Thoughts on ASIL annual meeting, by Sohn Fellow Johann Ebongom

Johann Ebongom, one of several Georgia Law students who traveled to Washington last month as Louis B. Sohn Professional Development Fellows, reflects below on that experience. This Saturday Ebongom, a lawyer from Cameroon, will receive his Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree at our commencement ceremony.

From April 12-15, I, along with University of Georgia School of Law classmates, volunteered at the 111th annual meeting of the American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C. What a great networking occasion for young students interested in the legal management of international affairs and the development of a stronger and more efficient international rule of law.

I was so excited to be offered an opportunity to be a privileged observer of one the world’s biggest and most prestigious international law gatherings, particularly in a time when most nations have adopted new policies towards the protection of their interests and the security of their citizens. With the Brexit in Europe, the Syrian crisis in Middle East, the North Korean nuclear tests, the relationship between African countries and the International Criminal Court, and the recent foreign-policy-related decisions of the current President of the United States of America, no need to say that this year’s ASIL meeting was a decisive one! As an LL.M. student at Georgia Law who has a keen interest in global affairs, I could not ask for a better way to strengthen my analysis and understanding for future research.

For three days, I had the great fortune to listen and interact with experts, scholars, judges, and practitioners coming from various institutions, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Criminal Court, and the U.S. Department of State, among others. Several people shared with me valuable career advice. This experience was further highlighted by an in-depth exchange with Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the ICC, on the inevitable collaboration between the ICC and the soon-to-be-established African Court of Justice, which will lead to a reform of the current hierarchical organization of the international criminal justice system. Also, I enjoyed meeting Georgia Law alums – whom I’ve found always willing to assist.

The conference principally questioned the values of international law at a time when the world is subject to several events that might well compromise the value of international frameworks most nations had once believed in. The main highlighted issue seems to reside in the application or implementation of international law principles. Nations usually sign and ratify international conventions; however, these are far from being implemented, precisely in countries that are powerful enough to bypass the international order to preserve their interests.

It was an honor and privilege to represent Georgia Law as an LL.M. student. Being present for this year’s annual meeting was an inspiration for me, to one day enter the conversation in the hopes of creating a more just, more livable, and more connected world. I am very grateful to the Dean Rusk International Law Center for all its efforts and support in ensuring we have an unforgettable and fruitful time at the University of Georgia School of Law.

For other international law-minded Georgia Law students: Participating in an ASIL annual meeting is a good start to meet the international law community and benefit from invaluable advice! Do not hesitate to join next time.

(Cross-posted); prior Exchanges of Notes posts for which Johann Ebongom was a co-author here and here)

 

Alum Jon Smibert, U.S. Justice attaché in E. Europe, honored for public service

A distinguished University of Georgia School of Law alumnus, Jon R. Smibert (JD 1996), has been honored as one of the United States’ top federal employees. The honor was celebrated this month at a breakfast at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Smibert serves as Resident Legal Advisor for the U.S. Department of Justice at the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania. As reported in the Washington Post, he is one of 26 finalists for a 2017 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, also known as a “Sammie,” awarded by the Partnership for Public Service. Smibert is a finalist in National Security and International Affairs; the medalwinners will be chosen later in the year.

In addition to this U.S. recognition, Smibert recently received a medal from  from the President of Albania. In that country, he has worked to assist in overhauling the legal system, with the particular aim of reducing public corruption. Smibert helped to redraft about a third of Albania’s constitution and more than a dozen statutes. Innovations included vetting requirement for judges and prosecutors, as well as establishment of a Constitution-level body dedicated to investigating and prosecuting corruption.

Of Smibert’s work, Donald Lu, U.S. Ambassador to Albania, said:

“A lot of Albanians consider him a hero. The Albanian prime minister has called this ‘the most important reform since the fall of communism. Jon Smibert has a real passion for what he does, not only for representing the U.S., but in making Albania better.”

Before his posting in Albania, Smibert served in Pristina, Kosovo. In addition to helping to establish independent prosecution offices and to draft Kosovo’s Criminal Procedure Code, Smibert helped to launch the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, a war crimes court that sits at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Smibert began his career as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta, Georgia, and later in Cleveland, Ohio. His publications include a 240-page book, Principles of Evidence (2014).

International Jurist features LLM study at University of Georgia School of Law

The Master of Laws (LL.M.) curriculum at the University of Georgia School of Law is featured in the latest edition of The International Jurist, described as “the magazine for foreign attorneys studying in the U.S.”

Our curriculum is highlighted on page 8 of the issue entitled “Best LL.M. Programs.” The item pays particular note to last year’s winning Georgia Law LL.M.-J.D. team in the Southeast Model African Union, as well as  the many experiential learning opportunities and skills-based courses available. It states:

“For example, an LL.M. student from Bangladesh assigned to Magistrate Court conducts legal research, writes memos and observes trials.”

More information and the Georgia Law LL.M. brochure are available here, or by e-mailing Dr. Laura Tate Kagel, Director of International Professional Education at the law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, at LLM@uga.edu.

On World Trade Day, alum Bill Poole earns Global Leadership Award

Very pleased to congratulate our distinguished alumnus William M. Poole (JD’73), recipient of the Global Leadership Award bestowed by the World Trade Center Atlanta.

The Center bestowed the award during its World Trade Day celebration on May 2, in order to recognize Poole’s

“exemplary service to the facilitation of international trade and investment between Georgia and the rest of the world.”

Poole, who goes by Bill, is Of Counsel at Atlanta’s Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. Serving as head of the office’s International Practice, Poole, whose expertise includes transnational tax law, focuses on transnational business and investment matters.

