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Dispute Resolution Law Journal Hosts Annual Symposium on Cross-Border Conflicts

On March 2-3, the Pepperdine Caruso Law Dispute Resolution Law Journal (DRLJ) hosted its annual symposium, a student-led event held in collaboration with the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. The symposium, titled “Cross-Border Conflicts: Identifying Parameters, Transforming Perceptions and Methodologies,” brought together leaders from diverse disciplines, including foreign affairs, international arbitration, psychology, medicine, negotiation, and human rights, to address intractable cross-border conflicts. 

The two-day event, which was attended by students, practitioners, and academics featured an impressive cadre of speakers and moderators. The host of the event was Blake D. Morant, former dean and current Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law at the George Washington School of Law. Part one of the event was launched with a panel of diverse ADR experts, including Caruso Law professors David Dowling, Colleen Graffy, and Marco Turk, and professor Sean Roberts of George Washington University. The panel was moderated by dean Sukhsimranjit Singh of the Straus Institute. The morning session also featured former US ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice and current dean of Liberty University School of Law, Morse Tan, who spoke with Dr. Sebastian Winter, head of policy and research for the International Bureau for Epilepsy. Cedric Chao of Chao ADR also provided insight from his decades of courtroom advocacy work regarding the many ways to achieve a client victory.

The afternoon was lively with multiple panels addressing issues such as “Does One Truly Need to Wait Until the Conflict is Ripe to Act?” featuring ADR experts professors Jair Gevaerd and Steve Paul along with JAMS mediator/arbitrator Barbara Reeves; “There is Always More Than One Way to Fight” which featured a dynamic conversation between keynote speaker John Beaucage of Counsel of Public Affairs and Turk; and “Getting to the Root of Xinjiang” with Roberts and professor Eric Schlussel of George Washington University, who addressed the emotionally-charged topic of the ethnic conflict occurring in Western China. The day’s final panels addressed "Special Perspectives Around Commercial vs. Ethnic Conflicts," moderated by Caruso Law professor Trey Childress and Caruso Law dean of students, diversity, and beloning Chalak Richards, and included commentary from Pepperdine School of Public Policy professor Robert Kaufman, Neil Popovic of Sheppard Mullin, and Caruso Law LLM alumna Helen Winter. The first day of the event concluded with the keynote address by Beaucage.

The event continued on Friday, beginning with a conversation around exploring and applying high conflict personality theory in the space of intractable conflicts, which featured Billy Eddy, Straus adjunct professor and founder of the High Conflict Institute along with Rehana Jamal, a Straus alumna and high conflict resolution consultant. The morning’s conversations included topics around "Cross-Border Conflicts: the Emerging Role of Brain Health-Directed Policy Making," and "Medically Informed Policies in Promoting the Rule of Democracy" addressed by Helen Winter and Dr. Winter; "The Intersection of Human Rights and Cross-Border Disputes" by Ambassador Tan; and a unique debate regarding "Human Rights Perspectives and Practices in Cross-Border Conflicts" between Kaufman and Ambassador Tan, moderated by professor Christine Goodman and Dispute Resolution Law Journal editor-in-chief Patrick Babajanian.

The final afternoon’s events included an address by Olga Zalomiy of the Law Office of Olga Zalomiy, regarding "AAA ICDR Perspectives on Arbitration" as a unique frame of reference within international conflicts, and an address by Dowling who made a call to action around "Human Interests, Systemic Bias, and the Future of the Law" in cross-border conflicts. The final breakout sessions of the event included conversations around comparative history with Roberts and Ambassador Tan, a fireside chat with Beaucage and professor Steve Paul, and the issue of "The Intersection Between Party Autonomy and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards" addressed by Jeffrey Dasteel of Dasteel Mediation-Arbitration. Additionally, an alternative path to ADR was discussed by Gevaerd; Chao and Schlussel discussed historical and commercial perspectives on China; and Popovic shared his views on the potential "Drawbacks of a Strictly Rules-Based Approach" to cross-border conflicts.

The symposium was led by Bazil Cunningham, the symposium editor for the journal, along with Babajanian and journal faculty advisor, dean Sukhsimranjit Singh. A special thanks to each of them for their extraordinary efforts to put this event together. A further special thanks is given to each of the organizations and individuals who contributed to the success of this year’s symposium, including Shruti Aggarwal and the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Society (DRS) for their invaluable day-of assistance. We eagerly look forward to next year’s symposium.

Speaker at DRJL symposium 2023