It is a great honour to speak to the 28th Conference of the Association of Lawyers for Children. Having stood on this stage in a different capacity in years past, it is a privilege to stand here now to give this opening address. It is also a particular pleasure to give the opening address to a conference examining children’s rights, which is a subject close to my heart. the title of my address to you this morning is “The Weight of Memory – Children’s Rights in a Changing World”.
It has been said that the only certain thing in life is change. That the world turns is, of course, inevitable. Within this context however, the is no inevitable link between the arrow of time and the virtues of increasing enlightenment and justice. As Martin Luther King Jr. cautioned:
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
That this is the case has very often been taken to mean that to deal with a changing world, whether in the context of children’s rights or otherwise, we must forever be seeking the new, the innovative and the pioneering. To mean that we must always pursue reform, restructuring and reorganisation if we are somehow to ‘deal’ with change. Change as the perfect antidote to the effects of change, if you will.