Outsourcing International Law in Domestic Courts: How to Prepare

Last week, the German court in Koblenz began hearing evidence for the trial against two former Syrian state officials, Anwar R. and Eyad A. The two men came to Germany seeking asylum, after having defected from the Syrian government. Anwar R. was charged with torture, murder, rape, and sexual assault, while Eyad A. was charged with aiding and abetting crimes against humanity.

The Syrian civil war has remained largely unsolvable from a peace-keeping perspective, and largely untouchable from a legal perspective. Yet, Germany is trying one of the most  meaningful criminal cases in the international community in recent years. This comes at a time when local court systems around the world are shutting down, reducing the number of cases heard, or adapting to online forums. Despite a global pandemic, some of the victims of the Syrian civil war are going to have their day in court.

The step to prosecute Syrian state officials is monumental because no other court system has successfully brought such a case to trial. Attempts to try Syrian state officials in other courts have primarily been thwarted, for example Russia and China voted to block United Nations referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Spain’s court dismissed the criminal case against Syrian state officials for lack of jurisdiction. While there has been some notable successes, such as the conviction of a “low-level” soldier in Sweden for war crimes, high ranking officials in the Syrian government have evaded prosecution.

Germany’s progress poses a greater question regarding the future of international crimes: Will they be primarily tried in international courts and tribunals, or will they be “outsourced” to domestic courts? German action in the Syrian case suggests that the future of international criminal prosecution will be in the hands of individual states, who step up when international organisations and courts do not. Additionally, a pattern has emerged among the individual states who are attempting to try cases connected to the Syrian civil war. The pattern indicates that states who experience an influx of refugees and asylum seekers may be the ones best suited for prosecution of international crimes committed on foreign soil. Germany had more access to witnesses and more support for this prosecution in part because of the number of witnesses that are now living within their borders.

To properly prepare for the outsourcing of international crimes committed in other countries, states must consider a few key things. Continue reading

Write On! Joint North American Conference on International Economic Law & ASIL Research Forum

This installment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls to present at the Joint North American Conference on International Economic Law& ASIL Research Forum, as follows:

ASIL-Logo-JPG_0►The ASIL International Economic Law Interest Group, the Canadian Council on International Law, and The Centre For International Governance Innovation, together with McGill University Faculty Of Law are organising a Joint North American Conference on International Economic Law that incorporates the 2018 ASIL IEcLIG Biennial. It will be held at McGill University Faculty of Law, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, September 21-22, 2018. The conference theme is “Managing International Economic (Dis)Integration: Challenges and Opportunities.” Proposals should be sent to 2018naiel@gmail.com, and the submission deadline is Monday, June 4, 2018. The complete call for papers is available here.

►The American Society of International Law calls for submissions of paper proposals for the 2018 ASIL Research Forum to be held at ASIL Academic Partner UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles, California as part of the Society’s Midyear Meeting on November 8-10, 2018. Papers may be on any topic related to international and transnational law and should be unpublished. Submissions are due June 25, 2018.The complete call for papers is available here.

Introducing Fernanda Frizzo Bragato

foto FernandaIt is our pleasure to introduce Fernanda Frizzo Bragato who has co-authored a post with IntLawGrrls contributor and senior editor Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum about indigenous land rights and protective institutions in Brazil. Fernanda is Full Professor of Law at Unisinos Law School (Brazil) since 2007 where she directs the Human Rights Center, teaches in the Undergrad and Graduate Program, and supervises Master and PhD students. In 2017, she was Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Cardozo Law School. Fernanda conducts research and publishes articles in human rights theory, decolonial thinking, and indigenous rights. Since 2015, her work is focused on indigenous land rights/conflicts in Brazil in the context of risk for atrocities. Fernanda graduated in Law at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and holds a Master and PhD degree in Law from Unisinos. She is currently CNPq Researcher in Brazil.

Heartfelt welcome!

Introducing Akila Radhakrishnan and Kristin Smith

It is our pleasure to introduce Kristin Smith who will co-author a piece with IntLawGrrls contributor Akila Radhakrishnan on how U.S. abortion restrictions violate the ICCPR’s requirements for lawful restrictions on the freedom of speech and association.

