Rusk Center at 45: A leader in international law

For the eighth time in recent years, U.S. News & World Report has counted the School of Law’s international law curriculum among the top 20 or so in the country.

This achievement is due in no small part to the support and hard work of everyone affiliated with the Dean Rusk International Law Center, which will celebrate its 45th anniversary in October. The center’s leadership team includes Director Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee (Associate Dean for International Programs and Post Professor) and Faculty Co-Directors Diane Marie Amann (Regents’ Professor and Woodruff Chair in International Law) and Harlan G. Cohen (Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law).

The work of the Dean Rusk International Law Center also depends on talented students pursuing J.D., M.S.L. and LL.M. degrees. Exceptionally skilled student advocates on the Jessup International Law Moot Court team finished second in the United States and in the top 16 in the world in this prestigious tournament featuring approximately 700 schools from 100 countries. Tying for best oralist in the world was second-year student Courtney Robinson, while teammate James Stewart was named fifth best. The advocates on the school’s Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot team also posted a strong performance.

Student editors of the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law led the 2021 conference titled “The 1972 Stockholm Declaration at 50: Reflecting on a Half Century of International Environmental Law,” and this year also marked the publication of the 50th volume of the journal, one of the oldest student-edited international law reviews in the United States. Meanwhile, Appellate Litigation Clinic students obtained relief for an asylum petitioner after arguing the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals. Students participated in the center’s full-semester NATO Externship – now transpiring in partnership with the Washington, D.C. Semester in Practice under the leadership of Jessica Heywood (J.D.’97) – as well as full-semester and summer Global Externships Overseas. The student-led International Law Society also helped create community.

This year the center welcomed a new group of students to the School of Law: an inaugural class pursuing the Graduate Certificate in International Law. This diverse group of post-graduate students from other disciplines within the university joined J.D., LL.M. and M.S.L. students for their spring international legal courses.

The center hosted academics, practitioners and policymakers from all over the world for in-person and online forums, including analysis of breaking-news events such as the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Other highlights included lectures by visiting scholars – Professor Brianne McGonigle Leyh of the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Professor Natalia Pires de Vasconcelos of Insper São Paulo, Brazil – as well as an LL.M. alumnus, Professor Orkun Akseli of the University of Manchester. The center’s International Law Colloquium and Consular Series also featured distinguished guests.

The law school’s graduates – who excel as partners in international commercial law firms, as heads of nongovernmental organizations and international organizations, as in-house counsel at leading multinational enterprises and as diplomats and public servants – also provided mentoring and other support.

The Dean Rusk International Law Center looks forward to continuing to strengthen its initiatives in the coming year.