Both Sides of the Bench: New Perspectives in International Law & Human Rights


From April 1 through April 3, 2003, the Center hosted "Both Sides of the Bench: New Perspectives on International Law and Human Rights." The occasion for this event was the culmination of the 2001-03 Brandeis International Fellowship Program in Human Rights, Intervention, and International Law. The program brought together ten scholars, educators, and law professionals from around the world for a combination of collaborative sessions and individual reflection. Since fall 2001, the Fellows attended three institutes at Brandeis University where they had the opportunity to develop and discuss methodologies for orienting new international judges to ideas and responsibilities in these critical areas.

Informed by each other's expertise as well as discussions with outside scholars and practitioners, the Fellows developed research projects designed to be resources for judges who serve on international and transnational courts. Their projects are diverse — in form and function as well as in geographical and ideological perspective — yet they are linked by the idea that the larger social, political, and personal contexts matter in international law. The Fellows' projects will eventually reach judges directly through a series of institutes sponsored by Brandeis University, of which the next is scheduled for July 2003.

During the April 2003 symposium, Fellows shared their projects during a series of five roundtable discussions with expert respondents from the fields of human rights and international law. The lively discussions thoughtfully addressed the question of how to bring non-judicial perspectives into the mainstream work of international judges.

Fellows and respondents came from a variety of backgrounds that are usually excluded from such conversations including philosophy, diplomacy, forensic science, and NGO work. By incorporating their expertise, the Center offered a unique approach to exploring international law and human rights.

Fellows were joined by a variety of distinguished guests including Judge John Hedigan of the European Court of Human Rights, who delivered the opening address; and John Shattuck, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and labor and former U.S. Ambassador to The Czech Republic who served as the luncheon keynote speaker.

The Fellows' Program and related symposium were funded by the Rice Family Foundation.


The Nexus Between National and International Law
Presenters: Brian Concannon Jr. and Naina Kapur
Respondents: Brandeis Fellow Agnieszka Klonowiecka-Milart; Michael Hartmann, Senior Fellow at the Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace

Rights, Bias, and the Courts
Presenters: David Benatar and Shiranee Tilakawardane
Respondents: Brandeis Fellows Brian Concannon Jr. and Nancy Paterson; Marion Smiley, Professor of Philosophy, Brandeis

NGOs and Human Rights
Presenter: David Hawk
Respondents: Carol Rose, Executive Director, ACLU, Massachusetts; Joe Short, Former Executive director for Oxfam America; Laurence Simon, Professor of International Development, Brandeis; Andreas Teuber, Professor of Philosophy, Brandeis

Victims, Witnesses, and Evidence
Presenter: Nancy Paterson
Respondents: Brandeis Fellows David Benatar and Naina Kapur; Jeffrey Abramson, Professor of Politics, Brandeis; Judge Mark Wolf, United States District Court

Diplomacy and International Justice
Presenter: Agnieszka Klonowiecka-Milart
Respondents: Brandeis Fellows David Hawk & Shiranee Tilakawardane; Diego Arria, former Ambassador to the United Nations, Venezuela; Seyom Brown, Professor of Politics, Brandeis; Judge Mark Wolf, United States District Court

The Fellows

David Benatar, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Cape Town, South Africa

Brian Concannon Jr., human rights lawyer, activist, and manager of Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Haiti

Peter Ford, British ambassador to Bahrain

David Hawk, consultant on human rights and international affairs

Naina Kapur, attorney and director of Saskhi, a violence intervention center in New Delhi, India

Agnieszka Klonowiecka-Milart, international judge with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, serving on the Pristina District Court, and district court judge in Lublin, Poland

Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, senior legal officer for the Africa, Liberty, and Security of Persons Programmes at Interights in London

Nancy Paterson, Department of Institutional Integrity, The World Bank, and former senior trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

Shiranee Tilakawardane, court of appeal judge in Sri Lanka

Silvana Turner, investigator and researcher for the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team

Learn more about the Brandeis International Fellows