Lawyering Peace: Infusing Human Rights into the Peace Negotiation Process
Wednesday, August 28, 2019
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
There are currently over 40 active armed conflicts across the globe; the vast majority of these conflicts will eventually be resolved through peace negotiations. All of the 20+ peace agreements signed the past 20 years, including the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Sudan, the Bosnia Dayton Accords, the Final Agreement for Colombia, and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for Nepal, were heavily lawyered. Two common and consistent factors in determining if a peace agreement will lead to durable peace and human rights are the quality of the lawyering and the sufficient incorporation of legal rules, processes, and procedures. In this talk, Dr. Paul R. Williams, who has assisted over two dozen parties in major international peace negotiations, will draw from his breadth of experience advising parties to peace negotiations to discuss the main challenges that are faced in peace talks and the role that lawyers can play in contributing to sustainable peace that adequately upholds and protects human rights. Covering topics such as the debate on prioritizing peace vs. justice and best practices for post-conflict state building to create legal structures that protect human rights, Dr. Williams will discuss why and how lawyers play an invaluable role in the peace process.
Paul R. Williams (J.D./PH.D) holds the Rebecca I. Grazier Professorship in Law and International Relations at American University, where he teaches at the School of International Service and the Washington College of Law and also directs the joint JD/MA program in International Relations. Professor Williams is co-founder and President of the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated NGO that provides pro bono legal assistance to states and international organizations involved in peace negotiations and transitional justice. Over the course of his legal practice, Professor Williams has participated in over two dozen peace negotiations, including most recently the Syria Peace talks in Geneva. Last fall, he led a team that interviewed 1,100 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and published a PILPG report documenting the Burma government's acts of genocide. Professor Williams is a highly sought-after international law and policy analyst, having testified before Congress a number of times and appearing in the media on over 500 occasions. Professor Williams has authored five books, and has just co-authored a new book to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2020 on how the Syria conflict has changed international law. Prior to his arrival at American University, Professor Williams spent time as a Senior Associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, as a Fulbright Research Scholar at the University of Cambridge, and as Attorney-adviser for European and Canadian affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser.
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