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GW LAW BRIEFS: International Update

El Salvador Honors Thomas Buergenthal

Judge Thomas Buergenthal (second from left) speaks with (l to r) President Steven Knapp, Ambassador Francisco Altschul, and Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law Dinah Shelton after the Special Diploma and Medal of Recognition ceremony.

Abdul El-Tayef

This May at GW Law, the Honorable Legislative Assembly of El Salvador awarded Professor and Judge Thomas Buergenthal with a Special Diploma and Medal of Recognition for his human rights work in El Salvador during the 1990s. Judge Buergenthal, who resumed his tenure at GW Law as Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence in 2010 after serving on the International Court of Justice for a decade, served on the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador that was mandated by the U.N.-brokered peace agreements ending El Salvador's civil war.

The ceremony highlighted Judge Buergenthal's dedication to ensuring that the commission achieve its goals of investigating the violence that occurred in El Salvador and advising the country on a process for national reconciliation and justice.

Ambassador of El Salvador to the United States H.E. Francisco Altschul Fuentes said the awards represent El Salvador's appreciation to Judge Buergenthal for his important work on behalf of the Salvadoran people. Ambassador Altschul said his country now has "working institutions and free, independent powers today that they did not have 30 years ago, and human rights violations have disappeared."

Discussing the scope of Judge Buergenthal's influence on human rights in this region of the world, Professor Dinah Shelton said the Inter-American Court of Human Rights owes its success to him.

Judge Buergenthal (center), Ambassador Altschul, and President Knapp with GW Law Buergenthal Scholars (LLM students who are scholarship recipients).

Abdul El-Tayef

"His role as president of the court was precedent setting," said Professor Shelton. "He fostered legitimacy and unanimity that helped develop and strengthen the court throughout the Western Hemisphere."

George Washington University President Steven Knapp, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies Susan Karamanian, and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Chris Bracey also discussed Judge Buergenthal's immense contributions to ending human rights violations in El Salvador, promoting justice, and advancing the study of human rights law around the world.

Judge Buergenthal said El Salvador's transformation from a civil war with opposing sides to a democracy in which all sides work peacefully in a legislature was the ultimate hope of the members of the commission. The suffering endured by the Salvadoran people had a lasting impression on him, he added.

Judge Buergenthal's work helping to expose and correct these human rights abuses and improve the lives of the people of El Salvador serves as a strong example for law students that it is possible to make a difference in the world through human rights law.

—Kathryn Auerbach

GW Law Hosts Botswanan Dignitaries

University Leaders Share Conversations

In April, Vice Chancellor of the University of Botswana Thabo Fako (fifth from left) and his colleagues met with GW President Steven Knapp, GW's Associate Provost for International Programs Donna Scarboro, and GW Law Professors Roger Fairfax and Karen Brown.

Shulman Lecture Features Former Botswanan Justice

Former High Court of Botswana Justice Unity Dow (left) presented the Shulman Foundation Lecture: "A Conversation About Human Rights in the 21st Century." Afterward, Justice Dow and Professor Karen Brown continued the discussion.

Chris Flynn

Combating Human Trafficking

The Law School and the American Bar Association co-hosted a webcast at GW titled "Combating Human Trafficking: The Government's Response." The panel consisted of experts from the U.S. Department of Justice, the International Justice Mission, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Claire Duggan

Why Regulate International Finance?

The International and Comparative Law Colloquium hosted University of Virginia Law School Professor Pierre Hugues Verdier to present his paper "Why Regulate International Finance?" Professor Edward Swaine, who presided over the event, was joined by Professor Art Wilmarth and Associate Dean Susan Karamanian for a photo before the lecture.


Abdul El-Tayef

GW Law at ASIL

The Law School co-sponsored the Manley O. Hudson Award Ceremony at the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law. Here, Professor James Crawford of Cambridge University (seated on right) prepares to present his Hudson address. Also pictured are ASIL President Donald Donovan (at podium) and Professor Sean Murphy.

I Came to Testify

At the White House, the National Endowment of Humanities hosted a screening of the PBS film I Came to Testify: Women, War & Peace in Bosnia. Afterward, GW Law hosted a reception on campus featuring a talk by Samantha Power, special assistant to President Barack Obama and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights (center), who was joined by faculty, students, and guests, including NEH White House Liaison Courtney Chapin (left) and Judge Patricia Wald, former chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, who also served as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Muslim Women Lawyers Convene

KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights hosted its 10th annual Law and Leadership Summer Program at GW Law in June.

