Georgia Law professors Harlan Cohen, Melissa J. Durkee featured in latest AJIL

Scholarship by 2 members of the international law faculty here at the University of Georgia School of Law is featured in the latest edition of the peer-reviewed American Journal of International Law, the premier publication of the century-old American Society of International Law. Specifically, volume 113, issue 2 includes works by:

Harlan Cohen, Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center here at the University of Georgia School of Law and a member of the AJIL Board of Editors. He published a an Editorial Comment featured on the issue’s cover and entitled “What is International Trade Law For?” (pp. 326-46), as well as a review of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World, a 2018 Harvard University Press book by Samuel Moyn (pp. 415-19).

Melissa J. Durkee, a J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law. She too published a book review, of Lawmakers: International Organizations in the Crafting of World Markets, a 2017 Cambridge University Press volume by Susan Block-Lieb and Terence C. Halliday (pp. 422-28).

Georgia Law’s Elizabeth Weeks on “Healthism,” her new co-authored book about health-status discrimination

Pleased today to welcome a contribution from Elizabeth Weeks, Associate Dean for Faculty Development and J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law. Weeks concentrates her teaching and scholarship in fields of law related to health care. In the post below, she introduces her new co-authored book, which will be of great interest to all concerned about the human right to health. It will be the subject on Wednesday, February 27, of a Georgia Law book panel featuring Law Professors Jennifer Bennett Shinall of Vanderbilt, Stacey Tovino of Nevada-Las Vegas, Ani Satz of Emory, and Nicolas P. Terry of Indiana-Indianapolis.

I am delighted to announce the recent publication by Cambridge University Press of my book, Healthism: Health Status Discrimination & the Law, co-authored with Jessica L. Roberts, Alumnae College Professor in Law  and Director of the Health Law & Policy Institute at the University of Houston Law Center.

Healthism proposes a new protected category – the unhealthy – and examines instances of discrimination against the unhealthy in multiple contexts:

Our book considers these and a host of other examples. It concludes that some operate as normatively wrong – or “healthist” – laws, policies, or practices. Others, however, are not only permissible, but also may be desirable, inasmuch as they encourage or support healthier lifestyles.

This book’s most important contributions are:

  • To introduce the concept of healthism into the lexicon; and
  • To invite ongoing dialogue about the merits and demerits of treating individuals differently based on their health status.

The genesis of our healthism project was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, or ACA, which largely prohibits health status discrimination in health insurance in the United States.  Specifically, the ACA prohibits insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions or charging higher premiums based on individual risk factors.

In 2010, single-payer health system, or a national health system, or even “Medicare for All,” were (and likely remain) political nonstarters in the United States. President Barack Obama’s signature law, the ACA, instead effected a sort of mandatory mutual aid society, a compelled communitarian approach, to health care.  In order to ensure that coverage for the unhealthy remained affordable, the law required most Americans to obtain health insurance – whether through eligibility for a government program or employer-sponsored plan, or by purchasing on the individual and small-group market – with government subsidies for some.

As of January 1, 2019, however, a critical pillar of that legislative design has been removed:

According to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA, a law enacted in November 2017 under President Donald J.  Trump, the tax penalty associated with the so-called individual mandate no longer applies.  Americans now again are free to “go bare,” without any health insurance, or to purchase short-term, catastrophic-only, or other high-deductible/low-premium, limited coverage.  Many plans on the market still operate with the antidiscrimination provisions and other protections required by the ACA; however, no one any longer is compelled to purchase them.

The effect may well be to make those plans less affordable for the unhealthy – those who most need comprehensive coverage.  TCJA is just one of several U.S. reforms that threaten to erode legal protections for the unhealthy and so to reintroduce legal and social acceptance of healthism.

Our book stops short of proposing a model law or draft constitutional provision to comprehensively address this problem. Instead, it offers readers a workable rubric to navigating the shifting landscape of permissible and impermissible health-status discrimination.

The Carter Center’s Laura Olson to speak on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Picture1The Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law welcomes Laura Olson, Director of the Human Rights Program at The Carter Center, to campus next Tuesday, November 6. She will give a lecture, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70.”

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Olson has been with The Carter Center in Atlanta since July 2017. She previously held high ranking positions within the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and the Department of State. Olson has also served as legal advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross, supporting the ICRC Delegations in Washington DC, Geneva, and Moscow.

Sponsoring her talk with the Dean Rusk International Law Center is the International Law Society, Georgia Law’s chapter of the International Law Students Association.

Details here.

Accountability for harms to children during armed conflict discussed at Center-sponsored ILW panel

NEW YORK – Ways to redress offenses against children during armed conflict formed the core of the panel that our University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center sponsored last Friday at International Law Weekend, an annual three-day conference presented by the American Branch of the International Law Association and the International Law Students Association. I was honored to take part.

