The American Bar Association International Section held its fall 2011 conference in Belfast and Dublin, attended by over 1,000 judges, lawyers, and professors from sixty countries. TJSL was represented by Professor Bill Slomanson. The first conference segment, entitled Northern Ireland and the Changing Legal Landscape, was held in Belfast. There are some forty “peace walls” still in place, separating the Catholic and Protestant populations in central Belfast. None existed prior to the 1969 Irish Republican uprising, which lasted (officially) until the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement. This portion of the ABA conference focused on the peace process, and how the Rule of Law survived in difficult circumstances in the northern six British counties (of thirty-two total) on the Irish mainland.
Professor Slomanson arranged a panel during the Dublin portion of the conference entitled Human Rights and State Secession: An Evolving Standard? The setting was a role play involving the Northern US imposing repressive measures on the Southern US. In the scenario, the South had announced its secession from the US in the year 2050—nearly four decades since the unilateral declarations of independence of Kosovo, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia in 2008. The former US judge on the International Court of Justice was unable to attend, but was replaced by an English International Law professor who assumed the role of the UN Secretary-General mediator. The President of Kosovo’s Constitutional Court assumed the role of the South’s President, who bitterly complained about the harsh measures imposed by the North—in its attempt to prevent this hypothetical secession. Professor Slomanson represented the North. He savored the opportunity to argue his role as the US Secretary of State, on behalf of the party in what initially appeared to be the weaker position in the debate.
The Honorable Mary Robinson spoke at the ABA conference's plenary session on the subject "Climate Justice." Her work now focuses on the impact of transboundary environmental harm on the poorest segments of the world's population---which is bound to suffer even further, as global warming and the related adverse consequences of globalization materialize. Robinson is the former President of Ireland, and past UN High Commissioner on Human Rights. She has been awarded numerous honorary degrees, medals and prizes from various universities around the world.
The ABA recorded this secession. A copy will be available in the TJSL Library when it is received by TJSL. As Professor Slomanson concluded: “My performance was greatly enhanced by applying the same principles I’ve observed, while judging TJSL’s outstanding moot court participants in two decades of practice rounds. They collectively prepared me for the debate of my life, for which I now thank them.”