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April 03, 2019

Three authors, dozens of global programs highlight ABA international D.C. conference

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2019 — The American Bar Association Section of International Law will convene its 2019 Annual Conference April 9–12, in Washington, D.C., with programs and luncheon events emphasizing human rights, timely topics and trends, and practice areas in international law.

2019 Annual Conference
ABA Section of International Law

Friday, April 9–12

Capital Hilton
1001 16th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20036


The author-luncheon speakers will focus on human and civil rights, both in the U.S. and globally.

Anne Nelson, for instance, is an award-winning author and playwright who has written extensively about human rights and the role of individuals in conflicts. She speaks Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. Since 2003, Nelson has taught at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York, and her most recent work, “Suzanne's Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris,” is a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

Trita Parsi, author and founder of the National Iranian American Council, a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting greater understanding between the American and Iranian people, also speaks at Wednesday’s luncheon. He will discuss how a few individuals have impacted relations between the U.S., Israel and Iran. For his 2007 book, “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States,” he interviewed more than 130 Israeli, Iranian and American decision-makers.

Christopher W. Schmidt, professor and associate dean at Chicago-Kent College of Law, speaks Thursday, at 12:45 p.m. about his 2018 book, “The Sit-Ins: Protest and Legal Change in the Civil Rights Era.” The book provides an analysis of the famous 1960 lunch-counter protest led by four college students in the Woolworth department store in Greensboro, N.C.

Attallah Shabazz, daughter of Betty and Malcolm X Shabazz and ambassador-at-large representing Belize, will lead the discussion.

The conference has several programs focusing on the role of international lawyers in global conflicts past and present, ranging from the Holocaust to genocide-related issues of today. They include:

“Freedom of Religion in an Age of Genocide: What Should be the Role of Lawyers?” This program examines how underpinnings of calls for lawyers to mobilize on behalf of religious freedom rest on a foundation of facts, and further will show how lawyers and bar associations in the last 300 years and across most regions of the world have fought for a fundamental bundle of freedoms, including freedom of religion, to protect societies from sliding into tyranny and from tyranny into crimes against humanity and mass killings.

Wednesday, 9-10:30 a.m., New York Room

“Are Courts Narrowing FSIA Jurisdiction Over All Foreign Expropriations to Avoid Litigating Holocaust Claims?” — In the 2004 Maria Altmann case, which spawned the movie “Women in Gold,” the U.S. Supreme Court applied the jurisdictional provisions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act retroactively to Holocaust claims. Since then, the U.S. government has sought to limit suits against foreign governments under the “expropriation exception.” The program will explore whether Holocaust claims belong in U.S. courts. 

Wednesday, 4:30-6 p.m., Massachusetts Room

“Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich” — In contrast to many situations today, in Nazi Germany starting in 1933 non-Jewish lawyers largely remained silent during a series of occupational bans that purged lawyers and jurists of Jewish origin from the practice of law. Douglas Morris, a legal historian and criminal defense attorney from New York, will discuss how the Nazis disabled the legal system and constitutional framework while undermining the rule of law.
Friday, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Federal Room

Other programs explore timely topics of law faced by countries and the international bar. They include:

“How Should Privacy of Personal Data on Social Media be Regulated?” With the emerging patchwork of privacy regulations ranging from the European Union General Data Protection Regulation to enacted or proposed state laws in Vermont, California, Colorado and New Jersey, policymakers must establish consistent and appropriate frameworks to define and protect privacy rights. In this panel, privacy policy experts examine the limitations of existing and proposed state and federal privacy legislation.

Wednesday, 9–10:30 a.m., California Room

“So Where Does Your Country Stand? International Approaches to the Legalization of Cannabis and Challenges for Cross-Border Transactions” — Marijuana is legal in Canada and Uruguay. In the E.U., many member states have legal medical marijuana regimes or have passed laws decriminalizing the recreational use of cannabis. The UnitedStates? Well it depends on whom you ask and where you live. Speakers from Canada, the U.S., South America and the E.U. will explore the cannabis business. 

Wednesday, 2:30-4 p.m., Federal A Room

“Fake News, Hacked Elections, and Cyberactivism: The New Threats to Democracy” —Propaganda, fake news and disinformation strategies may be classic political strategies, but today state actors are utilizing advanced technological tools including anonymization and artificial intelligence to disrupt the political process.

Thursday, 2:30-4 p.m., California Room

The complete 2019 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 [email protected].

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.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews