Jean J. Davis
Brooklyn Law School Library
. . . Or so it seemed to one participant in the July 17–19, 1996, AALL Summer Institute, "The Contemporary Practice of Public International Law," held at Indiana University in Bloomington. Homemade ice cream shops beckoned one short block from campus entrance gates, and free (or dirt cheap) evening musical performances abounded. Surprises unfolded on every level of the imposing Gothic facility which housed many institute registrants and faculty members. The coffee shop tempted those on their way to morning lecture sessions with freshly-baked banana bread (only forty cents a slice!), and the nighttime jazz trios jammed in the bowels of the building as part of IU's orientation program for entering students. Thank you, Ralph Gaebler and the Indiana University Law School Library staff, for providing your colleagues with a wonderful setting in which to study and share ideas!
As the public international law program unfolded, it became clear that codirectors Ellen Schaffer and Randy Snyder had added a blazing jewel to the crown of this five-institute series. Many substantive law speakers and accompanying bibliographic/collection development speakers successfully integrated their presentations. A sparkling example was the synergy between Professor Jennifer Moore and Associate Information Officer Elisa Mason (UNHCR) when they spoke on international refugee law.
The first day's speakers provided a thorough overview of the contemporary practice of public international law, and diplomatic and consular law. They also explained the concepts of foreign state immunity and state succession. The second day's speakers focused on international criminal law, international litigation, and international refugee law. The final day's speakers concentrated on customary law, international human rights law, and useful electronic resources concerning the aforementioned institute topics. The following are some of the discoveries made during this final, memorable conference.
1. The World Court Project (an NGO), the World Health Organization, and the United Nations General Assembly all had roles in bringing the matter of the potential use of nuclear weapons before the International Court of Justice. The July 8, 1996, ICJ advisory opinion regarding nuclear weapons is significant because of the sources that the ICJ relied upon. This opinion contains an interesting discussion about how "opinio juris" is formed in the modern ICJ. Ellen, Randy, and Ralph: institute participants greatly appreciated your lightning-fast provision of the full-text opinion!
2. The American Society of International Law might not publish the eagerly-awaited International Legal Materials Extended (ILMX) CD-ROM product! This CD-ROM product would have included hundreds of hard-to-find treaties, judicial decisions, national laws and international organization documents that could not be printed in International Legal Materials due to space limitations. Those interested in expressing support for the publication of this CD-ROM product should write to: Marilou Righini, Editor, International Legal Materials, American Society of International Law, 2223 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, and Charlotte Ku, Executive Director, American Society of International Law (same address as above).
3. "Soft law" political agreements are important. Such agreements can be a first step in controlling a new type of technology. Even today, the United States sometimes enters into binding oral agreements (President Clinton and President of Country X) on sensitive subjects. The United States Constitution requires the reporting of all executive agreements to Congress.
4. Diplomatic relations exist between states, not between governments, and diplomatic immunity is a privilege of the sending state, not of the individual diplomat. Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations contains the Diplomatic Abuse Regulations. The United States can have a "protecting power" in a country where the United States does not have formal diplomatic relations. For example, Switzerland is the United States's protecting power in Cuba. The United States relied on the concept of diplomatic inviolability to permit its embassy personnel to hold non-Muslim religious services within the United States embassy in Saudi Arabia, despite the existence of a local law prohibiting such services.
5. Wee Willie's, a diner with no signs and drawn blinds sandwiched between railroad tracks and a muffler repair shop, serves great home-brewed root beer, in the opinion of the author and fellow Bloomington explorers Catherine Krieps, John Nann, Silke Sahl, and Stephen Wiles.
6. Domestic law cannot excuse a violation of international law. There is no statute of limitations or immunity (unless a governing treaty exists) for violations of international criminal law. Watch for news of a 1997 conference to discuss the rules of procedure, evidence, and substantive law (what are the laws and customs of war?) that a permanent international criminal court could apply.
7. When assisting a fledgling international law researcher, explain that there may be a customary international element in the research problem. Jordan J. Paust's text, International Law as Law of the United States (Carolina Academic Press, 1996), would help a researcher to understand the incorporation of customary international law into United States law.
8. José Miguel Vivanco succinctly explains the powers and functions of Inter-American human rights bodies in his essay, "International Human Rights Litigation in Latin America: The OAS Human Rights System." This essay appears in Collective Responses to Regional Problems: The Case of Latin America and the Caribbean (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1994). Additionally, 25 Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, Numbers 1 and 2 (1995/1996), focuses on customary international human rights law.
9. The AltaVista (http://altavista.digital.com/) and MetaCrawler (http://metacrawler.cs.washington.edu:8080/) search engines are useful for locating Web resources regarding foreign and international law.
10. The top-gun triumvirate of Marci Hoffman, Elisa Mason, and Paul Zarins identified their "top ten" Web sites concerning foreign and international law: REFWORLD (UNHCR); University of Minnesota Human Rights Library; Organization of American States; UN Treaty Database; Law Library of Congress—Global Legal Information Network; Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute; University of Tromso—International Trade Law; United Nations Scholars' Workstation at Yale University; University of Michigan Documents Center; and EUROPA—European Union.
11. Downing mango "Lhasa Smoothies" at a Tibetan restaurant with Jeanne Rehberg and Ken Rudolf was a great way to cool off on a searingly hot July night. Watching Ken react to his first view of flickering fireflies at the Carrie Newcomer folk concert in Third Street Park was an added bonus!
Although this invaluable series of international-law related AALL Summer Institutes has concluded, FCIL section members were encouraged to attend a free International Law Weekend '96, sponsored by the American Branch of the International Law Association in New York between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, 1996. FCIL section members also can accept the "Dan Wade Challenge" to meet and share ideas and international law-related research papers on the Saturday preceding the 1997 AALL Annual Meeting in Baltimore.
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