More than 1,600 legal scholars, government officials, practitioners, and law students participated in the fifth annual International Law Weekend at Fordham Law School last week, which featured more than 40 panels, speeches, and films on hot-button global issues such as human rights, counterterrorism, climate change, gender equality, and Brexit.
The International Law Students Association and American Branch of the International Law Association, in conjunction with Fordham’s Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, sponsored “International Law 5.0,” billed as the premier international law event of the fall season. The weekend kicked off with an opening reception at the New York City Bar on October 27, before moving to Fordham Law School for its October 28–29 activities.
The International Law Weekend aims to provide participants a framework for innovation in the face of rapidly emerging forces and new scenarios they must confront in today’s technological world. The event drew 1,600 registrants, including 1,000 students, to Fordham Law School, said David Stewart, president of the American Branch of International Law Association, on Friday afternoon. Lucinda Low, president of the American Society of International Law and partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, delivered Friday’s keynote address on bribery and corruption in international trade and investment.
In addition to hosting the conference, Fordham Law School also supplied numerous professors as moderators and panelists.
Karen J. Greenberg, director of Fordham Law’s Center on National Security, moderated a Friday morning panel titled “Security, Rights, and Technological Change: Emerging Issues in Applying International Law,” highlighting legal issues surrounding drone strikes, indefinite detention, and wartime secrecy.
During the panel, Fordham Law Professor Thomas H. Lee raised objections to President Obama’s targeted drone killings and the U.S. military’s ongoing investment in artificial intelligence for use on the battlefield.
“I see a bleak Terminator-type future if we keep going down this path,” said Lee, whose book Justifying War (Oxford Press) is scheduled for release in 2017.
The future need not be a dystopian one, Greenberg added, but America must repair its broken tools, including the means by which the law, language, and institutions work to protect, rather than deceive, us.
“The way forward is to trust in the laws and principles we’ve always relied on,” Greenberg said, noting this approach worked in the 20th century and can work again, if the president and our nation support a legal approach to conflict, rather than a policy-driven approach.
Fordham Law Professor Catherine Powell moderated the Friday morning panel, “Feminist Approaches to International Law 25 Years On,” which explored the global judiciary, legal, and business impacts of the groundbreaking article, with a special video presentation by one of its three authors, Professor Hilary Charlesworth of the University of Melbourne (Australia) Law School.
Fordham Law Professor Martin S. Flaherty, co-director of the Leitner Center, moderated a Friday morning panel, titled “Plight and Prospects: The Ongoing Crackdown on Cause Lawyers in China” and participated in a Saturday morning panel, titled “Bringing International Human Rights Law Home.” Fordham Law Professor Roger Goebel also served as a panelist on “Brexit and Its Consequences,” on Friday morning.