Recently, law students from more than 10 countries gathered in Bangkok to attend the Alsa Annual Forum 2008, the biggest event of the Asian Law Students Association (Alsa). Their aim was to find a legal solution to cope with the environmental crisis.
The topic of the forum, which ran from Aug 2 to 9, was "Environmental Issues and Solutions toward Asia's Responsibilities". More than 200 delegates from Alsa member-countries and participants from Europe and Australia took part in the discussions.
One of its goals is to draft an international convention for environmental problems, so as to raise public concern over the issues involved. The areas considered included factory emissions control, natural resource management, fishery control, marine pollution, wildlife protection, forestry issues and city pollution.
"As law students, we believe this could be the best way to solve environmental problems - by using legal mechanisms," said Nutta Vasantasingh, president of the Alsa Annual Forum 2008 organising committee.
"We want to do something substantial in terms of the law. As a new generation of lawyers, we should present our ideas on how the law can be applied to resolve environmental problems, such as marine pollution or fishery control. Our objective is to encourage people to become aware of our various conventions and put them into practice," she continued.
One important scheme is the Environmental Project, in which the group from each member-country chooses one environmental problem that it is concerned about, and tries to deal with it legally.
"The main idea of the environmental project is to have members put theory into practice rather than just have discussions," said Nat Boonjunwetvat, the former president of Alsa. It was the fifth Alsa forum, and it is the first time that Thailand acted as host. The previous one, in 2007, was held in Seoul, Korea.
Launched in 1989 by a group of Indonesian law students, Alsa has expanded considerably. The organisation now has members from nine countries: China, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
This non-political, non-governmental and non-profit organisation aims to encourage members to get an insight into the legal system inside each member- country as well as foster long-term relationships among law students of diverse cultures and international backgrounds.
"We are encouraging law students to exchange ideas. By doing this, we can see the different legal problems from the perspectives of young people. Later, we can apply this knowledge to our profession," said the former president. "Today, we are in the world of globalisation. We cannot know only our legal system or see only our own problems. We have to seek international coordination and exchange knowledge so that we can develop ourselves."
Anisa Putri Larasati Sulaiman, an Alsa member from Indonesia, talked about some of the benefits of being a member of the association: "You can expand your network of legal contacts, practise your legal skills and exchange knowledge on the different cultures and legal systems of Asian countries."
Other Alsa activities include the Asian Law Students Conferences and study trips to member countries. In the future, the association expects to hold public legal seminars, according to Nutta.
For more information about Alsa, visit
http://www.alsa-intl.net . Any university interested in joining Alsa may contact Ms Chompoonut Wiroonpan on 089-992-2909.