Entre os dias 19 e 24 de junho, quase 400 pessoas, oriundas de cerca de 50 países, participaram em Lisboa, Portugal, da 80a. Conferência Bienal da ILA, cujo tema geral foi “International Law: Our Common Good” (https://ila2022.org/). Na cerimônia de abertura do evento, realizada no tradicional Hotel Altis Grand Hotel, na Avenida Liberdade, o Prof. Marcílio Franca, presidente do Conselho Superior da ILA Brasil, fez o discurso de saudação em nome do Comitê de Honra da conferência, diante de uma plateia composta por juízes da Corte Internacional de Justiça, diplomatas, membros da Comissão de Direito Internacional da ONU, professores universitários e muitas outras autoridades. A seguir, o Blog da ILA Brasil publica, em primeira mão, a íntegra do discurso do Prof. Marcílio Franca, que mereceu elogios de inúmeras delegações presentes ao evento ao longo da semana:
Madam Chair of the International Law Association, Professor Christine Chinkin,
Mr. President of the ILA Portugal, Professor Manoel Almeida Ribeiro,
Dear fellow Professors,
Dear travelers from here and elsewhere,
In July 2021, German airline Lufthansa put an end to a long-time tradition of addressing their passengers as “ladies and gentlemen“, and adopted less limiting terms, among which the word ”travelers”, so their welcoming greetings would not leave anyone out or anyone behind.
Inspired by Lufthansa’s decision, I choose this very word – traveler – to greet everyone here in the Portuguese city of Ulysses, formerly known as Olissipo, which is today world-famous Lisbon. And I take this word this morning because Ulysses was a traveler and we, International Law scholars need to be travelers, as well. Ulysses and his Odyssey teach us that long journeys, moving around, walking distances are one of the oldest themes in literary tradition. As we travel, we write. As we write, we travel.
It is in the motion of going from one place to another, and from one subject to another, that knowledge is produced and is integrated, and thus the narration of a story and the construction of a legal text assume the features of a trip or a long journey.
To speak of Ulysses and The Odyssey is to speak of poetry. This reminds us that the dialogue between poetry and international law goes back a long time. Many international lawyers are also poets, perhaps because international law itself is close to poetry somehow.
Hugo Grotius, one of the founding fathers of this branch of law, was one of the many internationalists who dedicated themselves, passionately and enthusiastically, to poetry. Grotius started writing poems early in life, before the age of twelve. At times like the one we are going through, I recall his emotional prayer poem titled “Ad Pacem” (“To peace”), a manifesto against war, written in January 1608.
Epitácio Pessoa, the first Brazilian judge at the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague, who loved Portugal, was another internationalist who, with equal passion, dedicated himself to law and poetry about a hundred years ago.
In fact, Law and poetry share the same grounds, the grounds of culture, full of creativity and feeling. Having made my point, Mr. President, I draw on poetry to greet and welcome all on behalf of the members of The Honor Committee of the Conference.
The poem “O mar dos meus olhos” (“The sea of my eyes“, in free translation) was written by a jurist, Portuguese judge Adelina Barradas de Oliveira. Her verses tells us that “there are women who bear the sea in their eyes. Not by their color, but by the vastness of their soul.”
Lisbon also bears the sea in its eyes. Not by the color, but by the vastness of its soul. Lisbon has been, for many, many centuries, a place of abundant and intense encounters of peoples and cultures. This land brings closer what is far, it shortens distances between things and people. Lisbon is one of those cities that we might as well call “carrefour du monde”. For this very reason, the soul of Lisbon is as big as the Atlantic. The streets of Alfama, Belém, Mouraria or Chiado, some of the centuries-old regions of the city, see a mix of flavors, perfumes, colors, architecture, literature and accents, both ancient and contemporary, coming from all parts of the globe.
Some say that Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Suebians, Visigoths, Muslims and so many other rich cultures have walked these streets leaving behind some of their character, marks, styles and qualities. Here they maintained intercivilizational relations, long before there was an international law, and from here they took with them “saudade”, a Portuguese word that is difficult to translate. Such a colossal personality allowed Lisbon to develop an unusual aptitude for dialogue and hospitality. As a side note, hospitality is the theme of one of the most popular songs by Portuguese music star Amalia Rodrigues, titled “Uma Casa Portuguesa”, which may be translated as “A Portuguese House”.
Hospitality is a key value for International Law. It was the experience of hospitality, welcoming foreigners, migrants, people of different and distant origins that developed and consolidated ethical and juridical principles such as fraternity, solidarity and tolerance, which are fundamental for human rights. The world began to understand what diversity was in the taverns, inns, and lodges that provided shelter and provisions to those who came from afar. At the end of the eighteenth century, Immanuel Kant published the essay “Zum Ewigen Frieden”. In that text, Kant stated that hospitality is a key condition for perpetual peace.
Not by chance, diplomacy and international law have developed so much and so well in Portugal. On such a diverse and plural spirit, Lisbon, despite its discreet profile, has been able to demonstrate, in several episodes throughout history, a refined ability to handle instruments such as treaties, agreements, conventions, declarations and international organizations, in actions of bilateral, regional and multilateral nature with remarkable success. As I am not Portuguese, I can state free from chauvinism that it is no surprise to me that Portugal has occupied and still occupies many prominent positions in the international law scenario.
From today and for the next few days, the city of Lisbon, with its gigantic soul, welcomes us to do what it has been promoting for so many centuries: meetings and dialogue.
I am extremely honored to speak on behalf of the members of The Honor Committee of the Conference, to greet and welcome all travelers from here and from so many different parts of the world, whose luggage is packed with dreams of a better international law that promotes peace, human rights and the rule of law.
Your journey to Lisbon is not over. It restarts here this morning. José Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner in Literature, once said that [quote] “the journey is never over. (…) The end of one journey is simply the start of another. You have to see what you missed the first time, see again what you already saw. (…) You have to start the journey anew. Always.” [unquote] This is also the constant journey of International Law.
On behalf of His Excellency Prof. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of the Portuguese Republic, Dr. Basilio Horta, Mayor of Sintra, Ambassador Álvaro Mendonça e Moura, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, and on my own behalf, we wish you all a fruitful and productive week, and may Lisbon be remembered in the future with “saudades”.
May all have a pleasant journey. Thank you so much.
Marcílio Toscano Franca Filho, Lisboa, 20/06/2022.