World Bar Conference takes place in Belfast and Dublin this week

15 May 2024

Climate change, AI, Migration, Global Conflicts and Cancel Culture amongst international challenges to be discussed.

The World Bar Conference takes place in Belfast and Dublin this week (May 15 -17), hosted by The Bar of Ireland, The Bar of Northern Ireland, as part of the International Council of Advocates and Barristers.

This is only the second time the event has been held on the island of Ireland, and its return on an all-island basis coincides with the centenary of Ireland’s independent legal system.

More than 250 delegates will attend the sold-out conference from common law jurisdictions around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Honk Kong and South Africa, as well as closer Bars of Scotland, England and Wales.  The Conference will be opened by Naomi Long, MLA, Justice Minister for the Northern Ireland Executive in Belfast this evening and Helen McEntee TD, Minister for Justice, Government of Ireland, will provide the closing remarks on Friday evening.

The conference will be opened on Thursday and Friday by an address from the Lady Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Dame Siobhan Keegan; and the Honorable Mr. Justice Donal O’Donnell, Chief Justice.

Climate change, migration, artificial intelligence, global conflicts, and cancel culture are amongst the key global challenges to be discussed, along with the importance of collaboration in addressing contemporary legal challenges.  

Other guest speakers include Attorney Generals, Judges, and leading legal experts from across the various participating jurisdictions.

Sara Phelan SC, Chair of the Council of The Bar of Ireland said;

In a time where our profession and our rules-based legal order faces challenges and uncertainty, coming together to share our professional experience and our legal expertise is invaluable.  I look forward to engaging in meaningful dialogue, and the exchange of information and ideas, with colleagues from the independent referral Bars, members of the Judiciary and keynote speakers and panellists from across the world.

Ahead of the Conference, Naomi Long, MLA, Justice Minister for the Northern Ireland Executive, who is the guest speaker at a commencement reception in the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast this evening, said;

In today’s world, having access to fair legal justice systems cannot be taken for granted. It is something that we as an international community must continue to work on, particularly in the face of new and complex global challenges. I am delighted to be opening the World Bar Conference in Belfast tonight and congratulate The Bar of Northern Ireland and The Bar of Ireland for bringing together such a distinguished line up of speakers.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD, who will be the guest speaker at gala dinner to conclude the Conference in Dublin on Friday said;

The issues facing Ireland are shared with countries all over the world, and ongoing dialogue and collaboration are critical to addressing these global challenges. I am delighted to welcome the World Bar Conference in Dublin 100 years after Ireland’s independent legal system was established. The preservation of the rule of law is something that should not be taken for granted and the role of an independent bar and independent judiciary play a key role within that.

Moira Smyth KC, Chair of the Council of The Bar of Northern Ireland said;

It is an honour to bring this prestigious conference to Northern Ireland and to provide a warm welcome to the many international visitors and locally based lawyers who will attend conference sessions in Belfast and Dublin across the next number of days. 

“The topics under debate and discussion across in both host cities are highly relevant and reflect the variety of challenges that our rules-based legal order faces at present. From the impact of geo-political instability on the rule of law through to migration, climate breakdown and the misapplication of emerging technology such as AI, we will explore how our profession can respond both locally and internationally.

Read the full World Bar Conference 2024 Programme below


The full programme for the World Bar Conference is available here. Media accreditation is available for Rule of Law Under Fire: Existing in an Age of Conflict & Law in the Era of Climate Crisis: Unearthing the Legal Challenges by contacting:

Q4 Public Relations

Notes to Editor

The Bar of Ireland is the representative body for the barristers’ profession in Ireland and is governed by the Constitution of The Bar of Ireland. The Bar of Ireland is the term used to describe the independent referral bar that has a current membership of approximately 2,150 practising barristers.

The Bar of Northern Ireland is a strong, thriving profession of over 600 self-employed barristers in independent practice. As an elected body of 20 practising barristers, the Bar Council is responsible for the governance, regulation, and representation of the profession. The Bar Council is supported by a Chief Executive, Management and Staff team of 30, operating from the Bar Library in Belfast.

The International Council of Advocates and Barristers (ICAB) is the forum for members of independent referral bars around the world.