IN A LAVISH ceremony attended by the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan, Dr Gordon Hughes handed over his LawAsia presidency to esteemed Indian lawyer G.L. Sanghi.
Hughes, who is a partner at Blake Dawson Waldron in Melbourne, said the Tokyo ceremony was attended by about 1000 people, mainly comprising LawAsia members from over 20 nations.
LawAsia is an international association comprises the peak legal bodies of 27 countries within the Asia-Pacific region. It provides a forum in which law society and bar associations can exchange dialogue, and increasingly has a focus on human rights issues in the region.
Over the two years of Hughes’ presidency, the group has released statements on issues including terrorism and appropriate responses, child kidnapping and forced labour and the protection of refugees.
Speaking of the association’s diverse list of achievements during his presidential term, Hughes said: “We issued a statement in support of restoration of democracy in Nepal, and we’ve also been very active in Vietnam; we have had some roles in the resurrection of the Law Society of Afghanistan, and lent our support to Fiji in the constitutional crises they had over there.”
Hughes said he had mixed feelings about the handover of his presidential term: “It’s obviously a relief to shed some of the workload but I feel very satisfied to be leaving the organisation in a very strong shape. Over the past two years we’ve increased our membership dramatically and refined our focus on providing support to legal profession in developing countries.”
The next LawAsia conference will be held in Australia on the Gold Coast in 2005.