It would be hard to imagine a better theme for an international conference at this time than "avoiding disaster".


��������� Most lawyers can play only a tiny part, as citizens, in avoiding disasters at an international level.� In a sense, our profession, we represents the alternative model for humanity in our commitment to institutions, international law, the rule of law, and the peaceful settlement of disputes.� In a dangerous world, most lawyers see the special utility of law and of the institutions of international law.


��������� Yet in our daily lives, lawyers also have a part to play in avoiding disasters.� Disasters in the forensic process are a blot on the image of justice.� They undermine the community's confidence in the institutions of society established to deliver justice according to law.� The forensic process engages not only lawyers but also experts in many disciplines.� Engineers when a building or bridge collapses.� Medical specialists when people suffer from injuries or disease.� Economists and business managers when corporations fail through poor control.� Solicitors, barristers, mediators and ultimately judicial officers when it is necessary to go beyond the parties to bring closure to the disaster.


��������� As Patron, I welcome this new initiative to bring together the central actors in disaster resolution.� I congratulate Professor George Hampel QC, Ms Felicity Hampel QC and their colleagues in bringing together a timely and useful conference in a setting likely to inspire bold thoughts.