Rusk Councilmember Teri Simmons (JD89) elected to Sister Cities board

Simmons4282_Headshot_520x282Very pleased to congratulate Teri Simmons, a distinguished Georgia Law alumna and member of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, on her recent election to the Board of Directors of Sister Cities International.

As stated on its website,

“Sister Cities International was created at President Eisenhower’s 1956 White House summit on citizen diplomacy, where he envisioned a network that would be a champion for peace and prosperity by fostering bonds between people from different communities around the world.”

Ms. Simmons, who earned her J.D. from Georgia Law in 1989, embodies the network’s slogan, “Peace through People.” Her service to her alma mater has included appearances on careers panels as well as participation in our Center’s Council. She is a partner at the Atlanta law firm of Arnall Golden Gregory, where she leads the firm’s International Immigration and Naturalization Practice and serves as practice leader of its German Business Practice. Among her clients has been the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games.

60th Logo_concept 2She has chaired the Atlanta Sister Cities Commission, and also managed programs with Nuremberg, Germany, one of Atlanta’s 18 sister cities. Fluent in German, she has received honors including a Friendship Award from the German government and the Prize of Honor from the City of Nuremberg. Additionally, Ms. Simmons has chaired the state chapter and served on the board of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The announcement of her election appeared in the latest Diplomacy newsletter, distributed by Global Atlanta in partnership with our Center. Details on the partnership and newsletter subscription here; online Diplomacy archive here.

Experts in Hague consultation on ICC prosecutors’ draft Policy on Children


THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Experts gathered this week from around the world for a wide-ranging consultation on the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor’s draft Policy on Children.

In her Opening Remarks to Monday’s consultation, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda explained:

“This Policy, once finalised and adopted, will guide my Office in our ongoing efforts to address international crimes against or affecting children under the Rome Statute, as well as our interaction with children during the course of our work.

“The Policy will further provide clarity and transparency on how we intend to methodologically undertake this crucial work.

“Additionally, it is my hope that this Policy will also serve as a useful guide for national authorities and other actors in their respective endeavours to address crimes against and affecting children, and in their interactions with children in judicial processes.”

Released last month, the draft Policy:

► Reaffirms an oft-repeated commitment of the Prosecutor. To be precise, the Policy reinforces her Office’s concern for “children with weapons” – that is, persons under fifteen who have been recruited or used in armed groups, often called “child soldiers.” But it also details the Office’s concern for what the Prosecutor called “children affected by the weapons” – that is, all persons who, before their 18th birthday, endured crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.

► Adopts a child-sensitive approach to its dealings with children. That approach recognizes children as both vulnerable and capable, as both needy and resilient – often, at the same time. The Policy pledges sensitivity to these realities according to the regulatory framework of the Rome Statute system, and also according to principles drawn from international instruments, like the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that enjoys near-universal ratification and is founding on 4 guiding principles:

  1. The child’s right to be treated without adverse discrimination;
  2. The right to life, survival, and development;
  3. The right to have the child’s best interests taken into account; and
  4. The child’s right to express views and have them considered.

The draft Policy on Children (available in full here) explicitly recognizes those principles and sets out the contours for respecting and ensuring them.

It thus enumerates crimes against and affecting children. Included are crimes of conscription and use, as well as child trafficking as enslavement and forcible transfer as genocide. Also included are crimes like persecution, if it targets children on the basis or age or birth, as well as attacks on schools.

The policy further details the approach of the Office with respect to children at all stages of the proceedings: preliminary examinations, investigations, prosecutions, sentencing, and reparations.

All these aspects received discussion at Monday’s consultation; some are reflected in tweets available at #EndCrimesAgainstChildren. The policy working group will be considered along with other public comments. The Office welcomes additional such comments, which should be sent via e-mail to no later than Friday, August 5, 2016. The Office anticipates final publication in October of this year.

It was an honor to take part in this consultation in my capacity as the Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict – and also to be accompanied at the consultation by one of my Georgia Law students, Chanel Chauvet. (We’re pictured below in front of a mural at the ICC’s new permanent premises.) A  rising 2L and Dean Rusk International Law Center Student Ambassador, Chanel just completed a weeklong Hague summer school on international humanitarian law.


(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Global Atlanta, our new partner in diplomacy news

downloadThe Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law is honored to partner with Global Atlanta in presenting coverage of diplomatic news in Atlanta.2658403_23502

This new collaboration builds on long traditions of engagement history with the diplomatic community.

Georgia Law’s Center is named after Dean Rusk (below right), Secretary of State to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson. The second-longest-serving Secretary of State in U.S. history, Rusk was a Georgia Law professor for decades after leaving the federal government.


In 1967, flanked at left by Arthur Goldberg, US Ambassador to the United Nations, and at right by President Johnson, Secretary of State Dean Rusks signs the Outer Space Treaty on behalf of the United States. (credit)

Since 1977, the Dean Rusk International Law Center has served as a nucleus for research, education, and service in international, comparative, transnational, and foreign affairs law and policy. In addition to preparing Georgia Law students for today’s global marketplace and administering the law school’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) curriculum for foreign-educated lawyers, the Center hosts high-level conferences, closed-door experts’ workshops, and international trainings.

