The organization has its roots in a solidarity campaign for lawyers in Argentina who ‘disappeared’ or were detained without trial under the military juntas from 1976-1983. The campaign was initiated by a Dutch lawyer and cartoonist, Willem van Manen, in the context of an international congress of lawyers hosted in Buenos Aires.
It showed that international solidarity of the legal profession can play an important role in order to defend and protect colleague-lawyers from attacks, especially since lawyers are bound by universal core values underpinning their profession.
Inspired by the lack of an independent lawyers’ organization dedicated to raising international awareness and recognition of the specific role of lawyers in the protection of the rule of law and human rights and responding to immediate threats to their safety and ability to perform their professional duties effectively, Lawyers for Lawyers was established in 1986.
The creation of Lawyers for Lawyers was supported by the Dutch sections of Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM), the Netherlands Bar Association and the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights at University Utrecht.