foreign policy

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Why IntLawGrrls?

The need for an online forum giving voice to women who work in international law and policy began to take shape 10 years ago this autumn.

An issue of the day was Guantánamo; specifically, what was the United States to do now that the U.S. Supreme Court, in a June 2006 decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, had ruled President George W. Bush’s military commissions unconstitutional?

Many women had worked, spoken, or written on GTMO – not only in law review articles, but also in court pleadings. I was one of them, having published “Guantánamo” in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law in 2004 and served in 2006 as principal author of the amicus brief in Hamdan filed jointly by the National Institute of Military Justice and the Bar Association of the District of Columbia.

And yet, when Congress convened post-Hamdan hearings, witness after witness was exclusively male. Worse still, the perspectives these men advanced by no means covered the spectrum – no surprise given that all of them had served in the Executive Branch of the U.S. government, and only one staked any claim to expertise in human rights law. Nothing approximating either a nongovernmental or feminist perspective surfaced in those sessions on Capitol Hill.

News accounts of such manels got me thinking about launching a blog.

Opinio Juris, founded in November 2004, had revealed an international law community rife with readers and contributors. But posts by women were few, as was then and remains today the case on digital platforms. I imagined that a blog open only to women might attract women – that women would see it as both an invitation and an obligation to contribute. Going pink would set a strong contrast with OJ‘s baby-blue image.

The name? “IntLaw” was easy, and for obvious reasons.

“Grrls” was obvious too. The spelling’s angry “grr” owes much to the circa-1990s Riot Grrrls; the concept, to the Guerrilla Girls, a group that since 1985 has been wreaking feminist havoc in the male-dominated art world. (Years later, we would recognize Pussy Riot, a band-turned-movement that, like Guerrilla Girls, remains active.)

dowomenhavetobenaked2005smallrgbAs the Guerrilla Girls’ website recalls:

“They assumed the names of dead women artists and wore gorilla masks in public, concealing their identities and focusing on the issues rather than their personalities.”

And so did IntLawGrrls. Well, not the gorilla masks (at least not in public). But in the infant months after our birth-day on March 3, 2007, each of us assumed the name of a foremother as our pseudonym, and posted in her honor. I was Gráinne Ni Mháille, or Grace O’Malley, the Irish pirate who also would be embraced by contributors Fionnuala Ní Aoláin and Gráinne de Búrca. A charter contributor, Beth Van Schaack, took the name of her distant relative, Eleanor Roosevelt. It will come as little surprise to learn that others followed suit in honoring ER, who remains our blog’s proto-foremother. Another early contributor, Jaya Ramji-Nogales, posted in the name of the 19th Century Indian queen Lakshmi Bai.

A half-dozen months and scores of contributors later, we ‘Grrls began posting in our own names, though we continued to name foremothers both in introductory posts and in an honor roll posted online. Kathleen A. “Kate” Doty, for example, thus paid homage to Queen Lili‘uokalani, the last monarch of Hawai‘i.

clearerwicl_posterOver time, Beth, Jaya, Kate, and I evolved into the editors of IntLawGrrls. Our collaboration included hosting a conference at Tillar House, the American Society of International Law headquarters, and publishing a special issue of the International Criminal Law Review, dedicated to Judge Patricia M. Wald, on “Women and International Criminal Law.” We worked together through December 2012, when the blog took a couple-months’ hiatus and then revived. It’s been wonderful to watch the replenishment of energy and contributors at this new URL, thanks to Cecilia Marcela Bailliet and many others.

Then as now – nearly 10 years, hundreds of contributors, and thousands of posts later – IntLawGrrls mentors new voices and fosters community among contributors at all stages of their careers. Our periodic group photos are evidence of that. (At top is our photo from last spring’s ASIL annual meeting, when IntLawGrrl Betsy Andersen, 2d from right in top row, earned the Prominent Woman in International Law Award.)

To celebrate our utterly unexpected achievement, we’re throwing a party.

georgiawill_logoBeth, Jaya, Kate, and I have reunited to organize IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference. We welcome all of our vast IntLawGrrls community to join us on Friday, March 3, 2017 – on the precise date of our 10th birthday – at my home institution, the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, Athens, Georgia USA, which is hosting as part of our Georgia WILL initiative.

