Each year, the American Branch hosts and co-sponsors a variety of events covering a wide array of international law topics, including webinars, panel discussions, and more.
The Impact of a TRIPS COVID Waiver on Trade and Investment Agreements
The ABILA International Intellectual Property Law Committee co-sponsored a webinar on “The Impact of a TRIPS COVID Waiver on Trade and Investment Agreements” on February 4, 2022 with American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP). The event featured a presentation of a new report by Federica Paddeu and Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan followed by a round table discussion with international law experts. Roundtable speakers included Daniel Uribe (Lead Program Officer, South Centre), Rochelle Dreyfuss (Pauline Newman Professor of Law, NYU School of Law), Holger Hestermeyer (Professor of International and EU Law at King’s College London), Peter K. Yu (Regents Professor of Law and Communication and Director, Center for Law and Intellectual Property, Texas A&M University School of Law, Co-Chair, International Intellectual Property Law Committee, ABILA), and Nirmalya Syam (Senior Program Officer, South Centre).
Recent Arbitration-Related Developments in the Middle East
In February 2021, the ABILA Committee on International Arbitration co-sponsored a webinar on “Recent Arbitration-Related Developments in the Middle East” with Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, the International Court of Arbitration, and Al-Ansari & Associates. Companies in the Middle East increasingly resort to arbitration to resolve their commercial disputes in various sectors, including energy, telecommunications, and infrastructure. Join a panel of leading in-house counsel and practitioners as they discuss key changes to national laws and enforcement of arbitral awards, consider the role of arbitral institutions and the selection of arbitrators, and offer their perspective on how to improve the arbitration process in the region. Speakers included Salman Al-Ansari (Partner, Al-Ansari & Associates), Alexander Fessas (Secretary General, International Court of Arbitration of the ICC), Lara Hammoud (Senior Legal Counsel, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Arbitrator), Firas Oggar (Group Head of Legal, Zain Group), and Floriane Lavaud, (Counsel (Moderator), Debevoise & Plimpton; Co-Chair, ABILA International Arbitration Committee.
When Vetoes Enable Atrocity Crimes: What if the Security Council Were Not Blocked From Acting When Faced With Atrocity Crimes?
In November 2021, the ABILA Committee on the International Criminal Court and the ABILA United Nations Law Committee co-hosted, along with NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, a webinar on When Vetoes Enable Atrocity Crimes: What if the Security Council Were Not Blocked From Acting When Faced With Atrocity Crimes? When situations that threaten international peace and security involve genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, a Security Council that is habitually deadlocked by permanent member vetoes actually creates a permissive environment for the commission of these atrocity crimes. The broadly supported voluntary veto restraint initiatives indicate that the vast majority of States are dissatisfied with this situation. There are also compelling arguments to suggest that there are limits under international law for the use of the veto in these circumstances.
The panel discussion was moderated by Andras Vamos-Goldman (formerly Founder and Executive Director Justice Rapid Response; formerly, political coordinator and legal adviser, Canadian Mission to the United Nations) and included Ambassador Bob Rae (Permanent Representative, Mission of Canada to the United Nations); Ambassador Christian Wenaweser (Permanent Representative, Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations); Ambassador Juan Ramón de la Fuente (Permanent Representative, Mission of Mexico to the United Nations); and Professor Jennifer Trahan (NYU Center for Global Affairs).
The World Health Organization and the Need for Reform
On August 25, 2021, the American Branch, along with the International Law Association’s Global Health Law Committee co-sponsored a Report Launch for the project Global Governance: The World Health Organization and the Need for Post-COVID-19 Reform. Chaired by ABILA President Leila Sadat, the project also featured Professor Frederick Abbot, Chair of the ILA Global Health Law Committee, and Madaline George, ABILA’s Membership Officer. A copy of the Report, which was submitted to the World Health Organization’s Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response for consideration, can be read online.
Experts’ Seminar on the International Criminal Court
In June 2021, experts, law professors, NGOs, and others gathered for an “Experts Seminar on the International Criminal Court,” organized by NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, and the University of Illinois College of Law, and co-sponsored by ABILA’s International Criminal Court Committee.
Former U.S. War Crimes Ambassador David Scheffer delivered the Keynote Address, with Beth Van Schaack of Stanford Law School delivering closing remarks. ABILA President Leila Sadat moderated the panel on Teaching on the ICC, featuring Darin Johnson, Howard School of Law; Patrick Keenan, University of Illinois College of Law; Saira Mohamed, University of California Berkeley School of Law; and Milena Sterio, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law & co-chair of the ABILA Committee on Teaching International Law. ABILA ICC Committee co-chair Jennifer Trahan moderated the panel on US/ICC Advocacy, featuring Kristin Smith, Director, Atrocity Crimes Initiative, ABA Criminal Justice Section & Center for Human Rights; Elizabeth Evenson, Associate Director, International Justice Program, Human Rights Watch; Katie Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights; and Rebecca Shoot, Co-Convener, Washington Working Group on the ICC. Violeta Willemsen-Curic, Head of the Outreach Unit of the International Criminal Court, also joined, making a presentation on the use of the Court’s outreach materials.
