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Blog Entry and Events

Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition (March 12-15, 2014)

A team of three law majors recently competed in the inagural edition of the Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition.  Cadets Joshua Cooper, Matthew Wheeler and Kyle Gicewicz simulated a variety of advisory roles in this moot-court competition, taking place in Silver Spring, MD from March 12th throught 15th. Sponsored by the American Red Cross, this was a simulation based competition for sudents interested in international humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the "law of war" or "law of armed conflict."    The Cadets held their own against law students from some of the nation's top law schools, including Harvard, Georgetown, Vanderbilt, UVA and others.

The competition was an experiential learning event designed to intruduce students to real-world challenges facing International Humanitarian Law practitioners during armed conflict.  Participants engaged in a variety of practical role-playing exercises, during which they were asked to assume various prefessional roles such as national leaders, military and cabinet avisors, and NGOs.   

The competition also featured panel discussions by leaders from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), national Red Cross Societies, international law scholars and military law practitioners.   




The Film & Law Program Presents "Forty Years of Silence," a film by Dr. Randy Olson (January 27, 2014)

Cadet members of the West Point Film Club, as well as cadets taking Jurisprudence (LW 495), Criminal Law (LW 472), and those who participated in 2013 West Point Civil Rights Staff Ride met with filmmaker Randy Olson to watch and discuss his film ―Forty Years of Silence‖. Originally entitled ―COL Stubborn,‖ the film is about Mr. Olson‘s father, the late COL John Olson, USMA Class of 1939, who was a POW in the Philippines following the Bataan Death March. COL Olson was imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell and later the ranking officer at Cabanatuan prison. The film documented COL Olson's experience both during and after the war.

Following the screening of the film, guests of Mr. Olson, including a former American prisoner of war in the Philippines (and later Japan), sat down with visiting Major General (Ret.) Edward Mechenbier, USAF, who was a POW for six years in Vietnam for a discussion of their treatment by the enemy, and the impact of that treatment on the rest of their lives. A lively discussion ranged from comparisons of their experiences to the absence of any rule of law governing treatment of prisoners in the Japanese prison camps.
Earlier in the day Mr. Olson, who is well known for his work on how to tell a story, held a workshop with the Film Club and Civil Rights Staff Ride in the Center for the Rule of Law on using ―And, But, & Therefore‖ as guidelines for telling a story. The Staff Ride cadets and Film Club members are working with Professor of Law Robert J. Goldstein, director of the Center for the Rule of Law on a film documenting their trip to the Deep South to trace the law and history of the Civil Rights Movement.
Panel members discussing the film "40 Years of Silence" included (L to R), MG (Ret.) Edward Mechenbier, USAF, POW held for six years during the Vietnam War; Mr. Dan Crowley, aged 91, Japanese POW and veteran of the Bataan Death March; Mr. John Patterson, founder of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society and nephew of 2LT Alexander Ramsey Nininger, Jr., USMA Class of 1941, the first service member awarded the Medal of Honor in WW II; and Dr. Randy Olson, filmmaker and son of the late COL John Olson, USMA Class of 1939, also Japanese POW and veteran of the Bataan Death March and subject of the film. 


Educating Future Leaders About the Law of Armed Conflict

Cadets currently enrolled in the Department of Law’s Special Topics in the Law course have been privileged to welcome into the classroom some of the most experienced practitioners in the Law of Armed Conflict. 

Colonel (Retired) RICHARD B. “DICK” JACKSON, the Special Assistant to the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General for Law of War Matters, spoke to cadets about cultural property and the Law of Armed Conflict.
Colonel Jackson retired from the U.S. Army after over 30 years in uniform, serving in Infantry, Special Forces, Joint and Coalition commands during his military career, including most of the last ten years as the principal legal advisor at a U.S. Army Division, Multinational Division North in Bosnia, the Army Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Pacific, and Joint Forces Command - Naples, a NATO Headquarters. 
Colonel Jackson served in military operations in Panama, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq.  He was also the Chair of the International and Operational Law Department of the Army Judge Advocate General's School, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and has written extensively in professional publications and lectured around the world on law of war matters.  He has represented the U.S. government in several international conferences and negotiations regarding arms control, the law of war, and protection of cultural property.  In 2010 he was elected to be the Chair of the Lieber Society Interest Group of the American Society of International Law, which is a private organization promoting dissemination and discussion between practitioners and academics on the law of armed conflict.
Along with numerous law review articles, Colonel Jackson is a contributing author to: The War on Terror and the Laws of War, published by Oxford University Press in 2009; The Law of Counterterrorism, published by the ABA in 2011; and the Aspen casebook, The Law of Armed Conflict: An Operational Approach,published in 2012.
MR. WILLIAM M. "WILLY" STERN, a veteran investigative journalist, spoke to the class about journalists on the battlefield.  Willy Stern has roamed the world in search of news-- from the boardrooms of Tokyo to the battlefields of Iraq, from the secret prisons of Afghanistan to the wilds of the Nicaraguan jungle, and many points in between.  A former staff writer at Forbes and Business Week, Stern has received many national journalism awards and honors. Stern's analytical, editorial and investigative writing has appeared in dozens of major publications around the globe, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune, The Chicago Tribune, The Weekly Standard and The New Republic.
Other distinguished speakers have included former Abu Ghraib prosecutor Cullen Sheppard, who shared his experiences prosecuting Soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib prison abuse cases, and Professor David Frey, who spoke to cadets regarding the Holocaust from the Perspective of the Law of Armed Conflict.