In Leiden, experts celebrate 25th anniversary of Children’s Convention

kinderLEIDEN – Children, or kinder, has been the watchword these days in this Dutch city, where Leiden University’s been hosting a whirlwind of activities to mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A film festival, moot court competition,* art exhibit, and commemoration by Princess Beatrice were just some of the events.

I was honored to take part in “25 years CRC,” a 2-day conference that brought to Leiden hundreds of children’s rights experts, from Auckland to Zagreb and many places in between. Plenary presentations included Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermuelen‘s fascinating comparison of U.S. and Dutch laws against online sexual exploitation of children. Then scholars and practitioners met in early a dozen parallel sessions, where they tackled an array of topics.

The session I chaired featured: Claire Achmad‘s outline of her Ph.D. dissertation, a children’s rights approach to regulation of international commercial surrogacy; Mies Grijn‘s anthropological account of child marriage practices in a village in Java, Indonesia; and Emily Waller‘s discussion of children, sexual violence-related stigmatization, and reparations. A common thread in these talks was the difficulty of drafting, adapting, and enforcing laws meant to be applied in societies marked by changes and cultural variations.

In a session on children and armed conflict, Olga Jurasz explored the treatment of children in cases before the International Criminal Court. Aurélie Roche-Mair followed suit, with an emphasis on the interrelation between the Children’s Convention and the Rome Statute of the ICC. Concluding was Gloria Atiba-Davies, head of the Gender and Children Unit in the ICC Office of the Prosecutor. Together, their presentations underscored the legal and practical challenges to achievement of the goal of ending wartime crimes against children – a goal to which ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda recommitted her office, in her October speech on “Children & International Criminal Justice,” and in a statement yesterday that marked the Convention’s anniversary. It’s a goal to be pursued as her office continues consultations with experts, in the course of developing its Policy Paper on Children.

* Congratulations to the Students of the Law Society of Ireland for winning 1st place at yesterday’s finals. And kudos to Leiden Professors Ton Liefaard and Julia Sloth-Nielsen for the vision and hard work that produced this amazing week.

ICC Prosecutor on “Children & International Criminal Justice”

bensouda6_28oct14This silver anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child seems a fitting day to report on the “Children & International Criminal Justice,” the conference that brought to Athens, Georgia, more than 2 dozen experts from as far away as Doha, Kinshasa, and The Hague.

The experts met on October 28 at my home institution, the University of Georgia School of Law, to discuss, in a plenary session and in workshops, the experiences of children during armed violence, as well as the treatment of children and children’s issues by international criminal justice mechanisms. (Prior post) The conference served as one of several consultations being undertaken by the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor as part of its preparation of a Policy Paper on Children – a process I am honored to assist as ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda‘s Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict.

A centerpiece of the day was the keynote speech delivered by Prosecutor Bensouda (above). She began with a quote from a renowned humanitarian:

The Great Nelson Mandela once said: ‘We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.’

bensouda4_28oct14Bensouda then urged the assembly, which included hundreds of professors and students, members of her staff, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies:

We must indeed pool our efforts, expertise and energies to advance the rights of children and to shield them from harm in times of conflict.

She detailed the efforts of her Office on behalf of children – including the successful prosecution of former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo on child-soldiering charges, as well as the current prosecution of his erstwhile co-accused, Bosco Ntaganda, on additional charges of sexual violence against children in his militia. Conviction in the latter case, Bensouda said, would

represent an important, pioneering clarification of the protection international humanitarian law offers to children and the victims of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict.

wkshop_28oct14The Prosecutor underscored her Office’s commitment to the Children’s Convention’s 4 “guiding principles” when she said:

We are also committed of respecting the rights of children with whom we interact in the course of our investigative and prosecutorial work, including their right to be heard and to have their best interests treated as a primary consideration.

The transcript of her remarks as delivered is available here; the full speech is scheduled for publication next year, in Volume 43, issue 3, of the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law.

Georgia Law’s incoming Dean: Bo Rutledge

uga_law_visDelighted to announce that my Georgia Law colleague, Peter Bowman Rutledge, will become dean of our law school effective January 1.

