2024 Annual Symposium Roundup: Harvard Looks to the Future of International Economic Law

2024 Annual Symposium Roundup: Harvard Looks to the Future of International Economic Law

Harvard International Law Journal and The Harvard Law & International Development Society*

On March 2, the Harvard International Law Journal and the Harvard Law & International Development Society jointly hosted the 2024 Harvard International Law Conference. The Conference focused on the future of international economic law and featured panels on foreign investment, sovereign debt, international financial regulation, and global trade reform. Each panel included experts from academia, governments, and private practice. In total, the Conference welcomed 19 speakers and over 100 attendees. 

The Conference began with a discussion on foreign investment and emerging markets. Panelists included Dr. Zongyuan Zoe Liu of the Council on Foreign Relations, Daniel Crosby of King & Spalding, Rohan Sandhu of the Harvard Kennedy School, and Karen Mathiasen of the Center for Global Development. The panel was moderated by Cristian Rodriguez-Chiffelle of the OECD Business Investment Committee. The discussion began by questioning whether current multilateral regimes governing resources, exports, and investments are geopolitical in nature, and, if so, how they might require institutional reforms to better allocate monetary and market investments. Ms. Mathiasen cited the World Bank as an example of an institution with an inbuilt lending preference for emerging market economies, which are responsible for many current climate challenges, as opposed to low-income countries, which shoulder most of the effects of climate change. The panelists also commented on the rise of new geopolitical players in the global investment landscape. For example, Dr. Liu drew attention to the lack of transparency in Chinese mixed-ownership entities investing in the United States, while Mr. Sandhu pointed out the lack of capacity in India’s government to manage an influx of private investment.

The second panel explored sovereign debt in an era of “great powers.” The panel featured four experts: Prof. Mark Weidemaier of UNC Chapel Hill School of Law, Dr. Gregory Makoff of the Harvard Kennedy School, Melissa Butler of White & Case, and Dr. Sebastian Grund of the International Monetary Fund. Of particular interest to both the panelists and the participants were debt-for-nature swaps, a solution that exchanges a portion of a state’s existing debt for its investment in local nature conservation projects. The discussion also touched on various contributors to the global debt environment: collective action restructuring provisions, complex creditor groups, and the rise of new country lenders like China. Although the panel at times included lively disagreement, the speakers largely agreed that “brutal restructurings,” as described by Prof. Weidemaier, were often the only way out for sovereigns in debt distress. Current reform proposals that merely “tinker at the edges” (e.g., proposals to limit the powers of holdout creditors) may be masking the growing underlying sovereign problems,including the magnitude of refinancing needs in the coming decades.

Hassane Cisse, Former Deputy General Counsel of the World Bank, delivered the Conference’s keynote address on the theme of global governance. Mr. Cisse was introduced by Ada Ordor, Professor of Comparative Law at the University of Cape Town and Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. Prof. Ordor emphasized the need for international institutions to refocus their attention on issues relevant to developing economies, and, in particular, to Sub-Saharan Africa. Mr. Cisse’s speech built on the theme of s institutional refocusing as he encouraged consistent self-reflection and reform in global governance. He drew on 30 years of experience at the IMF and World Bank to share both positive and sobering examples of international institutional reform. Mr. Cisse then called for the development of more inclusive governance structures that accurately reflect the modern global political economy and proposed a “Declaration on Values, Principles, Rights, and Obligations to Govern Nation States and other Stakeholders in Global Governance”.

After the lunch break, the Conference proceeded with a panel on the future of international financial regulation. Present at the panel was Dr. Larissa de Lima of Oliver Wyman, Prof. David Zaring of Wharton Business School, and H. Rodgin Cohen of Sullivan & Cromwell. The speakers agreed that emerging technologies and digital innovations will challenge the international financial regulation status quo (e.g., digital assets and distributed ledger technologies), and regulators will need to improve their ability to keep pace with technology. The speakers noted that shared goals for  future governance frameworks could include focusing on stability, limiting spillover effects, ensuring proper data sharing, and scaling  standards to avoid regulatory arbitrage opportunities. The panelists noted that Basel III Endgame is a promising sign of international cooperation, but the fact that the U.S. may end up treating it as an aspirational ceiling for banking standards potentially endangers the coherence of Basel III’s workability. Further discussion centered on the need for liquidity regulation rather than a myopic focus on capital regulation. Finally, when it came to the future of  the dollar’s reserve currency status, the panel noted that the current currency hierarchy may be affected by changing technology  related to price discovery and search costs.

