“Vietnam/War/Memory/Justice: A Conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen,” Feb. 14, Georgia Law

nguyenGeorgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, for which I serve as director, will host a roundtable on the legacies of the U.S.-Vietnam War as part of next week’s visit here by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a University of Southern California professor whose first novel, The Sympathizer, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

nothingEntitled “Vietnam/War/Memory/Justice: A Conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen,” our roundtable will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. this Tuesday, February 14, in the Larry Walker Room on the 4th floor of the law school’s Dean Rusk Hall.

The topic of the roundtable is drawn from Nguyen’s 2016 work, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, which itself was nominated for the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction. (Nguyen’s newest book, a short-story collection titled The Refugees, was published yesterday.) In Nothing Ever Dies, Nguyen writes:

“Memory, like war, is often asymmetrical.”

The same may be said of justice; in particular, of efforts to right the wrongs done during armed conflict and similar extreme violence. These issues of transitional justice, memory, and war will be explored in the roundtable, at which Nguyen will be joined by:

tiana-mTiana S. Mykkeltvedt, Georgia Law alumna, member of the Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, and partner at the Atlanta law firm Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, who was flown out of Vietnam as an orphan in April 1975 in what came to be known as Operation Babylift; and

amann► Yours truly, Diane Marie Amann, Associate Dean for International Programs & Strategic Initiatives and Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law at Georgia Law, who also serves as the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict.

Roundtable space is limited, and registration, available here, is recommended. For more information, contact ruskintlaw@uga.edu.

Our Center is especially pleased to sponsor this event, given that our namesake, the late Dean Rusk, a Georgia Law professor, and served as U.S. Secretary of State during the first years of the Vietnam War. The Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Georgia, and Georgia Law’s Asian Law Students Association are cosponsoring the roundtable. It will be the last in a series of Global Georgia events hosted by other university units, most notably the Department of Comparative Literature and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts:

► 4 p.m. Monday, February 13, in the university Chapel, Nguyen will deliver the 3d Annual Betty Jean Craige Lecture of the Department of Comparative Literature, entitled “Nothing Ever Dies: Ethical Memory and Radical Writing in The Sympathizer.” For information, contact Professor Peter D. O’Neill at pon@uga.edu.

► 6-7 p.m. Sunday, February 12, at Avid Bookshop, 493 Prince Avenue in downtown Athens, a book-signing of The Refugees.

(Cross-posted from Exchange of Notes)

Pamela Yates’ new Guatemala film “500 Years” to screen at IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference

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A very special film event will open IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference, the global gathering we’re very pleased to host this spring.

On the evening of Thursday, March 2, 2017, the conference will begin with a screening of “500 Years,” a documentary about Guatemala. This Athens, Georgia, screening – taking place just weeks after the film’s premiere at the 2017 Sundance Festival – will feature a conversation with its award-winning director, Pamela Yates (below), and producer, Paco de Onís. Yates, who describes herself as “an American filmmaker and human rights defender,” has posted on her work at IntLawGrrls (see here and here), which is celebrating a decade as the pre-eminent international law blog written primarily by women.

yates_pamela“500 Years” concludes a Guatemala trilogy begun with “When the Mountains Tremble” (1983) and “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” (2011), As described at the Skylight Pictures website:

“From a historic genocide trial to the overthrow of a president, ‘500 Years’ tells a sweeping story of mounting resistance played out in Guatemala’s recent history, through the actions and perspectives of the majority indigenous Mayan population, who now stand poised to reimagine their society.”

On Friday, March 3, 2017, IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference will continue with the daylong Research Forum at the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center.  As introduced in prior posts, this Forum will feature presentations by international law academics, practitioners, and policymakers, plus a plenary panel on “strategies to promote women’s participation in shaping international law and policy amid the global emergence of antiglobalism.”

This IntLawGrrls event is part of the law school’s Georgia Women in Law Lead (Georgia WILL) initiative and of the Global Georgia Initiative of the university’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. Additional conference cosponsors include Georgia Law’s Women Law Students Association and International Law Society, the American Society of International Law and ASIL’s Women in International Law Interest Group, and the Planethood Foundation.

Details on the conference are at the webpage containing the call for papers (deadline January 1, 2017).

(Cross-posted from IntLawGrrls. Credit for Skylight Pictures’ photo above, by Daniel Hernández-Salazar; source for photo of Yates)

Antiquities trafficking said to fuel transnational mayhem by Daesh et al.

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Alumna Tess Davis, 2d from left, met with Georgia Law 1Ls after her lecture; from left, Hannah Williams, Ava Goble & Karen Hays. Hannah will work on cultural heritage issues this summer through a Global Externship Overseas (GEO) at the Cambodia Ministry of Culture & Fine Arts, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

“As long as there have been tombs, there have been tomb raiders.”

