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Global Response to Trafficking, Immigration Rights and Congo Rape Among Topics of Discussion When ABA Meets in New York

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11, 2012 — The American Bar Association Section of International Law will host one of the world’s largest annual gatherings of international legal experts during its 2012 Spring Meeting, to be held in New York April 17-21.  This year’s meeting will be held at the Grand Hyatt New York, Park Avenue/Grand Central.

Special Showcase Event: A Dialogue with Michael Douglas:  On April 19, 10:45 a.m. – noon, the Section of International Law will present a showcase event with actor Michael Douglas, featuring a dialogue about international law and policy.  Douglas will be speaking about nuclear non-proliferation.  Past speakers for the showcase “fireside chats” have included Jane Goodall, Theodore Sorensen, Robert McNamara and Bob Geldof.  Jonathan Granoff, of the Law Office of Jonathan Granoff, will moderate.

Additional speakers will include:

  • Ben Ferencz, the sole surviving American who served as a prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war criminals;
  • Robert Khuzami, director of the Division of Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission; and John C. Coffee Jr., Columbia Law School; (The Aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis – a Focus on Insider Trading and Developments in Securities Law, part I);
  • Pierre N. Leval,  judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit;
  • Robert A. Katzmann, judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit;
  • U.S. Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Cyrus Amir-Mokri; and
  • Award-winning journalist and author of “Under an Afghan Sky,” Mellissa Fung.

More than 1,300 international law practitioners, scholars, corporate counsel, government and regulatory lawyers, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations from some 50 countries are expected to attend the 2012 meeting.  The agenda includes more than 70 programs on international business, energy and the environment, and international rule of law and development.  

The following are among the highlights in the area of rule of law and human rights:

Is an International Convention on the Rights of Older Persons Needed? — A growing number of international non-governmental organizations under a “Global Alliance for the Rights of Older Persons” umbrella have been pressing the need for a United Nations Convention on the Rights of Older Persons.  The U.N. General Assembly, by resolution in December 2010, created The Open-Ended Working Group on Aging, charged with considering the existing international framework of the human rights of older persons and identifying possible gaps and how best to address them.  A panel will provide a variety of perspectives on the issue.
April 17, 2:30 – 4 p.m.

Luncheon with Keynote Speaker Cyrus Amir-Mokri — U.S. Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Cyrus Amir-Mokri will be the featured speaker, while William Howard Taft IV will be presented with the Francis Shattuck Security and Peace Award.
April 18, 12:45 – 2:15 p.m.

For Better or Worse:  International Issues in Marriage and Divorce — A panel will discuss the most important issues in international marriage, divorce and child custody, including family, immigration, support obligations and cultural issues that may arise in cross-border family relationships.  The panel will discuss the considerable amount of recent litigation in various jurisdictions concerning divorce disputes by spouses seeking to move children to different countries, immigration consequences of divorces, international financial settlements and other relevant issues.
April 18, 2:30 – 4 p.m.

Internal Justice at the United Nations — What Does it Look Like and Does it Work? — Have you ever wondered what internal justice at an international organization like the United Nations looks like?  In July 2009, the U.N. General Assembly implemented an entirely new system of resolving disputes within the U.N.  For the first time within the international administrative tribunals, a two-tier system of formal adjudication was established and judges from all over the world have been called to adjudicate disputes.  Attendees will hear from individuals actively engaged in the process of establishing the new system.
April 18, 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Importing Cultural Objects into the United States — Curators, collectors, dealers and even souvenir buyers want to bring art works and cultural objects from other countries into the United States.  However, they should know that Customs and Border Protection is on the lookout for culturally important artifacts that may be entering the United States illegally.  A legal framework, composed of both general and specific customs laws, now regulates the importation of cultural artifacts. 
April 19, 9 – 10:30 a.m.

