Addressing the role of Law in advancing Social Justice

Tuesday, 16 March 2004

Professor Chris McCrudden of Oxford University will deliver the Annual Distinguished Lecture in Law at NUI Galway on Friday 19th March 2004. His talk, entitled 'Buying Social Justice – the Role of Law', argues whether a State should exploit its market power to achieve ends other than purely economic ones. At present, there would appear to be extremely limited room for States and international organisations to demand a social perspective in their economic dealings with companies. McCrudden also traces the rise of the State both as a regulator of markets and a player in its own right.

Dr Maurice Manning, President of the Human Rights Commission of Ireland, will deliver a formal response and is expected to address the plans of the Commission in the whole field of economic social and cultural rights.

McCrudden will pose the question whether the primary role of law is to facilitate open markets or to temper market forces with considerations of social justice and will also review the current state of the law from international and European regional perspectives.

Professor McCrudden is widely acknowledged as a leading thinker in the broad field of international trade law as well as non-discrimination law. His work has inspired the imposition of a novel duty on public bodies in Northern Ireland, to take positive steps to promote equality.

For example, while the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is attempting to ensure that building contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, benefit local Iraqi workers, the World Bank (which is a major development aid donor), on the other hand, sharply limits the extent to which such a local preference can be given. In the late 1990s, the US Supreme Court ruled that Massachusetts did not have legal authority to force companies registered under Massachusetts law, not to do business in Burma which was widely regarded as an oppressive regime.

Professor Gerard Quinn, Faculty of Law, NUI Galway says, "we are delighted to have someone of Professor McCrudden's international standing to inaugurate this important lecture series. Our vision is to raise important law reform issues in the public's mind through this series. We aim to make this series the premiere event on the legal calendar in the West of Ireland and to choose topics that have either a national or international significance."

The lecture will take place at 7.00pm in the Arts Millennium Building. It will inaugurate a series of annual public lectures hosted by NUI Galway's Law Faculty and designed to highlight contemporary law reform issues of concern to the general public as well as the legal profession.

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