Details and our call for papers are available at our conference website and in the item Jaya posted last week. Suffice it to say that we welcome proposals, in English, French, or Spanish, from all in our community. Topics may include any issue of international, comparative, foreign, or transnational law or policy. We especially welcome contributions from subfields traditionally dominated by men. Academics and practitioners, students and professors, advocates and policymakers alike are most welcome to submit.

We’re planning a plenary aimed at getting us through the next several years – title is “strategies to promote women’s participation in shaping international law and policy amid the global emergence of antiglobalism” – and we hope to organize a few more according to participants’ interests. We look forward to an opportunity to network, to meet old friends and make new ones, to celebrate our accomplishments and lay plans for greater achievements in the coming decade.

I thank all of you for your support of our efforts this last decade, and look forward to seeing many of you here in March.

‘Nuff said.

(Cross-posted from IntLawGrrls blog)

untitledIssues of foreign policy and national security remain foremost in many voters’ minds as the 2016 U.S. Presidential election has entered its final, post-Labor Day lap. We’re thus delighted to be welcoming an expert in this areas to our Athens campus next week:

Fresh from recent lectures in Oxford, Auckland, and Berlin, Ambassador Derek Shearer will deliver a public talk entitled “The Whole World Is Waching: Foreign Policy & the U.S. Presidential Election” at 12:30 p.m. this Tuesday, September 13, at the University of Georgia School of Law. Sponsoring the talk is Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center; cosponsors are the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and the University of Georgia School of Public & International Affairs.

Shearer, whom I’ve long been privileged to call a colleague, is Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles who served as an economics official in the U.S. Department of Commerce, and then as U.S. Ambassador to Finland from 1994 to 1997. He’s the author of several books and a frequent writer on and contributor to public policy discussions;  his articles have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and International Herald Tribune.

In addition to the talk, Shearer will speak to students in Election Law and Strategic Intelligence courses.

toigoWe’re also very pleased to welcome Sue Toigo (left), Chairman of Fitzgibbon Toigo Associates and Shearer’s wife. She’ll discuss corporate responsibility with Georgia Law Business Ethics students.

For additional details, e-mail ruskintlaw@uga.edu.

March 18, 1967. Afternoon. Secretary of State Dean Rusk conducts a briefing on Vietnam for state governors in the Fish Room of the White House.

At White House, with President Johnson in attendance, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk briefs US governors on the US-Vietnam War. The briefing took place March 18, 1967, not long before Rusk set up a “dissent channel” for State Department diplomats frustrated by US foreign policy. (photo credit)

In my current role as leader of the 38-year-old Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law, I tend to take a close look at any reference to our Center’s namesake, Dean Rusk, who served as the only Secretary of State to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

And so it is with the US diplomatic topic du mois, the “dissent channel” at the Department of State.

This channel is much in the news these days, on account of a Page 1 New York Times story leaking a dissent-channel letter by 51 diplomats at State who want more use of force in Syria than President Barack Obama to date has authorized. (Worth-reading questions about the “leak” here.) And then there was yesterday’s Times story by Ellen Barry, about a dissent-channel “Blood Letter” that forestalled career advancement for the eponymous letter-writing diplomat.

Quite a surprise, amid all this, to read this explanation of the dissent channel, in a transcript of the June 17 Daily Press Briefing by a State Department spokesperson:

“This procedure, this vehicle has been in place since Secretary of State Dean Rusk was in office in 1971.”

Why a surprise? Because by 1971, Rusk was regaling Georgia Law students as the revered Sibley Professor of International Law.

At the briefing, an unnamed reporter took immediate issue with the spokesperson’s account:

QUESTION: And just – can we be clear about when it actually began? Because Rusk, I think, was gone by ’69 when the Nixon Administration came in. So I don’t think he was Secretary of State in 1971, but I could certainly be mistaken.

[ANSWER]: I think it was 1971 and —

QUESTION: Okay.

[ANSWER]: — my reading of the history said that Rusk had something to do with it. But I’m not going to quibble with you —

QUESTION: No, no.

[ANSWER]: — over the history of the program.

