Georgia Law 3L Davis Wright on his externship in Virginia: “My time at NATO helped me grow as an aspiring lawyer, law student, and person.”

Pleased today to welcome this post by University of Georgia School of Law student Davis Wright, who describes his just-completed his Fall 2021 externship in Norfolk, Virginia, in the legal department of HQ SACT, a leading unit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This externship is administered by our law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center in partnership with NATO Allied Command Transformation. Davis arrived at Georgia Law with a background in international relations and politics, having competed in Model United Nations and worked for a member of the Dáil Éireann. His experiences at Georgia Law have included service as a Dean Rusk International Law Center Student Ambassador and J.D.-to-LL.M. liaison. He is due to receive his J.D. degree this May, and then to begin practice as an Associate at the Atlanta office of Jones Day.

Working in the Office of the Legal Advisor at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (HQ SACT) in Norfolk, Virginia, was an exciting and rewarding experience. In the time I was at HQ SACT I grew substantially, in personal, academic, and professional aspects.

Personal growth

During the time I spent at HQ SACT, I was exposed to a diverse range of ideas and people. While the Chief Legal Advisor at HQ SACT is American, there is a French Legal Advisor, a Dutch Legal Advisor, and a Turkish intern. All of these interactions were valuable to me as I was exposed to cultural and legal perspectives from their home nations. 

My interactions at the office likewise gave me exposure to a diverse set of views on a variety of topics, ranging from the insignificant, such as musical preferences, to the significant, such as views on the war in Afghanistan and NATO’s involvement in it. These new friendships, and sometimes deep discussions, helped me grow as a person and challenged my views and perspective of the world.

Academic growth

As one part of my externship at HQ SACT, I participated in a once-a-week seminar course with Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, who is a Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center. We discussed a variety of topics through weekly readings on different areas of international law. Highlights included the role of the legal advisor in armed conflict, rules of engagement, and immunities of international organizations in domestic courts. Most of these subjects were new to me, and the weekly seminar helped build my knowledge and challenge my perspective on different international legal issues.

I am especially pleased that I was encouraged to lead the discussions in this seminar and to select readings for subjects that I find of interest. This encouragement to be curious and take a leading role also helped me grow academically.

Professional growth

The experience at HQ SACT was completely new for me as I had never before worked in the national security sector or for an international organization. My time in the legal office was largely split into two categories, as follows:

  • Legal assistance: During the mornings I was assigned to legal assistance work. This is essentially all the support elements that the office provides to both civilian and military personnel at HQ SACT. This work varies depending on who walks through the door, but includes a large amount of immigration work.  These experiences provided me an appreciation of the multitude of legal issues that foreign personnel face during their time in the United States. Additionally, these experiences provided me valuable client interaction that will assist my future career.
  • Legal projects: In the afternoons I worked on projects for the legal advisors. These projects varied considerably. For example, I had the opportunity to work on an overhaul to the general terms and conditions throughout HQ SACT and its subordinate commands, and to research whether NATO information is protected under U.S. laws against espionage. These projects all challenged me and provided an opportunity to make a substantial impact during my time at HQ SACT.  

In short, my time at NATO helped me grow as an aspiring lawyer, law student, and person. I am sure I will use the experiences I have gained so far at NATO in my future career.

I am extremely grateful that the Dean Rusk International Law Center and the University of Georgia School of Law allowed me to partake in this unique experience. Specifically, I would like to thank the Center’s Associate Director for Global Practice Preparation, Sarah Quinn, and Professor Amann, for their valuable guidance. I would also like to thank everyone at HQ SACT, especially Theresa Donahue, Kathy Hansen-Nord, Monte DeBoer, Butch Bracknell, Mette Hartov, Vincent Grassin, and Muge Karatas.

Georgia Law Professor Zohra Ahmed publishes on Pakistan, United States & global war on terror at LPE Blog

Zohra Ahmed, who is an Assistant Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, posted “Towards a Law and Political Economy Approach to the Global War on Terror” at the LPE Blog published by The Law and Political Economy (LPE) Project, housed at Yale Law School.

Here’s the abstract:

“To ensure support for its Global War on Terror, the United States has exploited the Pakistani government’s reliance on foreign credit to guarantee cooperation in US counterinsurgency operations. In leveraging its role as a lender to provide Pakistan with short-term financial relief, the United States has deepened Pakistan’s economic dependency, undermined the nation’s chance for a more equal domestic political and economic arrangement, and consolidated the power of its domestic military elite.”

Professor Ahmed’s full essay, posted last Wednesday, is available here.

