Yale University

Class News

Letter from Sheldon Leader '64

April 10, 2004

I've just returned from a run along a valley near my house — enjoying the sun as a fickle friend who visits the UK only to leave abruptly for weeks on end, apparently having better places to go. The gray skies are now back for a while, so I'm inside and thought I'd write in to say what I've been up to.

The most immediate thing I have to report is that in September I completed negotiating the first legally binding human rights undertaking signed by a group of multinational corporations. The group is building and operating an oil and gas pipeline between the Caspian and Mediterranean, and is headed by British Petroleum. My work was carried out on behalf of Amnesty International — as the legal advisor to their business and human rights section. The project has been a highly controversial one, and this undertaking binding the consortium to respect these standards might go some way towards meeting some of the criticism. The proof will be in the pudding of seeing how the framework is used: when concrete human rights problems on the project are handled in the future.

I've aimed to balance the work of an academic with the applications of theory to practice. It's been a very enjoyable combination. Recently, I've been collaborating with our classmate, Peter Giblin, on the coordination of a consortium of law faculties for teaching a program in European law. Peter is able to bridge the academic and business worlds effectively, and working with him is a pleasure.

My wife, Florence, continues to work as an artist and is now a counselor for mental health patients — combining her talents to paint their portraits at the same time she hears about their problems — something that seems to have an excellent effect on them. Having a French mother and American father living in ole' England has given my kids a mosaic of a cultural horizon — and some pretty good cooking. Our eldest son, Daniel, is now a barrister in London focusing on human rights issues. Our son, Samuel, is now writing short stories in Los Angeles. He is currently working on a piece about the French resistance. Our daughter, Anna is a creative photographer, and has just had her first exhibition in London — that seems to have caused a stir, and a call from a New York dealer. Our youngest son Joshua is carving out his own place in this mix, as he finishes his last year of high school. My guess is that next year will find him either in university or taking a year off in Africa — writing back urgent notes for some of his mom's bĂ©arnaise sauce.

My very best and hope to see a lot of old friends at the reunion.