Several years ago, William & Mary Law School's Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Conference departed its usual Williamsburg, Virginia venue and held the event in Beijing. Holding the conference there allowed U.S. legal scholars and property law practitioners to share ideas and compare our ways with our PRC counterparts. The event was a great success.
Now, W&M has followed up with another international venue for the Conference: the World Court (Peace Palace), in The Hague, Netherlands.
The Conference kicked off last night with a reception honoring this year's Brigham-Kanner Prize winner, Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, who opened the Conference this morning with a summary of his work and theories. One of the most intriguing is that the "Arab Spring" was a cry for property and economic rights.Count us as convinced.
The panels began their presentations today. Ours focused on how property rights contribute (or not) to developing nations. My own talk was about how Hawaii's experience in moving from a propertyless system, to one based on fee simple absolute, to one based on regulatory power, may hold lessons for others. (We'll post the audio from the talk, once we have a chance to clean up the recording and remove the background noise.)
The Peace Palace is a mighty impressive venue to hold a conference. The outside is Wayne Manor writ large, while the inside is even more designed to reflect its status as a "temple of the law."
The organizers of the Conference -- William and Mary Law School's Kelsey Rothera, Professor Lynda Butler, and Dean Dave Douglas -- have done another wonderful job with this Conference.
More will follow on the panels and the substance of our discussions in subsequent posts.
As for the "war" part of this post's title, a day before the Conference began, several of us paid a visit to the sites in the eastern Netherlands where in September 1944 Allied paratroopers and tankers liberated that part of the country during Operation Market-Garden, made famous by the book and movie "A Bridge Too Far."
Why? Because we should remember such things, even as they are fading into history as the men who participated in the battle are dwindling.
The Bridge Too Far, in Arnhem, today known as "John Frost Brug" after the commander of the British Paras who desperately tried to hold the north end of the bridge.
The first battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division crossed the Waal here at Njjimegen, paddling with their rifle butts under heavy enemy fire, in broad daylight, in canvas boats. Referred to as "Little Omaha," a British officer remarked that this was the "bravest act of the war." But they accomplished the mission, and opened the road to Arnhem despite absorbing staggering casualties. The photo does not convey the true width of the Waal.
The memorial on the site where LTC Robert Cole, commander of the 3/502 PIR was killed by a German sniper. LTC Cole was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading his company's bayonet charge in Normandy, near Carentan. He was killed during Market-Garden before receiving the Medal. He was exposing himself to the sniper's fire to encourage and motivate his troopers, but paid the price that leaders must sometimes pay. "Gesneuveld voor ons" by the way, means "he died for us." The memorial was erected and is maintained by the local Dutch municipality's school.
"Bridge Number 11 is ours." U.S. paratrooper Captain Thompson, upon his company's seizure of the Grave bridge (now named "Thompsonbrug").
If you ever consider doing a similar tour, you'd do well to contact Nick Kelso first. He's a Brit who lives in the Netherlands, who tailored our day-long tour and accompanied us as we drove around to each site.