International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)

International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)


* Professes to be an International human rights organization
* Soviet front organization during the Cold War
* Views Israel as an oppressor state that abuses Palestinian Arabs

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) is a non-governmental organization that was founded in Paris in 1946, by attorneys who had recently participated in the Nuremberg Trials. The organization’s first president was the French resistance leader Rene Cassin, who also drafted the United Nations‘s Universal of Declaration of Human Rights

IADL today has consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Its stated mission is to facilitate “contact,” “understanding,” and “goodwill” among lawyers and their professional associations, so that they may “work together” in “common action” to achieve “the aims set out in the Charter of the United Nations”—most notably worldwide “peace and cooperation.” Additional IADL objectives are to: “restore, defend and develop democratic rights and liberties in legislation and in practice”; “promote the independence of all peoples and to oppose any restriction on this independence whether in law or in practice”; “promote the preservation of ecology and healthy environments”; “struggle for strict adherence to the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary and legal profession”; and “defend peoples’ rights to … conditions of economic equality and the enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress and natural resources.”

Despising free-market economies, IADL in 2009 stated that the financial crisis which had recently struck the United States had “deep roots … in the present economic system,” characterized by “neoliberal” practices that purportedly spawned such social ills as “racism,” “colonialism,” “imperialism,” “economic and political injustice,” and “growing inequalities among rich and poor.” To address these problems, the Association advocates “a more equitable distribution of wealth,” additional “controls to the circulation of capitals,” stricter “limitation on the activities of the financial sphere,” expanded “policies of social protection” in the form of taxpayer-funded welfare programs, and wholesale “redistribution of income.”

Over the course of IADL’s history, the organization has brought numerous challenges to alleged violations of individual and group rights before the International Court of Justice, the United Nations Court in the Hague, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. It also has represented many high-profile defendants accused of crimes against the state, such as the longtime revolutionary communist Angela Davis, the Marxist Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, the African nationalist Jomo Kenyatta, the Algerian revolutionary Abane Ramdame, and numerous members of African National Congress (including Nelson Mandela), the Soviet-backed South West Africa People’s Organization, and Yasser Arafat‘s Palestine Liberation Organization

Some highlights of IADL’s activities during its first few decades include the following:

  • 1951: IADL condemns the “tyrannical and repressive” regime of the Shah of Iran.

  • 1952: IADL begins its support of the African National Congress, starting with the Campaign of Resistance Against Unjust Laws.

  • 1952: IADL examines evidence of America’s alleged use of germ warfare during the Korean War. According to Stanley Sander, author of The Korean War: No Victors, No Vanquished: “In not one case did they reject or even modify the Communist claim. Their finding of deep U.S. culpability were given worldwide publicity by the Communist media.”

  • 1961: IADL’s Congress in Budapest calls for a complete and swift U.S. military withdrawal from Vietnam.

Throughout the Cold War, IADL was a relentless foe of America’s campaign against Communism, regularly railing against alleged U.S. atrocities while remaining silent on the well-documented human-rights violations of Communist regimes. A 1978 Central Intelligence Agency report classified IADL as “one of most useful Communist front organizations at the service of the Soviet Communist Party.” “[I]n the 31 years of the IADL’s existence,” the report added, “it [IADL] has so consistently demonstrated its support for Moscow’s foreign policy objectives, and is so tied in with other front organizations and the Communist press, that it is difficult for it to pretend that its judgments are fair or relevant to basic legal tenets.” To this day, IADL is still dominated by communists and socialists. 

In 1979 IADL voiced its opposition to the Camp David Accords, the recently signed peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. In 1980 the organization began its longstanding campaign to delegitimize Israel while “recognizing the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination.” Accusing Israel of everything from “crimes of war,” to “crimes against humanity,” to “ethnic cleansing,” IADL has called on its affiliated lawyers and jurist members around the world “to urge their governments to suspend any help of any kind to Israel.” For additional highlights of this campaign, see Note #1 at the bottom of this page.[1]

IADL’s contempt for Israel is mirrored by its deep and enduring hatred for the United States, which it views as a bastion of “racism, colonialism, and economic and political injustice.” For example:

  • IADL claims that America’s use of military force against al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists is “illegal” and “cannot be countenanced by the international community.” By the Association’s telling, the 2001 U.S. attack against the Taliban government in Afghanistan violated Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which narrowly defines “self-defense” as “individual or collective action [taken] only in the face of an [active] armed attack.” “The [9/11] attack on the World Trade Center was a criminal act,” says IADL, “and did not give the United States license to ignore international law by bombing and invading the country as a whole.” The proper course of action, the Association contends, would have been for the U.S. to “demand the government of Afghanistan to arrest and detain for trial” – perhaps in the International Criminal Court – “those suspected of planning and implementing the 9/11 attacks.”

