The President of the Washington Foreign Law Society, Mr. Michael Teodori, issued the following letter to members, subscribers, and friends of the Washington Foreign Law Society.
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Dear friends of the Washington Foreign Law Society,
Warm greetings from the Board of Governors, and best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year to you all. We hope you and your families are healthy and well, and we appreciate your continued support throughout these difficult times.
Despite the challenges of having confined our activities to a mostly digital environment for a second consecutive year, the season that just ended has been a rich and successful one for the Society. Over the past twelve months we maintained and even increased our program offering compared to the previous year, and our overall online engagement has more than doubled, with users tuning in from 52 countries to follow our webinars – which, in turn, featured panelists from across the United States and from abroad as well.
Below is a quick recap of the programs we offered throughout the past year, with links to watch the recordings in case you missed them:
- The UN: Defining Cyber Rules of the Road? The first in our six-part series on cyber accountability, organized jointly with the Stimson Center and spearheaded by WFLS Governor Debra Decker, in which panelists looked at initiatives taken by States through the United Nations to encourage the development of a common understanding of international legal obligations.
- Inside the Room: Attorney-Diplomats at work on US Foreign Relations. A fascinating two-part interview series (link to part one here, link to part two here) involving firsthand accounts of major events shaping US and world history in the past 50 years, featuring two former civil servants with decades of experience in US foreign policy – including WFLS Governor Mark Feldman.
- The Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region. A timely conversation on international law implications of the conflict and ensuing humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Tigray region in Ethiopia.
- Public and Private Whistleblowers and The Need for Legal and Financial Assistance. A panel discussion led by WFLS Governor Pascale Dubois on how, despite whistleblower-protection legislation and the establishment of programs to encourage whistleblowers to come forward, whistleblowers in many countries still remain at risk of negative repercussions on a personal and professional level.
- Cyber Insurance Exclusions: What War? The second cyber series event, focusing on the circumstances under which state-backed hacks are covered by insurance policies or can instead be considered as hostile or warlike acts.
- What will US trade policy under Biden look like, and how will it be received by our friends and allies? A conversation on expectations relating to the Biden Administration’s trade policy from the perspective of the US’s European and Asian allies.
- International Human Rights in the Supreme Court: 2021 Term. A panel of distinguished scholars and journalists critiquing recent Supreme Court decisions on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the Alien Tort Statute involving human rights violations in foreign states.
- Cyber Sanctions: Assessing Trends and Effectiveness. The third event of our cyber series, focusing on whether sanctions are an effective tool to counter malicious activities such as cyber espionage, sabotage and cybercrimes.
- The Investor-State Dispute Settlement System: Reform, Replace, or Status Quo? A presentation, introduced by WFLS Governor and current Vice President Alexandra Bochnakova, with the authors of a recently published book on the ISDS system, highlighting possible avenues for its reform, feasibility and alternatives.
- Reforming Online Accountability: Can Lessons Be Learned From Across The Globe? Our fourth program in the cyber issues series analyzing cyber legal accountability standards in the EU and in Brazil, in light of existing proposals aimed at amending the legal framework for platform accountability under US law.
- From John Jay to John Roberts: The Law of Nations in US Courts. A follow-up to our event on international human rights in the Supreme Court analyzing the Court’s decision in Nestlé v. Doe, with a look at possible repercussions on the Alien Torts Statute.
- What Future for the Rule of Law in Central America? A conversation with the United States’ Special Envoy for the Northern Triangle (Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ricardo Zúniga) on the state of democracy in Central America, with a deep dive on countries, such as Nicaragua, where the rule of law appears to be under increasing strain.
- How Do You Know Who Did It – and Then What? The Challenges of Cyber Accountability. The fifth event in our cyber series, focusing on legal and practical approaches to addressing the growing threat of ransomwares in cyberspace.
- Progressing Cyber Accountability: The Private Sector, NGOs and the UN. The final instalment of our cyber accountability series, looking back at the 2019-2021 Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on cyber issues in view of the OEWG beginning on December 13th, 2021.
As was the case for last year, all of our events were again offered free of charge. Moreover, our subscriber base grew by 23% throughout the year: a special welcome therefore goes out to all the new friends that the Society has gained in 2021.
But our activities over the past year were not limited to our online programs. We maintained our longstanding friendship with sister organizations while also developing new and exciting partnerships, such as those with the Stimson Center for our cyber accountability series and with the Law Library of Congress. Members of the Board of Governors took part in two International Legal Careers Symposiums organized by Georgetown University Law Center, GW Law School, and AU College of Law, where they spoke to law school students about the importance of networking and of joining a professional society such as WFLS. And, with two in-person gatherings in the second half of the year – our 2021 Annual Meeting, and our traditional Holiday Happy Hour – we were also able to reconnect with friends old and new, for joyful moments of celebration in full compliance with existing health and safety regulations.
Looking back at the year, there is much to be grateful for here at the Society. Thank you to all those who participated in our programs and activities, whether as a speaker, a listener, or an organizer. The interest and curiosity of our most active members is always a core ingredient of all our initiatives. Thank you, of course, to the Board of Governors, whose guidance and dedication has allowed the Society to adapt to the unusual circumstances we are all too familiar with by now. Thank you, finally, to the outgoing President, Giuliana Canè, whose term ended at our last Annual Meeting. The new leadership of the Society builds upon and stands in continuity with the hard work of the past years.
We now look forward to another year of interesting content and, hopefully, more live engagement as soon as the circumstances allow for it. Remember to check our website for upcoming events, and to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest updates on programs and initiatives. We are always open to ideas and input from our audience: fill out this survey if you wish to make a recommendation for a program, or reach out to us at email@example.com.
Finally, do consider becoming a member of the Society if you haven’t already: more information on membership opportunities can be found at this link. Next year will be the Society’s 70th anniversary, and we’d love for you to spend it with us as a member.
President, Washington Foreign Law Society