School of Law to host program on Geneva Conventions memo

The student government of the University of St. Thomas School of Law, along with the school’s dean, Thomas Mengler, will co-host a program titled “The Application of the Geneva Conventions and Relevant Customary International Law to al Queda and the Taliban.”

The program, which will be held from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, in the school’s Schulze Grand Atrium, is free and open to the public.

The program is in response to public debate — some of which is critical and some of which is favorable — concerning a January 2002 Department of Justice memorandum that addressed United States compliance with the Geneva Conventions when dealing with captured members of Al-Queda and the Taliban.

“A great law school has a wide spectrum of thought on the issues of the day, and provides a place for robust but respectful discussion,” said Mengler. “I am looking forward to this dialogue.”

The program will feature two of the country’s leading experts in this area: Professor Philip Chase Bobbit and Professor Michael Stokes Paulsen.

Bobbit is the A.W. Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law. Bobbitt’s interests include not only constitutional law but also international security and the history of strategy. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Bobbit served President Jimmy Carter as associate counsel to the president and served in the Clinton Administration at the National Security Council in three capacities — as director for intelligence, senior director for critical infrastructure, and senior director for strategic planning.

Paulsen is the Briggs & Morgan Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School and is a distinguished scholar in the areas of constitutional law and law and religion. Prior to joining the Minnesota faculty, Paulsen worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Criminal Division Honors Program. In 1986 he became staff counsel for the Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C. He then returned in 1989 to the Justice Department as an attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel. Paulsen worked in the Office of Legal Counsel until 1991.