(In recognition of today’s 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I, I reprint a 12 July 2017 post on my visit to Flanders Fields)

YPRES, Belgium – Beautiful vistas and bright sunlight cannot blind the visitor to the pain of this place.

This place is Flanders Fields, the name given to the part of west Belgium, close to the French border, that saw intense battles and horrendous casualties during World War I. This town – Ypres in French and Ieper in Flemish, but called “Wipers” by British WWI soldiers – played a central role. So too nearby Passchendaele/Passendale. Both towns were leveled, and like many in the region, were rebuilt in the old manner after the war ended.

During the war, upwards of half a million persons died in this area alone.

Our visit to Flanders Fields occurred on the 4th of July. Memories linger, and were sparked again by today’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1st large-scale use, in Ypres, of chemical weapons; mustard gas, to be precise. It was the 3d compound to be attempted, after chlorine and phosgene proved less reliable as lethal weapons, according to our tour guide, Raoul Saracen, a retired history teacher. Initial efforts to fight back against chemicals also were crude: before the development and widespread distribution of gas masks, Canadian troops resorted to breathing through kerchiefs soaked in ammonia-rich urine.

The cruelty of chemical warfare did not stop its use. Recording other places where chemicals have been used was a signpost in Langemark, the cemetery where German soldiers (including several with whom I share a surname) are buried. Tokyo, Japan, Halabja, Iraq, and Ghouta, Syria, receive mention, though more recent gassing sites in that last country have yet to be added.

The thousands of headstones in the many Flanders Fields cemeteries of course give pause. So too the cramped trenches, still on display at Sanctuary Wood Museum.

Yet it was a different site that stole my breath – the “dressing station,” a kind of field hospital, at Essex Farm Cemetery. The station’s cement-bunker cells were small, dark, and saddening, a truly concrete reminder of the scourge of war.

 


“‘Protecting Children’: A Welcome Addition to Efforts to Redress Wartime Harms,” an essay I published yesterday at Just Security, underscores connections among a number of recent initiatives related to children and armed conflict.

The essay welcomes Protecting Children in Armed Conflict (Hart Publishing 2018), the 600-page report of the 2017 Inquiry on Protecting Children in Armed Conflict spearheaded by Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education. (I served on the Inquiry’s Advisory Panel.)

Leading a team of researchers was Shaheed Fatima QC, a barrister at London’s Blackstone Chambers, who spoke on this work at the International Law Weekend panel last month. (prior post here) My Just Security essay offers a detailed description and favorable critique of this research, noting the work’s connections with what the UN Security Council terms the “Six Grave Violations against Children in Armed Conflict.”

The essay further draws links between this work and the 2016 International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor Policy on Children, which I had the honor of helping to prepare in my ongoing service as ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict. (prior post here) The essay points to “the complementary potential of these and other initiatives,” and concludes:

Together, they may advance two essential goals: first, to articulate norms prohibiting wartime harms against children; and second, to secure redress for any such harms that occur.

My Just Security essay is here. It is part of a miniforum which began with a post last week jointly authored by Fatima and Brown, available here. The Just Security series will continue with forthcoming posts by Sarah Knuckey (Columbia Law), Alex Moorehead (Columbia Law), and Alex Whiting (Harvard Law).

NEW YORK – Ways to redress offenses against children during armed conflict formed the core of the panel that our University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center sponsored last Friday at International Law Weekend, an annual three-day conference presented by the American Branch of the International Law Association and the International Law Students Association. I was honored to take part.

► Opening our panel was Shaheed Fatima QC (top right), a barrister at Blackstone Chambers in London, who led a panel of researchers for the Inquiry on Protecting Children in Conflict, an initiative chaired by Gordon Brown, former United Kingdom Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

As Fatima explained, the Inquiry focused on harms that the UN Security Council has identified as “six grave violations” against children in conflict; specifically, killing and maiming; recruitment or use as soldiers; sexual violence; abduction; attacks against schools or hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access. With regard to each, the Inquiry identified legal frameworks in international criminal law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law. It proposed a new means for redress: promulgation of a “single instrument” that would permit individual communications, for an expressed set of violations, to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the treaty body that monitors compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its three optional protocols. These findings and recommendations have just been published as Protecting Children in Armed Conflict (Hart 2018).

► Next, Mara Redlich Revkin (2d from left), a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Yale University and Lead Researcher on Iraq and Syria for the United Nations University Project on Children and Extreme Violence.

