Statutes of the IAPL PDF Print Email


(As amended by the 2nd Congress on 9 November 2003 at Istanbul, Turkey)



Acknowledging that respect for human rights, understood comprehensively to include the people’s individual and collective rights in the civil, political, economic, social and cultural fields, is the necessary condition for national and social emancipation;

Recognizing the rights of peoples and nations to be free from imperialist domination, the rights of the exploited to be free from class exploitation and oppression and the rights of the individual against an oppressive state;

Advocating a critical stand against existing national and international legal systems that perpetuate the unjust socio‑economic order and frustrate the legitimate aspirations of the people for national liberation, social justice, democracy and human rights;

Striving to assess and critique the established treaties and agreements on rights and freedoms from the viewpoint of the people's struggles and thereby expose and rectify the distorted conception of justice and human rights removed from their class basis;

Affirming the need to expose the imperialist system as ultimately responsible for oppression, exploitation, and all forms of violations of human rights;

Welcoming cooperation with all national and international organizations and individuals whose aims are consistent with our struggle to fight imperialism and promote human rights;

Pledging to contribute our skills, training, knowledge and expertise to promote and support the anti­-imperialist and democratic struggles of the oppressed classes and defend the people against the destructive consequences of imperialism and domestic reaction;

Now, therefore, we, people’s lawyers and legal workers from all over the world especially from countries where various forms of struggle against imperialist oppression and human rights violations are most intense, met in Doorn, The Netherlands, from December 8 to 10, 2000, and decided to unite and form an international organization to support the people’s struggle against human rights violations of the imperialist system and for a future without exploitation and oppression.

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Name of the Organization

The Organization shall be called International Association of People's Lawyers or by its acronym, IAPL.



The objectives of IAPL are to:

1. Contribute to the struggle for the total emancipation of the oppressed classes and the establishment of a just and humane world order based on respect for human rights.

2. Expose imperialism as responsible for the oppression and exploitation of peoples and the cruel deprivation of their human rights.

3. Strive to restore the class and political content of basic concepts of law and human rights and propagate their true meaning.

4. Promote a critical outlook on the concept of human rights to uncover the imperialist aims lurking behind international human rights conventions and declarations of rights and freedoms.

5.Work to push the constricting limits of national legal systems and international legal fora to obtain immediate and concrete gains for the people’s struggles for national freedom, social justice, democracy and respect for human rights.

6.Support the promotion of progressive consciousness amongst the general public and the steady development of progressive organizations of the oppressed classes and sectors.

7. Coordinate with existing organizations of progressive lawyers working for the same ends and shall assist in the formation of such organizations in nations and regions where they do not exist.

8. Undertake international fact‑finding missions, conferences, mass actions, lobby work and other similar activities as well as create international tribunals in pursuit of its purposes and objectives.


Nature of the Organization

1. The Organization is a federation of country chapters composed of people’s lawyers in various countries especially in those where imperialist oppression is most severe, the violations of human rights are most widespread and the people’s struggle is most intense.

2. The country chapters shall determine those individual lawyers or those organizations, law firms, and institutions of lawyers who may be members of their respective chapters. In the absence of said chapters, the Board of Directors shall make the pertinent decision.



1. IAPL is open for membership to lawyers who accept its objectives, including those who belong to lawyers’ organizations and law firms and individual lawyers whom the IAPL may invite.

2. Only lawyers' organizations, law firms or institutions of lawyers and individual lawyers that are members of or recognized or endorsed by their respective country chapters shall be considered members of the IAPL.

3. Individual lawyers who do not belong to any organization, law firm or institution of lawyers which is already a member of the country chapter or who do not represent any of the aforesaid entities may be invited and directly admitted to membership by the Board of Directors or by the General Assembly in consultation with the concerned country chapter.

4. In case of applicants belonging to countries with no existing country chapters or where a country chapter has ceased to become a member, the Board of Directors shall decide their admission to membership.

5. An application for membership by an organization, law firm or institution of lawyers shall state the name of the organization, the names of its officers and the size of its membership, accompanied by a copy of its statutes. An application for membership by an individual lawyer shall state the corresponding information.

6. All members shall have equal rights and duties.

7. Country chapters shall provide the Board of Directors with information regarding their activities every six (6) months.

8. Any member may withdraw from the IAPL upon written notice.

9. Organizations and institutions of paralegals, law students and legal workers who support the objectives of the IAPL may be admitted as associate members but shall not have voting rights.

10. Disciplinary process may be undertaken by the country chapter concerned, the Board of Directors or by the General Assembly against an individual member or a country chapter, as the case may be, whose continued membership is inimical to the purposes of the Organization. Any disciplinary action shall be subject to appeal to the appropriate higher body.



1. Organizations or institutions of non-lawyers and individual non-lawyers other than those referred to in paragraph 9 of Article IV that are primarily and directly involved in human rights work and advocacy and that support the objectives of the IAPL may be allowed cooperator status.

2.  Cooperators shall have no voting rights but may participate in the proceedings of the General Assembly and in conferences that the IAPL may initiate.


Governing Bodies

1. The highest governing body of the IAPL is the General Assembly.

2. A Board of Directors shall be established and shall be the highest policy-making body between meetings of the General Assembly.

3. A Secretariat shall also be established.


General Assembly

1. The General Assembly shall be composed of the representatives from each country chapter. The country chapters shall determine or endorse those individual lawyers or those organizations, law firms, and institutions of lawyers who may be members of their delegation in the General Assembly.

2. The Board of Directors in consultation with the concerned country chapter may also invite as guests or experts other individual lawyers to the General Assembly.