Georgia Law Associate Dean MJ Durkee, our Center’s Director, gives online webinar to law students in Bangladesh

Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, who is Associate Dean for International Programs, Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Allen Post Professor here at Georgia Law, gave an online presentation on Friday, entitled “International Lobbying by Industry and Trade Groups: Context, Laws, Reforms,” to students at the Department of Law of North South University in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

She delivered the webinar by invitation of North South Law Professor Md. Rizwanul Islam, whose own scholarship includes examinations of the operation of international economic law in South Asia.

In her presentation, Durkee observed that COP26, the 2-week international climate change conference just concluded in Glasgow, Scotland, spotlighted difficulties in designing rules and processes that welcome nongovernmental organizations and business groups into global governance. She explored the adequacy vel non of conceptualizations of this challenge, and further considered possible designs for reform.

The webinar built on “Welcoming Participation, Avoiding Capture: A Five-Point Framework,” remarks that Durkee published in the Proceedings of the American Society of International Law Annual Meeting of 2020, available here.

Video of last Friday’s webinar may be found here.

Georgia Law Professor Walter Hellerstein presents on value added tax in International Monetary Fund webinar

Walter Hellerstein, Distinguished Research Professor & Shackelford Distinguished Professor in Taxation Law Emeritus here at the University of Georgia School of Law, presented last Tuesday in a webinar entitled “VAT and the Digital Economy,” organized by the International Monetary Fund as part of its ongoing VAT Webinar Series. More than 500 participants from countries around the world attended.

Hellerstein spoke on “Taxing digital economy: VAT vs. CIT and DST,” as part of a panel moderated by Katherine Baer of the IMF. Also on the panel were experts based in Australia, Panama, and South Africa.

The webinar program is here.

Stockholm Declaration conference: link to video of Shelton keynote and panel on international environmental law’s future

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A superb third panel and keynote speech concluded “The 1972 Stockholm Declaration at 50: Reflecting on a Half-Century of International Environmental Law” conference that we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center and the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law at the University of Georgia School of Law hosted on October 8.

Following on our prior posts outlining the first and second parts of our daylong conference, we’re pleased in this post to recap the final segment, video of which is available here. (The full series, meanwhile, is available here.)

It begins with the third panel of the conference, entitled “International Environmental Law’s Future,” and moderated by MJ Durkee, Associate Dean for International Programs, Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Allen Post Professor at Georgia Law (pictured above, middle right). Joining her were 4 panelists (pictured clockwise from bottom center): Lakshman D. Guruswamy, Nicholas Doman Professor of International Environmental Law at Colorado Law; Jutta Brunnée, Dean, University Professor, and James Marshall Tory Dean’s Chair at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in Canada; Cymie Payne, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Ecology and the School of Law, Rutgers University; and Rebecca M. Bratspies, Professor and Director of the Center for Urban Environmental Reform at CUNY Law.

Together, they consider the part of Principle 1 of the Stockholm Declaration that declares:

“[Humankind] bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.”

In light of that statement, panelists examined the major successes and failures of the last half-century of international environmental law, and, imagining a “2022 Stockholm Declaration,” they considered how to prioritize environmental protection efforts going forward.

Then follows “Stockholm Plus 50: Glass Half Full, Half Empty, or Shattered?,” the keynote address by Dinah L. Shelton, Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law Emeritus at George Washington University School of Law. In it, Shelton sounds an urgent call to action to ensure protection from the worst effects of climate change, especially for the most vulnerable populations.

Kimberlee Styple, GJICL Editor-in-Chief, then delivers closing remarks.

University of Georgia Professor Peters, of Grady College and School of Law, presents on digital freedom of assembly in EU-funded project supporting civil society in West Balkans and Turkey

Pleased today to welcome a contribution from our colleague Jonathan Peters, an associate professor who has faculty appointments in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the School of Law at the University of Georgia. Dr. Peters teaches and researches in the area of media law and policy, and his post here discusses his participation November 4 in an online panel about freedom of peaceful assembly.

I had the opportunity last week to be part of an event hosted by Technical Assistance to Civil Society Organisations in the Western Balkans and Turkey (TACSO), which is a project funded by the European Union (EU) that provides support to civil society organizations (CSOs) in the region to help them contribute to public debate and democratic processes.

The two-day event, organized in cooperation with the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL), gathered dozens of CSOs and public institutions for panels about emerging issues and trends affecting civil-society work and for exchanges about best practices in monitoring and advocacy.

