The Role of Lawyers in an Era of Evolving Ethical Expectations: Ways Forward Within a Democratic Society

8 December 2021  11:00 - 12:00

Virtual Event | Organised by International Bar Association (IBA) | Held in U.K. in English
Contact details: [email protected]
Addressing and fighting corruption
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Brief Overview: This panel will address the role of lawyers in a democratic society, from defending human rights and fundamental freedoms, to facilitating arguably unethical wealth accumulation and illicit financial flows (i.e., Pandora Papers). What can be done to ensure the independence of lawyers, enabling them to protect the interests of society, while also curbing questionable (“lawful but awful”) practices?

Discussion: The discussion will cover the core requirements of the independence of the legal profession, consistent with the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. The independence of lawyers in the exercise of their key functions is essential to providing access to justice, protecting human rights and ensuring respect for the rule of law. At the same time lawyers may willingly or unwillingly be used by certain clients to pursue illegal or unethical goals. The panel will discuss both external and internal challenges to the independence of the profession and what we can do to provide longer-term solutions that advance the best interests of: (1) societies already in the community of democracies, and (2) societies striving to combat entrenched (or creeping) authoritarianism.


  1. Grace Perez Navarro, Deputy Director of Tax, OECD (helped spearhead OECD Report published earlier this year (
  2. Deborah Enix-Ross, President-Elect, American Bar Association
  3. Diego Garcia-Sayan, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges & Lawyers
  4. Nicola Bonucci, formerly OECD Director of Legal Affairs; Partner, Paul Hastings (Paris, France)
  5. Agnes Callamard, Secretary General,  Amnesty International
  6. Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Executive Director, IBA Human Rights Institute

Sara Carnegie (MODERATOR), Director, IBA Legal Projects and Research Unit