American Society of International Law seeks proposals for 2015 Annual Meeting

asil_logoIt’s time again to help plan the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law. The next one – the 109th annual, themed “Adapting to a Rapidly Changing World” – is set for April 8 to 11, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave, N.W., in Washington, D.C. Already hard at work are the Program Committee members, co-chaired by Professor Monica Hakimi of Michigan Law, Debevoise & Plimpton lawyer Natalie Reid, and Arnold & Porter lawyer Samuel Witten. Seeking session proposals, they write:

‘For better or worse, international law is confronting a period of profound change. Geopolitical developments—in particular, new assertions of economic, political, or military power by countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—have simultaneously aggravated latent territorial disputes and created the potential for unprecedented economic integration. Advances in technology have enabled cyber-conflicts and forged new tools for governmental coercion or control, while also facilitating the dissemination of information. Shared environmental challenges have presented new causes of human suffering or conflict, as well as new possibilities for global cooperation and assistance. And the increased role of non-state actors in international affairs has made more vocal the still unfulfilled demands on, for example, the universal recognition of the human rights of LGBT persons, the responsibilities associated with corporate conduct, and the protection of people from mass atrocities.’

Organizers seek session proposals answering a range of questions related to this theme. Examples:

► Are the existing international legal regimes capable of meeting these challenges or will new regimes be required?
► Through what processes can we expect international law to adapt, and how might new norms emerge in the face of persistent disagreements or holdout problems?
► How is the legal order responding as the world moves from a unipolar system dominated by the United States to a more multipolar system?
► What is the role or relevance of international law where it might be unable to resolve global issues?

The detailed call for submissions, which must filed online no later than June 27, 2014, is here.

Note too that paper submissions for the 4th  Annual ASIL Research Forum, subject of an earlier post, are due very soon: June 8, 2014.

Signs of law, policy mark European journey

map_ALAACROSS THE POND – An array of signage has marked my 1/2-finished 2-week journey in Europe.

The first is at left. It’s a favorite feature of transatlantic flying these days, the seatback map by which the white silhouette of a jet tells passengers where they are, where they’ve been, and where they’re headed. This one especially caught the eye because of the markings accompanied by years. No, that’s not Egypt relocated to France’s western coast, but rather an indication of where a ship named Egypt sank in 1922. Many such shipwrecks were noted along the way: of historical significance to be sure is Lusitania 1915 to the left. But for the international lawyer, perhaps greatest interest is Alabama 1864, in the channel between London and Bayeux. As a Confederate ship outfitted by the British, the Alabama plied European waters to harass Union ships. That behavior and its sinking gave rise to a landmark dispute settlement proceeding known as The Alabama Claims. In the words of the U.S. Department of State:
The peaceful resolution of these claims seven years after the war ended set an important precedent for solving serious international disputes through arbitration, and laid the foundation for greatly improved relations between Britain and the United States.

LNS_genevaONUThe early years of international law also surface in the emblem at right, located in what is now the Geneva, Switzerland, headquarters of the United Nations. The premises initially housed the 1st effort to construct a global intergovernmental organization aimed at promoting peace and security. Founded just after World War I, that organization did not survive the tragedy of World War II. Yet its legacy lives on not only in its successor organization, but also in architectural flourishes like this bilingual monogram: “LNS,” for “League of Nations / Société des Nations.”

The final set of signs, below, were found in a grand assembly room of the U.N. Geneva building. Organizers were preparing for a large gathering related to the World Health Organization – hence the caduceus affixed to the golden U.N. emblem above the dais. But the most interesting signs are those in the foreground. It had not occurred to me that the 2 entities recognized as U.N. nonmember states would be so situated at such meetings. Not the least because of the imminent journey of Pope Francis to the Middle East, the notion of delegates from entities as different as the Holy See and Palestine sitting side by side both comforts and fascinates.who_stsiege

Scholarship on children & law sought for annual AALS meeting, January 2015 in D.C.

aalsLogoThere’s much of interest in the just-published newsletter of the Section on Children and the Law of the Association of American Law Schools. Not the least is the recent election of: Cynthia Godsoe of Brooklyn Law, Chair; Jim Dwyer of William & Mary Law, Chair-Elect; Annette Appell of Washington U.-St. Louis Law, Secretary (not to mention superb newsletter editor); and Meg Annitto of Charlotte Law, Treasurer.

