Owen Pell is a partner at White and Case LLP in New York City, a large international law firm. His areas of practice include complex commercial litigation, securities litigation, litigation involving foreign sovereigns and their state-owned entities, and litigation involving issues of public international law, including issues relating to genocide and mass atrocity that can arise in U.S. litigation. In 2000, Mr. Pell participated in the negotiations between the United States and France to resolve Holocaust-related bank claims. More recently, he completed a case for the Republic of Peru that resulted in an agreement by Yale University to return artifacts from Machu Picchu to Peru.
Mr. Pell has formulated a proposal for a title-clearing and dispute resolution body to address claims relating to works of art looted from individuals during the Holocaust. In 2003, the European Parliament overwhelmingly adopted a resolution supporting further study of this proposal. Mr. Pell was invited to be the only private lawyer on the US delegation to the June 2009 Prague Conference on Holocaust Era Assets, which culminated in the signing of the Terezin Declaration. Recently, he has been advising the U.S. government on issues surrounding Holocaust-looted art in Germany.
Mr. Pell has been widely published on the subject of Holocaust-looted art and reparation claims, including in the DePaul-LCA Journal of Art and Entertainment Law and within the papers of the Permanent Court of International Arbitration. His article, “Historical Reparation Claims: The Defense Perspective,” was featured in the book, Holocaust Restitution: Perspectives on the Litigation and Its Legacy (NYU Press 2005). He has also spoken at a TEDx event at Binghamton University on “Diplomacy 2.0” and how the changing nature of statehood in the 21st century is affecting how human rights issues are addressed by states, multinational companies and non-governmental organizations.
According to Mr. Pell, he is dedicated to the work of AIPR because his legal practice exposed him to “the processes that continue to cause genocide to occur around the world, and because the law, by itself, cannot prevent genocide and mass atrocity, highlighting the need for other approaches to interrupt the cycles that lead to genocide.”
Mr. Pell is particularly interested in finding ways to integrate international businesses into the work of AIPR. According to Mr. Pell, this intersection is critical because “businesses are so involved in shaping the societies in which they operate, and in the day-to-day human rights circumstances of their employees, customers and consumers – especially in fragile states at risk for genocide and mass atrocities.”