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The Place of International Law Within United States Law

The contemporary debate over the proper role of international law within the law of the United States offers a window into competing views of whether international law is law at all, as well as whether the United States simply is exceptional and resides outside of the nations interested in international law. Although opposition to recognition of features of international law within the United States can be attributed to substantive disagreements with human rights norms and worries about politically motivated attacks on the United States, the debate fundamentally exposes shifts in the nature and operation of law and legal institutions.

Martha Minow, dean of the Harvard Law School, discusses how international law should be understood as a resource for business leaders and policymakers, as well as citizens, to pursue effective ways to influence conduct and attitudes, prevent conflicts, and facilitate cooperation. Martha Minow is the dean and Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. She has taught at Harvard since 1981 and is an expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities. She served on the Independent International Commission Kosovo, and helped to launch Imagine Coexistence – a program of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees that promotes peaceful development in post-conflict societies. She clerked for Judge David Bazelon of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and then for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States. Her recent books include Government by Contract; Just Schools: Pursing Equality in Societies of Difference; and Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law and Repair. She earned her A.B. from the University of Michigan, Ed.M. from Harvard University's School for Education, and J.D. from Yale University.

Generous support for the Chicago and the World Forum series each year is provided by the McCormick Foundation.


Recorded Monday, May 10, 2010 at The Chicago Club.

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