3. In case of countries with no existing country chapter or where a country chapter has ceased to become a member, the Board of Directors may decide the procedure for forming or composing the delegation of such country to a General Assembly.

4. The General Assembly shall meet at an International Congress at least once every three (3) years. The names of the delegates shall be communicated by their respective country chapters to the Secretariat at least one (1) month before the Congress.

5. Decisions by the General Assembly shall be made by a simple majority, except in the ratification of any amendment to these Statutes.

6. Each country delegation shall have an equal number of votes as those of other country delegations in the General Assembly. The number of votes for each country delegation and the rules of participation in a particular General Assembly meeting shall be determined by the Board of Directors. In all instaces, the principle that all country delegations shall have one vote each sjall be observed.

7. The General Assembly shall elect an Honorary Chairperson, a President, a Vice President, a Secretary General, a Treasurer and an Auditor. The General Assembly shall also elect such other officers of the IAPL as it deems necessary or appropriate. It shall likewise have the power to confirm or revoke the admission of new country chapters or individual lawyers directly admitted into membership by the Board of Directors in accordance with Article IV.

8. The General Assembly may decide to elect in absentia an individual member who is unable to attend for compelling reasons. No two (2) members from one (1) country delegation may be represented or elected to any position in any event.

9. The General Assembly shall create a Committee of Eminent Persons whose members shall be known as the Counselors of IAPL. The Counselors are eminent persons from different disciplines who are outstanding individuals in the field of human rights, actively adhere, support or promote the objectives of the Organization and who shall contribute to its prestige. The Committee of Eminent Persons shall have an advisory function with respect to the Board of Directors and may make their contributions to the General Assembly and to conferences sponsored by the IAPL.

10. Between Congresses, the General Assembly shall meet upon the request of at least one third (1/3) of the country delegations or upon a decision by the Board of Directors to act on important matters.

11. At a General Assembly meeting, associate members as defined in Article IV shall be allowed to participate and speak. Cooperators as defined in Article V may be present and may be permitted to speak.

The Board of Directors

1. The Board shall be composed of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary General, Treasurer, Auditor and such other elected officers of the Organization. The Board of Directors shall elect an Honorary Chairperson who shall provide advice and may sit in its meetings.

2. The President shall be the head and chief representative of the Organization. He/She shall preside over the meetings of the General Assembly and the Board of Directors. In the absence of the President, the Vice President shall preside.

3. An officer of the IAPL must be a member of a country chapter or delegation. The terms of each officer shall commence at the close of the General Assembly at which he/she was elected and shall last until the end of the following General Assembly.

4. In the event of vacancy, the Board shall elect an interim officer to fill the vacancy until the next meeting of the General Assembly. Such interim officer must preferably come from the same country to which the former officer belonged and the choice must be made upon consultation with the concerned country chapter or delegation.

5. The Board shall have the power to make policies of the Organization subject to the provisions of these Statutes and the policy guidelines provided in resolutions of the General Assembly.

6. A simple majority of all the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum. The Board shall seek to make decisions by consensus. Otherwise, decisions of the Board shall be made by simple majority. However, on request of at least one third (1/3) of its members, a matter before it shall be referred for resolution to the General Assembly.

7. The Board shall meet at least annually. Proxies may be allowed provided authority and compelling reasons therefor are stated in writing.



1. The Secretariat shall consist of the Secretary General and such other personnel as may be necessary to be appointed by the Secretary General.

2. The Secretariat shall conduct all current affairs of the IAPL, implement the policies of the Organization as determined by the Board of Directors and initiate activities aimed at the achievement of the goals of the Organization. It shall also have such other functions as the Board may delegate to it.

3. The Secretariat shall seek to make decisions by consensus. However, on request of one of its members, a matter before it shall be referred for resolution to the Board of Directors.

4. The Secretariat shall meet as often as necessary or upon call by the Secretary General or the chief of staff of the Secretariat.

5. The primary location of the Secretariat shall be in Europe unless otherwise changed by the Board of Directors.



1. The financial resources of IAPL shall consist of annual contributions from the country chapters and delegations, voluntary contributions and donations from persons, organizations and other entities interested in supporting the activities of the Organization.

2. The minimum contributions from country chapters and delegations shall be decided by the General Assembly upon recommendation from the Secretariat and may be adjusted to reflect the resources of the respective country chapters and delegations and the needs of the Organization.

3. The annual contributions shall be made to the account of IAPL before July 1 of each year.

4. The Treasurer shall be responsible for the collection, maintenance and disbursement of the funds of the Organization. He or she shall also be responsible for keeping the accounts and presenting a budget to the Board of Directors. The Auditor shall annually examine the accounts and report his/her findings to the Board.

5. Upon report of the Auditor the Secretariat shall submit the accounts of the preceding years for approval by the General Assembly at an International Congress. It shall also submit to the General Assembly a budget for approval to cover the period until the next Congress.


General Provisions

1. A proposal for amendment of these Statutes shall be distributed to the members at least one (1) month before a meeting of the General Assembly. An amendment requires the approval of two‑thirds (2/3) of the country delegations present and voting, provided that at least a majority of the country delegations participate.

2. The working language of the Organization shall be English.

3. The dissolution of the Organization requires the approval of the General Assembly. In the event of dissolution, the property of the IAPL shall be transferred to other bodies as determined by the General Assembly to be spent on activities connected with the aims of the Organization. Decisions mentioned in this paragraph require three­-fourths (3/4) of the country delegations present and voting, provided that at least majority of the all the country delegations participate.

Amended this 9th day of November 2003 at Istanbul, Turkey.