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Saturday, September 22, 2018

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Law center to host 20th annual Frankel lecture Friday


The Houston Law Review of the UH Law Center will hold its 20th annual Frankel Lecture Nov. 6, at the UH Hilton for a conversation on military intervention and humanitarianism.

Every year, Houston Law Review publishes works by recognized legal scholars throughout the nation. The series allows an exchange of prominent legal debates to be discussed at the UHLC.

The lecture this year is based on articles written by keynote speaker Harold Hongju Koh, a sterling professor of international law at Yale Law School and former legal adviser to the U.S. Department of the State.

“The 21st century has witnessed the rise of the Responsibility to Protect movement, which anticipates that human rights-respecting states may lawfully, in rare and extreme circumstances, intervene abroad to prevent needless civilian slaughter,” Koh said.

The lecture, “The War Powers and Humanitarian Intervention” will discuss tensions between domestic and international law of war powers and humanitarian intervention. Koh will address the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo, the 2010 NATO intervention in Libya and the recent debate over using force in Syria.

“The question is whether such use of the war powers can be lawful under U.S. or international law,” Koh said. “I argue that it can, under certain carefully limited circumstances.”

Mike and Teresa Baker Law Center professor Jordan Paust will act as moderator at the lecture. He explained one aspect of what students will gain from hearing this talk.

“Given Harold Koh’s prior association with Sec. Clinton, his focus and remarks may be of significant interest during the Clinton campaign for the presidency – especially if Hillary Clinton becomes the next president of the United States,” Paust said.

Associate professor at the University of Virginia Law School and senior fellow at the Center for National Security Law Ashley Deeks will be providing additional remarks during Koh’s lecture.

As a commentator, I’m hoping to identify what the international legal and policy arguments are against these interventions,” Deeks said. “At the same time, I hope to explore the most likely avenues for changing international law in this area, if the political will is there to do so.”

Another commentator is Dawn Johnsen, who is a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and served as a member of the U.S. Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton.

“I plan to discuss the constraints U.S. domestic law places on the exercise of war powers,” Johnsen said. “Although Congress has not declared war since WWII, both the Constitution and federal statutes place substantial limits that presidents must, but do not always, respect.”

Deeks said she hopes this conversation will test students’ instincts regarding values and costs of humanitarian intervention while asking a recurring question in law: What should we do when we face a gap between our moral intuitions and what the law allows us to do?

“This year’s Frankel Lecture gives students the opportunity to hear from former government officials and leading scholars on some of the most vital issues of our day, from war in Iraq, to military responses in Libya and Syria, to targeted killings with drones and other methods of combating terrorism,” Johnsen said.

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