The Hills Are Alive

Bonjour! Greetings from Switzerland. I'm currently here in Geneva to study Public International Law, International Humanitarian Law, and International Organizations. Our mornings are 2 1/2 to 3 hours of class and then a site visit in the afternoon. Monday, we went to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights where we met with an official that deals with Indigenous and Minority Rights. Tuesday, we met with the Palestinian Ambassador to Geneva who came to speak with us about what sort of work he is doing on behalf of his people. And today, we visited the International Committee of the Red Cross ( It was really interesting because the office really explained how the Red Cross works.

The picture on the left is the entrance to the ICRC Museum.
I believe they represent prisoners of war.

The ICRC is actually the part of the Red Cross that deals with international situations where armed conflict is involved. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent is the part of the organization that deals with natural disasters and situations where such things as water, food, shelter, clothing, are needed. And then there are National Societies like the American Red Cross that coordinates Red Cross activities in their country and with the International Federation in larger international matters.

Some interesting facts:

1. The ICRC is allowed access to areas like Guantánamo Bay so that they can provide services to the detainees held there. They do things like try to keep them in contact with their families at home through letters as well as listen to their situation and try to make sure that their conditions complies with the ones set out the in Geneva Conventions.

2. They are NOT an NGO but rather a private Swiss-based organization that receives their funding from States (i.e. countries) and organizations that support their cause.

3. 80% of their funding is from governments and the U.S. provides 20% of their 1 billion Swiss Franc budget.

4. The fundamental principles of the Red Cross movement are: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality.

5. When ICRC delegates are asked to testify by courts like the ICJ (International Court of Justice) or the ICC (International Criminal Court), they don't because they want to preserve their neutrality.

6. The Red Cross emblem is not a symbol of Christianity but rather the Swiss flag in opposite colors in honor of Henri Dunant who is the founder of the Red Cross and a Swiss.

7. With the Euro Cup being held jointly by Austria and Switzerland this year, the UEFA has partnered with the ICRC to donate money for every goal scored during the entire tournament in order to benefit victims of land mines in Afghanistan. Below is the card that promotes the campaign. People can also log onto the site and support their teams by buying "goals" and the money will go toward the campaign. The design of the card is very clever and has actually won design awards.

That is all for now. There will be more updates later. Au Revoir mes amis!

Adventures in the Big Apple

Here's our first post from none other than Mr. Amol Mehra:

My internship this summer brought me from sunny California to sweltering NYC. After a week and a half respite frequenting the many bars and restaurants of the Lower East Side, coupled with some intense Bikram yoga sessions, I prepared for my first day of work. My title: Intern for Judge Ridgway at the Court of International Trade.

The Court itself sits in the heart of the bustling Civic Center of Manhattan. The building, only eight stories high, is a modern extension onto an old Federal building which houses various federal agencies. The Court of International Trade was once known as the United States Customs Court, and now has exclusive jurisdiction to deal with three broad areas. Firstly, the Court handles cases dealing with antidumping or countervailing duties. Next, the Court handles customs valuations cases. Lastly, the Court hears cases involving the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, an Act which seeks to provide for those whose jobs were displaced as a result of trade.
As someone focused on a career in International Law, and more specifically, Trade Law, I was excited to get to work on the myriad cases that the Court handles. I was immediately thrown into researching and writing on an antidumping issue. The topic was rich in economic, policy and legal arguments and was entirely stimulating. As I delved deeper into the case law, the administrative record and the various arguments, I was struck with the importance of such a Court in dealing with the unwieldy beast that is trade law. For instance, how do we as a nation seek to protect our domestic industry while still encouraging foreign trade? How do we respond to producers who take advantage of our market by dumping their products here at a cost below the market price? How do we tax products entering our markets? These questions and more impel me forward in the work that I'm doing here.

Aside from the substantive aspects of my internship, interacting with a Federal Court Judge is also a rewarding experience. The knowledge, power and expertise that Judge Ridgway holds is something to be marvelled at. As a woman on the bench, she stands as an embodiment of our justice system and its evolution. She is constantly engaged in speaking engagements and teaches classes at nearby law schools while balancing a heavy caseload. Quite impressive really.

Another great benefit of my internship: living in Manhattan. I took an apartment in the Lower East Side, and have yet to be want for things to do. From nightlife, restaurants, theatre and the arts, New York is truly unlike any other place.

More to come.