“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.

Global Governance Summer School: Hague briefings begin with International Criminal Court

THE HAGUE – Our 2018 Global Governance Summer School has moved to this Dutch capital for several days of briefings at international organizations devoted to securing accountability and reparations for violations of international law. Today centered on the International Criminal Court, a permanent organization that began operating at The Hague in 2002. Its founding charter, the Rome Statute of the ICC, was adopted 20 years ago this month.

Our Georgia Law students, who spent last week at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, first visited Leiden Law School‘s Hague campus, where two international lawyers – Niamh Hayes and Leiden Law Professor Joe Powderly – talked with them about a range of issues (left). These included the development of international criminal law, practical and academic career opportunities for young lawyers interested in the area, and the advantages gained by working in The Hague on the “inside” of international criminal law issues.

The rest of the day was spent at the ICC’s Permanent Premises, located on the dunes near The Hague’s North Sea coast. Highlights of the visit included:

► A meeting with Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (top), for whom our summer school’s co-director, Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, serves as Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict. Bensouda described her own path to practicing international criminal law. While acknowledging the barriers to achieving justice, she expressed the urgency of continuing the effort, on behalf of global society as well as the victims of international crimes.

► An audience with Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson (left) of Trinidad and Tobago, who was elected to the ICC in 2013 and serves in the Trial Division. Henderson emphasized the challenges of judging in a context that brings together the civil and common law systems, and offered encouragement that engaged students can change the world.

► A presentation on the work of lawyers in the court’s Registry from Elizabeth Little, Special Assistant to the Registrar, Special Assistant to the Registrar, and an overview of the court’s work from ensuring the right to family life of the accused to assisting the indigent select defense counsel.

Together, these presentations made for an informative and inspiring day in court.

Human rights, criminal justice, NATO, business practice, reception with Georgia Law alums: Global Governance Summer School day 3, Brussels

Professor Amann, Ana Sofie Silveira, Lucia Hakala, Eunjun Kim, Bryant Oliver, Professor Doty, NATO Legal Adviser Steven Hill, Hanna Karimipour, Maddie Neel, Julian Skoruppa, Brooke Carrington, Saif Ahmed, Caroline Harvey, Mills Culver, and Frances Plunkett

BRUSSELS – A variety of briefings in this Belgium capital, and home of many European Union institutions, highlighted day 3 of the Global Governance School that our University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center offers with the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies at KU Leuven, one of Europe’s premier research institutions.

Our cohort of students from Georgia Law and multiple European universities first traveled to the Brussels office of No Peace Without Justice (left), a nongovernmental organization founded a quarter-century ago to promote “the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and international justice.” There Alison A. Smith (left), Legal Counsel and Director of the organization’s International Criminal Justice Program, took part in a dialogue on “International Human Rights Lawyering” with Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law and one of our Center’s Faculty Co-Directors. Then the organization’s Secretary-General, Niccolò A. Figà-Talamanca, described the Rome diplomatic conference that led to adoption in 1998 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Next, Steven Hill, Legal Adviser and Director of the Office of Legal Affairs at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, outlined the work of his office, where an 8-lawyer team serves as counsel to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenburg and further liaises with NATO lawyers throughout the world. He then discussed key issues likely to be discussed at next week’s NATO Summit. (Preparations for that meeting of member states’ heads of state and government precluded a visit to the new NATO headquarters; we are grateful to the Brussels law firm Van Bael & Bellis for providing the lovely conference room, pictured above, where our students met with Hill.)

Finally, we made our way to the Brussels office of Sidley Austin LLP. There Stephen Spinks (Georgia Law JD’76), a member of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, led a presentation on key areas of global business practice at his office. Spinks is the immediate past managing partner of that office, and a well-known lawyer expert in matters related to EU competition (in effect, antitrust) law and trade law. Assisting in the presentation by Spinks (standing, at left) were 4 additional Sidley lawyers. From left: Dr. Michele Boggiani, who spoke on anti-corruption and life sciences law, Paul Greaves, on data privacy law, Anne Robert, on competition law, and Dr. Bregt Natens, on trade law.

The day concluded with a lively reception that Sidley kindly hosted. Participants included our students, firm attorneys, Center Director Kathleen A. Doty and myself, Sidley attorneys including Wim Nauwelaerts (LLM’94), an alumnus and head of the firm’s data privacy group, plus other Georgia Law graduates. These included: Johan De Bruycker (LLM’90), General Counsel, Ageas, Brussels; Porter Elliott (JD’96), the Van Bael & Bellis partner who helped secure a room for the morning NATO presentation; Daniel J. Felz (JD’09), an associate at Alston & Bird LLP; Professor Erik Franckxx (LLM’83), Professor of Law Director of the Department of International and European Law at Vrije Universiteit Brussel; and Dr. Christof Siefarth (LLM’86), a partner at GÖRG law firm in Cologne, Germany, and member of our Center’s Council.