He’s taught international business transactions law as an adjunct professor here at his alma mater. While a law student, he was Editor-in-Chief of the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law and took part in our Jessup International Moot Court and Brussels Seminar initiatives. After earning his undergraduate degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Poole served in Vietnam and Germany.

Through its World Trade Day event, the World Trade Center Atlanta brought an array of leaders to discuss issues of trade and investment. In Georgia last year, this sector accounted for more than $157.2 billion in imports and exports.

Georgia Law profs Cohen and Cade win interdisciplinary research seed grants

Two University of Georgia School of Law professors will take part in transnationally focused research projects, recent winners in a universitywide funding competition.

The 2 projects were among a dozen funded by the University of Georgia  Presidential Interdisciplinary Seed Grant Program. More than 150 faculty teams submitted proposals.

The Georgia Law award-winners are:

Harlan G. Cohen, who holds the Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law, will take part in research on “Forecasting the threat of cyber attacks, nation by nation.” Also on the team for this project are faculty from the university’s Franklin College of Arts & Sciences and School of Public & International Affairs, plus a political scientist from the State University of New York-Albany.

Jason A. Cade, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the law school’s Community Health Law Partnership Clinic. He will collaborate on “Building a network of cultural liaisons to improve the health and well-being of Athens-area Latinos.” The research project’s team also includes faculty from the university’s College of Education, College of Family & Consumer Sciences, College of Pharmacy, College of Public Health, School of Social Work, Latin American & Caribbean Studies Institute, and J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

Distinguished India-based alumna, Priti Suri, earns prestigious ABA award

Delighted to congratulate of our our distinguished LL.M. alumnae, Priti Suri, recipient of one of the most prestigious American Bar Association awards. (photo credit)

The ABA Section of International Law bestowed its Mayre Rasmussen Award for the Advancement of Women in International Law upon Suri Wednesday, at a luncheon during the Section’s Spring Meeting in Washington, D.C. Regarding Suri’s award, the Section said:

“Priti’s role as a mentor and in opening doors for women and women lawyers in India make her the perfect candidate for the Mayre Rasmussen Award.”

In a LinkedIn post, Suri responded:

“I feel truly humbled, as the first Asian, to receive ABA’s Mayre Rasmussen career achievement award. To everyone who contributed – my incredible family, my friends, my co-workers, my teachers and to every single person who has been with me on this journey – a very big thank you. Miles and miles to go still….”

Suri is the founder-partner of PSA Legal Counsellors, an Indian business law firm with offices in New Delhi and Chennai. Its practice spans many industries, and includes cross-border M&A transactions, strategic investments, joint-ventures including tender and exchange offers, venture capital financings, structuring private equity deals, leveraged buyouts, and divestitures.

This week’s ABA honor comes not long after another: last October, Suri was named to the India Business Law Journal A-List of India’s top 100 lawyers.

Since earning her Master of Laws degree from in 1989, Suri has remained active in the University of Georgia School of Law community. She frequently welcomes Georgia Law students as part of our Global Externship Overseas, and she has been an officer of the LL.M. Alumni Association.

The ABA Rasmussen Award is named after “a pioneer in the field of international business law” who died in 1998, and is given

“to individuals who have achieved professional excellence in international law, encouraged women to engage in international law careers, enabled women lawyers to attain international law job positions from which they were excluded historically, or advanced opportunities for women in international law.”

Among the prior Rasmussen Award recipients is another member of our Georgia Law community, Associate Dean Diane Marie Amann.

Brava!

Amann elected Counselor of the American Society of International Law

Delighted to congratulate our own Associate Dean Diane Marie Amann on her election as Counselor of the American Society of International Law.

Founded in 1907, ASIL is the foremost learned society in the international law field. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., ASIL fosters dialogue, hosts and cosponsors conferences, and produces the American Journal of International Law and other publications, on behalf of its thousands of members throughout the world.

ASIL’s governing board is the Executive Council. Advising and serving as nonvoting members of the Council are Counselors, senior ASIL members who have made significant contributions to the Society and to the study and development of international law. Amann was elected to the position at ASIL’s Annual Meeting earlier this month.

Amann’s election followed her service in many ASIL leadership positions: Vice President; Co-Chair of the 2012 ASIL Annual Meeting in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia; voting member of the Executive Council and its Executive Committee; Grotius Lecture Distinguished Discussant; and member of the ABA-ASIL Joint Task Force on Treaties in U.S. Law,  the Blacks in ASIL Task Force, the ASIL Judicial Advisory Board, and Program Committees for the 2012 Annual Meeting in Washington and for the 2007 ASIL-AALS Midyear Meeting in Vancouver. She is Editor-in-Chief of the ASIL Benchbook on International Law, and also has published in the American Journal of International Law, ASIL Annual Meeting Proceedings, and the ASIL-produced Proceedings of the International Humanitarian Law Dialogs.

In 2013, Amann received the Prominent Woman in International Law Award from ASIL’s Women in International Law Interest Group. Above, she delivers her award speech at the Annual Meeting while a cutout of Eleanor Roosevelt looks on.

At the University of Georgia School of Law – an ASIL Academic Partner – Amann holds the Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law. Since 2015, she also has served as Associate Dean for International Programs & Strategic Initiatives; her duties include directing the law school’s 40-year-old Dean Rusk International Law Center. She teaches and publishes widely on issues related to public international law, international and transnational criminal law, the laws of war, international human rights law, and children & international law. She has served since 2012 as the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict.