events

Honored to be part of the International Committee of the Red Cross launch of its new Commentary on the First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in the Field, a volume due for release next Tuesday, March 22.

commentaryMy role begins a week later, with a panel discussion of the new Commentary at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, and will continue later in the year with an anticipated Georgia Law conference on the same subject (stay tuned).

The March 30 panel discussion will take place in the Columbia Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave N.W., Washington, D.C. That’s the same hotel hosting the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law from March 30 to April 2. This is a side event, though ASIL and its international humanitarian law interest group, the Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict,  are cosponsors of this event, hosted by the ICRC’s D.C.-based Regional Delegation for the US and Canada.

The Commentary is the 1st in a series of volumes intended to update earlier versions, some of which are pictured above: 4 circa-1952 volumes on the 4 Geneva Conventions of 1949, edited by Jean S. Pictet, plus a circa-1987 volume on Additional Protocols I & II of 1977, produced by multiple editors. In the words of the ICRC:

“Since their adoption, the Conventions and Protocols have been put to the test, and there have been significant developments in how they are applied and interpreted. The new Commentaries seek to incorporate these developments and provide an up-to-date interpretation of the law.”

This initial update carries particular significance because it contains commentary on Articles 1, 2, and 3 Common to all 4 Geneva Conventions. Common Article 2 and Common Article 3 have endured significant re-examination in the counterterrorism climate that’s prevailed since the attacks of September 11, 2001, readers of decisions such as Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and a plethora of academic literature well know (and as I’ve written here and elsewhere).

The discussion at the March 30 launch in D.C. will feature:

henckaerts► Dr. Jean-Marie Henckaerts (left), Head of the Commentaries Update Unit at ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland – and, I’m proud to add, a 1990 LLM alumnus of Georgia Law

► Yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (right), Associate Dean and Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law at Georgia Law, and the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict

jackson► Colonel (ret.) Dick Jackson, Special Assistant to the Army Judge Advocate General for Law of War Matters, and Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law

mathesonMichael Matheson, Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University Law School, and former member of the U.N. International Law Commission

RSVPs for March 30 welcome; for that and any other information on that event, contact Tracey Begley, trbegley@icrc.org.

logo2“The Gendered Imaginaries of Crisis in International Law” is the provocative title of a panel for which the Feminism and International Law Interest Group of the European Society of International Law is seeking papers. Papers selected will form part of the Interest Group’s proposal for a panel at the next ESIL annual meeting, set for Sept. 8-10, 2016, in Riga, Latvia. Organizers Loveday Hodson (Leicester Law), Troy Lavers (Surrey Law), Gina Heathcote (SOAS), Emily Jones, and Bérénice K. Schramm (SOAS) describe the panel as follows:

Set up as a roundtable rather than a traditional panel, the agora aims at providing an interactive platform for feminist and/or gender-related engagement with the past, present and future of international law within and without its recurrent crises.

Full call for papers here. Deadline for submissions is Jan. 31, 2016.

UN 70th Anniversary logo_English_CMYKWhy are we at Georgia Law celebrating the UN’s birthday? Because its 70-year tradition is our own.

Our global tradition dates back at least 75 years, in fact. That’s when noted German-Jewish judge Sigmund Cohn, a refugee from Hitler’s Berlin and Mussolini’s Genoa, arrived at the University of Georgia and began teaching courses in international and comparative law.

Reinforcing the tradition Cohn established was the arrival of Dean Rusk, who returned to his native state of Georgia after serving as Secretary of State to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Rusk had stevebegun his diplomatic career as Assistant Secretary of State for Special Political Affairs (SPA), at age 38, right after the United Nations was established. In his autobiography, Rusk wrote:

Around Washington, SPA personnel were called those UN boys with some derision, but this only inspired us to work harder. In the aftermath of global war a special atmosphere surrounded the United Nations. The human race had paid fifty million lives to draft that Charter. Our minds and hearts had been purged in the fires of a great war, and the UN Charter represented the best that was in us at the time. We had a talented group, bound together by a sense of commitment, an exhilaration rare in government, a feeling that somehow the human race was off to a fresh start.

Eventually joining Rusk at Georgia Law was Louis B. Sohn, who came to Athens following mandatory retirement from Harvard Law. Like Cohn someone who suffered personally from the ravages of World War II, Sohn helped to draft the Charter of the United Nations. It was his effort in a lifelong career of working with the United Nations. Among many other roles, he served as chair of the conference that led to adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Our tradition is even richer, extending from these 3 to professors like Gabriel Wilner, himself a UN adviser, and including the international law service of my colleagues and me to this day. And so we will  mark the UN’s 70th birthday this Monday, Oct. 26, by rededicating our Louis B. Sohn Library on International Relations and by celebrating the 38th birthday of our own Dean Rusk International Law Center.

