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Posts from the ‘International Initiatives’ Category


Prof. Ron Allen in China

Ma Kai, Vice Premier of China, presents the 2014 China Friendship Award to Professor Ronald J. Allen

Ma Kai, Vice Premier of China, presents the 2014 China Friendship Award to Professor Ronald J. Allen

Earlier this month, Professor Ronald Allen was awarded the 2014 China Friendship Award. Ron recently returned from the award ceremony in Beijing, where he and his fellow award recipients were well and justly celebrated—they met with the Prime Minister and Vice-Prime Minister, and they were invited by the President to attend a state dinner celebrating the 65th Anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Ron was also the guest of honor at a publication party for his book, Professor Allen on Evidence.

While he was in Beijing he also met with members of the Supreme People’s Court to discuss the ongoing efforts to develop a modern universal evidence code for the People’s Republic of China.


Professor Ronald J. Allen and Shen Deyong, Vice-President of the Supreme People’s Court

Professor Ronald J. Allen and Shen Deyong, Vice-President of the Supreme People’s Court

Ron is the Chair of the Foreign Board of Advisors of the Evidence Law and Forensic Sciences Institute at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. He is also the sole non-Chinese advisor to the National Research Project on the Law of Evidence, an initiative conducted at the behest of the Supreme People’s Court as part of the effort to reform that country’s evidentiary rules. Ron has been working with the Chinese on this for nearly fifteen years. In January, he will return to China for a working session with the committee—on which, interestingly, a number of Ron’s former students also serve—to comment on the current draft of the reform document.


Professor Ronald J. Allen at the Supreme People’s Court, Beijing, China

Professor Ronald J. Allen at the Supreme People’s Court, Beijing, China

In November, Ron will host an important conference here at Northwestern Law, “The Foundations of the Law of Evidence and their Implications for Developing Countries,” at which legal scholars and prominent law reformers from around the world—notably from China and Tanzania—will discuss the process by which developing countries adapt, adopt, and evolve their legal systems. Based solely on the list of participating scholars, I am confident that the discussions will have real and meaningful effects worldwide.

Thanks to Ron for his many contributions to Northwestern Law, and to the larger world.


Northwestern Law in Spain

Visiting this week in Madrid with our partner law school, IE, with whom with have a joint LLM program focusing on international business law.  In addition to co-teaching with Judge Margaret McKeown of the United States Court of Appeals, I will be joining with the students of our program, a diverse cohort from many continents and countries.

The IE program, like our programs in Tel Aviv and Seoul, is run on an executive format and gives students the opportunity to learn from top professors (from Northwestern and the host schools) and develop focused expertise on subjects valuable to future legal (and business) careers in which exposure to American and international legal concepts, principles, and doctrines are increasingly important.


The Ebola outbreak: Northwestern faces the challenge

I wanted to share with you some of the interesting and important work that Professor Juliet Sorensen and her cross-campus colleagues are doing on the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Today is Global Health Day at the Feinberg School of Medicine and there will be a faculty panel on the Ebola outbreak at noon. Panelists will “discuss the virology, transmission, epidemiology, and prevention of the disease, the current state of the outbreak, as well as how emergency departments and field staff collect data and prepare. [They] will also discuss the ethical considerations of the outbreak and efforts to contain it, including the selective use of the experimental and untested ZMapp drug on two American physicians infected in W. Africa.” Juliet will participate as one of the panelists.

In a few weeks, on October 1, Juliet and Dr. Shannon Galvin will give a talk here at the Law School on “Ebola, Health and Human Rights,” which will focus on the nexus between the Ebola crisis, access to health issues, and the human right to the highest attainable standard of health.” This program is sponsored by the Center for International Human Rights; the Center for Global Health; the Program of African Studies; and a new student organization, the Health Law Society.

Additionally, Northwestern University’s law and medical schools are actively partnering with the University of Bamako in Mali, on access to health issues and the Ebola outbreak. Dr. Robert Murphy, the director of the Center for Global Health, oversees a lab at the University of Bamako that is at the front lines of Ebola testing, and he and others from his team partner with the Northwestern Access to Health Project—which Juliet directs—to conduct health and human rights trainings in Douentza, Mali.

