Expert in international migration law and policy, Oslo-based Tom Syring, gives talks at Georgia Law

Migration and the rule of law, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, was the topic du jour yesterday at the University of Georgia School of Law, thanks to guest lectures by Tom Syring, Chairman of the Human Rights Research League, based in Oslo, Norway.

As the 2020 American-Scandinavian Foundation Visiting Lecturer, Syring is an expert in international refugee and migration law and policy, and co-editor, with Boston University Law Professor Susan Akram, of Still Waiting for Tomorrow: The Law and Politics of Unresolved Refugee Crises (2014). His visit to Georgia Law was part of a 2-month lecture and teaching tour that also includes stops in U.S. locations including Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Texas.

Following his public, lunch-hour talk on “Refugees, Forced Migration, and Africa,” Syring met with students in the Refugee & Asylum Law seminar (pictured above) led by Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann.

Together, the talks set forth:

Syring ended on a high note, pointing to the promising potential represented by countries in Africa, a continent rich in resources and a young, vibrant populace.

Cosponsors of the visit, in addition to Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center and the American-Scandinavian Foundation, included two University of Georgia units, the African Studies Institute and the School of Public & International Affairs.

Special thanks are due to all those affiliated with Georgia Law who supported Syring’s visit: Mandy Dixon, Catrina Martin, Brad Grove, Sarah Quinn, Heidi Murphy, and Laura Kagel, as well as Professors Lori Ringhand and Harlan Cohen.

UGA Professor Jonathan Peters Participates in Expert Workshop on the ICCPR at Cambridge

JP headshot (1).jpgJonathan Peters, a media law professor with appointments in the School of Law and the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, was among 34 scholars, policy leaders, and United Nations officials who participated in an expert workshop last week at the University of Cambridge on the right to peaceful assembly.

2019-12-04_11-36-49_243The workshop’s purpose was to support the U.N. Human Rights Committee by informing its drafting of General Comment No. 37 on Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Article 21 guarantees the right of peaceful assembly, and the General Comment will provide an authoritative interpretation of that right as well as substantive guidance to ensure its practical enjoyment.

One significant open question is whether General Comment No. 37 will recognize the Internet as a space where assemblies occur—on social media platforms and through other information and communication technologies. Participants exchanged ideas about whether and how Article 21 could be interpreted to protect virtual assemblies.

Peters, whose research explores digital media and the law, discussed the state action doctrine in U.S. law and how it distinguishes public and private action, along with the history and evolution of the public forum doctrine and its application to physical and virtual spaces.

Other workshop participants came from the U.N. Human Rights Committee, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Amnesty International, Article 19, and numerous universities.

Georgia Law Professor Amann’s UN Audiovisual Lecture marks 30th anniversary of Child Rights Convention

This week’s global commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child includes a special contribution from a Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center here at the University of Georgia School of Law:

The United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law has just published “Child Rights, Conflict, and International Criminal Justice,” a lecture by Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, holder of the Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law. As described in prior posts, Amann’s expertise in this field extends to her service as Special Adviser to International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict; that said, she produced this lecture in her personal capacity.

Amann’s 41-minute lecture was taped 8 November 2019 at the Codification Division of the UN Office of Legal Affairs, UN Headquarters, New York. It is available in video (here) and audio formats (SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts).

As Amann posted at her personal blog, the lecture begins by setting forth particular harms that children endure in armed conflict and similar violence. It proceeds to trace the developments in child rights that led to adoption, on 20 November 1989, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Next, it describes parallel developments in two other key legal fields, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. After looking at relevant provisions of the Child Rights Convention and other instruments – in particular, the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – the lecture concludes by evaluating efforts to ensure the rights of the child by preventing and punishing international crimes against and affecting children.

Also provided at Amann’s AVL Faculty Page is a list of related materials on which her lecture relies.

Amann said this about the treaty that is enjoying a celebration, in Wednesday’s “World Children’s Day” and throughout this week:

“As for the 1989 Child Rights Convention itself – today it has 196 parties, including the Holy See, the State of Palestine, and every UN member state except the United States of America. Because of its nearly universal acceptance, as well as its comprehensive contents, the Convention has served for the last thirty years as the pre-eminent global charter on child rights and protection.”

2019 Global Governance Summer School concludes with briefings at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court

THE HAGUE – On this final day of the 2019 Global Governance Summer School, students visited two preeminent international tribunals — the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court — for high level briefings. They were also treated to a visit from Dr. Kaitlin Ball (JD ’14), a Georgia Law alumna who recently finished a PhD at Cambridge and is living in Europe.

The group started the day at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an audience with Hendrik Denys, law clerk to the Honorable Joan Donoghue, the American judge on the International Court of Justice. Mr. Denys, an alumnus of our partner school, KU Leuven, spoke with students about the history of the Peace Palace, the structure and procedure of the Court, and several representative decisions of the ICJ’s jurisprudence. He also provided advice for preparing a career in international law.

