MJ Durkee, Georgia Law Associate Dean and our Center’s Director, contributes to AJIL Unbound symposium issue


Our Center’s Director, Associate Dean Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, has contributed an essay in the newest symposium issue, which she edited, of American Journal of International Law Unbound.

Entitled “Introduction to the Symposium on Frédéric Mégret, “Are There ‘Inherently Sovereign Functions’ in International Law?”, the essay appears at 115 American Journal of International Law Unbound 299 (2021) and is available online at the Cambridge University Press site. It opens a symposium exploring an article just published in the American Journal of International Law by McGill University Law Professor Frédéric Mégret. Also contributing to the symposium are Cambridge Law Professor Eyal Benvenisti, Collège de France Professor Samantha Besson, Columbia Political Science Professor Jean L. Cohen, Nottingham Law Professor Nigel D. White, and California-Berkeley Political Science Professor Daniel Lee.

In addition to leading the Dean Rusk International Law Center, Durkee is Associate Dean for International Programs and the Allen Post Professor here at the University of Georgia School of Law. She is on the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law and is the supervising editor of AJIL Unbound. Both are publications of the American Society of International Law, for which Durkee serves as an Executive Council member and Vice Chair of the International Legal Theory Interest Group.

“Stockholm Declaration at 50,” October 8 Georgia Law journal conference, will feature experts in international environmental and human rights law

“The 1972 Stockholm Declaration at 50: Reflecting on a Half-Century of International Environmental Law” is the title of the daylong conference to be hosted Friday, October 8, 2021, by the Dean Rusk International Law Center and the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, with additional cosponsors including the American Society of International Law.

As described in the concept note:

The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment produced the “Stockholm Declaration,” an environmental manifesto that forcefully declared a human right to environmental health and birthed the field of modern international environmental law. In celebration of its 50th anniversary volume, the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law is convening a symposium to reflect on the first 50 years of international environmental law and the lessons this history may hold for the future.

The symposium will include a keynote address by Dinah L. Shelton, Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law Emeritus at George Washington University School of Law whose distinguished service in areas of human rights and environmental law includes President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Also featured will be scholars and practitioners from around the world, taking part in panel discussions and breakout sessions: on the rights-based approach to environmental protection; on anti-racism, decolonization, and environmental protection; and on the future of international environmental law. As indicated in the schedule below, the panels reflect themes in Principle 1 of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, which states in full:

“Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations. In this respect, policies promoting or perpetuating apartheid, racial segregation, discrimination, colonial and other forms of oppression and foreign domination stand condemned and must be eliminated.”

The conference will take place on Zoom, though students and a limited number of registrants may attend in person. Details and registration here. The full schedule follows:

Welcome and Introduction by Georgia Law’s Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, Dean, MJ Durkee, Associate Dean for International Programs, Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Allen Post Professor, 9 a.m.

Panel 1: The Rights-Based Approach to Environmental Protection, 9:10 a.m. (followed by breakout session at 10:25 a.m.)

Recalling Principle 1’s statement that humankind “has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being,” the following panelists will explore how and in what contexts the Stockholm Declaration’s rights-based approach to environmental protection is useful, as well as limitations of this approach:

  • Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation
  • Tyler Giannini, Clinical Professor and Co-Director of the Harvard Human Rights Program and the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law
  • Kate Mackintosh, Executive Director, Promise Institute for Human Rights, UCLA Law
  • Katie O’Bryan, Lecturer, Monash University, Australia
  • Moderating will be Diane Marie Amann, Regents’ Professor of International Law, Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center at Georgia Law

Panel 2: Anti-Racism, Decolonization, and Environmental Protection, 10:50 a.m. (followed by breakout session at 12:05 p.m.)

Recalling Principle 1’s statement that “policies promoting or perpetuating apartheid, racial segregation, discrimination, colonial and other forms of oppression and foreign domination stand condemned and must be eliminated,” the following panelists will explore how international environmental law addresses, or fails to address, environmental racism:

  • Sumudu Anopama Atapattu, Director of Research Centers and Senior Lecturer at Wisconsin Law
  • Robin Bronen, Executive Director of the Alaska Institute for Justice
  • Sarah Riley Case, Boulton Junior Fellow at McGill University Faculty of Law in Canada
  • Usha Natarajan, Edward W. Said Fellow at Columbia University
  • Moderating will be Harlan G. Cohen, Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center at Georgia Law

Panel 3: International Environmental Law’s Future, 1 p.m. (followed by breakout session at 2:15 p.m.)