Juliet founded the Access to Health Project to leverage research and clinical expertise from across the University in an effort to develop long-term health improvement projects that evolve from interdisciplinary needs assessment in communities across the globe, and it happens that they have been working in Mali this year. This work will continue into next year as well.

This is challenging and important work. I thank Juliet and her colleagues for taking it on, and I wish them the best success.


UPDATE: Here are links to two reports on the October 10, 2014, Global Health Day panel:

Feinberg Global Health Day gathers panel to discuss Ebola outbreak

Faculty Experts Discuss Ebola Virus During Global Health Day



Ronald Allen to receive the 2014 China Friendship Award

Our esteemed colleague, Professor Ronald Allen, is a 2014 recipient of the China Friendship Award, the highest award the People’s Republic of China gives to honor non-Chinese nationals for “outstanding contribution[s] to China’s economic and social progress.” The award will be granted September 29 and 30, 2014, at a ceremony in Beijing.

Established in 1991 to recognize the importance of international exchange and cooperation, it is a fitting honor for Ron, who has been actively participating in China’s efforts to reform their evidentiary laws for the last fifteen years or so.

The Fall 2014 issue of the Northwestern Law Reporter—at the printer today, copies available late next week—includes a lengthy article about Ron’s work reforming evidence laws around the world. Here is an excerpt:

During the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, many of the country’s lawyers and intellectuals were killed, and the legal system was gutted. After Communist Party leader Mao Zedong died in 1976, successor Deng Xiopeng struggled in his push for economic growth, in part, Allen said, because “The economy can’t function without a legal system. At that point, you’re just bartering.”

So in the 1980s, Chinese scholars began traveling overseas to learn law and economics, an effort that ultimately led to Chicago when members of the reformist vanguard determined that evidentiary reform was a smart starting point and that Allen could help them learn the field.

The underlying legal principles [of China’s evidence code] are Germanic in origin and they were adopted by the leaders of Republic of China after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1912. The legal system was declawed but not replaced after the mid-century Communist revolution, so the same foundation remains in place. That system doesn’t feature American-style adversarial proceedings and thus doesn’t decentralize the evidentiary process. “My students are grafting an Anglo-American conception of the law of evidence onto a Germanic system, and the Germans would say you can’t do it,” Allen said. “The Chinese are saying, ‘Yes, we can.’ And so it’s kind of a fun and interesting exercise.”

Some of Allen’s students drafted a code of evidence that has been adopted by several Chinese judicial districts. Meanwhile, several other districts have adopted alternative evidentiary codes, and last year the nation’s highest court started a research program to investigate more formal legal reform. Allen is an advisor to the 30-person committee, which includes many of his former students.

This year’s Friendship Award complements an earlier honor: in 2007, Ron was designated a Yangtze River Scholar by China’s Ministry of Education. This was in recognition of his work with the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, to “reform the legal system of the People’s Republic of China.

Please join me in congratulating Ron on this richly deserved honor!


Khmer Rouge Tribunal: finally, some justice for Cambodia

Professor David Scheffer, the Director of our Center for International Human Rights, and the first-ever War Crimes Ambassador for the United States, was instrumental in creating the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Also known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, this court was established to bring to trial those most responsible for the atrocity crimes that plagued Cambodia in the late 1970s.

Earlier this month, the Tribunal brought some measure of justice to Cambodians: “The two most senior surviving Khmer Rouge leaders from Cambodia’s genocidal Democratic Kampuchea regime…were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

This has been a long time coming. It wouldn’t have happened at all but for David’s tireless efforts as a State Department official during the Clinton Administration and as a special expert with the United Nations in the years since then. (If you are interested in how David helped establish war crimes tribunals for the Balkans, Cambodia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone, I urge you to read his remarkable book, All the Missing Souls.)

As Director of the Center for International Human Rights, David leads an incredible group of faculty who make possible a unique set of experiential opportunities for our students, of which one—among many—is working on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia. I thank them for their efforts to expand due process around the world and increase accountability to international law, and I join them in celebrating their success.


Why Bother with Global Community Work?