(September 25, 1961, photo by Cecil W. Stoughton of US delegation–including Secretary of State Dean Rusk, US Ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson, U.S. Rep. Marguerite Stitt Church (R-Ill.), and Arthur Dean, Chair, US delegation to Geneva Conference on Disarmament–listening to speech at UN General Assembly of the United Nations. Courtest of JFK Presidential Library)

Rusk Library Rededication PosterFINAL

The UN Charter turns 70 this week, and we at Georgia Law are honored to be joining in the global celebration – not least because it’s also the 38th birthday of our Dean Rusk International Law Center.

UN 70th Anniversary logo_English_CMYKOn Monday, October 26, from 4-6 p.m., we’ll rededicate the Louis B. Sohn Library on International Relations in its new home, our renovated Center unit. An alum, Dr. Kannan Rajarathinam (LLM88), Head of Office, UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, Basra, will speak on a critical topic: “The United Nations at 70: Pursuing Peace in the 21st Century.”

asil_logoAlso giving remarks – on Georgia Law luminaries like Professors Sohn, Professor and former U.S. Secretary of State Rusk, Professor Gabriel Wilner, and Professor Sigmund Cohn – will be Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, Professor Harlan Cohen, alums Dorinda Dallmeyer and Ken Dious, and myself.

Our event is honored by multiple cosponsors: the American Bar Association Section of International Law, the American Branch of the International Law Association, and the American Society of International Law, for which Professor Sohn served, respectively, as Chair, Vice President, and President. Those titles signal the influAbilaence of Professor Sohn, who, inter alia, helped draft the UN Charter, advised UN agencies, and chaired the conference that led to conclusion of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Sponsors among the Georgia Law community include the Alexander Campbell King Law Library, whose staff have contributed immensely to the move of Sohn’s 5,000-volume personal collection to its new space in our Center. Cosponsoring student organizations are the Asian Law Students Association, the Davenport-Benham Chapter of the Black Law Students Association, the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, the Georgia Society for International & abasectionintlawComparative Law, the Hispanic Law Students Association, the Jewish Law Students Association, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition team (that’s Georgia Law’s 1990 Jessup world champions in the poster at top), and the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot team.

Details here. If you are in our area on the day, please join us. If you can’t be there in person, feel free to watch the livestream.

New Orleans will be the site of what looks to be a terrific event next Thursday: “Blood Antiquities,” the Annual Cultural Heritage Seminar, on October 15, 2015. Antiquities Coalition Executive Director Tess Davis, an alumna and member of the Dean Rusk International Law Council at Georgia Law, sends this information:

isis-destroy-palmyra-shrineWith the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the world rightfully asked how a militant faction too extreme for Al-Qaeda transformed itself into ‘the world’s richest terror group ever.’ How?
ISIS jihadists earn millions by looting the region’s archaeological sites, and then selling its ancient treasures to the highest bidder.
In the last year alone, we have lost some of the Cradle of Civilization’s most iconic masterpieces and sites, many of which had survived for millennia. This threatens us all: at this moment, ISIS is converting these “blood antiquities” into weapons and troops, which are seizing cities, slaughtering soldiers, and beheading civilians.
Join the Federal Bar Association and the Antiquities Coalition to explore this growing threat to our national security and the world’s cultural heritage. A distinguished panel of archaeologists, lawyers, journalists, and military officials will expose this illicit industry, tracing the path of looted masterpieces from the war zones of Mesopotamia to the very heights of the global market. They will also explore how United States and international law is seeking to cut off this key means of terrorist financing, including recent action by the U.S. Congress and United Nations Security Council.

Details here. (photo credit)

mixer3 - CopyA highlight of every new school year is acquainting students with opportunities in international, comparative, and transnational law. An early chance came yesterday, when well over a hundred members of the Georgia Law deborah - Copycommunity networked at a mixer cosponsored by our student organization, the Georgia Society of International & Comparative Law, and our Dean Rusk International Law Center, which will celebrate its 38th birthday with a major event next month.

Yesterday we:

mixer4 - Copy► Thanked the Center’s Fall 2015 Student Ambassadors, Taryn L. Arbeiter, Chanel Chauvet, Jennifer J. Cross, Ruibo Dong, Pedro Dorado (our Dean Rusk International Law Center Fellow), Ashley Ferrelli, Danielle Glover, Deborah Nogueira-Yates, Kevin Parker, Alyssa A. Pickett, Eric A. Sterling, Ximena Vasquez, Bo Uuganbayar, and Sarah Willis; international law experts like Professor Harlan Cohen; our staffers, Laura Tate Kagel and Kiz Adams, respectively, the Center’s Director and Associate Director of International Professional Education; and Lisa Mathis, events coordinator extraordinaire;

chanel_lisa - Copy► Invited all in attendance to visit the Louis B. Sohn Library on International Relations and to explore Georgia Law’s many Global Practice Preparation offerings (including our new Atlanta Semester in Practice and its older sibling, our D.C. Semester in Practice, as well as courses, the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, Jessup and Vis teams, Global Externships, Brussels and Oxford study abroad);

amann_mixer_crop► Urged everyone to follow us on Twitter (@DeanRuskIntLaw), LinkedIn, and Facebook;

► Looked forward to a year of exciting events. Stay tuned!

