Symposium – 8 March 2017

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, as established and specifically promoted by the organization of the United Nations, the Academy held a Symposium on “Women’s Human Rights and the Elimination of Discrimination on the 8th of March at its premises in The Hague. The event was generously sponsored by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond Foundation. All speeches and presentations were delivered either in French or in English depending on the speakers’ preferences, with simultaneous interpretation provided by experienced interpreters.

The Symposium was opened by the Secretary-General of the Academy, Professor Jean-Marc Thouvenin, who welcomed the large audience that had turned up. Professor Thouvenin then proceeded to explain the reasons that led the Academy to organize the event, and the programme of the Symposium. The Deputy-Mayor of the Municipality of The Hague, Ms. Saskia Bruines, took the stage subsequently and expressed the Municipality’s specific support for this type of event. Then Ms. Renée Römkens, Professor at the University of Amsterdam, presented an overall analysis of the Istanbul Convention, while evaluating its implications for the Netherlands. Her presentation was followed by the equally engaging presentation of H.E. Sanji Monageng, Judge at the International Criminal Court, who addressed the subject of “Women’s progress and legal instruments: The Southern African experience”.

These three keynote speeches proved to be altogether complementary in painting both an encouraging and contrasting picture of the situation of women around the world, as well as in outlining the law whose purpose it is to improve this particular situation. Professors Maarit Jänterä-Jareborg and Hélène Tigroudja then presented the contents of the latest Academy publication entitled “Women’s Human Rights and The Elimination of Discrimination”, which they edited together. The Secretary-General offered a copy of the book to each speaker.

Professor Thouvenin subsequently invited to the stage the participants of the scheduled panel discussion on the topic of “Empowering Women”. This was the third and final highlight of the Symposium. Under the distinguished presidency of Professor Yves Daudet, President of the Curatorium of the Academy and ad hoc judge in several cases before the International Court of Justice, Dr. Liesbeth Lijnzaad, Legal Adviser at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nico Schrijver, Professor at the University of Leiden and Senator, Dr. Elisabeth Wesseling-van Gent, Advocate General at the Netherlands Court of Cassation, and Ms. Ann Wilkens, former Ambassador of Sweden, successively shared their views and personal experiences with regard to the issue of women’s place in society and the role of law in improving it.

Once again an inevitably mixed picture was presented, while emphasizing both the progress made by international law and the distance that may exist, particularly in some countries, between the legal requirements and the realities on the ground.

After these presentations which were highly appreciated by the audience, the participants and the audience were invited to a nice reception on the premises of the Academy, allowing everyone to prolong the discussions initiated during the Symposium.