The fourth and final panel discussed the World Trade Organization and the international trading system more broadly. The panel consisted of Prof. Kathleen Claussen of the Georgetown University Law Center, Prof. Shipping Liao of Beijing Normal University School of Law, Pablo Bentes of Baker McKenzie, Prof. Petros Mavroidis of Columbia Law School, and Marc Gilbert of Boston Consulting Group. Taking place in the aftermath of a controversial meeting of the 13th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, the panelists generally agreed that international trade law and the institutions undergirding it are, if not in outright crisis, very much adrift. Against a backdrop of countries increasingly resorting to trade policy measures that the WTO had long ruled out of bounds, the recent Ministerial Conference’s inability to agree to more than stopgap measures, such as a temporary extension of the international moratorium on digital trade taxes, was uniformly found to signal a crisis of leadership, with major players such as the U.S., China, and the E.U. either unwilling or unable to take the reins in repairing the WTO’s credibility. The panelists also agreed that this gave room for rising powers, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil to exercise increased leverage, furthering their agendas and obstructing major initiatives that clash with their economic priorities. Finally, the panelists noted that international trade flows themselves had shifted, with the U.S.-China bilateral trade relationship giving up ground to new patterns of exchange between the U.S. and its North American neighbors, and with the developing economies of South and Southeast Asia. The panelists disagreed, however, on the nature of a core feature of this new status quo in international trade: the use of national security as a justification for departures from international trade norms. Some took the stance that this phenomenon is an inevitable feature of the international system, given that states have always intertwined economics with  national security, and that the WTO would have to adjust to this reality by giving members  greater flexibility to pursue national security goals under Article XXI of the GATT. Others adopted the position that this resort to national security is  a slippery slope, giving countries  a useful pretext to circumvent existing rules and unilaterally pursue non-national security oriented goals, such as climate policy or protectionism.

Speakers and participants finished the Conference by an evening reception at Harvard Law School’s Wasserstein Hall, where discussion on the future of international economic law continued.

*The Harvard International Law Journal and The Harvard Law & International Development Society are student organizations at Harvard Law School.

The 2024 Harvard International Law Symposium: Bretton Woods 3.0? The Future of International Economic Law

The 2024 Harvard International Law Symposium: Bretton Woods 3.0? The Future of International Economic Law

Bretton Woods 3.0? The Future of International Economic Law

The Harvard International Law Journal and the Harvard Law and International Development Society hosted the 2024 Harvard International Law Symposium: Bretton Woods 3.0? The Future of International Economic Law on Saturday, March 2, 2024. The symposium brought together some of the world’s leading experts on international economic law to discuss international trade, development, and finance in today’s great power era. Read the symposium roundup below.

2024 Symposium Roundup
Conference Information

Please join us on Saturday, March 2nd at Austin Hall on the Harvard Law Campus for our 2024 International Law Conference entitled The Future of International Economic Law, hosted by the Harvard International Law Journal and Law and International Development Society.

This year’s conference features four panels and one keynote speech and focuses on the changing nature of multilateral cooperation in international economic law. Each discussion will cover key topics related to this theme, drawing on experts from the legal industry, academia, and intergovernmental organizations. Panels will focus on (1) foreign investment and emerging market development, (2) sovereign debt restructuring with the rise of new powers, (3) the future of international financial law, and (4) avenues for global trade reform.

This year our keynote speech will be delivered by Mr. Hassane Cisse, an expert in international development law and former Deputy General Counsel of the World Bank Group. Mr. Cisse will focus his comments on global governance and institutional reform issues facing international organizations.

The conference will include a complimentary breakfast and lunch.

Reassessing Enforcement: Strengthening Compliance with International Law

Reassessing Enforcement: Strengthening Compliance with International Law

Harvard International Law Journal

2023 Symposium

Register now at tinyurl.com/ILJRegister

For a campus map and directions, please visit the HLS website here.

Human Rights Compliance: Challenges from Practice

Professor Hélène Tigroudja

Hélène Tigroudja is a member of the UN Human Rights Committee and Law Professor at Aix-Marseille University (France), Co-Director of the Law School’s Master Program of International Law, Director of the Summer School on Practice of Human Rights and Expert on reparations before the International Criminal Court. Since 2002, she has participated in expert and field missions around the world for the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, UNESCO and the European Union, among others, on human rights issues. A senior Research Fellow (Hauser Global Professor) at New York University (NYU) since September 2017.

Her main areas of expertise, teaching and research cover a wide range of human rights issues: international and regional human rights law, mass violations, women’s rights, migration, reparations, immunities of States and international organizations, law of armed conflict, domestic implementation of international obligations, counter-terrorism, etc. She is the co-author with Prof. Ludovic Hennebel of a treatise in international human rights law published in French (Pedone, Paris) in 2016.

