Sunday, July 27, 2014
Thailand Adopts a Temporary Constitution -- Described as First Step Toward Return to Electoral Democracy Following Two Months of Military Rule
The New York Times reported this week that the Kingdom of Thailand adopted a temporary, 48-aritcle constitution following two months of military rule. According to the New York Times, the new constitution allows the junta leader to hold substantial power even after an interim cabinet and legislature are installed in September. Thailand: Temporary Charter Adopted, N.Y. Times, July 23, 2014, at A12. The military overthrew Thailand's elected government in May 2014. Click here to read more about the events leading up to the coup and developments following the coup. The interim constitution did not provide for a referendum on a permanent constitution. Thailand: Temporary Charter Adopted, N.Y. Times, July 23, 2014, at A12.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
The Chicago Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons is a new human rights document intended to stimulate debate on how to improve protections for older persons.
Here is an excerpt from the Declaration. Article 1 sets forth the "Purpose and Core Principles" of the Declaration:
Article 1 – Purpose and Core Principles
(a) The purpose of this Declaration is to provide, advance, and promote a basis for the development of a convention on the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by older persons, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.
(b) The principles recognized by this Declaration are:
- Respect for inherent dignity;
- Respect for individual autonomy, including the freedom to make one’s own choices;
- Respect for the independence and capabilities of older persons;
- Respect for interdependence and caring relationships;
- Respect for non-discrimination and equality under law;
- Respect for family relationships and intergenerational solidarity;
- Respect for full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
- Respect for and recognition of older persons as part of human and cultural diversity; and
- Respect for aging as an integral and continuous part of life.
The Chicago Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons is a new human rights document meant to stimulation discussion and action on protecting the rights of older persons. Following more than six months of drafting, the final text was reviewed at a two-day conference held on July 10-11, 2014 at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. The conference was attended by elder law and human rights experts from 16 countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Paraguay, and the United States. The conference was jointly sponsored by The John Marshall Law School, Roosevelt University in Chicago, and the East China University of Political Science and Law. Many notable experts and public figures, such as Illinois Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon, attended the conference and shared their knowledge and experiences.
Here's a photo from the closing ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Annie Krug)
Last Friday, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois congratulated the drafters and introduced excerpts from the document into the Congressional Record. Janice D. Schakowsky, The Chicago Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons, 160 Cong. Rec. E1234 (July 25, 2014). Click here to see the excerpts in the Congressional Record (Articles 1 and 2 of the Declaration). Download Chicago Declaration Cong Rec
The Chicago Declaration on the Rights of Older Persons will be presented at the United Nations this Friday, August 1, 2014, at an event in connection with the Fifth Session of the United Nations' Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing.
Mark E. Wocjik
If you were keeping track of important developments in international courts and tribunals, which institutions would you pick? We have a list here -- tell us in the comments which courts you would add to this list and which ones you would remove from it. (For more information about these courts, click on the name of the court that interests you.)
- International Court of Justice
- Permanent Court of Arbitration
- International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
- International Criminal Court
- International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
- International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
- Special Court for Sierra Leone
- Special Tribunal for Lebanon
- Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia
- Court of Justice of the European Union
- European Court of Human Rights
- Inter-American Court of Human Rights
- African Court on Human and People's Rights
- Caribbean Court of Justice
- Iran-US Claims Tribunal
If you're interested in the completion strategy of various courts (such as the ICTY or ICTR), click here for information about a special program being held in Argentina during the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Associaiton Section of International Law.
UPDATE: We've started receiving some comments from readers. Professor Ken Gallant, for example, wrote: "To the ICTY and ICTR add the MICT (the [Completion] Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals). All of the Tribunals that you have listed are worth reporting on. I would add the WTO Dispute Resolution Mechanism and the NAFTA Dispute Resolution Mechanism."
Friday, July 25, 2014
We have confirmed that the applications for a temporary injunction and an interim order against Uganda's Anti Homosexuality Act will be heard on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 by the Uganda Court of Appeal, sitting as the Constitutional Court of Uganda.
Under Article 137 of Uganda's Constitution, the Court of Appeal will sit as a Constitutional Court when there is any question as to the interpreration of the Ugandan Constitution. When sitting as a Constitutional Court, the Court of Appeal must have a bench of five members of that court. (There appear to be 15 judges on the Uganda Court of Appeal, only five of which will form the Constitutional Court in a particular case.)
Under Ugandan law as we understand it, a decision of the Court of Appeal, sitting as a Constitutional Court, should be respected by the Uganda Supreme Court. We thank the lawyers in Uganda who are working on this appeal and keeping us informed about developments in the case.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
The Independent reports that a 24-year-old man in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to three years and 450 lashes for meeting men on Twitter. The newspaper said that the man was arrested following an entrapment ploy of the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. He also reportedly confessed to using his Twitter account to meet other men in Saudi Arabia.
