International Law Researchers Gather in Chicago

World Globe (with flags)The American Society of International Law (ASIL) held its 2014 Midyear Meeting and Research Forum in Chicago on November 6-8 at three venues: John Marshall Law School, Baker & McKenzie LLP, and Northwestern University School of Law. ASIL has “nearly 4,000 members from more than 100 nations include attorneys, academics, corporate counsel, judges, representatives of governments and nongovernmental organizations, international civil servants, students, and others interested in international law”. The Midyear Meeting was very representative, involving participants from the U.S., Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and the UK.

Photo of Mark Wojcik at ASIL
Professor Mark E. Wojcik, John Marshall Law School, at 2014 ASIL Midyear Meeting & Research Forum, photo by Lyonette Louis-Jacques

I served on the ASIL Midyear Host Committee along with other Chicago-area law professors, attorneys, and judges.  Chicagoans also were well-represented among the speakers, panelists, and discussants (for example, professors Mark E. Wojcik of John Marshall and James T. Gathii of Loyola pictured above and below, and CALL members, Jean Wenger and Lyonette Louis-Jacques, pictured below). Karen Alter of Northwestern and Katerina Linos, visiting professor at University of Chicago, co-chaired the Research Forum Committee.

Current International Law Scholarship

Papers presented ranged from one on cannibalism (!) and international law to one on imagining a world without international human rights to one on “empiricism for everyone!” (empirical approaches to studying international law). I was really struck by the panel on international courts in Africa.

I was surprised to discover that the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) primarily hears human rights cases and that the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Tribunal was suspended after ruling in favor of white farmers keeping their land and against Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.

Professor James T. Gathii, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, speaking about the EACJ
Professor James T. Gathii, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, speaking about the EACJ, photo by Lyonette Louis-Jacques

Later, The Honorable Diane Wood, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit discussed use of international law in the Court and David P. Stewart updated the lunchtime audience on progress in drafting the Restatement of the Law (Fourth), The Foreign Relations Law of the United States.   There was also a wonderful panel on “Lessons from Constitutional Lawyers” for international courts.

International Law Practice

Special sessions for law students and new professionals included an “International Law Career Panel and Speed Mentoring” event on Thursday, November 6th.  A “Practicing International Law in the Midwest” panel on Friday, November 7th  was moderated by Kathleen Claussen of the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington, D.C. and featured as speakers an immigration practitioner from Sidley Austin (Timothy Payne), an investment management associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (Sarah Riddell), a clinical associate professor at Northwestern’s Center for  International Human Rights and founder of the Northwestern Access to Health Project (Juliet Sorensen), and an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) (Naana Frimpong).

Research Tips & Tricks

Jean Wenger new
Jean Wenger
Lyonette Louis-Jacques
Lyonette Louis-Jacques

Jean M. Wenger, Head of Public Services, Cook County Law Library, and I presented on “International Legal Research Strategies”.  The turnout was great! Jean covered private international law (transactions between private entities in different countries such as sale of goods or child abduction) and I did public international law (territorial disputes between nation-states such as China and the Philippines or war crimes).

Join Us At ASIL 2015 in April!

If you want to see tweets and photos from the meeting, follow ASIL on Twitter (@asilorg) or check out the hashtag #ASILMYM. And, save the date!  The full ASIL Annual Meeting is in Washington, D.C., April 8-11, 2015 which is typically attended by a group of 20-30 law librarians specializing in international law.  Early bird registration is now open. Come join us!