Also of interest are the 2 panels (each of which involves invitations issued to AALS members) that the section will sponsor during the AALS 2015 Annual Meeting set for January 2-5 in Washington, D.C.:

Dead Upon Birth: The Inter-Generational Cycle of Thwarted Lives in America’s Poorest Neighborhoods, 2-3:45 p.m. Sunday, January 4. One speaker is being sought via a call for papers, with submissions due August 15, via e-mail to jgdwye@wm.edu, with “CFP submission” in the subject line. Already scheduled as speakers are Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard Law, Josh Gupta-Kagan of South Carolina Law, and Jim Dwyer of William & Mary Law; moderating will be Cynthia Godsoe of Brooklyn Law. On the panel, organizers write:

‘“The D.U.B.” is a nickname southside Chicago residents have given a neighborhood exemplifying a tragic reality in many of this country’s urban and rural areas: Children are born into struggling families in deeply dysfunctional neighborhoods and have little chance for full and flourishing lives. In some parts of America, a boy born today is more likely to end up in prison than college and a girl is more likely to become drug addicted than married. Many parents keep young children in “lockdown” at home when they are not in school, to shield them for as long as possible from gang recruitment and gun crossfire. This panel will discuss the economic, political, and cultural causes of concentrated poverty, crime, and disease and alternative strategies for sparing children from it. Panelists will address, from a child-centered perspective, issues such as “neighborhood effect” on child development, state response to parental incapacity, housing policy, relocation programs, foster care and adoption, inadequate education, school disciplinary policies, access to healthcare, employment opportunities, substance abuse and mental illness, criminal law enforcement and incarceration, and societal responsibility for the circumstances in which children live.’

► Junior-Scholar Works-in-Progress Workshop, 5:15-6:30 p.m. Saturday, January 3. Organizers write:

‘The idea is to give junior faculty who are writing on children’s issues an opportunity to present a current project at the annual meeting but in a relatively informal setting, so they can get more experience presenting their work and helpful feedback.’

The Section welcomes, from untenured faculty, submissions of full or partial drafts of papers not yet accepted for publication, and from tenured faculty, indications of willingness to serve as commentators on the selected papers. E-mail jgdwye@wm.edu, with “CFP submission” in the subject line, no later than the end of August.

Details for all Section events and calls here.

Summer reading for intlawyers-in-training

An enterprising student who is set to become part of the Georgia Law 1L class this fall recently wrote me in search of a summer reading list. In the event that my response is of wider interest, here are some superb books – nonfiction works that provide background and context, thus enriching comprehension of issues presented in courses like Public International Law, International Criminal Law, Laws of War, and Foreign Affairs/National Security Law:

wartime► Mary Dudziak, War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences (2012) (Prior post)

2019680024► John Fabian Witt, Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (2012) (Prior post)

paris► Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World (2003) (Prior post)

aworldmadenew► Mary Ann Glendon, A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2002) (Prior post)

gen► Martha Minow, Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History after Genocide and Mass Violence (1999) (Prior post)

telf► Telford Taylor, The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials: A Personal Memoir (1993) (Prior post)

Book, Thirteen Days► Robert F. Kennedy, Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis (1969) (Prior post)

terr► Jess Bravin, The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay (2013) (Prior post)

In addition, I recommended these books as means to enhance understanding of other law school courses – Constitutional Law and Federal Jurisdiction, in particular:

nine► Jeffrey Toobin, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court (2007)

son► Sonia Sotomayor, My Beloved World (2013) (Prior post)

cliff► Cliff Sloan & David McKean, The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court (2009) (Prior post)

hab► Linda Greenhouse, Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun’s Supreme Court Journey (2005) (Prior post)

To that list I should have added another book:

cap► Lincoln Caplan, The Tenth Justice: The Solicitor General and the Rule of Law (1987)

And finally, here’s one that helped me prepare for my own 2L summer associateship in Manhattan:

part► James B. Stewart, The Partners: Inside America’s Most Powerful Law Firms (1983)

Other suggestions welcome. Happy summer reading!

State Department confirms US support for Security Council referral of Syria to ICC

page-06-image-UNHCR_v5.1_MapWith a hat tip to Colum Lynch of Foreign Policy, here’s the transcribed passage from today’s press briefing colloquy at which the U.S. Department of State confirmed that the United States now supports a referral of the situation in Syria to the U.N. Security Council:

QUESTION: Are you considering supporting a – UN Security Council authorizing a investigation by the ICC into war crimes in Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Ali, for you, let me check and see with her office if there’s more to convey on that. I do have something for you, Elise. One moment.

We do – the United States supports the referral to the ICC set forth in the draft resolution under discussion. We’ve long said that those responsible for atrocities in Syria must be held accountable, and we’ve been working with our Security Council colleagues on a draft resolution toward this end. We will also continue to support efforts to gather evidence to hold accountable those responsible for atrocities in Syria.

Go ahead.

QUESTION: Can you —

QUESTION: What changed your mind? I mean, originally, you had some concerns about whether this was the right venue to pursue accountability for Syrians.

MS. PSAKI: Well, obviously, we’ve remained concerned, continue to be concerned about the atrocities that we’ve been seeing on the ground. I don’t have any specific incident to point you to, just the ongoing gathering of what we’re seeing on the ground.

Reports are that the draft referral resolution – a draft that cannot take effect unless Russia and China decide to withhold vetoes – contains the same caveats that have drawn criticism with respect to Darfur and Libya. See, e.g., critiques in my articles (page 9 here, page 40 here, and pages 4, 8 here ; see too my posts here and here), as well as posts that NYU Law Professor Ryan Goodman published today, here and here. Spurring the latter was Lynch’s Wednesday scoop.