(photos by Student Ambassador Chanel Chauvet, pictured immediately above with Lisa Mathis. Other photos, from top: welcome by GSICL President Kelly Sullivan; Miguel Cordoba, Deborah Nogueira-Yates, and Kiz Adams; Tingting Tang, Xiao Zhang, and Huajin Tang; and Associate Dean Diane Marie Amann chats with Ron Chicken)

Delighted to announce that among the accomplished international criminal law experts keynoting the International Humanitarian Law Dialogs, set for  August 31-September 1, 2015, will be 3 exceptionally accomplished women: Patricia Sellers, Patricia Wald, and Claudia Paz y Paz.

This year will be the 9th that international prosecutors and other experts gather at the lovely lakeside Athenaeum Hotel, located at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York, in order to take stock of developments in international criminal law. As its title indicates, this year’s theme commemorates two milestones: “‘The Wrongs We Seek…’ The Srebrenica Massacre 20 Years On — and in Commemoration of the Opening of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg 1945.”

And it’s the 5th that IntLawGrrls blog has had the honor of selecting the person who will deliver the lecture in honor of Katherine B. Fite, the State Department lawyer who helped Chief U.S. Prosecutor Robert H. Jackson with the drafting of the London Charter and other duties in preparation for the 1st postwar trial at Nuremberg. (My own 2011 Fite Lecture, which describes Fite’s career, is here.)

sellers► This year’s Fite Lecture, scheduled for the morning of Monday, August 31, promises to be a great conference-opening keynote. Sellers (right) serves as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser for Prosecution Strategies, having been appointed in December 2012 (at the same time that yours truly began similar service on issues related to children in and affected by armed conflict, and IntLawGrrl and Washington University-St. Louis Law Professor Leila Nadya Sadat on issues related to crimes against humanity). That role succeeds prior service as a legal advisor and trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia, as well as expert consultancies to UN bodies, on matters related to children, gender, women, and investigations. Sellers, who is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford University, has received multiple honors, including the American Society of International Law Prominent Women in Law award. (photo credit)

Introducing her will be IntLawGrrl Beth Van Schaack, whose titles include Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights, Stanford Law School, and Senior Adviser, Office of Global Criminal Justice, U.S. Department of State.

Claudia-Paz-y-Paz-Bailey► At lunchtime on the same day, Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz (left) is scheduled to deliver the Dialogs’ annual Clara Barton Lecture. (photo credit) As we’ve detailed in prior posts here and here, Paz y Paz is the former Attorney General of Guatemala who pursued a genocide prosecution, in national court, against Efraín Ríos Montt, the dictatorial President of Guatemala during the early 1980s. (Just last month, he was ruled mentally unfit to stand retrial on the charges.)

Introducing Paz y Paz will be Federico Barsillas Schwank, Legal Advisor, American Red Cross, Washington, D.C.

wald► The closing keynoter, after lunch on Tuesday, September 1, will be the Honorable Patricia Wald (right), who served as an ICTY judge at that tribunal’s first Srebrenica genocide trial. (photo credit) Her tenure at the ICTY followed a long career of service in the U.S. government, most notably as the 1st woman to serve as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She continues to serve as an expert and advisor on numerous panels related to security and international criminal law. She honored IntLawGrrls in 2009 by contributing a series of 3 superb posts, available here, here, and here.

Yours truly will have the honor of introducing Judge Wald.

In addition to these headliners, the Dialogs will feature breakout porch sessions, led by us experts-in-residence (on subjects such as “The legacy of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg,” “Legacy of the ICTY,” and “Role of the ICC in the Middle East”), as well as many other events. Of particular note:

truthSunday, August 30

► Screening of Seeking Truth in the Balkans, a 2014 documentary on the work and legacy of the ICTY, by Erin Lovall and June Vutrano.

Monday, August 31

► Reflections by current and former international prosecutors, always a Dialogs highlight. Expected to take part this year are James Stewart (Deputy Prosecutor, International Criminal Court), Serge Brammertz (Prosecutor, ICTY), Andrew Cayley (Director of Service Prosecutions, United Kingdom), Hassan Jallow (Prosecutor, Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda), Nicholas Koumjian (Co-Prosecutor, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia), Brenda Hollis (Prosecutor, Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone), David Crane (former Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone), Richard Goldstone (former Prosecutor, ICTY and ICTR), Desmond de Silva (former Prosecutor, SCSL), and Mark Harmon (formerly at ICTY).  Case Western Law Interim Dean Michael Scharf will moderate.

