La Verne College of Law Sponsors Landmark International Law Symposium

April 19, 2010 by University of La Verne

“What Makes States Successful? Afghanistan and the Future of State Building”
provides unique opportunity for uncommon relationships to develop

The University of La Verne College of Law, in cooperation with a number of government and private organizations, hosted a one-of-a-kind international law symposium, What Makes States Successful? Afghanistan and the Future of State Building,” on April 15-17, 2010 to enhance and expand protocols for international states emerging from post-conflict turmoil.

The ambitious agenda included eight panel discussion sessions and several keynote addresses.  Three key themes related to promoting the rule of law emerged from the discussion:  1) A more measured and deliberate approach to cultural sensitivity and respect of traditions, 2) a commitment to long-term, trans-generational change and 3) the need for the empowerment of women in post-conflict states.

“Our vision for this symposium is to find a starting point:  To generate a series of principles and protocols based on an exchange of ideas and experiences from the different viewpoints we gathered here, and to build relationships and gain buy-in to a commitment that what starts here, doesn’t end here,” said retired Admiral Bruce MacDonald, former Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy. “There is a need to coordinate ability with action. One thing is clear – we can’t keep doing what we’re doing. That’s why establishing these protocols is vital.”

Over 40 government leaders, academic scholars and military officials collaborated to provide governments an expanded set of detailed principles they can use to identify and prioritize essential, post-conflict actions and to establish measurements of the effectiveness of these actions.  Also present were LL.M. candidates from Afghanistan, studying through the Afghanistan Legal Educators Project who spoke specifically to the legal challenges, obstacles and precedents influencing current policy-making and rule of law establishment in their home country.

“It is really amazing that so many esteemed colleagues would not only be discussing the problems in my country, but also developing solutions to these problems,” said Lutforahman Saeed, professor of Islamic law at the Kabul University School of Shari’a Law and a visiting scholar at the University of Washington School of Law. “Important, desperately-needed progress is being accomplished at this symposium.”

Symposium themes were enhanced by the contributions of keynote addresses by:

  • Hon. Pierre-Richard Prosper, Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues
  • Cherif Bassiouni, Distinguished Research Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law, President Emeritus of the International Human Rights Law Institute

These themes were expanded in a dynamic colloquy between:

  • William J. McGlynn, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), U.S. Department of State
  • David Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.

This symposium was built on a four-fold focus:

  1. State failure that is either caused by or is some way related to armed conflict within a state.
  2. Institutional solutions to state failure, with an emphasis on rule of law.
  3. Developing action plans or protocols containing concrete solutions to help failed states become successful states.
  4. Afghanistan, which provides a rich source of data and experience on what works and fails.

“Linking key leaders from the Pentagon, Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State, judiciary, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) community and academia to expand the rule of law in post-conflict regions is an excellent way for America to project ‘smart power’ around the globe,” said Robert O’Brien, Managing Partner, Arent Fox LLP and Co-Chair, U.S. Department of State Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan.   “The University of La Verne is taking a leadership role in this effort by gathering these key players together at this symposium, and I am certain that the protocols developed at this symposium will provide decision makers with important tools for use in future missions.”

The symposium was concluded with a protocol development work session, where Admiral MacDonald’s vision of written protocols began to take shape. To further support and orchestrate these efforts, the University of La Verne College of Law will continue to host meaningful events and issue publications, as well as assist with ‘on the ground’ work, such as training of defense attorneys, prosecutors, rule of law assistance, programming for law professors and legal education in developing countries.

“We at La Verne Law view this symposium as a part of our mission to connect the classroom to the real world,” said Allen K. Easley, dean of the University of La Verne College of Law.  “We hope one result of this symposium will be the creation of a dynamic task force that will continue the thinking and protocol development work commenced over the past three days.”

The symposium was planned and convened by four co-chairs:

  • Admiral (Ret.) Bruce MacDonald, former Judge Advocate General, U.S. Navy
  • Hon. Robert O’Brien, Managing Partner, Arent Fox LLP; Co-Chair, U.S. Department of State Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan
  • Hon. Stephen G. Larson, Partner, Girardi | Keese, retired United States District Judge
  • John Linarelli, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, University of
    La Verne College of Law

Event co-sponsors included: The U.S. Department of State Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan, American Society of International Law, World Justice Project, Los Angeles County Bar Association International Law Section, The Leo A. Deegan Inn of Court, and law firms Arent Fox LLP, Girardi | Keese and Shernoff Bidart Echeverria, LLP.

Detailed event information, including a full list of panelists, can be accessed at

About the University of La Verne College of Law

Located in Ontario, Calif., the University of La Verne College of Law serves over six million people as the only ABA-approved law school in Inland Southern California. For more information about the College of Law, please call (909) 460-2001 or visit

The University of La Verne College of Law has been provisionally approved by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association since 2006. The Section of Legal Education may be contacted at 321 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60610 or by phone at (312) 988-6738.

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