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update 2009

The International and Comparative Law Faculty t h e g e o r g e wa s h i n g t o n u n i v e r s i t y l aw s c h o o l

Beyond the Traditional


ur International and Comparative Law Program faculty is recognized for the breadth and depth of

its experience. While we offer substantial expertise in the traditional aspects of the field, our reach extends well beyond the norm. Faculty in other areas—including intellectual property law, government procurement law, and national security law—routinely examine and influence international and foreign law in their teaching and scholarship.

the faculty GW Law’s International and Comparative Law Program faculty maintains a uniquely diverse set of research interests and professional activities. In these pages, our faculty members describe what has them intrigued, engaged, and excited.

Public International Law David Freestone I have been writing about climate change and international law for 20 years, long before it became fashionable. My focus now is the upcoming Copenhagen climate summit. I am concerned with how a new regime will mobilize the funds needed to address the costs of not only mitigation activities for developing countries but also the cost of adaptation measures, estimated at some $250 billion a year.

Michael Matheson My work examines international law in armed conflict and its aftermath. My volume on international law in recent armed conflicts is forthcoming. Currently, I am working on a book about international civil tribunals and armed conflict. I have also been working for the U.S. Department of State on the Kosovo case before the International Court of Justice.

Sean D. Murphy Separate from my scholarship, which includes recent articles on criminalizing transboundary aggression and enforcing treaty norms protective of persons, I am representing governments before the International Court of Justice, such as Kosovo in advisory proceedings on its declaration of independence and Macedonia in its case against Greece for vetoing Macedonia’s accession to NATO. My experience helps me illuminate for students both international law’s theory and practice.

Dinah Shelton The right to the environment as a human right has been the focus of my recent scholarship. Professor Don Anton from Michigan Law and I have nearly completed the first casebook on the topic, which Cambridge University Press will issue. The theme resurfaces in a new article on the hierarchy of human rights norms. The issue will only become more important as environmental concerns take center stage. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission has a mandate to examine the linkages, and this will be one of my first tasks on the Commission.

Ralph Steinhardt I am currently working on the question of the circumstances— if any—under which multinational corporations may face civil liability for their complicity in human rights violations by the governments with which they do business. I am also writing a second edition to my casebook on international civil litigation, which invites students to explore the relationship between international law and U.S. civil procedure. My casebook on human rights lawyering was published earlier this year.

Edward T. Swaine My first focus is a book chapter that examines how to reconcile U.S. law and the increasingly complex law of international organizations. Experiences, like confederacies to combat the Barbary pirates and the League of Nations, anticipated many of today’s questions. My second focus concerns Justice Jackson’s famous three-category approach to separation of power disputes. As a matter of political science, it’s had some surprisingly perverse consequences for congressional authority. 

International Trade and Business Law Karen Brown In the name of competitiveness, many constituents are placing significant pressure upon the United States to adopt changes to its international tax regime to reflect those made or contemplated by its major trading partners, including Canada, Japan, and the UK. Despite recent setbacks, the U.S. economy claims the world’s highest GDP. My work argues that reform of the tax system should not proceed without consideration of our nation’s obligation to the poorest countries.

Steve Charnovitz I am working on the intersection of governmental action to combat climate change and international trade rules. My work examines the role of national measures against countries that do not undertake adequate commitments to prevent greenhouse gas emissions.

Susan L. Karamanian Recent backlash against investor-state arbitration has steered me away from problems with the process, which I have previously examined, and directed me to the substantive obligations of host states. An interesting claim is that the measures of investment protection could be at odds with certain well-recognized international human rights norms. My work focuses on this contention.

Thomas J. Schoenbaum I am interested in the law’s capacity to resolve human problems and disputes peacefully to the advantage of the parties and to society. My book, Peace in Northeast Asia (2008), analyzes long-standing maritime and territorial disputes between Japan, China, Korea, and Russia, and the recommended solutions based on international law that constitute “win-win” compromises to resolve thorny problems of international relations.

John A. Spanogle, Jr. One of the joys of teaching is building relationships with our worldwide alumni. One of our graduates, a UNDP official, and I are working with The Arab Center for the Rule of Law and Integrity, based in Beirut, to help revise laws of Middle Eastern and North African countries. The work draws on my years of studying and writing about commercial law and my fascination with its application in foreign countries.

Comparative Law Francesca Bignami My current comparative study on the European administrative state demonstrates that previously distinct regulatory systems are converging on a single model of tough enforcement and self-regulation to accomplish public policy objectives. I explore the causes for this change, which are related both to structural transformations and the politics of the European Union.

Donald Clarke I continue examining China’s institutional environment to enforce corporate governance norms. I have also started a new work on “extra-legality.” Chinese law appears to accommodate the idea of acts that insiders to the system would not call lawful, yet would at the same time not call unlawful. I am thinking through what the lack of this lawful/ unlawful distinction means for the Chinese legal system and its place in the polity.

Robert Cottrol Tanya Hernandez and I are co-authoring a book on the comparative legal and social history of race relations in the Western Hemisphere. All nations in the hemisphere had histories of African and Afro-American slavery, and the resulting issue of racial inequality after abolition. After World War II, the United States became a pioneer in the use of law to combat racial exclusion. This civil rights revolution is in its early stages in several Latin American nations.

ICJ judge Bruno Simma, ICJ judge and professor emeritus Thomas Buergenthal, ICJ president Hisashi Owada, Professor Ralph Steinhardt, and ASIL president Lucy Reed served on a GW Law co-sponsored panel at the 2009 ASIL annual meeting.

David Fontana My research focuses on issues related to both comparative and American constitutional law. My first project looks at the rise of interest in comparative constitutional law in American law schools after 1945 and then the generally decreasing interest in this topic in later decades. My second project examines whether originalism is used to interpret constitutions in other countries, as it is sometimes in the United States.

Renee Lettow Lerner My new course book, The History of the Common Law, co-authored with John Langbein and Bruce Smith, includes comparisons of the common law with the development of nonadversarial procedure in continental Europe. I am also busy on an historical perspective on English and American trial judges, and I continue to study the training and role of French judges.

Clinics Alberto Benitez The docket of the GW Law Immigration Clinic, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2009-2010, includes cases of aliens applying for asylum, cancellation of removal, and naturalization, among other remedies and benefits. In addition, the clinic is working on a pilot project with the National Headquarters Immigration Court in which our students will represent aliens in removal proceedings via video conference.

Arturo Carrillo The International Human Rights Clinic is investigating a major corporation for its alleged complicity in human rights atrocities by paramilitary death squads in Colombia. Clinic students are also preparing petitions for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights involving extrajudicial executions and judicial persecution of human rights defenders in Jamaica and Colombia, respectively. Their work is part of the clinic’s intensive effort to promote accountability for grave human rights abuses.

2009 International Update  
2009 International Update  

2009 International Update