Not for Sale:  Global Responses to Sex and Labor Trafficking — Twelve-year-olds, under constant supervision of pimps in the alleys of the Sonagachi red light district … Young girls brutishly incarcerated in poorly lit, overcrowded Indian brothels for paid sex … Adolescent sex slaves in the United States.  Human trafficking has become a global human rights epidemic.  From forced prostitution to forced labor, an estimated 27 million people currently are victims of this modern-day brand of slavery.  How do we tackle this worldwide scourge of human exploitation?  What is the world’s response via domestic laws?  International regulations?  Diverse world-leading experts will discuss and analyze the issues.
April 19, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Luncheon with Keynote Speaker Pierre N. Leval — Judge Pierre N. Leval, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, will present remarks, with the section’s Louis B. Sohn Award for the Public International Law being presented to Anne-Marie Slaughter, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton.
April 19, 12:45 – 2:15 p.m. 

Rape: Impunity and Command Responsibility — Rape is the rule and not the exception in many conflict situations.  A panel will explore avenues to prosecute perpetrators, including mobile courts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and national courts that utilize universal jurisdiction.  The speakers will focus on international law developed in supranational tribunals that have decided rape is a crime against humanity and can be genocide. 
April 19, 2:30 – 4 p.m.

Nuclear Weapons and International Humanitarian Law — How does and how should international humanitarian law affect nuclear weapons policy?  A panel will explore the tension between international humanitarian law and national policy governing nuclear weapons.
April 20, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Luncheon with Keynote Speaker Mellissa Fung — Award-winning journalist and author of “Under an Afghan Sky,” Mellissa Fung, who was abducted on the outskirts of Kabul on her second tour of that country in 2008, will be the featured speaker.  In addition, the Mayre Rasmussen Award for the Advancement of Women in International Law will be presented to Professor Hope Lewis of Northeastern University School of Law.  Working as a human rights scholar, Lewis has brought the impact and import of economic, social and cultural rights to the forefront of academia and practical debate.
April 20, 12:45 – 2:15 p.m.

What Can the Legal Profession do to Increase Access to Competent Counsel?  Immigration as a Case Study — The increasing prevalence of incompetent and/or fraudulent representation has led to an increase in the victimization of both the “trusting” and disadvantaged clients.  Within the immigration realm, particularly, this issue has become glaringly obvious:  immigrants are victimized by “notarios,” incompetent attorneys and other unscrupulous individuals.  A panel will discuss the multitude of ethical and practical issues that must be considered while addressing this increasingly confounding phenomenon and the legal profession’s obligation to contribute services to those in need, and to re-establish the concept of fair representation within the legal system.  Judge Robert A. Katzmann, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, will be one of the panelists.
April 20, 2:30 – 4 p.m.

The Arab Spring and Constitutional Reforms:  From Aspiration to Reality The Arab Spring succeeded in removing the most visible symbols of regimes that ruled in the Middle East for decades.  Today the citizens of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya are taking steps to transform their political aspirations to reality.  Only the just implementation of the rule of law will facilitate a successful and lasting transition.  This program will analyze the key legal issues confronting these countries, from drafting constitutions, to building and reinforcing institutions that are essential to ensure that the rule of law prevails.
April 20, 2:30 – 4 p.m.

The Evolution of International Criminal Law: Problems and Perspectives — This program will feature a conversation with Ben Ferencz, the sole surviving American who served as a prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials of Nazi war criminals.  Ferencz was chief prosecutor for the United States in The Einsatzgruppen Case, which the Associated Press called “the biggest murder trial in history.”  In addition to speaking about these experiences, Ferencz will discuss Nuremburg’s implications for the rule of law and the international criminal court.
April 20, 4:30 – 6 p.m.

Additional information about the 2012 Spring Meeting can be found online.

For media credentialing, please contact Patricia Gaul at  This event is free and open to members of the press.

ABA International was founded in 1933 and leads the development of international legal policy, the promotion of the rule of law, and the education of international law practitioners. It is the only ABA entity that focuses exclusively on international legal issues. ABA International has over 23,000 members in 90 countries, including 1500 in-house counsel. The section has more than 60 committees, task forces, and working groups devoted to substantive legal issues or focused on geographic areas all over the world, monitoring and disseminating information on international policy developments that effect international legal practice.

With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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