April 05, 2018

SIL Annual Conference features historic whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, dozens of global programs

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2018 — The American Bar Association Section of International Law will convene its first Annual Conference in New York City, April 17–20, with programs and luncheon events featuring Vietnam war-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and a panel of judges discussing international law.


What:               2018 Annual Conference
                        ABA Section of International Law 

Tuesday – Friday, April 17 – 20

Where:             Grand Hyatt New York
                        109 E 42nd St.
                        New York, N.Y. 10017

As a former high-level military analyst, Ellsberg’s distribution of The Pentagon Papers that documented the U.S. role in Indochina from World War II until May 1968, might be the most high-profile leak in American history. It led to a re-thinking by many Americans of the Vietnam war, as well as to Ellsberg being charged with 12 felony counts. The charges were later dismissed due to government misconduct. Ellsberg’s recent book, “The Doomsday Machine, Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” provides an astonishing behind-the-scenes collection of detailed descriptions of global near-calamities, flawed launch protocols and the government’s own chilling estimates of the potential carnage following a nuclear conflict. He will be interviewed by Jonathan Granoff, chair of SIL’s Task Force on Nuclear Nonproliferation. The conversation begins at 12:45 p.m. Thursday in Ballroom II.

At Friday’s 12:45 p.m. plenary session, judges will share a “View from the Bench: The State of International Law,” and explore the impact in American courtrooms of continuing attacks related to international law. SIL chair Steven M. Richman of Clark Hill PLC, Princeton, N.J., will lead a discussion with Chief Judge Colleen McMahon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and federal Judge Elizabeth Stong of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn, N.Y.

This year represents the inaugural Annual Conference for SIL, which previously sponsored a Spring Meeting. Plans now call for Annual Conferences in alternate years in New York and Washington, D.C. The four-day program, titled “At the Crossroads: The Fusion of Private and Public International Law,” includes dozens of programs covering a broad range of topics in international law including terrorism, trade and cyber and privacy issues.

Some notable programs include:

“Hacked Elections: Confronting the Challenge of Digital Interference with the Democratic Process” — Widespread reports of foreign interference in American and European elections have sowed alarm and confusion. The targeting of email servers and voting systems, proliferation of "fake news" and weaponization of social media have exposed a new kind of threat to democratic institutions. In a world that is so heavily reliant on digital communications, this panel will explore whether elections are safe from meddling by hostile governments and non-state actors as well as whether recent events blur the lines between cyber-attacks, acts of war and violations of human rights.
Wednesday, 10:15 – 11:45 a.m., Uris/Julliard

“Privacy and Free Speech in the Digital Age” — Traditional concepts of “privacy” seem antiquated in this age of technology, where smartphone cameras are ubiquitous, drones have become a newsgathering tool and an individual’s family, vacations and even meals are widely shared on the Internet. At the same time, concerns over privacy rights have caused some to call for even greater levels of protection — including the European Court of Justice, in recognizing a “right to be forgotten” that allows individuals to demand that their outdated personal data be removed from search engines. The panel will examine what expectations of privacy are reasonable in the digital age and how the competing interests of privacy and freedom of speech can be protected.
Wednesday, 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m., Alvin/Carnegie

“Trumpeting New U.S-Sino Trade Relations,” — President Donald Trump is moving ahead with revisiting U.S.-China trade relations, with a goal of reducing the U.S. trade deficit with China, a greater opening of the Chinese markets to U.S. companies and greater reciprocity in trade relations. China is seeking economic and trade policies that will be consistent with its recovery from its economic slowdown and a softening of U.S. resistance to Chinese investment in the U.S. Just as it seemed that the two countries were taking steps to improve trade relations, a tariff brouhaha broke out. This panel will explore these developments.
Wednesday, 2:30 – 4 p.m., Uris/Julliard

“Crimes Involving Cultural Heritage: Public and Private Perspectives on the Trade in Cultural Property” — The international art market has seen several high-profile stolen property and smuggling cases over the past few years, including Hobby Lobby’s settlement with the Department of Justice and the arrest of Nancy Wiener, a New York dealer in Asian art. The national and international legal system regulating the global cultural property trade is inadequate to serve the rational ends of any constituency and should be considered broken. This panel will discuss the international treaties and domestic laws that apply to cultural property crimes, highlighting recent legislative developments and high-profile cases.
Thursday, 4:30 – 6 p.m., Alvin/Carnegie

“Oligarchs and Opportunities: Legal Ethical Risks and Practice Management Challenges in Advising High Net-Worth International Clients” — High net-worth clients with multinational business interests are a fast-growing client sector for commercial lawyers and litigators alike. The multi-jurisdictional nature of these clients’ interests frequently poses complex, and sometime perilous, professional responsibility issues, such as when the customary business ethics and practices in a client’s home jurisdiction vary substantially from those that govern the lawyer’s actions. This panel will share experiences and insights about the special needs and expectations of international private clients, as well as how lawyers can manage the financial, professional and ethical risks.
Friday, 4:30 – 6 p.m., Ballroom III

The complete Annual Conference program can be found online.

All sessions are open to the media but pre-registration is necessary. To register, please contact Bill Choyke at 202-662-1864 or bill.choyke@americanbar.org.

Founded in 1933, SIL is a leader in the development of policy in the international arena, the promotion of the rule of law and the education of international law practitioners. It is the only ABA entity that focuses on the full range of international legal issues and is involved in a wide variety of substantive legal activities.

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