Recalling Principle 1’s statement that humankind “bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations,” the following panelists will explore what are the successes and failures of the last 50 years of environmental law, as well as the key international environmental law challenges for the next 50 years:

  • Rebecca M. Bratspies, Professor and Director of the Center for Urban Environmental Reform at CUNY Law
  • Jutta Brunnée, Dean, University Professor, and James Marshall Tory Dean’s Chair at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in Canada
  • Lakshman D. Guruswamy, Nicholas Doman Professor of International Environmental Law at Colorado Law
  • Cymie Payne, Associate Professor in the Department of Human Ecology and the School of Law, Rutgers University
  • Moderating will be MJ Durkee, Associate Dean for International Programs, Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and Allen Post Professor at Georgia Law

Introduction of keynote by Adam D. Orford, Assistant Professor at Georgia Law, followed by keynote address, entitled “Stockholm Plus 50: Glass Half Full, Half Empty, or Shattered?” and delivered by Dinah L. Shelton, Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law Emeritus at George Washington University School of Law, 2:40 p.m.

Closing remarks by Kimberlee Styple, Editor-in-Chief of the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, 3:15 p.m.

Besides ASIL, many units of the University of Georgia are cosponsoring this event. They include the International Law Society, Environmental Law Association, Georgia Initiative for Climate & Society, Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, School of Public & International Affairs, Center for International Trade & Security, Global Health Institute of the College of Public Health, School of Social Work, and College of Environment & Design.

Registration and details on the program and accommodations here.

Welcoming newest class of Master of Laws (LL.M.) students to Georgia Law

With the Fall 2021 semester in full swing, we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center are proud to welcome another class of talented lawyers, now studying for our University of Georgia School of Law Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree.

The group of 16 hail from 12 different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, including Argentina, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Germany, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Russia, Turkey, and Venezuela. Among them are judges, government attorneys, public interest lawyers, corporate attorneys, and seasoned litigators. Some of them are pictured above; from left, Franzisca Heinze, Julieta Sánchez Flor, Veronika Grubenko, Supreme Unukegwo, Agustina Figueroa Imfeld, and Ciro Pazmino.

This Class of 2022 joins a tradition that began at the University of Georgia School of Law in the early 1970s, when a Belgian lawyer became the first foreign-trained practitioner to earn a Georgia Law LL.M. degree. In the ensuing four decades, the law school and its Dean Rusk International Law Center have produced nearly 600 LL.M. graduates, with ties to nearly 100 countries and every continent in the world.

Side by side with J.D. candidates, LL.M.s follow a flexible curriculum tailored to their own career goals – goals that may include preparation to sit for a U.S. bar examination, or pursuit of a concentration affording advancement in their home country’s legal profession or academic institutions.

The application for the LL.M. Class of 2023 is now open; for information or to apply for LL.M. studies, see here.

Georgia Law Professor Thomas Kadri and McGill Law Professor Ignacio Cofone publish transnational analysis of cy près settlements in privacy class actions

University of Georgia School of Law Professor Thomas Kadri (above left) and McGill University Faculty of Law Professor Ignacio Cofone (above right) have published a chapter exploring a controversial procedural mechanism in privacy class actions.

The chapter, entitled “Cy Près Settlements in Privacy Class Actions,” was first featured in Class Actions in Privacy Law, a 2020 Routledge volume that Cofone edited. A Spanish translation recently was published, under the title “Acuerdos Cy Près en Acciones de Clase sobre Privacidad,” in 2 Revista Jurídica Austral 33 (2021).

Here’s the abstract for this chapter by Kadri and Cofone, as set out at SSRN:

This essay considers the potential for using cy près settlements in privacy class actions. These settlements are a procedural mechanism to overcome distribution challenges in class actions. When it is too burdensome to prove individual claims or too costly to distribute damages to class members, courts on occasions award damages to a charity or non-profit organization involved in work serving the class members’ interests. These controversial settlements have been gaining attention in various legal systems. The U.S. Supreme Court recently considered their propriety in Frank v. Gaos, while courts in Canada and several Latin American countries have been experimenting with cy près as well. The essay uses these cases to explore how this procedural mechanism can be particularly useful in privacy class actions. While cy près settlements require proper judicial supervision to prevent abuse, the chapter concludes that they can help to deter privacy invasions, enforce privacy laws, and provide plaintiffs with some measure of indirect relief when those laws are violated.

