“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.

Drawing links between initiatives to increase protection of children during armed conflict & similar violence


“‘Protecting Children’: A Welcome Addition to Efforts to Redress Wartime Harms,” an essay I published yesterday at Just Security, underscores connections among a number of recent initiatives related to children and armed conflict.

The essay welcomes Protecting Children in Armed Conflict (Hart Publishing 2018), the 600-page report of the 2017 Inquiry on Protecting Children in Armed Conflict spearheaded by Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education. (I served on the Inquiry’s Advisory Panel.)

Leading a team of researchers was Shaheed Fatima QC, a barrister at London’s Blackstone Chambers, who spoke on this work at the International Law Weekend panel last month. (prior post here) My Just Security essay offers a detailed description and favorable critique of this research, noting the work’s connections with what the UN Security Council terms the “Six Grave Violations against Children in Armed Conflict.”

The essay further draws links between this work and the 2016 International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor Policy on Children, which I had the honor of helping to prepare in my ongoing service as ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict. (prior post here) The essay points to “the complementary potential of these and other initiatives,” and concludes:

Together, they may advance two essential goals: first, to articulate norms prohibiting wartime harms against children; and second, to secure redress for any such harms that occur.

My Just Security essay is here. It is part of a miniforum which began with a post last week jointly authored by Fatima and Brown, available here. The Just Security series will continue with forthcoming posts by Sarah Knuckey (Columbia Law), Alex Moorehead (Columbia Law), and Alex Whiting (Harvard Law).

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Benjamin Zawacki, author of Thailand: Shifting Ground between the US and a Rising China, to speak at Georgia Law on Tuesday, March 20

Benjamin Zawacki bookWe at the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center are delighted to welcome Benjamin Zawacki, a Bangkok-based human rights researcher and advocate, to campus to discuss his recently-released book, Thailand: Shifting Ground between the US and a Rising China. He will be speaking tomorrow, March 20, 2018, from 11:45-1:00 p.m. in the Larry Walker Room in Dean Rusk Hall.

Joining him in conversation will be UGA Department of History history_faculty_08Professor Ari Levine, an expert in China. Zawacki will discuss Thailand’s recent pivot towards China following decades as a key strategic ally of the United States, as well as what that means for a new administration in Washington. Levine will pose key questions and moderate a discussion with attendees.

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Zawacki has lived in Thailand for the past 15 years. In 2015, he was a visiting fellow in the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School and a term member on the Council of Foreign Relations. He previously served as the Senior Legal Advisor for Southeast Asia with the International Commission of Jurists, the Acting Regional Representative of the International Development Law Organization, and Amnesty International’s Myanmar, Thailand, and Asian Emergencies Researcher.

The event is co-sponsored by the law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, the Department of History, and the International Law Society. It is presented as part of the Center’s United Nations Academic Impact partnership.

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)

Student Rebecca Wackym on her GEO at Hebron Rehabilitation Committee

This is one in a series of posts by University of Georgia School of Law students, writing on their participation in our 2017 Global Governance Summer School or Global Externship Overseas initiative. Author of this post is 2L Rebecca Wackym, who spent her 1L summer as a GEO, or Global Extern Overseas.

For six weeks this summer, I lived and worked in the ancient and industrial city of Hebron (in Arabic, “Al-Khalil”) in the southern West Bank. Hebron is often touted as a “microcosm” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And for good reason: Hebron’s contested Old City district is home to both 30,000 Palestinians and 500-800 Israeli settlers, the latter protected by approximately 2,000 Israeli troops.

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At the center of the Old City and the conflict in Hebron is the Ibrahimi Mosque. It is the burial place of the patriarchs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah. It is the oldest religious building in the world that has been continually used for its original purpose, and it is the only religious building that serves as both a mosque and a synagogue. Much like the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock area, the Ibrahimi Mosque has been the subject of a tug of war between the Israelis and Palestinians since the occupation began.

The organization I worked for, Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC), is on the front lines of the battle for cultural heritage rights. HRC succeeded in its efforts to designate the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Old City of Hebron as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Danger. During my time in Hebron, I worked with the Legal Unit of Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, which was founded to respond to human rights violations against the Palestinian citizens of the Old City, particularly violations pertaining to personal and public property.

Wackym6.jpgThe Legal Unit of the HRC uses several legal and policy strategies to achieve this purpose. These include: filing domestic complaints against Israeli Defense Forces orders; filing complaints with various international human rights bodies; conducting international awareness campaigns; and directly educating Palestinians about their rights. I had the opportunity to work on several of these complaints. On one filed with the United Nations Human Rights Council, I did research on Israeli case law.  My research involved the exhaustion of domestic remedies requirement in the context of road closure cases, in which the courts typically do not get involved if the closure can be justified by a “security-related” reason. I also wrote a complaint to the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. For this project, I conducted interviews with victims, compiled evidence, and researched relevant military orders and case law.

The transition from living in the United States to living in a conservative, Muslim-majority place was daunting, but my supervisor, Nicole Trudeau, did everything she could to ease the culture shock. She introduced me to her Palestinian friends and invited me to eat with local residents of the Old City. I felt very welcome and even at home during my time in Hebron. The professional culture was more relaxed than in the United States – the office closed at 3 pm, and tea breaks were customary– but I was surprised to find that it was also almost as progressive. Women outnumbered men in the office and had leadership roles. It was an eye-opening to see a conservative culture value women in the workforce.

During my externship with HRC, I received an invaluable education not only in human rights, cultural heritage, and humanitarian law practice, but also in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and their respective cultures. I spent weekends traveling all over Israel and the West Bank. I spoke with members of the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian soldiers, young people in Tel Aviv and Ramallah, settlers in Hebron, and local and international activists just trying to make the situation better. The experience was absolutely incredible. And I will never forget the friends I left in Hebron. Salam!