Introducing…Maggie Adams as the April 2020 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month


1. Where did you grow up?

Newark, Delaware where I continue to live today.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

I  have always enjoyed doing research and have several family members in the legal field so I applied to the law school library when I was looking for my first library job.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

Part of the fun of being a law librarian is the breadth of topics you get to research. We have several faculty members who research and write on foreign and international law topics and their projects are always challenging and interesting to work on.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have  you worked there?
I work for Delaware Law School, Widener University. I’ve been here for 20 years, starting as a library assistant.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?
Unfortunately not.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?
Helping to develop the curriculum for and teach legal research labs to our first year students has been very rewarding.pastries

7. What is your biggest food weakness?


8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

Any pop music from the 80s [Here’s a YouTube compilation!]

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?
The ability to sing well. I’m married to a musician so it would be nice if we could sing harmonies together but I cannot carry a tune to save my life.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without?

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?
I really enjoy being a part of a profession that is so willing to help, teach and collaborate.

Updates on COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean: Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru

This is the first in a series of updates by the AALL FCIL-SIS Latin American Law Interest Group and Latino Caucus in a project monitoring COVID-19 legal responses in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Updates will be posted every two weeks.


Name: Marcelo Rodriguez

Work: Research and Training Librarian, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Countries I’m monitoring for this project: Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru


  1. What is your interest in this project?

I created this project because, like a lot of you, I have family, friends and professional colleagues throughout Latin America and the Caribbean region. Furthermore, I think it’s important in this moment of global crisis affecting every single one of us to also be aware of what is happening in the rest of our shared continent. Here in the United States, it’s easy and inevitable to some extent to read news from or about Latin America and the Caribbean region only when it affects us directly or too late to understand much at all. As law librarians, I’d like to think that we have the expertise and the network to strive for a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding either right away or in the future. I hope this project achieves that and more. 

Headshot of Marcelo Rodriguez

Marcelo Rodriguez

  1. What have you noticed since the first week you began monitoring and until now?

The very first week we began collecting information, namely the week of March 10th was also the week when lots of governments throughout the region began enacting and imposing obligatory quarantines, suspension of flights, border closings, restrictions on the population, curfews and different levels of national states of emergency. As you can imagine, the situation has not been the same throughout the region, and continues to develop in different ways for each of these countries. For example, after only 2 cases confirmed, Bolivia’s Interim President Jeanine Añez declared a national state of emergency on March 11th. Paraguay has opted for a health emergency declaration on March 16th, including a reduction of border points of entry and obligatory quarantine for those entering the territory. Peru’s President Martín Vizcarra has received a lot of international attention because of his March 16th state of national emergency, which closed its borders, including international flights in a matter of 24 hours. The abrupt emergency closings has left hundreds if not thousands of Americans as well as other foreigners stranded in Peru.

  1. What situation are you monitoring the most?

On March 21st, Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal suspended the presidential elections scheduled for May 3rd, and also declared a 14-days suspension of electoral campaigns and preparations. Now Bolivia’s current Senate needs to pass new legislation to select a new future date. Given the political crisis at the end of last year when the then-President Evo Morales left the country sparking national protests, the current interim government of Jeanine Añez’s legitimacy has been questioned in some circles. Despite these concerns, the May 3rd elections were universally seen as the democratic way forward for a country marred in a precarious political situation. How COVID-19 will affect the already tenuous political process in Bolivia is a situation I’m trying to monitor as close as possible.

  1. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Compared to other regions, COVID-19 “arrived late” in Latin America and the Caribbean region. First case was confirmed in Brazil on February 26th. As I mentioned before, despite these low number of cases and responding to an exponential increase of confirmed cases, governments in the region have taken an array of protections and steps to protect their populations. Besides meetings among Mercosur countries and the CARICOM states/region, I have not been able to find any information as to whether countries are preparing or even considering a more regional approach to a pandemic which is not concerned with political boundaries, and which seems to require a level of international coordination.

From the Reference Desk: Starting with a Secondary Source

By Amy Flick

In class, I stress to students the importance of starting their research with a good secondary source. For international law research, I frequently recommend the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (“MPEPIL”).

