Interview Transcript
Transcribed by Otter AI

Kimberly White
Hello and welcome to Common Home Conversations. Today we’re joined by Maja Groff, an international lawyer based in The Hague and Convenor of the Climate Governance Commission! Thank you so much for joining us today!

Maja Groff
Pleasure to be here with you, Kimberly.

Kimberly White
So you previously worked with the Permanent Bureau of The Hague Conference on Private International Law. Can you tell us more about this experience?

Maja Groff
Yes, absolutely. It was really a great pleasure to serve as an international civil servant at The Hague Conference on Private International Law, serving the international community, the member states of the organization, which now number over 80 states. And I worked there for over a decade, working on a whole range of existing, binding multilateral treaties across very diverse areas of law, as well as on the development of new international treaties and legal norms. And really, as we see globalization intensifying across a whole range of areas, the demands on international law really are accelerating. So just as an example, of some of the areas I worked on at The Hague Conference, I worked on very widely ratified vital children’s conventions, a convention on the protection of adults with disabilities in cross border circumstances, I worked on a pioneering international Hague network of judges, as well as new potential treaties in areas such as the cross border protection of tourists, the recognition and enforcement of foreign civil protection orders in cases of domestic violence, and facilitation of access to foreign law. So it was a really wonderful experience across so many different diverse areas of international law, international human rights law, which exposed me to diverse legal systems around the world, diplomatic processes, and really gave me a sense of the great potential that modern international law can have, in terms of really addressing global issues, very concrete access to justice issues for individuals, for other actors. So it was a really wonderful background for the current work I’m doing at the moment.

And just another note that The Hague Conference on Private International Law happens to be one of the oldest intergovernmental organizations in the world, dating from 1893. So it’s been also a really brilliant vantage point to see sort of the origins of international law dating from the late 1800s to the first Hague peace conferences in 1899 and 1907, which set the stage for some of the international peace and security law we currently have, and for the League of Nations, and the United Nations. So it’s been just a wonderful, brilliant vantage point, as well as being around modern international criminal law institutions, the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon; I’ve worked at both of them. And to see how international law can progress and make quite dramatic leaps forward with sets of dedicated professionals, dedicated international civil society networks, it’s very promising for us and the international community.

Kimberly White
That is quite impressive! And it sounds like you had such wonderful experiences with the different aspects of that. And now you’re working with the Global Challenges Foundation. So, the Global Challenges Foundation has identified three global risks to humanity. Can you please tell us what these risks are?

Maja Groff
Yeah, I think the Global Challenges Foundation has been good at raising awareness, public awareness, policymaker awareness about the range of global threats, global risks that confront us. And at the moment, there seems to be, from the Global Challenges Foundation, really a focus on climate change, large-scale environmental degradation, and weapons of mass destruction, which are key and thought to be interconnected challenges. So, of course, climate and large-scale environmental destruction is a newer threat versus the arms threat. And as we all know, they are an accelerating threat, these ecological and climate threats, and also dependent on understanding and policymaking based on very complex and evolving science, so