American Society of International Law Meeting Features Major Policy Address

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Society of International Law’s (ASIL) 110th Annual Meeting featured speakers including a sitting head of state, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, high ranking Obama administration officials, and judges from multiple international courts.
The Society’s 2016 Annual Meeting Committee, co-chaired by Tendayi Achiume Picturred) (ASIL Academic Partner University of California-Los Angeles School of Law), Dawn Yamane Hewett (U.S. Department of Commerce), and Ina Popova (ASIL Leadership Circle Law Firm Member Debevoise & Plimpton LLP), developed the program for the conference, which took place March 30-April 2, in Washington, DC.
The four-day event welcomed more than 1,150 attendees from 50 countries, including some of the world’s leading jurists, academicians, and practitioners in the field.  Following are some of the Meeting highlights, online videos of which are available at
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet opened the conference with the 2016 Grotius Lecture, for which Judge Margaret McKeown (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) served as the discussant.  President Bachelet’s remarks on “The Challenges to International Law in the 21stCentury” posed fundamental questions about international law today and pointed to hopeful signs of collective action to solve global problems.  The lecture and reception that followed were cosponsored by ASIL Academic Partner American University Washington College of Law.
For the first time the Annual Meeting also featured an Assembly that brought together all conferees to attend the Society’s Annual General Meeting, the awarding of the organization’s highest honors, and a keynote address by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer focusing on themes in his new book, The Court and the World.
Also at the conference, U.S. Department of State Legal Adviser Brian Egan delivered a policy address entitled “International Law, Legal Diplomacy, and the Counter-ISIL Campaign.”  This was Egan’s first major public address since being approved as the State Department’s top lawyer, filling a key post that had been vacant for more than three years.  His remarks continued a recent tradition in which senior U.S. officials have chosen the Society’s Annual Meeting as the forum in which to explain the legal basis for major government policies.
Egan’s speech addressed the legal basis for the United States’ use of force against the so-called Islamic State or ISIL, reaffirming and clarifying the Obama administration’s commitment to respect international law.  The speech has since prompted vigorous debate among policy experts in the field.
Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler (ASIL Academic Partner University of Geneva School of Law) gave the fourth annual Charles N. Brower Lecture on International Arbitration.  Her talk, “Accountability in International Investment Arbitration,” explored the reasons for and nature of emerging structural changes in the investment arbitration system.
The City of The Hague sponsored and the Hague Institute for Global Justice co-hosted the closing plenary, “Countering Violent Extremism (CVE):  Understanding the Shifting Landscape in National and International Approaches.”  The plenary session began with a keynote address by former Dutch Minister of Justice Ernst Hirsch Ballin.  A panel of experts then discussed emerging trends in CVE, especially in the context of the recent terrorist attacks in Belgium.
Summaries of several of the 40-plus substantive meeting sessions can be found on the conference’s official blog, ASIL Cables, at
            Presentation of the Society’s top honors as well as several ASIL interest group prizes was another highlight of the Annual Meeting.
            The International Legal Research Interest Group presented its second annual Jus GentiumResearch Award, recognizing a non-commercial, online database that is freely available to the public and that enhances both scholarship and open access to legal information, to the Global Health and Human Rights Database
Linda Sullivan (University of Auckland, New Zealand) won the second annual International Refugee Law Interest Group co-sponsored student writing competition for her essay “The Application of Article 1F of the Refugee Convention in New Zealand:  Examining Exclusion through a Criminal Law Lens.”
ASIL’s Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict awarded its Lieber Book Prize toLawrence Hill-Cawthorne (University of Reading School of Law) for Detention in Non-International Armed Conflict (ASIL Publisher Partner Oxford University Press).  The group gave its Lieber Article Prize to Roee Ariav (Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law) for “Hardly the Tadić of Targeting:  Missed Opportunities in the ICTY’s Gotovina Judgments” (Israel Law Review, Volume 48:3).  The Lieber Society’s Richard R. Baxter Military Writing Prize went to Captain Jean Paul Pierini (Italian Navy, Legal Affairs Office) for the “The Inflated Invocation of Inherent Jurisdiction and Powers by International and Internationalized Criminal Courts and Tribunals: Between Gap Filling and the Erosion of Core Values” (I quaderni europei:  scienze giuridiche,no. 75 (2015)).
The Women in International Law Interest Group’s 2016 Prominent Woman in International Law award was presented to American Bar Association Rule of Law Institute Executive Director and former ASIL Executive Director Elizabeth Andersen.
            Each year at the Annual Meeting the Society recognizes with Certificates of Merit the authors of three books for their accomplishment in distinct areas of scholarship. Details of this year’s recipients follow.
The Certificate of Merit for high technical craftsmanship and utility to practicing lawyers and scholars was awarded to William Schabas (Middlesex University London) for The European Convention on Human Rights:  A Commentary (ASIL Publisher Partner Oxford University Press). The Certificate of Merit in a specialized area of international law was awarded to Odette Lienau(ASIL Academic Partner Cornell Law School) for Rethinking Sovereign Debt:  Politics, Reputation, and Legitimacy in Modern Finance (Harvard University Press).  Isabel Hull (Cornell University) was presented the ASIL Certificate of Merit for a preeminent contribution to creative scholarship for A Scrap of Paper:  Breaking and Making International Law During the Great War (Cornell University Press).
ASIL’s annual honors were also presented, as follows, at the inaugural Assembly.
Honorary Membership in the Society, given to an individual who has rendered distinguished contributions or service in the field of international law, was awarded to Henry Richardson (Temple University Beasley School of Law).
The Society presented the Goler T. Butcher Medal, given each year since 1997 in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of international human rights law, to James Anaya (University of Arizona College of Law).
American Journal of International Law Board of Editors member Richard Bilder (University of Wisconsin Law School) received ASIL’s highest honor, the 2016 Manley O. Hudson Medal for outstanding contributions to scholarship and achievement in international law.  At the luncheon in his honor, Bilder shared stories and observations from his career in a wide-ranging conversation with former International Court of Justice Judge Thomas Buergenthal.
            For more information about the 2016 Annual Meeting, please contact Sheila Ward, ASIL director of communications and membership, at [email protected] or +1.202.939.6018.
ASIL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, educational membership organization.  It was founded in 1906, chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1950, and has held Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 1993.  ASIL’s mission is to foster the study of international law and to promote the establishment and maintenance of international relations on the basis of law and justice.  The Society’s nearly 4,000 members from more than 100 countries comprise scholars, jurists, practitioners, government officials, leaders in international and nongovernmental organizations, students, and others interested in international law.  For more information,
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