AkilaRadhakrishnanAkila Radhakrishnan is the President (acting) of the Global Justice Center. She directs GJC’s strategies and efforts to establish legal precedents protecting human rights and ensuring gender equality. In 2010, she helped to conceptualize GJC’s August 12th Campaign to ensure access to abortion services for girls and women raped in war as a matter of right and has since led legal and advocacy efforts on the project. Akila also leads GJC’s Gender and Genocide project, including to ensure justice and accountability for the Yazidi genocide and is a key member of GJC’s Burma project team. In her role, Akila has authored numerous shadow reports, legal briefs and advocacy documents and provided legal expertise to domestic and international stakeholders and policymakers, including the International Criminal Court, the United Nations, the European Union and state governments. Akila has been published widely on issues of international law, gender equality and human rights, including in the New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, Women Under Siege, Ms. Magazine, and Rewire.

 Prior to the Global Justice Center, she has worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, DPK Consulting and Drinker, Biddle & Reath, LLP. Akila received her J.D. with a concentration in international law from the University of California, Hastings and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Art History from the University of California, Davis.


Kristin.jpgKristin Smith is a Legal Fellow at the Global Justice Center, a New York based non-profit focused on enforcing international laws that protect human rights and promote gender equality. Before joining the Global Justice Center, Kristin was a Fellow at the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University School of Law where she contributed to human rights and international legal research through the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative and supervised student research on academic projects. She also worked as a criminal prosecutor in Oregon and as a legislative analyst for the Oregon Judicial Department, where she examined potential legal reforms on firearms, foster care, and other social programs.

Kristin holds a J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, where her research focused on the formation of national policy on international justice and atrocity prevention and the broader intersection of international and national law. During law school, Kristin worked at a legal aid organization in Accra, Ghana, the Portland Immigration Court, and the American Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Project. After graduation, she also interned at the State Department analyzing developing humanitarian crises. She holds a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in American Studies and Studio Art.

Heartfelt welcome!

Introducing Emily Hawley

16266108_10154140043550846_8096088190623499660_n (1)Emily is pursuing her J.D. at Stanford, where she focuses on international humanitarian and human rights law and co-directs the school’s IRAP chapter. She is particularly interested in United States complicity in human rights and humanitarian law violations in the MENA region. Before law school, she spent several years in Jordan, first on a Fulbright research grant, then as Syria researcher for local think tank, the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) Institute.

Emily spent her first year at law school researching ISIS crimes against Shia Muslims – the topic of her debut post here. She then split her 1L summer between London and Greece, interning with Reprieve’s Middle East-North Africa death penalty team and working as an Arabic interpreter and legal advocate for asylum seekers off the Turkish coast.

This upcoming year, she will be leaving Palo Alto for Cairo – taking a year away from her studies to continue her work with asylum seekers – and perhaps to open an Egyptian franchise for the homemade peanut butter business she co-ran in Amman, Beit al-Zuhoor Nut Butters.

Heartfelt welcome!

Introducing Madalyn K. Wasilczuk

[ANNUAL EVENT TITLE]It is our great pleasure to welcome our new IntLawGrrls Contributor Madalyn K. Wasilczuk! Madalyn is a Clinical Teaching Fellow in the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide, where she works with the International Human Rights Clinic and the Death Penalty Project. At Cornell, Madalyn has specialized in advocating for prisoners’ rights in domestic courts and international tribunals. She has litigated on capital cases in the U.S., Malawi, and Tanzania, and assisted in the representation of a Guantánamo detainee before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Madalyn’s work at Cornell has also focused on the right of self-determination, and she has led students in advocacy efforts before the United Nations in collaboration with human rights defenders in Western Sahara and the Occupied Golan.

Prior to joining the Center, Madalyn worked as an Assistant Defender at The Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she litigated all stages of misdemeanor and felony cases and juvenile delinquency proceedings. In addition to domestic criminal defense work, at International Justice Mission in Nairobi, Kenya, she represented individuals facing illegal detention and assisted child victims of sexual assault. Madalyn has also worked with New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and Federal Defender Clinic, Open Society Justice Initiative, and the Metropolitan Public Defender of Nashville & Davidson County. Through her work, she has provided legal, policy, and advocacy support to criminal defendants, protestors, and whistleblowers around the world. Madalyn holds a B.A. from American University, summa cum laude, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she received the Leonard J. Schreier Memorial Prize in Ethics. She is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania, and she will soon be joining the faculty at Louisiana State University’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center as director of the Juvenile Defense Clinic.

Heartfelt welcome!