This year, KARAMAH welcomed more than 20 participants from countries including Kosovo, Afghanistan, Kenya, Belgium, and the U.S.

The program's keynote address was delivered by Christina Tchen (right), chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama, who spoke about her career, passions, and commitments and about issues affecting all women across religious and state lines.

Russian Minister Visits GW Law

During a visit to GW last winter, the Hon. Alexander Konovalov, justice minister of the Russian Federation, and the deputy minister, the Hon. Yuri Lyubimov, met with Professor Sean Murphy, Professor Thomas Morgan, Professor Ralph Steinhardt, and students.

Environmental Protection and Human Rights

GW Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law Dinah Shelton and Australian National University College of Law Professor Don Anton gave a presentation this spring about their book Environmental Protection and Human Rights, followed by a panel discussion with distinguished experts. The event was presented as part of George Washington University's Moving the Planet Forward: Turning Innovation into Action program and was co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Institute, the Center for International Environmental Law, the GW Journal of Energy and Environmental Law, and the GW Environmental Law Association. It was made possible by the late Dorothy Shapiro and the J.B. and Maurice Shapiro Family Trust.

Professor Dinah Shelton and Professor Don Anton's presentation on their new book was followed by comments by Professor Elizabeth Burleson, Pace University School of Law; Thoko Kaime, lecturer in law and deputy director, Environmental and Regulatory Research Group, the University of Surrey; Marcos Orellana, director, Human Rights and the Environment Program, Center for International Environmental Law; Vanessa Retana, senior program officer, Rights and Livelihoods Program, World Wildlife Fund; and Kristen Walker, vice president, Social Policy and Practice, Conservation International.

Co-authors Professor Dinah Shelton and Professor Don Anton listen to questions from the audience.

Insights From the General Court of the European Union

The Law School hosted a luncheon talk by Judge Savvas Papasavvas of the General Court of the European Union. Professor Steve Charnovitz and students joined Judge Papasavvas for a photo after the talk and discussion.

Conference organizers and panelists pose for a portrait after the event. From left to right: University of Miami Law School Professor Markus Wagner, Boston College Law School Professor Richard Albert, GW Law School Professor Claudia Haupt, LLM '09, Harvard Law School Professor Jill Goldenziel, GW Law Professor Thomas Colby, and GW Law Professor Francesca Bignami

Abdul El-Tayef

New Perspectives on Comparative Law

Junior comparative law scholars from around the world came to GW in April to present their work at the inaugural New Perspectives on Comparative Law conference. The event, featuring concurrent panel discussions, was hosted by the American Society of Comparative Law Younger Comparativists Committee (YCC).  During a plenary session, the Best Paper Award was presented to Harvard Law School Climenko Fellow and Professor Jill Goldenziel for her paper "Veiled Political Questions: Islamic Dress, Constitutionalism, and the Ascendance of Courts." GW Law Professors Francesca Bignami and Thomas Colby provided comments on the paper. The conference was organized by YCC Chair and Boston College Law School Professor Richard Albert, YCC Program Chair and University of Miami Law School Markus Wagner, and GW Law Professor Claudia Haupt, LLM '09.

Haupt Heads to New York

Nick Gingold

Claudia E. Haupt, LLM '09, a popular Legal Research and Writing professor for international LLM students at GW for the past several years, is now an associate-in-law at Columbia University Law School.

In scholarship news, Professor Haupt recently published a book, Religion–State Relations in the United States and Germany, a comparative analysis of the constitutional law of religion-state relations in the United States and Germany focusing on the principle of state neutrality. She also has an article forthcoming in the George Washington Law Review, "Transnational Nonestablishment."

"I am truly grateful for the opportunities GW Law has provided since I first arrived here as an LLM student in 2008," says Professor Haupt. "I have been able to develop my research agenda, I have had the pleasure of teaching very talented and engaged JD and LLM students, and I have very much benefited from interacting with a highly distinguished yet easily approachable, genuinely interested, and eager-to-help set of teachers, colleagues, and friends. While I am very much looking forward to future adventures at Columbia Law School, I will miss the incredibly supportive environment at GW Law that I have been so fortunate to have been a part of for the past four years."