The Justice Conference
de Poort, The Netherlands

The Justice Conference was held on 3-5 April 2015 at the de Poort Conference Centre, Groesbeek, The Netherlands, with about 100 participants from around the world. This was the 20th year that such conferences have been held, and I also spoke at the conference last year. The Conference theme was "Advancing Justice: Spiritual Foundations and Practical Applications", and the programme combined keynotes with several parallel workshops, all of a very high calibre.

Justice Conference group photo

The opening talk was by Kiser Barnes, a distinguished lawyer and law professor, and a former member of the Universal House of Justice, the international council of the Baha'i Faith. His topic was "Two Foundations of Justice: Moral Development and Service to Humanity", and provided a solid review of the spiritual foundations for justice provided in the Baha'i writings.

poster . Kiser Barnes . Kiser Barnes
The conference poster; Kiser Barnes giving the opening keynote; Kiser Barnes and Maja Groff

Ali Noroozi, Inspector-General of Taxation for the Australian Government, gave a fascinating talk on "The Role of Taxation in Delivering Economic Justice", making us almost feel we should love paying our taxes (assuming that our government is just and efficient). This was followed by a workshop on distributive justice together with Hooshmand Badee. Sovaidi Ma'ani Ewing provided a broad overview of the governance dimension of justice in her presentation on "Building a World Federation", drawn from her new book Building a World Federation: The Key to Resolving Our Global Crises, published by the Center for Peace and Global Governance.

Maja Groff . Ali Noroozi Sovaida Ma'ani Ewing
Conference organizer Maja Groff; Ali Noroozi and Sovaidi Ma'ani Ewing giving their keynotes

Ali Noroozi and Hooshmand Badee . Ali Noroozi . Hooshmand Badee
Workshop by Ali Noroozi and Hooshmand Badee on distributive justice

I concluded the second day with a keynote on "Justice and Global Policy Change for Environmental Stewardship", which highlighted the opportunities presented by the expected adoption at the United Nations of the Sustainable Development Goals as a new set of aspirations for greater economic, social and environmental justice in the world over the next 15 years. I also led a workshop on the relevance of justice to global environmental issues like climate change and food security.

Arthur Dahl . Arthur Dahl . Arthur Dahl
Arthur Dahl keynote and leading a workshop

The final day started with a plenary session on The Future of Peaceful Inter-Religious Coexistence, starting with a presentation over skype by Elham Manea of the University of Zurich on "Islamic Law in the West? Secularism as a Necessary Basis for Peaceful Inter-Religious Coexistence". Professor Manea had been unable to come in person because, as both a Swiss and Yemeni national, she was advising the Swiss government on the crisis in Yemen. Her main point was that proposals to allow the application of Islamic law, especially about marriage and the family, in western countries, had been shown to increase isolation and extremism rather than facilitate integration. This was followed by IEF board member Dr. Wendi Momen giving "Baha'i Perspectives on Inter-Religious Dialogue and Peaceful Coexistence".

Wendi Momen . Wendi Momen
Wendi Momen

The closing plenary was a deeply touching talk by Prof. Payam Akhavan on "The Law of Oneness: Empathy and Justice in a World of Extremes". He drew on his experience with the United Nations as a legal advisor investigating war crimes and genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda, among other places, and his efforts before the highest tribunals to bring the perpetrators to justice. This truly linked spiritual foundations and practical applications.

Payam Akhavan . Payam Akhavan
Payam Akhavan

Workshops allowed for a deeper discussion of practical applications of justice, such as actual cases facing a local government, the issues of income inequality and poverty, and environmental challenges.
workshop . workshop . workshop

audience . workshop . participants
Part of the audience; a workshop; some participants in the beautiful garden at de Poort

Iko Congo, Arthur Dahl, Wendi Momen
. Nuri Niyazi
International Environment Forum members Iko Congo, Arthur Dahl, Wendi Momen and Nuri Niyazi

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Last updated 12 April 2015

Photographs copyright © Arthur Lyon Dahl 2015