► Opening our panel was Shaheed Fatima QC (top right), a barrister at Blackstone Chambers in London, who led a panel of researchers for the Inquiry on Protecting Children in Conflict, an initiative chaired by Gordon Brown, former United Kingdom Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

As Fatima explained, the Inquiry focused on harms that the UN Security Council has identified as “six grave violations” against children in conflict; specifically, killing and maiming; recruitment or use as soldiers; sexual violence; abduction; attacks against schools or hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access. With regard to each, the Inquiry identified legal frameworks in international criminal law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law. It proposed a new means for redress: promulgation of a “single instrument” that would permit individual communications, for an expressed set of violations, to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the treaty body that monitors compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its three optional protocols. These findings and recommendations have just been published as Protecting Children in Armed Conflict (Hart 2018).

► Next, Mara Redlich Revkin (2d from left), a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Yale University and Lead Researcher on Iraq and Syria for the United Nations University Project on Children and Extreme Violence.

She drew from her fieldwork to provide a thick description of children’s experiences in regions controlled by the Islamic State, an armed group devoted to state-building – “rebel governance,” as Revkin termed it. Because the IS sees children as its future, she said, it makes population growth a priority, and exercises its control over schools and other “sites for the weaponization of children.” Children who manage to free themselves from the group encounter new problems on account of states’ responses, responses that Revkin has found often to be at odds with public opinion. These range from the  harsh punishment of every child once associated with IS, without considering the extent of that association, to the rejection of IS-issued birth certificates, thus rendering a child stateless.

► Then came yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (left), Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law and our Center’s Faculty Co-Director. I served as a member of the Inquiry’s Advisory Board.

Discussing my service as the Special Adviser to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict, I focused on the preparation and contents of the 2016 ICC OTP Policy on Children, available here in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and Swahili. The Policy pinpoints the crimes against and affecting children that may be punished pursuant to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and it further delineates a “child-sensitive approach” to OTP work at all stages, including investigation, charging, prosecution, and witness protection.

► Summing up the conversation was Harold Hongju Koh (2d from right), Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School and former Legal Adviser to the U.S. Department of State, who served as a consultant to the Inquiry.

Together, he said, the presentations comprised “5 I’s: Inquiry, Iraq and Syria, the ICC, and” – evoking the theme of the conference – “international law and why it matters.” Koh lauded the Inquiry’s report as “agenda-setting,” and its proposal for a means to civil redress as a “panda’s thumb” response that bears serious consideration. Koh envisaged that in some future administration the United States – the only country in the world not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child – might come to ratify the proposed new  protocol, as it has the optional protocols relating to children in armed conflict and the sale of children.

The panel thus trained attention on the harms children experience amid conflict and called for redoubled efforts to secure accountability and compensation for such harms.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Georgia Law’s international law librarian, Anne Burnett, takes part in global conference in Malaysia

Pleased today to welcome a contribution from Anne Burnett, who has served since 1996 as the foreign and international law librarian at the University of Georgia School of Law Alexander Campbell King Law Library. She earned her B.A. degree from the University of Nevada, her J.D. cum laude from Georgia Law, and her MLIS from the University of Texas in Austin. Burnett teaches International Legal Research, among other courses, at Georgia Law, and is active in global societies, as indicated in the post below.

Over 3,500 librarians and information professionals gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this past August 24-30 for the World Library and Information Congress (WLIC), the annual conference of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). As Secretary of the Standing Committee for the IFLA Law Libraries Section (I’m at center in the Standing Committee photo at top), I participated in a week of meetings, educational programs, leadership workshops and strategic planning.

I became involved in the IFLA Law Libraries Section because of its work supporting the rule of law by promoting access to information and access to justice globally. Our section’s business meetings this year concentrated on planning upcoming workshops for law librarians in Senegal and the country of Georgia (the latter in conjunction with the Georgian-Norwegian Rule of Law Association). The section has conducted similar workshops in Croatia, Côte d’Ivoire and Uganda. These workshops spotlight open access to legal materials and also provide a nucleus for law librarian networks in the targeted regions. The section also discussed means of promoting the principles set forth in the IFLA Statement on Government Provision of Public Legal Information in the Digital Age, drafted by Section members and adopted by IFLA’s Governing Board, to encourage governments to ensure access to information, identified as a right in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

One of my greatest pleasures in serving as an officer of the Standing Committee is my collaboration with law and government librarians from all corners of the world who share a common goal of providing and preserving access to government and legal information. Our Section Standing Committee meetings this year included members and observers from Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, China, Canada, Australia and Europe.

The Section also sponsored two educational programs during the Kuala Lumpur conference:

  • In a program titled The Role of Government and Law Libraries in Times of Crisis and Turmoil, three speakers, including Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sanchez, provided examples of different roles played by government and law libraries in responding to crises and with access to justice initiatives and social advocacy projects.
  • A second program, titled Legal Capability: Law as a Life Skill, discussed programs in Canada and in the United States that seek to improve “legal capability” in the general population.

Additional programs of interest addressed global copyright issues, the impact of AI on information science, and providing services to indigenous populations.

