IntLawGrrls 10th Year Anniversary Conference: “We have come a long way baby!”

IntLawGrrls celebrated its 10th year anniversary on the 3rd of March 2017 with a Conference at the University of Georgia. The Conference opened on the 2nd of March with the screening of Sundance-selected documentary 500 Years directed by Pamela Yates, shedding light on the resistance of Mayan people against the violent and repressive military measures of the Guatemalan government in recent history. The next day, all participants gathered at the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia. With more than 60 presentations, the Conference offered a great range of subject diversity and women took the floor to have their say on almost every subject of international law. This diversity was equally valid for the participants, who had travelled from all around world including from Japan, Australia, Denmark, Kosovo, North and South America.

As a PhD student, it was a truly inspiring experience to be surrounded by so many accomplished women and to meet other young lawyers and academics. The balance of each panel was carefully constructed to mix early career and senior academics. I had the privilege of sharing the panel with distinguished professors and senior scholars, and to receive constructive feedback on my paper. Each panel enabled deep discussions and was a great opportunity to exchange ideas for all. The lunchtime panel was opened with the remarks of IntLawGrrls’ founder Diane Marie Amann and, as can be seen in the video, she explained the creation of the Blog and how she launched it by accident! It was also a great pleasure to listen to the plenary session where Beth Van Schaack, Mary Dudziak, Catherine Powell, Lucinda Low, Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Patricia Wald discussed “Strategies to Promote Women’s Participation in Shaping International Law and Policy amid the Global Emergence of Antiglobalism”. When Lucinda Low, the president of the American Society of International Law, took the floor, her first remarks to celebrate the success of women who occupy prominent positions today reflected the difficulty of that struggle: “We have come a long way baby!”

I would like to thank Diane Marie Amann for this wonderful Conference and also Kathleen Doty and Britney Hardweare who attended to every second we spent in Georgia. Special thanks again to Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Beth Van Schaack for taking the time to take part in an interview with WILNET, to tell us how the Blog came into being, and its journey to date. IntLawGrrls is much more than a blog; it is a driving force that empowers women in international law from all backgrounds and at any stage of their career. The Blog is a clear example that international law does not only have ‘founding fathers’; women too take the lead to become founding mothers of wonderful initiatives!

Please watch the video to listen to Diane Marie Amann telling the story of IntLawGrrls, Karen Bravo commemorating late members of IntLawGrrls, Lucinda Low explaining how ASIL changed in terms of gender equality over the years, and finally Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Beth Van Schaack explaining how the Blog came into being and how it evolved over the years.

(cross-posted from WILNET)

 

Introducing Işıl Aral

unnamedIt is our great pleasure to welcome Işıl Aral as an IntLawGrrls contributor! Işıl is a PhD candidate at The University of Manchester and works on unconstitutional changes of government and international legal theory. She graduated from Galatasaray University in 2010 and completed her LLM in human rights law at the London School of Economics. She practiced criminal law for three years at Bayraktar Law Firm, Istanbul. Together with her female colleagues at the Manchester International Law Centre, they founded the Women in International Law Network (WILNET) in February 2016. WILNET’s activities include networking events and web-based content, such as interviews with women international lawyers, providing rich and varied perspectives on how to enter and progress in the profession. WILNET also shares posts highlighting long forgotten contribution of female international lawyers, and invite others to do the same, thereby create a database of prominent historical women figures who have taken part in the advancement of international law.

Heartfelt welcome!

IntLawGrrls 10th year anniversary conference: A great example for conference organization

UGA.jpegThis past week, we, Sabrina Tremblay-Huet and Mélissa Beaulieu Lussier, had the pleasure of attending the IntLawGrrls 10th year anniversary conference. While Mélissa was presenting on the expressive function of international criminal law in the context of prosecuting sexual violence against child soldiers and the possible challenges ICL is facing in this regard, Sabrina was presenting on the topic of law and literature as a feminist method to explore scarcities of legalization in international law, using the example of the law on tourism. We were very impressed by the format of the conference, which was clearly thought out with great care. The organizers succeeded in creating an atmosphere that made every participant feel they were being integrated within a community of inspiring women in international law. Of course, the content of the panels and of the plenary were wonderful, but we wish to celebrate here what we felt was a model in terms of conference format, and how we felt this echoed our readings on a feminist methodology in legal studies.

