At the centenary of chemical warfare, a visit to Flanders’ WWI battlefields

YPRES, Belgium – Beautiful vistas and bright sunlight cannot blind the visitor to the pain of this place.

This place is Flanders Fields, the name given to the part of west Belgium, close to the French border, that saw intense battles and horrendous casualties during World War I. This town – Ypres in French and Ieper in Flemish, but called “Wipers” by British WWI soldiers – played a central role. So too nearby Passchendaele/Passendale. Both towns were leveled, and like many in the region, were rebuilt in the old manner after the war ended.

During the war, upwards of half a million persons died in this area alone.

Our visit to Flanders Fields occurred on the 4th of July. Memories linger, and were sparked again by today’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 1st large-scale use, in Ypres, of chemical weapons; mustard gas, to be precise. It was the 3d compound to be attempted, after chlorine and phosgene proved less reliable as lethal weapons, according to our tour guide, Raoul Saracen, a retired history teacher. Initial efforts to fight back against chemicals also were crude: before the development and widespread distribution of gas masks, Canadian troops resorted to breathing through kerchiefs soaked in ammonia-rich urine.

The cruelty of chemical warfare did not stop its use. Recording other places where chemicals have been used was a signpost in Langemark, the cemetery where German soldiers (including several with whom I share a surname) are buried. Tokyo, Japan, Halabja, Iraq, and Ghouta, Syria, receive mention, though more recent gassing sites in that last country have yet to be added.

The thousands of headstones in the many Flanders Fields cemeteries of course give pause. So too the cramped trenches, still on display at Sanctuary Wood Museum.

Yet it was a different site that stole my breath – the “dressing station,” a kind of field hospital, at Essex Farm Cemetery. The station’s cement-bunker cells were small, dark, and saddening, a truly concrete reminder of the scourge of war.

(Cross-posted)

 

Georgia Law 3L Chanel Chauvet begins term as Student President of International Law Students Association

Chanel Chauvet, a Dean Rusk International Law Center Student Ambassador and member of the J.D. Class of 2018 at the University of Georgia School of Law, has turned to social media to reach the global membership of the International Law Students Association, whom she now serves as 2017-18 Student President.

In the YouTube video above, she offers her

“deepest gratitude for the confidence that the International Law Student Association chapters all around the world have placed in me and members of my administration.”

That team of student officers were elected earlier this year by vote of the chapters. Chanel adds:

“I would also like to thank the faculty at the University of Georgia School of Law and my family for their support.”

Also thanked were predecessor presidents, among them Kaitlin Ball, who earned her Georgia Law J.D. in 2014 and is now a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Politics & International Studies at the University of Cambridge, England. They are the 2d and 3d Georgia Law students to hold the position; also leading ILSA while a student was Richard Alembik (JD’91).

My student in a number of international law classes and a presenter at Georgia Law’s IntLawGrrls conference last spring, Chanel is working this summer as a Legal Fellow at CARE headquarters in Atlanta. Last summer, she earned a Certificate in International Humanitarian Law at Leiden Law School’s Grotius Centre in The Hague, Netherlands. Prior Exchange of Notes blog posts by or about her are here.

Her ILSA statement looks forward in particular to ILSA’s 2 signature events, the International Law Weekend set for October 19-21 in New York, and the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition, final rounds of which will occur in April 2018 in Washington, D.C.

¡Brava!

“International Law and Global Governance in a Turbulent World” to be explored at Georgia Law-Leuven Centre conference, June 29 in Belgium

“International Law and Global Governance in a Turbulent World” is the title of the daylong conference we’ll be co-presenting later this month at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

Set for Thursday, June 29, 2017, the conference will be held in Auditorium Zeger Van Hee at Leuven’s College De Valk (Law School, pictured below), Tiensestraat 41, Leuven. It is free and open to the public; register no later than June 27 here.

The conference also is a component of the Global Governance Summer School that we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, are presenting in partnership with the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies at the University of Leuven. Co-Directors are Georgia Law Associate Dean Diane Marie Amann and the Leuven Centre’s Director, Law Professor Jan Wouters. (prior post) Applications for the summer school are still being accepted here.

