The International Academy of Comparative Law was founded at The Hague on 13 September 1924.
The date itself is significant because it coincides with the prodigious movement towards a renaissance of law which followed World War I.
That the Academy was founded in The Hague is also notable because it had earlier been designated as the seat of the Permanent Court of International Justice and, in addition, was the place at which the Academy of International Law was founded.
Elemer Balogh was the architect of this union. For nearly forty years, and in spite of the catastrophes provoked by the war of 1939-1945, Elemer Balogh served as the Secretary General of the Academy, thereby devoting his very life to the success of the institution of which he had been instrumental in establishing.
The names of Roscoe Pound, Louis Milliot, Baron Frédericq, C.J. Hamson, Imre Szabo,
John Hazard, Paul Crépeau, who have served as presidents of the organization, are indicative of the prestige that the Academy has always enjoyed.
The International Academy of Comparative Law is a corps of scholars the principal aim of which is, according to article 2 of its By-laws, “the comparative study of legal systems”.
The Academy is composed of eighty Titular Members, elected by a two-thirds vote of the Titular Members preceding them. The candidates are proposed by one of six groups within the Academy.
Additionaly, the Academy comprises the associate members. This class is not limited in number.
They are elected by the Titular Members and in the same manner.
The groups are not constituted on the basis of statehood but according to membership in the great legal systems of the world :latin group, common law countries, Northern and Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Midle-East / Africa, and Asia.
While the groups have been established according to legal system, the Academy has found it necessary, for reasons of efficiency, to bring about the creation of "national committees".
These committees represent the Academy in more than fifty countries.
The Academy’s primary activity is to convene at intervals of four years an International Congress of Comparative Law.
The first International Congress of Comparative Law was held at The Hague in 1932. The second congress was also held at The Hague, this time in 1937. The war brought with it a suspension of activities and meetings were only resumed in 1950.
The Congresses after the war were as follows: London (1950), Paris (1954), Brussels (1958), Hamburg (1962), Uppsala (1966), Pescara (1970), Teheran (1974), Budapest (1978), Caracas (1982), Sydney (1986), Montreal (1990), Athens (1994), Bristol (1998), Brisbane (2002) and soon Utrecht (2006). Currently the number of topics at each congress has increased to about thirty. They touch on all major disciplines in both private and public law, including methodology, ethnology, computers and bibliography. Traditionally a final section has been devoted to a theme chosen by the Alumni Association of the International Faculty of Comparative Law (Strasbourg). Every four years the International Congress of Comparative Law provides an occasion to examine current problems which face all legal systems.
The body of knowledge contained in the General Reports, as published after each Congress by the organizers, as well as the volumes of national reports published by the various "national committees", provide information and analysis not to be found elsewhere. The Academy has recently been publishing thematic books containing the general report and the national reports on the main subjects presented during the recent congresses. The Academy considers itself honoured in playing its role as of stimulating research in comparative law throughout the world. In his famous article in the Mélanges Lambert, the great British comparative lawyer Gutteridge emphasized three characteristics which he found to be central in comparative law: the importance of the discipline as a factor in relations among peoples; its utility for law reform, and its role in legal education. The Academy contributes to each of these three great facets of the discipline. This distribution confirms the world-wide vocation of the Academy which, while evolving, has always sought to preserve the ideals which inspired its founders.
Last update : 30/10/2008