Uncharacteristic of these kind of transcripts, the spokesperson’s assertion is supported by a footnote [1]. It says only “William P. Rogers.” That’s the name of the man who became Secretary of State in 1969, after Rusk left government service for the last time. But a quick look at Rusk’s bio on the Department’s site would have confirmed the premise of the reporter’s question.

So what’s right, and wrong?

On the small point of timing, the spokesperson is wrong. But on the larger point of establishing a channel for dissent, unique among the world’s diplomatic services, the account is spot on. To quote a memorial published the year that Rusk died, in the Department’s own publication, Dispatch:

Dean Rusk left his mark not only on the nation and the world, but also on the Department of State as an institution. At a time of tremendous domestic social change, he encouraged minorities and women to enter the Foreign Service. He established the Dissent Channel and the Open Forum to give members of the Department alternative ways to make their foreign policy views known.

 

(Cross-posted from our Center’s Exchange of Notes blog)

With the President delivering his final State of the Union address as I write these lines, I couldn’t help but have a look at my own very early endorsement of and pledge to work for (as a member of his campaign’s Human Rights Policy Committee) then-Senator Barack Obama. It holds up pretty well 8 years later, even if not everything turned out as, well, hoped. Here, once again, is my Jan. 3, 2008, IntLawGrrls post:

(An Iowa Caucus Day item) Soon after the 2d inauguration of George W. Bush, whose Presidency already had been marked by abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, by the folly of the Iraq invasion, and by the failure to incapacitate Osama bin Laden, I began to prepare for the next election cycle. 
My road to 2008 began on the freeway, listening to politicians read aloud the books in which they endeavored to tell their own stories in their own words. My Life, the memoir by Bush’s immediate predecessor, Bill Clinton, filled in some details about a man who in the 1990s had dominated current events. In Living History his wife, Hillary Clinton, read her precise account of those same times. The works left me appreciative yet disengaged.
Then, on a colleague’s recommendation, I listened to Barack Obama read Dreams from My Father, the “story of race and inheritance” he’d written a decade earlier. The last thing I expected to discover were things in common. And yet here was someone who’d also moved about as a child, been raised at times by grandparents. Who’d also witnessed Harold Washington’s milestone mayoral election while working in Chicago — who’d worked a few years before moving on to law school, then to law teaching. Whose family ties put him in close contact with newcomers to America and with relatives overseas. (Yesterday, in the Voice of America interview here, Obama urged political rivals in Kenya, his father’s homeland, to “address peacefully the controversies that divide them.”) A progressive Illinoisan who preferred consensus to conflict.
His campaign’s followed lines sketched in Dreams and detailed in his 2d book, The Audacity of Hope. The operative word remains “hope” — discussed by means not of doe-eyed promises of the impossible, but of substantive policy prescriptions. There’s a focus on building a movement, one that underscores the significance of a fact seldom studied despite the reams of copy written about Obama: This is someone whose sensibilities were shaped by years of organizing poor people in job-starved communities, a real world experience that all politicians could use but few have. The campaign’s unabashed reaching across the aisle, moreover, comes as a relief to all exhausted by the pitched political battles of the recent past.
And then there’s Obama’s foreign policy.
This is a candidate who fears not to speak with favor of the United Nations and other international bodies. Who speaks of the essential need for the United States not simply to demand from its allies, but rather to earn from them, respect and assistance. Who understands “security” to mean more than military might. A candidate who persists in a plan to meet personally with world leaders of all political persuasion, to cut in on diplomatic dances of avoidance that sometimes extend distance between cultures.
Not least is Obama’s denunciation of Guantánamo and all it stands for: indefinitedetention for purposes of interrogation, abandonment of habeas corpus, cruelty and torture. It’s unequivocal and delivered to all audiences.
Aiding Obama are scores of foreign policy experts and international lawyers. They include many noted and respected women, among them: Pulitzer Prizewinning Harvard ProfessorSamantha Power; Patricia Wald, former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District ofColumbia Circuit and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; and Dr. Susan E. Rice, formerly assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs.
It may seem odd that someone who’s spent nearly a year blogging the achievements of the world’s women leaders is working for this candidate. Would I welcome as President a woman who’s made her own way, who stands on her own feet, who promises to bring the best to the job? Certainly. I’ll embrace that candidate, when she emerges.
Now, though, this IntLawGrrl’s honored to be doing her wee bit for Barack Obama, the human who pushes people to “Change the World.”

