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Monday, 15 April 2024

Sally Langrish, FCDO Legal Adviser and Partner Fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre.






As all who practice it know – and indeed anyone who follows the news – international law has never been more relevant to our lives. International law faces various challenges but remains the most effective framework for international cooperation to tackle big global problems and underpins an open and stable international order. 

Key to international law’s effectiveness is the ability of its practitioners to exchange views, learn from each other, and broaden our perspectives. As such, I eagerly anticipate the two days in October when the focus of the international legal community around the world will shift to the UK for the third, biennial London Conference on International Law

The FCDO is proud to support the London Conference, as a co-convenor alongside various UK partners, including the University of Cambridge’s Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, where I am pleased to serve as a Partner Fellow. From FCDO’s perspective, the conference makes an invaluable contribution to our mission to work to shape an open international order, advancing the values of freedom, the rule of law, the integrity of sovereign States, justice, and accountability, and to maintain and enhance the UK’s strong reputation in the international law world. I have no doubt that you and your organisations would also find the conference experience valuable. 

On 17 and 18 October 2024, we look forward to welcoming judges, academics, NGOs and think tanks, young people, government lawyers, and legal practitioners from around the world to the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster. They will experience a fantastic opportunity to engage with world-leading experts, exchange opinions and ideas, and debate the current state and future of international law. Delegates will be encouraged to challenge preconceptions and assess whether the reach of international law extends further than commonly believed.

What is the London Conference and what can you expect in 2024? 

The London Conference is convened every two years by a steering committee, which is chaired by the FCDO and consists of representatives of several leading organisations, including Dr Federica Paddeu of the Lauterpacht Centre. The conference explores the latest developments in international law and the ability of international law to address contemporary and future challenges. 

Over the past year, the steering committee has been working hard to plan this year’s conference. The line-up is now starting to take shape and looks incredibly exciting. 

There will be five plenary sessions, including a Women in International Law session that I have the privilege of chairing, and a discussion about the Future of International Law. For the first time this year, the conference will also feature a careers session designed for students and aspiring lawyers.

In addition, delegates will be able to select from and engage with a wide variety of panels across the two days. The panels will cover hot topics such as artificial intelligence, space law, international humanitarian law, migration, and sanctions. Delegates will hear from international judges, like Judge Joanna Korner KC, Judge Kimberly Prost, and Judge Tim Eicke, world-class academics such as Federica, Professor Dapo Akande, and Professor Philippa Webb, and leading lawyers from private and public practice. 

Delegates will find that there are plenty of opportunities to continue the conversation and network over coffee and lunch over the course of the two days, and can also join, if they wish, a ticketed conference dinner at One Great George Street on the evening of the 17 October. 

Building on the success of previous London Conferences

The last London Conference was held in 2022, building on the first ever conference in 2019. I am sure that many of you were amongst the over five hundred people who enjoyed four plenaries and 12 panel sessions covering an array of topics, including the climate emergency, human rights, international criminal justice, security, cyber warfare, and ethical challenges for practitioners.  A theme running through the conference was the important role played by a strong international legal system in supporting international security and democracy and dealing with a multiplicity of crises such as the war in Ukraine. 

It was an excellent event and we hope to work with our partners to repeat and enhance the experience this year and every two years. The steering committee makes a significant effort to ensure that the themes and topics for the conference evolve and remain relevant to the ever-changing opportunities and challenges that will face international law. As such, there will always be something new to learn and new people to meet. 

How to participate

We are keen to see colleagues from across the international law community (and beyond!) at this year’s conference.  The London Conference website has more information and details of how to register here. The website also includes recordings of the plenary sessions from the 2022 and 2019 conferences.  

I do hope you decide to join us at the QEII this October. As the ever-inspiring Lady Arden said in her opening remarks at the last conference: “We must constantly rekindle our enthusiasm and work to develop and improve international law – and to improve our understanding and knowledge of it…There is much at stake. We need the free world to cohere behind a strong system of international law because democracy itself is now at stake.” The conference is an important opportunity to rekindle our collective enthusiasm – and to reinforce both London and the UK’s status and role as a centre of international law and the enduring importance of the international legal order. The event is also a fantastic opportunity to network, catch-up with old friends, and make new ones. 

We look forward to seeing you there.