Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Dear friends and colleagues:

Please join YIN and the International Human Rights Committee for our first “*Cocktails and Conversation*” event to be held on January 26th, 2017 at 7:30 PM, at Mix Bar, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The idea is for us to get together in a relaxed and informal setting to enjoy each other’s company and discuss our committees' plans for 2017!

Email for more information!

We look forward to seeing you Thursday!

Best regards,

Gabriel and Jimena

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


The ABA SIL International Human Rights Committee invites submissions for the 3rd issue of its new publication, CLARION: The IHRC Journal of Human Rights (aka “The Clarion”)!

The Theme of this issue is: HUMAN RIGHTS TO WATER.

Key Dates
  • Abstract & Bio Deadline: February 10, 2017
  • Paper & Publication Agreement Deadline: March 1, 2017
  • Who can submit a paper?  The Clarion seeks articles and submissions of high quality that can serve to educate, inform and challenge our readership. Submissions should meet high professional standards, commensurate with the importance of human rights and the need to ensure these rights for all.
    • Subject Matter: Human rights to Water. When you submit your abstract, Publications Vice-Chairs will reach out to discuss your topic.
    • Global: Submissions from all countries are welcomed!
    • Language: All submissions must be made in English (US or UK). Contributing Authors may  also submit a second copy of the paper in their native language with a request that both papers be published. A decision on such a requests will be made by the Journal Editors on a case-by-case basis.
  • We want diversity: The Clarion encourages submissions from diverse interdisciplinaries, including but not limited to: legal professionals, human rights advocates, law school students, scholars, researchers, educators, journalists, photojournalists, medical practitioners, humanitarian aid workers, social entrepreneurs, environmentalist, technology experts, grassroot activists, nonprofit organizations, NGOs, IGOs, law firms, and governmental agencies and employees.
  • Length of Paper: 500-1500 words approximately. Submissions longer than six pages will not be considered, unless approved by journal editors in advance.
  • Abstract: FEBRUARY 10, 2017 The abstract should include your name, contact information, topic or title of submission, and a paragraph (4-6 sentences) that outlines the purpose and/or areas that will be covered by your submission.
  • Citation format: Please refer to the THE BLUEBOOK: A Uniform System of Citation (Online Version) for instructions on how to cite primary and secondary resources.
  • Contributing Author Guidelines: The Contributing Author Guidelines provide an overview of the ABA SIL publication policies. The type of submission (e.g., legal article, commentary, book review, photojournal essay, etc.) will determine the standard of review employed by the Journal Editors. There may be deviations from or exceptions to these rules based on the type of submission. Nevertheless, all contributing authors should carefully read the guidelines to ensure that applicable journal policies are respected. Contact the Journal Editors if you have questions regarding the guidelines.
  • Publication Agreement: All contributing authors must complete and submit the IHRC Journal Publication Agreement. The Publication Agreement must be submitted with the paper by March 1, 2017.
  • Bios: All contributing authors must submit a 50-word bio with their paper. See the Contributing Authors Guidelines for instructions on how to cite biographical information as a footnote in your paper.  The deadline to submit your bio is February 10, 2017, with your abstract.

Submission Instructions: (1) Carefully proofread your paper, including all footnotes and citations. We further recommend that you allow at least one disinterested or otherwise objective person to proofread your paper. (2) Submit your paper via email to the Journal Editors at Be sure to include your bio and the journal publication agreement.

Papers selected for publication may appear in digital format and/or in print. Both members and non-members of the ABA Section of International Law will be able to access the journal through the IHRC’s webpage and blog. Certain papers may be eligible for section publications or selected as topics for committee hosted events, including teleconference and seasonal or regional conference programs.

Deadline: All papers for Winter 2017 Edition must be submitted to the Journal Editors no later than March 1, 2017.

Key Dates
  • Abstract & Bio Deadline: February 10, 2017
  • Paper & Publication Agreement Deadline: March 1, 2017

Questions/ Contact
Contact Journal Editors at if you have any questions about the above information.

Thanks and good luck to all contributing authors!

ABA SIL International Human Rights Committee

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

ABA Section of International Law Spring 2016 Conference - New York

On behalf of the ABA Section of International Law (the “Section”), we are pleased to invite you to a very special Spring Meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, April 12-16, 2016.

The theme of the Spring Meeting is “Liberty and Justice Under International Law.” The Section’s Spring Meeting is one of the world’s most important gatherings of international lawyers. We are expecting more than more than 1,500 attendees from nearly 80 countries.


