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Why the International Bar Association is partnering with the Salzburg Global Seminar

Please visit the Salzburg Global Seminar page on YouTube for the complete list of videos.
Sovereign Wealth Funds: Risks and Opportunities for Global Financial Markets 
Islamic and International Law: Searching for Common Ground
25 Oct - 30 Oct, 2008
(Session 457)
 The United States in the World: New Strategies of Engagement

Mark Ellis (Chair) - Executive Director, International Bar Association, London
Dato Arshad - (Special Guest) Ambassador Extraordinary, Embassy of Malaysia, Vienna
Famile Fatma Arslan - President and Founder, Arslan Lawyers; Member of the Board of the Foundation Islam and Citizenship, The Netherlands
Georges Assaf - Attorney at Law. Ph.D. Principal, Assaf Law Offices, Beirut; Director, Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PINACLE); Lecturer International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Saint Joseph University, Beirut and Balamand University, Beirut; Member of the Scientific Board for ...
Natasha Bakht - Professor of Law, Ottawa University, Ottawa
William Burke-White - Assistant Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hans Corell - Former Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the Legal Counsel of the United Nations, Stockholm
William Duncan - Deputy Secretary General, Hague Conference on Private and International Law, The Hague
Sayed El Amin - (Special Guest) Ambassador Extraordinary, Embassy of the Republic of Sudan, Vienna
Amira el-Azhary Sonbol - Professor of Islamic History, Law and Society, Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service, Qatar and Head, International Affairs Program, Qatar University
Anver Emon - Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto
Courtney Erwin - Chief of Staff, Cordaba Initiative, New York, New York
Nasra Hassan - Director, United Nations Information Service, Vienna
Clark Lombardi - Assistant Professor of Law, Washington University, Seattle
Ziba Mir-Hosseini - Hauser Global Law Visiting Professor, New York University School of Law; Senior Research Associate, Middle East Institute, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Fernando Pombo - President, International Bar Association; Chairman and Founding Partner, Gomez-Acebo & Pombo, Madrid
Javaid Rehman - Professor of Law, Brunel University, Uxbridge
Shahbaz - (Special Guest) Ambassador Extraordinary, Embassy of the Republic of Pakistan, Vienna
Adel Sherif - Deputy Chief Justice, The Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, Cairo

Additional Session Support:
Tina Micklethwait (Resource Specialist)  

The majority of contemporary debates about Islamic law tend to focus on the Sharia law tradition as a subjective doctrine rooted in strict religious code. Recent controversies surrounding "personal status laws," including, but not limited to the rights of women, have served to further this view, characterizing Sharia law as a rigid interpretation of the Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammed. Nuanced examinations of the rich history and diverse juridical context of Islamic legal traditions are rare, and little serious effort has been made to find a means of accommodating Sharia law traditions within the treaties, conventions, and institutions that form the foundations of modern international law. Furthermore, extremist Islamic political movements have attempted to appropriate Sharia law for their own ends, imbuing its traditions with an air of theocratic inflexibility incompatible with modern legal systems.

This is problematic. All legal traditions require institutions that can adjudicate consistently, and without institutional frameworks all legal doctrines become abstract, void of the structure needed to interpret the "rule of law" in a predictable way. Since 1945, an interlocking system of international conventions and treaties has provided such a structure for the regulation of relations between states, but representatives from Islamic legal traditions were largely absent during their creation. Consequently, Sharia law today lacks an institutional structure that can provide a predictable and consistent means of creating legal norms. This session, in conjunction with the International Bar Association, will seek to find common ground between the traditions of Islamic and international law and develop a framework for accommodating the diverse heritage of Islamic legal thought within modern rule of law systems. Focusing on international law as a means of neutralizing radical views and creating international dialogue, this session will further attempt to locate areas of substantive legal analysis where Islamic and international traditions can find complementary principles, doctrines and means of adjudication.

The fee for this session is 3,300 EURO. The fee covers the cost of the program, accommodations, and meals. Limited scholarship funding may be available for those who are unable to pay the full fee (i.e. from developing countries or NGOs). Participants seeking scholarship assistance must submit an application for financial aid to our admissions office.

Session Faculty

William Duncan

Listen to excerpts or complete versions of Salzburg Global Seminar presentations

  • Session 457 Interview with William Burke-White.
  • Bill Burke-White argues that the international legal system needs to adopt a more pluralist approach to find common ground.
  • Bill Burke-White how regional subsystems within international law might serve as an example for accommodation shari’a law but there are limits to that flexibility.
  • Bill Burke-White on how the interpretation of international law forces international lawyers to interpret national public morals and eventually accept diversity of meaning, on the application of int. law and where therein should be flexibility when rules and obligations are applied to sustain the international legal dialogue.
  • view all...

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    The Rule of Law: Reconciling Religion and Culture in a Constitutional Framework
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