Georgia Law students earn international practice experience as Global Externs

Ten rising 2L and 3L students at the University of Georgia School of Law are taking part in Global Externships Overseas this summer. Administered by the Dean Rusk International Law Center, the GEO initiative places Georgia Law students in externships lasting from four to twelve weeks, and offers students the opportunity to gain practical work experience in a variety of legal settings worldwide.

These Global Externs are enhancing their legal education through placements – remote this summer, on account of the pandemic – in law firms, in-house legal departments, and nongovernmental organizations based in Asia, Europe, and South America. Practice areas include dispute resolution, corporate law, refugee law, and international human rights law.

This year’s GEO class includes these placements in private law settings:

  • Ben Bacia (3L) – PSA India, New Delhi, India
  • Starlyn Endres (3L) – Orange, Brussels, Belgium
  • Savannah Grant (2L) – Araoz y Rueda, Madrid, Spain
  • Nishka Malik (2L) – Orange, Brussels, Belgium
  • Alina Salgado (2L) – MV Kini & Co., New Delhi, India
  • Maha Toor (2L) – Syngenta AG, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Additionally, the following students are working in public law placements:

  • Collin Douglas (2L) – Documentation Center of Cambodia, Phnom Penh
  • Caleb Grant (2L) – Documentation Center of Cambodia, Phnom Penh
  • Savannah Grant (2L) – No Peace Without Justice, Brussels, Belgium
  • Bradford Lorenz (3L) – Boat People SOS, Center for Asylum Protection, Bangkok, Thailand

Georgia Law’s Diane Marie Amann now Regents’ Professor of International Law

Georgia Law faculty member Diane Marie Amann is now Regents’ Professor of International Law, as her November 2020 appointment to the post by the Board of Regents, University System of Georgia, takes effect today.

She becomes the third law professor and seventh woman to have earned this honor since it was instituted in 1947. In the words of the university:

“Regents’ Professorships are bestowed by the Board of Regents on truly distinguished faculty of the University of Georgia whose scholarship or creative activity is recognized both nationally and internationally as innovative and pace-setting.”

Amann (prior posts) joined the faculty at the University of Georgia School of Law in 2011, taking up the Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law previously by Professor Louis B. Sohn and Professor Daniel Bodansky. From 2015 to 2017 she was the law school’s Associate Dean for International Programs & Strategic Initiatives, a position that included directing the Dean Rusk International Law Center, and she has served since 2017 as a Faculty Co-Director of the Center. She is also a Professor (by courtesy) of International Affairs, University of Georgia School of Public & International Affairs, and an Affiliated Faculty Member of the University of Georgia African Studies Institute.

Under contract with Oxford University Press, Amann is writing what will be the first book on the roles of women professionals at the 1945-46 war crimes trial before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. As depicted above and available in full on YouTube (59:10), she presented on this research in “Nuremberg Women,” one of the four University of Georgia Charter Lectures that the 2020-21 Regents’ Professors delivered online this past April.

Amann’s expertise in international law includes, as indicated by her more than eighty publications, not only international legal history but also international criminal law and child rights. She served as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict from December 2012 to June 2021, assisting in the preparation, publication, and dissemination of the 2016 ICC OTP Policy on Children.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Counsellor and former Vice President of the American Society of International Law, Amann was Professor of Law, Martin Luther King Jr. Hall Research Scholar, and Director of the California International Law Center at the University of California-Davis, School of Law. She has been a Visiting Professor, Professeur invitée, or Fellow at Northwestern Pritzker University School of Law, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-Los Angeles, Irish Centre for Human Rights at National University of Ireland-Galway, Université de Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne), Max Planck Institute Luxembourg, and University of Southern California Shoah Foundation.

Professor Melissa “MJ” Durkee named Georgia Law Associate Dean for International Programs and Director of Dean Rusk International Law Center

We at the Dean Rusk International Law Center of the University of Georgia School of Law are delighted to announce that Professor Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee will be the law school’s next Associate Dean for International Programs, a position that includes service as our Center’s Director. The appointment will take effect this Thursday, July 1.

