Learning about “The Resilience of International Law” at International Law Weekend in New York

Katherine Blake
J.D. Candidate, Class of 2021
Santa Clara University School of Law

I had the privilege of serving as a student ambassador at International Law Weekend 2019 in New York City. International Law Weekend is organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) which welcomes new members from academia, the practicing bar, and the diplomatic world. This annual conference attracts an audience of more than one thousand academics, practitioners, diplomats, members of governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and law students.

This past fall, International Law Weekend (ILW) took place October 10-12, 2019 in New York City. The conference was held at the New York City Bar Association on October 10, 2019, and at Fordham Law School on October 11-12, 2019, with a U.N. reception hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Singapore. Under the unifying theme of “The Resilience of International Law,” the conference explored international law’s capacity to preserve the rule of law, promote peace and justice, and maintain stability in the face of growing fault lines.

Featuring 35 different panels, ILW covered a variety of topics such as the relationship of privacy rights and surveillance, environmental protection before international tribunals, investment laws and human rights, the role that international law will play in the growing risk of war in outer space, and many more. The keynote speakers included William Burke-White, Director of Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania Law School; Judge Kimberly Prost, International Criminal Court; Ambassador Stephen Rapp, Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues; Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, U.N. Undersecretary-General for Legal Affairs; and Dr. Christopher Ward, SC, ILA President.

During ILW, SCU Law Professor David Sloss chaired a study group on Threats to the Liberal International Order. The Study Group has adopted an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on insights from law, economics, political science, and international relations. The study group met during ILW to discuss their views to be incorporated into a book addressing changes to the international legal order. Professor Sloss also moderated a panel at ILW with several members of the study group entitled “The Decline of Liberal International Order?”

As a student ambassador, I had the opportunity to work with ABILA Director of Studies, Professor Peter Yu, compiling reports regarding ABILA’s branch committees. Additionally, I attended the Committee Chairs’ Meeting as well as Professor David Sloss’ Study Group Meeting, which provided incredible insight into how international scholars, lawyers, and diplomats bring unique perspectives to the challenges facing the international community.

International Law Weekend was an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the leading professionals and experts in their respective fields. I was exposed to new areas of law and met incredible scholars and professionals who were welcoming and eager to help me in my own career path in international law. I formed friendships with the other student ambassadors who not only helped me navigate the conference, but have also continued to give me invaluable advice about law school and life after law school. Overall, International Law Weekend 2019 was an amazing learning experience that allowed me to grow as a student and as a professional.

Panel: The United States and the International Criminal Court: Challenging Times
Moderator: Jennifer Trahan, Clinical Professor, New York University, Center for Global Affairs; Chair, ABILA International Criminal Court Committee

● Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues; former Head of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, U.S. Department of State
● Todd Buchwald, formerly Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice, U.S. Department of State
● Beth Van Schaack, Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights, Stanford Law School; former Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Office of Global Criminal Justice, U.S. Department of State
● John Washburn, Convener, American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the ICC (AMICC)

Keynote Address: No Going Back: The Persistent Pressure for Accountability
Ambassador Stephen Rapp, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice

Panel: The Decline of the Liberal International Order?
Moderator: David L. Sloss, John A. and Elizabeth H. Sutro Professor of Law, Santa Clara University School of Law

● James T. Gathii, Wing-Tat Lee Chair in International Law and Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
● Oona A. Hathaway, Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law, Yale Law School
● Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and I. Herman Stern Research Professor, Temple University, Beasley School of Law
● Richard H. Steinberg, Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California-Los Angeles School of Law

Panel: The Resilience of the International Law of Outer Space in Light of Technology, Business, and Military Developments
Moderator: Matthew Schaefer, Veronica A. Haggart and Charles R. Work Professor of International Trade Law, University of Nebraska College of Law; Co-Director, Space, Cyber and Telecom Law Program

● Blake Gilson, Associate, Transportation and Space Group, Milbank LLP
● Henry Hertzfeld, Research Professor and Director, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University
● Chris Kunstadter, Global Head of Space, AXA XL
● Kelsey McBarron, Associate, Schroeder Law Firm
● Jessica Tok, Senior Space Policy Analyst, U.S. Department of Defense

Panel: Pathways to Careers in International Law
Moderator: Lesley Benn, Executive Director, International Law Students Association

● Preeti Bhagnani, Associate, White & Case LLP
● Vanessa Tiede, Policy Analyst, Security Council Report
●Cassandre Theano, Director of Human Rights and Public International Law, Columbia Law School
●Mark Wojcik, Professor, The John Marshall Law School

Katherine Blake Photographed with fellow Student Ambassador Lola Ojeniyi, student at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law