She drew from her fieldwork to provide a thick description of children’s experiences in regions controlled by the Islamic State, an armed group devoted to state-building – “rebel governance,” as Revkin termed it. Because the IS sees children as its future, she said, it makes population growth a priority, and exercises its control over schools and other “sites for the weaponization of children.” Children who manage to free themselves from the group encounter new problems on account of states’ responses, responses that Revkin has found often to be at odds with public opinion. These range from the  harsh punishment of every child once associated with IS, without considering the extent of that association, to the rejection of IS-issued birth certificates, thus rendering a child stateless.

► Then came yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (left), Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law and our Center’s Faculty Co-Director. I served as a member of the Inquiry’s Advisory Board.

Discussing my service as the Special Adviser to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict, I focused on the preparation and contents of the 2016 ICC OTP Policy on Children, available here in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and Swahili. The Policy pinpoints the crimes against and affecting children that may be punished pursuant to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and it further delineates a “child-sensitive approach” to OTP work at all stages, including investigation, charging, prosecution, and witness protection.

► Summing up the conversation was Harold Hongju Koh (2d from right), Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School and former Legal Adviser to the U.S. Department of State, who served as a consultant to the Inquiry.

Together, he said, the presentations comprised “5 I’s: Inquiry, Iraq and Syria, the ICC, and” – evoking the theme of the conference – “international law and why it matters.” Koh lauded the Inquiry’s report as “agenda-setting,” and its proposal for a means to civil redress as a “panda’s thumb” response that bears serious consideration. Koh envisaged that in some future administration the United States – the only country in the world not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child – might come to ratify the proposed new  protocol, as it has the optional protocols relating to children in armed conflict and the sale of children.

The panel thus trained attention on the harms children experience amid conflict and called for redoubled efforts to secure accountability and compensation for such harms.

Executive Branch Lawyering course, from left: Maria Eliot, Wade Herring, Professor Diane Marie Amann, Sarah Mirza, Hanna Karimipour, Jennifer Cotton, Taylor Samuels, Judge David J. Barron, Morgan Pollard, Keelin Cronin, Joe Stuhrenberg

Who decides how America wages war?

What does “commander in chief” mean?

What (national or international) laws govern the United States’ waging of war?

How and by whom are those law identified, interpreted, decided, and implemented?

Those questions and many more arose during the Executive Branch Lawyering course that I just had the honor of co-teaching with David J. Barron, Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit and also The Honorable S. William Green Visiting Professor of Public Law at Harvard Law School, where he had taught full-time before his 2014 appointment to the federal bench.

My own association with Barron – like me, a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens – dates to 2008. That year, Barron and I were among the charter contributors to “Convictions,” a legal blog published for a time at Slate. And in 2017 Judge Barron began serving on the Judicial Advisory Board of the American Society of International Law, with which I am affiliated thanks to my editorship of ASIL’s Benchbook on International Law (2014).

For an 18-month period between those years, Barron served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel, providing legal advice to then-President Barack Obama and to agencies in the Executive Branch. That experience formed the basis of the 1-credit course that he and I co-taught last week at my home institution, the University of Georgia School of Law.

Our texts included Barron’s 2016 book, Waging War: The Clash Between Presidents and Congress, 1776 to ISIS, as well as The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration, a 2009 memoir by Harvard Law Professor Jack Goldsmith, who had led OLC from 2003 to 2004 – plus executive orders, congressional enactments, judicial decisions, and other primary materials.

To prepare for sessions with Judge Barron, a topnotch group of 9 Georgia Law students and I examined a selection of historical moments when Presidents’ war-waging generated tensions, with other branches of government established in the U.S. Constitution and with other stakeholders. Of particular concern were instances related to executive detention in time of war, for example: treatment of British officers held during the American Revolution; General Andrew Jackson’s jailing of a judge who issued a writ of habeas corpus during the 1814 military occupation of New Orleans; and 2 capital military trials, the 1st of an Indiana civilian in the Civil War and the 2d of Nazi saboteurs in World War II.

Sessions with Judge Barron concerned US executive detention and related issues since the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The focus was on OLC’s legal, ethical, and practical duties in advising on such policies – and, through careful and extensive role-playing, on how Executive Branch lawyers go about the day-to-day work of giving such advice.

A most valued, and rewarding, teaching experience.

 

One week after the International Criminal Court Appeals Chamber acquitted a Congolese politician-warlord whom a Trial Chamber unanimously had convicted of rape, pillage, and other crimes, practitioners and scholars continue to debate the decision’s significance. Indeed, the case, Prosecutor v. Bemba, has been invoked in both the papers so far presented at the 2-day ICC Scholars Forum now under way at Leiden Law School’s Hague campus.

