Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 2013

Liberty and Justice for All: Behind the Scenes at the 2013 World Justice Forum

By Christopher Durso, Executive Editor

sectors — peace, justice, and security on a global scale being one of the primary USPs.... We do that by creating strong partnerships: governmental, institutional, academic, industry.”

Dutch security minister Ivo Opstelten (left).

Following Ward's site visit last fall, WJP built an eight-member local host committee — which included Astrid Bronswijk, head of The Hague's department of international affairs, and Sam Muller, HiiL's executive director — and set to working with the World Forum. The World Justice Forum has what Ward calls “a pretty demanding meeting schedule,” with the five concurrent sessions a day needing seating for at least 100 people each, and the 13 Justice Incubator rooms each needing a hollow-square set for 40 people. “[World Forum's] staff is excellent, and they have been just really first-class in terms of their flexibility, in terms of their creativity, their problem-solving, and they've certainly treated this as its own event,” Ward said. “They're not trying to do aboilerplate meeting. They really spent a lot of time trying to understand the style and philosophy behind our event.”

For the convention center, it didn't hurt that the World Justice Forum was right in the facility's wheelhouse. “It was very organized,” said Kristen Vosmer, the World Forum's commercial manager, sitting over coffee in the building's restaurant on Wednesday morning. “[Ward] knows exactly what she wants. Especially the cooperation with the city was important, because we are the City of Peace and Justice. This meeting has a huge impact for the city and is exactly what we want to host. [World Forum's] slogan is ‘events that shape the world,’ and this meeting really fits that.”

The World Forum is compact yet spacious, with all of its rooms situated around a central staircase that rises up through the building's four floors. For the World Justice Forum, the tables in the World Café, on the ground floor, were set with red votive candles that cast a low, warm light. On Tuesday afternoon and again on Wednesday morning, attendees were huddled around the café, drinking coffee and talking. Against one wall was a bulletin board with two large posters pinned to it, one outlining the WJP Rule of Law Index, the other showing Holland's entry on the index — a silent backdrop to the conference's social hub, suggesting a mission that operates at every level, from the global to the national to the local.

“This is the culmination of building a community that I care a lot about,” Ward said. “This is our raison d'être. It's the reason why I go to work every day. It's to create an environment where people can come together and share their energy and build their energy around creating more opportunity and equity for everyone.”

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