International Law And National Security: A View From Abroad On Current Trends In Targeting, Detention, And Trials

On May 18, from 6-7:30 pm, in Cardozo Law School’s Moot Court Room, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Cardozo Law School will co-host an essential program for anyone interested in the application of international law to national security.

This event will feature some of the most active and respected experts in the field from abroad to discuss their view of international law and national security in the United States and around the globe in light of recent political upheavals. The panel will be moderated by yours truly (Prof. Beth Van Schaack of Stanford Law School).

For further information, please see the flyer below. There will be a reception after the event.

To register: Eventbriteppflyernorsvp.

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Call for Papers: “Revisiting the Role of International Law in National Security”

Many conversations in the U.S. about situations of armed conflict – within civil society, academia, and the U.S. government – center on “national security law,” often drawing primarily from domestic law and military perspectives.  International law is sometimes set aside in these discussions.   This workshop, now in its second year, aims to draw the international legal aspects of armed conflicts to the forefront of national security discussions.

The workshop – co-organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Delegation in Washington, and faculty at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, Stanford Law School, and Cardozo School of Law – is for public international law scholars and practitioners.  It aims to drive discussions of public international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international criminal law, into conversations, in the U.S. in particular, on national security issues and situations of armed conflict.

The workshop will provide time to discuss scholarly articles that are in process, and provide a networking opportunity for participants.  The organizers are particularly interested in discussing scholarship and ideas that seeks to bridge partisan political divides while addressing both the law and national interests.

The organizers invite you to submit an abstract or draft of an article for discussion.  A small number of papers will be selected for discussion at the workshop.  The article does not need to be in final form – the hope is that participants will receive substantive feedback on works-in-progress.

When:  May 18th, 2017 (full day)

Where:  Cardozo Law School, New York City

Submissions:  Please send your name, current affiliation, and paper proposal to Tracey Begley, trbegley@icrc.org.

Deadline for submissions:  Monday, March 20, 2017   

A limited amount of travel funds may be available.

Co-organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross Delegation for the United States and Canada, and faculty at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, Stanford Law School and Cardozo Law School.

Dispatch from the Women’s March in Washington

Wow.  What an experience.

img_9288Like Diane, I am not much of a marcher.  I respect and support direct action, but—as an academic—my contributions to social change tend to involve disseminating the written word more than chanting in the streets.

But this was an event to remember.  I am so thrilled that I was able to be here in img_9250Washington, D.C. (having flown from California in a plane FULL of women) with my mom, sister, daughter, and a number of students and friends from all stages of my life.  Thanks to our cell phones (and notwithstanding the overwhelmed cell towers), we were miraculously able to connect at random points along the way.

img_9287The Rally and March offered a beautiful display of American diversity—all ages, races, orientations, and genders were represented.  There were families with children everywhere—marching, chanting, frolicking, and sharing their own messages (“Grown-ups: WTF??” & “I Am 8 Years Old & I Have Better Manners & Fewer Tantrums”). Although this was billed as “The Woman’s March,” thousands and thousands of supportive men were in attendance, all advocating for women’s rights and inclusiveness (“Men of Quality Do Not Fear Equality”).

Although there were incredible speakers and performers (including Gloria Steinem, Michael Moore, Ashley Judd, andimg_9232 Madonna), this was really about building community and solidarity in the streets.  The roar of the crowds was incredible—and deafening—at times.

As usual, the ubiquitous hand-made signs, all emphasizing social justice themes and the power of resistance, were a highlight. They were full of creative double entendres (“Electile dysfunction”) and clever puns (“Donald Dump” (with poop emoji) – “Trump Puts The ‘Twit’ in Twitter” & “We Shall Overcomb”).  Even Trump’s bizarre appearance did not escape reference (“Orange is the New Blech”).

The messages were pro-immigrant (“To All Immigrants: img_9268Thanks for Choosing America”), pro-diversity, pro-social justice, pro-human rights (“Women Just Want to Have FUNdamental Rights”) and pro-reproductive rights.  Indeed, I’ve never seen so many unique renderings of the female uterus in one place (“Shed Walls, Don’t Build Them”).

Not surprisingly, Trump’s unbridled misogyny and sordid history of sexual assault offered frequent themes (“No Sex Offenders in Public Housing” (with a picture of the White House)).  The pussy references were legion, even over and above the seas of pink knitted hats thanks to the Pussyhat Project.  I was thrilled to wear one knitted for me by one of my students. img_9281

Much of the anger was directed toward Trump (“Dump Trump”), but Mike Pence did not escape the crowd’s ire (“Pence Sucks Too”), particularly as we all marched past the EEOB where the Vice President has his office.  There were also plenty of references to Russia’s intervention in the election (“Nyet my President”) and images of Trump as Putin’s puppet or crybaby (“Make Daddy Vimg_9283ladimir Proud”).  Trump’s campaign slogans and vile comments were all turned inside out (“Make America Kind Again” – “Build a Wall Around Trump & We’ll Pay For It” – “Hate Does Not Make America Great” & “You Haven’t Seen Nasty Yet”).  Even Melania receivedimg_9207 some attention (“Free Melania” & “Melania, Blink Twice if You Need Help”).

