Curriculum Guide · Courses
International Law, Human Rights & Fighting Impunity: Fighting War Crimes & Economic Crimes
Professor Mark Vlasic
LL.M Seminar 761 (cross-listed) | 1 credit hours
This course will explore the fight against impunity -- specifically, as it pertains to curbing war crimes, human rights violations and grand corruption -- through class discussions, lectures and guest speakers with personal experience in fighting the impunity that is so often associated with war crimes and economic crimes. It is based on the premise that those that are willing to slaughter thousands of innocents, are also willing to steal millions of dollars – and that the fight against impunity includes both war crimes and economic crimes (and often, the international trend to focus on the former, ignores the domestic interest in prosecuting the latter). Over the semester, students in a seminar-size class will be exposed to the basics of international criminal law, international human rights law and international economic crimes, as well how the fight against impunity impacts national security and foreign policy issues. The class will focus on issues related to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, as well as the recent global efforts to fight grand corruption and recover looted assets, including UN Convention Against Corruption and the new UN-World Bank Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative. Students will be allowed to write a paper of their choice regarding international law and the fight against impunity. Class grades will be a combination between class participation (40%) and a 15-page paper (60%). Required readings (cases, statutes, articles, book excerpts, on-line treaties, etc.) will be illuminated by lecture and discussion from a professor with first-hand experience fighting impunity through his personal experience with the Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and Omar al-Bashir matters, as well as with the World Bank’s StAR Initiative and helping recover stolen assets on behalf of the Governments of Haiti, Nigeria and others, including the successful effort to obtain a court order from Switzerland to return millions of dollars plundered by former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier, the first time ever that the international community has worked together to help recover stolen assets. In order to take advantage of Georgetown’s unique position in the intersection of law, politics, and international affairs, the course will feature high-profile guest speakers who will highlight their own personal efforts to fight impunity and how such international efforts impact national security and foreign policy matters. One student volunteer will be selected to serve as the facilitator for each speaker, and will be responsible for introducing the speaker, emailing the class a bio of the speaker, drafting possible questions for the speaker/class and leading class discussions regarding their speaker.
Prerequisite: International Law I or equivalent