Welcome to the spring issue of the Diversity Committee newsletter. We are excited about all of the excellent work the Committee has accomplished over the last few months. As you know, the ABA Section of International Law just held its Spring Meeting in New York City, and it was the largest to date with over 1500 participants – talk about a diverse crowd.
At the Spring Meeting, the Committee sponsored a successful program titled “Keeping the Doors Open for All: An International Perspective on the Disability Rights Movement.” We had a robust panel that included Joan Durocher of the National Council on Disability, Arlene S. Kanter of Syracuse University College of Law, and Steven Hill of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Each speaker provided an expert view on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities from its drafting, implementation, and other policy considerations. Thank you again to our wonderful panelists for sharing their time and expertise.
Next up, we have the ABA Annual Meeting where the Section of International has three (!) Presidential Showcase programs on the schedule. Of course, we encourage you to attend all three programs, however, I would like to point out that on Saturday, August 4 from 10:30am – 12:00pm, the program sponsored by the Section is “Dealing with Diversity Directives in a Global Environment.” This is a program not to be missed! The other programs include “Nuremberg Revisited” on August 2 at 10:30am – 12:00 pm and “Human Trafficking: Prevention & Remedies” on August 3 at 10:30 am – 12:00 pm.
We are looking forward to the 2012 Fall Meeting in Miami – where we are guaranteed to have a large number of diverse members from around the world join us. Mark your calendars for Thursday, October 18 from 4:30pm – 6:00pm – Lisette Lavergne has put together an excellent program titled “Right Before Our Eyes: Occupational Segregation and inequities Faced by Afro-Latinos in the Workplace. Also, be on the lookout for another Committee-sponsored program on Friday, October 19 from 2:30pm – 4:00pm titled “How Can Diversity Help or Hinder Cross-Cultural Negotiations.”
As this ABA year marches on, we encourage all of you to get involved with the Diversity Committee and begin to consider how diversity impacts your practice. We hope this newsletter spark your interest and gives you a forum in which you can feel free to discuss what can sometimes be sensitive topics. The Diversity Committee is about you, the members, and the issues of diversity that are important to you! We welcome any of your publication or programming ideas (and now you know who to contact directly). Don’t forget—proposals for the 2013 Spring Meeting will be due in June. So, put your creative thinking hats on and look for the call for proposals in the next few weeks. I am happy to work with you should you have a program idea you would like to develop!
Gretchen C. Bellamy
ABA-SIL Goes to Africa – Visiting Tanzania and Rwanda
Each year, the ABA-SIL Chair goes on one (two or three in some cases!) International Legal Exchange trip (ILEX) outside the U.S. This year, the Chair, Mike Burke, wanted to go to Africa. After consulting the leaders within the Africa Committee nearly two years ago, Tanzania and Rwanda were chosen. Tanzania was chosen because of its complex but stable legal system that integrates common law, customary law, and shari’a law. Rwanda was chosen because of its rise from the ashes the country found itself in 18 years ago to now leading the continent in terms of its commitment to women’s rights (56% of the parliament is women – higher than any other country in the world!).
The 19 member delegation (representing the U.S., Canada, Uganda, France, and Argentina) that participated in the trip to Tanzania found themselves meeting with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, local, regional, and international courts, government ministers, bar associations, and many non-governmental organizations working on a wide variety of issues. The delegates shared their expertise with representatives on the ground and were receptive to hearing the perspectives of the various stakeholders in Tanzania. It was truly a legal exchange of ideas and thoughts – and many new friendships and relationships were begun just from the short but intense visit.
Twenty-six delegates (from the U.S., Canada, France, Argentina, Uganda, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and the United Kingdom) descended upon Rwanda after a rewarding trip to Tanzania. The delegates were excited by the level of investment happening in the country as well as its commitment to the rule of law. The ABA-SIL held a one-day conference on women’s rights that was attended by just under 200 individuals. The four panels identified the challenges faced by women in Rwanda and on the continent as well as the way forward. Rwanda is a progressive country that all of the delegates would encourage you to visit.
As the Diversity Officer and Co-Chair of the Delegation, I am looking forward to new members from both countries joining our already diverse Section membership. I am looking forward to collaborating with our new friends and partners on projects and programs. I am looking forward to my next visit to both countries (which will come this summer!). Mike Burke already has plans to go to Rwanda for a visit this summer where he will be teaching a short course. There are many paths for our Section to follow to engage in Tanzania and Rwanda – and the other countries on the continent. I encourage you all to join the Africa Committee of the Section (which is one of the most active) and get to work!
The Legal Implications of a Sovereign Debt Crisis, in Europe and the United States, on the Global Financial System: A Program Review
On Monday March 19, 2011, Howard University School of Law’s Business Law Society, the ABA International Section International Law’s Securities and Capital Markets Committee, and the World Bank presented a symposium entitled, The Legal Implications of a Sovereign Debt Crisis, in Europe and the United States, on the Global Financial System. The symposium focused on the legal implications of the sovereign debt crisis on financing development projects in the developing world. The program was held at Howard University School of Law, a leading historically black university located in Washington, DC.
