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Tulane Law’s Azerbaijan alliance showcased in Baku

June 04, 2015

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U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert F. Cekuta presents a Tulane LLM diploma to Baku State University Professor Nishat Rahimov, assisted by university Rector Abel Maharramov, during an April program centered on the schools’ unique maritime and energy law partnership.

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Baku State University Professor Zumrud Musaeva, displaying her diploma from Rector Abel Maharramov, was one of the first two faculty members from Baku State to complete Tulane LLM studies through a collaboration that includes instruction on maritime, energy and environmental law.

Photos courtesy of Nishat Rahimov 

Not every Tulane Law graduate gets his or her diploma presented on national television.

Yet, two new graduates received that star treatment in Azerbaijan as part of a conference showcasing Tulane Law School's unique maritime and energy law partnership in the critically important Caspian Sea region.

Through the Caspian Regional Initiative launched in 2012, Tulane has helped Azerbaijan's leading university build its new LLM program in maritime and energy law by training Azerbaijani faculty, students and legal professionals in those fields, as well as in environmental law. Each year, Tulane law faculty teach intensive short courses in Baku, and Baku State sends faculty members to Tulane for LLM study to broaden their expertise.

U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert F. Cekuta, who co-hosted the April conference, called collaboration between Tulane and Baku State University “a great example of how the Republic of Azerbaijan and the United States can work together on issues.”

The day-long April 28 program on "Perspectives for Cooperation in the Field of Maritime and Energy Law," co-hosted by the U.S. Embassy and Baku State University Rector Abel Maharramov, was as much a celebration of the Tulane-Baku State partnership's success so far as a pledge of continuing support.

Cekuta and Maharramov presented Tulane diplomas to the first two Baku State faculty to graduate from Tulane, Professors Nishat Rahimov and Zumrud Musaeva, all of it aired on Azerbaijani national television. Rahimov now directs Baku State's LLM program in energy and maritime law, which graduated its first cohort of five students this spring.

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Azerbaijan state television broadcast an April conference showcasing Tulane Law School’s partnership with Baku State University. Dean David Meyer and Professor Amy Gajda (both pictured far right) took part in the event, which the U. S. Embassy co-sponsored.

Tulane's Caspian initiative was sparked by a request from the U.S. State Department, which tapped Tulane Law School because of its leading expertise in maritime, energy and environmental law. In addition to advising Baku State on the creation of an advanced degree in the fields, Tulane's law faculty have provided direct instruction and hosted the country's first continuing legal education programs, focusing on emerging issues in energy, environmental and maritime law. The initiative is designed to build a stronger legal infrastructure in Azerbaijan, a key U.S. energy-producing ally sandwiched between Iran and Russia, and to broaden Tulane's international collaboration.

In addition to Ambassador Cekuta and Rector Maharramov, Gudrat Gurbanov, head of Azerbaijan's State Maritime Administration, Tulane Law Dean David Meyer and Dean Amir Aliyev of Baku State's law faculty each gave remarks stressing the importance of the partnership. 

“Something that has become apparent again and again around the world is how central rule of law — for example equality before the law or the sense that courts will operate fairly — is for attracting investment, fostering entrepreneurship, and ensuring economic growth,” Cekuta said.

He offered high praise for the Tulane Maritime Law Journal and the maritime program and said the academic exchange with Baku State “will help ensure Azerbaijan remains competitive in the marketplace of ideas, as well as in the market for oil, gas and energy services.”

Professor Martin Davies, director of Tulane’s Maritime Law Center and an international authority who lectures all over the world, taught an introductory course in maritime law for Baku’s newest group of LLM students in May. Davies called participants in the program “very sharp.”

“They hand-pick the best students to attend this,” he said.

Last year, Davies was joined in Baku by Professors Machelle Hall and Ketih Hall, who offered intensive courses in environmental law and international energy transactions, respectively.

Tulane’s Caspian involvement — which has received support from the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative, Chevron and ExxonMobil — is a key component in expanding the law school’s energy law program. Baku State officials said they hope to send two students to Tulane for LLM study beginning in August 2015. 


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