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Shifting Currents: The Global South’s Experience and Knowledge Flows North

17 June 2013

Photo from www.economist.com of a 1763 Chinese map of the world, claiming to be a reproduction of a 1418 map made from Zheng He’s voyages. Lui Gang stated he discovered it in 2005 but it is disputed as a possible forgery. PL-OLD.

Gordon F. Knoblach,* Justin Erickson,** & Kristi Rudelius–Palmer***

PDF Available for Official Citation


Since its inception, the Minnesota Journal of International Law has grown to meet the needs of an evolving marketplace of ideas. The Journal’s winding journey began in 1992, as the Minnesota Journal of Global Trade.[1] The Journal’s formative years saw the publication of articles covering a myriad of trade matters. As the Journal matured, however, the topical hegemony of trade waned and other areas of international law crept in.[2] The cracks at the seams amplified, and finally, the dam burst. To meet the growing demand in academia and the international legal field, the Journal expanded in 2006, broadening its focus to all aspects of international law.[3] This broadening of the Journal’s mission statement greatly increased its ability to react to developments happening in all corners of the international legal arena.

Even with this additional wiggle room, the Journal was still fighting with a hand tied behind its back. This frustration was, in part, caused by the pace of traditional legal scholarship. Articles, from inception to publication, have an excruciatingly long gestation period. This unavoidable time lapse has consequences: policymakers do not have access to a wide marketplace of ideas to assist them in making decisions that affect the very development of international law. To combat this, the Journal made its next leap: the launch of Minnesota Journal of International Law Online.[4] With this development, the Journal streamlined aspects of the publication process, focusing on the publication of legal scholarship that kept pace with relevant developments in the field.

Today, the Journal is making another leap to fill gaps in legal scholarship. With the launch of the Minnesota Journal of International Law Humphrey Supplement, the Journal aims to make the flow of legal academia a two–way street. In his introduction to the Minnesota Journal of Global Trade twenty–one years ago, Vice President Walter F. Mondale recognized that “[the marketplace of ideas] now regularly transcends political borders, increasingly challenging our traditional assumptions about national sovereignty. [Every day] we are more engaged in the world than ever before.”[5] The world is advancing at a breathtaking pace, whether we in the Global North recognize it or not. With or without our recognition, academics and practitioners in the developing world are on the frontlines of many developments in international law, especially in the field of human rights.[6] There is much to be gained from knocking down the North–South academic barrier and by sharing their experiences and on–the–frontline insights. “In a world that knows but despises the entrenchment of poverty, the task of international law consists of improving the human condition not in ‘favored spots alone, but the whole Earth.’”[7] To accomplish this, “we must set ourselves to the task of designing a new intellectual and policy infrastructure in anticipation of a new world.”[8] The Journal’s new addition seeks to build upon Vice President Mondale’s goal.

The Minnesota Journal of International Law Humphrey Supplement will feature articles from participants in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. The Humphrey Fellowship Program, sponsored by the United States Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), brings “mid–career professionals from designated countries to the United States for a year of non–degree graduate–level study, leadership development, and professional collaboration with U.S. counterparts.”[9] Humphrey Fellows come from “countries undergoing development or political transition” and “are selected based on their potential for leadership and their commitment to public service in either the public or the private sector.”[10] The University of Minnesota Law School, one of eighteen participating institutions, hosts Fellows with professional interests in human rights and other fields of law.[11]

Not only will the Humphrey Supplement seek to promote the flow of knowledge throughout the world, it will continue to bridge a gap between practitioners and academia. The Supplement and Fellowship Program have large footprints to fill. Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey was a trailblazer in the human rights arena, challenging conventional thought on civil rights, poverty, and international relations.[12] He recognized the need for debate, the need to challenge complacency, and the need for innovative thinking. Perhaps more than ever, the world is in need of the ground–breaking ideas similar to what he offered. Dialogue between practitioners and academia is necessary. The MJIL Humphrey Supplement will bring together a wide variety of viewpoints to challenge traditional norms.