I spoke on the panel “Freedom of Assembly in a Digital Age: Monitoring Online Assemblies,” along with my colleagues Francesca Fanucci, senior legal advisor at ECNL, and Florin Gisca, legal expert at Promo-LEX. Francesca covered digitally-mediated assemblies in general, and Florin explained efforts in Moldova to monitor such assemblies, while I discussed my work for ECNL to develop a related monitoring tool for use in the region and beyond.

Traditionally, the definition of peaceful assembly included physical gatherings of individuals to protest, commemorate, exchange views, and so on. But our increasingly digital world has opened up new ways to organize assemblies and new spaces in which to hold them. Digitally-mediated assembly is the umbrella term for all types of assemblies with a digital component, of which there are basically three:

  1. Digitally-enabled assemblies: These occur in a physical space but are facilitated by digital communication technologies.
  2. Digitally-based assemblies: These are sometimes called online assemblies, and they occur entirely in a virtual space, typically on a social media platform.
  3. Hybrid assemblies: These have elements of digitally-based and digitally-enabled assemblies.

For example, people have gathered online during the pandemic to express common sentiments and to protest everything from public health mandates to abortion restrictions. This has happened all over the world and in particular in Europe: in Hungary, Moldova, and Poland. Where physical protests have been suspended or unsafe to organize, they have frequently moved online.

With that in mind, on last week’s panel I discussed my ongoing work to develop a monitoring tool to allow CSOs to collect data about digitally-mediated assemblies to provide understanding of how they take place and the extent to which they are enabled, facilitated, and protected by government and private actors—as well as any special opportunities and challenges that such assemblies present.

  • Among the opportunities: Digitally-mediated assemblies can be easier to organize, they can reduce physical dangers to participants, and they can simplify administrative procedures for organizers.
  • Among the challenges: Digitally-mediated assemblies can be disrupted by platform content moderation, they can be weakened by the digital divide, and they can be undermined by the viral spread of misinformation and disinformation.

This is just a selection of the issues that I hope monitors will be able to explore, and I’m eager to continue working with ECNL and others to support the CSOs that will do the actual monitoring.

Professor Natalia Pires de Vasconcelos to speak Tuesday on inequality and health litigation amid pandemic in Brazil

Professor Natalia Pires de Vasconcelos, who was a Visiting Scholar here at the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center earlier this year, will discuss legal challenges to inequities in health care in Brazil in an online presentation that our Center will host from 12 noon to 1 p.m. next Tuesday, November 9.

Pires is Assistant Professor of Law at Insper São Paulo, Brazil, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy, Yale Law School. She is a founding member of the Center for the Analysis of Liberty and Authoritarianism, a Brazilian thinkthank known by its acronym, LAUT. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Law from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, and an LL.M. from Yale Law School. Her scholarship concerns social and economic rights in Latin America, with a focus on the right to health and health litigation.

In her presentation Tuesday, Pires will discuss “Business as Usual: Inequality and Health Litigation during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Brazil.” Here’s her précis:

Brazil’s active judicial system has the power to define the constitutional content of the country’s healthcare policy by forcing the government to embrace equal protection of the right to health. In this talk, I present the results of an upcoming chapter in which I compare the pandemic’s effect on the judicial protection of the right to health for those incarcerated and those who are free. In both cases, courts had serious incentives to take the pandemic seriously and consider its disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. The judicial system, however, has approached the COVID-19 pandemic as mostly ‘business as usual.’ For those who are free, courts endorsed a ‘right to everything,’ granting patients’ requests regardless of the potentially disruptive effects on public policy, unequal access to judicial services, and pressing priorities related to the pandemic. For those incarcerated, judges upheld a long-lasting ‘right to nothing,’ remaining indifferent to the public-health risks presented by overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of Brazilian prisons and denying thousands of early-release and house-arrest requests by people in prisons.

Register here to attend Pires’ online presentation.

Scholarly achievements, vibrant initiatives highlighted in newsletter of Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law

For a recap of the year’s research and global practice accomplishments, have a look at the just-published newsletter of the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law. Features include:

► Welcome to our new professor, Zohra Ahmed, as well as scholarly achievements of our Center Director, Melissa J. Durkee, and our many other globally minded faculty, including Diane Marie Amann, Christopher Bruner, Jason Cade, Harlan G. Cohen, Walter Hellerstein, Thomas Kadri, Jonathan Peters, Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, and Laura Phillips Sawyer.

► The return of our International Law Colloquium in Spring 2022, a course featuring works-in-progress conversations with authors; this year’s edition will include international law scholars based in Latin America and Europe as well as the United States.

