Six Penn Carey Law student delegates attended the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C.
For well over a century, the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Annual Meeting has been one of the largest and most distinguished gatherings of international law practitioners, scholars, jurists, policy experts, and diplomats in the world.
This year, the event was held both virtually and in-person, with more than 1,000 participants from 75 countries assembling in Washington, D.C., and online. The conference featured wide-ranging thematic panels on international law, as well as a full and varied slate of professional development sessions. Speakers included the former president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a judge on the International Court of Justice, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
As an ASIL Academic Partner, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School sent a delegation of six students to participate in the four-day meeting. The 2022 group was comprised of representatives from each JD and LLM class, selected through a competitive application process. The Law School provided event registration and housing for the delegates, as well as access to one premium event.
Paul-Angelo dell’Isola L’24 had learned about ASIL only this semester, through an assignment in his International Law class.
“We read an address to ASIL by Professor [Harold] Koh, who is at Yale and has served as the legal advisor to the State Department. He talked about the pitfalls and the shortcomings of international law, but also about how powerful it could be as an expressive tool. In his speech, he mentioned that as a student, he had attended the ASIL meeting, and it had started his career. And so I thought, ‘I have to go to ASIL!’”
Mostafa El-Harazi L’23 remarked that there were many “amazing” talks over the four days, but one that stood out for him was given by Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States.
“Just hearing her speak to us about what is happening in Ukraine and Russia, hearing her call for action, talking about what we not only as students but as future international lawyers can do to help, was powerful. Listening to that made me very hopeful for the future of international law,” he said.
“I really wanted to attend the conference to engage in conversations about international law matters,” said Irene Itol LLM’22. “Every day of the meeting, there was a wealth of topics to choose from. I’m interested in international investment law and arbitration, and there were a lot of opportunities for discussion and connection.”
Deanna Drenga L’22 had spent her 3L fall semester studying abroad at the London School of Economics (LSE). Her experience at the ASIL Annual Meeting was “the perfect complement” to that.
“I was able to take an international criminal law class at LSE, and ASIL’s International Criminal Law sessions were a good opportunity to expand on what I had learned,” she said.
Deanna also appreciated learning more about publishing — “places to publish that I hadn’t heard about before, different forums and blogs and other places to start” — as well as about career resources that are available through ASIL in the future.
For Noor Irshaidat L’23, the chance to network and learn more about opportunities in international law was a big draw.
“I’ve been taking all the international law-related classes at Penn,” she said. “I’ve done Moot Court, and I’ve had other international experiences, like internships. I wanted to build on that by talking to people and understanding what the work looks like post-graduation.”
One of the many ASIL panels, “The Individual as Protectee of International Humanitarian Law,” was particularly attractive to Aadir Khan L’24, who is deeply interested in the law of armed conflict.
“The session on careers in international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflict provided me with an opportunity to build a professional network in the field,” Aadir added.
For Irene, Noor, and Deanna, a highlight was the Women in International Law Interest Group (WILIG) reception, at which the 2022 Prominent Woman in International Law Award was presented to Fatou Bensouda, the former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Noor reported that in her speech, Bensouda “really focused on women empowerment and leadership and increasing the representation of marginalized and silenced groups,” which resonated strongly with the Penn students.
Paul-Angelo appreciated the numerous mentoring sessions at the ASIL Annual Meeting.
“They were a great way for me to meet practitioners who are actually doing investment arbitration, the area I’m interested in. I attended three of them, so I definitely made some valuable connections. I also attended a speed networking session — it was a fun format, talking to practitioners for 20 minutes and then changing tables.”
The group came away appreciating the experiences that they have had at Penn.
“It was clear that not everyone who attended had been exposed to many of the things that Penn has to offer,” Noor observed. “If it weren’t for [Professor of Law] William Burke-White’s and [Perry World House Professor of Practice of Law and Human Rights] Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s class [“International Human Rights”], I would not have understood some discussions, which tended to be tailored to people who are working in the field. That gave me a leg up compared to other students who had not been as exposed to, say, the Rome Statute or the International Criminal Court.”
“I was impressed by the expanse of opportunities in the field and the vast amount of people who are willing and able to help you find your path in international law,” said Mostafa. “That was probably my favorite takeaway from the experience. It was a very, very good week.”