From trade barriers to glass ceilings, from protecting children to protecting intellectual property, and from digital exchanges to physical borders, the law touches our lives in ways most of us don’t stop and regularly consider. 

Crossroads 2019, a conference recently held at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) and organized by Queen’s Law, was designed to recognize threats facing law as new populist and isolationist leaders take control of governments around the world. Through panels and keynotes, organizers helped the 100 attendees explore the conference theme of “International Law at a Crossroads.” The panels included Queen’s alumni from the ’70s right up until 2018.

“The academic quality of the presentations was quite high, and yet the information was kept quite accessible and easy to follow,” says Professor Nicolas Lamp, Academic Director of the International Law programs at the BISC. “The students in particular appreciated the strong presentations by our recent alumni, which were both impressive and highly relatable. With the significant alumni presence at the conference, it was a bit like a family reunion!”

Lamp noted the two keynotes – by Kim Prost, Judge, International Criminal Court, and by Stephen de Boer, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the WTO – were major highlights, and both speakers stayed for the full three-day program.

“It was a real pleasure to see members of the Queen’s international law community, established and newer, come together to discuss some of the most pressing challenges to the multilateral post-war rules-based order,” says Professor Ardi Imseis, another of the conference organizers. “I was particularly struck by the breadth of what was discussed, from climate change, to world trade rules, to child protection, to genocide.”

For Law students and professors enrolled in international law studies at the Castle, this conference also marks the halfway point of their eight-week program.

Over the remaining few weeks, the two groups of students – the public international law and the international business law groups – will be launching into intensive studies that will include field trips to key institutions, firms and courts in places like London, Brussels, Paris, The Hague and Geneva.

“The international law programs are a unique opportunity for our first-year students to get an overview of the entire field of international law,” adds Lamp. “The conference was a great opportunity to build relationships and open doors for student internships over the remainder of the summer. Thanks to connections made at the conference, we were able to add a number of new internship positions, including three brand new opportunities in African countries.”

This conference was also designed to commemorate Bill Flanagan’s storied career as the Dean of Queen’s Law, and the pivotal role he has played in building up the international law program at the BISC. Since its founding in 2001, 800 students have completed the program. Many of those alumni have gone on to careers in international law.

The closing dinner featured many tributes to Dean Flanagan, and the presentation of one of the original keys to the Castle as a commemorative gift.

Check out more photos of the International Law at a Crossroads conference and reception on SmugMug.  

To learn more about international law programs at Queen’s, visit the International Law at the BISC webpage.

By Phil Gaudreau