► Recent events, including our day-long conferences on international environmental law and on global healthcare governance cosponsored with the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, our Consular Series of talks with diplomats, presentations by Visiting Scholars and other distinguished lawyers, our cohosting of International Law Weekend South with the American Branch of the International Law Association, and participation in panels at the American Society of International Law and other global meetings, as well as academic and civil-society roundtables.

Initiatives aimed at preparing our J.D. and LL.M. students for global legal practice, including our NATO Externship, our Global Externships, and the Global Governance Summer School we host in partnership with the Leuven Centre for Global Governance at Belgium’s University of Leuven, plus support for internationally minded students’ organizations, journal, and advocacy teams.

The full newsletter is here.

University of Georgia School of Law, School of Public & International Affairs scholars on panels at annual ASIL Midyear Meeting Research Forum

Scholars at the University of Georgia School of Law, as well as the university’s School of Public & International Affairs, will take part next week in the Midyear Meeting of the American Society of International Law.

This year’s Midyear Meeting will be held online. As an ASIL Academic Partner, we at the University of Georgia Dean Rusk International Law Center are honored to have hosted this annual event in Athens and Atlanta in 2012.

The 2021 Midyear, to take place November 11 and 12, will include a Research Forum featuring discussions among more than 70 international law scholars and a Practitioners’ Forum.

University of Georgia representation at the Research Forum includes these panels:

4:45-6:15 p.m., Thursday, November 11: Climate Change

Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, who is Associate Dean for International Programs, Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Allen Post Professor (pictured above left), will serve as discussant during this live panel for 2 papers:

  • “Climate Displacement: Revisions to the international legal framework to address refugees resulting from future climate crises,” by Christian Jorgensen and Eric Schmitz, American Red Cross
  • “A Parisian Consensus,” by Frederic Sourgens, Washburn University School of Law

4:45-6:15 p.m., Thursday, November 11: International Criminal Court

Diane Marie Amann, who is Regents’ Professor of International Law, Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law, and Faculty Co-Director of our Center (above second from left), will serve as discussant during this prerecorded panel for 3 papers:

  • “The Use of African Law at the International Criminal Court,” by Stewart Manley, University of Malaya
  • “From Hadžihasanović to Bemba and Beyond: Revisiting the application of command responsibility to armed groups,” by Joshua Niyo, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
  • “Dominic Ongwen: Sentencing and mitigation at the ICC,” Milena Sterio, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

2:45-4:15 p.m., Friday, November 12: Courts and Tribunals

Harlan G. Cohen, who is Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center at Georgia Law (above right), and who holds a courtesy appointment at the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA), will co-present a paper with a SPIA colleague, Professor Ryan Powers (above second from right), entitled “Judicialization and Public Support for Compliance with International Commitments.”

Mark Pollack, Temple University Beasley School of Law, will serve as discussant during this live panel for the Cohen-Powers paper and these 2 others:

  • “Does the Court Really Know the Law? The jura novit curia principle in fragmented international adjudication,” by Barbara Bazanth, New York University School of Law
  • “The Habre Effect? How An African Trial Shaped Justice Norms,” by Margaret deGuzman, Temple University Beasley School of Law

Georgia Law professors also are scheduled to take part in ASIL leadership meetings during the Midyear: Associate Dean Durkee in the meetings of the ASIL Executive Council and of the Board of Editors, American Journal of International Law; Professor Amann, an ASIL Counsellor, in the Executive Council meeting; and Professor Cohen in the meeting of the Board of Editors, American Journal of International Law.

Details, including the full ASIL Midyear program, and registration, which is free to students at Academic Partner schools like Georgia Law, are available here.

International lawyers, including several Georgia Law graduates, to speak Monday on “Careers in International Law”

We at the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center are honored to welcome a group of distinguished attorneys, including several of our graduates, for an online discussion of “Careers in International Law” from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. this Monday, November 8.

David Hull (JD’84), who is a Partner at the Van Bael & Bellis law firm in Brussels, Belgium, will moderate a panel featuring:

  • H. Vincent Draa (JD’84), Of Counsel, Kochhar & Co. LLC in Chicago
  • Catherine Gordley, Senior Associate at Van Bael & Bellis
  • David Hegwood (JD’83), Senior Advisor for Global Engagement at the U.S. Agency for International Development, based in Rome, Italy

Together, they’ll lead a conversation on global legal practice in a variety of settings, including private law firms, corporate legal departments, and governmental organizations.

Register here to attend the careers session.