Law School panels tackle international issues



The Yale Law School chose an issue of intense national debate — globalization and international law — as the theme for its annual alumni weekend, which ran from Friday to Sunday.

The weekend agenda was made up of panel discussions and class reunion events, including luncheons and dinners around New Haven. Law School Dean Harold Koh said the weekend’s international theme reflected an effort by the school to become more “explicitly global in focus,” while still maintaining tradition. Discussion panelists invited to the Law School for the weekend ranged from Aharon Barak of the Supreme Court of Israel to Kenneth Roth ’80, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, and included a number of Law School professors.

“Globalization is the future,” Koh said. “If we don’t have the best global program, we’re not the best law school.”

During the panels and reunion events, alumni reflected on how their experiences at the Law School shaped their careers and legal approaches. Some alumni also said they found this year’s theme to be personally relevant.

Rosalyn Higgins LAW ’62 of the International Court of Justice, The Hague, who sat on the panel “Judging International Law,” said that today’s world, in which the United States is a central power and globalization represents a “penetration of state sovereignty,” requires a system of international law.

The Friday panel touched on the current debate about the United States’ absence from the International Criminal Court at The Hague when Koh asked panelists what they would say to the next president, be it President Bush ’68 or Sen. John Kerry ’66, to encourage him to bring the United States into the ICC.

Panelist Stephen Schwebel ’54, former judge and president of the International Criminal Court, criticized the Bush administration’s policy towards the ICC and said an American accused of serious crimes would usually be “better off” in an international court than in a specific nation’s court, subject to that country’s law. Patricia Wald ’51, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said she would encourage the president to participate in the ICC and not “wage a campaign in other countries to get them to boycott the court.”

But panelist Stephen Reinhardt ’54 of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, while acknowledging the need for American judges to learn from international law, said he was not persuaded that the United States should be subject to other countries’ laws.

“I’m not convinced that we should join the International Criminal Court,” he said.

Several alumni said they enjoyed the Law School’s weekend of events and discussions.

E. Gabriel Perle LAW ’49, who attended a class reunion brunch, said he felt fortunate to be reunited with what he called an “unusually tight-knit” group.

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