Judicial Education for Rights-Respecting Courts
Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute Seminar Engages Federal Judges in Discussions of the Relevance of Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws to U.S. Courts
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New York, January 25, 2016—Federal judges from around the country came together in New York recently for the first in a series of seminars on international human rights and humanitarian law organized by the Law School’s Human Rights Institute and the NYU School of Law’s Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights. Seventeen judges participated in the inaugural program, including appellate judges from the First, Second, Fourth and Sixth Circuits, and trial court judges from the Second, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Tenth and Eleventh Circuits.
The series is resurrecting the decades-long program of judicial seminars started in the 1980s under the auspices of the Justice and Society Program of The Aspen Institute, led by international human rights attorney and director emerita Alice Henkin. Henkin’s late husband, Columbia Law School Professor Louis Henkin, has been credited with creating the study of human rights law. Louis Henkin taught in the Aspen Institute judicial seminars, as did Columbia Law School Professor Sarah H. Cleveland, a noted expert in international and constitutional law, as well as in the legal aspects of foreign relations.
“It is thrilling to be able to revitalize the Henkin judicial seminars in international human rights and humanitarian law,” said Cleveland, the Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights and co-director of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute. “More than 300 federal judges participated in those seminars, including four who became Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. International law has never been more relevant to the work of our courts, and we are pleased to reestablish these seminars as an ongoing joint Columbia-NYU effort.”
The inaugural Columbia-NYU weekend held Nov. 13 – 15, 2015, began with sessions on the law and institutions of the global human rights system, and international humanitarian law. Later sessions focused on refugee and asylum law, counter-terrorism laws and detention in armed conflict, and comparative approaches to post-9/11 national security issues. Cases came from U.S., regional, and international human rights bodies, as well as from foreign, national, and international courts.
Faculty in addition to Cleveland included: Yale Law School Professor Harold Hongju Koh, the former Legal Advisor to the U.S. State Department; Meg Satterthwaite and Adam Cox of the NYU School of Law; Michael Posner, co-director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at the NYU Stern School of Business and the former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; Michael O’Boyle, former Deputy Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights; and Christopher Harland, Legal Adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross. David Graham, Executive Director of the Judge Advocate General Legal Center and School in the U.S. Army Network, also took part in the discussions.
(Pictured left to right: Michael Posner, Sarah Cleveland, Michael O'Boyle, and Harold Koh.)
Cleveland noted the Paris terrorist bombings occurred on the seminar’s first night, driving home the relevance of international human rights and humanitarian law in courtrooms around the world.
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Founded in 1998 by the late Professor Louis Henkin, the Human Rights Institute serves as the focal point of international human rights education, scholarship practice at Columbia Law School and draws on the law school’s deep human rights tradition to support and influence human rights practice in the United States and around the globe. The Institute’s Counterterrorism, Armed Conflict & Human Rights Project aims to strengthen respect for human rights and international law in the contexts of counterterrorism and armed conflict through promoting dialogue among governments, academics, and civil society advocates, and carrying out independent research, human rights and law of war investigations, legal analysis and advising, trainings and expert workshops, and advocacy around the world.
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Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School combines traditional strengths in corporate law and financial regulation, international and comparative law, property, contracts, constitutional law, and administrative law with pioneering work in intellectual property, digital technology, tax law and policy, national security, human rights, sexuality and gender, and environmental law.