Gun Violence and Human Rights: “Building Momentum”
On June 29, 2021, the ABILA Human Rights Committee co-sponsored the Gun Violence and Human Rights Workshop: “Building Momentum,” hosted by the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and the Gun Violence and Human Rights Initiative at Washington University School of Law. This workshop was broken into two parts. The first involved the presentation of research by scholars working on gun violence, firearm laws, and gun safety issues, as well as a discussion of recent action by the U.S. government to fight gun violence. The second half of the Workshop, which was closed to the public, opened with a presentation of the Initiative’s research, followed by a discussion of a variety of strategies to address the U.S. gun violence crisis and keep progress moving forward. Speakers included Joseph Blocher (Duke University School of Law; Center for Firearms Law), Kateri Chapman-Kramer (Washington University Institute for Public Health); Barbara Frey (University of Minnesota), Madaline George (Washington University School of Law), Jonathan Hafetz (Seton Hall University); Daniel Harawa (Washington University School of Law ), David Konig (Washington University School of Law), Alla Lefkowitz (Everytown for Gun Safety), Jonathan E. Lowy (Brady Law Center), Gregory P. Magarian (Washington University School of Law), Leila Nadya Sadat, (Washington University School of Law), Jasmeet Sidhu (Amnesty International USA), Reva Siegel (Yale Law School), and Adam Skaggs (Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence).
Several members above submitted an amicus brief in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen in September 2021.
The Mauritanian and the Future of Guantánamo
In June 2021, the Committee on International Humanitarian Law, in coordination with the American Society of International Law Program Committee, organized a panel entitled “The Mauritanian and the Future of Guantánamo”—the inaugural panel of the ASIL Film Series. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Yet five men charged with conspiracy to commit those attacks, including the alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remain in U.S. custody at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, their trial yet to begin. The problems that have bedeviled the 9/11 proceedings have been endemic to the facility since its inception: the use of torture, the use of classified evidence, the endless debates over which rules of law apply to the men detained there. The Biden Administration has announced a renewed effort to close the facility, but these and other issues have posed formidable barriers to previous closure attempts and to obtaining just dispositions for the remaining detainees. The recently-released film The Mauritanian, which tells the story of former Guantánamo detainee Mohamedou Ould Slahi, shines a renewed spotlight upon many of these issues.
Nancy Hollander, counsel to Slahi, and Lt. Col V. Stuart Couch, USMC, Ret., the former military prosecutor who refused to prosecute his case, joined a panel of experts from academia, government, and civil society in a discussion that used the film as a launching point to assess the current state of affairs at Guantánamo and prospects for the future. Additional speakers included Brian Egan, former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State and Partner, Steptoe & Johnson LLP; Oona Hathaway, Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law, Yale Law School; and Andrea Prasow, Deputy Washington Director, Human Rights Watch. Committee Co-Chair Ashika Singh moderated.
A recording of the panel can be viewed online.
The Supreme Court’s Decision in Nestle & Cargill v. Doe
The American Branch’s Committee on International Law in Domestic Courts held its inaugural event on June 24, 2021. The Committee hosted a panel discussion on The Supreme Court’s decision in Nestle & Cargill v. Doe.
Committee Co-Chair Steven Schneebaum (Interim Director, International Law and Organizations Program, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University) opened the event, which was moderated by Martin Flaherty (Committee Co-Chair and Professor, Co-Director, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham University School of Law; Visiting Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University). The event featured David Golove (Hiller Family Foundation Professor of Law, NYU School of Law), Paul Hoffman (Adjunct Clinical Professor, University of California, Irvine School of Law; Partner, Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP); Michael Ramsey (Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation Professor of Law; Director, International & Comparative Law Programs, University of San Diego School of Law); and Beth Stephens (Distinguished Professor of Law, Rutgers Law School). A video of the event is available online.
Investment Arbitration Workshop: The Latest Challenges in Latin America
The American Branch’s Investment Law and International Arbitration Committees held the inaugural program of their Investment Arbitration Workshop Series, The Latest Challenges in Latin America – hosted online by Dechert – on April 14, 2021. The program brought together distinguished practitioners to discuss how they see the path ahead for investment arbitration in Latin America. The speakers debated the significance of human rights and corruption issues in recent investment arbitrations, as well as how the investment protection system may modernize to resolve these and other recurring challenges in Latin America. The event engaged the audience in a frank and open conversation about the challenges facing investment arbitration in the region.