In the afternoon, the group visited the International Criminal Court (ICC), located on the dunes near The Hague’s North Sea coast. Student first had a meeting with Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, 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.

The second audience at the ICC was with the Honorable Kimberly Prost of Canada, who serves as a Judge in the Trial Division. Judge Prost discussed the history of the Court and the many of the challenges facing it. She also emphasized the important concept of complementarity in regards to the ICC’s relationship to national courts.

Students also had the opportunity to view the confirmation of charges against Al Hassan, who is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in 2012 and 2013 in Timbuktu, Mali. During the portion of the hearing that time permitted the group to observe, students heard from one of the Legal Representatives of the Victims, who emphasized the impact of the alleged crimes.

All in all, it was a great day, a successful trip, and we look forward to returning next year!

“Excited to pursue the conservation of biodiversity around the world”: Andrew Hedin on his Global Externship at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

This 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 Global Externship Overseas initiative. Author of this post is Andrew Hedin, a member of the Class of 2020 who spent his 1L summer as a GEO, or Global Extern Overseas.

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Malo! (“Hi” in Samoan.) This summer I lived in the tropical paradise of Samoa, working for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). During my externship, I worked on environmental law issues and had the opportunity to attend a major conference in Fiji. Following my internship, I was invited to observe the first United Nations conference to work towards a treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity on the high seas.

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SPREP is an international governmental organization serving the fourteen island nations of the South Pacific, as well as five states with territories in the region, including the United States. Headquartered in Apia, the capital city of Samoa, SREP addresses environmental issues ranging from waste disposal to climate change to biodiversity. It also serves a data collection function, which facilitates identification and monitoring of environmental issues. The work of the organization is critical because the Pacific Island states encompass over fifteen million kilometers of marine territory, and are considered to be the largest source of marine biodiversity in the world. However, these ecosystems are fragile and have faced significant reduction due to increased human activity both within and outside the region.

20180724_123546During my externship, I worked closely with SPREP’s legal counsel, and participated in various projects on topics like preventing the practice of shark finning and banning the use of non-reusable plastics. My most extensive assignment related to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Protocol seeks to ensure that there are predictable conditions for access to genetic material, and that the benefits of genetic resource research are shared with the country of origin. Thus, the Protocol requires parties to enter into a contract that obtains prior informed consent of the resource provider, clearly lays out the benefits to the providing community, and defines the scope of access for the user of the genetic resource. The Protocol also creates intellectual property rights in traditional knowledge associated with genetic material in order to protect indigenous communities’ use of local resources. I had the opportunity to assist in the drafting of model implementing legislation and contract templates, and to conduct an analyses of implementation issues in the Cook Islands and Tonga.

I was fortunate to travel with the access and benefits sharing team to Fiji to attend a conference on this topic hosted by the International Development Law Organization and the ABS Initiative. This provided a global context for my work; I learned about how the Nagoya Protocol was being implemented in other regions. It was also a tremendous opportunity to meet practitioners working in this area.

Faga-Loa BayThe opportunity to work on biodiversity was amplified by the chance to do so in Samoa. When I wasn’t working, I spent the summer exploring the natural wonders of the small island nation. Consisting of two main islands – Upolu and Savai’i – and eight small inlets, Samoa boasts an extensive coral reef ecosystem, pristine beaches, massive waterfalls, and miles upon miles of coconut trees. It is also home to 200,000 people, who keep alive one of the world’s oldest cultures. Family and community are integral to the Samoan way of life, and Samoans take great pride in maintaining traditions that have been passed down for thousands of years. One of these, familiar around the world, is the Samoan art of tatau, or tattooing. Practiced for more than 3000 years, the art involves tattooing from the waist to the knees, entirely by hand. The traditional tattoo is highly respected, symbolizing an individual’s determination, endurance, and ability to assume responsibility. While I did not get any tattoos, having the opportunity to see the incredible natural world of the Pacific renewed my resolve to forge a career in international environmental law to protect these valuable resources.

Hedin_UNAfter completing my internship with SPREP and returning to campus this fall, I was pleased to be selected by the American Society of International Law, of which the University of Georgia School of Law is an Academic Partner, to serve as an NGO observer at the United Nations. As noted in the most recent edition of the ASIL Newsletter, I attended the first Intergovernmental Conference for an international legally binding instrument, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea, on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

At the conference, I watched as state delegates, and representatives of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations debated the four foundational pillars of the potential agreement:

  • accessing marine genetic resources and sharing in their benefits;
  • area-based management tools;
  • environmental impact assessments; and
  • capacity building with associated marine technology sharing.

This experience was incredible because I observed firsthand how treaty negotiations begin. Although representatives discussed an array of issues and expressed many concerns, there was near-consensus on the importance of protecting the genetic diversity in our oceans. While this is no small task and there is a significant amount of work to be done, after observing the proceedings, I am optimistic that reaching an agreement is possible.

