President’s Message, October 2014
Dear friends and colleagues,
In July 2014, at the 19th World Congress of Comparative Law in Vienna, I was elected President of the International Academy of Comparative Law. It is a great honor and privilege and I wish to express my deepest thanks for trusting me to lead the Academy in the coming four years.
Let me briefly introduce myself. I am of German origin and Dutch by option. I received my legal education in Göttingen and Berlin and started my professional carrier in the Netherlands in 1980. Since 1995 I have been a professor of private international law and comparative law at Utrecht University and since 2010 I have been an extraordinary professor at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. My main focus of research lies in the field of international and European family law; however, I am also interested in international contract law. In 1994, I attended my first World Congress of Comparative Law in Athens. Since then I have been a regular participant at the “Olympic games of comparative law”. In 2006, the Dutch Association of Comparative Law organized the 17th Conference in Utrecht in which I was heavily involved. I was present when George Bermann and Jürgen Basedow became President and Secretary General respectively. During the last eight years they have modernized the Academy, e.g. by introducing intermediate conferences, by establishing the Ius Comparatum Global Studies in Comparative Law series and by considerably enlarging the Academy’s community. Today almost 700 members from all over the world are members of the Academy.
In the coming years I would like to expand the Academy with more members from Africa. This huge continent is still under-represented in our Academy. I would like to focus our efforts into a range of activities which support and promote this goal, either in the form of study visits, scholarships, conferences or publications. Due to my connection to South Africa, for example, I shall investigate the possibility of organising one of the next comparative law conferences in Africa.
In addition, I would like to involve many more young scholars and lawyers in the work of the Academy. I think we could explore the establishment of a global young academy of comparative law, like national academies of sciences do. Anyhow, I do believe the International Academy of Comparative Law must become more attractive for our successors not only when we are reaching the stage of being an emeritus or retiree, but already much earlier.
Together with the Executive Committee of our Academy, in particular with the Secretary General Diego Fernandez Arroyo, I am committed to ensuring that the Academy continues its work as a centre of excellence that brings together experts in comparative law from all around the world.
Finally, I would like to invite everyone to submit ideas as to what the Academy should do in the future. I am open for discussion and you can reach me at any time. My e-mail address is email@example.com.