Monthly Archives: December 2015

Delighted to share the news that we at the University of Georgia School of Law welcome nominations for the inaugural holder of a newly established professorship in international law.

wilner_gabrielCalled the Gabriel N. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professorship in International Law, it honors Professor Wilner (1938-2010), pictured at left. A Beirut-born scholar, he was an advisor to U.N. agencies and active in organizations like the American Society of International Law throughout the many decades that he studied, practiced, and taught international law. Essential to the growth of our LLM and Belgium summer study abroad offerings, Wilner inspired many others to enter our field; indeed, it is the generosity of one such Georgia Law alumnus that makes this new professorship possible.

The inaugural holder will join Georgia Law’s long tradition of excellence in international law. The tradition began in 1940, when Sigmund Cohn, a German-Jewish judge who had fled to Nazism, taught our first international law class. It was nurtured by Georgia Law professors – among them, Professor Wilner and Professor Louis B. Sohn and, of course, Dean Rusk, namesake of our vibrant, 38-year-old Dean Rusk International Law Center. The tradition continues today through the endeavors of faculty like Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, Professor Harlan G. Cohen, and yours truly.

Applicants must be eligible for hire at the rank of full professor, and international applicants are welcome. We welcome a pool of highly qualified candidates for this position, for which the official job notice reads as follows:

The University of Georgia School of Law invites applications for a full endowed professorship in international law beginning August of 2016. Applicants should be able to join the faculty at the rank of full professor. They should have a J.D. from an accredited university or its foreign equivalent, superior academic credentials and demonstrated excellence in scholarship and teaching. Applications received by February 1, 2016 are assured of consideration. All interested persons should submit a curriculum vitae, including scholarly publications, with a letter of interest at http://facultyjobs.uga.edu/postings/527

The University of Georgia is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or protected veteran status.

eleanorToday is Human Rights Day. On this day 67 years ago, at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted what has become the touchstone articulation of humans’ place in our world.

We – “All human beings” – proclaims the 1st article of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” All of us “are endowed with reason and conscience,” it continues. It follows, then, that each of us “should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” In the French version adopted at the same time, that last word is “fraternité,” and hearkens to the French Déclaration, the American Declaration and Bill of Rights, and many others.

Indeed, the document itself benefits from views of sages throughout the world. Gandhi was one who weighed in, thanks to a survey sponsored by UNESCO. The American Law Institute contributed a Statement of Essential Rights. That statement, like the Universal Declaration as a whole, owes much to the Four Freedoms that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt identified in a 1941 speech before Congress.

A half-decade later, that president’s widow, Eleanor Roosevelt, would chair the U.N. committee tasked with drafting the Universal Declaration. Among those joining her in the work were John Humphrey of Canada, Peng Chun Chang of China, Charles Malik of Lebanon, and René Cassin of France. At the time the document was adopted, she declared:

“This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere.”

It would be easy to look wistfully to that statement, to assume that the world once was better than it seems today. Yet even then, fissures were apparent:

► No state voted against the Universal Declaration, but not every state voted for it, either. Eight of 56 countries abstained: the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Yugoslavia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa.

► Since 1948, the United Nations has grown to nearly 200 member states. Many of the newcomers once were colonies of states that endorsed the Universal Declaration. Even some of the charter members have undergone profound changes – the China that sent diplomat Chang in 1948 is quite different from the China that now holds the U.N. seat.

► The challenges of sovereign-state diversity and the aims of universal equality – for women as well as men, sisters as well as brothers – change with globalization. The United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals represents the body’s latest effort to respond.

► Even the chief proponents hedged their support. By way of example, Roosevelt’s ringing endorsement quoted above occurred in a statement that took pains to stress what the United States did not mean to endorse. In a line that bears echo with later U.S. Supreme Court decisions in DeShaney and Gonzales, she said:

“[M]y government has made it clear in the course of the development of the declaration that it does not consider that the economic and social and cultural rights stated in the declaration imply an obligation on governments to assure the enjoyment of these rights by direct governmental action.”

► Other states turned a colder shoulder toward civil and political rights, signaling that even at its birth, the notion of the indivisibility of rights would prove difficult to sustain and enforce.

Thus today, even as we celebrate another Human Rights Day, we must redouble our efforts to make the promise of the Universal Declaration a reality for everyone who has been born, free and equal, in dignity and rights.

(Photo: IntLawGrrls’ Eleanor, in her new home at our Dean Rusk International Law Center)