  • Likewise opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, IADL at that time collaborated with other leftist attorneys’ organizations to press for the creation of a “war crimes tribunal” to “try George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Jose Maria Aznar and John Howard and other leaders of the Alliance [against Iraq] for their Crimes.”

During the 1980s, IADL helped the Soviet KGB wage a disinformation campaign claiming that wealthy Americans were plundering the bodies of Latin American children in order to harvest their organs for transplants.

A longtime champion of the Fidel Castro dictatorship, IADL in 1992 began to organize an international campaign condemning America’s economic boycott of Cuba as “an illegal use of force in violation of the Charters of the U.N. and the OAU.” Eight years later, in October 2000, IADL issued a declaration denouncing “the brutal and genocidal economic war that the United States of America has been waging against the Cuban people for forty years.” Meanwhile, the Association praised Cuba for having “made a Revolution, established an alternative political system, and built a state order of its own invention, creating a true democracy that breaks loose from the dictated paradigms with which [the Americans] pretend to rule from their power centers, over the life and decisions of the whole universe.”

In a related mater, IADL’s Free The Five campaign was aimed at winning the release from prison of the so-called “Cuban Five” – a reference to five constituents of a brutal Castro spy ring who, in 2001, were sentenced (by a U.S. court) to long prison terms for their convictions on a number of serious crimes. For details of what the Cuban Five were guilty of, click here. By IADL’s reckoning, however, the Cuban Five were anti-terrorists who had been “wrongly convicted” in a “witchhunt” trial.

In its “Compensate Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange” campaign, IADL has joined the National Lawyers Guild in an effort to legally and financially punish the American chemical companies that produced the “many chemical weapons” – most notably the defoliant Agent Orange – used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. “It is estimated that over 600,000 Vietnamese are currently suffering from agent orange related diseases and birth defects which are now showing up in the third generation,” says IADL. 

For information about additional IADL campaigns, click here.

A key member organization of IADL is the National Lawyers Guild.


[1] Following are some examples of IADL’s anti-Israel statements and activities:

  • IADL’s professed pacifism notwithstanding, the organization was an avowed supporter of the Palestinians’ violent Second Intifada against Israel. “Palestinians,” said IADL in 2001, “have been engaged in an anti-colonial rebellion. Equipped with the latest in American-donated fighter-bombers, helicopter gun-ships, tanks and missiles, and a state-of-the-art intelligence service, not to mention its own nuclear weapons, Israel has responded by attacking a dispossessed, essentially unarmed people, with no air force, no artillery, no army.”

  • On June 6, 2002, Jitendra Sharma, IADL’s India-based president, mounted a defense of Marwan Barghouti (an imprisoned Fatah terrorist and a Member of the Palestinian Legislative Council), urging Israeli authorities to grant Barghouti “parliamentary immunity.”

  • IADL mostly reserves the term “terrorism” not for Palestinian suicide bombings, but rather, for what it describes as “the State terrorism practiced by the big, [the] powers that pretend to [be] the arbiters of Human Rights.”

  • In 2005, IADL lawyers filed an amicus brief with the Israeli Supreme Court when it was addressing a case regarding Israel’s policy of targeted killings aimed at Palestinian terrorist leaders and operatives. By IADL’s reckoning, such “premeditated lethal force … against a person who has not been convicted of any crime” constitutes “violations of … international human rights law.” Moreover, IADL has questioned “whether in the context of the occupation,… use of lethal force could ever be based on claims of self defense against a people Israel already occupied and who have a right to self determination.”

  • In August 2010, IADL declared that the Israeli “attack,” three months earlier – against a Free Gaza ship that was carrying at least 40 Turkish jihadis toward Gaza – represented a “serious breac[h] of international law.” For details of that incident, click here.

  • In November 2011, IADL condemned American, British, and Israeli threats of launching a military strike against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities. “While Israel is quick to denounce the possible possession of nuclear weapons by others,” said the Association, “it illegally has had nuclear weapons for many years.” A supporter of a worldwide ban on nuclear arms since its founding, IADL asserts that the only viable solution would be to “immediately declare the Middle East a nuclear-free zone and a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction.”

  • In November 2012, IADA announced that it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the current aggression by Israel against the people of the Gaza Strip.” At that time, the Jewish state was engaged in Operation Pillar of Defense, a response to Hamas‘s firing of thousands of deadly rockets and mortars into southern Israel. Denouncing the allegedly innumerable “atrocities” that had already resulted from the Israeli “assault on the Gaza Strip,” IADL accused Israel’s forces of deliberately “targeting civilian lives and property.”

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