A Chayes Fellow checks in: Kit Lea Cheang ‘23

Kit Lea Chang '23

Kit Lea Cheang ’23 is working remotely this summer from her home in Singapore

I am spending this summer as a 2021 Chayes International Public Service Fellow, working at the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) office of TRIAL International, an NGO headquartered in Geneva that fights impunity for international crimes and supports victims in their quest for justice. TRIAL International’s office in BiH promotes transitional justice in BiH by improving access to justice and redress for survivors of grave crimes, including sexual violence survivors, families of missing persons, and former camp detainees.

So far, I have been working on a comparative legal research project on how states have issued public apologies to victims of war crimes, systemic discrimination, violence, and other acts of wrongdoing. This will contribute to TRIAL International’s overall advocacy and strategic litigation efforts to implement the UN Committee Against Torture’s landmark 2019 decision condemning Bosnian authorities for their failure to fulfil obligations towards a sexual violence survivor.

Learning from the TRIAL International BiH team’s work with survivors of sexual violence has brought the knowledge I gained from taking Public International Law in my 1L spring semester to life. I have gotten a glimpse into how complex the work of transitional justice can be. Although the Bosnian War ended more than 25 years ago, the work of seeking reparations and redress for sexual violence survivors from the war is far from complete (according to United Nations estimates, there are between 20,000 and 50,000 survivors of rape, which was used as a tool of genocide, from the war). I have also seen how a combination of resilience, heartfelt dedication, sensitivity to survivors’ needs and perspectives, and willingness to work empathetically with all relevant parties including prosecutors’ offices, courts, and the government has allowed the TRIAL team to achieve incremental steps of progress for survivors. For instance, for the first time, a survivor of wartime rape received compensation from her perpetrator in March 2020. TRIAL International continues to work on improving the practice of awarding compensation and other reparations to survivors.

It has also been refreshing to work with an NGO in the field of human rights for the first time, and to learn from how an NGO mobilizes for a cause they believe deeply in. Before law school, I worked with Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on issues of international security and nuclear weapons. It has been fascinating to examine and reflect on international law and international relations from the human rights angle, and to grapple with how international and domestic institutions both enable and obstruct the pursuit of justice for survivors of human rights violations.

Examining international, comparative, and foreign law

The 2021 Cravath International Fellows, clockwise from top left: Leslie Liu ’21,
Sean Quirk JD/MPP ’21, Kiah Duggins ’21, Amre Metwally ’22, Brooke Davies ’21,
Andie Forsee ’21, and Mira Naseer ’22.

In many different ways, even during a pandemic, Harvard Law School students continue to engage with international, comparative, and foreign law. Seven HLS students were recently named Cravath International Fellows in recognition of the significant, internationally-focused independent clinical or research/writing projects they undertook during Winter Term in January.

The Cravath International Fellowships were created in 2007 by a group of partners and HLS alumni at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, led by Sam Butler ’54 and the late Robert Joffe ’67.

Learn more about their work on Harvard Law Today, and read Mira Naseer’s post on the HLS Clinical and Pro Bono Programs blog.

Research, writing, and advocating for change

(Left to right:  2020 Chayes Fellows Ata Nalbantoglu ’22. Mira Naseer ’22 and Jung Hyun (Monica) Lee ’22. Photo credit:  Lorin Granger.)

In 2020, 24 Harvard Law School students pursued summer work as Chayes International Public Service Fellows. The program, established in 2001 and dedicated to the memory of HLS Professor Abram Chayes ’49, allows HLS students to spend eight weeks working with governmental or nongovernmental organizations  concerned with issues of an international scope or relevant to countries in transition.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary for all but one of the fellows to work remotely, they undertook placements with organizations based in 12 countries. Several students engaged in direct client service, addressing the many challenges facing refugees, asylum seekers and marginalized populations in countries around the world. Others focused on legal research and writing, enhancing their skills and exploring issues that broadened their exposure to international, comparative and foreign law.

In this profile on Harvard Law Today, three of the 2020 Chayes Fellows share their experiences.

Regulating Artificial Intelligence

Amre Metwally '22 poses outsideBy Amre Metwally ’22

As a Chayes International Public Service Fellow, I spent this summer working remotely with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in their Artificial Intelligence Policy Observatory. My projects have focused on two key areas:  assessing policy governance and design strategies by OECD member states’ national governments regarding their national artificial intelligence (AI) strategies, and legal and regulatory efforts in the AI space.

OECD member states have been developing a number of strategies at the national level to address AI. My research has shown that countries’ efforts can be mapped along a spectrum of activity, from more nascent frameworks and strategies to mature ones (including the rising trend of policy observatories that engage in policy intelligence to ensure that countries remain informed of new trends).  I’ve examined the role outside legal and policy experts play in the consultation process, and the ways in which these consultations shape the strategy formulation process. Additionally, I’ve called out in my recommendations the need for countries to solicit feedback from their citizens to ensure that strategies reflect opinions individuals may have about the benefits and risks of emerging AI technologies.

Another report I worked on involved examining efforts to regulate AI. We looked at the ways sector-specific regulations (e.g., autonomous vehicles, finance, surveillance, etc.) and horizontal regulations (e.g., public procurement processes, impact assessments, AI in the public sector decision-making process, etc.)  are enshrined in local law. I also conducted an in-depth legal examination of sector-specific regulatory efforts across fields such as tort liability, consumer protection, healthcare, transportation, and data privacy. One key area of interest in my research and writing is on the rise of regulatory “sandboxes,” which give private companies the chance to experiment with new technology while cooperating with regulatory bodies that temporarily lift certain measures or requirements.

Exploring these issues involved a dedicated research period using both legal and social science research databases, as well as the OECD’s own AI observatory, which collects and monitors efforts across countries. After the qualitative research phase, I then moved into outlining and finally writing the reports. The purpose of each of these reports is to present our findings of best practices and recommendations to the OECD’s Network of Experts on AI and, ultimately, to policymakers all over the world.

Strengthening UN resolutions

By William Edin ’22

During the summer, as a 2020 Chayes International Public Service Fellow,  I have worked on a range of different issues as an intern for the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations.

For example, some of my work is related to Liechtenstein’s Finance Against Slavery and Human Trafficking (FAST) project, which aims to mobilize the financial sector against modern slavery and human trafficking. The project is a core issue for the Mission, and we have therefore worked on getting the relevant language of the project included in different UN resolutions. A major task for me has been to research relevant resolutions and draft language that could be added to them. We hope that this language will be adopted the next time the resolutions are up for review. I have also represented Liechtenstein at several high-level meetings dealing with modern slavery and human trafficking and, thus, gotten a unique insight into how the UN and other organizations are dealing with the issue.

The Mission has also held several conventions with the UN’s Council of Advisers” on the application of the Rome Statute to cyberwarfare. I worked on several chapters of a report based on those conventions, including chapters on Crime of Aggression, War Crimes, Genocide, and Crimes against Humanity. The assignment has included writing, subciting, and editing.

I have had the opportunity to represent Liechtenstein in a range of different high-level meetings and negotiations. Many of the meetings have included Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers from around the world. Although it would have been more exciting to participate in these meetings in person, it still has been a good experience over Zoom.