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I was both excited and honoured to be invited to participate in the ARAG Access to Justice Conference in Amsterdam.

Our colleagues in the Netherlands brought together leading figures from the fields of technology and international justice with more than 200 business leaders from 19 countries, to explore the important theme of delivering universal access to justice.

Among the speakers with whom I shared a stage were the German futurist Gerd Leonhard; AI expert and former OpenAI leader Zack Kass; CEO of AI for the People Mutale Nkonde; human rights leader Ayo Tometi and the lawyer and human rights activist Amal Clooney.

The central question that we were all there to address was: How do we empower people, businesses and society to gain access to justice in the future?

It’s an important question because, as Speaker of the Board of Management of our parent company ARAG SE Renko Dirksen highlighted, “By improving access to justice we strengthen the trust in institutions in our democratic societies."

Another focus of the conference was the impact of innovation, particularly artificial intelligence, on access to justice, which we all understand comes with both opportunities and challenges.

As Gerd Leonhard pointed out, “...all too often, technological leaps mainly benefit those who possess that technology, or build platforms around it. That has to change.”

In a fascinating conversation, Mutale Nkonde, CEO of AI for the People and Zack Kass, former Head of Go-to-Market at Chat GPT, explored the intersection between technology and human rights, looking at both the challenges and the opportunities that AI offers to the pursuit of justice.

Aside from technological advances, the conference underlined the importance of international legal frameworks in working towards a more equitable society. 

Amal Clooney, the lawyer and human rights activist, gave a moving keynote speech, sharing compelling stories from her career and stressing how important legal protection really is. As she put it, “Without access to justice, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is just words on a page. And access to justice begins with people caring.”

There was also a surprise appearance from last year’s winners of the International Children’s Peace Prize. Now young women, as girls from the Ukraine they built apps to help young refugees forced to live outside their own country because of the war. During the interview, they told how they used technology to safeguard the rights of refugee children. 

The conference was wrapped up with a powerful speech from Ayo Tometi, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, who restated the core message that empowerment is fundamental to access to justice.

She quoted Martin Luther King Jr’s famous words “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” but noted that it does not bend by itself, adding that “We need to work together, with skill, principle and conviction, to bend the arc towards justice.”

Between the speeches and interviews, we were treated to entertainment that included an innovative AI-powered opening act and an inspirational performance by the ZO Gospel Choir.

The event closed with a call to action, urging participants to work together in shaping a brighter future in which justice is not just a privilege but a universal right.

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.