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Gabriella Blum

  • Two women sitting at a table reading a paper

    Connecting beyond the classroom

    April 21, 2017

    More than 60 Harvard Law students and 27 HLS faculty members took over the typically quiet tables of the library reading room for the first “Notes and Comment” event.

  • Soldier stopping truck on the road

    HLS Program on International Law and Armed Conflict releases report on ‘indefinite’ war

    February 27, 2017

    The Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC) has released a new report titled "Indefinite War: Unsettled International Law on the End of Armed Conflict."

  • Top view of a student walking across a snowy campus filled with footprints in the snow

    Harvard Law School: 2016 in review

    December 22, 2016

    A look back at 2016, highlights of the people who visited, events that took place and everyday life at Harvard Law School.

  • Can international law keep up with organized violence?

    September 7, 2016

    By Gabby Blum LL.M. '01 S.J.D. '03 and Naz Modirzadeh '02: Committed to the notion that international law can play a role in shaping conduct, including in war, the attacks of 9/11 — and the ensuing violence and warfare — have forced us to face the weaknesses of our current legal regimes and address the challenges that they must be able to withstand. Continue Reading »

  • Philip B. Heymann '60

    Wise Promoter of Accountable Government

    May 10, 2016

    For more than half a century, Phil Heymann has served the nation— and Harvard Law School—with distinction.

  • Gabriella Blum

    Gabriella Blum named Andrew Carnegie Fellow

    April 19, 2016

    Gabriella Blum LL.M. ’01 S.J.D. ’03, Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Harvard Law School has been named a 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellow by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

  • Growing from all branches of the Armed Forces: A look at this year’s military service members

    November 9, 2015

    Harvard students who have served in the various branches of the Armed Forces represent a diverse range of backgrounds and experience, but all have at least one thing in common: a profound dedication to serving the nation, under the most perilous of circumstances.

  • Two surgeons during an operation

    PILAC report finds doctors may risk prosecution for treating alleged terrorists

    September 29, 2015

    Doctors who provide medical assistance to people labeled terrorists are increasingly vulnerable to prosecution in the United States and other Western democracies, according to a law briefing by the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (PILAC).

  • Doctors in a hard place

    September 27, 2015

    Doctors who provide medical assistance to people labeled terrorists are increasingly vulnerable to prosecution in the United States and other Western democracies, according to a law briefing by the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (PILAC). The 236-page report highlights the prosecution of an American physician who offered to work as an “on-call” doctor for wounded members of al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia. The report also details the prosecution of a Peruvian doctor who cared for members of the Shining Path guerrillas, and of a physician who provided medical and surgical services to insurgents in Colombia...safeguards have been around since the establishment of the Red Cross in 1863, said Gabriella Blum, one of the report’s authors and the Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Harvard Law School. But the new report’s authors contend that the law has been weakened by the war on terror and the United Nations Security Council’s antiterrorist directives...Blum, who is also the PILAC faculty director, co-authored the report with Dustin Lewis, program senior researcher, and Naz K. Modirzadeh, program director and lecturer on law.

  • John Manning speaking at the front of the room smiling with his hand up

    To be happy lawyers (and human beings), eight rules for law students to live by

    May 6, 2015

    On Thursday, April 23, Bruce Bromley Professor of Law John Manning ’85 capped off a four-part series of “Last Lectures” for the Harvard Law School Class of 2015 with a list of eight simple rules students should live by if they wish to be both “happy lawyers and human beings.”

  • Power–and Peril–to the People

    May 4, 2015

    In a new world of technology, Gabriella Blum and Benjamin Wittes argue, we are more powerful and more vulnerable than ever

  • Small groups, dangerous technology: Can they be controlled?

    May 4, 2015

    Attempting to usher in the apocalypse in the 1990’s, the Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo managed to procure VX nerve gas and a military helicopter. Fortunately a botched chemical weapons deployment limited the casualties to only a few thousand injured and about a dozen killed. Despite having a doctorate in molecular biology, Aum Shinrikyo's Seiichi Endo couldn’t access any truly catastrophic bioweapons—in 1995 nation-states were still by and large the only entities that could realistically kill millions. How long this limitation will hold is still an open question...We’re entering an era in which smaller and smaller groups can project violence in unprecedented ways, even rivaling the destructive capacity of states. This shift in power dynamics is the topic of The Future of Violence, a new book by Benjamin Wittes at the Brookings Institution and Gabriella Blum at Harvard Law School. The book addresses one of the most fundamental challenges of our century—how can we structure our society so that these newfound technological powers don’t end in catastrophe?