  • High-level practitioners with respected global law firms;
  • Corporate counsel from multinational companies;
  • Small-firm and solo practitioners with significant international practices;
  • Lawyers serving in government or with non-governmental organizations and inter-governmental organizations; and
  • Academics and law students

The Section is the home within the ABA for the world’s leading international practitioners, and the 2016 Spring Meeting is a “Must-Attend” meeting for lawyers with a practice or interest in international legal issues.

Early Bird Registration Deadline is Monday, February 29, 2016. Take advantage of lower registration rates for both individual and group attendees! For more information about group registration rates, please contact Thomas Happell at

Pre-Registration Final Deadline is March 25, 2016. Online registration will be closed after this date.

Onsite registration will be available as of April 12. The Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City is holding a block of rooms for us until Friday, March 18, 2016. But do not wait to make your reservation – we often sell out our block in advance of the deadline! We have reserved a special nightly rate of $289 plus applicable daily tax per room for single/ double occupancy.


  • More than 70 substantive continuing legal education sessions with world-class speakers;
  • Keynote luncheon speakers U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte;
  • Cutting-edge programming on current international legal and ethics issues;
  • Networking opportunities with peers, decision makers and potential clients from around the world who are active in international practice areas; and
  • An entire year’s worth of CLE credits.


  • Opening Reception at the Grand Hyatt Hotel (Tuesday);
  • Reception at Gotham Hall (Wednesday);
  • Reception at the Morgan Library and Museum (Thursday); and
  • Chair’s Closing Reception at the Grand Hyatt Hotel (Friday)


  • Learn the latest from top experts and receive information that is relevant to you in your international law practice area;
  • Network with the best and brightest international lawyers throughout the conference, particularly at our twice daily networking breaks, evening events and ticketed luncheons;
  • Participate in specialized meetings with colleagues who share your areas of interest by attending committee business meetings, division breakfasts, a committee networking luncheon and committee social dinners; and
  • Visit exhibitors of products and services relevant to the legal profession.

Join us in the city that never sleeps for a spectacular Spring Meeting!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Global Refugee Crisis, Part 2: Rights, Rule of Law, & Rational Remedies

Hundreds of migrants who arrived by train at Hegyeshalom on the Hungarian and Austrian border walk the four kilometers into Austria on September 22, 2015 in Hegyeshalom, Hungary (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images).

Join us for...

The Global Refugee Crisis, Part 2:
Rights, Rule of Law, & Rational Remedies

A non-CLE program proudly presented by
the ABA Section of International Law

Sponsored by 
the Section of International Law International Human Rights Committee

Co-Sponsored by
the Section of International Law Africa Committee, Europe Committee, International Criminal Law Committee, International Refugee Law Committee, International Pro Bono Committee, Middle East Committee, NGO & Not-for-Profit Organizations Committee, UN & International Organizations Committee, U.S. Lawyers Abroad Committee,

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST 
★ Teleconference Only Event ★

Unprecedented: The Global Refugee Crisis, Part 2 - Rights, Rule of Law, & Rational Remedies teleconference goes beyond the intimate Syrian refugee accounts shared during the first teleconference to explore this unprecedented humanitarian crisis from a larger, global context. The teleconference will begin with brief overview of the current refugee crisis, including the common causes of displacement and global trends. Next, the crisis will be examined from the perspective of those working on or near the front lines -e.g., aid workers, human rights lawyers and advocates, ABA entities, policymakers, and states impacted by the massive influx of refugees. These shared perspectives serve a dual purpose: to highlight the numerous obstacles and legal challenges faced by both refugees and the international community. Finally, the teleconference will highlight some of the successful efforts underway to resolve the underlying conflicts, protect and provide safe passage for refugees fleeing war-torn countries, and ensure the rule of law and basic human rights are observed.

There will be a brief Q&A session at the end of the program. Attendees may submit questions using one of the options below:

  • Email at
  • Twitter via direct message (@ABAIHRC) 
  • Twitter hashtag: #ABAGlobalRefugeeCrisis
  • Please indicate which speaker your question is for.


  • Joseph Jacob, Middle East Committee Vice Chair
  • Gigi Nikpour, International Human Rights Committee Senior Advisor 
  • Niki Dasarathy, ABA ROLI MENA Senior Advisor 
  • Wassem Amin, Middle East Committee Co-Chair


  • Stephanie Williams, Section of International Law Human Rights Committee Co-Chair

Monday, February 15, 2016

Holocaust Survivors and Heirs Must Exhaust Remedies in Hungarian Courts Before Suing in the U.S.

