CANADIAN COUNCIL ON INTERNATIONAL LAW

JUNE 24, 1977

It is a pleasure on behalf of the Board of Governors to welcome you to Carleton University. I know I speak for the Chancellor, Dr. Herzberg, the President, Dr. Michael Oliver, and all the members of the Board, when I say how pleased we are to have you here.

I also bring greetings from Ab LaRose, our Vice President, Finance, who is particularly delighted every time the Paterson Centre manages to fill our residences over the summer.

I might just say a word about the Paterson Centre. It is one of the proudest accomplishments of Carleton.

We have felt for years that Ottawa was the logical place in Canada to have such a Centre for International Studies. It is the one place where we can attract people who could not otherwise spare the time to work with the graduate students in our Centre. For example – we are privileged to have:

• Alan Gotlieb, Under Secretary of State, as an Adjunct Professor

On our Advisory Board, we have such distinguished people:

• Bob Bryce, Special Advisor of the Privy Council Office

• Marshall Crowe, Chairman of the National Energy Board

• Senator Maurice LaMontagne just to mention a few.

We have also been fortunate enough to attract people of international reputation, such as:

• Arnold Smith, who holds the Lester B. Pearson Chair of International Affairs. Arnold was formerly Secretary of the Commonwealth (although he left before its most exciting days, i.e. before Idi Amin)

But I am also particularly pleased to be with you this evening. Although I am not a lawyer, I am a defrocked Poli-Sci and Ec graduate from the University of Toronto. I have always had a deep interest in international law and at one point even wrote a paper on the subject. Thank God I cannot find it now!

However, I do remember my early impressions of the subject which vacillated between considering it something of infinite power, dignity, and importance, to a somewhat disquieting impression that it really had more to do with Icelandic Herring Fishing and British Gun Boats!

It was common knowledge that international law was somehow administered from The Hague, which was about all anyone ever knew about The Hague, by a group of judges they knew absolutely nothing about.

The literature is even less helpful.

Lord Coleridge, in 1876, described it as being at best… “An inexact expression”. Jenks, in the Common Law of Mankind in 1958, pointed out that one might excuse international law’s shortcomings because it was… “in an early stage of development”.

Brierly, in the “Law of Nations” in 1963 suggested it really… “ought to be classified as a branch of ethics rather than of law”.

But it remained to James Kent, in “Commentaries on American Law” in 1826, to come up with the ultimate indignity. He observed that:

“The dignity and importance of international law cannot fail to recommend it to the deep attention of the student; and a thorough of its principles is necessary to lawyers and statesmen and highly ornamental to every scholar who wishes to be adorned with the accomplishments of various learning”.

Well, it is not ornamental any longer.

International law can be vital to any of us whether in our personal affairs and travel, or in our commercial business. One only has to look at some of the topics that you are discussing to see that they cover items, such: as containerization, patent laws, or the international flow of published material.

In the broadest areas of human needs, international law is fundamental to questions of the environment, energy, whether through international trade or through searches of Continental Shelfs. It is concerned with space, whether it is living space between the empty and the overcrowded countries or space in the sense of regulating military ventures on the Moon or elsewhere.

No, international law is no longer just ethics. It can no longer afford to be inexact. It is certainly not just ornamental.

You have a special challenge in this fascinating field of yours. The success of your work in this field will have a major impact on the future of mankind.

For this reason, we not only say we are pleased to have you with us, friends and visitors, but for all our sakes, we wish you a most successful and productive Conference.