The Center’s new partner, Global Atlanta, has for more than twenty years been the only Atlanta publication devoted to tracking the city’s rise as a center of international business, education, and culture. Through its monthly Diplomacy e-newsletter and online archive, Global Atlanta helps officials in consulates and trade missions, as well as other readers, to stay informed about the activities of the local diplomatic corps.

“This partnership is an excellent opportunity for our Dean Rusk International Law Center to engage with Atlanta’s global community and to provide new opportunities for our students,”

said Diane Marie Amann, Georgia Law’s Associate Dean for International Programs & Strategic Initiatives and the Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law. Phil Bolton, President of Agio Press and Publisher of Global Atlanta, agreed:

“The monthly Diplomacy newsletter, where we also cover speeches by visiting dignitaries, the arrival of new consuls general stationed in Atlanta and global policy developments affecting international business, has quickly become one of the most heavily engaged areas of our website. We are delighted that the Dean Rusk International Law Center shares our deep interest and appreciation for these important representatives and their work.”

To receive the Diplomacy e-newsletter, subscribe online.

Hague flags invite global celebration of International Criminal Justice Day


THE HAGUE, Netherlands – International Criminal Justice Day isn’t till next Sunday, but The Hague is ready. Flags like the one depicted above greet visitors throughout city center.

Occurring every July 17, the Day coincides with the signing in 1998 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – a landmark moment in the movement to call perpetrators of international crimes to account. The court began operating on July 1, 2002, and since then has examined, investigated, prosecuted, or adjudicated cases arising in nearly 19 countries, from Afghanistan to Ukraine.

To mark this 18th anniversary of the Rome Diplomatic Conference, the ICC welcomes photos from around the world. The idea’s to create an image of the scales of justice and show its presence throughout the world by posting on social media with hashtags #JusticeMatters, #17July, and #ICC. Details here.

Further to that effort, yours truly looks forward to today’s roundtable consultation on the draft Policy on Children, opened for public comment last month by the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Henckaerts on “Locating the Geneva Conventions Commentaries in the international legal landscape”

Jean-Marie-HenckaertsIt is an honor to publish a post by our distinguished alumnus, Dr. Jean-Marie Henckaerts (LLM 1990). Based in Geneva, he is Legal Adviser in the Legal Division of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Head of the project to update the Commentaries on the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols of 1977. We posted on the launch of the Commentary to the 1st Convention back in March, and are pleased to announce that on September 23, we’ll host an experts’ conference examining that volume. Proceedings to be published in our Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, for which Dr. Henckaerts served as Associate Editor while a Georgia Law student. We republish his post today courtesy of 3 blogs cosponsoring a series of posts on the topic, Opinio Juris, Intercross, and Humanitarian Law & Policy. Dr. Henckaerts writes:

Norms of international law develop through the adoption of treaties or through the formation of customary rules based on State practice and opinio juris. The treaty rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) are first and foremost contained in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. In parallel, a body of customary rules govern the conduct of armed conflicts today. In 2005, the ICRC released a Study aimed at identifying customary IHL rules; it formulated 161 rules of IHL which have achieved, according to State practice compiled by the ICRC, customary status.

The ICRC Commentaries, like other commentaries, purport to clarify the meaning of treaty rules in order to facilitate their implementation: they are concerned with norm interpretation as opposed to norm identification. All laws, no matter how detailed they are, have to be interpreted when being applied. International treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions, are no different. A commentary’s purpose is to offer such interpretations and indicate where a question is not entirely settled. By their nature, they cannot amend the law.

Because the 1949 Geneva Conventions were drafted in such a way as to make them easily comprehensible by belligerents, their rules already offer a degree of specificity and practicality – see the detailed rules governing the protection of prisoners of war in the Third Convention. Yet, the scope or meaning of some of their provisions may also require further clarification – see the lack of detail governing the Conventions’ scope of application. Time had come to provide an up-to-date interpretive guide to the Conventions, to better address today’s humanitarian challenges.

Applying the rules on treaty interpretation to the Geneva Conventions

According to the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a treaty must be interpreted

“in good faith in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to the terms of the treaty in their context and in the light of its object and purpose”

(Art. 31(1)). The ‘object and purpose’ of the Conventions to respect and protect those affected by armed conflict while taking into consideration military necessity, has been a constant and leading compass throughout the research and drafting of the new Commentary on the First Geneva Convention (GCI). The ‘context’ to be considered for treaty interpretation comprises not only the text of the treaty, but also its preamble and annexes. As a supplementary means of interpretation (Art. 32), the preparatory work has been particularly important, when no recent practice on a topic could be found.

