Harris Institute Convenes Faculty Colloquium on International Law and Theory

Twenty scholars of international law from across the United States and around the world recently gathered for the 2011 Faculty Colloquium on International Law and Theory. Hosted by the law school’s Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, the two-day colloquium included papers on a wide variety of important international legal issues, including climate change, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the use of force, state immunities, and the United Nations Security Council.

“The Colloquium in International Law and Theory has become a signature event of the Harris Institute since we began these workshops in 2007," says Leila N. Sadat, the Henry H. Oberschelp Professor of Law and Harris Institute director. “The conference’s informal workshop atmosphere allows for considered, cross-disciplinary interaction among some of the leading minds in academia.

“The colloquium is consistent with one of the Harris Institute’s missions: to support and encourage scholarship at the forefront of international and comparative law,” adds Sadat who both co-chaired the conference and presented one of the 10 working papers, titled “Crimes Against Humanity: Limits, Leverage, and Future Concerns.”

The conference was also co-chaired by Professor Melissa Waters; Washington University colleagues David Law and Adam Rosenzweig participated as discussants.

Presenters, paper titles, and discussants for this year’s colloquium were:  

  • Elena Baylis, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, “Justice Junkies on the Move”;
  • John Coyle, UNC School of Law, “Reviving the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation”;
  • Paul Dubinsky, Wayne State University Law School, “The Place of International Law in the U.S. Legal System: The Fragile Status of the Traditional Understanding in the Winter of Our Discontent”;
  • Adil Ahmad Haque, Rutgers School of Law-Newark, “Killing in the Fog of War”;
  • Maximo Langer, UCLA School of Law, “The Archipelago and the Hub: Universal Jurisdiction and the International Criminal Court”;
  • Saira Mohamed, UC Berkley School of Law, “Shame in the Security Council”;
  • Hari Osofsky, University of Minnesota Law School, “Climate Change Efforts: Possibilities for Small and Nimble Cities Participating in Regional, State, National, and International Networks”;
  • Leila N. Sadat, Washington University School of Law, “Crimes Against Humanity: Limits, Leverage, and Future Concerns”;
  • Matthew Waxman, Columbia Law School, “Regulating Resort to Force: Form and Substance of the UN Charter Regime”; and
  • Ingrid Wuerth, Vanderbilt University Law School, “Pinochet Revisited: Human Rights and Immunity in National Courts.”


  • Christopher Brummer, Georgetown University Law Center 
  • Barry Carter, Georgetown University Law Center 
  • Olivier Cahn, Université de Cergy Pontoise 
  • Amos N. Guiora, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah 
  • Monica Hakimi, University of Michigan 
  • Charles Jalloh, University of Pittsburgh School of Law 
  • Karen Knop, University of Toronto 
  • David Law, Washington University School of Law 
  • Pierre-Henri Prelot, Université de Cergy Pontoise 
  • Melissa Waters, Washington University School of Law

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Scholarship Quotes 

“Successful prosecutions for crimes against humanity will be critical for the International Criminal Court to fulfill its mandate to end impunity for international crimes that shock the conscience of humankind, and are vitally important to the deterrent element of the Court‘s work.” 
Leila Sadat, Washington University  

“In considering both the substance and form of legal regimes, scholars must recognize that threatened or inchoate force affects the course of events, the moves and counter-moves by actors, and states’ trust in collective security arrangements long before crises materialize as ‘cases.’” 
Matthew C. Waxman, Columbia Law School 

“While there is a need for more action on climate change at international, national, and state levels, and regional ones in between, different types of suburbs, as they participate in multi-level networks, can provide models for suburban action and serve as part of pluralist, polycentric efforts to address climate change.” 
Hari M. Osofsky, University of Minnesota Law 

“The revival of the friendship, commerce and navigation treaty program would provide a valuable opportunity to negotiate updated versions of the FCN treaty with those countries with which treaties were concluded long ago. . . .  It is past time to evaluate whether deals struck more than a century ago are still deals that serve the interests of the United States.”  
John F. Coyle, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill  

“The continued strength of the immunity doctrines gives reason to question the oft-asserted tension between human rights and immunity. The persistence of immunity may be a function of the positive role it plays in maintaining strong relationships between nations around the world; these relationships may serve in turn to advance human rights.” 
Ingrid Wuerth, Vanderbilt University Law 

“At a minimum, a soldier may not intentionally kill an individual unless she reasonably believes that individual is a combatant.  Soldiers also must take additional precautions unless doing so would increase the risk to the soldiers substantially more than doing so would decrease the risk of mistakenly killing civilians.” 
Adil Ahmad Haque

“Prosecutions before the International Criminal Court have higher legitimacy than universal jurisdiction prosecutions because the ICC is more representative and accountable to humanity, and is more respectful of state sovereignty. But . . . universal jurisdiction prosecutions still have a supplementary role to play in the enforcement of core international crimes.”  
Maximo Langer, University of California-Los Angeles Law