Tu Soa 4x5While I knew that I was interested in international environmental law, before this summer I had never heard of the Nagoya Protocol. Now, I have an understanding of the contracts that govern access to genetic resources, and of their value to indigenous communities. I also built a network of professionals doing great work to advance this initiative. I am incredibly grateful for my time in Samoa and at the UN, and am excited to build on these experiences to pursue the conservation of biodiversity around the world for the benefit of generations to come.

Register now: “U.S. Employment Law in a Global Context” training, May 15-17 at Georgia Law’s Atlanta campus

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Registration is now open for “U.S. Employment Law in a Global Context,” a three-day training to be held May 15 to 17, 2019. Presented jointly by the Dean Rusk International Law Center and CIFAL Atlanta, the training will take place at the University of Georgia School of Law Atlanta Campus, located in the Buckhead neighborhood, 3475 Lenox Road NE.

The training is designed to enable in-house counsel and human resources managers of international companies operating in the United States, or companies seeking to establish a presence in the U.S. market, to obtain specialized knowledge in evolving areas of employment law. Legal academics and students of labor and employment law are also welcome to register to attend.

Prominent experts in the field of employment law will teach the courses, which will be offered for CLE credit. In addition, the full schedule includes a networking reception, lunch with speakers, and a closing ceremony. Training topics and speakers include:

Wednesday, May 15Day 1 speakers

  • U.S. Labor and Employment Law: An Historical Overview (Daniel P. Hart, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP)
  • U.S. Labor Law Today (Kyllan B. Kershaw, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP)
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (Brett C. Bartlett, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP)
  • Employment Discrimination & Title VII (Myra Creighton, Partner, Fisher Phillips)

Thursday, May 16

  • Sexual Harassment Law Day 2 speakers(Amanda A. Farahany, Managing Partner, Barrett & Farahany LLP)
  • Privacy Issues in the Workplace (Montserrat C. Miller, Partner, Arnall Golden Gregory LLP)
  • Dispute Resolution Systems in the Workplace & Arbitration Clauses in Employment Contracts (Daniel M. Klein, Klein Dispute Resolution)
  • Global Mobility Best Practices (Teri A. Simmons, Partner, Arnall Golden Gregory LLP)

Friday, May 17

  • Day 3 speakersTrade Secrets, Non-Compete Clauses, and Employee Mobility (Keshia M. Tiemann, Associate, Greenberg Traurig LLP)
  • Consideration of Employment Contracts for a Global Workforce (Susan Nofi, former General Counsel, Heidelberg USA, Inc.)

CIFAL Atlanta is part of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) network of international training centers. We at the Dean Rusk International Law Center are delighted to partner with them, continuing our twenty year history of providing trainings for foreign judges and other legal practitioners.

Details and registration available here.

Dispatch from UNHQ: 63d session of Commission on the Status of Women

IMG_1290 (2)I had the pleasure of spending last week at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, attending the 63d session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). CSW is an intergovernmental body “dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” It was established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations in 1946. I am grateful to have served as an NGO observer on behalf of the American Society of International Law, which holds special consultative status to ECOSOC.

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CSW takes place annually over a two-week period. This year, CSW was chaired by Ambassador Geraldine Byrne-Nason of Ireland, and focused on the theme of “social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” During the course of CSW, state delegates negotiate recommendations, or agreed conclusions, related to this theme. The draft agreed conclusions that were discussed during the 63d CSW urge states, as well as other relevant organizations and institutions, to:

  • strengthen the normative, legal, and institutional environment for gender equality;
  • address gender gaps and biases in social protection;
  • transform public services for gender equality and women’s empowerment;
  • make infrastructure investment work for women and girls; and
  • mobilize resources, strengthen accountability, and improve evidence related to the experiences of women and girls.

IMG_1353 (2)Beyond the formal meetings and negotiations, participating states and organizations present a dizzying array of side and parallel events during the commission. I attended many robust sessions, in particular those that dealt with women, peace, and security (WPS). These ranged from from conversations about increasing women’s participation in peace processes, to discussions on challenges facing the implementation of National Action Plans in the Arab Region, to presentations by national and NGO representatives on the challenges to the WPS Agenda ahead of its 20th anniversary next year.

IMG_1341This was my first time attending CSW. It was an incredible gathering, at which impassioned people from around the world worked to improve the the status of women and girls in a range of roles and contexts: participants included government officials, advocates and activists, religious leaders, teachers, and students.

The energy of the week was tremendous: at a town-hall meeting for NGO representatives with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, delegations took turns singing songs from their home countries while we waited for the Secretary-General to arrive. It was profoundly inspiring to see such a diverse collection of people – people with the common goal of achieving gender equality –  connecting, building alliances, and sharing experiences.