Everyone was peaceful and loving. Notwithstanding the finality of yesterday’s inauguration, people were upbeat, strategizing for the coming resistance, and exchanging random acts of kindness, even in hot, crowded metro stops and the throngs on the streets.  We saw two people wearing “Trump” hats, but otherwise this was a crowd full of Hillary Clinton supporters (“Still With Her”).

In fact, there were so many references to Hillary that it was as if this were her inauguration celebration. It should have been (“The People’s President: She Got 2,864,974 More Votes”).

Onward.

Write On! 2d annual “Revisiting the Role of International Law in National Security” workshop

backlit_keyboardMany conversations in the U.S. about situations of armed conflict – within civil society, academia, and the U.S. government – center on “national security law,” often drawing primarily from domestic law and military perspectives.  International law is sometimes set aside in these discussions.   This workshop aims to draw the international legal aspects of armed conflicts to the forefront of national security discussions.
The workshop, co-organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Delegation in Washington, and faculty at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, Stanford Law School (yours truly), and Cardozo School of Law, is for public international law scholars and practitioners.  It aims to drive discussions of public international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international criminal law, into conversations, in the U.S. in particular, on national security issues and situations of armed conflict. The workshop will provide time to discuss scholarly articles that are in process, and provide a networking opportunity for participants.  The organizers are particularly interested in discussing scholarship and ideas that seeks to bridge partisan political divides while addressing both the law and national interests.
We invite you to submit an abstract or draft of an article for discussion.  A small number of papers will be selected for discussion at the workshop.  The article does not need to be finished – an abstract or draft may be submitted.
  • When:  May 18th, 2017 (full day)
  • Where:  Cardozo Law School, New York City
  • Submissions:  Please send your name, current affiliation, and paper proposal to Tracey Begley.
  • Deadline for submissions:  Monday, March 6, 2017

A limited amount of travel funds may be available.  More details here. Co-organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross Delegation for the United States and Canada, and faculty at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, Stanford Law School and Cardozo Law School.

Crowd-Funding for the ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims

Students enrolled in my Policy Lab at Stanford Law School on Legal & Policy Tools to Prevent giving-tuesdayAtrocities were asked to undertake a project dedicated to generating new ideas for funding international justice to ensure more stable funding streams for contemporary justice efforts.

The funding of international and hybrid courts has been a perennial challenge, and almost every ad hoc tribunal to date has gone over budget. (The Extraordinary African Chambers, which tried Hissène Habré has been the most economical to date). There is no question that the costs of international justice appear high, although not necessarily when compared to the cost of other international interventions in atrocity situations, such as peacekeeping missions, humanitarian relief efforts, and military action. The most stable source of funding available has come from U.N. assessed contributions, which enables burden-sharing and forward planning. As creatures of the Security Council, the ICTY and ICTR benefited from such U.N. funding.

Most modern hybrid tribunals, however, have depended on voluntary contributions, which has proven to be unsustainable in the long-run. Ambassador David Scheffer, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Expert on United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, has done a yeoman’s job of keeping the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in the black, but it hasn’t been easy. Over the years, the various tribunals and special chambers have been governed by different funding mechanisms and different budgetary arrangements with the host state. This is due in part to policy preferences but also to quasi-legal arguments about the availability of assessed contributions for independent entities with indirect United Nations involvement. Almost half of the funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, for example, comes from Lebanon itself, which often teeters on the edge of being in arrears when domestic political support for the STL wanes.

My studealinant, Alina Utrata (left), and undergraduate at Stanford, took the lead on this project and developed a new crowd-funding platform dedicated to raising funds from people around the world for the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims (TFV):  Go Fund Justice! Working with staff from the TFV, Alina built a website, created original content about the TFV, and launched a social media campaign in connection with Giving Tuesday.

 

This idea has great appeal; she has already reached 30% of her goal of raising $10,000.  Her explanation of this initiative is below:

Dear friends, family, and community members,

This year, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Go Fund Justice is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving. Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday.

Go Fund Justice is a crowd-funding initiative for the Trust Fund for Victims. The Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court is responsible for giving assistance and reparations to communities who have suffered from mass atrocities under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

That means they do things like things like providing prosthetic limbs and plastic surgery; trauma and counseling services; or vocational and financial training. Their work empowers victims to return to a dignified and contributory life within their communities. By focusing on healing the wounds caused by atrocities, the TFV hopes to foster a sustainable and long-lasting peace.