Introducing Lina Biscaia

Lina Biscaia

It is our great pleasure to introduce our new IntLawGrrls contributor Lina Biscaia! Lina is the former Acting Chief Analyst of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria. She worked as an Analyst in the Investigations Divisions of the International Criminal Court and the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. A qualified barrister, early in her career Lina worked as a lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights and as a legal officer for the Special Panels for Serious Crimes in Timor-Leste. Lina has also worked in the field of rule of law and human rights with the International Commission of Jurists, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the UN Mission in Afghanistan. Currently she is the Coordinator of the Human Rights Reporting Unit of the UN Mission in Haiti.

Heartfelt welcome!

ICC Moot Court Competition: Regional Round for the Americas and Caribbean 2018


Last weekend, students from fifteen different schools throughout the Americas competed at PACE Elisabeth Haub School of Law in the Regional Round for the Americas and Caribbean of the ICC Moot Court Competition. The teams came from law schools in Canada, Guatemala, and the United States. The winner of the Regional Round this year was the team from Johns Hopkins!

Congratulations to all teams who participated and those who are advancing to the Hague! The wonderful women who will be advancing and their respective teams are:

  • Emily Ashby and Wanda Zhan (Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in Washington, DC)
  • Valery Oliva and Silvia Urtuzuastegui  (Universidad Francisco Marroquín, in Guatemala City, Guatemala)
  • Jessica Proskos, Maria Stellato, Rachael Ward, and Cassandra Wolff (University of Windsor Faculty of Law, in Ontario, Canada)
  • Mina KarabitChristine Kuceyand Ashley Geerts (University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, in Ontario, Canada)
  • Danielle DerOhannesian and Alison Smeallie (Temple University Beasley School of Law, in Philadelphia, PA)

Introducing Jacqueline R. McAllister


Jacqueline R. McAllister is an assistant professor of political science at Kenyon College and a current Fulbright Research Scholar at PluriCourts—Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Role of the Judiciary in the Global Order.  At Kenyon, she teaches courses on international relations, transitional justice, human rights, international organizations, civil wars, and United States foreign policy.  In 2016-17, she won the Kenyon College Trustee Junior Teaching Excellence Award.

Jacqueline’s current research focuses on whether, how, and when international criminal tribunals affect violence against civilians and peace processes. Her work draws on extensive archival and interview data collected throughout the Netherlands and southeast Europe (in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia). The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, National Science Foundation, the American Association of University Women, and the American Council of Learned Societies have all supported her research.  Thus far, Jacqueline has published in Foreign Affairs and the American Journal of International Law.  She is also in the process of completing a manuscript on wartime international criminal deterrence.

In 2017, Jacqueline had the opportunity to attend the ICTY Legacy Conference in Sarajevo, as well as the ICTY’s final judgment in The Hague.  Her blog post is inspired by both opportunities, as well as her fieldwork in the Southeast Europe.  To learn more about Jacqueline, you can visit her website or follow her on twitter @j_r_mcallister.

Introducing Lisa Davis

Lisa HeadshotIt is our great pleasure to introduce our new IntLawGrrls contributor Lisa Davis! Lisa is an Associate Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Human Rights and Gender Justice Clinic (formerly named International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, founded by Prof. Rhonda Copelon). She has written and reported extensively on human rights and gender issues, including on women’s rights and LGBTIQ rights, with a focus on peace building and security issues in conflict and disaster settings. Lisa has testified before U.S. Congress, U.K. Parliament, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and various international human rights bodies. In 2016, she was elected by her peers to deliver the civil society statement for the U.N. Security Council’s open debate on the use of sexual violence in conflict situations.

In the case Karen Atala and Daughters v Chile, Professor Davis co-authored the amicus curiae brief arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected classes under international law. In 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a groundbreaking decision, providing for an explicit prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2010, Professor Davis served as lead counsel for the Inter-American Commission petition on behalf of displaced Haitian women and girls, which resulted in the Commission’s first-ever precautionary measures decision recognizing state responsibility to prevent third-party gender-based violence. She was subsequently awarded the 2011 People’s Choice Gavel Award by her peers for the decision.

Prior to joining CUNY Law, she established the advocacy department at MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, where she developed the legal advocacy platform to advance women’s human rights in peace-building and security issues. Lisa continues to serve as MADRE’s Senior Legal Advisor.

Heartfelt welcome!