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Delegation to 2023 ASIL Annual Meeting

May 12, 2023

Every year, the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Annual Meeting gathers international law practitioners, scholars, jurists, policy experts, and diplomats for a four-day event packed with keynote speakers, wide-ranging thematic panels on international law, and a full and varied slate of professional development sessions.

The theme for ASIL’s 117th Annual Meeting, “The Reach and Limits of International Law to Solve Today’s Challenges,” brought a focus on the role and value of international law as a tool for solving modern-day crises.

The 2023 event brought more than 1,200 participants from 75 countries to Washington, D.C., at the end of ASIL Meeting 2023  March. As an ASIL Academic Partner, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School sends a delegation of students each year to participate in the meeting. The five delegates in this year’s Penn group were a mix of JD, LLM, and ML students, selected through a competitive application process. The Law School provided event registration and housing for the delegates, as well as access to one of the premium events.

“ASIL is perhaps the most prestigious body working on issues of international law,” said Pradyuman Kaistha LLM’23. “When the opportunity to participate in its Annual Meeting as a Penn Carey Law delegate came up, applying for it was a no-brainer for me. It’s ideal for students who are just getting acquainted with international law as well as for those who have developed interests in niche areas.”

At the Annual Meeting, international scholars, practitioners, and experts gather to present and discuss research papers on the latest global developments on critical issues.

2023 ASIL panel “The panels on the future of international economic law and the transformation of international economic law were particularly appealing for me because I had studied international economic law prior to arriving at Penn Carey Law,” said Dongjoon Lee LLM’23. “It was interesting to me that the academics of the field were trying to deliver hopeful messages and warnings about the United States’ stance in the international economic law field.”

“I’m pursuing my Global Human Rights Certificate while at Penn Carey Law, so the opportunity to learn more about the subject from the most distinguished practitioners and scholars in international law would have been hard for me to pass up,” explained Piper-Simone Casey L’24. “In fact, one of the most interesting talks I attended was titled ‘Decolonizing Human Rights Practice to Promote Racial Justice.’ The panelists were amazing, and they raised several important points—one being that the law should value integrity, rather than the reflection of power.”

Kaistha attended panel discussions on climate change that analyzed the recent developments in seeking advisory opinions from international tribunals, noting that “the panelists for these sessions were people who are actually a part of these litigations.”

“I also enjoyed the fascinating Grotius Lecture delivered by [former Penn Carey Law Professor] Kim Scheppele, which drew on the importance of international law in preventing the subtler forms of democratic backsliding across the globe,” Kaistha added.

Minerva Zang L’25 also found the Grotius Lecture to have been a standout experience. “Dr. Scheppele’s presentation on democratic governance was inspiring and insightful. Her emphasis on the importance of judicial independence and operating independent ‘fourth branch’ institutions to prevent autocrats from revising the judiciary was especially helpful as I consider my career aspirations in the field of international law,” she said.

But the ASIL Annual Meeting is not just a crucial forum to learn and exchange ideas about international law; ASIL networking it is also a unique setting for reconnecting with old friends and meeting new colleagues.

“During my ASIL experience,” said Lee, “I was able to meet up with a couple of friends that I had met during other conferences at The Hague, as well as a professor who lectures for The Hague Academy of International Law. I was pleased to see them all again at the ASIL Annual Meeting.”

Casey added, “Because the conference is so large, there are a lot of formal and informal networking opportunities. Many attendees were walking around during the breaks, so I met people that I would not have otherwise. I had impromptu lunches with other law students, visiting scholars, and licensed attorneys from all over the world.”

“The meeting is a space where you can accidentally bump into people whose books or judgments you have read and people who are working on the biggest cases of our time while casually walking down the hallway,” Kaistha explained. “The days were peppered with informal and formal opportunities to speak to these people and network with others in the field, including students from other law schools.”

“I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ASIL Annual Meeting is so accommodating toward students,” Zhao Liu ML’26 said. “I had the opportunity to attend several career development sessions, such as those focused on resume and cover-letter writing, as well as mentoring sessions. Through these sessions, I gained valuable job-seeking skills specific to the field of international law.”

As a Master in Law student, Liu found himself among LLM and JD students from around the world in his first high-level legal forum. “This was undoubtedly an excellent social opportunity for me,” he noted. “I was able to expand my network and make new connections with like-minded individuals who share a passion for the legal profession.”

2023 ASIL “Overall,” said Zang, “I found the ASIL annual meeting to be an enlightening experience. The talks that I attended provided me with new insights and perspectives on various aspects of international law.”

Casey agreed: “Having the opportunity to interrogate legal systems and frameworks alongside well-known experts, practitioners, and diplomats was invaluable.”

The delegates particularly appreciated how the event enhanced their Penn Carey Law classroom experiences.

“I have had the privilege of studying environmental law under the guidance of [Presidential Distinguished Professor of Law and Energy Policy at Penn Carey Law and Kleinman Center for Energy Policy] Shelley Welton,” said Liu. “The ASIL Annual Meeting proved to be an excellent extracurricular supplement to my studies, with a separate track dedicated to environmental law.”

“My experiences in [Thomas O’Boyle Adjunct Professor of Law] Fernando Chang-Muy’s classes—“Refugee Law and Policy” and “Immigration Policy and Practice”—prepared me well for the conversations that took place at the conference, especially those related to asylum seekers and migrant workers,” Casey noted. “In the classroom, I learn through case studies, but the ASIL Annual Meeting experience sharpened my knowledge of international law, policy, and human rights by showing me what policymakers and practitioners take into consideration.”

“It was a great advantage to be a representative of Penn Carey Law, since many of the panelists were associated with the Law School,” said Kaistha. “And even if they were not, they surely reminded us how lucky we have been to be taught by the likes of [Perry World House Professor of Practice of Law and Human Rights] Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, [Andrea Mitchell University Professor in Law, Political Science and Business Ethics] Beth Simmons, and [Professor of Law] Bill Burke-White.”

Learn more about opportunities for student leadership and networking at the Law School.