New Zealand Law Society - International women judges conference in Auckland

International women judges conference in Auckland

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International women judges conference in Auckland

On 7-10 May this year in Auckland the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) is holding its biennial conference, with a line-up of impressive speakers with a vast range of experience. Hosted by the New Zealand Association of Women Judges (NZAWJ), the theme of this year’s conference is “Celebrating Diversity’’. The IAWJ is a charitable organisation dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights and in particular those of women and girls and has over 6,000 members from over 110 countries, at all levels of the court hierarchy.

The biennial conference is a core part of how the IAWJ achieves its mission of a global connected network of women judges upholding the rule of law and delivering justice for everyone. It is one of the main ways the IAWJ promotes best practice in the wide range of countries it connects. At the conference around 90 female judges will present on three sub-streams: indigenous issues, human rights, and diversity in the courts, and hundreds of other judges will be in attendance.

Keynote speakers

Some major names will be there as keynote speakers, supported in each plenary session by a panel of other judges from around the world sharing their perspective and experience on the topic. The keynote speakers include Professor Larissa Behrendt speaking on the empowerment of indigenous women; Professor James Hathaway, an expert on international refugee law; Mary Robinson, co-founder of a global climate justice foundation and former President of Ireland; Helen Clark with a global perspective on human rights and development; Baroness Helena Kennedy QC on gender equality and the experiences of women in the justice system; and Baroness Brenda Hale, the recently retired President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, on her inspirational career.

Beyond the keynote speakers, there are judicial and legal speakers from around the globe, with Chief Justices or Supreme Court judges from Canada, Ethiopia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru and South Africa. There are also speakers from Bangladesh, Chile, Estonia, Greece, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Syria, Tanzania, Ukraine, Yemen, and other countries. Attending this kind of gathering of legal leaders is a once in a career opportunity in New Zealand.

Legal profession welcome

While the primary audience of the conference is international women judges, the IAWJ welcomes delegates of all genders from the legal profession. The conference covers many subjects topical in New Zealand and the world today. It will highlight indigenous issues, including in the criminal justice system and the effect of colonisation on societies. It will cover climate change and its effect on the vulnerable. Also covered will be access to justice, legal aid and judges as agents of change (including in relation to the #metoo movement). Other topics include alternatives to prisons and how traditionally marginalised people can be better protected in prisons, legal hurdles facing LGBTQI people, diversity and disability. Substantive criminal law subjects that will be covered include sexual violence against children and family violence. New Zealand lawyers are able to get CPD points for their attendance.

The conference begins with a pōwhiri on the afternoon of Thursday 7 May and runs through to the afternoon of Sunday 10 May, based at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland. It includes an opening cocktail function and a gala dinner, providing an opportunity for attendees to meet each other and benefit from sharing their experiences. The full conference (Thursday-Sunday inclusive) cost for non-judges is $1,970. There is a reduced cost of $895 for attendance by young lawyers/academics/students (which excludes the social functions) or $1,620 for weekend-only attendance by New Zealand lawyers (Saturday and Sunday, including the gala dinner on the Saturday night).


Register now and find out more information on the IAWJ website.

Justice Susan Glazebrook is a member of the Supreme Court and President-Elect of the IAWJ. District Court Judge Mary O’Dwyer is President of the NZAWJ.