In assuming leadership of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, Durkee succeeds Professor Lori A. Ringhand, who has served as the Center’s Interim Director for the past year and a half. The law school’s most recent Associate Dean for International Programs was Professor Diane Marie Amann, who served in that post from 2015-2017 and who since then has been a Faculty Co-Director of the Center along with Professor Harlan G. Cohen.

Named after former U.S. Secretary of State and Georgia Law Professor Dean Rusk, our Center has served since 1977 as the international law and policy nucleus for education, scholarship, and other collaborations among faculty and students, the law school community, and diverse local and global partners. As Director, Durkee will lead a Center staff that includes Laura Tate Kagel and Mandy Dixon, respectively the Associate Director and the Assistant for International Professional Education, and Sarah Quinn and Catrina Martin, respectively the Associate Director and the Assistant for Global Practice Preparation.

Durkee (prior posts, SSRN page) also holds the title at Georgia Law of Allen Post Professor, as well as a courtesy appointment in the university’s Terry College of Business. A highly regarded scholar, she teaches, writes, and presents on international law and corporate governance, with focus on international economic and environmental law, global governance, democratic participation, public-private partnerships, and legal theory. Her most recent article, “Interpretive Entrepreneurs,” has just been published at 107 Virginia Law Review 431 (2021).

Her leadership roles in the Washington, D.C.-based American Society of International Law include: Board of Editors, American Journal of International Law; Supervising Editor, AJIL Unbound; ASIL Executive Council; and Vice Chair, ASIL International Legal Theory Interest Group. Wearing that last hat, she organized “The Law and Logics of Attribution: Constructing the Identity and Responsibility of States and Firms,” a conference that our Center hosted online last September. Durkee has also served as faculty advisor to the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law.

Before joining the Georgia Law faculty in 2018, Durkee was a professor at the University of Washington School of Law. A graduate of Yale Law School, she practiced international litigation and arbitration at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York and was law clerk to Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Judge Sidney H. Stein, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Georgia Law clinics’ advocacy helps client secure U.S. citizenship

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Years of advocacy by two clinics at the University of Georgia School of Law recently helped secure U.S. citizenship for a longtime immigrant client.

The earliest work with the client was undertaken by the Jane W. Wilson Family Justice Clinic, as at that time the client was facing severe domestic abuse. Working under the supervision of Clinical Assistant Professor Christine M. Scartz, then-student Eric Abney, a member of the Georgia Law Class of 2020, secured a 12-month family violence protective order and successfully negotiated a resolution that gave the client exclusive possession of the marital residence and a vehicle, sole child custody, and child support.

After the client had gained this measure of safety and stability, the client then was referred to Georgia Law’s Community Health Law Partnership Clinic for further advocacy. Working under the supervision of Jason A. Cade, Associate Dean for Clinical Programs & Experiential Learning, Amy Buice and Carter A. Thomas, members of the Classes of 2019 and 2020, respectively, used the Violence Against Women Act to ensure the client retained permanent residency without having to rely on her abusive former-partner. Subsequently, 3L Ansley Whiten helped the client file an application for naturalization, while 2L Luis Gomez prepared her for the naturalization interview; both were supervised primarily by Kristen Shepherd, the Community HeLP Clinic’s Staff Attorney.

The client became a U.S. citizen in April 2021, on her birthday.

Georgia Law clinics share in national CLEA Award for work on behalf of immigrant women who endured abuse, retaliation while in ICE detention

Efforts on behalf of immigrant women detained in a U.S. immigration center have earned national recognition for the Community HeLP Clinic and First Amendment Clinic here at the University of Georgia School of Law.

The Georgia Law clinics will share that recognition – the 2021 Clinical Legal Education Association Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Project – with law clinics at Harvard, Columbia, Texas A&M, and Boston universities.

The CLEA Award will be presented online 12 noon-1 pm Eastern Friday, April 30, as part of the annual Conference on Clinical Education of the Association of American Law Schools.