The MJIL Humphrey Supplement and Humphrey Fellowship Program together seek to continue the needed human rights advocacy brought to national attention by its namesake.[13] Vice President Humphrey challenged the nation to move beyond “abstract philosophical principle[s]” and “political slogan[s],” and seek practical debate and discussion to answer one question: “What kind of life is one society providing to the people that live in it?”[14] By providing an outlet for human rights advocates to discuss their experiences and apply them to nations previously underrepresented in academic research, the MJIL Humphrey Supplement will add a new and necessary dimension to the human rights field. Drawing on the knowledge of the accomplished Humphrey Fellows, this supplement will challenge conventional thinking and provide a focus on the practical application of human rights advocacy in fields such as law enforcement and judicial decision–making.

The MJIL Humphrey Supplement is a perfect platform to advance the goals of the Humphrey Fellowship Program. It will increase the collaboration and flow of ideas between the United States and the Fellows’ host country, promote academic discussion of human rights advocacy, and help ensure the continued development of public interest leadership worldwide. The publishing of these ideas in the MJIL Humphrey Supplement will allow them to spread electronically throughout the globe on the Journal’s website. This new endeavor brings the Journal full circle to its inception: meeting the demands of an ever–evolving marketplace of ideas.


       *      Editor–in–Chief of the Minnesota Journal of International Law, Volume 22. J.D., University of Minnesota Law School.

       **      Lead Articles Editor of the Minnesota Journal of International Law, Volume 22. J.D., University of Minnesota Law School.

       ***   Co–Director of the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center and the Law School’s Humphrey Fellowship Program; adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, teaching human rights education and integration of human rights into organizational leadership courses.

        [1].    Walter F. Mondale, Meeting the Challenges of the New World Order, 1 Minn. J. Global Trade 1 (1992).

        [2].    E.g., Barbara A. Frey, The Legal and Ethical Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations in the Protection of International Human Rights, 6 Minn. J. Global Trade 153 (Winter 1997); William P. Kratzke, Russia’s New Land Code: A Two Percent Solution, 12 Minn. J. Global Trade 109 (Winter 2003); Emeka Duruigbo, The Economic Cost of Alien Tort Litigation: A response to Awakening Monster: The Alien Tort Statute of 1789, 14 Minn. J. Global Trade 1 (Winter 2004).

        [3].    Jim Chen, Around the World in Eighty Centiliters, 15 Minn. J. Int’l L. 1 (2006).

        [4].    David Wippman, The Literature of the Law in a Networked Age, 19 Minn. J. Int’l L. Online 1 (2010). You may find Minnesota Journal of International Law Online and the articles published under its banner thus far at http://www.minnjil.org/.

        [5].    Mondale, supra note 1, at 1–2.

        [6].    See Beth A. Simmons, Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics (2009) (of import is Chapter 4: Theories of Compliance, arguing that human rights instruments have the greatest effect in partially democratic transitional regimes).

        [7].    Chen, supra note 3, at 19 (citing William Woodsworth, The Prelude, in The Major Works 375, 550 (Stephen Gill ed., 2000)).

        [8].    Mondale, supra note 1, at 3.

        [9].    The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, https://www.humphreyfellowship.org.

      [10].    Id. at https://www.humphreyfellowship.org/about-program.

      [11].    Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, University of Minnesota Law School, http://www.law.umn.edu/humphreyfellows/index.html. The University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs also hosts Fellows with a professional interest in public administration. International Fellowship Programs, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, http://www.hhh.umn.edu/ifp/index.html.

      [12].    Hubert H. Humphrey, Minn. Historical Society (2013), http://www.mnhs.org/library/tips/history_topics/42humphrey.html

      [13].    Iric Nathanson, ‘Into the bright sunshine’–Hubert Humphrey’s Civil Rights Agenda, MinnPost (May 23, 2011), http://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2011/05/bright-sunshine-hubert-humphreys-civil-rights-agenda

      [14].    Wit and Wisdom from Hubert H. Humphrey, Humphrey School of Public Affairs (Oct. 19, 2012), http://www.hhh.umn.edu/about/HHHquotes.html

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