Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Closing Plenary: Preventing Torture in the Fight against Terrorism

Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Closing Plenary: Preventing Torture in the Fight against Terrorism

Article excerpt

This panel was convened at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, April 11, by Lori Damrosch, president of the American Society of International Law. Elisa Massimino of Human Rights First introduced the panelists: John Norton Moore of the University of Virginia School of Law; Alberto Mora of the Harvard Kennedy School and former General Counsel of the U.S. Navy; and Claudio Grossman of the American University Washington College of Law.

REMARKS BY LORI DAMROSCH *

I am Lori Damrosch. I am the president of the American Society of International Law. As this is our closing plenary for our 2015 annual meeting, I thought it would be appropriate for me to open it and to say a few words. First of all, it is a tradition at our annual meeting to reserve a place or two for the late-breaking events, or the "hot topics." Last year, you will remember, we were racing to put together a panel on Crimea a day or two after the annexation had happened, and this year as the very most intensive phase of the preparations for the annual meeting were taking place, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on torture. The United Nations Committee Against Torture, in approximately the same time frame, released its concluding observations on the report of the United States. So, even though torture is a problem that has been with us for centuries, and the knowledge of practices undertaken by persons of United States authority has been known for a very long time, it was a late-breaking topic in the context in which we had been putting together this annual meeting, and it was a late-breaking topic that posed a number of sensitivities--political and otherwise--for trying to put together a program.

I want, as my final act for this year's annual meeting, to once again thank the program committee, the three program committee co-chairs--several of them I think are here--and all the members of the program committee who helped us brainstorm this event and put together a panel that we hope will be enlightening for you. We will do what we always try to do at the ASIL annual meetings, namely, elevate the debate and get away from some of the partisan mudslinging and get back to what we really think are the core issues: what are the international legal obligations of the United States; how are those international obligations defined and clarified, how are they implemented; and is the implementing structure in the United States adequate. And, so, we want it to be a forward-looking panel. That is the spirit in which we have constituted it. I also want to say that the newsletter--the one released a week or so ago which has a presidential column--that is mine, and it says January through March, which is when I was preparing it, but it was released around April 1 and I think you can probably pick it up at the ASIL table. I talked a little bit in the column about the two reports that were issued in late 2014, but I also look back to what this organization, the American Society of International Law, has done about torture. Although we are an institution that almost never takes policy positions and almost never intervenes on issues of controversy, we do have a mechanism prescribed by our constitution and regulations for coming together in a single voice, as we did at our centennial annual meeting in 2006. And we adopted a resolution expressing the sense of the American Society of International Law that included a few passages on the torture issue as it was then current, and that is the sense of the American Society of International Law reprinted in this newsletter, and it remains the sense of the American Society of International Law, governing us from our centennial meeting in 2006 until time immemorial. So, with those as the opening words, I turn it over to Elisa to moderate the program. Thank you.

* President of the American Society of International Law.

REMARKS BY ELISA MASSIMINO *

Thank you all for joining us today. …

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