Special ABA London Sessions Report

UK trade envoy: 'I'd give anything' for the ABA to work with the Iraqi judiciary

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Baroness Emma Nicholson

Baroness Emma Nicholson. Photograph by Professional Images.

The rule of law as embodied in the Magna Carta needs to be brought to the people who need it most, said Baroness Emma Nicholson during her luncheon speech at the ABA London Sessions.

“People want freedom. People want the rule of law,” Nicholson said. “They want these two things, essentially.”

Nicholson serves as the U.K. trade envoy to Iraq, a post she has held since January 2014. She has been a member of the House of Lords since 1997 and before that was a member of the House of Commons for 10 years.

Nicholson has served on the Rule of Law Initiative’s Middle East & North Africa Council and is the executive chair of AMAR International Charitable Foundation, which works with refugees in the Middle East.

The ABA does valuable work to promote the rule of law around the world and to teach mediation, Nicholson said. “I’d give anything to have the ABA work with the judiciary in Iraq.”


People throughout the world value the judicial process and hope it will bring them justice. She recounted a time she worked with a woman who had been kidnapped and eventually rescued. Upon release, the woman told her: “All I want is for the people who have done this to me to get to the courts,” Nicholson said.

Kurdish refugees in the Middle East, and in Iraq in particular, are facing harrowing times as they are displaced from their homes after civil war in Syria and the advance of the Islamic State group, Nicholson said.

“It’s a very, very difficult time indeed for the Iraqi Kurdish people,” she said. “I feel very troubled for them.”

As the refugee crisis in Iraq continues to worsen, the United Nations made a fresh appeal in June for $497 million for humanitarian needs in Iraq.

At times, neither U.N. conventions nor national judicial systems can bring justice to the people who need it most, Nicholson said. She suggested that there should be a middle ground between U.N. conventions and national justice: Conventions can take time to enforce, and national justice might not be forthcoming when dictators or government corruption are present.

“Justice that doesn’t come or gives a lesser answer doesn’t seem to me to appease victims,” she said.

Nicholson said that through her work she has seen firsthand where new laws were able to stop illegal and immoral practices such as child trafficking in Russia.

See what people were saying about the events in our social media roundup, and follow along with our full coverage of the ABA London Sessions.

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