There are lots of reasons to encourage students to work and study abroad. I’ve discussed why I think this is important, as well as some of Northwestern Law’s international initiatives, on this blog. Today I encourage you to read my colleague Juliet Sorenson’s thoughts on this subject: The University as Global Citizen, published earlier this week on the Health and Human Rights blog.

Juliet and an interdisciplinary group of students—from the School of Law, Feinberg School of Medicine, and Kellogg School of Management—left yesterday to travel to Douentza, Mali, as part of the Access to Health program. Students in her Health and Human Rights class have spent this semester researching health needs and issues in Mali in preparation for this trip. Once in Douentza, they will work closely with health care providers and community leaders to develop and implement a meaningful, sustainable health intervention specifically for that community.

The Access to Health trip is one example of the type of international human rights projects Northwestern students will undertake during Spring Break. International Team Projects is another: under the supervision of a faculty sponsor, law students travel abroad to conduct research on topics of their choosing. The students work in teams to develop the research topic; prepare advance materials including extensive briefing materials on the country’s history, culture, and legal and political systems; and plan the logistics of field work. Once in country they interview government officials, legal scholars, policy makers, and business and civic leaders, and conduct other fact-gathering as required by the research scope.

This year teams will travel to Cuba, Chile/Argentina, Myanmar/Thailand, and South Africa, to explore questions including Constitutional rights to housing, human rights in the mining industry, foreign direct investment and entrepreneurship, banking, freedom of expression in journalism and filmmaking, and environmental issues.

These are excellent examples of the type of global experiential learning Juliet writes about, and they illustrate the role Universities can play in improving the lives of people around the world. It is, as she says, quoting John Masefield, “…one of the things that makes a University beautiful.”



Kudos to Erin Delaney: 2014 MacCormick Visiting Fellowship at Edinburgh Law School

My colleague, Erin Delaney, was recently awarded a prestigious MacCormick Visiting Fellowship at Edinburgh Law School for her work on comparative constitutionalism. This Fellowship will allow her to expand her research on the United Kingdom and exchange ideas with her European colleagues. As part of the fellowship, she will teach a MacCormick Seminar on Constitutional Change in the United Kingdom at the Edinburgh Law School—a topic about which she also has a paper, “Judiciary Rising: Constitutional Change in the United Kingdom”—forthcoming in the Northwestern Law Review.

This is further evidence of the extraordinary strength of our constitutional law faculty, particularly in the emerging area of comparative constitutionalism.

The MacCormick Fellowships were created in honor of the memory of noted Philosophy of Law scholar Professor Sir Neil MacCormick, the Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations at the University of Edinburgh from 1972 to 2008. The program supports advanced research in legal studies and the international exchange of ideas.

Please join me in congratulating Erin, and wishing her the best of luck in Scotland.


Battling Public Corruption

Professor Juliet Sorensen penned an opinion piece that is well worth a read: “Why Are Natural Disasters Breeding Grounds for Corruption?” It was published today on Talking Points Memo.

This is a subject on which she writes regularly. Another notable recent op-ed of hers was on the United Nation’s efforts to fight international corruption through the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which was published on Al Jazeera America.

Her writing is based, in part, on the work she does with her Northwestern students. I’m pleased to share with you here an excerpt from a forthcoming article about the exemplary work of students, faculty, and alumni involved with the Center for International Human Rights. The full article will appear next month in the Spring 2014 issue of the Northwestern Law Reporter:

In 2013 the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center for International Human Rights was granted consultative status with the United Nations, an accreditation held by only one other US law school, which allows nongovernmental, nonprofit public and voluntary organizations to play a role in UN deliberations. CIHR’s consultative status enabled clinical assistant professor Juliet Sorensen and two JD students—Akane Tsuruta (JD ’14) and Jessica Dwinell (JD-LLM IHR ’14)—to attend last November’s Conference of the State Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, held in Panama City.

As recently as 15 years ago bribery was regarded in many countries as a legitimate business practice, in some cases even a tax deduction allowed by law. It was not until 2003—when the Convention against Corruption was adopted by the UN General Assembly—that a legally binding international treaty to criminalize corporate bribery, extortion and embezzlement first emerged. As of February of this year, 170 countries have become parties to the treaty, and the Conference of the State Parties to the UNCAC has convened biennially to review signatories’ progress toward preventing corruption, improving international law enforcement and providing mechanisms for the treaty’s implementation.