Our group returns to Brussels tomorrow, to the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, to take part in Reconnect: Reconciling Europe with its Citizens through Democracy and the Rule of Law, a conference kicking off a 4-year-research project among 18 partners, including our partner institution, the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU Leuven.

Professor Amann publishes “Bemba and Beyond,” on accountability and command responsibility, at EJIL: Talk!

One week after the International Criminal Court Appeals Chamber acquitted a Congolese politician-warlord whom a Trial Chamber unanimously had convicted of rape, pillage, and other crimes, practitioners and scholars continue to debate the decision’s significance. Indeed, the case, Prosecutor v. Bemba, has been invoked in both the papers so far presented at the 2-day ICC Scholars Forum now under way at Leiden Law School’s Hague campus.

My own initial thoughts – concerned not about the decision’s fact-based details but rather to its refashioning of the legal doctrine of command responsibility – have been published at EJIL: Talk!, the blog of the European Journal of International Law. My post, entitled “In Bemba and Beyond,” discusses command responsibility as “a time-honored doctrine with roots in military justice and international humanitarian law.” Placing this appeals judgment in the context of other decisions, the post warns:

“Together, such rulings suggest a turn away from the goal of assigning responsibility at high levels, and toward a jurisprudence which acknowledges (with regret) the commission of crimes, yet holds no cognizable legal person responsible.”

Full post here.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Georgia Law Professor Amann presents “A New History of the Nuremberg Trials” at Oxford University’s Bonavero Institute of Human Rights

We’re pleased today to cross-post this report from Professor Diane Marie Amann, Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law and Faculty Co-Director here at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, who undertook research-intensive semester this spring:

OXFORD – A capstone of my Hilary-Trinity Term visit here took place yesterday, when I presented “A New History of the Nuremberg Trials: Figuring Women and Others into the Narrative” to law students and faculty who gathered at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, located at Oxford University’s Mansfield College. The Oxford Transitional Justice Research network cosponsored.

Professor Kate O’Regan, director of the institute and a former judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, opened my Research Visitor Seminar. Then came my  presentation of my research on the roles women played at Nuremberg – not only the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, but also the 12 subsequent American trials before what are known as the Nuremberg Military Tribunals. Next, Dapo Akande, Professor of Public International Law at Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, offered discussant’s remarks before opening the floor for a stimulating round of Q&A.

I’m grateful to all at the Institute for this event and the hospitality I’ve enjoyed during my stay at a Bonavero Research Visitor and Mansfield College Visiting Fellow. Grateful, too, for the opportunities I’ve had to present this work elsewhere in Europe, at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland Galway, University of Stockholm, University of Göttingen, and Max Planck Institute Luxembourg.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, thanks to archives preserving histories of post-WWII war crimes trials: Amann


LOS ANGELES – On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am honored to be spending this month at the USC Shoah Foundation, reviewing testimonies of persons who did their part to set right one of history’s terrible wrongs.

Seventy-three years ago today, Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous Nazi concentration camp located about 45 miles west of Kraków, Poland. Liberations of other camps by other Allied forces soon followed; among them, the U.S. liberation of Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, and the British liberation of Bergen-Belsen 4 days later.

Sixty years later, a 2005 U.N. General Assembly resolution set this date aside for commemoration of World War II atrocities; to quote the resolution, of

“… the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities …”

The resolution further:

  • honored “the courage and dedication shown by the soldiers who liberated the concentration camps”;
  • rejected “any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event”;
  • envisaged the Holocaust as “a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice”;
  • denounced “all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur”; and
  • encouraged initiatives designed to “inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide.”

Among the many such initiatives are memorial centers and foundations throughout the world – 2 of which have helped me in my own research into the roles that women played during postwar international criminal trials at Nuremberg.

In December, the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, located in Glen Cove, New York, opened its archives to me. Special thanks to Helen  Turner, archivist and Director of Youth Education, for her assistance.

This month, as the inaugural Breslauer, Rutman and Anderson Research Fellow, I am in residence at the University of Southern California, examining documents in USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive. It has been a fruitful and moving scholarly experience, and I look forward to sharing my research at a public lecture on campus at 4 p.m. this Tuesday, Jan. 30 (as I was honored to do last week at UCLA Law’s Promise Institute for Human Rights; video here). Special thanks to all at the foundation’s Center for Advanced Research – Wolf Gruner, Martha Stroud, Badema Pitic, Isabella Evalynn Lloyd-Damnjanovic, and Marika Stanford-Moore – and to the donors who endowed the research fellowship. (Fellowship info here.)

As reflected in the 2005 General Assembly resolution, the work of such institutions helps to entrench – and to prevent backsliding from – states’ promises to ensure and respect human rights and dignity norms, set out in instruments like the 1945 Charter of the United Nations, the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. To this list I would add the many documents establishing international criminal fora to prosecute persons charge with violating such norms – from  the Nuremberg-era tribunals through to today’s International Criminal Court.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann; image credit)