Indranee Rajah, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law, says that Singapore’s lawyers and legal experts should contribute to shaping international laws, since these laws affect the country as a whole.
At the conference for the International Law Year in Review, attended by more than 200 officials, lawyers, and diplomats and organized by National University of Singapore’s Centre for International Law, Ms. Indranee reiterated that since global statutes and laws have a hand in regulating what each country is allowed to do within its borders, these laws profoundly affect Singapore’s citizens as well.
Ms. Indranee said, “The impact of international law on Singapore’s domestic economic and social life will continue to grow. Singapore must ensure that not only our national interests, but also our values, traditions and perspectives are brought to the table.”
Legal experts talked about trends in their field, which included disputes that cross borders, and the fact that local courts have had to tackle more and more issues that involve international and foreign laws.
Ms. Indranee emphasized the need for local legal experts to help craft international laws, using the example of how international law determines what is and is not allowed within a country’s borders, such as trade laws that permit or disallow fees and regulations that countries can put on services and goods. These laws have an impact on development, innovation, livelihood and even access to medicine that people can afford.
Another example Ms. Indranee gave was how countries have been working even closer together for matters of international civil law. She brought up the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which was written to help parents whose children have been taken from one country to another, in violation of rights of custody.
Ms. Indranee said, “If that country is a party to this convention, like Singapore is, the country must give the parent the right to apply to them for assistance in securing the child’s return.”
She acknowledged that almost all government departments are impacted by international conventions, and therefore must take into account global standards and norms in the crafting of policy.
Members of the academe, such as scholars of the law, as well as private practitioners, may also contribute to these endeavor. Legal scholars may exert influence over the public when it comes to legal matters, while lawyers, on the other hand, may help in the definitions of legal norms, and even contest these.
One example of this is Malaysia and Singapore’s dispute of the island Pedra Branca. In 2008, International Court of Justice ruled in Singapore’s favor, a decision that Malaysia has lately applied to revisit, while abiding with international laws.
Ms. Indranee says, “For the Pedra Branca case, Singapore’s legal team includes not only our established legal luminaries, but it also includes our next generation of legal talent. I look forward to seeing the next generation of movers and shakers… bring international law forward.”