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.”

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

TwitterCruise7Concern about the dearth of international law women with online or op-ed presence helped launch IntLawGrrls in 2007. Since then, the blog (archives here, current posts here) has welcomed hundreds of  women who’ve posted on a range of issues related to international, comparative, and transnational law and policy.

Recent buzz in Foreign Policy about the dearth of women writing in that field prompted a search for @IntLawGrrls; that is, IntLawGrrls contributors now posting on Twitter. (image credit) For readers who’d like to follow favorites there, here’s a list:

Aziza Ahmed: @AzizaAhmed
Karen J. Alter: @AlterKaren
Diane Marie Amann: @DianeMarieAmann
Elizabeth Andersen: @AndersenBetsy

Sandra L. Babcock: @sandralbabcock
Sari Bashi: @saribashi
Nadia Bernaz: @HRightsBusiness
Jillian Blake: @JilliBlake
Sadie Blanchard: @sadie_blanchard
Carolyn Patty Blum: @PattyBlum
Rosa Brooks: @brooks_rosa
Elizabeth Burleson: @BurlesonInst
Mira Burri: @miraburri

Naomi Cahn: @NaomiCahn
Liz Campbell: @lizjcampbell
Aparna Chandra: @aparnachandra
Louise Chappell: @chappell_louise
Ioana Cismas: @IoanaCismas
Kathleen Clark: @clarkkathleen
Kamari Maxine Clarke: @KamMClarke

Colin Dayan: @mehdidog
Fiona de Londras: @fdelond
Jessica Dorsey: @jessicadorsey
Mary L. Dudziak: @marydudziak
Angela Duger: @UDHR_Duger

Christie Edwards: @cjoye7
Máiréad Enright: @maireadenright
Noura Erakat: @4noura
Daphne Eviatar: @deviatar
Andrea Ewart: @developtradelaw

Marjorie Florestal: @MarjorieFlo
Rosa Freedman: @GoonerDr

Anne Gallagher: @AnneTGallagher

Jill Goldenziel: @JillGoldenziel
Michele Bratcher Goodwin: @michelebgoodwin

Lisa Hajjar: @lisahajjar
Leslie Haskell: @HaskellLeslie
Gina Heathcote: @gina_heathcote
Karen Hoffmann: @karhoff
Sofie A. E. Høgestøl: @sofiehogestol

Joanna Cuevas Ingram: @4truejustice

Olga Jurasz: @olga_jurasz

Elise Keppler: @EliseKeppler

Rebecca Eve Landy: @RebeccaEveLandy
Hope Lewis: @ProfHopeLewis
Jennifer Lind: @profLind

Vanessa MacDonnell: @vanessa_macd

Hope Elizabeth May: @selfconcordance
Clare McGlynn: @McGlynnClare
Chi Mgbako: @chiadanna
Lelia Mooney: @Lelia_Mooney

Luz Estella Nagle: @LuzEstella
Fionnuala Ní Aoláin: @NiAolainF

Mary Ellen O’Connell: @OConnell_IntLaw
Aoife O’Donoghue: @aoifemod
Hari M. Osofsky: @HariOsofsky
Aminta Ossom: @AmintaOssom

Elaine Pearson: @PearsonElaine
Nicole Phillips: @BuddhistLawyer

Noëlle Quénivet: @NoelleQuenivet1

Susan Harris Rimmer: @FemInt
Mónica Roa: @MonicaRoa
Sarah Rogerson: @RogersonSarah

Kim Thuy Seelinger: @ktseelinger
Pam Spees: @PamSpees
Margaret Stock: @MargaretDStock
Staci Strobl: @Staci_Strobl

Jessica Tillipman: @JTillipman
Kellie Toole: @KellieToole

Beth Van Schaack: @BethVanSchaack
Monika Kalra Varma: @monikakv

Judith Weingarten: @zenobia1
Lesley Wexler: @lesley_wexler

Pamela Yates: @pameladyates