We hope that this Giving Tuesday you consider supporting Go Fund Justice. Even ten dollars can go a long way towards providing someone with a prosthetic limb or trauma counseling. You can also click here to hear about the experience of people who the Trust Fund for Victims has supported.

We also ask that you forward this information to just five members of your community. Spreading the word can help us make a difference! Click here to donate now to Go Fund Justice!

Expert Report on Trauma Mental Health and Mass Rape: Prosecutor v. Bemba

The landmark judgment in the Prosecutor v. Bemba case before the International Criminal Court marks the first jurisprudence from the Court in a prosecution dedicated to redressing sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) (see our coverage here and here).  The Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Lab (“Lab”) at Stanford University submitted an experts’ brief in the sentencing phase of the case.  (Bemba was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment). My colleague Dr. Daryn Reicherter of the Stanford University Medical School Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences testified in the case. A redacted version of the brief is now available here.

The Lab is an interdisciplinary program based at Stanford University comprising members of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, the School of Law (yours truly), the Handa Center for Human Rights & International Justice, and the Palo Alto University Clinical Psychology program.  The lab faculty and staff include treating academic psychiatrists, professors of medicine, private treating psychotherapists and social workers, human rights lawyers, law professors, and graduate and undergraduate students. Lab members have thus amassed considerable expertise in trauma mental health from a range of disciplinary perspectives.

Our submission was based on our review of the evidence and trial record, including the expert reports and trial testimony of Dr. André Tabo and Dr. Adeyinka M. Akinsulure-Smith, PhD.  We situated this evidence within a comprehensive and comparative literature review on the psycho-social impact of sexual violence and other forms of extreme trauma on individuals, their families, and their communities.  In addition, we reviewed testimony from victims in the Bemba trial in order to show a direct connection between the literature, the expert testimony, and actual events in the Central African Republic (CAR). In particular, we relied upon our knowledge of empirical research that links trauma exposure with psychophysiological and neurobiological outcomes, thereby elucidating the mechanisms by which sexual violence and other forms of extreme trauma give rise to the psychosocial outcomes documented in the trial record.  The Report was informed by the Lab’s long experience treating, representing, and working with victims of severe trauma in communities wracked by massive human rights violations.  On a more hopeful note, the brief also discussed the prospects for healing, notwithstanding these grave impacts.

The Bemba trial record is replete with harrowing evidence of the scale of SGBV in the CAR in the timeframe under consideration. Women who took part in Dr. Tabo’s survey of women who presented at Bangui National Hospital, for example, described a staggering range of sexual violence at the hands of the troops under Bemba’s command and control.  These victims had been raped in their homes, while running away, and/or on their way to a relative’s home. Some victims were the target of gang rape, systematically committed.  In many cases, family and community member leaders were raped or forced to witness the rape.  All told, out of the 512 women surveyed, 408 (80%) were sexually or physically assaulted.

As discussed in more detail in the expert brief, the psychiatric literature predicts very poor functional outcomes for victims of sexual assault.  The resulting myriad of individual consequences includes psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Outside of these named mental health diagnoses, individuals suffer from abject feelings of hopelessness, spiritual degradation, heightened suspiciousness, persistent confusion, and fear. Victims of trauma can see themselves as vulnerable, view the world as lacking meaning, and view themselves as lacking worth.

The brief ends on an uplifting note, notwithstanding this empirical and cross-cultural research on the impact of SGBV on the human psyche. While very few men and women who are the victims of sexual violence remain unaffected by this experience, it is possible for survivors to go on to lead meaningful lives after a sexual assault with appropriate treatment and psycho-social rehabilitation.  The concept of post-traumatic growth (PTG) captures experiences of positive change that occur as a result of highly challenging or traumatic stressful life events.  PTG is a concept with roots in ancient philosophy regarding the potentially transformative power of suffering, but it has also been supported in current empirical research.  This possibility for the victims of Bemba’s subordinates underscores the importance of the current phase of the case devoted to reparations.  This will be the Court’s second reparations order; the first was issued in the Lubanga case.

International Law Weekend 2016

 

Registration is now open for International Law Weekend 2016.

International Law Weekend 2016 – the premiere international law event of the Fall season – will be held October 27-29, 2016, in New York City.  The Opening Panel will take place on Thursday evening at the New York City Bar Association.  The Friday and Saturday sessions will be held at Fordham Law School.

You can register for the conference here: http://www.ila-americanbranch.org

The unifying theme for ILW 2016 is International Law 5.0.

The world is changing at an accelerating rate. From technological advances to environmental transformations, international lawyers are forced to confront emerging forces and new scenarios. Even settled principles of law are no longer settled. These tectonic shifts have been felt throughout the geography of international law. Legal professionals at every level – local, national, regional, and international – must change their practice to meet a changing world. Innovation will become necessary for survival.

ILW 2016 will explore these issues through a collection of engaging and provocative panels. A broad array of both public international law and private international law topics will be offered.

We look forward to seeing you at ILW 2016!