional formal pardon of the Iranian Lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh.