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Cornell Students and Mentors Explore International Legal Challenges in Washington

From February 20-22, Cornell Law School students took part for the first time in the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program in Washington, D.C. Nathalie Greenfield ’21, Soo Min Ko ’20, Bowon Choi ’21, and Mael Clerc ’20, were selected to join their peers from thirteen other leading U.S. law schools at the annual event in which top law students engage with prominent legal professionals, public servants, and leaders in the fields of international law and public service. The students were joined by faculty representative Muna Ndulo, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of International & Comparative Law and the Elizabeth and Arthur Reich Director of the Leo and Arvilla Berger International Legal Studies Program.

“As a student pursuing a career in public international law, it was an invaluable experience for me to connect with like-minded peers who share similar interests, values, and lifetime goals,” says Soo Min Ko. “It was also inspiring to interact with so many accomplished international legal scholars and seek advice from them.”

As Fellows, students are provided with a unique opportunity to present papers on international law topics and receive individual critiques from faculty of the participating law schools, as well as further advice on how to seek publication in journals. This year’s papers covered diverse topics, inlcuding domestic violence, LGBTQ rights activism, international environmental law, and investment and sovereign lending in Africa. In the program’s Knowledge Café, students discussed personal ambitions and potential career routes in international law with mentors from Third Way, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, New Markets Lab, the International Monetary Fund, and Covington & Burling.

For Nathalie Greenfield, the most valuable part of the program was the opportunity to meet scholars and students interested in international law from across the country. “It was great to find others with similar interests and to form a community.”

Speakers this year included Judge Diane P. Wood, chief judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Luis Almagro, secretary general, Organization of American States; John B. Bellinger III, partner, Arnold & Porter LLP, and former legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State and National Security Council; and Stephen J. Hadley, principal of RiceHadleyGates, and former U.S. national security advisor.

Judge Wood, who gave the opening address at the U.S. Institute of Peace, spoke about the importance of international legal institutions, drawing on her experiences presiding over cases with international ramifications. On Friday evening, Bellinger discussed war powers with Hadley, reflecting on the evolution of Congress’ war-making authority since the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, as well as the current War Powers Resolution in the U.S. Senate following the recent strike on Iranian General Qassem Suleimani. The next morning, at New York University’s Washington campus, Almagro spoke about the conventions underpinning international human rights laws and the role of the OAS in upholding them.

“The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program was an amazing opportunity to discuss current challenges facing international law with other young internationalists,” says Mael Clerc. “If I had to describe the program in one word, I would definitely say, ‘inspiring.’”

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