The event started on March 2nd with a viewing at a local theatre of “500 YEARS”, a documentary about civilian resistance to human rights abuses in Guatemala, from the standpoint of Indigenous activists, followed by a discussion with director Pamela Yates and producer Paco de Onis. Linking an academic conference with a community event allows for the de-compartmentalisation of university research, as this space extends in order to become less hermetic. Feminist methodologies contest the possibility of complete neutrality in research; exposing legal academics to touching activist accounts of human rights abuses reminds us of our role in participating in resistance struggles.

As for the conference itself, on March 3rd, the first thing that struck us was the warm welcome we received. Both of us had a bit of a hectic morning, and arrived a few minutes after the start of the first panel, apologizing frantically about our lateness. Britney’s calm words put us at ease immediately, and a fellow presenter and University of Georgia student offered to lead us to the room the panel we wished to attend was being held. These caring gestures were very much appreciated.

The first thing we noticed about the panels was the room dispositions. Every panel was held in rooms in which presenters and attendees were sitting together around a large round table, without a visible separation between both groups as is usually the case in most conferences. This succeeded in creating a feeling that we were having a friendly discussion, rather than a stressful exposing one’s knowledge climate. The panel chairs only introduced the presenters by name, thus not listing their ranks and accomplishments. This allowed for a much less intimidating climate than those in which emerging scholars or young lawyers can potentially feel out of place or that their contributions are less valuable than those of their fellow presenters. In a similar manner, our name cards only featured our names; not our institutions, nor our rank. Another contribution of feminist methodology literature is to advocate for the breaking down of socially constructed hierarchies. The thoughtful organization surrounding the panels surely was a contribution to making everyone feel like we all had our place at the table.

We thus wish to thank the blog’s founders and conference organizers for creating and sustaining such a welcoming community through IntLawGrrls, and wish it the best of continuities.

Introducing Sabrina Tremblay-Huet and Mélissa Beaulieu Lussier

It is our great pleasure to introduce Sabrina Tremblay-Hue and Mélissa Beaulieu Lussier to IntLawGrrls! Sabrina and Mélissa presented at IntLawGrrls’ 10th Birthday Conference in Athens, Georgia, and in their first post they will share their experiences.

 

Sabrina Tremblay-HuetSabrina Tremblay-Huet is a doctoral candidate in law at the University of Sherbrooke (LL.D.). She holds a Master’s degree in international law (LL.M.) from the University of Quebec in Montreal. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in international relations and international law (B.A.) from the same university. Sabrina is the co-founder and member of the Critical Legal Research Laboratory. She serves as graduate student representative on the board of the Canadian Law and Society Association (CLSA). Her research interests are mainly critical international legal theory, international tourism law, Inter-American human rights law, and animal law in both the national and international contexts.

 

 

photo profil

 

Melissa Beaulieu Lussier is a LL.M. candidate at McGill University. Prior to her LL.M. studies, she earned a Bachelor degree in International Relations and international law (B.A.) as well as a Bachelor degree in law (LL.B.) at the Université du Québec à Montréal(UQAM). She previously worked as a legal consultant for the defense team of Bosco Ntaganda, a defendant before the International Criminal Court (ICC). She is also a defense attorney in Montréal, Canada. Her main research interests are international criminal law, international humanitarian law, criminal law and feminist theories. Her master thesis focuses on the prosecution of sexual violence by the ICC.

Heartfelt welcome!