By Stephanie A. Snow


Holocaust survivors and their heirs must exhaust their local remedies in Hungarian courts before they can pursue claims against the Hungarian railway in U.S. federal courts, according to a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. But, the Seventh Circuit also indicated that if their attempts to pursue remedies are unreasonably or arbitrarily frustrated in Hungary, U.S. federal courts might be able to adjudicate their claims under the Alien Tort Statute and pursuant to exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

Facts and Claims:

Fisher v. Mahyar Allamvasutak Zrt, 777 F.3d 847 (7th Cir. 2015), arose from the persecution of Jews in Hungary during the Holocaust. In their complaint, the survivors and heirs set forth various claims against the Hungarian State Railways (“MAV”), alleging that in 1944, during the final six months of the war, MAV was a key player in Hitler’s “Final Solution” and transported Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz and other death camps. The survivors also alleged that MAV, as an agent of the Hungarian government, looted and plundered Jewish possessions brought to the train stations in their suitcases, expropriated land and property in buildings left behind, and even forced the survivors to either directly or indirectly pay for their trips to the death camps. Each of the twenty-one plaintiffs claim that they were either personally deported by MAV in 1944 or are the heirs or next of kin to victims of the Hungarian Holocaust. The plaintiffs allege the complicity of MAV for the use of its trains in connection with the transportation of approximately 500,000 Hungarian Jews to the death camps, that Hungarian laws authorized the confiscation of private bank accounts belonging to its Jewish citizens, and that MAV personnel (acting as representatives of the Hungarian government) stripped the deportation train passengers of their personal property such as cash, jewelry, family heirlooms, gold, and antiques.

Plaintiffs contend that they were never compensated for MAV’s taking of property in violation of international law, that MAV conspired to commit genocide in violation of international law, and that MAV was unjustly enriched by looting assets of the Jews it transported on its trains to the death camps. The plaintiffs also seek an accounting and declaratory relief from the courts. The plaintiffs alleged jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ l330, l332(a), l39l(f) and l60l-l6ll (“FSIA”), the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350 (“ATS”), class action diversity jurisdiction, and federal question jurisdiction. This case is the second of a pair of cases brought by the same group of plaintiffs concerning actions of the Hungarian government during World War II. The first case was brought against Hungarian banks and was subject of a previous Seventh Circuit opinion. (Abelesz v. Nemzeti Bank, 692 F.3d 661 (7th Cir. 2012)). In that case, the Seventh Circuit held that the national railway and the bank were instrumentalities of the Hungarian government and could only be sued in the United States if the plaintiffs showed that they had exhausted all domestic remedies available in Hungarian courts. Although the Seventh Circuit affirms the District Court’s dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims for failure to exhaust remedies in Hungary, the dismissals are without prejudice, allowing plaintiffs to refile their claims after they have pursued and exhausted remedies available in Hungarian courts.

Applicable Law:

In addition to discussing general principles of international law such as property confiscation, sovereignty, and genocide, the court’s opinion focuses particularly on two U.S. statutes: the ATS and the FSIA. The ATS was passed as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789, and states that “[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 provides the exclusive basis for exercising jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign or instrumentalities of a foreign sovereign in the United States. The FSIA bars jurisdiction in U.S. federal courts “against foreign sovereigns for claims for death or personal injury or damage to or loss of property that does not occur in the United States,” but does allow “jurisdiction over foreign sovereigns for claims for takings of property in violation of international law.”

The Opinion:

In its opinion, the Court briefly discusses the prior appeal in the Abelesz matter as it relates to the general rule of sovereign immunity, the default position that is pro-immunity, and the applicable exceptions that are pertinent in the Fischer matter. Importantly, while Hungary does recognize international law norms in its constitution, it did not waive its sovereign immunity for these claims. Under §1605 of the FSIA, the only other relevant exception to sovereign immunity is the expropriation exception. The Court plainly states the conditions where the expropriation exception applies. It occurs “where (1) rights in property are in issue; (2) the property was taken; (3) the taking was in violation of international law; and (4) at least one of the two nexus requirements is satisfied.” The Court also restated its holding in Abelesz that even though the FSIA does not specifically obligate the parties to exhaust domestic remedies, because §1605 “rel[ies] on international law norms . . . plaintiffs would need to exhaust domestic remedies before they could assert a violation of customary international law in a United States court.” Fischer, 777 F.3d at 854. The Court’s position is consistent with the policy of federal judges to be sensitive not only to universal doctrines of international law, but foreign policy considerations and comity concerns.