“Bo,” as Professor Rutledge is known, is “a leading scholar in the fields of international dispute resolution, arbitration and the U.S. Supreme Court,” to quote the university’s announcement of the appointment. He holds the Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law and has served as our Associate Dean for Faculty Development at Georgia Law for the last 2 years. He’s published 2 books — Arbitration ad the Constitution and International Civil Litigation in the United States (an Aspen casebook co-authored with Gary Born) — and more than 3 dozen chapters and articles. He’s lectured at universities in 10 countries, and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Vienna. A former law clerk to Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit and to Justice Clarence Thomas, in 2008 he successfully argued Irizarry v. United States in the Supreme Court. He is a member of the board of the Atlanta International Arbitration Society and of the Editorial Committee for the 2015 edition of the American Society of International Law Benchbook on International Law. An award-winning teacher, his many contributions include preparing students for the annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. (Bo’s pictured above, in the center of the Georgia Law students who traveled to Vienna to compete as the 2011 Vis team; last year’s team was 9th worldwide.) (photo credit) Before entering academia, Bo practiced international dispute resolution and arbitration at the firm now known as WilmerHale and at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

He will succeed Dean Rebecca White, who’s been a terrific supporter of international law programming in my years on this faculty, which I joined in 2011.

Dr. Pamela Whitten, the university’s Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, underscored Bo’s “commitment to promoting excellence in faculty scholarship, which informs the practice of law across the state, nation and world as well as the instruction that students receive.”

Thanks to BASIL, a remembrance of Society’s 1st African American president

fergusonCHICAGO – Within the rich program of the just-concluded American Society of International Law Midyear Meeting was a discovery. A discovery for me, at least, regarding an important milestone in ASIL’s century-plus history.

I have written before about women who blazed trails in the Society since its founding in 1906. Among several notables is Dr. Alona Evans, the Wellesley political science professor (and mentor of then-student Hillary Rodham) who was elected ASIL’s first woman president in 1980. Evans, who died in office the same year, would be followed by other women: Georgetown Law professor Edith Brown Weiss (1994-1996) Anne-Marie Slaughter (2002-2004), now president of the New America thinktank, Freshfields partner Lucy Reed (2008-2010), and, since the spring of this year, Columbia Law Professor Lori Fisler Damrosch.

I’ve also written about Goler Teal Butcher, Howard Law professor, U.S. State Department diplomat, and Amnesty International activist. Butcher, an African American woman, was friend, mentor, and inspiration to many; indeed, the Society named its human rights medal after her. (See here and here.)

I have not written about the Society’s first (and only) African American president, however. There is a simple reason for that omission: though I have seen the full list of past ASIL presidents, I did not learn until this ASIL’s Midyear that one of them, C. Clyde Ferguson Jr., was a person of African American heritage. He is pictured at top; photo credit.

Credit for my discovery belongs to Blacks in the American Society of International Law – BASIL – a task force that held its formative session at the Chicago meeting. The first component of President Damrosch’s inclusion initiative, BASIL is designed to affirm and expand the tradition of black international lawyers, jurists and academics in the United States. It is co-chaired by ASIL Honorary President Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, whose career includes service as a judge on the U.S. District Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, along with Adrien K. Wing, the Bessie Dutton Murray Professor of Law at the University of Iowa. I’m honored to serve as a member of this task force, along with Elizabeth “Betsy” Andersen, Angela Banks, Bartram Brown, Donald Francis Donovan, Jeremy Levitt, Makau Mutua, Natalie Reid, Henry Richardson, and Edith Brown Weiss.

As preparation for our inaugural session, BASIL co-chairs distributed, among other things, a 1994 essay written in memory of Ferguson. Born to a pastor’s family during the Depression, he was barred from attending college in his home state on account of race. Ferguson was graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and hired as that school’s first African American law professor – for a long time, according to the essay, he was Harvard Law’s “only full-time minority professor.” A human rights scholar, activist, and diplomat, Ferguson served inter alia as dean of Howard University School of Law and as U.S. Ambassador to Uganda. Professor Butcher and he frequently collaborated on issues related to southern Africa.

Elected ASIL’s president in 1978, Ferguson was succeeded two years later by Professor Evans. The fact that the Society chose two pathbreaking leaders in a row is noteworthy. Indeed, it calls out for a legal historian to asil_logoplumb this pivotal moment in ASIL’s history. One hopes that BASIL, alone or in conjunction with WILIG, the Society’s Women in International Law Interest Group, will answer that call.