The conference schedule allowed for some sightseeing opportunities. Kuala Lumpur (KL), the capital and largest city of Malaysia, boasts record-setting skyscrapers housing national and international corporations, high-end fashion stores, insane traffic and delicious street food (right). The large convention center, where we met, is in the shadows of the twin towers (top right) of Malay’s Petroleum Company, Petronas, which are the emblematic symbol of the city. But KL’s architecture also reflects Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialism. The population is similarly diverse, with predominately Muslim Malaysians joined by significant Indian and Chinese populations. I was fortunate to take a trip to the outskirts of KL to see the Hindu temple at the Batu Caves (above left), an international pilgrimage site with imposing statues, natural limestone caves, and very friendly and bold resident Macaque monkeys!

During a day trip to the coastal town of Melaka (or Malacca), situated between KL and Singapore, I was struck by the stark contrast between the raucous Joncker Steet Night Market and the sobering architectural reminders of colonialism. The A Famosa Portuguese fort, built in the early 16th Century by forced indigenous labor, later fell under Dutch, then British control.  Modern independent Malaysia, however, embraces its position as an upper middle—income economy, and the Malaysians I met were excited about the energy and growth there.

For a report from the overall WLIC conference, including details of the Law Libraries Section’s business meetings, see the October issue of the FCIL SIS newsletter and the FCIS SIS blog post on the Law Libraries’ Section’s educational programs.

“Reaffirmed my passion for human rights”: Hanna Karimipour on her Global Externship with Brussels NGO No Peace Without Justice

IMG_7351This is one in a series of posts by University of Georgia School of Law students, writing on their participation in our Global Governance Summer School or our Global Externship Overseas initiative. Author of this post is 2L Hanna Karimipour (right), who spent her 1L summer as a GEO, or Global Extern Overseas.

This summer, I had the opportunity to work at No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) in Brussels, Belgium, as part of the Global Externships Overseas (GEO) initiative. NPWJ was founded in 1993 to support the establishment and operation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Since then, NPWJ has worked on human rights and accountability in conflict and post-conflict settings around the world.

I came to law school because I’ve always known that I wanted to work in international relations and on human rights issues. After spending my 1L year getting the basics of U.S. law down and taking one international law course, I was eager to gain meaningful exposure to international law practice at NPWJ. As I sat for my final exams, the thought of my upcoming externship, as well as all the Belgian frites and waffles I would eat, carried me through.

On arriving in Brussels, I was not disappointed. Right away, I was researching the actus reus for aiding and abetting liability for war crimes under Article 25(3)(c) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. I was struck by the challenges to international legal research. There is no single database that catalogues case law, and considering that the ICC is only sixteen years old, the available precedent is limited. Moreover, ad hoc criminal tribunals – in particular, the ICTY – may have helpful case law,  for the issue I was working on, but the approaches of each court vary widely, and their case law can even be contradictory. Although at first I was overwhelmed, by the end of the summer I found the process of combing through cases, the text of the Statute itself, travaux préparatoires, academic articles, and books to be a thrilling and surprisingly fun process.

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As a part of my GEO, I was also able to travel with NPWJ. I went on a two-day mission to Geneva, Switzerland to the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights. There, NPWJ was invited to represent civil society at the Joint UN/Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) Seminar on Human Rights for PAM Members of Parliaments. Also in Geneva, I visited the Palais des Nations to attend a panel on transitional justice in Tunisia. As someone whose childhood dream was to be a United Nations ambassador, it was utterly exciting to be in the Palais des Nations, right down an escalator from where the Human Rights Council was in session.

The highlight of my experience, however, came when I was able to gain experience in the field as part of a six-day mission to Gaziantep, Turkey. Gaziantep is located approximately 30 miles from the Syrian border – about half the distance from Athens to Atlanta! I assisted with a NPWJ training on negotiation for members of Syrian civil society. It was a powerful experience to contribute to giving organizations the tools to safeguard human rights and to ensure transitional justice occurs and in the midst of the conflict in Syria. During this mission, I had the opportunity to meet and interact with several Syrian people who are directly taking action to improve the situation. Before this summer, the possibility of doing human rights field work wasn’t even on my radar. Now, it is something I am seriously considering for after law school.

My GEO at NPWJ was one of the most valuable experiences I have had thus far in my education and career, and has reaffirmed my passion for human rights. Oh, and I got plenty of the frites and waffles, too. I am looking forward to continuing my exploration of international law on campus at Georgia Law.

Transitional justice expert David Tolbert to speak on future of human rights

DT_BarcelonaWe at the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center will welcome human rights attorney David Tolbert to campus next Tuesday, October 2. His presentation, “Quo Vadis? Where Does the Human Rights Movement Go from Here?” will start at 12 noon in Classroom B, located on the 1st Floor of the law school’s Hirsch Hall. Lunch will be served.

Tolbert is a Visiting Scholar at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the immediate past President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, a New York-based nongovernmental organization. He has held multiple positions at international criminal tribunals including as Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, as special expert to the UN Secretary-General on the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, and as Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Sponsoring his talk with the Dean Rusk International Law Center is the International Law Society, Georgia Law’s chapter of the International Law Students Association.

Details here.