Law students take public diplomacy into the legal arena

Members of Israeladvocacy group StandWithUs at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem organized a conference to discuss flotilla, 'flytilla'.

July 31, 2011 03:51
2 minute read.
air flotilla

air flotilla. (photo credit: Ronen Zvlun Reuters)

In the aftermath of the would-be Gaza Flotilla II and the Welcome to Palestine “Flytilla” in which hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists flew to Israel, a group of law students are making their own contribution to Israel’s public diplomacy efforts.

The students, all members of Israeladvocacy group StandWithUs at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have organized a conference to discuss Israel’s position in international law and the issues arising from it.

Fifty student delegates from abroad are set to take part in this week’s event, the Student Conference on International Law (SCIL), at the university’s Law Faculty.

The delegates, who were selected from more than 2,500 applicants, include outstanding law students, social leaders and activists from countries as diverse as Australia, Germany, Nigeria, Bosnia, Slovenia and Uruguay.

The conference will include workshops, lectures by high-profile Israeli law and diplomacy experts including former ambassador to Canada Alan Baker.It will give the international delegates a more balanced picture of one of the most highprofile conflicts in the world, organizers say.

Other speakers include former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubenstein and international human rights law expert Prof. Yuval Shany.

Conference delegates will also tour strategically important sites in Jerusalem.

Tal Dror, the conference’s coordinator, said that though Israel’s public diplomacy is mostly directed at the media, the “real battle” takes place in the arena of international law.

For this reason, Dror said, it is essential to educate international law students about the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“An outstanding law student from the Netherlands may well be a future member of a panel of judges in The Hague,” Dror said. “So [that student’s] direct knowledge of Israel’s reality is of considerable importance for Israel.”

One of the students set to attend the conference, Spela Kuhar from Slovenia, said that she hoped experiencing Israel first-hand would give her a better perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I hope that by participating in SCIL I can expand my horizons and get a different perspective,” Kuhar said.

SCIL, the Student Conference on International Law, runs from Monday through Thursday at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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