Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : International community urged to come together or face losing the global contest of ideas, Lord Chancellor to warn in landmark speech in Washington [January 2024]

The press release issued by the Ministry of Justice on 31 January 2024.

The international accords that have guaranteed freedom, security and prosperity since 1945 are “fraying at the edges” as a direct result of Russia’s illegal war, the Lord Chancellor will tell Washington today.

  • Justice Secretary to issue rallying cry in support of international co-operation during visit to US
  • International rules-based order under threat thanks to actions of Russia and Iran
  • Lord Chancellor to also visit New York to see tough community sentences that cut crime and keep public safe

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk will address American legislators, members of the judiciary and legal professionals at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center in Washington D.C to underline the importance of the rule of law, especially in the face of hostile states who believe “might is always right”.

The Lord Chancellor Alex Chalk will say:

“The truth is we are in a global contest of ideas, a contest between rule of law nations like ours and those who offer an authoritarian alternative – a solution that says agreements don’t matter, values don’t count, rights are mere impediments. Instead, ‘might is always right’. And it means that a global post-War consensus, which we assumed was unshakeable, now needs shoring up. Rather than letting complacency reign, we must reinforce the rule of law foundations on which it was built.”

Against a backdrop of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Lord Chancellor will set out how crucial it is there is accountability and repercussions when one country chooses to rip up the rule book.

This has been exemplified by the UK’s role in expediting the International Criminal Court’s investigation into Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The UK has worked with the USA and the European Union to establish the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group, which is supporting Ukraine’s Prosecutor General in the domestic investigation and prosecution of more than 120,000 currently alleged conflict-related crimes, with both funding and expertise.

The Lord Chancellor will go on to argue this instability is leaving many people feeling they have to leave their home country – sometimes illegally – which is putting huge pressure on countries like the UK and the United States, and challenging democracies. He will go on to say:

While rule of law underpins prosperity, its absence feeds poverty, insecurity and instability.

This has led to record levels of migratory movements, and fuelled illegal migration. It is clear that unmanaged illegal migration disregards borders and is putting undue pressure on the national systems of rules-based countries like ours – as countries whose sovereign legislatures believe in, and consciously have chosen to be part of, the international rules based order.  The actions of criminal gangs smuggling people across borders brings those very rules into disrepute, particularly if they are perceived to afford, perversely, an unfair advantage to those who break the immigration rules rather than those who abide by them.

He will highlight the need for international and domestic law to evolve and adapt to the challenges posed by insecurity:

Both international and domestic law must evolve if they are to meet the challenges posed by insecurity, and to win the global contest of ideas. Because, as Thomas Paine famously said in the eighteenth century, “a state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.

The unique genius of the common law, of course, is its flexibility – its readiness to adapt and respond to societal changes and perspectives. I dare say we need some of that same spirit when to comes to the challenge of uncontrolled migration, and the evolution of the rules-based system as a whole.

He will add that the global community must work together and defend international order at a time when it is under threat by saying:

To show that we can evolve and adapt while our opponents remain rigid and dogmatic. That is one of the most powerful ways that we can make the case for the rules-based order.

The Lord Chancellor will also visit New York to see how the state is delivering tough community sentences using the latest technology to cut crime and keep the public safe.

The problem-solving courts are stopping repeat offending in its tracks by giving low-level offenders the stark choice of getting clean through specialist substance misuse treatment to kick the drug or drink addictions driving their criminality – or face jail.

This innovative scheme has seen a huge reduction in drug charges over a 15-year period as a direct result of its approach – and is similar to Intensive Supervision Courts currently being piloted on this side of the Atlantic.

This is part of wider work the government is doing through the Sentencing Bill, which will be back before Parliament shortly. This will ensure tougher sentences for those convicted of the worst murders and sexual offences, promote rehabilitation and reduce crime by limiting use of counter-productive short sentences – the so-called revolving door of prison.