Former ambassador to talk on foreign policy and US Presidential election

untitledIssues of foreign policy and national security remain foremost in many voters’ minds as the 2016 U.S. Presidential election has entered its final, post-Labor Day lap. We’re thus delighted to be welcoming an expert in this areas to our Athens campus next week:

Fresh from recent lectures in Oxford, Auckland, and Berlin, Ambassador Derek Shearer will deliver a public talk entitled “The Whole World Is Watching: Foreign Policy & the U.S. Presidential Election” at 12:30 p.m. this Tuesday, September 13, at the University of Georgia School of Law. Sponsoring the talk is Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center; cosponsors are the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and the University of Georgia School of Public & International Affairs.

Shearer, whom I’ve long been privileged to call a colleague, is Chevalier Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles who served as an economics official in the U.S. Department of Commerce, and then as U.S. Ambassador to Finland from 1994 to 1997. He’s the author of several books and a frequent writer on and contributor to public policy discussions;  his articles have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and International Herald Tribune.

In addition to the talk, Shearer will speak to students in Election Law and Strategic Intelligence courses.

toigoWe’re also very pleased to welcome Sue Toigo (left), Chairman of Fitzgibbon Toigo Associates and Shearer’s wife. She’ll discuss corporate responsibility with Georgia Law Business Ethics students.

For additional details, e-mail ruskintlaw@uga.edu.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

“London had fallen”: Brexit reflections from a Georgia Law Global Extern

It’s our pleasure today to publish this post by Shirley Kathryn Griffis (below right), a member of the Georgia Law Class of 2017. Katie, as she’s known, spent Spring 2016 as  in our study abroad at Oxford University, and then began her second summer as a Global Externship Overseas in the London law firm Maples Teesdale. Reflecting on last week’s “Brexit” vote, Katie writes:

KatieThe first thing I thought on Friday morning was, “this can’t have happened.” It was a sentiment shared by almost all of my colleagues at Maples Teesdale’s London office, where I am spending my summer Global Externship Overseas. Together, we spent Friday morning pulling up articles, dusting off our United Kingdom constitutional law practice guides, and sharing legal theories on how the Brexit vote might be undone. It seemed that through the 51.9% to 48.1% vote to leave the European Union, London had fallen.

And we were in denial:

“The referendum is not legally binding.”

“Parliament can override.”

“Scotland won’t accept this. They can block it.”

“Cameron didn’t invoke Article 50, there’s still a chance.”

“Did you see the petition for the second referendum? Three million signatures! This won’t stand.”

The mood in London quickly turned from denial to anger when Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the results of the referendum must be respected, and the members of Parliament largely agreed. I chimed in with other voices from London on social media, asking how this could have happened. The feeling in London is that there is so much to be angry about that it is hard to know where to start, and whom to blame. Londoners started circulating a secessionist petition, there was a rally in Trafalgar Square to show solidarity with Europe, and everyone is talking about immigrating to Ireland.

London has a long way to go before accepting the reality of Brexit. The financial markets are reeling. The pound has plummeted, hitting a 31-year low in just four hours, and four major companies—Prudential Insurance, HSBC, BT and Royal Bank of Scotland—announced they were considering major staffing changes to include relocation or mass downsizing. As the financial capital of the United Kingdom, most major businesses in London have structured themselves to operate in accordance with European Union law and procedure. It is for this reason that London’s “stay” vote was 70% in favor—the European Union is vital to the survival of London’s economy.

FlagsThis is my second summer working for Maples Teesdale in London. I have always envisioned myself returning to London to practice after I graduate from the University of Georgia School of Law, but I worry now about whether that will be a possibility. It’s still uncertain what jobs, even industries, are safe, and how long the current financial crash will continue. I stand by my colleagues here in London, hoping that no matter how far London falls, it won’t take long at all to get back up and carry on.

Ambassadorial briefing on Venezuela

wac_vz-eventEarlier this week, Dean Rusk International Law Center staffer Martica Marín and I attended an excellent event at Atlanta’s World Affairs Council: “Venezuela: A Crisis at our Doorstep.” It featured a conversation between the two ambassadors at left: Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States. Posing questions was Council President Charles Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela.

Ambassador Noriega emphasized the importance of the crisis in Venezuela to U.S. interests not only because of its proximity to the United States, but also because, he said, it is serving as a breeding ground for drug smuggling, money laundering, and support of global terrorist networks. He warned that should Venezuela become a failed state, the vacuum of power could worsen this situation. He opined that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro‘s control over the country’s situation was tenuous, and said that the likelihood of violence during a regime change and a refugee crisis was high.

On a positive note, Noriega said he was encouraged by the opposition party’s success in December’s parliamentary elections. Both he and Ambassador Shapiro stressed, to the large number of Venezuelans in the audience, that political organization would be key to creating change in U.S. policy towards Venezuela. arepas

In all, a highly interesting discussion, punctuated by a fun excuse for Martica, left, and me to grab some arepas at Atlanta’s own Arepa Mia. It’s one of only a few, but growing number, of Venezuelan restaurants in the United States.