|With James Hurlock ’51, his wife, Lynn, and Head of School Christopher Burner ’80, at center, are, left to right, Waring Prize Committee members Richie Thomas ’54, Rich S|
ands ’78, Elise Glenn ’77, Robert Oldfield ’77 and
Tom Seligson ’69.
How to define justice – and the role the International Development Law Organization has played in supporting justice worldwide – was the focus of a Chapel talk by 2011 Waring Prize recipient James Hurlock ’51 on April 13.
Hurlock started his legal career at the law firm of White & Case, where he eventually became a partner and practiced in the firm’s international offices for a number of years. He served for 20 years as chairman of the firm’s management committee, working to build the firm’s international base and focusing on international financial transactions.
His successes representing the central banks of Indonesia, Turkey, Gabon, Zaire, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, Poland, Bulgaria and Honduras persuaded Hurlock to emphasize the growth of White & Case’s international offices.
Hurlock retired from White & Case in 2000 and accepted a position as chairman of the board of directors at the International Development Law Organization, where he had been a board member since 1988.
“After many years of involvement with the law, I imagined that justice, per se, would be an easy topic, but the more I thought about discussing it with you the more challenging it became,” Hurlock told the audience of students, faculty and staff.
Hurlock reminded the audience that justice is often represented by the Roman goddess Justinia holding a sword and scales, with the sword implying the need to comply and the scales emphasizing impartiality. But that image can overlook the complexities of applying the law in real life.
“The problem with these definitions is that some of them are redundant, and all of them tie back to the issue of ‘fairness,’” he said. “In many situations, men of goodwill can differ on what they believe to be fair. In developed political societies, the problem of legitimate difference of opinion on fairness is usually resolved by the adoption through a democratic process of rulemaking and precedential legal decisions.”
In the United States, the question of fairness is supported by an orderly process where existing rules and legal precedents are continually updated.
“While the results may often be frustrating, the maintenance of order and the timely reconsideration of the question of fairness are supported,” he said.
While it has been more than 60 years since Hurlock sat in a Chapel pew as a student, he was able to draw a parallel from the world he and his classmates faced to the one that current students will encounter.
“When I and my classmates were sitting where you are, we had witnessed the last years of the Great Depression, the second world war, the start of the cold war, the Korean War and we had the Vietnam War ahead of us,” he said. “While these wars resulted in immense losses of life and the temporary imposition of dictatorial governments in many countries, we believed that by opposing the aggressors in Europe and Asia we could re-establish the original order and judicial precedents of the victim states. That effort took longer than was anticipated and, without the Marshall Plan and similar efforts, it might not have succeeded.
“By contrast, we as students did not face, as you have, the results of the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the division of Yugoslavia, the elimination of colonial arrangements in Africa, with its heavy toll arising from ethnic cleansing, and the destructive and revolutionary divisions of existing states and their social systems, which we are currently experiencing in Africa and the Middle East.”
The struggles of countries impacted by conflict and corruption led to the creation of the International Development Law Organization, Hurlock explained. The organization was founded in 1983 by lawyers who wanted to help maintain laws so that economic and social development could grow in the affected countries. In 1988, the organization was re-founded as an intergovernmental organization. The United Nations General Assembly granted the organization observer status in 2001, enabling it to establish a permanent office at U.N. headquarters in New York City.
“The IDLO seeks to strengthen the rule of law and good governance in developing countries, in countries in economic transition and in those emerging from armed conflict,” Hurlock said. “These are environments which most of us have never experienced and where justice is rarely believed to exist as measured by any standard.”
Over the years the organization has worked with more than 20,000 legal professionals in 175 countries to provide and establish elementary rules of law and legal procedures. The organization does not dictate the law, but rather works with local officials to develop laws that fit into local customs.
One of the organization’s many success stories was the opening of an office in Afghanistan.
“When I was chairman of the IDLO I was asked to approve the opening of an office in Kabul just after the Russians had been driven out of Afghanistan by the combination of foreign forces and the Taliban,” Hurlock said. “I was skeptical that, in those circumstances, either local or imported legal models could succeed in a tribal society. I was wrong and today IDLO remains very active in Afghanistan and in 13 other countries.”
Hurlock closed his talk by reminding students that the pursuit of justice is never ending and, at times, is not easy.
“Where we have societies under attack or involved in revolution, the accepted rules of law and legal precedents are the first victims to fall, often with devastating effect on the poor and disadvantaged.
“The reconstruction of these lost traditional values and principles of fairness begins at the lowest level and in the face of political corruption and dictatorial control. This is the focus of the IDLO and the hundreds of volunteers who have and are supporting it.
“I hope that those of you who may take up the law as a profession will find a way to contribute to the pursuit of justice in a world which in our time seems to be losing its way.
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