The seminar was organised in partnership with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.
From 10 – 12 December 2021, the Foundation hosted the fourth seminar in a seven-part seminar series for lawyers in Sri Lanka. It addressed international human rights law with a specific focus on select economic, social, and cultural rights.
The first day of the seminar introduced participants to the foundations of international human rights law and the unique characteristics of economic, social and cultural rights in particular. Moreover, strategies to litigate economic, social and cultural rights in comparative jurisdictions were explored. Finally, the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Mr Saliya Pieris PC, examined the potential for economic, social and cultural rights litigation in Sri Lanka. The second day of the seminar introduced participants to two substantive economic, social and cultural rights, namely the right to social security and the right to adequate housing. These rights were examined in both the international and domestic contexts and were selected by virtue of their relevance to the daily work of lawyers in Sri Lanka, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. To conclude the second day of the seminar, Ms Pubudini Wickramaratne, a Sri Lankan expert in economic, social and cultural rights, walked participants through litigation strategies and legal remedies relied upon in Sri Lanka which have been successful in advancing these rights.
The final day of the seminar asked participants to examine a factual scenario and devise strategic and human rights-based approaches to addressing the possible injustices described therein. This exercise led to robust and thought-provoking discussions about the relationship between international human rights law and the Sri Lankan domestic legal system, as well as the role that lawyers may play in advancing economic, social and cultural rights in Sri Lanka.
Throughout the seminar, Research Fellows from the Max Planck Foundation were joined by two Sri Lankan co-trainers: Senior Attorneys-at-Law, Mr Faris Saly and Mr Sanjeewa Kaluaarachchi. The co-trainers provided invaluable local expertise to the programme and are previous participants in the Foundation’s Training-of-Trainers activity for senior lawyers in Sri Lanka.
The seminar was opened by the Managing Director of the Max Planck Foundation, Mr Johannes Krusemark-Camin, and the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Mr Saliya Pieris PC. It was closed by the Secretary of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Mr Rajeev Amarasuriya. Three further Seminars on this topic will be convened for lawyers located in provinces around Sri Lanka over the course of 2022.