The USC Institute of Armenian Studies held on Saturday, September 8 an unprecedented symposium on International Law & the Armenian Genocide, focusing on recognition, responsibility and restitution.
A full house of over 300 attendees had come to hear a distinguished panel of international legal scholars, lawyers and experts who sought to throw new light on unexplored facets of the Armenian genocidal experience.
Professor R. Hrair Dekmejian, Director of the Institute opened the symposium by welcoming the presenters and attendees. The morning session featured Sarkis Bezelgues, an international lawyer and doctoral candidate from the Frie University of Berlin, who spoke on "International Liability and State Succession: the Responsibility of the Turkish Republic for the Armenian Genocide."Michael J. Bazyler, Professor of Law at Whittier Law School, talked on "Litigation for Restitution: Comparative Analysis of Armenia’s and Other Groups." David L. Nersessian, Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Program on the Legal Profession, presented a paper on "Human Rights Litigation in Federal Courts: an Overview." The concluding paper of the morning session, Criminalizing Historical Truth: Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code and the Armenian Genocide," was read by Payam Akhavan, Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
The Institute was privileged by the attendance of Professor of Constitutional Law, Dr. Howard Gillman, Dean of USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, who spoke eloquently about the dynamics of genocide and warmly welcomed the attendees to USC. The luncheon speaker was the distinguished attorney Mark Geragos who spoke on the federal class action lawsuits that he and attorneys Vartkes Yeghiayan and Brian Kabateck initiated against New York Life Insurance and AXA Corporation for unpaid policies issued before the Armenian Genocide. Charly Ghailian, Chair of the Institute of Armenian Studies Leadership Council, introduced the guest speaker, John Marshall Evans, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia (2004-06).
Amb. Evans, who received a standing ovation, spoke on "The Armenian Genocide: the International Political and Diplomatic Context of Recognition and Redress." The afternoon session also featured Alison Dundes Renteln, Professor of Political Science and Anthropology at USC, who spoke on "Holocaust Denial Litigation: a Comparative Analysis," followed by John Torpey, Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center, whose paper focused on "Beyond Recognition: Truth, Reparations, and the Armenian Genocide." Dr. Alfred de Zayas, Professor of International law at the Geneva School of Diplomacy, could not be present. In his absence, Harut Sassounian, Senior Vice President, Lincy Foundation and Publisher of the California Courier read Dr. de Zayas’ paper on "The Armenian Genocide in the Light of the Genocide Convention."The symposium ended at 4:00 p.m. after a Q&A session.
The Symposium constituted another resounding success for USC Institute of Armenian Studies because it brought together a group of outstanding scholars and practitioners to address the topic of the Armenian Genocide from a unique perspective. MCLE credit for the symposium was provided by the Armenian Bar Association, which greatly contributed to this event.
For more information on Institute’s future events, contact 213-821-3943 or Armenian@college.usc.edu.