Professor Benyam Dawit Mezmur

Benyam Dawit Mezmur is currently Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow at the Harvard Law School, Human Rights Program. He is a Professor of Law at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, and serves as Deputy Dean for Research and Post-Graduate Studies at the Law Faculty. He is also Coordinator of the Children’s Rights Project at the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance, and Human Rights, at UWC.

Since 2012, he is serving on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and served its Chairperson from 2015-2017. Within the Committee, he has served as coordinator of various working groups including on SDGs; on a communications procedure (OPIC); and the Working Group that co-drafted (with the Committee on Migrant Workers) the joint General Comment on children’s rights in the context of international migration. During his time as Chairperson (2016), the Committee held its Day of General Discussion on children’s rights and the environment.

At the regional level, Benyam served on the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, a treaty body of the African Union, for a little over a decade (from 2010-2021). He served as its Chairperson twice (2012-2014 and 2015-2017) and was focal person on violence against children and later served as its special rapporteur on children and armed conflict.

Ms. Arlene Brock

Arlene Brock served as Bermuda’s first national ombudsperson, she led the African Ombudsman Research Centre in South Africa, a training and advocacy organization for 40 ombudsmen and their staff on the African continent. Ms. Brock is an alumna of Harvard Law School her she obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) in 1991. She served as a Fellow (2019) and Senior Fellow (2020) of the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University where she worked on the development of a a ‘visual podcast’ series to present counter-narratives to the negative stereotypes of Black peoples that have persisted over the past four centuries. Previous professional work includes serving as a family magistrate, a mediator for union negotiations, an employment arbitrator, and an insolvency litigator.


Edward A. Smith Lecture – H.E. Judge Yuji IWASAWA

H.E. Judge Yuji IWASAWA has been a Judge of the ICJ since June 2018.

Judge Iwasawa is an alumnus of Harvard Law School. He studied here 45 years ago (1977-1978) to obtain an LL.M. He holds an S.J.D. from the University of Virginia and an LL.B. from the University of Tokyo. He is currently also a Vice-Chair of the London-based International Law Association and a member of the Institut de droit international.

Prior to his election, he was a professor of international law at the University of Tokyo Faculty of Law. He served on the Human Rights Committee under the ICCPR for nearly 12 years. He was elected as its Chairperson twice (2009-2011, 2017-2018). He was also formerly President of the Japanese Society of International Law, Judge of the Asian Development Bank Administrative Tribunal, and a member of the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

He was also a Visiting Fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge three times (1991-1993, 1997, 2000-2001), a Visiting Fellow at the University of Paris (2015-2016), and a Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School (2014). He has also lectured at The Hague Academy of International Law (2002).

His books include: “International Law”, a standard textbook on international law in Japanese, published in 2020; “Domestic Application of International Law” published by Nijhoff last year; “International Law, Human Rights, and Japanese Law” published by Oxford University Press in 1998; and “WTO Dispute Settlement” published in 1995. The last book was the first of its kind in the world but it is not so well-known because it was published in Japanese.


Enforcement Challenges in Cyberspace

Professor Mariana Salazar Albornoz

Mariana Salazar Albornoz is a Professor of International Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She recently concluded her 4-year mandate as a Member of the Inter-American Juridical Committee of the Organization of American States, where she served as Rapporteur on International Law Applicable to Cyberspace, promoting further transparency and understanding of the topic among the American States. She also served as Rapporteur on Privacy and Data Protection in the same Committee.

Ms. Salazar is currently a Member of the ICRC’s Global Advisory Board on the Protection of Civilians from Digital Threats during Conflicts, as well as of the Editorial Board of the International Review of the Red Cross. She has been recently appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Member of the Board of the UN Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  She is an Academic Programs Associate for the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities. Previously, she served for 13 years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico as, among others, Coordinator of International Law. Ms. Salazar holds a Law degree from Universidad Iberoamericana and a master’s degree in International Law from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. She is also a member of the International Law Association and of the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations.

Professor Duncan Hollis

Duncan B. Hollis is Laura H. Carnell Professor of Law at Temple Law School and co-faculty director of Temple’s Institute for Law, Innovation & Technology (iLIT).  His scholarship engages with issues of international law, interpretation, and cybersecurity, with a particular emphasis on treaties, norms, and other forms of international regulation.

Together with Oxford University Professor Dapo Akande, he is co-convenor of the Oxford Process on International Law Protections in Cyberspace and its accompanying Compendium. He is a non-resident Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an appointed member of the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law, and an elected member of the American Law Institute. From 2016-2020, he served as a member of the OAS’s Inter-American Juridical Committee, including as Rapporteur for projects on binding and non-binding agreements and improving the transparency of State views on international law’s application to cyberspace.