The Dean of Howard University School of Law, Kurt L. Schmoke, made opening remarks, and the panelists reflected diversity of thought, perspective as well as ethnicity and race. Development practitioners, law and governance experts, researchers, and academics gathered to discuss the most pressing legal issues in financing services and infrastructure in developing countries. The panelists were Marsha A. Echols, a Professor at Howard University School of Law and Director of the World Food Law Institute; Sau Ngan Wong, Senior Counsel at the World Bank; Hassane Cisse, Deputy General Counsel, Legal Vice Presidency at the World Bank; and Roderick Devlin, Of Counsel at Greenberg Traurig, New York.
This symposium was unique and diverse because it provided singular insight about the impact of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and America from the viewpoint of its adverse impact on developing countries. Mr. Devlin provided a private practitioner’s perspective and explained the impact of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and America on the ability of developing countries to obtain needed services and infrastructure through Private Public Partnerships or P3s (contractual agreements between public agencies and a private sector entity). P3s are especially important to developing countries because they provide essential services or facilities for the use of the public in developing countries at reduced costs. For example, P3s are a principal vehicle for foreign direct investment into public utilities and infrastructure in developing countries. According to Devlin, this market has decreased substantially as a result of the sovereign debt crisis with a concomitant negative impact on developing countries.
Professor Echols discussed the impact of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and America on people around the world working and living in rural communities seeking food security. She provided a unique perspective on how the law is used to promote social development in the agricultural and agribusiness sectors to benefit underrepresented groups throughout the world.
The panelists from the World Bank provided both a regulatory and financial perspective regarding the crisis with respect to developing countries. They emphasized how a lack of harmonization in the global financial regulatory framework has an adverse impact on resolving the sovereign debt crisis, which, in turn, negatively impacts access to funds needed by developing countries to fund vital services and infrastructure.
There was a reception and career opportunities table after the reception. The ABA Section of International law provided membership materials reflecting the benefit of Section membership for those interested in practicing international law. The World Bank provided a career services representative from its Law, Justice, and Development Group. Overall, it was a very comprehensive symposium reflecting diversity with active audience participation.
Coping with Anti Americanism: A Guide to Getting the Most Out of Studying Abroad
Anti Americanism is one of those longstanding irritants that is a recurring theme for Americans living overseas and it is referred frequently in student blogs/YouTube entries and in the foreign press around the world. Every year young Americans move abroad to study and live, only to find that they are hearing negative judgements about the US – much of it based on misperception – wherever they go.
At the same time, American films, television shows, news and culture are so present, that after visiting a few monuments and museums and learning how to navigate their new city they are no closer to integrating or even discovering the modern culture than a tourist. The result is often a retreat into an all American group of friends.
At last a new guide with a rather lengthy title is offering advice and information on this crucial but underserved topic in international education. Coping with Anti Americanism: A Guide to Getting the Most out of Studying Abroad is the first book written specifically for American study abroad participants to tackle this complex topic. Written by Carol Madison Graham, a former US diplomat and Executive Director of the Fulbright Program in the United Kingdom from 2002-2006 and currently a commissioner for the Marshall UK Scholarships, the guide reflects her broad knowledge of international relations, history and culture. Covering Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia some of the issues she discusses are: What are the major misperceptions held by people abroad (particularly in Europe) about Americans and how did they get there? How should Americans react to negative comments? When is anti Americanism not about the US government. How can one stand out as an interesting American abroad? How can one improve foreign language skills when everyone wants to speak English? Why it may be difficult to make friends from the country. How can one learn to understand and interpret anti American comments as information about the host society?
The author herself was a study abroad student from Georgetown University to a Turkish university in the late 70s during the Iranian Revolution and also the invasion of Cyprus.
Dr Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the International Institute for Education, the premier exchange organization in the United States, praised the book saying, “American students abroad often find themselves on the front lines of public diplomacy. This guide will help enormously when the going gets tough. I would make sure my students read it well before they packed their suitcase.”
Dr Cornelius O’Boyle, director, London Summer program, and associate director, London Undergraduate Program, University of Notre commented, “Writing in an engaging and informative style, Carol Madison Graham provides invaluable practical advice on how American students should respond when challenged to defend their perspectives on religion, multiculturalism, education, and foreign policy while studying abroad. With her own powerful narrative, Graham invites her readers to approach their time abroad as a process of self–exploration, as well as a chance to learn about a foreign culture. Whether the reader is preparing to go abroad, coping with the challenges of studying abroad, or trying to make sense of the experience of living abroad, this book is an outstanding source of wisdom from an author who is ideally situated to know.”
The prominence of the United States combined with the recognition that Americans need to know more about other societies is driving increased study abroad numbers. But many of these students are going to so called “island programs” where they live and study with other Americans making it more difficult to escape the American bubble and making them a little nervous about negative views of the US if they do. Coping with Anti Americanism should make their task easier. In fact any US student who is eager to learn about a foreign culture even if they are not nervous about perceptions of the US abroad will find this book a valuable resource.
Questions or comments?