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Director's Foreword

Welcome from the Institute's Director

The British Institute of International and Comparative Law is one of the leading independent research centres for international and comparative law in the world. Its high quality research projects, seminars and publications encompass almost all areas of public and private international law, comparative law and European law, and it is at the forefront of discussions on the many contemporary issues of international and comparative law.

The Institute was created in 1958 by the merger of the Society of Comparative Legislation (founded in 1895) and the Grotius Society (founded in 1915 and named after the 16th century Dutch jurist regarded as one of the founders of international law). This merger created an independent research body, unaffiliated to any university, which is committed to the understanding, development and practical application of international and comparative law. It is both a limited company under UK law, and a registered charity.

The Institute continues its mission first begun in 1895:

  • To advance the understanding of international and comparative law;
  • To promote the rule of law in international affairs; and
  • To promote their application through research, publications and events.

It undertakes its mission by providing practical assistance based on strong conceptual foundations in order to influence law and policy making. In particular, the Institute aims to:

  • Clarify and apply international law in global problem-solving;
  • Foster a comparative understanding of national legal systems;
  • Assist states through legal capacity-building and training; and
  • Encourage and support the best scholarship and talent in this legal field.

It seeks to achieve these aims through its research programmes, events and publications. The Institute promotes its work globally through its website, books and other publications, and its widely respected journal, the International and Comparative Law Quarterly.

Its membership comprises lawyers from the academic community, from legal practice (including judges, solicitors and barristers), and from government and non-governmental organisations, as well as non-lawyers who are interested in the many aspects of international and comparative law. It engages with all these members and with non-members who recognise the broad impact of the law on many activities, not least on commercial and government actions, and the need to promote the rule of law in international affairs. In its governance it brings together the expertise of some of the most senior practitioners in the field of international and comparative law. Based in London, the Institute is uniquely placed to interact with these varied constituencies, as well as its growing international membership.

The diversity of the Institute's membership, as well as the many non-members who attend its events, and its ability to engage with a wide variety of international and comparative issues ensures that it remains a relevant and essential institution. It provides an excellent environment for valuable and helpful discussions between those advising governments, corporations and others, and with the academic community. It works with some of the leading scholars, judges and practitioners in their fields, and its research ensures that many contemporary issues are carefully examined and analysed, and seeking clear practical outcomes for its research. It also encourages Visiting Fellows and interns.

The Institute has been vitally important in enabling greater understanding of the changes in the international community and in international and comparative law. Indeed, it is a unique body in the United Kingdom and one of very few similar organisations in the world. The Institute is always very grateful for any funding to support its work. I do hope that you engage with the Institute as a member or participant.

Professor Robert McCorquodale

Institute Director

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