Ralph J. Bunche Center Howard University

"Treasure" on HU Campus

Marsha Echols

Howard University has a hidden treasure on the West Campus.

Professor Marsha Echols is bringing to students and the School of Law many opportunities to benefit from her years of experience in international trade and business. The inter-disciplinary Doha Roundtable discussions on trade and development and her Project on International Knowledge, Creativity and Development Law bring together faculty, students and guests in meetings and research projects on cutting edge topics, like the proposed new round of multilateral trade negotiations and commercial law reform in Africa.

And as a Member of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal, she makes law in addition to her research and teaching about it.

Professor Echols enjoys watching students begin to understand the complexities of advising clients about international transactions. "In an international transaction, a lawyer must know the applicable laws," she says, "but that isn’t enough: the whole context for the treaty or the sale, the investment, the technology transfer, the financing or the aid is crucial.

"There are often the competing cultures, the nuances of the languages and subtle business and social implications of what you’re trying to do that require a lawyer to think beyond

what is on the written page and often to consult with persons in other disciplines. To me learning international law, while remembering to appreciate these competing and conflicting interests, adds special twist to this area of the law."

In her book, "Food safety and the WTO: The Interplay of Science, Technology and Culture" (Kluwer Law International 2001), Professor Echols applies her interdisciplinary approach to the study of international trade rules about food safety. The book was developed from her J.S.D. dissertation at Columbia Law School.

Until the Doha Roundtable began,

“To me learning international law, while remembering to appreciate these competing and conflicting interests, adds special twist to this area of the law.”

her favorite research project with students was the creation of the Project on International Knowledge, Creativity and Development Law. This was part of an American, Brazilian, Mozambican and South African consortium that reviewed the commercial laws of several countries and advised the government of Mozambique on the findings. Under Professor Echols’ supervision Howard law students researched laws and policies on technology transfer, investment funds, goodwill and factoring in countries ranging from Kenya and South Africa to Russia and the United States. She traveled to Mozambique as part of the consortium to present the findings and later advised the Faculty of

Law at Eduardo Mondlane University as Fulbright Senior Specialist.

The Doha Roundtable was created as a forum to discuss the significance of the proposed new global trade negotiations for developing countries, the goals to be achieved and the best means for accomplishing these goals. The first discussion was held in March 2002, with Ambassador George Moose (Bunche Center), Dr. Ransford Palmer (Economics) and Professor William Alford (Harvard Law School) presenting papers. Howard law students, participants from the private sector and other academics participated in the half-day discussion. Sessions for next year will probably address intellectual property, services, agriculture, debt and finance, non-trade issues like environmental protection, and dispute resolution.

Before joining the HU Law School faculty, Professor Echols was with a D.C. law firm and also served for a time as Adviser to the Vice Chairman of the U.S. International Trade Commission, as well as Adviser to the Associate Administrator of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. In addition, she was an adjunct professor, teaching the law of the European Community at the law schools of the University of Virginia and George Washington University.

With years of study and work in Brussels and Geneva behind her, Professor Echols has law degrees from Georgetown University Law Center, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Columbia Law School. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Howard University, where she majored in sociology.

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