Strategies to Promote Women’s Participation in Shaping International Law and Policy in an era of Anti-Globalism

There is a saying that “those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it.” Most of you “young people” in the room have pursued your careers in international law in a period of its growing recognition as a relevant force in global policy, even on occasion to a degree worthy of incorporation into our own national law. Not to dwell on the old order, but when I went to law school at Yale, there was one optional course in international law and relatively few takers (I was not one even though Rafael Lemkin, the father of genocide law, taught there). Decades later in 1979 when as a new  federal appellate judge I went to “baby judges’ school,” we learned zilch about international law.

Over the past few decades that has changed for the better, beginning with the cascade of U.S. lawyers traveling to Eastern Europe in the early nineties after the Soviet breakup to advise and assist on creating democratic institutions and policies in the newly emerging independent Eastern European countries.  In that transfusion, we learned about other countries and international law as much as they learned about  us. This interchange was accelerated by the emergence during the same time of the ad hoc international courts: the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY); the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR);  the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL); the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC); the Special Tribunal for Lebanon; and the Kosovo Relocated Specialist Judicial Institution, all of which  were staffed in part by American judges who not only had to learn about and apply international and other countries’ laws, but who also infused significant facets of our own law into international law.

Organizations like IntLawGrrls, the American Society of International Law (ASIL), International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), the American Bar Association’s Central and East European Law Initiative Institute (now the  Rule of Law Initiative), joined forces promoting international law as something American lawyers should know; law schools joined in, colleges attracted increasing numbers of majors in international relations, and exchange students from other countries multiplied. The Federal Judicial Center created a bench course for federal judges in what they needed to know about international law. Continue reading

Reintroducing Patricia M. Wald

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It is our great pleasure to reintroduce Judge Patricia M. Wald, who was a guest blogger with us on the old site. Herpost with us today is the speech she gave at IntLawGrrls’ 10th Birthday Conference in Athens, Georgia.

Patricia served from 1999-2001 as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Before joining ICTY Patricia served from 1986-1991 as Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, part of a judicial tenure there that spanned 20 years. She was the court’s 1st woman chief.

Before becoming a judge, Patricia was, among other things: the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice; co-director of the Ford Foundation Drug Abuse Research Project; and an attorney with the Mental Health Law Project, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, and DOJ’s Office of Criminal Justice. Having earned her J.D. from Yale and her B.A. from the Connecticut College for Women, Patricia clerked for Judge Jerome Frank, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She has published many articles on international criminal justice, as well as five books on criminal justice, children’s rights, poverty, and women.

Heartfelt welcome!

#WomensMarch the Netherlands 2.0

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(Photo credit: MamaCash)

This weekend, around 20,000 people gathered in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, for a second Women’s March this year, this time specifically directed at Dutch politics. With the much-anticipated (for better or worse) parliamentary elections in The Netherlands only a few days away (15 March), it was a moment for many to show their support for the world-wide movement calling for equality, inclusivity, and tolerance, raising their voices against the rise of right-wing populism fuelled by fear and hatred all over Europe and elsewhere in the world. People from all ages, genders, and backgrounds marched together from Damplein to Museumplein in a sea of orange and other colours in a spirit of comradery. Beyond a call for inclusivity and equality for all in all aspects of life, the March was also an attempt to underscore the importance of the upcoming elections, and the power we have as citizens to change the negative tide that seems to be washing over Europe. Now more than ever it is our responsibility to change these dynamics and vote against hate.

This Women’s March on Amsterdam followed in the footsteps of the Women’s March on Washington on 21 January 2017, the largest protest in US history. Hundreds of Sister Marches were organised around the world, with an estimated total number of 5 million people marching. Amsterdam’s Sister March in January drew approximately 3,000 people to the Museumplein. This time again, there were many incredibly creative signs, some specifically directed at Dutch politics, in particular Geert Wilders and his so-called Party for Freedom, others referencing broader messages of equality and justice. Like at the Women’s March on Washington, a group of women also performed MILCK’s powerful song I Can’t Keep Quiet along the route.

