Thursday, September 20, 2007

WPTL Year That Was

I just put together an annual report for the
Washington State Bar Association World Peace Through
Law Section, whose educational program I run as a

I'm rather proud of our speaker list, and hope that
you may find some of the links of interest. Here's the
short version:

September (2006): Attorney Julia Bolz.
In 1998, Bolz left her partnership with Ryan, Swanson
and Cleveland in Seattle to provide legal and policy
development assistance in Africa, Central America and
Central Asia.

Recently, Julia has worked to address the plight of
Afghani girls who have long suffered under the
Taliban's repressive policies toward women. Julia
founded the Journey for Afghan Schools program to
establish cultural ties between Afghanistan and U.S.
schools. With Julia's leadership, and aided by
donations from Seattle students, eight schools for
girls have been constructed, and five restored, in

October: Professor Joel Ngugi & Judge Patricia Paul.
They spoke on the relationship between International
Law and the Rights of Indigenous People, based on
their experience in Kenya and on American

November: Attorney Phillip Ginsberg and Jen Marlow.
He presented the law of genocide, followed by Jen on
the facts about Darfur. You may have seen Jen's
documentary "Darfur Diaries":

December: Our Year-End Roundup of Human Rights
* David Horn Member of Lambda Legal ( ) gave an update on
Marriage Equality Legislation and Case Law in the
United States and Abroad
He was both erudite and witty, nothing that while
Jeffrey Daumer had the right to marry, he himself did
not since, apparantly being the greater threat to

* Lincoln Miller & Robin Nielsen of the Rural
Development Institute ( told
of their innovation use of Land Law in Poverty
Alleviation, primarily in South Asia.

* Diane Atkinson spoke on the integration of Public
Health and Human Rights. We take a lot of basic public
health matters for granted here (e.g. water and
sewage) but, where they are lacking, the basic right
to life is in trouble.

January: A panel of American veterans (a JAG, a judge,
and three grunts) discussed "What Is An Illegal

The black-letter law is much simpler than the reality
as experienced by the troops.

March: Professor Mary Patricia Treuthart.
What's it like teaching law in Kosovo.

April: Attorney Matt Harris
Department of Peace legislation. See and

May: Beth Rivin & Roslyn Solomon
Using international human rights law to improve health
systems from South Africa to Tacoma.

June: Salvador Tinajero, Consul of Mexico.
Litigating in The Inter-American Human Rights System
to improve human rights in Mexico

July: Participants in the UW Guatemala Project.
"The Shifting Terrain of Human Rights in Contemporary
Guatemala". This is a wholly remarkable project, which
gives me hope for our new generation.

August: Professors Menhajuddin Hamed, Mohammad Haroon
Mutasem, Wali Mohammad Naseh, Humayoun Rahimi of the
law schools in Kabul and Mazur-e-Sharif.
In town for the Asian Law Program ( ), they
discussed juggling constitutional, religious and
traditional law.
For example, textual conflicts between their
constitution's gaurantee of equal rights for women
(something, ahem, the US constitution could use...)
and gender differences defined by religion are usually
less important in a village than the traditional
culture, which is usually very sexist.
They also pointed out that "Islamic Law" differs from
place to place; just as Christianity has a variety of
sects, so does Islam.
Many thing done in the name of Islam are actually
matter of culture.
Difficult texts (such as the penalty for apostacy) are
worked out differently by different scholars (Islam
has no "Pope" running things) so there's quite a
struggle going on over the hard parts.
They explained that what Afghanistan needs is peace
and education - a perfect system can wait until a good
system is working.

Well, that was the year that was. The upcoming year
should be interesting as well.
If you ever get the chance to meet any of the people
above, don't pass it by. "Life is what happens while
you're making other plans."

Oh yeah you can get more info on the above programs: