News & Events
Posted Oct. 22, 2012

Four UVA Law Students Receive Salzburg Cutler International Law Fellowships

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Cutler Fellows

From left: Emily Ponder, Melissa Reilly-Diakun, Kendra Wergin and Jim Manning. The four second-year UVA Law students have been named Salzburg Cutler Fellows.

Four University of Virginia law students have been named inaugural Salzburg Cutler Fellows as part of a new national program designed to expose participants to emerging issues in international law and develop their expertise in the field.

Contact: Brian McNeill

Jim Manning, Emily Ponder, Melissa Reilly-Diakun and Kendra Wergin are among a group of 45 second-year students from nine of the nation's top law schools named to the program, which involves participating in a one-day seminar on Nov. 16 at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. The fellows will present proposals on international law topics, provide feedback on their peers' ideas and network with leading judges and practitioners. The program is sponsored by the Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with the nine law schools, including UVA Law.

"This will be an opportunity to network, learn about the future direction of international law, and present research proposals for dialogue and feedback," said Ponder, who is considering a career involving international business or human rights. "I am really looking forward to meeting with students from other schools who share my interests and hearing from professors and individuals who work in the field."

The Salzburg Global Seminar is a nongovernmental organization that conducts a range of international seminars for experts in government, academe, business and other NGOs to share ideas and potential solutions.

Virginia Law professor Ashley Deeks is mentoring UVA Law's Cutler Fellows through the process, including coordinating the students' proposals and advising them on their research, and will serve as one of the program's professors who will provide feedback on proposals at the symposium.

"There's a great group of schools participating, and the program will provide our fellows with access to some of the leading minds in international law, as well as to fellow students at peer institutions who share their interest in international law," she said. "It's the first time the Salzburg Global Seminar is conducting this event, and I anticipate that it will be a lot of fun."

Wergin, who helped prosecute the former leader of the Bosnian Serb army as an intern this summer at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said the fellowship will allow her to build on that experience by researching the success rate for prosecutions of specific genocide claims at the tribunal. She said some have questioned whether or not the crime of genocide should be prosecuted separately from crimes against humanity.

"I ultimately hope to work abroad doing international dispute resolution and human rights work, so this is right up my alley," said Wergin, who is also an articles editor for the Virginia Journal of International Law.

Reilly-Diakun said she plans to research the similarities between just war theory and the "responsibility to protect," a doctrine that is re-envisioning the concept of state sovereignty, by seeing what problems arise when the doctrine is applied to current conflicts.

She added that she expects the fellowship will help her choose a potential career path.

"I know that I am planning a career related to international human rights, but I haven't really figured out what area of the law I am most interested in working in," she said. "So I am also hoping that this experience will help me to narrow down my focus and find something that I'm really passionate about."