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(Photo credit: Women’s March Netherlands)

Speakers and performers before and after the March included Marjan Sax – long-time feminist advocate and founder of several feminist organisations, transactivist VreerDevika Partiman – founder of StemOpEenVrouw, Petra Benach – main organiser of the Women’s March Netherlands, and spoken word artist Babs Gons, with Anousha Nzume as MC. What I appreciated in particular was not just the broad demographic participating – from grandparents to grandchildren and everything in between – but equally the attempts made by the March organisers, as with the Women’s March on Washington, regarding inclusivity. Repeatedly calls were made during the various speeches to remember and honour those who could not, for whatever reason, join the march (such as the undocumented for fear of being arrested), and particular attention was given to those with disabilities, including an interpreter for the deaf on stage.

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(Photo credit: MamaCash)

But the March aimed at more than raising our voices for justice and equality for all. It was a call to action to the citizens of the Netherlands to vote with their conscience on Wednesday. To vote against hate and for greater diversity, because as one of the signs said “Diversity is our Strength”.

White men have dominated Dutch politics for far too long, and this problematic reality hit us again during the Party Leaders Debate on 12 March, with the party leaders of the eight biggest parties leading the polls (minus Geert Wilders of the Partij voor de Vrijheid (‘Party for Freedom’) who declined, as per usual, to participate in this debate). Of these eight parties, only one is headed by a woman (Marianne Thieme of the Partij voor de Dieren, ‘Party for the Animals’). During the 12 March debate, as the only female partly leader, she was asked “Of your fellow party-leaders, who do you think is cutest?” It was the most important televised political debate this year. Of course this question wasn’t posed to her male colleagues. Sexism to the fore, yet again! And are we surprised? Of all 28 parties participating in the elections, only three are headed by women, and two have no woman on their list at all (the one-member party Vrije Democratische Partij, not currently represented in Parliament, and the Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, with currently 3 seats in Parliament). At the moment, only 57 of 150 Dutch Parliamentarians (38%) is female, and if we are to believe the polls, it seems likely that this number will only go down rather than up after the Wednesday elections.

To increase the number of women in politics, a new initiative has emerged called “Stem Op Een Vrouw” (Vote For A Woman). Perhaps symbolically, 2017 also marks 100 years since women in The Netherlands gained the right to be elected to public office (although they didn’t get the right to actually vote in elections until 1922). What would be better than to reach full equality this year? As the Stem Op Een Vrouw initiative explains, a lot of people already (symbolically) vote for the first woman on their preferred party’s list. But what many people don’t realise is that voting for women high up on a party’s electoral list in the Dutch system of proportional representation won’t actually change these numbers. Our votes to the respective party will ensure that women high on the list get into Parliament in any case. Instead, we should use our preferential votes to vote strategically for women lower on a list. Only by voting for women who, without these preferential votes otherwise would not win a seat in Parliament, can we change the gender balance.

But we don’t just need more women in Dutch politics. We need more diversity in every respect. Currently only one Parliamentarian is black. There is only one trans-woman currently on the list of party members hoping to get elected. And the majority of Dutch parliamentarians are culturally “autochthonous” Dutch. This lack of ethnic, gender, cultural and other diversity is not and cannot be representative of Dutch society.

The Women’s March was one of several protests in The Netherlands calling for greater diversity and equal rights regardless of gender, background, ethnicity, nationality, or other status. As I am sure many of my fellow country-women and -men, I will be watching the election results on Wednesday evening with both fear and anticipation, knowing that Nevertheless, I persisted and voted with my conscience.

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(Photo credit: Tammy Sheldon Photography, for Women’s March Netherlands)

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(Photo credit: MamaCash)

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(Photo credit: Matilde Olsen)

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(Photo credit last two photos: Tammy Sheldon Photography, for Women’s March Netherlands)

Cross posted from EUI blogs.