Professor Hollis’s books include The Oxford Guide to Treaties (OUP, 2nd ed., 2020), the first edition of which received the 2013 ASIL Certificate of Merit for High Technical Craftsmanship and Utility to Practicing Lawyers; the 7th and soon to be published 8th edition of International Law (Aspen) (with Allen Weiner and Chimène Keitner); and Defending Democracies: Combatting Foreign Election Interference in a Digital Age (OUP, 2021) (with Jens Ohlin). His articles have appeared in various journals and books, including the American Journal of International Law, European Journal of International Law, Texas Law Review, Virginia Journal of International Law, and Harvard Journal of International Law.

Professor Hollis consults regularly with various States, the United Nations, and other international stakeholders on issues of international law and international relations, including advising the Microsoft Corporation on its Digital Peace agenda.

Ms. Veronica Glick

Veronica Glick is a partner in Mayer Brown’s Washington, D.C. office and a member of the firm’s National Security and Cybersecurity practices. Veronica focuses her practice on complex and cutting-edge legal issues regarding national security, cybersecurity and international law, with particular experience responding to multi-jurisdictional cyber incidents.

Veronica served on a pro bono basis as Deputy Chief Counsel for Cybersecurity and National Security to the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a bipartisan commission established by Congress to develop a comprehensive strategy to defend the U.S. from significant attacks in cyberspace. She is also a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the United Nations Experts Committee countering terrorism through information and communications technologies (ICT).  Within this committee she focuses on the prevention of exploitation of ICT and initiatives to facilitate sharing of digital evidence, while protecting human rights and the right to privacy.

She received a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellow and an LL.B. from the London School of Economics.

She is a partner at Mayer Brown, focusing her practice on complex and cutting-edge legal issues regarding national security, cybersecurity and international law, with particular experience responding to multi-jurisdictional cyber incidents. She served on a pro bono basis as Deputy Chief Counsel for Cybersecurity and National Security to the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a bipartisan commission established by Congress to develop a comprehensive strategy to defend the U.S. from significant attacks in cyberspace.


Holding States Accountable: International Tribunals & Crime of Aggression

Professor Jennifer Trahan

Jennifer Trahan is a Professor at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs where she directs the Concentration in International Law and Human Rights. She also serves as Convenor of the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression. She is a leading expert on topics of international law, international justice, and international criminal tribunals.  She serves as one of the US representatives to the Use of Force Committee of the International Law Association and holds various positions with the American Branch. She also served on the Council of Advisers on the Application of the Rome Statute to Cyberwarfare. She additionally is part of a working group advising Ukraine and others on the Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression. Her book, “Legal Limits to Security Council Veto Power in the Face of Atrocity Crimes” (Cambridge University Press 2020) was awarded the “2020 ABILA Book of the Year Award” by the American Branch of the International Law Association.

Professor Charles C. Jalloh

Charles C. Jalloh is a Distinguished Professor of Law at Florida International University, a member of the International Law Commission and the founding editor-in-chief of the African Journal of Legal Studies and the African Journal of International Criminal Justice. He was formerly assistant and then associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he was selected as the Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney Faculty Scholar for 2013-2014. He has published widely on issues of international criminal law, one of his main areas of research interest, including book chapters as well as articles in some of the leading peer-reviewed journals in the field as well as books with prestigious academic presses.

Professor Jalloh has advised states and international organizations on issues of domestic and international law in his previous role as counsel in the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section, Department of Justice Canada; the Trade Law Bureau of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; an associate legal officer in Chambers in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda working on high profile cases involving the 1994 Rwandan genocide; the legal adviser to the Defense Office in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and as visiting professional, the International Criminal Court (ICC).  In 2015, he served as the first amicus counsel representing the African Union Commission in proceedings before the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court.

“How to hold Russia accountable for the invasion of Ukraine?” with Professor Harold Koh and Mr. Patrick W. Pearsall

“How to hold Russia accountable for the invasion of Ukraine?” with Professor Harold Koh and Mr. Patrick W. Pearsall



“How to hold Russia accountable for the invasion of Ukraine?”

On November 16, 2022, the Harvard International Law Journal and Harvard International Arbitration Law Students Association hosted a speaker series discussing one of the most pressing international law questions confronting the world today: how to hold Russia accountable for the invasion of Ukraine?