Here’s the June 29 conference concept:

“This conference aims to discuss some of the main challenges faced by contemporary international law and global governance in a time of crises. The conference starts with an exploration of the main challenges inherent to the enforcement of universal values such as human rights. Unlike in many other fields, legal standards are well-established and are the object of a broad, sometimes even universal consensus. Yet, not a single day passes without more of less grave violations of such standards in one or the other part of the world. The conference will then also focus on the difficulties to come up with a consensus on the rule of law at the global level. Starting from an analysis of the diversity in the ways the rule of law has been understood across time and geography, the conference will address some of the main challenges to the rule of law within the European Union and at the United Nations level. Finally the conference will also address the risks for the emergence of trade wars in a context of rising protectionism. Questions such as the future of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements will be discussed in light of the changes in the US foreign trade policy and the rising skepticism of citizens vis-à-vis further liberalization of international trade.”

These issues will be explored within the following framework:

  • Panel 1: Global Governance of Human Rights. How to enforce universal values in contested world?
  • Panel 2: Global Governance of Democracy and Rule of Law in international perspective.
  • Panel 3: Global Economic and Trade Governance in Protectionist Times. Will we see the emergence of trade wars in the coming years?

A transatlantic array of speakers will take part. Confirmed so far are Georgia Law Professors Diane Marie Amann and Harlan G. Cohen, and from Leuven, Anna-Luise Chané and Dr. Matthieu Burnay, along with scholars from numerous other institutions: Dr. Tom Pegram, University College London, England; Dr. Katrien Meuwissen, European Association of National Human Rights Institutions; Professor Daniela Piana, University of Bologna, Italy; Professor Petra Bard, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary; Professor Laurent Pech, Middlesex University, London, England; Professor Miles Kahler, American University School of International Service, Washington, D.C.; Professor John Kirton, University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs, Canada; and Mr. Tomas Baert, Head of Unit, Trade Strategy, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium.

We hope to see you there; more information here and here.

Cohen publishes article on political question doctrine in wake of Zivotofsky

Harlan Grant Cohen, the Gabriel N. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has published an article examining the U.S. political question doctrine in light of recent Supreme Court litigation in Zivotofsky, which arose out of the request by U.S. citizens that their child, born in Jerusalem, be issued a passport designating “Israel” as the child’s birthplace. Entitled “A Politics-Reinforcing Political Question Doctrine,” Professor Cohen’s article appears at 49 Arizona State Law Journal 1 (2017).

The manuscript, which forms part of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Research Paper Series at SSRN, may be downloaded at this SSRN link.

Here’s the abstract:

“The modern political question doctrine has long been criticized for shielding the political branches from proper judicial scrutiny and allowing the courts to abdicate their responsibilities. Critics of the doctrine thus cheered when the Supreme Court, in Zivotofsky I, announced a narrowing of the doctrine. Their joy though may have been short-lived. Almost immediately, Zivotofsky II demonstrated the dark side of judicial review of the separation of powers between Congress and the President: deciding separations of powers cases may permanently cut one of the political branches out of certain debates. Judicial scrutiny in a particular case could eliminate political scrutiny in many future ones.

“A return to the old political question doctrine, with its obsequious deference to political branch decisions, is not the answer. Instead, what is needed is a politics-reinforcing political question doctrine that can balance the need for robust review with the desire for robust debate. The uncertain boundaries between the political branches’ overlapping powers create space for political debate. Their overlapping powers allow different groups to access the political system and have a voice on policy. Deciding separation of powers questions once-and-for-all can shut off those access points, shutting down political debate. A politics-reinforcing political question doctrine preserves the space in the political system for those debates by turning the pre-Zivotofsky political question doctrine on its head. Whereas the pre-Zivotofsky political question suggested abstention when the branches were in agreement and scrutiny when they were opposed, a politics-reinforcing political question doctrine suggests the opposite, allowing live debates to continue while scrutinizing political settlements. In so doing, it brings pluralism and politics back into the political question analysis, encouraging democracy rather than deference.”

Georgia Law Professor Larry D. Thompson, Independent Compliance Monitor in VW fuel emissions matter

A University of Georgia School of Law professor is overseeing compliance reforms by Volkswagen AG, following the global automaker’s recent sentencing in a criminal case arising out of its fuel emissions tests.

The professor is Larry D. Thompson, holder of the  John A. Sibley Chair of Corporate and Business Law and a member of the law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, teaches Corporate Responsibility, White Collar Crime Business Crimes. He is also Counsel at Finch McCranie LLP in Atlanta. His distinguished career includes service as Deputy Attorney General of the United States, as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and as General Counsel of PepsiCo.

