A defining feature of modern international law is the breadth of topics governed by international institutions and conventions agreed to by nation-states. Yet competing interests often render such regulatory and enforcement mechanisms inadequate to address the goals and needs of participants in international governance, including the governed. In this year’s CJIL Symposium, we will explore how current regimes influence international actors' decision-making and how such regimes may be improved.


12:15 p.m. – 1:20 p.m
Breakouts with Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic Students
International Human Rights

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Student Presentations
Will Altabef: The Legal Man in the Moon: Exploring Environmental Personhood for Celestial Bodies

The rise of the commercial space industry endangers the preservation of environments, such as the lunar surface and other celestial bodies, with the threat of contamination and resource exploitation. In the coming decades, flights to space will become commonplace—but at present, there is no way to hold outer space polluters accountable. The existing international legal regime is weak, with the United Nations’ space treaties offering limited enforcement mechanisms against offenders. The increasingly popular concept of environmental personhood offers a solution by rethinking the meaning of a juridical person within the text of the United Nations Outer Space, Space Liability and Moon treaties. Utilizing the International Court of Justice, outer space environmentalists can seek to recognize celestial bodies as juridical persons and gain third party standing to protect the rights of the Moon and seek damages for environmental degradation. Through the exploration of contentious and advisory avenues within the International Court of Justice, this Comment advances a new way of thinking to save extraterrestrial environments.

Nyle Hussain: Genocide in Xinjiang

The Chinese government has been engaging in a brutal crackdown of its Muslim citizens in the western province of Xinjiang. Upwards of 2 million Muslims, mostly members of the Uighur ethnic group, have been detained in concentration camps, which the Chinese government calls “vocational training centers.” China’s Communist Party hopes to efface the Muslim identity of the region, transforming its inhabitants into its version of ‘good’ Chinese citizens. Some journalists have described the atrocities as genocide, while the argument of the activists that once dubbed China’s longstanding discriminatory policies against the Uighurs as “cultural genocide” has gained renewed attention. However, this comment aims to demonstrate that the current understanding of the Genocide Convention does not encompass the severe repression currently being visited upon the Muslims in Xinjiang. Institutions applying the Convention must stop privileging the biological dimension of genocide over the cultural. Not only would this accord with the concept of the term (destruction of a group qua group), but it is also necessary to give meaning to the final two actus reus elements enumerated in the Convention itself.

Julian Zhu: Split-earth Settlements: Why Permissive Entry of Generic Drugs in Foreign Markets Should Give Rise to U.S. Antitrust Scrutiny

Pharmaceutical companies reap staggering profits on the backs of their name-brand drugs. These profits are enabled by patents, which empower the originators of these drugs to exclude potential competitors from the market and allow them to charge monopoly prices. However, patents expire, leading to the loss of market exclusivity and substantial revenue losses. To protect their profits, firms pursue all manner of strategies to delay generic entry. For a number of years, companies in both the U.S. and E.U. found that they could preserve their monopolies by simply paying generic competitors to stay out of the market. This sort of arrangement—typically reached through the vehicle of a patent dispute settlement—became known as a pay-for-delay, or reverse payment settlement. Eventually, both U.S. and E.U. authorities determined that such settlements could violate antitrust law. But while naked cash payments and other easily valuable side deals disappeared from settlements, the condemnation of reverse payments did not spell the end of all generic-delaying agreements. In recent years, the makers of two of the world’s most lucrative drugs—Humira and Lantus—entered a slew of settlements with would-be competitors that delayed generic competition in the U.S. Curiously, however, these generics quickly entered European markets, leading to substantial price reductions. As of today, no federal court has yet ruled on whether this practice violates antitrust law. This Comment argues that courts should scrutinize these split-earth settlements as potential antitrust violations, either under existing antitrust frameworks or as indirect evidence of fatal patent weakness.

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Keynote Address: The International Rule of Law: A Political View
Ian Hurd
Professor of Political Science and Director of the Weinberg College Center for International and Area Studies at Northwestern University

4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Celebratory Reception

For more information, please contact Silver Lin at silverlin@uchicago.edu. For special assistance needs, please contact Kayla Okarski at 773.834.4560.