Speakers included Mélida Hodgson (Partner, Jenner & Block), Andrés Jana (Partner, Bofill Mir & Alvarez Jana Abogados), Maria A. Burgos (Associate, Baker McKenzie), and ABILA Board member David L. Attanasio (Associate, Dechert).
International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Symposium – New Directions in International Arbitration & Mediation
The American Branch, along with the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University School of Law, again co-hosted the Annual International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Symposium. Cosponsors included the University’s Negotiation and Dispute Resolution Program and the Young Members Group of the North America Branch (NAB) of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb).
The conference was held on two Fridays in February 2021 and featured a keynote address by ABILA Vice-President Chiara Giorgetti: Looking at the Future: Reflecting on the Reform Process in Investor-State Dispute Settlement. A panel discussion led by Professor Frédéric G. Sourgens (Washburn University School of Law) expanded on the keynote and explored how non-arbitration modes of dispute resolution will play an increased role in international dispute resolution. The second day of the Symposium featured a panel discussion chaired by ABILA Secretary M. Imad Khan on anticipated developments in U.S. arbitration law in light of recent developments and circuit splits on an array of arbitration topics.
Additional speakers included Kun Fan (University of New South Wales – Law), Won Kidane (Seattle University School of Law), Viren Mascarenhas (King & Spalding), Judge Lawrence Mooney (JAMS), Hannah Tümpel (United World Colleges), and Gretta Walters (Chaffetz Lindsey).
The Folly of U.S. Sanctions Against the International Criminal Court
The International Humanitarian Law Committee of the American Branch co-sponsored a virtual event with the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 titled “The Folly of U.S. Sanctions Against the International Criminal Court.” Speakers included Gabor Rona, Professor of Practice and Director of CLIHHR Law and Armed Conflict Project at Cardozo Law School; Betsy Apple, Advocacy Director and Head of the Rule of Law Division at Open Society Justice Initiative; Andrew Loewenstein, Partner at Foley Hoag; Beth Van Schaack, Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor of Human Rights at Stanford Law School; and Adam Smith, Partner at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher.
Since the inception of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998, the United States has had both hostile and cooperative relations with the ICC. The Trump administration took hostility to a new level, imposing legal sanctions on the Court’s high-level officials in the same way the government imposes civil and criminal sanctions against those who provide material support to terrorists. This panel explored the state of litigation challenging these sanctions, and how and why the incoming administration’s approach to the ICC might differ from that of its predecessor.
Sanctions Against the International Criminal Court: Constitutional and International Law Issues
On January 27, 2021, the American Branch’s International Criminal Court Committee, along with Cleveland Marshall School of Law, AALS National Security Law Section, and the American Society of International Law’s International Courts and Tribunals Interest Group hosted a virtual panel on “Sanctions Against the International Criminal Court: Constitutional and International Law Issues.” Moderated by Gregory Magarian, Professor of Law at Washington University School of Law, the event featured ABILA President Leila N. Sadat, a Professor of Law at Washington University School of Law; Milena Sterio, a Professor of Law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law; Gabor Rona, a Professor of Practice at Cardozo School of Law; Scarlet Kim, an attorney at the ACLU; and Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp, a Distinguished Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Prevention of Genocide and Senior Fellow of Practice at the Center for Law and former Ambassador-at-Large, Office of Global Criminal Justice, U.S. Department of State.
In June 2020, the Trump Administration announced a new sanctions regime against International Criminal Court officials on national security law grounds and in September 2020, the Administration designated for sanctions two high-level ICC officials, including Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The sanctions regime has been challenged in U.S. federal court by two different lawsuits, in New York and in California. It has also provoked a sharp rebuke by the ICC itself, as well as by several other countries, international organizations, and NGOs. This distinguished panel focused on the sanctions regime which the Trump Administration imposed against ICC officials, as well as against those who provide material assistance to the court. Panelists discussed the ongoing litigation brought against the Trump Administration on First and Fifth Amendment grounds and analyzed both constitutional as well as international law and policy issues that are implicated by the current sanctions regime.
Teaching International Law During Challenging Times
On October 2, 2020, the American Branch and its Committee on Teaching International Law hosted a virtual panel discussion on Teaching International Law During Challenging Times. Moderated by Professor Milena Sterio, a member of the ABILA Board of Directors and Professor of Law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, the panel was co-sponsored by the American Society of International Law’s Teaching International Law Interest Group and featured four speakers: Darin Johnson, Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law; Cindy Buys, Professor of Law at Southern Illinois University School of Law; Jennifer Trahan, Clinical Professor at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University and member of the ABILA Board of Directors; and Mark Wojcik, Professor of Law at UIC John Marshall Law School. Read more about the event here.
COVID-19 Webinar Series
The American Branch held a three-part webinar series about COVID-19 and international law during the spring and summer of 2020. Read more about the series here.