In March 2012, Cornell Law School's Clarke Program in East Asian Law and Culture launched a new kind of academic project aimed to benefit not only current students, but also legal professionals and academics who wish to think more deeply about comparative questions, and to work together to address legal and policy problems affecting the Asia-Pacific region. The result was Meridian 180, a community of prominent academics, practitioners, and policy makers in Asia, the United States, and around the world interested in new ways of thinking about law markets, and politics broadly conceived.
Meridian 180 operates an innovative online platform where members converse in four languages—Chinese, English, Japanese, and Korean. With this multilingual interface, Meridian 180 has hosted eleven forums during the past year, allowing an international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational group of intellectuals to share insights on questions such as: “How do multinational organizations overcome ambiguities inherent in language and law?” or “How should we understand the effects of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement?” “Through these discussions, among leaders in a range of fields in each country, Meridian 180 strives to generate practical, and sometimes unexpected, solutions to some of the most difficult problems in the Asia-Pacific region,” says Annelise Riles, Jack G. Clarke Professor of Far East Law and Culture, the founder and director of the project.
Meridian 180 does not limit itself to its online platform. During the past twelve months, Meridian 180 has also:
- hosted a workshop in Tokyo on the comparative history of U.S. and Japanese tax policy;
- co-hosted a symposium entitled “Changing Politics of Central Banks” in New York City with the Cornell Law SchoolInternational Law Journal;
- co-hosted the “Comparative Law in the Globalized World Transmigration and Innovation” conference with the Qinghua University in Beijing;
- participated in the “East Asian Law & Society Conference” at Jiaotong University in Shanghai;
- organized a brainstorm session with its Australian members at the University of Sydney.
With a conference on compensation for sexual slavery during World War II scheduled in Seoul in November 2013, in addition to a conference on the politics of central banking scheduled in Ithaca in July 2014 to follow-up on the discussions in the “Changing Politics of Central Banks,” Meridian 180 expects to continue to increase its contribution to legal and policy problems affecting the region.
Meridian 180 is also strengthening Cornell Law School’s ties with members of the Cornell University community interested in the Asia-Pacific region. The East Asia Program has provided financial support for Korean language translation and will publish Meridian 180’s own multilingual ebook series under the Cornell East Asia Series. The first book of the series on financial, environmental, and political crisis is scheduled to be available later this year in four languages—Chinese, English, Japanese, and Korean—and will feature essays and comments posted on Meridian 180’s website. “From diplomatic disputes to trade wars, there are so many issues that we, as a creative and committed group of experts representing the true diversity of the Asia-Pacific region, can address,” says Riles. “Meridian 180 will grow in the next five years to become a leading voice for peace and stability in the region, and a leading incubator of new approaches to seemingly intractable policy problems.” More information can be found at meridian-180.org.