You Go ‘Grrl

sue harris rimmer

To celebrate International Women’s Day, IntLawGrrl Sue Harris Rimmer has a terrific post on the Elgar blog about her life journey.  Here’s just a tidbit, but I encourage you to read the entire post:

I finished high school living on my own in a caravan park in a small Australian town at the bottom of the world, living hand to mouth and uncertain about my future. Last year I shared a panel discussion with Angela Merkel in Berlin. I am proud of both these facts.  I can now talk about the economic rights of women from a place of bitter experience and utter conviction, as well as an intellectual base. And I better understand my own position of privilege as a white woman from a developed country, who benefited from a welfare system.

Among her many accomplishments, Sue and her co-editor Kate Ogg are completing the final steps on the Handbook on the Future of Feminist Engagement with International Law, an edited volume forthcoming from Edward Elgar (to which yours truly contributed a chapter).  Keep an eye out for book launches at ANZIL, ASIL, and ESIL in 2018 and 2019!

Intlawgrrls 10th Birthday Conference: A Transformative Experience

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in the 10th Birthday Conference of Intlawgrrls (our direct predecessor) at the University of Georgia.   The conference was organized by Intlawgrrls founder, Professor Diane Marie Amann, without whom this blog ( would not be in existence today.  Today is March 8th, International Women’s Day, and in honor of this international holiday, Professor Amann, Intlawgrrls, and all of my female colleagues I wanted to share the following thoughts regarding my experience at the conference. 

 First, the conference was academic in nature.  Although it was a celebration of the blog, its mission and its legacy, every participant was an academic or an aspiring academic, and all presentations focused on scholarship in the field of international law.  I presented a paper on the Karadzic conviction entitled “The Karadzic Genocide Conviction: Inferences, Knowledge and Intent.”  I had previously written about this paper, which will be published in the Emory International Law Review, but in a nutshell, this paper focuses on the judicial reasoning behind the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) Trial Chamber’s decision to convict Karadzic of genocide.  Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader during the 1990s civil war, was accused, under a joint criminal enterprise theory of liability, of having participated in a plan to murder thousands of Bosnian Muslim males at Srebrenica in July 1995.  Karadzic had also been accused of and convicted of other crimes but my article focuses solely on the genocide conviction.  In order to achieve a conviction on the genocide count, prosecutors needed to establish that Karadzic not only participated, through a JCE, in the common plan to kill Bosnian Muslims, but that he also possessed the special intent or mens rea to do so.  The Trial Chamber concluded that Karadzic had the special intent to commit genocide at Srebrenica by first inferring that Karadzic must have known about what had been going on at Srebrenica, based on a conversation that Karadzic had with another civilian administrator of the region of which there is no direct evidence or testimony, and by then inferring intent from the inference of knowledge.  According the ICTY Trial Chamber, Karadzic must have known that Bosnian Males were about to be killed and he must have intended for this to happen because this was the “only reasonable inference” based on all the evidence.  My article argues that the Trial Chamber performed judicial gymnastics in order to arrive at this conclusion, because other inferences were clearly available based on the evidence on record, such as that Karadzic could have known and agreed to forcibly transfer Bosnian Muslims out of the Srebrenica area (this would amount to ethnic cleansing), but not to actually kill.  My article then argues that the current definition of genocide under the Genocide Convention, and the statutes of the ad hoc tribunals some of which have adopted this definition verbatim, is too narrow, and that, in order to meaningfully use genocide as a crime of international criminal law, we should think about closing the gap between the intent requirements behind ethnic cleansing and genocide.  The intent to ethnically cleanse an area, by forcibly removing a protected group, is in some instances synonymous with the intent to destroy a protected group.  Reconceptualizing genocide would allow tribunals to more easily convict of genocide – in a world where attaching the genocide label to a specific defendant, crime or region has deeper political and historical meaning.

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Happy birthday IntLawGrrls!

As I begin my international journey home after a very brief but extremely rich visit to the  Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens, Georgia, I am tired with that rare kind of exhilarated, contented tiredness. What a truly apt way to celebrate 10 years of the community that this blog gave birth to!