So began the terrific talk on trafficking that Tess Davis, Executive Director of the D.C.-based Antiquities Coalition, delivered to a rapt University of Georgia audience a few days ago.

Having conceded the point quoted at top, Davis stressed that today the problem is much different and much greater. On the list of lucrative transnational organized crime, she asserted, antiquities trafficking places 3d, right behind arms trafficking and drug trafficking.

The threat is not simply one of criminal behavior, she continued. Rather, Davis stressed that profits from antiquities trafficking – profits believed to be in the millions of dollars – provide revenue vital for the nonstate actor waging armed conflict in Syria and Iraq. That entity calls itself “Islamic State” and is often labeled “ISIS” or “ISIL” in the media; taking a lead from diplomats in France and, recently, the United States, Davis preferred “Daesh,” the group’s Arabic acronym, for the simple reason that “they hate to be called that.”

Initially trained as an archeologist, Davis began to focus on legal means to combat antiquities trafficking while still a student at Georgia Law. Since earning her J.D. in 2009, she’s been a leader at the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage and in the American Society of International Law Cultural Heritage & the Arts Interest Group, a researcher at Scotland’s University of Glasgow, a member of Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, and, as the photo above demonstrates, a mentor to Georgia Law students and other young lawyers interested in working in the field. Her efforts to help repatriate antiquities stolen from Cambodia earned multiple mentions in The New York Times.

Her talk drew links between the looting of cultural heritage during and after the 1970s Khmer Rouge reign of terror and current looting in the Middle East today. In both instances, she said, “cultural cleansing” – in the contemporary case, the destruction and thievery of monuments sacred to moderate Muslims and others – precedes and parallels efforts to erase and subjugate the humans who venerate those monuments. It’s a state of affairs documented in her Coalition’s new report, “Culture Under Threat.”

“The world failed Cambodia,”

Davis said, then expressed optimism at growing political will to do something about the Middle East. She advocated enactment of S. 1887, the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act now working its way through Congress. The legislation, whose cosponsors include a Georgia U.S. Senator, David Perdue, is urgent: Davis estimated that U.S. buyers represent 43% of the current demand for looted Syrian antiquities.

(Cross-posted from Exchange of Notes blog)

“Blood Antiquities”: cultural heritage seminar in New Orleans looks at ISIS

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)

And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

photo

 John Lennon & Yoko Ono
released in 1971, but timeless

“How can I face a child today knowing what I know?”: Angry plea to end violence

UntitledIt is the season of renewal, of anticipating the year to come. It is a time for revelry, but also for reflection. And reflection on this past year forces one to confront the grim reality of harms humans have wreaked upon other humans – on women, men, and children.

It is this last group of victims on which I have focused, in my service as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda‘s Special Adviser on Children in and Affected by Armed Conflict. Bensouda’s office has worked this year to  prepare a Policy Paper on Children, and this year the ICC Appeals Chamber sustained the court’s first conviction, against a militia leader responsible for child-soldiering crimes. But this year also saw untold crimes against children – not only tragically quotidian crimes of domestic abuse, but also spectacular outrages like last week’s lethal attack on a school in Pakistan, and the several instances of girls’ abduction or enslavement by groups like ISIS and Boko Haram.

It is this last group of victims, moreover, that this year spurred digital artist Corinne Whitaker to publish “Cradle Song,” an online book featuring images and poetry that she created. (As I’ve posted, Whitaker is the longtime publisher of a monthly webzine, Digital Giraffe, as well as the sister of colleague Ed Gordon.)

“Cradle Song” features pages of images like the one above, juxtaposed with verse-form text. “How can I face a child / today / knowing what I know?” it begins, then continues with angry, taut descriptions of what she knows – of, that is, the awful ways that armed violence affects children. Her refrain of questions – among them, “Why doesn’t someone / anyone / care?” – reminds us that we do, we must, care. And in this time of renewal, we must resolve to act.

“We must either love each other, or…”: “Daisy,” LBJ’s antinuke ad, turns 50

Today’s the 50th anniversary of “Daisy.” That’s the 60-minute TV advertisement in which a toddler‘s miscount to 10 morphs into a military backcount to 1; simultaneously, her right eye shapeshifts into a mushroom cloud whose explosion wreaks devastation. (Video above.)

“Daisy” helped propel President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had taken office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy less than a year earlier, to a landslide November 1964 win against GOP challenger Barry Goldwater. It’s worth noting for more than that, though. One wonders, for instance, whether the powerful symbolism inspired later Flower Power protests (protests against the escalation of Vietnam, undertaken by post-election President Johnson), not to mention masthead_posterLorraine Schneider’s iconic sunflower poster (right).

Even filtered through the lens of campaign bluster, moreover, the core sentence in “Daisy” has contemporary relevance:

‘We must either love each other, or we must die.’