Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Irish Potato Famine: Indifferent Colonial Rule as Genocide

By Daniel W. Richer
Daniel Richer is a second-year student at Albany Law School. He grew up in Clarence, NY, and he graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia where he majored in History and Political Science.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Dan worked as a litigation paralegal at a personal injury firm in Buffalo. Since attending law school, he has continued to pursue personal injury law while enjoying the numerous fields of study offered at Albany Law.  

Since the conclusion of World War II, the term “genocide” has been used to describe acts taken by governments with the intent of eliminating a particular class of people. These acts are typically rooted out of prejudice against another group’s race, national origin, or religion.

However, the extent to which the term “genocide” has been used in reference to deliberate inactions of governments is generally limited. Such inactions may be indifference to a group living within a ruling state’s political boundaries as evidenced by certain policy initiatives. Consequently, certain inactions of governments—particularly in the wake of humanitarian crises—have often resulted in the severe exacerbation of disease, mass starvation, and death. Thus, in comparison to systemic acts taken by governments complicit in genocide, inactions may similarly be rooted out of prejudice against another group’s religion, national origin, or social character.

Historically, the nation of Ireland remained the victim of severe poverty, colonialism, and political subjugation for centuries. This repression can ultimately be traced back to its function as a British colony and later through its incorporation by Parliament into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In turn, its role as a population was almost entirely based upon the social and economic aspirations of the British Empire, resulting in little political and economic opportunism. Though the island persisted as an ill-equipped nation of people, Ireland was left with minimal institutional structures in place capable of responding to a potential humanitarian crisis. This became particularly evident in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine--a period of scarcity and mass starvation left beyond the control of the people whom it most severely impacted.

This paper seeks to address whether the inactions of the British government at the time of the Potato Famine constituted genocide against the people of Ireland.
To read the full paper, click HERE

Friday, April 1, 2022

The Holodomor (Ukrainian Genocide)

As defined by post-WWII international standards
By Harris D. Bresowsky
Harris D. Bresowsky is a third-year student at Albany Law School. He grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and he graduated from the University at Buffalo where he studied Political Science and Public Policy.
During his time in law school, Harris has been the Co-Chair of Albany Law School's chapter of the American Constitution Society and a Government Law Center Fellow. Additionally, he interned with a New York Supreme Court Judge in Nassau County, the Joint Commission of Public Ethics, and SUNY's Office of General Counsel.
Harris is passionate about international law and specifically about human rights research. Following his graduation, Harris plans on working in New York City. Harris's passions outside of law include hiking, reading, and playing golf

The Ukrainian flag is composed of two colors – blue and yellow. The two colors are laid out as almost a portrait of its natural landscape. The blue represents the clear sky above and the yellow represents the wheat fields that produce grain to feed much of the world. These fertile lands are attractive to any country – Russia included.

In 2022, Russia is once again on the offensive against Ukraine. The motivating factor seems to be its desire to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence. History often repeats itself and Russia (in its many forms) has been a historical colonizing empire in Eastern Europe. As a colonizing state, it has repeatedly engaged in activities to suppress its neighbors’ desires to determine their futures based on their own free wills.

These repressions often resulted in large-scale atrocities such as Holodomor. These tragedies often went unnoticed. But it is important to shine a light on every event of human suffering and recognize Holodomor for what it truly was – a genocide, as defined by contemporary international law.
To read the full paper, click HERE.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Ethnic Cleansing: Largely Ignored Under International Law

By Matthew C. Walsh
Matthew C. Walsh is a third-year student at Albany Law School, class of 2022. He grew up in St. Albans, Vermont, and graduated from Southeastern University in Florida where he studied pre-law and history.
At Albany Law, Matt has served on the Executive Board of the Rugby Club and as an intern in the Family Violence and Litigation Clinic for the Justice Center at the law school. He currently works at a personal injury firm in Albany and, upon graduation, he will be moving to Syracuse to work at a medical malpractice defense firm.
In his free time, Matt enjoys playing sports, being on water, and spending time with family and friends. 
This paper was prepared for Professor Alexandra Harrington's International Human Rights Law class.