Northwestern Law’s three delegates to last fall’s conference—the fifth to be held—worked closely with the UNCAC Coalition, a global coalition of anticorruption NGOs, attending plenary sessions and helping the organization to write articles. Tsuruta and Dwinell also blogged about conference proceedings for FCPA Professor, a widely followed online forum devoted to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other international anticorruption laws…

…With substantial input from Chicago law firm Baker & McKenzie, the Center for International Human Rights created a desk reference compendium on UNCAC compliance. Sorensen and her students analyzed data and assembled country-by-country documentation, working together with Baker & McKenzie partner Edwin R. Dunn (JD ’67), attorney Gerardo Calderon-Villegas (who also attended the UNCAC conference), and Bluhm Legal Clinic advisory board member Angela Vigil (JD ’95), who is Baker & McKenzie’s director of pro bono and community service for North America. The compendium was an essential resource for Northwestern Law’s UNCAC conference delegation and will continue to serve as a guide for future UNCAC compliance work.

“This valuable resource would not have been possible without the generosity and talent of Baker & McKenzie,” said Sorensen. “And each of us, regardless of the type of law we practice, can play a role in fighting corruption. As members of the bar, it is our responsibility to advise clients facing the gray areas of corruption to make honest, ethical decisions. In-house lawyers, corporate counsel and litigators—all can help.” –Erin Marks

I’m proud and appreciative of the extraordinary efforts of these members of the Northwestern Law community.


Chicago White Sox Centerfielder Joins Global Health Team

From left: Professor Juliet Sorensen, Alejandro De Aza, and Dan Young, deputy director, Center for Global Health, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Professor Juliet Sorensen, Alejandro De Aza, and Dan Young, deputy director, Center for Global Health, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Alejandro De Aza, leadoff hitter and centerfielder for the Chicago White Sox, helped promote Northwestern University’s Access to Health project with a message to his hometown of Guaymate, Dominican Republic. His 90-second video announcement encouraging a healthy lifestyle debuted at a community health fair held on Guaymate’s baseball fields March 1, 2014. The Access to Health team is working with healthcare practitioners at Guaymate Hospital on a long-term quality improvement project, which evolved from the team’s need assessment following a site visit to Guaymate last spring.

Juliet Sorensen, clinical assistant professor of law in the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern Law, along with colleagues at the Center for Global Health at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, founded the project to leverage their research and clinical expertise in partnership with a community in the developing world to conduct a multidisciplinary needs assessment of that community. Once the team identifies a community, its needs are assessed and, based on the results of that study, both the team and the community identify and implement a sustainable, capacity-building intervention. Northwestern law, business, medical, and public health students in Sorensen’s “Health and Human Rights” class work in interdisciplinary groups on various aspects of the needs assessment, while also taking advantage of the expertise of the University’s engineering faculty to design health projects in the developing countries. Later this month, a team will travel to Mali to work with people there to build health care capacity as the country emerges from civil conflict.

Access to Health is a terrific project, one that demonstrates the power of interdisciplinary work. Bringing people with different skills and training together to work on teams is a very effective way to solve problems, and the experience helps our students become better lawyers. Good luck to Juliet and her students on their trip to Mali!


International Initiatives: Justice Audit, Bangladesh

Professor Tom Geraghty’s work in Ethiopia is well known, but his energies and enthusiasms are not limited only to that country. Last fall, he led a group of law students to Bangladesh, where they worked on an interesting new project called a “Justice Audit.” The audit gathers data about a country’s criminal justice system to create a tool that citizens can use to deeply understand “…how the justice process works, the points of system pressure and associated challenges, as well as opportunities to apply good practices to solve problems.”

The Northwestern Law team worked with the Governance & Justice Group's ground team in the GIZ (the German development agency) offices in Dhaka for two weeks to coordinate data collection, discuss challenges and findings, and strategize the presentation of the information to the Government of Bangladesh and other stakeholders.