The clinics’ project confronted abuse of immigrant women while in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Irwin Detention Center, a privately run facility in south Georgia. As previously posted, the women there were subjected to nonconsensual, medically unindicated, or invasive gynecological procedures. Those who spoke out about abuses faced accelerated deportation proceedings, solitary confinement, and other acts of retaliation. The project has pursued several administrative, judicial, and advocacy avenues, including ongoing litigation of Oldaker v. Giles, a consolidated habeas petition and class action complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

The Project’s efforts have resulted in the release of nearly all 80 women in ICDC, as well as over 200 men, and stays of deportation for most of the Oldaker plaintiffs.

Leading the project on behalf of Georgia Law were Jason Cade (above right), Associate Dean for Clinical Programs & Experiential Learning, J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law, and Director of the Community HeLP Clinic, and Clare Norins (above left), Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the First Amendment Clinic. Also taking part in this team effort were 3L students Raneem Ashrawi, Frederick King, Julia Griffis, and Anish Patel, 2L students Thomas Evans, Paige Medley, and Davis Wright, First Amendment Clinic Legal Fellow Samantha Hamilton, Community HeLP Clinic Staff Attorney Kristen Shepherd, and administrative associate Sarah Ehlers.

Other collaborators included non-profits, private firms, legislative advocates, and community organizers.

Georgia Law honored again to be honored for excellence in international law

Delighted to share the news that the just-released US News rankings place our international law curriculum here at the University of Georgia School of Law at No. 18 in the United States.

This marks the 7th time in recent years we’ve been among the top 20 or so US law schools for international law.

The achievement is due in no small part to the enthusiastic support and hard work of everyone affiliated with Georgia Law’s 40-plus-year-old Dean Rusk International Law Center. As chronicled at this Exchange of Notes blog and our Center website, these include:

► Superb members of the law faculty, including: Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, an international arbitration expert; our Center’s Interim Director, Lori A. Ringhand, a scholar of comparative constitutional law and elections law; the Center’s Faculty Co-Directors, Professors Diane Marie Amann, an expert in security governance fields including the laws of war and international criminal justice, and Harlan G. Cohen, an expert in global governance and foreign relations law; Professors Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, whose expertise includes international business law and international environmental law, Christopher M. Bruner, a comparative corporate governance scholar, Thomas E. Kadri, whose expertise includes cybercrime and global data privacy, Jason A. Cade, an immigration expert, Jonathan Peters, a journalism and law professor expert in international media and free speech, Anne Burnett, foreign and international law librarian, Elizabeth Weeks and Fazal Khan, health law specialists, Kent Barnett, Sonja West, and Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, who have presented overseas on administrative law, media law, and civil procedure, respectively, Walter Hellerstein, a world-renowned tax specialist, Nathan S. Chapman, a scholar of due process and extraterritoriality, Michael L. Wells, a European Union scholar, and Andrea Dennis, whose book “Rap on Trial” has garnered international media attention.

► Talented students pursuing JD, MSL, and LLM degrees, including: the staffers and editors of the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law who produce one of the country’s oldest student journals, and who led our January 2021 conference, “The Future of Global Healthcare Governance”; the advocates on our Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot and Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court teams; students in our Appellate Litigation Clinic who argue asylum cases before U.S. Courts of Appeals; participants in our full-semester NATO Externship and in our Global Externships; and the student leaders of our International Law Society.

► Superb Center staff like Laura Tate Kagel, Sarah Quinn, Mandy Dixon, and Catrina Martin.

► Academics, practitioners, and policymakers, from all over the world, who have contributed to our events – conferences, workshops, and lectures, as well as our International Law Colloquium and Consular Series.

Graduates who excel as partners in international commercial law firms, as heads of nongovernmental organizations and international organizations, as in-house counsel at leading multinational enterprises, and as diplomats and public servants – and who give back through mentoring and other support.

► Our valued partnerships, with Georgia Law student organizations; with organizations like the American Branch of the International Law Association, with which we are hosting International Law Weekend South next month, and the American Society of International Law, in which our faculty hold leadership roles, as well as Global Atlanta, the World Affairs Council of Atlanta, the Atlanta International Arbitration Society; and with university units like the School of Public & International Affairs, the Terry College of Business, the Grady School of Journalism, the African Studies Institute, and the Willson Center for Humanities & Arts.

With thanks to all, we look forward to continue strengthening our initiatives in international, comparative, transnational, and foreign relations law – not least, in the preparation of Georgia Law students to practice in our 21st C. globalized legal profession.