Thompson was named Independent Compliance Monitor in the VW matter in April, pursuant to a settlement by which a U.S. District Court judge in Detroit accepted VW’s plea to three felony counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States by engaging in wire fraud and violating the Clean Air Act; obstruction of justice; and importing merchandise via false statements. VW agreed to a fine exceeding $4 billion, and also to oversight by the Independent Compliance Monitor.

At the time, the company issued the following statement, by Hiltrud Werner, Board Member of Integrity and Legal Affairs, from its headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany:

“Volkswagen welcomes the appointment of Larry D. Thompson to this new position, and we intend to cooperate fully with his important work.”

Since then, Thompson has assembled the team of lawyers he will lead in this work.

Georgia Law alumnus Robert Dilworth co-authors article on SEC rules

Developments at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission are the focus of a lead article that a distinguished University of Georgia School of Law alumnus has co-authored for a leading securities law journal.

The alum, Robert J. Dilworth (JD 1982), is Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in New York at Bank of America / Merrill Lynch, representing the firm’s global over-the-counter equity derivatives business. His co-authors on the SEC article are two attorneys at Morrison & Foerster LLP: Julian E. Hammar, Of Counsel in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office, and David B. Lichtstein, Associate in New York.

Their article is entitled “The SEC’s Long-Awaited Security-Based Swaps Rules May Be Approaching,” appears (behind paywall) in vol. 50, no. 7 of The Review of Securities & Commodities Regulation. The article concerns timing and sequencing related to anticipated SEC rules pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Referring as well to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC, the abstract states:

“The SEC has proposed all of its major Title VII rules regulating the security-based swaps market. The authors discuss the current status of this and related rulemakings, the relief the SEC has granted, and the provisions of the rules. They then turn to the timeline for implementation in view of the new administration, preparation for required registration of security-based swap entities, and business conduct standards for registered entities. At each point, they compare the SEC’s approach with that of the CFTC.”

Un petit part de la part de la planète

This essay, reflecting on yesterday’s presidential announcement of intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change,  is cross-posted from the website of Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann)

Do Your Part,” Allied posters proclaimed during World War II. Women were urged to join the U.S. Army Auxiliary to work at defense plants, families were pressed to keep farms producing, and all were advised to keep their mouths shut. This coming-together defeated Axis enemies and gave rise to unprecedented postwar intergovernmental cooperation.

That 72-year-old global infrastructure is under threat. Last week saw fractious meetings at NATO headquarters (where I’m due to bring students later this month) and Taormina (just 75 miles north of the Siracusa summer school where I was then teaching). Today it’s the President’s invocation of the provision permitting U.S. withdrawal, in about 4 years, from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, to which 195 – nearly all – the countries in the world have agreed.

The news spurs reflection on the very small part I played in the development of the Paris Agreement.

As with most international accords, this one did not happen on the spur of the moment. Rather, countries had engaged in consultations and negotiations for years before the summit. France was especially active, eager to accomplish something significant in October-November 2015, when it would host COP21, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Thus in June 2015 I joined French and American colleagues at a symposium entitled “Le Changement climatique, miroir de la globalisation (Climate Change, Mirror of Globalization),” a pre-summit preparatory meeting whose cosponsors included the Collège de France and Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer pour le Progrès de l’Homme. Our interventions aided thinking about the impending summit.

My own contribution, “Le changement climatique et la sécurité humaine,” reprised a chapter published in Regards croisés sur l’internationalisation du droit : France-États-Unis (Mireille Delmas-Marty & Stephen Breyer eds., 2009). As indicated in the English version, “Climate Change and Human Security,” the essay demonstrated that litigation would not proved a fruitful method for combatting climate change. It thus advocated a human security approach, one drawn from U.S. legal traditions like the 1941 Four Freedoms speech of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the 1945 Statement of Essential Human Rights of the American Law Institute.

The essay concludes:

“Emphasis on state duty carries with it an assumption that legislative and executive officials will assume their obligation to avoid harm from occurring. Such officials may not assume, as seems the wont of some who operate under a litigation model, that they may act as they wish unless and until a court steps in to order some belated and imperfect sanction for the wrongs they have committed. A state that endeavors to achieve human security, moreover, is likely to fashion comprehensive, before-the-fact remedies. That is preferable even in isolated cases; in other words, we would rather have an agent of the state eschewed torture than have to compensate a victim after she has suffered state torture. This comprehensive, before-the-fact framework is even more preferable with regard to human insecurities that have communitywide, even planetary consequences – to name one, the threat to human security posed by climate change.”

Theories like these undergird the agreement reached in fall 2015. They yet may maintain a firm hold in these next 4 years.