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Remarks by H.M. the King at the American Bar Association International Law Section Fall Conference in Madrid

September 13, 2022

"I especially like ─and appreciate─ the way you expressed your love for Madrid and Spain; the way you remember and value your deep childhood connection, also considering them “home” to you. Allow me to say you used your privilege wisely… Not quite sure, though, why you prudently avoided the soccer issue…

Likewise, thank you very much María Camila; and Brígida Benítez together with Miguel Zaldívar, for your “fireside chat”. This is a first and promising example of what will take place over the next few days.

It is a great pleasure to be with you this morning, as we inaugurate together this Fall Conference organized by the International Law Section of the ABA. Since ─I believe─ it is the 1st time in the ILS’s history that this meeting takes place in Madrid, in Spain, I would like to extend my warmest welcome to you all. I thank you for choosing our country and our capital to serve as hosts for your important gathering this year. We feel proud to have among us one of the world’s leading events for international law professionals.

Personally, let me tell you that I am truly honoured to act or serve as your Honorary President for this conference. I trust and hope these sessions will be ─of course─ very fruitful, as I also encourage you to make the best of your stay in Madrid, in Spain. I am sure there is a good menu of fun and delicious options laid out by the organizers.

As we proceed with this inauguration, allow me to highlight with deep conviction the decisive role that you—jurists and lawyers—play in defending the interests of citizens and companies, both nationally and internationally. As I recently said to the members of the Madrid Bar Association on their 425th anniversary: “Your work is, has always been and will always be, extremely valuable.”

You are the guarantors of effective judicial protection. Through your work, in strict compliance with your codes of ethics, you promote and enhance the worth of your profession. And in the face of the ever-changing events that impact our societies, the professionals gathered here today are always able to respond with full respect for the law, seeking a better understanding, and generating trust in society.

In these times of uncertainty, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and its multifaceted impact, but also due to the effects of the ghastly war of aggression waged against Ukraine, it is essential ─especially in your field of activity─ to strengthen and consolidate international collaboration... as well as solidarity. Which, in turn, makes it undoubtedly necessary to analyse, reflect upon and discuss new legal frameworks, and to assess new conflict and regulatory trends.

Moreover, in a context such as the one we live in, it is not enough that the world’s democracies stand together, united, to defend the rule of law and the values and principles that stem from our Constitutions. We must also strengthen the cooperation framework offered by international law and the UN Charter. A framework that not only merits observance and consideration, but that also requires compliance.

If at any time ─due to any possible threat or crises─, the principles of democracy suffer severe questioning or doubts, we need to ─ever more clearly, bluntly and firmly─ defend the idea that the future of our societies necessarily depends on the strengthening of the rule of law, on legal certainty and on respect for human rights.

Despite all the differences between regulatory frameworks among the different States, democratic systems have proven to be the bedrock for understanding and dialogue. Such dialogue and the will to reach agreements are the specific hallmark of your profession, as is confrontation based on reasoned and peaceful debate.

The conflict in Ukraine, the plight of that Nation to defend its sovereignty, integrity and independence against the Russian aggression ─which I briefly mentioned earlier─, calls for the international community to adopt strong and effective legal measures to mitigate its many consequences. Moreover, it requires that we assess the scope and limitations of international law. The challenges that lie ahead of us, which you will also discuss at this forum, are unquestionably neither small nor easy.

This event will allow you to exchange knowledge and ideas particularly regarding relations between Europe and the Americas.

he EU and its institutions place the Americas among their main priorities. Not only due to their historical commitment, but ─more profoundly─ due to their belief in the virtue and opportunity of consolidating ties between regions with shared values of co-existence.

A mere glance at the programme of this Conference is enough to grasp the scale and depth of the topics you will discuss. Such choice of topics reflects both the multiple demands of the current times as well as the concerns, difficulties and challenges of practising law in such a context.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Safeguarding legal certainty is a task of the utmost importance and for which you are responsible in a most particular way, wherever you may exercise your profession. It is, above all, a key task in an atmosphere defined by greater complexity in social and economic relations. You must maximize your potential and professional skills to guarantee the rule of law, and to forge a better future for our States.

Societies need jurists who are responsible, committed and, above all, driven by their high ethical values; we need expertise in specific areas, together with an adequate awareness ─of course─ of how the global challenges, known to us all, affect those areas in so many ways.

Only with your engagement, with your steadfast dedication, knowledge and wise eye, can we address properly those greater and smaller challenges, with both proportion and coherence.

We should have no doubt that this will be the case.

I do not wish to go on for too long. You have two intense days of working sessions ahead of you. I wish you all great success and, as I said at the start, I hope you will also enjoy your time here in Madrid, in Spain.

Thank you very much. I now hereby declare this Madrid 2022 ABA-ILS Fall Conference officially open."


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