In light of the Court’s holding in Abelesz, Plaintiffs in the Fischer matter tailored their case to focus on the expropriation of property and money by the Hungarian railway MAV and the Hungarian national bank. Defendants moved to dismiss asserting that Plaintiff had not met the exhaustion requirement. The District Court agreed and entered a dismissal order.

Plaintiffs appealed, arguing that exhaustion of Hungarian remedies was not legally required and, even if they were, exhaustion would be fruitless because of the current anti-Semitic political situation in Hungary. Defendants argued that “because a sovereign could expropriate the property of its own nationals within its own territory without violating international law,” the confiscation of property during the Holocaust was not a violation of international law and are therefore not justiciable under the FSIA. Id. at 854. The Seventh Circuit takes each of the Plaintiffs’ assertions in turn. First, Plaintiffs argue that they have sufficiently alleged discriminatory takings as that term is defined in the Restatement Third of Foreign Relations Law §712 and therefore should not be held to an exhaustion requirement. The Court clarifies that there are actually two forms of exhaustion that occur in international law. The first is where a plaintiff would be required to exhaust domestic remedies before it can even put forth an allegation that an international law has been violated. The second form, at issue in this case, is when there is already a purported violation of international law, but international law customs limit plaintiff’s ability to bring a claim outside of the domestic forum until plaintiff has exhausted available remedies in its home country. The Fischer plaintiffs alleged “violations of international law due to the genocidal nature of the expropriations”. Under the Court’s holding in the Abelesz case, they were therefore required to seek remedies in Hungary before pursuing their claims in the American federal court system.

Plaintiffs argued that they did not bother to pursue remedies in Hungary because there is a legally compelling reason for them to be excused from this rule –the Hungarian courts would not provide them with an unprejudiced and fair hearing. Plaintiffs provided three reasons for its position. First, because Defendants denied the allegations in the Complaint, Hungary was essentially denying any responsibility for its actions during the Holocaust. Next, Plaintiffs argued that the remedies available in Hungary were an inadequate mechanism for redress. Finally, they argued that the Hungarian courts were structurally insufficient to hear and rule on these claims.

Defendants countered by identifying various remedies that might be available to the Plaintiffs in Hungarian courts, including non-judicial remedies such as through the First, Second, and Third Compensation Acts and the Jewish Heritage Public Foundation. The District Court found that these recoveries were not truly available to Plaintiffs. Yet, the Seventh Circuit decided that the Plaintiffs had the ability to bring civil actions for property-based, contractual, and international law claims in Hungarian courts and that such suits were promising enough that Plaintiffs should have pursued claims there before filing their action in the United States. The Court acknowledged that the significant changes to the Hungarian judicial system since 2012 could bring into question the independence of the judiciary there, but it considered concerns about judicial independence too speculative to supersede the need for the exhaustion requirement. Interestingly, the Court considered the situation of the Jewish Plaintiffs in these cases as analogous to the cases brought in U.S. courts on behalf of African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement observing that:

[o]ne could easily imagine that Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund had similar concerns about many United States courts’ ability to hear claims by African Americans in 1950 and later. Yet our courts by and large rose to the challenge in the following decades.

Fischer, 777 F.3d at 865. The Court simply states that Plaintiffs have not presented compelling reasons for failing to exhaust remedies in Hungary, but repeats that this failure can be cured; if Plaintiffs’ attempts in Hungary are arbitrarily or discriminately barred, U.S. district courts could again be open to hear their claims.


It is evident that in 1945 the Plaintiffs would have gotten a prejudiced and unfair day in a Hungarian court. The present political landscape, although not completely void of bias, is different today. For comity reasons, U.S. courts cannot – and will not – outright reject principles of exhaustion that are embedded in customary international law. International and human rights attorneys who have clients or potential clients should consider bringing lawsuits in the U.S. district courts for just compensation relief for property takings as defined under international law, with the important caveat that all adequate remedies available in the victims’ home countries must be first exhausted. As Judge Hamilton states, “while the doors of United States courts are closed to these claims for now, they are not locked forever.” at 852. The willingness of the Court to keep the doors open to these Plaintiffs seem to signal that while the United States is not the proper jurisdiction for every international law violation, it stands ready to make itself available all domestic remedies have been properly pursued and exhausted.

Reprinted with permission from the author. The article originally appeared in the Fall 2015 Newsletter.

Stephanie A. Snow is a third year law student at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois and is a J.D. candidate for the January 2017 commencement. She is interested in practicing international human rights law and civil rights law upon graduation. Her favorite legal subjects are constitutional law, contracts, and international law. She can be reached at