The programme for this conference was packed with 18 panels, which for any other one-day academic conference would be the sign that there had been no selection process and would lead to a rush of ideas with no time to engage. But not this bunch of IntLawGrrls! Instead it was a day of very thoughtfully constructed panels, with a wonderful balance of senior scholars together with junior and emerging scholars, and topics that interwove and intersected in new and interesting ways. Each session led to original, stimulating dialogue and exchange. And everyone walked away from each and every panel they attended with new ideas and perspectives, having been enriched by the discussions.


When Diane Amann (who I think has clearly earned the title of “founding foremother”) joked that IntLawGrrls was born on the 3rd March 2007 when she “accidentally created a website” after having Googled “how to start a blog?”, she also acknowledged that it has since become a movement. How true.

When IntLawGrrls was started, the blogosphere was a much smaller, quieter space than it is today, but it was clearly the right time to create a space dedicated to giving a platform to women’s voices in that sphere. I remember reading each and every post with a hunger, an eagerness, and an excitement. I remember being so proud to count myself among the contributors when I posted my first IntLawGrrls blog post. When the blog disappeared for a short while in 2012, because it had become a burden on the few founding mothers (own that title, ladies!), I remember mourning its disappearance. And when it reappeared in a new format in 2013, I celebrated its return with a cohort of women all doing PhDs in international law at the University of Amsterdam – women from all over Europe, South America, New Zealand, Australia, China. Not just because a blog had returned, but because this important resource, platform for exchange of ideas, and megaphone for women’s voices on so many issues, was alive and well. Because it had come to represent the importance of all of our voices as international law scholars and practitioners. That sense was there for this 10th Birthday conference as well, with women flying from across the globe to be there.

Thank you to all the original IntLawGrrls, for creating a space for us all on the blogosphere, and for encouraging all of our voices to be heard. Thank you to Britney and Kate and the entire team for all your work creating a seamless, heartfelt conference. And thank you for welcoming us into your home, Diane, and into this community that has become international and inter-generational. We tip our pussyhats to you in gratitude, and we look forward to the 20th birthday conference!


On behalf of the IntLawGrrls editorial team, I’m delighted to announce that Danielle DerOhannesian has agreed to become our new Submissions Editor.  Danielle, who has been an IntLawGdaniellerrls student editor since May, will now be the main point of contact for new contributors.  As detailed in our earlier post, Danielle has a strong interest and background in international law, and human rights law in particular.  She was previously the Libya Correspondent with the Media Monitoring Project for the Montréal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. Danielle also interned in Israel and Palestine with rights-based community centers in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and performed research for the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center.  We’re delighted to have her step into this new role.

karenWe also say a fond farewell and heartfelt thank you to Karen Hoffman, who has been our Submissions Editor for over two years, and was a student editor for a year before that.  Karen has her hands full as an On-The-Ground Advocate at the Berks Family Detention Center, representing families fleeing violence in Central America. She also serves as a coordinator for the NGO Advocates Abroad, which connects lawyers from around the world with refugees in Greece and Turkey.  We’re deeply grateful for her many contributions to the blog.

You go ‘Grrl! Jaya Ramji-Nogales Among 50 Under 50 Top Minority Law Professors

IntLawGrrls Editor and Temple University Beasley School of Law Professor Jaya Ramji-Nogales has been named to Lawyers of Color magazine’s “50 Under 50” list, a comprehensive catalog of minority law professors making an impact in legal education.

Temple Law notes: “In addition to her prolific scholarship, including three books, several book chapters, and highly placed law review articles exploring the intersection of immigration and human rights law, Professor Ramji-Nogales blogs regularly at IntLawGrrls and Concurring Opinions, both influential blogs in their fields.  She speaks around the world on immigration, human rights, and transitional justice.  Her scholarship is connected to her human rights work in Cambodia, Uganda, and South Africa, and she continues to serve as a legal advisor to the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which works toward accountability for Khmer Rouge atrocities.”

