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.

“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.

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)

International lawyer Christine Keller, our Center’s new Associate Director for Global Practice Preparation

KellerWe’ve just welcomed a new international lawyer to the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law: Christine Keller, our new Associate Director for Global Practice Preparation.

In that position, she’ll enhance our 40-year-old Center’s mission by developing and administering global practice preparation initiatives,  including: the Global Governance Summer School we host in the Netherlands and Belgium, in partnership with the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven; our Global Externships Overseas and At-Home; academic-year events programming and support; communications; and research initiatives.

It’s a bit of a homecoming for Christine, who was an undergraduate at the University of Georgia – she earned her A.B. in Political Science with honors, and was a member of the university’s NCAA champion women’s swim team. She also holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School (with a focus on international criminal law), a J.D. from the Santa Clara University School of Law (where she was a member of the Jessup International Moot Court team and a Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellow), and an M.A. in International Policy Studies from Stanford University.

She comes to us from The Hague in the Netherlands, where for the last decade she has practiced international criminal law. At the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, her positions included: Associate Legal Officer and then a Legal Officer in Chambers, working on the Tolimir and Karadžić cases and leading a team of attorneys on an aspect of the Prlić appeal. Before that, she worked as an Assistant Legal Officer to two successive judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court. She also provided research and drafting assistance in the Office of the Prosecutor, on cases including Al Bashir and issues including victim participation. She also has worked at a San Francisco nongovernmental organization, the Center for Justice and Accountability, on topics such as European universal jurisdiction, human rights violations in Guatemala and Somalia, and the Alien Tort Statute.

Christine has studied abroad in Germany and El Salvador, is proficient in French, and has a working knowledge of Spanish.

We’re delighted to welcome her!

ICC Office of Prosecutor invites public comment on draft Policy on Children

draftpolicyIt is my great honor to note today’s release for public comment of the draft Policy on Children of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor.

Since my December 2012 appointment as Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict, I’ve had the privilege of helping to convene consultations and taking part in the construction of this draft Policy. As part of that process, as noted on page 11 of the draft, we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, were honored in October 2014 to host the Prosecutor, members of her staff, and nearly 2 dozen other experts from academic, nongovernmental groups, and intergovernmental organizations. Our “Children & International Criminal Justice” conference featured a morning public plenary and Prosecutor’s keynote (pictured below), followed by an afternoon of closed-door breakout sessions. (Proceedings from that event, to appear in our Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, are nearing publication.)

Addressed in the draft Policy, which spans 37 pages, are:

► Overarching concerns, such as the nature of a child and childhood, the experiences of children in armed conflict and other contexts within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and how the Rome Statute of the ICC and other documents treat crimes against and affecting children; and

► Practical concerns, such as how the Office of the Prosecutor engages with children, in all aspects of its work, including preliminary examination, investigation, charging, prosecution, sentencing, reparations, and external relations.

As stated in the press release accompanying today’s publication:

In highlighting the importance of the Policy, Prosecutor Bensouda stated: “when I assumed 8_events2the role of Prosecutor in June 2012, one of the principal goals I set for the Office was to ensure that we pay particular attention not only to ‘children with arms’, but also ‘children affected by arms.’ This Policy demonstrates our firm commitment to closing the impunity gap for crimes against or affecting children, and adopting a child-sensitive approach in all aspects of our work bearing in mind their rights and best interests. It is also our hope that the Policy, once adopted, will serve as a useful guide to national authorities in their efforts to address crimes against children.”

The Office welcomes public comment on the draft. Such comments should be e-mailed to OTPLegalAdvisorySection@icc-cpi.int, no later than Friday, August 5, 2016.

Following revisions based on the comments, the Office of the Prosecutor expects to publish the final Policy on Children in November of this year.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)