‘While we in Britain were in a Game of Thrones phase, Beirut was known as the “mother of laws”, and two of its professors – Dorotheus and Anatolius – were helping to compile the legal code for the Roman Empire’ said British Ambassador Tom Fletcher in his opening remarks to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.
Senior judges, lawyers, NGO representatives, students and British and Lebanese Businessmen from the British-Lebanese Business Grooup gathered at the Beirut Bar Association to mark the Magna Carta anniversary, the document which is the foundation of the rule of law in the UK and influenced constitutions and rights declarations around the world.
The roundtable event was organised by the Beirut Bar Association and the British Embassy Beirut. Joe Karam Esq and head of the International Relations unit at the Bar Association highlighted the importance of the Bar Association’s initiative to spread the culture of law and Human Rights.
In his speech the President of the Bar Association Georges Jreij considered the Magna Carta a test for liberties in the middle ages adding that it was the main source for the unwritten English constitution and for the constitutional sovereignty and rule of law in England and Wales. He added that Magna Carta has also inspired constitutional documents including the US and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Ambassador Fletcher praised Beirut’s role as the ‘Mother of Laws’ in the Roman Empire and called for it to become once again a talisman for security and justice in the region. He added that domestic workers in Lebanon weren’t receiving the protection that they had the right to under Magna Carta’s successors but ‘that we are proud that many of those who have studied in the UK under the Chevening Scholarships programme and their fellow lawyers and judges are at the forefront of countering torture and mistreatment to make a difference.
Akram Azouri Esq, senior defence lawyer, investigating Judge and Chevening Fellow Naji El Dahdah, Darine El Hajj - regional program officer in USIP’s Center for Middle East and Africa based in Beirut and a Chevening Scholar talked about the impact of Magna Carta in present times, the implementation of international standards and HR principles by the Lebanese judiciary and the role of NGO’s in implementing the rule of law respectively.
The President of the Bar Association presented Ambassador Fletcher an award for his efforts in support of Lebanon’s stability at all levels.