On March 3, Harvard Law School hosted the third annual Symposium on Legal, Cultural and Strategic Issues in Counterterror Operations. The day-long symposium was organized by John Fitzpatrick, JD ’87, a Senior Clinical Instructor at Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project (PLAP) and Staff Sergeants Lisa Baskall and Derek Piatt of the Army’s 3rd Legal Operations Detachment. Over two dozen active duty and reservist uniformed Army Judge Advocates and Paralegals attended the day-long presentations by several speakers from Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School.
Fitzpatrick teaches and supervises hundreds of HLS students in PLAP, and is also a Major in the US Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He has previously taken leaves of absence for an active duty Army tour in Afghanistan and for human rights-related assignments in Congo and Niger. Fitzpatrick said he is excited about organizing this annual event, which aims to break down barriers and build bridges between private academia and the military.
“These communities of knowledge benefit exponentially from a greater awareness of what is going on over the other side of their proverbial fences” he said. “Such an increased situational awareness makes our military that much more an effective fighting force, and in turn allows our academic communities to be better-informed about current perspectives and concerns in our military.”
The speakers included Christopher Anzalone, an International Security Program scholar at HKS’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Dr. John Park, Director of HKS’s Korea Working Group. Mr. Anzalone, a leading authority on the Somalian insurgent factions addressed current political, legal and cultural aspects of the Somalian conflict. Dr. Park, a renowned specialist on North Korea and frequent news commentator discussed developments in the Korean crisis.
“It was an honor and a pleasure to participate in the Legal, Cultural and Strategic Issues in Counterterror Operations Symposium” Anzalone said. “I spoke about the complex interaction between politics, different societal groups and actors, and the political, financial, and military involvement of the US, UN, EU, and African Union in the ongoing insurgency in Somalia and why it is vital to understand how US involvement affects state-society relations on the ground.”
Mr. Anzalone and Dr. Park were followed by two HLS speakers from the Human Rights Program, Anna Crowe, Clinical Instructor and Lecturer on Law in the International Human Rights Clinic, and Yasser Hamdani, a Visiting Fellow in the Human Rights Program. Ms. Crowe spoke about the legal and practical hazards confronting noncombatants in the active battle space and other areas of armed conflict, as well as challenges facing refugees displaced by armed conflict. “The Symposium sparked rich discussions on crucial legal questions that arise in and after armed conflict, and I was so glad to have the opportunity to be part of these discussions, and help in the goal of building bridges between the military and academia,” she said.
Mr. Hamdani, a well-known Advocate in Pakistan’s High Courts, a news media commentator on law and politics, and member of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, spoke about the future and possibilities of the rule of law in Pakistan. “The Symposium gave me an opportunity to interact with the legal minds in the US Army and to bring attention to key issues in the often fraught and contentious US-Pakistan equation. I was glad to have had the opportunity to present my point of view as a Pakistani who is personally invested in greater cooperation between the two countries.”
Fitzpatrick said the experts brought impressive depth of knowledge and insight to the Symposium. “We are incredibly grateful to them for their generous time and helping make this event a success.”