A first workshop for lawyers on human rights and lawyering in times of crisis was held in Galle, Sri Lanka.
From 21 – 23 April 2023, the Max Planck Foundation convened a workshop for Sri Lankan Lawyers. The workshop, held in collaboration with the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, examined a rights-based approach to legal argumentation and practice in times of crisis and formed part of the Foundation’s newly launched project in Sri Lanka titled ‘Strengthening the Rule of Law and Democratic Principles in Sri Lanka in Times of Crisis‘ and generously funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
The workshop commenced with an examination of the concept of crisis, and then proceeded to explore the impact of crises on human rights in the short-, medium- and long-term and the unique role played by lawyers in advancing human rights during crisis. One tool unpacked throughout the workshop was a rights-based approach to legal reasoning, argumentation and practice. To complement the recent workshop on a similar topic held for judges, lawyers were asked to consider how they could more effectively include international human rights law, fundamental rights, common law rights and statutory rights in their pleadings and day-to-day practice to advance the interests of clients and society at large.
The programme was delivered by the Foundation’s Research Fellows and Consultants in collaboration with local and international experts. Expert contributions were made by: Mr Saliya Pieris, PC, who explored how a rights-based approach may be integrated into lawyers’ daily work with a specific focus on times of civil unrest and protest; Advocate Michael Bishop, who explored a comparative perspective of the advancement of rights during health crisis with a focus on South Africa; Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne, who presented a session on professional ethics for lawyers and the role of a rights-based approach to legal practice; and Mr Kaushalya Nawaratne, President of the Bar Association, who spoke about the special role played by the Bar Association in times of crisis.
This is the first of two workshops which the Foundation and the Bar Association of Sri Lanka will convene on this topic in 2023.