  • New Laws for New Threats Like Drones and Bioterrorism

    April 20, 2015

    An op-ed by Gabriella Blum and Benjamin Wittes. You walk into your shower and see a spider. You don’t know whether it is venomous—or whether it is even a real spider. It could be a personal surveillance mini-drone set loose by your nosy next-door neighbor, who may be monitoring the tiny octopod robot from her iPhone 12. A more menacing possibility: Your business competitor has sent a robotic attack spider, bought from a bankrupt military contractor, to take you out. Your assassin, who is vacationing in Provence, will direct the spider to shoot an infinitesimal needle containing a lethal dose of poison into your left leg—and then self-destruct...These scenarios may sound fantastical, but they are neither especially improbable nor particularly futuristic. Insect-size drones are busily being developed throughout the defense establishment, in academic facilities and by private firms. Slightly larger drones are widely available for purchase on the open market, some already rigged with cameras. Making such drones lethal is just the next step, and it isn’t that complicated.

  • Two books look at how modern technology ruins privacy

    March 24, 2015

    ‘Even the East Germans couldn’t follow everybody all the time,” Bruce Schneier writes. “Now it’s easy.” This may sound hyperbolic, but Schneier’s lucid and compelling “Data and Goliath” is free of the hysteria that often accompanies discussions about surveillance. Yes, our current location, purchases, reading history, driving speed and Internet use are being tracked and recorded. But Schneier’s book, which focuses mainly on the United States, is not a rant against the usual bad guys such as the U.S. government or Facebook. Schneier describes how our data is tracked by both corporate and government entities, often working together. And in many cases, the American people allow them to do it...The theme of dangerous little brothers is central to Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum’s “The Future of Violence,” a lively and often terrifying exploration of the dark side of our technological age. Technology is increasingly cheap and widely available, a trend that can help empower the masses and weaken central governments. Sounds great, right? We tend to celebrate this phenomenon when individual dissidents use social media to provoke authoritarian regimes. But what happens when these tools of mass empowerment fall into the wrong hands?

  • Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum: “The Future of Violence” (audio)

    March 24, 2015

    Advances in cybertechnology, biotechnology, and robotics mean that more people than ever before have access to potentially dangerous technologies. Authors Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum explore what this means for how government should protect our us.

  • License To Kill

    March 24, 2015

    ‘As a thought experiment,” write Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum, “imagine a world composed of billions of people walking around with nuclear weapons in their pockets.” If such an exercise doesn’t strike you as bonkers, then I’ve got an enthusiastic book recommendation for you. Sadly for the rest of us, the fear-mongering in “The Future of Violence” is no laughing matter but rather a depressingly accurate summation of how centrist Washington has come to view the democratization of technology: with a distrust bordering on panic. Mr. Wittes and Ms. Blum, from their respective perches at the Brookings Institution and Harvard Law School, are worried chiefly about what they almost pejoratively describe as “technologies of mass empowerment”—the Internet, gene-splicing, nanotechnology, robots, 3-D printing and so forth.

  • Will You Be Murdered By a Robot?

    March 23, 2015

    With a bit of technical knowledge and a good imagination, any malevolent person may soon be able to eradicate the human race. This is a mildly exaggerated version of a fundamental claim in The Future of Violence: Robots and Germs, Hackers and Drones—Confronting a New Age of Threat, an alarming and informative new book by Benjamin Wittes and Gabriela Blum.

  • A better Big Brother: Liberty, privacy and security must be re-thought

    March 23, 2015

    Imagine a robot drone the size of a spider that can crawl into the shower and inject poison into a political opponent while being operated by an assassin thousands of kilometres away. Imagine an aerial drone flying through a sold-out football stadium, spraying deadly anthrax spores. Imagine some creep getting teen girls to download malicious software that allows him to take sexually explicit photos and videos of them through their webcams and then post them on the Internet. Wait. That last one really happened. The spider assassin and the anthrax drone haven't happened yet -- but they could, warn Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum in The Future of Violence. Wittes is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. Blum is a professor of human rights and international humanitarian law at Harvard Law School. Together they direct the Harvard Law School-Brookings Project on Law and Security. Both have written previous books in the field. This is their first book together.

  • Mideast war crimes? (video)

    July 28, 2014

    Secretary of State John Kerry presents his ceasefire plan to Israel and Hamas and it raises an important underlying legal question: are these war crimes? Professor Gabriella Blum, a former attorney for the Israel Defense Forces and a Professor of international humanitarian law at Harvard and Ronan Farrow debate.

  • Law experts give Obama 10 reasons to free Pollard

    June 30, 2014

    A group of leading American constitutional and criminal law scholars and practitioners wrote to US President Obama to urge that he commute American-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time served. The letter, dated June 20, was signed by seven professors from Harvard Law School, Obama’s alma mater: Alan M. Dershowitz, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Philip B. Heymann, Mary Ann Glendon, Gabriella Blum, Frank I. Michelman and Irwin Cotler (a Canadian law professor emeritus, former justice minister and attorney general of Canada, and a sometimes visiting professor at Harvard).

  • Kristin Fleschner '14 [right] running with friend/guide Jess Kochman

    Running the marathon, no end in sight: A blind Harvard Law student takes on the challenge (video)

    April 15, 2014

    For Kristin Fleschner ’14, running in next week’s Boston Marathon is a way to fight back against the bombing that terrorized last year’s runners. She has worked for the federal government in national security since 2008, and she’ll continue her work for the federal government after she graduates from Harvard Law School this spring.