Halloween and children, revisited

It’s Halloween, a day when costumes conjure playfulness among children and adults alike. To celebrate, I’m reprinting below my post from October 31, 2010, available in the IntLawGrrls archives here. The donation link at bottom still works, so consider a contribution on behalf of the world’s children.

Often completing this ‘Grrl’s Halloween costume was the tote at left.
Many a year we Midwestern children would knock on doors to “Trick or Treat for UNICEF,” seeking donations to help the United Nations help children in need. For many of us, it was an early raising of awareness — an early invitation to consider how we might respond in our own small ways to the plight of others throughout the world.
Of great interest, therefore, was the news that the woman who founded the campaign has died at age 93, just a few days short of the 60th anniversary of her achievement.
As detailed in The New York Times‘ obituary, the idea came to Mary Emma Allison, a schoolteacher long concerned about social justice, while shopping in 1949 in Philadelphia. (credit for photo of Allison and her costume-clad children) Soon she and her husband had created a global movement, called “Pennies for UNICEF” in those days of less deflated economy. Enlisted in the effort have been cultural icons ranging from Casper, the Friendly Ghost (below), to Superman, the Man of Steel. Since its founding the campaign has raised more than $160 million.
No need for a collection box to contribute in Allison’s honor; anyone can click here to donate to UNICEF this Halloween.

Google Translate is an amazing thing; or, how to teach a Dutch refugee law judgment without knowing Dutch

What materials to give my Refugee & Asylum Law students in preparation for visits from experts in connection with our “Children & International Criminal Justice” conference this week? How to link the work of the International Criminal Court to our current study of how nation-states comply (or fail to comply) with obligations they assumed by ratifying the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and/or its 1967 Protocol?

raadI might have focused on the refugee as a stakeholder in the work of the Court, an important topic given that many of the world’s 50-plus million forced migrants have fled armed violence or its consequences.

Instead, I turned to a specific legal problem: the cases of 3 Congolese nationals permitted to enter the Netherlands solely to testify for the defense in the Katanga and Ngudjolo trial. When that role came to an end, they sought asylum rather than return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Earlier this year, they were returned following a judgment against one of them issued by the Raad van State, the Netherlands’ Council of State.

One problem: I could only find that judgment in Dutch (above).

Problem solved: I ran it through Google Translate and came up with an English version of The Alien and the Secretary of State that, with a bit of tweaking worked well as an English-language version, the basis for a great discussion. In case it’s of use others, that  version, along with a couple contemporary news releases, is available here.

Georgia Law convenes D.C. workshop on “International Law as Behavior”

Kudos to my Georgia Law colleague Harlan G. Cohen for organizing what promises to be a superb conference on “International Law as Behavior,” a daylong presentation of papers that will lead to a same-named essay volume. Convened by the University of Georgia School of Law and the International Legal Theory Interest Group of the American Society of International Law, this book workshop will be held November 13, 2014, at Tillar House, the ASIL headquarters at 2223 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C.

PrintHere’s the description:

[T]he workshop will bring together scholars working at the cutting edge in a variety of different fields, including constructivist international relations theory, anthropology, behavioral law and economics, organizations theory, social psychology, and sociology to discuss how these approaches can best be applied to the study of international law, how these approaches can complement both each other and positivist and rationalist accounts, the opportunities and challenges of working across these fields, and the development of a common language and tools to study how international actors actually behave, how their rationality is bounded by psychology, how they operate as members of groups and recipients of culture, and how they write and follow organizational scripts.

The conference has a stellar lineup. Set to take part, in addition to Harlan and another Georgia Law colleague, Timothy L. Meyer, are: Elena Baylis, University of Pittsburgh; Tomer Broude, Hebrew University; Adam Chilton, University of Chicago; Sungjoon Cho, Chicago-Kent; Martha Finnemore, George Washington University; Jean Galbraith, University of Pennsylvania; Derek Jinks, University of Texas; Ron Levi, University of Toronto; Galit Sarfaty, University of British Columbia; and Kathryn Sikkink, Harvard University.cd3fd-asil_logo

Details here.