The Vienna Convention also reflects and foresees the need to take account the passing of time when interpreting treaties. Art. 31(3) provides that recourse may be had to

“subsequent practice in the application of the treaty which establishes the agreement of the parties regarding its interpretation”.

Other subsequent practice – for example conduct by one or more (but not all) Parties in the application of the treaty after its conclusion – may also be relevant as a supplementary means of interpretation. The weight of such practice may depend on its clarity and specificity, as well as its repetition. In the case of the Geneva Conventions, such practice – identified for example through military manuals, national legislation, case-law, reports of practice and official statements – has proved particularly useful in confirming or determining the meaning of a rule. ICRC experience and scholarly writings have also proved useful in informing the interpretation of the Conventions.

Pursuant to Art. 31(3) of the Vienna Convention, the Commentary also took into account other

“relevant rules of international law applicable in the relations between the parties”.

These include customary IHL and the three Additional Protocols, as well as other relevant branches of international law. In particular, human rights law, international criminal law and refugee law were still in their infancy when the Pictet commentary was being drafted but they have grown significantly in the meantime. In this regard, the development of case-law from international courts and tribunals since the 1990s also had to inform an up-to-date interpretation of IHL treaty rules.

An ICRC Commentary, resulting from a collaborative process

Where does the legitimacy of the ICRC to interpret the Conventions stem from? First, the ICRC benefits from a legal legitimacy as guardian and promoter of IHL, a role it was formally entrusted with by the international community through the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, adopted by all States parties to the Geneva Conventions. Ensuring a coherent interpretation of the law is essential to enhance respect for it, and hence is at the core of the ICRC mandate. Second, the ICRC possesses an operational legitimacy, drawing from more than 150 years of experience in assisting and protecting those affected by armed conflicts, but also in engaging with weapon bearers to promote and disseminate IHL. Third, throughout the years, the ICRC has accumulated knowledge in material form: the ICRC archives have documented the practice of State and non-State actors, as well as its own. This wealth of experience and access to these materials sets the ICRC in a unique position to capture interpretations of IHL treaty rules.

At the same time, the updated Commentaries are far from an exclusively “ICRC” product. While they have been commissioned by the institution and edited by its staff lawyers, and include ICRC interpretations, they also incorporate an unprecedented level of external inputs, both in terms of process and substance. The Commentaries are the result of a collaborative process, involving external contributors as authors and reviewers. This allowed the new Commentary to take into account a wide range of perspectives, from different parts of the world, and to reflect main diverging views.

I am convinced that continuous efforts to interpret the law in a coherent manner is essential to ensure that the humanitarian spirit of the Geneva Conventions is carried forward into today’s conflicts. It is the ICRC’s hope that the new Commentaries will, like the Pictet Commentary, be a leading interpretative compass; but its ultimate authority will depend on its quality and relevance for practitioners and academics. The updated Commentaries should not be seen as the final word on the meaning of IHL treaty provisions, but rather as a picture of how the rules are interpreted today, and a contribution to continuing efforts to refine our understanding of the law and how it can best mitigate the effects of contemporary armed conflicts.


View of destruction in downtown Homs, Syria; photo courtesy of International Committee of the Red Cross. ©Jerome Session/Magnum Photos for ICRC

“Tension in globalization”: Professor Harlan G. Cohen on Britain’s EU vote

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Among the University of Georgia experts offering comments on “Brexit,” the June 23 referendum by which Britons voted to leave the European Union by a margin of 52% to 48%, is Professor Harlan G. Cohen.

Cohen, whose expertise includes global governance, foreign affairs law, and trade law, said:

“After the Brexit vote, the one thing that’s predictable is that we’re facing a long period of uncertainty. Yesterday, everyone knew what the rules were. While the rules don’t change today, no one knows what the rules will be in in three months or two years. The terms of trade in goods and services between the U.K. and the rest of the EU, the rights of U.K. citizens to work, to health care, and to travel in other EU countries, intelligence sharing between the U.K. and the other EU governments, and the regulation of any number of industries in the U.K. are now open to debate at home and subject to negotiations abroad. Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union lays out a process for withdrawal but subjects everything to negotiation between the U.K. and the other 27 member states. No one can know today where exactly those negotiations will lead.

“More broadly, the Brexit vote highlights the long-recognized tension in globalization. Increasingly, the things we want cannot be achieved and the problems we face cannot be solved by one country alone. They can only be achieved or solved through cooperation and coordination. But as we move key decisions to more regional or global levels, it becomes harder for people to feel that their voice is really being heard, that they really have a say in the rules defining their lives. When those global or regional decisions are controversial, as many EU decisions have been, those who disagree and feel left out are less likely to see the decisions as legitimate. In a modern globally interconnected world, the regulation we need is in constant tension with the governance we want. And it’s not clear that tension can be resolved. There are ways to manage this tension, which many people will be revisiting after the Brexit vote, but their effectiveness is limited.”

His remarks add to the reflections by a Georgia Law student who is a summer Global Extern in London; her thoughts here. (photo credit)