In practice, I don’t always follow my own advice. Hearing that the needed document was a treaty or international agreement, I started with a search of UN Treaties in Hein Online’s United Nations Law Collection, then in the United Nations Treaty Series Online. No luck. A Google search sent me to, which had a category for “core documents,” but the student insisted that he was looking for an accord or treaty, and the “certification scheme” documents on the site did not at first glance appear to be what he was looking for.

Finally going to a secondary source, I searched “Kimberley” in MPEPIL – and there was an entry titled Kimberley Process. The article explained the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (“KPCS”) and its history, and it included citations and links to  UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/5556 of January 29, 2001, “Breaking the link between the illicit transaction of rough diamonds and armed conflict as a contribution to prevention and settlement of conflicts,” along with other documents from the UN Security Council, the European Union, and the WTO. It also explained that “the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme does not establish legally binding obligations on its participants (it is rather a political agreement).”

We went back to with a better idea of what we were looking for. The FAQ page gave some simple yet helpful information: answers to What are conflict Diamonds? What is the Kimberley Process? Who is involved? As it explained, the Kimberley Process is an international certification scheme that regulates trade in rough diamonds. The KPCS outlines the rules governing the trade in rough diamonds, with a set of minimum requirements that each participant must meet. And important information I missed on my first encounter with the site, “[t]he KP is not, strictly speaking an international organization….Neither can the KP be considered as an international agreement from a legal perspective, as it is implemented through the national legislations of its participants.” Those core documents on the website that we saw earlier did turn out to be the documents the student wanted – the 2003 Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the amended 2013 KPCS Core Document.


One question the student wanted answered was whether the United States is a party to, or participant in, the KPCS. The KPCS website also lists participants and observers, and the United States is listed with 2003 as its date of entry, with statistics but not legislative documents (also there are some for a few other countries). My standard secondary sources for reference questions include CRS Reports, although here I was not thinking of this as a U.S. statutory question. A search of led me to Diamonds and Conflict: Background, Policy, and Legislation, RL30751, a report most recently updated in 2003, so not entirely up-to-date on the KPCS. But it did include U.S. legislative actions as of 2003, including Public Law 108-19, the Clean Diamond Trade Act. We found one U.S. case on the CDTA and the Kimberley Process, US v Approximately 1170 Carats of rough Diamonds Seized at John F Kennedy International Airport:

From there, I did have other, more detailed secondary sources to refer to the student. There are several titles in Emory’s catalog on the Kimberley process, and more generally on international trade and human rights. There was even a 2008 Emory Ph.D. dissertation by Franziska Bieri, From Conflict Diamonds to the Kimberley process: How NGOs Reshaped a Global Industry.

Vote for Blog Post of the Year!

From now until Friday, March 13, 2020, vote for your five favorite blog posts of 2019 from among the top 19 most viewed posts published in 2019 to help us award the Blog Post of the Year for 2019! The winner of this new FCIL-SIS award will be announced at the 2020 AALL Annual Meeting this summer.

Vote here: Or using the embedded survey below:

Thank you for voting!



February 2020 FCIL-SIS Newsletter Is Out!

The February 2020 edition of the FCIL Newsletter is out now.  Inside the newsletter are:

  • an article on helping foreign students thrive in U.S. law schools;
  • two new resource reviews from the FCIL-SIS Electronic Research Interest Group:
    • HeinOnline’s Multinational Sources Compared, and
    • Library of Congress’ International Tribunals Archive;
  • a note from the FCIL-SIS Chair, Loren Turner, including a roundup of FCIL events happening at the 2020 AALL Annual Meeting; and
  • a list of recent publications by FCIL-SIS members.

Check it out here!

Introducing…Errol Adams as the March 2020 FCIL-SIS Member of the Month

Errol Adams 120619-3

1.  Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Georgetown, Guyana – a country located in South America.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

I selected law librarianship as a career after a former supervisor at the New York Civil Courtreferred me to a full MLS scholarship (law focused) at St. John’s University. She told me to apply for a scholarship. I had been working as a Senior Law Librarian at the Civil Court of New York City without a MLS degree. I successfully completed the program and received my MLS.

3.  When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

I developed an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law when I was hired as a law librarian at the College of the Bahamas, now University of the Bahamas in Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas. I attended the Caribbean Association of Law Libraries Conference and that propelled me into this arena as most of the countries in the Caribbean follow/ed the UK legal system.