► Roundtable on the July 1995 “Srebrenica Massacre,” in which upwards of 8,000 Bosniak boys and men perished. Sadat will moderate a discussion among Judge Wald, former U.N. Legal Counsel Hans Corell, Professor William A. Schabas, and Mark Harmon, who resigned just weeks ago from his post as a judge at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the hybrid tribunal set up to try persons accused of criminal responsibility for the 1970s Khmer Rouge reign of terror.

► Keynote address by a representative of the Mayor of Nuremberg, the German city where the post-World War II Trial of the Major War Criminals opened 70 years ago, on November 20, 1945.

Tuesday, September 1

► Reflections by M. Cherif Bassiouni, Emeritus Law Professor, DePaul University.

► International criminal law year in review, by Washington & Lee Law Professor Mark A. Drumbl.

► Issuance of the 9th Chautauqua Declaration.

More information, including a registration form, may be found at the website of the Robert H. Jackson Center, a primary sponsor, here.

mendezAll who care about children and international law will want to register for “Torture of Children Deprived of Liberty: Avenues for Advocacy,” “a global online briefing” to be hosted at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time next Tuesday, May 5, by the Anti-Torture Initiative of the D.C.-based Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law.

Panelists will include:

Juan E. Méndez, American University law professor, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, and author of the 2015 thematic report on children deprive of liberty, which will form the core of the discussion (credit for photo of Méndez delivering this report to the U.N. Human Rights Council last month)

Jo Becker, Advocacy Director, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch

Ian M. Kysel, Dash/Muse Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute

► Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Vice Chairperson of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child and of the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, as well as  a law professor at the University of Western Cape in South Africa, and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia

Registration and further information here.

droneWhat once was a rather loud drone of debate over the use of armed, remote-controlled, aerial attack vehicles seems recently to have receded into background noise. Perhaps that’s in part because of newly perceived threats like ISIS — threats that many Americans, tired of U.S. ground-troop casualties, would rather see addressed by Reaper and Predator drones. (photo credit) Perhaps it’s because criticism of U.S. counterterrorism practices has muted since the days of the Bush Administration, or because reports of any such criticism now are relegated to the back pages of a few national newspapers.

A recent New Yorker article deserves to break through this complacent fog: “The Unblinking Stare: The drone war in Pakistan,” by Steve Coll, a Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter on national security issues and dean of the Columbia Journalism School. It’s a great synthesis of reportage on the origins and evolution of the program, coupled with commentary that raises questions all ought to be asking.

Of particular note:

► The recognition that the practice of “‘signature strikes'” — drone-killings of “armed military-aged males engaged in or associated with suspicious activity even if their identities were unknown” — stands at odds with settled law. Coll cites a 2013 report by Christof Heyns, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions, for the proposition that such strikes do not fall under either “proper standard for attacking a person under the laws of war … ‘continuous combat function’ or … ‘directly participating in hostilities.'” (Coll might’ve gone a step further, and acknowledged that “continuous combat function” is a concept not established in written international humanitarian law, and thus itself still subject to challenge.)  Concern over legality seems to have contributed to President Barack Obama’s tightening of drone-killing standards a year or so ago. The result? Since that time, “there has not been a single documented civilian casualty, child or adult, as a result of a drone strike in Waziristan.

► The role that children play in the story. Coll reports that a Pakistani documenter of human rights violations soon realized that data on drone-killings of adults stirred little interest; “if a drone missile killed an innocent adult male civilian, such as a vegetable vend[o]r or a fruit seller, the victim’s long hair and beard would be enough to stereotype him as a militant.” The documenter’s solution? “[F]ocus on children.” Thus were recorded, via photographs, the harm done to children in the course of drone attacks. Such photos helped fuel “a social-media contest,” Coll wrote, a contest that includes widely varying statistics about just how many civilians, of any age, have perished in U.S. strikes. The disparity makes it hard to evaluate — and thus hard to challenge — U.S. administration claims that drones are more humane, more precise than other sorts of aerial attacks.

Even if the claims are true, Coll questions whether that matters in the end. He cites a recent Foreign Affairs essay in which scholars Micah Zenko and Sarah Kreps argued that the promise of precision “may create more war.” And he writes of meeting in Islamabad with young men who acknowledged the upside of more precision, then added: “But they also talked about the suffering their families had endured — kidnappings, homes under pressure — and their own struggles to obtain an education. In their telling, the relative precision of the aircraft that assailed them wasn’t the point.”