On November 22nd, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law held its 19th annual Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Lecture. This year’s featured speaker was Harold Hongju Koh, the 22nd Legal Adviser to the United States Department of State, a former Yale Law Dean, and Martin R. Flug ’55 Professor of International Law at Yale Law School. A leading expert on public and private international law, national security law, and human rights, Mr. Koh’s lecture focused on international lawyering for a Smart Power world. Chair of the DC School of Law Foundation B. Michael Rauh, UDC President Dr. Allen L. Sessoms, and UDC Law Dean Katherine S. Broderick gave brief statements before the lecture, and Wade Henderson, President & CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights and Rauh Professor of Public Interest Law, introduced Mr. Koh.
Mr. Koh talked about the challenges of maintaining a balance between defining the U.S. Department of State’s roles, strategy, and tactical approach, and as Legal Adviser, doing his job as counselor, conscience, defender and spokesperson of a country at war. Mr. Koh explained that the Smart Power approach would allow the U.S. to respond to opportunities and not just threats, find a domestic and international nexus, find new ways to lead, partner with different players, apply “Soft Power” tools that emphasize cooperation over confrontation, and lastly, preserve core American values. An “Obama-Clinton” doctrine has emerged from the Smart Power approach that relies on principled engagement, diplomacy as a critical element of Smart Power, strategic multilateralism, and following rules of domestic and international law. Mr. Koh gave the examples of the “Arab Spring,” Libya, and the Iraqi and Afghan transitions as illustrations of this new doctrine and the application of Smart Power. Mr. Koh closed by talking about how the Smart Power Realities of the 21st century require a lawyering approach that both adapts 20th century laws to 21st century realities and stays true to American principles.