The UN Sustainable Development Goals and Private International Law

The United Nations has formulated and adopted 17 goals for sustainable development, encompassing aims ranging from the eradication of poverty to gender equality. While the goals and their implications have attracted significant attention in many academic – and legal – fields, they have thus far received little consideration in the arena of private law. The conference “The Private Side of Transforming the World – UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the Role of Private International Law” will help to close this scholarly gap. The conference will take place from 9-11 September 2021 at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) form the heart of the United Nations initiative titled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The Agenda covers all the nations of the world – being equally applicable in developing countries, developed countries and countries in transition – and it aims to serve as a shared blueprint for realizing global economic progress in a manner consistent with social justice and the world’s environmental limits. It was adopted on 25 September 2015 by the General Assembly of the United Nations and is to be implemented by 2030.

In many academic fields the SDGs have become a focal point for comprehensive thinking about the future of the world. In the legal arena, this holds true at least in the areas of public law including public international law. With regard to private law and private international law (PIL), by contrast, there has been less attention. Yet the Agenda 2030, with its 17 primary goals and 169 associated sub-goals, bears significantly on the fields of private law and PIL. For instance, under Goal 16.9 countries should “[b]y 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration”, while pursuant to Goal 5.3 “all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage” should be eliminated. These are merely two of many examples that fall directly in the field of PIL. Other goals envision fundamental changes in contract and tort law. Goal 16 calls for strong institutions and encourages international cooperation, thus, from a private international law perspective, drawing focus on institutions like the Hague Conference and treaties like the Hague Conventions.

The conference “The Private Side of Transforming the World – UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the Role of Private International Law” aims to explore the relationships between SDGs and PIL and to raise an awareness of how PIL, with its methods and institutions, can make a significant contribution and help find answers to the greatest challenges of our time. The conference is being organized by Institute Director Ralf Michaels, Veronica Ruiz Abou-Nigm (University of Edinburgh) and Hans van Loon (Institut de Droit international).

Due to the current pandemic, it will take place from 9-11 September 2021 at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law.

In September of this year (2020), an online workshop open only to the conference participants will take place so as to allow for mutual exchange.

More information regarding the conference can be found here.

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