My own initial thoughts – concerned not about the decision’s fact-based details but rather to its refashioning of the legal doctrine of command responsibility – have been published at EJIL: Talk!, the blog of the European Journal of International Law. My post, entitled “In Bemba and Beyond,” discusses command responsibility as “a time-honored doctrine with roots in military justice and international humanitarian law.” Placing this appeals judgment in the context of other decisions, the post warns:

“Together, such rulings suggest a turn away from the goal of assigning responsibility at high levels, and toward a jurisprudence which acknowledges (with regret) the commission of crimes, yet holds no cognizable legal person responsible.”

Full post here.

OXFORD – A capstone of my Hilary-Trinity Term visit here took place yesterday, when I presented “A New History of the Nuremberg Trials: Figuring Women and Others into the Narrative” to law students and faculty who gathered at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, located at Oxford University’s Mansfield College. The Oxford Transitional Justice Research network cosponsored.

Professor Kate O’Regan, director of the institute and a former judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, opened my Research Visitor Seminar. Then came my  presentation of my research on the roles women played at Nuremberg – not only the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, but also the 12 subsequent American trials before what are known as the Nuremberg Military Tribunals. Next, Dapo Akande, Professor of Public International Law at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, offered discussant’s remarks before opening the floor for a stimulating round of Q&A.

I’m grateful to all at the Institute for this event and the hospitality I’ve enjoyed during my stay at a Bonavero Research Visitor and Mansfield College Visiting Fellow. Grateful, too, for the opportunities I’ve had to present this work elsewhere in Europe, at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland Galway, University of Stockholm, University of Göttingen, and Max Planck Institute Luxembourg.

A warm welcoming of new members highlighted the recent annual meeting of the American Society of International Law.

Those welcomed included two luminaries – a Nobel Peace Prizewinner and a U.S. Presidential candidate – plus untold others, as reflected in this resolution, adopted by ASIL’s General Assembly:

RESOLVED,

That the American Society of International Law, wishing to provide recognition and posthumous redress to women who were excluded from membership in the Society during its early years, hereby confers membership on JANE ADDAMS, BELVA ANN LOCKWOOD, and any other women whose applications for membership were denied from 1906-1921.

FURTHER RESOLVED,

That the Society should undertake additional research to determine which members of other groups also were excluded from membership over the course of the Society’s history, and merit similar redress.

ASIL President Lucinda A. Low (left) introduced the resolutions, one of her last acts before handing the presidency to Professor Sean D. Murphy. Low, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, acted in response to a member inquiry – an inquiry prompted, as Low told ASIL members, by “International Law and the Future of Peace,” the speech I gave upon receiving the 2013 Prominent Woman in International Law award of ASIL’s Women in International Law Interest Group. As I indicated in that speech, original credit is owed to yet another ASIL President: Professor Alona Evans (below left), the 1st woman elected to lead the Society, in 1980, her tenure cut short by her death at age 63 that same year.

Six years earlier, Evans and Carol Per Lee Plumb had published “Women and the American Society of International Law” in the American Journal of International Law. They reported that ASIL, founded in 1906, had refused women’s applications for membership until 1921, the year after the U.S. Constitution was amended to give women the right to vote. Applicants before that time included:

► Lockwood (1830-1917) (top, middle), an attorney-activist who gained admittance to the District of Columbia bar in 1873 thanks to the intervention of U.S. President Ulysses Grant. Thereafter, she became the 1st woman to appear on an official ballot as a candidate for U.S. President, and also the 1st to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

► Addams (1860-1935) (top, right), the Chicago settlement house leader whose achievements including chairing the 1915 International Congress of Women at The Hague and serving and the 1st President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She would earn the Peace Prize in 1931.

According to Evans’ co-authored article, when Addams sought ASIL membership, she was sent a letter in which she was “invited, instead, to subscribe to the Journal ‘for the same amount as the annual dues ….’” That letter constitutes one of the few remaining records of such applications; it is for this reason that the 2018 Resolution refers to all women, known and unknown, who were denied membership.

Similarly lacking is evidence of how members of other groups fared in ASIL. (The sole African-American person elected ASIL President, C. Clyde Ferguson Jr., served just before Evans.) The Society has further resolved to seek this information and grant redress.

As for Evans, President Low indicated that the Society is considering how best to honor her legacy. These resolutions surely constitute a superb 1st step.