UCLA Spotlight


Emily Daughtry and Erin Wilson, Law

  • By Dennis Lim, Reed Hutchinson
  • Published Nov 1, 2001 8:00 AM

It's not every day you get to negotiate a treaty that may safeguard the free world. But that's exactly what UCLA law school students Emily Daughtry and Erin Wilson, along with fellow student Jon Steinsapir, did.

The trio took part this year in a UCLA externship program with the U.S. Department of Defense, where they participated in an unusual mission: they were dispatched to Uzbekistan to hammer out a deal to allow the United States to clean up a former anthrax test site abandoned by the former Soviet Union on an uninhabited island in the Aral Sea. According to news reports, the site on Vozrozhdeniya Island has been called the world's largest anthrax burial ground. To decontaminate it, the United States will help pay for the removal of thousands of tons of deadly anthrax spores.

The three law students, accompanied by about 20 federal government representatives, drafted various agreements, part of the layers of legal documents that allow the United States to assist Uzbekistan in eliminating biological weapons and the test site infrastructure on the island. While Wilson worked on the framework agreement that sets out the terms and conditions in concept that apply to U.S. assistance, Daughtry tackled the implementing agreement that outlines the specific terms for cooperation. Steinsapir closed up talks and drafted the final treaty in early October. Finally, on Oct. 22, representatives from the two countries, including Steinsaper, signed it.

UCLA Law Professor Richard Steinberg selected the trio based on their past experiences and demonstrated commitment to international politics.

Before she went to law school, for example, Daughtry worked for six years at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute, in Monterey, Ca., analyzing such issues involving the former Soviet Union. "This was exactly in line with my interests in international law," said Daughtry, with her strong focus on security issues.

"I'm very proud of them," Steinberg said. "We have a tradition of sending top quality students to the Defense Department every year. The string of exceptional students we sent them in the past assured the department that these students could do the job."

Said Wilson: "It's definitely a privilege anytime they send you to represent the government, especially for a law student. It also makes you appreciate the contribution of people who work on these programs for years and years. Only now has it captured the public's attention," she added, since anthrax has been in the headlines.