This paper analyzes the history of ethnic cleansing and establishes why it is time for the United Nations to codify it into international law.

The Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany through the 1930s and World War II is unfortunately only one example of many instances of ethnic cleansing throughout the world. While the United Nations has facilitated treaties prohibiting similar acts, that is not enough. All member states of the United Nations have the duty and obligation to preserve the life of all people and protect them from international human rights crimes. Despite this, there is still no international treaty or law that specifically bans ethnic cleansing.

Without such a treaty providing a definition, what exactly is ethnic cleansing, and what kinds of acts would fall under this category? Should there be a specific ethnic cleansing law in place? Are other international statutes and treaties already in place sufficient to provide the necessary protections? This paper analyzes these important questions and explains why an ethnic cleansing statute should be added to and recognized under international law.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Blurred Lines: Combatants & Non-Combatants in Modern American Conflicts

By Michael R. Tancredi
Michael R. Tancredi
is a third-year student at Albany Law School. He grew up in Hunter, NY, and graduated from the University of Vermont with majors in political science and history. After receiving his bachelor's degree, he chose to immediately begin his legal education in Albany.
While attending law school, Michael interned with the New York State Division of Veteran's Services, reviewing state legislation and assisting veterans in obtaining state benefits and assistance. Upon graduation, Michael hopes to move to New York City and pursue a legal career in public service.

This paper analyzes the morally fraught dichotomy between enemy combatants and non-combatants in a Post-Vietnam War world. The blurred lines encompassed by this juxtaposition are further complicated by the evolution of classical insurgency into the contemporary understanding of terrorism. The nature of modern conflict has produced competing approaches to the principle of discrimination, competing approaches that require that all parties to an armed conflict distinguish between civilians and combatants when conducting military operations.

Can the U.S. approach of discrimination rise to a reasonable basis of distinction between enemy combatant and civilian, or is a more narrowly tailored approach needed? Is self-defense a rational justification for unmeasured drone strikes against Middle-East villages suspected of formerly harboring enemy combatants? These are the topics and issues this paper addresses, through both a historical and pragmatic lens.
To read the paper, open HERE.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

International Criminalization of Sexual Violence and Gender-Based War Crimes

By Joseph T. Pidel
Joseph T. Pidel graduated from Albany Law School with the class of 2021 and is currently practicing law in New York State. Throughout law school, Joseph served in numerous student organization roles, including serving as the Executive Director of the Anthony V. Cardona ’70 Moot Court Program and as the Albany County Bar Association Student Representative of the Student Bar Association.
Pursuant to his broad legal interests, Joseph obtained multiple legal internship opportunities during law school, including his work for the Hon. Christine M. Clark, the Special Victims Unit of the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, the Litigation Bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s Office, and his time as a law clerk for Dreyer Boyajian, LLP. 
Joseph wrote this paper for Professor Vincent Bonventre’s International Law of War and Crime class.

For many years, gender-based violence was often considered an inevitable consequence of war.  However, the world has slowly begun to recognize gender-based violence as a war crime.  While steps have been taken to hold individuals accountable for gender-based violence, such acts are still not held to the same standard as other war crimes, such as murder.  

Many individuals are unaware of how sexual and gender-based violence is punished globally.  The goals of this paper are to assist individuals in generally understanding the issue of sexual and gender-based violence and to provide insight into how the international legal system can better protect victims of such violence and prevent such violence in the future.  By increasing public awareness of this issue, political leaders will be more inclined to advocate for policies that further this paper's overall goal of mitigating the occurrence of sexual and gender-based war crimes.

Pursuant to accomplishing these goals, this paper will discuss the definition of sexual and gender-based violence, the laws that govern sexual and gender-based violence, the historical treatment of sexual and gender-based violence, and the progress made in addressing sexual and gender-based crimes.  
To read the paper, open HERE