Keynote speakers, Professor Harold Koh of Yale Law School and Mr. Patrick Pearsall, Director of Columbia Law School’s International Claims and Reparations Project, challenged the invisible college of international lawyers to help protect the global order.[1] Invoking the image on Achilles’ shield, one of history’s greatest warriors, as a metaphor for arbitration playing a significant role in post-conflict dispute resolution, Mr. Pearsall addressed how international arbitration in the context of the war between Russia and Ukraine can help international law rise to this challenge. Professor Koh, discussing his role as counsel to Ukraine before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), posed an existential challenge to the Court during his closing arguments in March 2022, asking if it was powerless to stop naked aggression and war crimes. He framed the current events not as Russia versus Ukraine, but rather Russia versus the post-World War II international legal order, and implored the ICJ to act.

The international community has answered the call twice now, first when the ICJ issued a 13-2 order on provisional measures that Russia “shall immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine.”[2] On 7 November 2022, the international community responded again when ninety-four members of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted to hold Russia accountable for its violations of international law, recognized the need for an international mechanism for reparations for damage, loss, and injury arising from Russia’s internationally wrongful acts, and recommended the creation of an international register of damage to preserve evidence and claims.[3]

Mr. Pearsall indicated the UNGA Resolution of 7 November 2022 creates the necessary framework for the establishment of a claims commission to account for Russia’s wrongful acts.  Citing historical precedent for the establishment of post-conflict claims commissions, Mr. Pearsall asserted that a claims commission solely empowered with the authority to issue final and binding awards, is the most efficient and fair mechanism to ensure claims are lawfully adjudicated.  Estimating that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused in excess of $1 trillion in damages, Mr. Pearsall warned that Russia remaining an international pariah and outcast from global financial markets will have more detrimental effects on conflict resolution; thus, a claims commission is a necessary step for Russia’s reintegration into the global order.

Now the task falls to the invisible college of international lawyers to turn this call into action. Both Professor Koh and Mr. Pearsall asserted that the way forward should include interested States creating a commission through multilateral agreement, identifying the details of a claims register of harm, and determining how a Russia-Ukraine conflict claims commission will be funded.  The Russia-Ukraine conflict will shape the next forty years of global relations; this is a unique opportunity for rising lawyers to become directly involved in the evolution of international law.  As the speakers highlighted, the “train is just getting into the station, so get onboard.”

*Nicole Bredariol and Omer Duru are Harvard Law School LL.M Candidates, Class of 2023. They are focusing their studies on international humanitarian law and national security law.

1[1] Oscar Schachter, The Invisible College of International Lawyers, 72 Nw. U. L. Rev. 217 (1977).

2[2] Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukr. v. Russ.), Order, ¶ 86 (Mar. 16, 2022), https://www.icj-cij.org/public/files/case-related/182/182-20220316-ORD-01-00-EN.pdf.

3[3] G.A. Res. L.6/2022, U.N. Doc. A/ES-11/L/6 (Nov. 7, 2022).

A Conversation with European Commission Executive VP Valdis Dombrovskis

A Conversation with European Commission Executive VP Valdis Dombrovskis

A Conversation with European Commission Executive VP Valdis Dombrovskis

Saturday, October 15, 2022

11:00am – 12:30pm EST

Location: Wasserstein Hall 2019

Register Here!

Please join us over brunch for a speech and conversation with Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission’s Executive Vice-President and highest ranking official responsible for Economy & Trade. EVP Dombrovskis will present his perspectives for strengthening EU-U.S. bilateral relations and reviving transatlantic trade and geopolitical leadership in a fragmenting global landscape. Following these remarks, he will engage in conversation with Professor Mark Wu of Harvard Law School and take questions from the audience.

Sponsored by the European Union Seminar at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, HLS International Legal Studies, and the Belfer Center Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship, in conjunction with the Harvard International Law Journal.

A Conversation with European Union Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis at Harvard Law School

A Conversation with European Union Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis at Harvard Law School

A Conversation with European Union Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis

at Harvard Law School

Tuesday, April 5 2022, 2.30 – 3.30 pm EST

Location: Wasserstein Hall 2004

Register Here!

The Harvard International Law Journal and Harvard European Law Association are pleased to welcome Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis to campus for an interactive discussion with students and faculty on the future of transatlantic relations!

Ambassador Lambrinidis began his tenure as Ambassador of the EU to the United States in March 2019. He joins us at a pivotal time for EU-U.S. relations, as policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic work to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the regulation of emerging technologies, climate change, and the global rise of authoritarianism. Mark Wu, Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law and former Senior Advisor in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will moderate the conversation.

Prior to his current role, Ambassador Lambrinidis served as the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, Foreign Affairs Minister of Greece, and Member of the European Parliament. He received a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Amherst College and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

This event is held in compliance with Harvard Law School’s updated health and safety protocols. Open to all members of the Harvard community.