Catherine Amirfar Delivers Optimistic Keynote Address During International Law Weekend

26 October 2020

Catherine Amirfar, partner in the International Dispute Resolution Group and co-chair of the Public International Law Group at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, has delivered the keynote address during the annual International Law Weekend, entitled “The Making (and Unmaking) of the International Rule of Law.” The event is organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association.

Ms. Amirfar, who took office earlier this year as the 49th President of the American Society of International Law, provided a brief history of twentieth century efforts to protect and promote the international rule of law, and the challenges it is facing in the twenty-first century.

She began with a basic point: “as lawyers, we are keepers of a faith that unites us, regardless of our differences. All of us adhere to a central premise: that law, not force, should rule the world.” She struck a hopeful note in concluding that, while we are at a crossroads as concerns the international rule of law, its “unmaking is not upon us.”

Ms. Amirfar cited the long history of international law as evidence for her conclusions, as well as it’s resilience in the face of backwards steps, and a strongly held belief that “there are no historical inevitabilities in the story of international law.”

Ms. Amirfar also used the keynote address to pay respect to the critical work of our key legal institutions, lauding them and the individual lawyers that comprise them, as “a formidable force in support of the international rule of law.”

The speech was delivered during International Law Weekend, which ran on 23rd and 24th October. The conference featured 27 panel debates, and an address from H.E. Judge Julia Sebutinde (International Court of Justice) in addition to the keynote address from Ms. Amirfar.

Debevoise’s Public International Law Group is widely regarded as one of the world’s best. It is one of the only firms in the world that has been consistently ranked in Band 1 for both public international law and international arbitration by Chambers & Partners.

As litigators and public international law specialists, the firm has successfully represented clients in a variety of international fora, including before the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, international arbitral tribunals, international human rights bodies and international criminal tribunals and courts.