International Law Students Travel to Europe to See Human Rights Organizations at Work

Lexington, VA Friday, April 13, 2007

Washington and Lee University School of Law students taking Professor Speedy Rice's International Law of Human Rights class traveled to Europe this semester to see up close how the legal procedures and mechanisms they have studied are put into practice. The students visited international courts as well as non-governmental organizations working for human rights across the globe.

"Learning law, especially in Human Rights, requires study and experience," said Professor Rice. "At W&L, the blending of excellence in academics with unique practical experiences enriches the students and their careers after graduation."

The first trip occurred between January 28 and February 4 and took students to Rome and Paris. In Rome, the students met with the leadership of the Communti de Sant' Egidio, an organization working on many human rights initiatives, including fighting AIDS in Africa, promoting peace and reconciliation in civil war regions, ending the death penalty world-wide, assisting the elderly and immigrant populations in Italy, and assisting the poor of Rome.

The students also met with Hands Off Cain, an Italian organization working for a United Nations General Assembly resolution against the death penalty, enabling the students to see an international organization engaged directly in the political process. Students then traveled to Paris for the Third World Congress against the Death Penalty.

Students participating in this trip were Meredith Abernathy, Ginny Rogers, Jennifer Lavoie, Kevin Quencer, Christina Leventis, Seetha Srinivasan, and Joanna Hood.

The second trip occurred March 11-16, during which students traveled to Geneva, Switzerland and Strasbourg, France. Students were present at the opening of the 4th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, where they heard remarks by the Secretary General of the United Nations, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and numerous foreign ministers from State parties. 

The students then traveled to Strasbourg to observe an argument before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights and to meet with the Human Rights Directorate of the Council of Europe, where the students were briefed on the Council's work to end torture and trafficking in humans.

Students participating in this trip were Kai-Ting Yang, Grainne Ahern, Hilary Loughnane, Lisa Manning and Diana Grimes.

"The trip was amazing. We were allowed to observe the inner workings of human rights institutions, which is an opportunity most people never have," said Kai-Ting Yang, 3L. "But most surprising, the trip clarified how much the law means to me -- I saw how frustrating, elusive, and wonderful it can be, and I am more passionate about working with it."

"These are the kinds of initiatives, together with our internships overseas, that are the key to bringing Lexington to the world," added Mark Drumbl, Class of 1975 Alumni Professor of Law and Director of the law school's Transnational Law Institute.

To learn more about International Law initiatives at the School of Law, visit the Transnational Law Institute web site.

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