Belgian Consul General de Baets featured at Global Atlanta luncheon

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Pictured at front, from right: Belgian Consul General William de Baets and Phil Bolton and Trevor Williams, respectively, publisher and managing editor of Global Atlanta.

For decades, we at the University of Georgia School of Law have welcomed collaboration with Belgium and its people and institutions. Even before 1978, when Belgium’s national airline became the 1st foreign carrier to fly nonstop to Atlanta, a Belgian attorney became the 1st foreign-trained lawyer to earn Georgia Law’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree. And thanks to the hard work and generosity of Georgia Law professors like Gabriel Wilner and our Center’s namesake, former U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, we’ve partnered with leading Belgian universities to offer summer seminars on issues related to international  law and policy, often with a focus on European Union and transatlantic cooperation. That tradition will continue via this summer’s global governance school at the home of our partner, the Leuven Centre for Global Governance at the University of Leuven, one of Europe’s premier research institutions.

Thus it was a special pleasure to attend last Friday’s “Consular Conversations: Luncheon Interview With Belgium’s Consul General,” held at the Atlanta office of Miller & Martin, where Tom Harrold, Georgia Law alumnus and member of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, leads the International/World downloadLaw practice group. The event was part of a series of conversations sponsored by another Center partner, Global Atlanta.

Guest of honor was William de Baets, who’s served since last April as Belgium’s top diplomat in the Southeastern United States. In a wide-ranging conversation with Phil Bolton and Trevor Williams, Global Atlanta’s publisher and managing editor, de Baets explained he’d joined Belgium’s foreign service following 9 years as a Navy officer. Postings before his arrival at Atlanta included deputy head of mission in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, and Venezuela, and political counselor at Belgium’s embassy in Washington, D.C.

De Baets said that his office provides consular services and also engages in public and economy diplomacy; Friday’s conversation fulfilled the latter role. He spoke to a full house – a testament to the fact that Belgium ranks among the top 10 foreign investors in Georgia, which is home to more than 70 Belgian companies and more than 5,000 Belgian nationals.

Asked about Belgium’s renown as the home of Tintin and the Smurfs, not to mention 20th C. surrealists like René Magritte, de Baets recalled an artistic tradition that reaches back to the 16th C. Flemish master, Peter Paul Rubens. Additionally, Belgium did not gain independence until 1830; before that “the territory kept changing hands and was ruled by other people,” he noted. “We couldn’t speak up too much. We were saying yes and thinking no, or saying yes and doing what we wanted to do. It was a source of our humor – we couldn’t take ourselves too seriously.”

Again answering a question, de Baets spoke of his father’s participation in the resistance during Germany’s occupation of Belgium during World War II.

Flags of the 28 NATO member countries

Conversation then turned to Belgium’s role in contemporary matters. Regarding Brussels-based NATO (right), the defense alliance established 68 years ago by the North Atlanta Treaty, de Baets noted apparent disagreement within the new U.S. administration. Indeed, earlier in the week the South Carolina Governor tapped to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, had called NATO “important.”

Although the United States can defend itself without NATO, Europe cannot, and so de Baets advocated strengthening the European Union’s security pillar to offset any weakening of NATO. Such alliances are essential for countries like Belgium and its neighbor, Luxembourg. Yet de Baets acknowledged difficulty in achieving the goal, given disagreement among EU member states – including Britain, even before its people voted in favor of Brexit.

Dubbing compromise a “Belgian export,” de Baets indicated that his country could a key role in aiding Europe’s efforts to resolve crises in financial and security sectors, as well as migration. The goal, he said, is to “strengthen our security without giving up our values.”

Today in Brussels, from an alum & member of our Dean Rusk Council

David-Hull

David Hull, a member of our Dean Rusk International Law Council, today published his thoughts about this morning‘s terrorist attacks in the city with which he 1st became acquainted as a Georgia Law summer study abroad student in the early 1980s: Brussels, Belgium.

A partner and specialist in European Union law at the firm of Van Bael & Bellis, David wrote in the Atlanta legal paper, Daily Report, that he tends to be “sanguine” about bad news, but added that these attacks hit very “close to home,” even in “their sheer randomness.”

He expressed concern about “a tendency to conflate the refugee crisis with the terrorist threat,” and “hope that a settlement can be reached in Syria in the near future and a more stable situation achieved in the Middle East generally.” Both, he concluded, require “leaders with courage and vision to find workable and lasting solutions to unprecedented challenges.”

Our thoughts are with David, his family, and the many other members of the Georgia Law community in and around Belgium, a country with which we’ve partnered since the early 1970s.

Cutting-edge law: Georgia-Leuven Global Governance Summer School

For students everywhere, we are delighted to announce a new opportunity to global study law and policy:

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Applications are welcome for a brand-new Global Governance Summer School (GGSS), spanning 3 weeks at the University of Leuven, located just minutes from Belgium’s main airport. Students in law and related disciplines, from the United States, Europe, and across the globe, are welcome to enroll. All students will receive a certificate, and U.S. law students also may earn 4 American Bar Association-approved credits.

GGSS launches a new partnership between the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law – which has sponsored summer study abroad in Belgium since 1973 – and the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies at the University of Leuven, one of Belgium’s premier research institutions.

Cutting-edge issues will be explored July 10-30, 2016, through 4 courses, all taught in English by leading experts in regional, transnational, and international law and policy:

wouters_janGlobal Governance Overview: GGSS Co-Director Jan Wouters (left), Jean Monnet Chair ad personam EU and Global Governance, Director of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies

Global Human Rights & Security Governance: GGSS Co-Director Diane Marie Amann (right), Associate Dean for International Programs & Strategic Initiatives and Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law, Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of LawcropCohen_harlan_columns2012

Global Economic Governance: Harlan Grant Cohen (left), Associate Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law, and Managing Editor, AJIL Unboundaxel

Global Governance Practicum: Dr. Axel Marx (left), Deputy Director, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, and Kathleen A. Doty (below right), Associate Director for Global Practice Preparation, Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of kate - CopyGeorgia School of Law

Pivotal to GGSS is a 2-day experts conference to be held at Leuven’s campus in the center of Brussels, capital of Belgium and numerous European Union agencies.

Also supplementing formal study will be professional development trips to the headquarters of the North
europarl_bruxAtlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Parliament (left) in Brussels, as well as the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Rounding out the GGSS offerings will be an optional trip to Flanders Fields, formerly a site of battle and now the resting place of many World War I combatants of all nationalities.

Deadline for applications is Monday, April 4, 2016. Details here; U.S.-based students, apply here. All others, including U.S.-based students seeking more information, should contact Kathleen A. Doty, doty[at]uga[dot]edu.