4.  Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?

My current employer is Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University Law Library.  I have worked there for six months, but prior to this position, I was at Pace Law School Library for three and a half years.

5.  Do you speak any foreign languages?

Not really. I do understand some French and Spanish, though.

6.  What is your most significant professional achievement?

Graduating law school almost immediately after migrating to the U.S.

7.  What is your biggest food weakness?

Almost any kind of lamb…

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

Too many to list.  I do like a variety of music, including Bollywood music…[editor’s note: here are some Bollywood music listicles :)]

9.  What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

The ability to fly a plane.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without?

Actual sugar.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

Yes. I love to travel. I am very passionate about diversity initiatives. I created the first diversity & inclusion committee at the Law Librarians Association of Greater New York. I will be leading a panel discussion on cultural competence at AALL’s upcoming conference in New Orleans.

IALL 2019 Recap: Mary Crock, Refugee Law in Australia: The Protection of Migrant Children

By Rachel Green

Professor Mary Crock, Professor of Public Law at the University of Sydney Law School, taught “Refugee Law in Australia: The Protection of Migrant Children” at the IALL Annual Course on October 29, 2019.  Prof. Crock has co-authored two books relevant to this topic: Protecting Migrant Children: In Search of Best Practice (2018) and The Legal Protection of Refugees with Disabilities: Forgotten and Invisible? (2017).

The overarching takeaway was just how vulnerable migrant children are throughout the world.  According to 2015 UNICEF statistics, children accounted for 31% of the world’s population but 51% of the global refugee population.  The number of child refugees doubled from 2005 to 2015, particularly between 2011 to 2015 (likely due to the Syrian crisis).CROCK2019IALLPresentation - slide 1

Significantly, refugees do not typically begin by attempting international border crossing.  Instead, refugees fleeing their communities usually attempt internal migration first.  These “Internally Displaced Persons” (IDPs) numbered 41 million in 2015 (up from 28 million in 2010); 17 million (41%) were children.  It is only when IDPs are unable to find safety anywhere within their home countries that they risk seeking refuge across international lines.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.  According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s 2016 TIP Report, children represented 25-30% of trafficking victims (second to women).  The research underlying this report showed that conflict can drive trafficking, because traffickers “leverage [refugees’] desperation to deceive them into exploitation.”  Research also suggests that children are at greatest risk when moving along routes where they have to pay different smugglers for different legs of the journey.

Prof. Crock outlined international law agreements that are especially relevant to migrant children.  The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Article 12, recognizes “the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”  The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) offers one of the strongest protections for children and is the most subscribed of all human rights conventions, although Prof. Crock noted that the U.S. has not ratified it, and many countries are not complying with it.  Traditional human rights treaties, as well as the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (1995), also play a significant role.

The CRC is critically important for understanding the rights of migrant children.  Of particular note, the CRC does not contain derogation clauses for emergencies, thus ensuring that migrant children retain their rights under all circumstances.  Some of the most pertinent articles are: Article 3, establishing that “best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration”; Article 19, requiring that State Parties protect children “from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse . . .”; Article 22, requiring “appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance” to refugee (or refugee status-seeking) children; and Article 38, requiring State Parties to “take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict.”

Unfortunately, while mechanisms exist to protect children in theory, in reality, there are major gaps.  In Australia, an interest in deterrence has often prevailed over the need to protect children.  Examples include the use of prolonged detention onshore, the establishment of detention centers offshore, forced separation of children from their families, and the denial of family reunification after separation.

Prof. Crock emphasized the important role lawyers play, as they will always find a way to fight, even looking outside of immigration law.  For example, lawyers have made tort law claims on behalf of immigrants in detention camps.

Overall, this session was extremely informative, and Prof. Crock was a compelling speaker.  The subject of migrant children is particularly meaningful to me, as I do pro bono work on behalf of minors seeking legal status in the United States.  I wanted to be able to share this session with other FCIL members because I believe that it is a subject that resonates universally.  While the stories and information were difficult to hear at times, I was inspired by Prof. Crock’s positive attitude and hopefulness for change.  The lecture slides are available on the IALL website.