The Northwestern Law team worked with the Governance & Justice Group’s ground team in the GIZ (the German development agency) offices in Dhaka for two weeks to coordinate data collection, discuss challenges and findings, and strategize the presentation of the information to the Government of Bangladesh and other stakeholders.

Katherine Klein, a student who worked on this audit, wrote an interesting report about her experiences, which I am happy to share with you here:

“During the fall semester 2013 I was one of four students selected to participate in an intensive senior research project supervised by Professor Geraghty. As a team of five representing Northwestern Law School, we were participating in the second ever Justice Audit conducted by an international legal consulting firm, the Governance and Justice Group, based in Portugal.

A Justice Audit is an intensive, data-rich study of the major justice-seeking institutions in a country, including the courts, legal aid providers, police, prisons, and prosecutors. The Justice Audit methodology, designed by the Governance and Justice Group, gathers statistical information on the flow of cases and individuals through a justice system, to show governments and policy makers what is happening at any given time. It is hoped that governments and policy makers will use the data as a catalyst for changes they see necessary in their own system.

In addition to gathering institutional data, the Justice Audit included practitioner surveys of many personnel such as judges, police officials, and detainees, as well as a 6,000-person survey to gauge citizen perceptions of their options for seeking justice and resolving disputes.

As participants in the Justice Audit methodology—the first ever with both student and academician participants—none of us knew what to expect. From workload, to in-country fieldwork in Bangladesh, everything was abstract and always a moving target.

At the outset of the semester we began an intensive desk review phase to learn as much as possible about the legal landscape in the country before arriving. The desk review was fascinating. Pouring over Bangladeshi statutes forced us to ask critical questions about the components of a functioning and efficient legal system. Such a critical, intimate look into another legal system is a rare opportunity in legal education.

As the political situation heated up, and eventually began to boil over in Bangladesh, our departure for five weeks of fieldwork was delayed. Although everyone was disappointed at the delay, the desk review continued, which was probably for the better as it was such a large task. The delay, much like the eventual time in Dhaka, was a good lesson in the realities of international legal consulting work. One moment, things are calm and itineraries are set, only to be cancelled the next.

Despite the numerous cancellations and security restrictions placed on the Justice Audit team as a whole, we eventually all managed to make it to Dhaka to work together. With consultants participating from all across the globe (Brooklyn, Chicago, Islamabad, London, the Maldives, and Portugal) the ability to all sit in one time zone and work side by side was invaluable, and a relief to everyone’s sleep schedule.

Security concerns were high the entire time we were in Dhaka, so we did not spend much time outside of the office. The opportunity to do fieldwork and to learn more about Bangladeshi culture was regrettably missed, but the ability to see data flow in from all the sectors of the justice institutions, and to think critically about the story that data tells was a fascinating experience. It made me really stop and think about the role each discrete institution plays in a larger system, and the impact that system can have on the lives of individual citizens. As can be seen by the statistics emerging in Bangladesh, a poorly functioning system leaves citizens with few places to turn to seek justice and dispute resolution.

Bangladesh is fraught with the challenges of development. The population is massive; the legal system is archaic, and slow. Formal dispute resolution is hard to attain for anyone unable to pay exorbitant fees. And yet around every corner, we were able to draw analogies to parts of the American legal system that suffer similar frustrations.

We as students learned to view laws and legal proceedings through a more critical lens. The mentorship we received during the project from Professor Geraghty and our international colleagues was phenomenal. The project might not have taken shape quite as we expected, but the shape it did eventually take was abundantly educational.”

Students Rebba Omer, Katherine Klein, and Kelsey Green (as well as Dennie Byam, not pictured) joined Professor Tom Geraghty for two weeks in Bangladesh after having spent the first half of the semester drafting research papers and collaborating with the rest of the team to map out the steps of the Justice Audit.

Students Rebba Omer, Katherine Klein, and Kelsey Green (as well as Dennie Byam, not pictured) joined Professor Tom Geraghty for two weeks in Bangladesh after having spent the first half of the semester drafting research papers and collaborating with the rest of the team to map out the steps of the Justice Audit.