The complete list will be released April 7th in Lawyers of Color‘s Law School Diversity Issue (2014).

Congratulations, Jaya!!

Introducing Karen Alter

It’s ouKaren ALterr great pleasure to welcome Karen Alter as an IntLawGrrls contributor.  Karen is Professor of Political Science and Law at Northwestern University, where she teaches, among other courses, international courts and tribunals.  She is also co-director of the institutionalization research cluster at the iCourts Center of Excellence, Copenhagen University Faculty of Law.  Karen received her B.A. magna cum laude from Cornell University and her PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Karen’s current research focuses on the impact of the proliferation of international legal mechanisms on international relations. Her book The New Terrain of International Law: Courts, Politics, Rights (Princeton University Press, 2013) provides a framework for comparing and understanding the influence of the twenty-five existing international courts, and for thinking about how different domains of domestic and international politics are transformed through the creation of international courts.  She was a Bosch Public Policy Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin in 2011-12 and is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on international courts and tribunals.

Today we welcome her post on the gender citation gap in international relations.

IntLawGrrls at ASIL!

ASIL 2013Thanks so much to all of you who came out to celebrate Diane’s receipt of the Prominent Woman in International Law award.  It was wonderful to see so many IntLawGrrls contributors there!

For those wanting to hear more about international law and the future of peace, IntLawGrrl Molly Land’s interview with Diane on the topic is available here.

Introducing our student editors: Sasha Filippova, Beverly Mbu, and Maggie Spicer


Sasha Filippova

One of the aspects of IntLawGrrls that I value the most is our focus on promoting junior scholars and bringing new voices to the fore.  In that spirit, I’d like to introduce our three fabulous student editors, who have been working hard to get the blog up and running and bring you a variety of posts!
Alexandra (Sasha) Filippova is finishing a dual degree in law and international relations (MSFS) at Georgetown. She is a Global Law Scholar and will graduate with a certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies. During her graduate studies, Sasha successfully litigated an asylum claim as a student attorney at the Center for Applied Legal Studies and contributed to the fifth report submitted to the International Law Commission by the Special Rapporteur on the protection of persons in the event of disasters. She is currently working on a practicum project to analyze judicial and police practices directed at victims of sexual violence and to develop related litigation strategies. Sasha has interned with the Liberia Peacebuilding Office/UN Peacebuilding Fund Secretariat in Monrovia, Liberia, where she conducted a strategic review of Liberia’s conflict factors; the Cambodia Justice Initiative in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she helped to monitor the trials of former Khmer Rouge officials at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; Shearman & Sterling, LLP, where she worked on a number of international arbitration, litigation, and pro bono matters; and the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, where she worked for the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs. Sasha graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University in 2007.


Beverly Mbu

Beverley Mbu is currently a 3L at GW Law from Lagos, Nigeria by way of London, England. Her academic focus is in international law, women’s empowerment, and human rights with a particular interest in sub-Saharan Africa and the Southern Hemisphere more broadly. She was a member of GW’s Jessup team this spring and is a student attorney in GW’s Domestic Violence Clinic. When not consumed by law school she enjoys all kinds of eating activities (including cooking), watching independent films, and yoga.


Maggie Spicer

Margaret Spicer is a law student at the Florida State University College of Law focusing in International Law. Her undergraduate research was in state-sponsored torture, and she defended an Honors Thesis on the quantitative effects of political conflict on levels of human rights abuse. In 2010 she worked at the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, Minnesota as a Midwest Coalition for Human Rights Summer Fellow. Currently, she sits on the Executive Boards of the FSU College of Law Moot Court Team and the Journal of Transnational Law & Policy. She is also a contributor for the International Law Students Association Quarterly, writing court and country watch articles for their print and online editions.
Sasha and Beverly have been (wo)manning submissions and Maggie, our resident WordPress genius, has, among numerous other tasks, put together our “Contributors by Expertise” page.  Many thanks to the three of you, and we look forward to your posts!