Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute and Center for Chinese Legal Studies Join Chatham House in Hosting Global Roundtable with China’s Leading International Law Experts
New York, January 17, 2019 - Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute (HRI) and Center for Chinese Legal Studies, and the International Law Programme at Chatham House hosted international law experts in New York on November 10-11 for a roundtable aimed at promoting greater understanding between China and the global community on international legal issues relating to peace and security.
The two-day roundtable brought 19 leading Chinese and non-Chinese international law scholars to Columbia Law School to discuss topics including China’s growing role in international peacekeeping, international law applicable to peacekeeping, sanctions, UN reform, and the mainstreaming of key issues into the global peace and security agenda.
The Roundtable was co-chaired by Professor Sarah Cleveland, Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights at the law school and co-director of the Institute, and Professor Benjamin Liebman, Robert L. Lieff Professor of Law and the director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies, and brought together experts from China, Colombia, France, Australia, Switzerland, Greece, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The roundtable was the sixth sponsored by Chatham House in an ongoing series addressing China’s approach to international law and global governance. The initiative aims to support the participation of Chinese experts in knowledge exchanges with global leaders, generate a better understanding of Chinese views on a range of international law issues, increase collaboration on such topics at the United Nations, as well as build global partnerships in the international law field. At the latest roundtable, one Chinese scholar emphasized the value of the initiative, observing that currently it is the only platform for regular dialogue between Chinese and non-Chinese experts on international law issues.
“We are seeing unprecedented political interventions on the international stage by China, including efforts to shape international law and influence international institutions,” said Professor Cleveland. “This makes convenings like this even more important, building global collaborations, fostering alignment on values, enhancing understanding and opening doors for continued dialogue.”
"The roundtable provided an invaluable opportunity to hear about international legal issues in which China is increasingly taking a proactive position,” said Harriet Moynihan, co-Chair of the Roundtable and Associate Fellow in the International Law Programme at Chatham House. “The fact that the discussions were among legal scholars, and that the roundtable was held under the Chatham House rule, facilitated open and warm dialogue in a depoliticized environment."
The Roundtable also reflected Columbia’s longstanding engagement with China and influence on the field of international and comparative law. Four of the five Chinese international law scholars had previously spent time at Columbia as Visiting Scholars or fellows with the Human Rights Institute or Center for Chinese Legal Studies. "As China continues to play an increasingly important role internationally and in shaping international law, such opportunities for frank and open discussion are extremely important," said Ben Liebman, Professor and Director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies at Columbia Law School.
The Roundtable program was accompanied by meetings for the Chinese scholars with the UN Office of Legal Affairs, with leading US scholars on China at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a reception at the UK Mission to the UN with legal advisers from a number of other missions. Insights from the Roundtable were shared in these conversations and will be further disseminated to governments and academics through podcasts, expert comments and infographics.
Topics identified for possible future discussion included partnered operations in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, the international refugee crisis, climate change, and technology and security monitoring. Previous roundtables took place in Beijing, London, Geneva, and New York. The seventh is tentatively planned for 2019 at the China University of Political Science and the Law (CUPL), Beijing.
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The Human Rights Institute advances international human rights through education, advocacy, fact-finding, research, scholarship, and critical reflection. It works in partnership with advocates, communities, and organizations pushing for social change to develop and strengthen the human rights legal framework and mechanisms, promote justice and accountability for human rights violations, and build and amplify collective power.
Founded in 1998 by the late Professor Louis Henkin as the anchor for human rights within Columbia Law School, the Human Rights Institute promotes engagement and knowledge of human rights within the law school, throughout the University, and around world. Across the many substantive areas of its work, the Institute builds bridges between scholarship and activism, develops capacity within the legal community, engages governments, and models new strategies for progress.
The Center for Chinese Legal Studies prepares students to take on leadership roles in Chinese law, and provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in China's rapidly changing legal environment. The center provides a wide range of China-related curricular, extracurricular, and exchange activity and serves as a bridge to the Chinese legal community.
Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is a world-leading policy institute based in London. Our mission is to help governments and societies build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.
For more information on Chatham House’s initiative on China and the Future of the International Legal Order, including meeting summaries, podcasts, and expert comments, click here.
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