[HILAC Lecture] How the Syrian conflict has changed international law

10 June 2020
  • Starts at: 19:15h
  • Fee: Free
  • Venue: Zoom
  • Organiser: HILAC in cooperation with the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform (IHCL)
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For about a decade, Syria has been engulfed in a civil war marked by the expansion of ISIS beyond Iraqi borders, tremendous displacements of populations, and repeated uses of chemical weapons against the civilian population. The country has witnessed the intervention of multiple forces of different nature and status. Such events make the Syrian conflict a very important topic for lawyers, among other observers, to diligently analyse, and better understand how the conflict has impacted international law.

In this HILAC lecture, Prof. Michael Scharf, Prof. Milena Sterio and Prof. Paul R. William will explore the history of the conflict in Syria and demonstrate how and to what extent it affected international law. The speakers will explore instances of use of force against ISIS and the allied strikes against the Syrian chemical weapons facilities. They will show how Syria became a “laboratory for the rapid creation of new international law” since 2011. Concepts of accelerated formation of customary international law and the specific ways the Syria conflict has led to development of new norms and principles will be at the heart of the discussion.

About the speakers

  • Prof. Michael P. Scharf (Case Western Reserve University, Ohio)

Michael Scharf is a Co-Dean of the Law School since 2013. He is also the Joseph C. Hostetler—BakerHostetler Professor of Law and serves as Managing Director of the Public International Law and Policy Group, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated NGO. He currently hosts the radio show “Talking Foreign Policy” on NPR. He has led USAID-funded transitional justice projects in Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, and Turkey (for Syria), and maritime piracy projects in Kenya, Mauritius, and The Seychelles. He previously served as Special Assistant to the Prosecutor of the Cambodia Genocide Tribunal and during the elder Bush and Clinton Administrations, and served in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. Professor Scharf is a graduate of Duke University School of Law (Order of the Coif and High Honors), and is the author of over 100 scholarly articles and 19 books, three of which have won national book of the year honors.

  • Prof. Milena Sterio (Cleveland Marshall School of Law)

Professor Sterio earned her law degree from Cornell Law School in 2002. At Cornell, she was Order of the Coif, and general editor of the Cornell International Law Journal. In 2003, she earned a master's degree in Private International Law from the University Paris I-Pantheon-Sorbonne; in 2002, she earned a Maitrise en droit franco-americain cum laude, also from the Sorbonne. Before joining the Cleveland-Marshall faculty, she was an associate in the New York City firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton and an Adjunct Law Professor at Cornell, where she taught in the International War Crimes Clinic.

Her research interests are in the field of international law, international criminal law, international human rights, law of the seas, and in particular maritime piracy, as well as private international law. She has published in the American University Law Review, the Connecticut International Law Journal, the Fordham International Law Journal, the Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law, the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, the Florida Journal of International Law, and the UC Davis of International Law and Policy. In her capacity as an expert on maritime piracy law, she has participated in the meetings of the United Nations Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, and has been a member of the Piracy Expert Group, an academic think tank functioning within the auspices of the Public International Law and Policy Group. Professor Sterio is one of six permanent editors of the prestigious IntLawGrrls blog. In spring 2013, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Baku, Azerbaijan, at Baku State University.

  • Prof. Paul R. Williams (American University Washington College of Law)

Paul R. Williams holds the Rebecca I. Grazier Professorship in Law and International Relations at American University. Professor Williams teaches at the School of International Service and the Washington College of Law and also directs the joint JD/MA program in International Relations. He is also co-founder of the non-profit group Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG).

Over the course of his legal practice, Professor Williams has assisted over two dozen peace negotiations and post-conflict constitutions. He has advised governments across Europe, Asia, as well as North and Sub-Saharan Africa on state recognition, self-determination, and state succession issues, and on drafting and implementation of post-conflict constitutions. He is a leading scholar on peace negotiations and post-conflict constitutions, and a highly sought-after international law and policy analyst, being interviewed by major media outlets including The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, BBC, and CNN. Professor Williams has authored five books on a variety of topics such as international human rights, international environmental law and international norms of justice; he has also written articles on a wide variety of public international law topics.