Law Students' Research Aids International Peacebuilding Efforts

  • Peacebuilding
    Peacebuilding  Through work she does in post-conflict zones, Professor Christie Warren, at right,is able to afford her students the chance to conduct research for credit. Students, such as, from left, Jessica Jeanty '12, Pearl J. Kim '11, and Eve M. Grina '11, have provided vital research help to members of Haiti's justice system and to organizations such as the U.S. Institute of Peace and the United Nations.  Photo by Colonial Photography
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Together, Jessica Jeanty '12, Pearl J. Kim '11, and Eve M. Grina '11 can say "rule of law" in seven languages.  They also can say that while they were in law school they used their legal education to make a difference in the world.

Through work she does in post-conflict zones, Professor Christie Warren, director of the Program in Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding, is able to afford students the chance to conduct research for academic credit.  Students such as Jeanty '12, Kim '11, and Grina '11, have provided vital research help to members of Haiti's justice system and to organizations such as the U.S. Institute of Peace and the United Nations.

"Our students' work is very impressive and shows how well-trained law students are able to contribute to high-level organizations that are directly involved in framing peacekeeping policies," said Warren. "Many of our law students are fluent in second and third languages, which makes their research even more valuable."

Warren, Professor of the Practice of International and Comparative Law, has traveled to more than 40 countries as an expert in post-conflict reconstruction. She recently completed a one-year appointment as Senior Mediation Expert in Constitutional Issues at the United Nations.

Jessica Jeanty '12: The Case Against Haiti's Former President Jean-Claude Duvalier

This past semester, Jessica Jeanty, a 2L, undertook an independent study under Warren's direction conducting research for René Magloire, who is the Special Advisor to the Haitian President on Legal Reform and the former Minister of Justice of Haiti. Magloire is now engaged in rewriting Haiti's Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure. Magliore welcomed Jeanty's help as a research assistant since she is fluent in French and proficient in Haitian Creole.

Jeanty graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Affairs and a minor in French. She studied in fall 2007 at L'Université de Lyon II in Lyon, France, and received a Diplôme Supérieur d'Etudes Francaises (DSEF).

In spring 2005, Jeanty was an extern for the State Department's Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

In her role as researcher for Magloire, Jeanty fulfilled a long-time ambition. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Haiti when they were teens, and she feels a strong connection to their homeland.

"I have always felt a need to do whatever I could to help improve conditions in Haiti," she said, "and, after the earthquake, the need for assistance there became even more apparent."

Jeanty's research concerning Haiti originally focused on specific legal reform topics, including access to justice issues, the creation of a protocol for establishing legal aid clinics in law schools, and a nationwide public defender system. The January return of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the former Haitian president, however, quickly altered the focus of her research to include issues relating to Haiti's prosecution of Duvalier for crimes against humanity committed while he was in office. Some of the related topics she researched include which judicial structures can be used to prosecute Duvalier, since Haiti's justice system has been largely destroyed by the earthquake, and what forms of evidence would be admissible in court that would comply with Haitian and international law. It is feared that much of the physical evidence for a trial against Duvalier was destroyed by the earthquake and that many potential witnesses may have died or will be difficult to locate.

"I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity to complete research that addresses some of Haiti's most important and urgent legal issues," Jeanty said. "Professor Warren has been absolutely wonderful. She arranged this independent research course with Minister Magliore, and she was always ready to provide support and encouragement for this work."

Pearl J. Kim '11: Helping Those Who Work in Post-Conflict Zones

Pearl J. Kim created a Practitioner's Guide last semester for the United States Institute of Peace's (USIP) International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL) on Monitoring, Mentoring and Advising Justice Actors in Post-Conflict States. Her guide will appear on USIP's web site, and will be sent to practitioners in post-conflict zones around the globe.

Kim has a strong background in international policy issues. She graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Violin Performance and Political Science. She attended the Institute for International Education of Students in Vienna in 2006, and the IU China Law Program at Renmin University in Beijing during her second year of law school. She is fluent in Korean, speaks some German, and has begun studying Mandarin Chinese.

Kim was a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University School of Law in Beijing in fall 2010 and, as a student in Professor Linda Malone's International Litigation seminar in spring 2010, provided research assistance to Pentagon prosecutors working on the government's cases against detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

"I was in China while I was conducting the research, so it was challenging to overcome some of the problems with getting access to much of the relevant material," Kim said. "This project was interesting in that it required not only legal analytical skills, but an understanding of what monitoring, mentoring, and advising is in fields other than law, including education, medicine, and science."

Kim said that Warren, who served as faculty advisor for her research project, had been an important mentor for her. "Professor Warren's energy and passion have been an inspiration to me during my law school years, and she is truly an experienced scholar in her field."

Eve M. Grina '11: Analyzing "Lessons Learned" from U.N. Commissions

Eve M. Grina also possesses an impressive resume. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in International Affairs with a minor in French from the University of Colorado at Boulder, is proficient in French, and is conversant in Japanese. She studied International Organizations and Social Justice in fall 2005 with the School for International Training in Geneva, Switzerland.

During winter 2008, Grina served as an intern at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. In summer 2009, she worked as a research assistant at USIP, where, like Kim, she was involved in the INPROL project. Among her chief duties, Grina drafted responses to practitioners' queries for publication on the INPROL forum. In summer 2010, she completed an internship at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Stockholm, Sweden, where she contributed to the training curriculum on constitution building processes in post-conflict states.

She also worked as a Graduate Research Fellow for Professor Warren, and completed research assignments supporting Warren's work for the U.N.

This past semester, Grina worked on an independent research project in conjunction with the U.N. Department of Political Affairs. Emerging from a decade that saw the Department of Political Affairs in charge of several Commissions of Inquiry with varied results, the department is endeavoring to compile a list of lessons learned to apply to future commissions. Grina was tasked with compiling a comparative chart of Commissions of Inquiry run by other U.N. bodies, drafting short reports on each Commission, and drawing out potential lessons for the Department of Political Affairs. This research and analysis will be used to shape future U.N. Commissions of Inquiry.

"This was an amazing opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the field of international development while still in law school," Grina said. "I am very grateful to Professor Warren. Her exceptional expertise in the field and dedication to her students made her an invaluable mentor. While working with her, I have gained phenomenal practical experience and truly broadened my horizons."