(credit for U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees October 2013 map of child refugees from Syria conflict)

Religious freedom & Mr. Jefferson’s grave

TJ_grave

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia – There is a grave-spinning serendipity in the fact that I began this week at the resting place of Thomas Jefferson. At the foot of his home, Monticello, lies the walled-in family graveyard over which the obelisk above stands sentry. Its all-caps inscription reads:

Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the
Declaration
of
American Independence
of the
Statute of Virginia
for Religious Freedom
and father of the
University of Virginia

The Supreme Court cited that religious freedom statute Monday, along with another writing that associates Jefferson with the concept of separation of church and state. But in Monday’s judgment in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the citations did not appear in the opinion for the Court by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, which held that the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution was not offended by the practice of opening meetings of an upstate New York town council with a prayer.

The citations occurred, rather, in the dissent that Justice Elena Kagan wrote on behalf of herself and 3 other Justices.  Contending that the principle of religious neutrality dates to the Constitution’s founding era, she cited the United States’ 1st, 3d, and 4th Presidents as examples of leaders who “consistently declined to use language or imagery associated only with” Christianity. She continued:

‘Thomas Jefferson, who followed the same practice throughout his life, explained that he omitted any reference to Jesus Christ in Virginia’s Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (a precursor to the Establishment Clause) in order “to comprehend, within the mantle of [the law’s] protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.”’

Then quoting Jefferson’s Virginia statute – for the principle that “opinion in matters of religion … shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect … civil capacities” – Kagan articulated the dissenters’ view of what the Constitution requires:

‘Here, when a citizen stands before her government, whether to perform a service or request a benefit, her religious beliefs do not enter into the picture. … The government she faces favors no particular religion, either by word or by deed. And that government, in its various processes and proceedings, imposes no religious tests on its citizens, sorts none of them by faith, and permits no exclusion based on belief. When a person goes to court, a polling place, or an immigration proceeding—I could go on: to a zoning agency, a parole board hearing, or the DMV—government officials do not engage in sectarian worship, nor do they ask her to do likewise. They all participate in the business of government not as Christians, Jews, Muslims (and more), but only as Americans—none of them different from any other for that civic purpose. Why not, then, at a town meeting?’

It is a question Mr. Jefferson himself might have asked.

In Beah novel, prosaic present & hoped-for radiance, for former child soldiers & others

radianceTimes of war are marked by yearnings for peace. The landmark 1863 Lieber Code regulating combat thus said, with reference to “nations and great governments”:

‘Peace is their normal condition; war is the exception. The ultimate object of all modern war is a renewed state of peace.’

But what “peace” means is a question that lingers after combatants put down their arms. This is a point that many thinkers have made (in a recent essay I referred to the positive v. negative peace and direct v. structural violence concepts of Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Galtung). And it is a point that Ishmael Beah makes, beautifully, in his just-published novel, Radiance of Tomorrow.

Beah is best known for A Long Way Gone, his 2008 memoir of child-soldiering during the 1990s civil war in his homeland, Sierra Leone. (Prior postscredit for January 2014 photo of Beah at Carter Presidential Library, Atlanta) Some child soldiers figure in the new novel, Radiance, as well. They are now veterans:

‘Children and young people came by themselves with no parents. In the beginning they came one at a time, then in pairs, followed by four, six, or more in a group. They had been at various orphanages and households that had tried to adopt them. Some had even been at centers to learn how to be “normal children” again, a phrase they detested, so they had left and become inhabitants of rough streets in cities and towns. They were more intelligent than their years and had experienced so much hardship that each day of their lives was equal to three or more years; this showed in their fierce eyes. You had to look closely to see residues of their childhood.’

beahLong after the fighting has ended, these youths and other persons of all ages return to the village of Imperi – a name that shares roots with “empire” – in “Lion Mountain,” the anglicized name for Sierra Leone. Together they try to rebuild.

But a  new force invades even as they endeavor to retie the bonds of what had been a traditional, agrarian society. It is the outside world, capitalism in the forming of a mining company. It extracts valuable minerals first from the surrounding area and eventually from the town itself. Schools and story-telling lose support as the town center fills with bars and brothels. The resting place of ancestors is dug up even as new casualties of hazardous work are buried.

The old ways will not survive. The hoped-for “radiant tomorrow” of the book’s title will occur in a new place – even in a new voice. In the novel Beah renders into English poetic phrases from his mother tongue, Mende. As he explained in the foreword:

‘For example, in Mende, you wouldn’t say “night came suddenly”; you would say “the sky rolled over and changed its sides.” Even single words are this way – the word for “ball” in Mende translates to a “nest of air” or a “vessel that carries air.”’

The technique works exceptionally well in the novel’s first part, which is rich in imagery: “the dark spots where fire had licked with its red tongue,” for example, and “the day that war came into her life.” It seems to wane as the novel unfolds, however. This erosion of prose-poetry may be intended to mimic the depletion of Imperi and its people.  The prosaic replacement may reflect the people’s new and different life – as Beah puts it in passages with which the novel begins and ends, their new story. Beah thus provides a thought-provoking answer to the post-conflict question of the meaning of peace.