Our aims

The aims of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with consultative status to ECOSOC and UNESCO are:

  • To facilitate contact and exchanges of views among lawyers and lawyers-associations of all countries to foster understanding and goodwill among them.
  • To work together to achieve the aims set out in the Charter of the United Nations.
  • To ensure common action by lawyers:
  • In the realm of law, the study and practice of the principles of democracy to encourage the maintenance of peace and cooperation among nations.
  • To restore, defend and develop democratic rights and liberties in legislation and in practice.
  • To promote the independence of all peoples and to oppose any restriction on this independence whether in law or in practice.
  • To defend and promote human and peoples' rights.
  • To promote the preservation of ecology and healthy environments.
  • To struggle for strict adherence to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary and legal profession.
  • To defend peoples' rights to development and for conditions of economic equality and the enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress and natural resources.

About the International Association of Democratic Lawyers

Since IADL's founding in 1946 in Paris, IADL members have participated in the struggles that have made the violation of human rights of groups and individuals and threats to international peace and security, legal issues under international law. From its inception, IADL members throughout the globe have protested racism, colonialism, and economic and political injustice wherever they interfere with legal and human rights, often at the cost of these jurists personal safety and economic well being.

IADL campaigns have led to changes in international humanitarian law like the universal acceptance of the importance of the right to self-determination and the protection of national human rights in arguments before UN bodies and international courts in a reinterpretation of the doctrine of "domestic jurisdiction," formulated in Article 2, paragraph 7 of the UN Charter, a former barrier to international action in support of those basic rights.

This global evolution led by IADL lawyers has made possible United Nations' intervention in situations of massive and institutionalized human rights abuses beginning with UN action in the 1960's regarding South Africa's apartheid policies which had divested all human and legal rights from the black majority.

Through their efforts IADL lawyers have helped to establish fundamental concepts of international and domestic law including the declaration of apartheid as a crime against humanity; the provision of prisoner of war status to combatants from liberation movements; prohibition of the use of unilateral force by one nation against another; the recognized legal right of peoples to self-determination; the recognized legal rights of women and children; and the almost universal public policy acceptance that there should be legal remedies for racial, religious, economic and cultural discrimination and persecution.

As observers at political trials of defendants like Angela Davis, the Turkish Poet Nazim Hikmet, Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya, Abane Ramdame, Nelson Mandela, and numerous members of ANC, SWAPO, and PLO accused of crimes against the state, IADL lawyers and jurists have focussed the light of international scrutiny on efforts to silence dissidents. As activist lawyers, they have brought challenges to violations of individual and group rights before the International Court of Justice, the United Nations Court in the Hague, the European Court of Human Rights and the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights.

By the beginning of the 21st century, more than fifty years after the founding of the IADL, profound changes in law and international expectations have altered the ways IADL members practice their professions and exercise their political beliefs. Political events and contemporary human rights struggles throughout the world require legal activism to continue into this century.

Committed to the principle of equality among peoples, the rights of all peoples to self-determination, the elimination of imperialism and colonialism and the peaceful settlement of international disputes, the members of IADL who share these objectives include individual lawyers and judges and regional and affiliated national lawyer and jurist associations from over ninety countries.