Experiential Learning Course Featured at Dash Conference

April 15, 2013 — How can international lawyers — and law students — pursue justice for victims of mass atrocities occurring in countries like Sudan, Kenya or the Democratic Republic of the Congo? “Jurisdiction for Mass Atrocities” was the focus of the 2013 Samuel Dash Conference on Human Rights, and this year an experiential learning course gave law students an opportunity to participate alongside the experts.

 “We approached Georgetown about designing a practicum in which students could analyze the international instruments to which Sudan is a party — and apply those instruments to the mounting evidence of Sudan’s crimes,” said Adjunct Professor James Bair, a litigator at Brown Rudnick who co-teaches "Suing Sudan: Constructing International Human Rights Cases." 

Andrew Mosher (L’14) described some of the crimes — including alleged bombings, burnings and lootings of civilian areas by the Sudanese military and 700,000 refugees denied access to humanitarian aid by the government. “I can picture all the legal minds in this room thinking that violates [international law]. If that’s what you were thinking, welcome to our class,” he said. 

Nina Sudhakar (L’13) and Liadan Donnelly (L’14) talked about the challenges of figuring out how — and where — to sue Sudan. Professors Rosa Brooks and Jane Stromseth led discussions on the dynamics of the International Criminal Court and how nations can fight impunity for mass atrocities.

 The former chief prosecutor of that court, Louis Moreno Ocampo, along with Professor Julie O’Sullivan, ended the conference with a look at the court’s accomplishments. “[H]ow enormous an undertaking that was, to go from an ideal to nine years later having eight ‘situations,’ 20 arrest warrants outstanding and any number of trials underway,” O’Sullivan said. “It is really a huge achievement of Luis and others of the court.”

The event was sponsored by the Human Rights Institute, assisted by Nicole Charalambous (LL.M.’13), Felix Asencio (LL.M.’13) and students from Georgetown University and the School of Foreign Service. The experiential learning course — a partnership with Enough, a project of the Center for American Progress that is dedicated to ending genocide and crimes against humanity — is designed to expand on Bair's pro bono litigation against Sudan and to explore other ways of holding its government legally responsible for atrocities. It is co-taught by Mark Quarterman of Enough.