The 450 lashes are to be administered over 15 separate sessions, according to the report.
Under Saudi law, homosexuality has been punished by imprisonment, chemical castration, and execution. According to the Independent report, any married man who commits sodomy or any non-Muslim who commits sodomy with a Muslim can be stoned to death.
Yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held that Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by cooperating with the United States in operating secret detention facilities where persons arrested in the war on terror could be held for interrogation. In the combined cases of al-Nashiri v Poland and Abu Zubaydah v Poland, the plaintiffs alleged they were tortured and mistreated while being held in secret detention at a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) "black site" located at the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence training base near the town of Szcytno in northern Poland. Poland denied the existence of the secret detention facility.
The seven judges on the ECHR unanimously found sufficient evidence that Poland cooperated in the preparation and execution of the CIA rendition, secret detention and interrogation operations on its territory and that Poland should have known that by allowing the CIA to detain plaintiffs on Polish territory, it created a serious risk that the men would be treated in ways contrary to the Convention.
The Court determined that Poland failed to comply with Article 38 of the Convention, which creates an obligation to funish all necessary facilities for the conduct of an effective investigation. The Court also held that Poland violated the following articles of the Convention with respect to both men:
Article 3 (prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment)
Article 6 (right to fair trial)
Article 8 (right to respect for privacy and family life)
Article 13 (right to an effective remedy)
By way of remedy, the Court ordered the payment of reparations to the men, both of whom are currently being held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The case is likely to have an effect on similar cases pending at the Court against Lithuania and Romania.
It's a busy time in Washington D.C. for international law developments:
HR 5190 (Gerlach, R-PA), to authorize assistance for Ukraine; to Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Intelligence (Permanent Select). CR 7/24/14, H6813.
H Con Res 110 (Fortenberry, R-NE), calling for urgent international intervention on behalf of Iraqi civilians facing a dire humanitarian crisis and severe persecution in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq; to Foreign Affairs. CR 7/24/14, H6814.
H Res 683 (Vargas, D-CA), expressing the sense of the House on the current situation in Iraq and the urgent need to protect religious minorities from persecution from the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant as it expands its control over areas in northwestern Iraq; to Foreign Affairs. CR 7/24/14, H6814.
S 2667 (Kirk, R-IL), to prohibit the exercise of any waiver of the imposition of certain sanctions with respect to Iran unless the president certifies to Congress that the waiver will not result in the provision of funds to the government of Iran for activities in support of international terrorism, to develop nuclear weapons, or to violate the human rights of the people of Iran; to Foreign Relations. CR 7/24/14, S4903.
S Res 517 (Graham, R-SC), expressing support for Israel’s right to defend itself and calling on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel; to Foreign Relations. CR 7/24/14, S4903.
S Res 522 (Coons, D-DE), expressing the sense of the Senate supporting the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit to be held in Washington, DC; to Foreign Relations. CR 7/24/14, S4904.
S Res 523 (Warner, D-VA), expressing the sense of the Senate on the importance of the United States-India strategic partnership and the continued deepening of bilateral ties with India; to Foreign Relations. CR 7/24/14, S4904.
S Con Res 41 (Cruz, R-TX), denouncing the use of civilians as human shields by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in violation of international humanitarian law; to Foreign Relations. CR 7/24/14, S4904.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on nuclear negotiations with Iran. 7/29/14, 10 am, 419 Dirksen.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on nuclear negotiations with Iran. 7/29/14, 2 pm, 2172 Rayburn.
The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on assessing security in Afghanistan. 7/30/14, 10 am, 2118 Rayburn.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up the following bills:
- H Res 281, expressing concern over persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience, in the People's Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned for their religious beliefs, and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups; and
- HR 3398, to authorize the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to provide assistance to support the rights of women and girls in developing countries.
7/30/14, 10 am, 2172 Rayburn.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The United States has signed but not yet ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a text adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 13, 2006 and signed by the United States on June 30, 2006.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the "Disabilities Treaty" this week by a vote of 12 to 6. The treaty can now go to the full Senate for its consent, which requires a special 2/3 vote. (The Disabilities Treaty failed in an earlier Senate vote in 2012.)
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate Committee passed the Disabilities Treaty:
“One hundred forty six nations and the European Union have ratified the Disabilities Treaty, but it will require American leadership to ensure the treaty’s protections become a reality. The treaty embodies the highest of American standards. From the U.S. Constitution, it borrows principles of equality and the protection of minorities. From the Declaration of Independence, it reflects the unalienable right to pursue happiness. From the Americans with Disabilities Act and other landmark accessibility laws, the treaty enshrines the concept of reasonable accommodation. When we lead, the world follows, and only the United States can show the way in raising worldwide accessibility to the American standard. The Disabilities Treaty is essential to improving the lives of over 1 billion people around the globe with disabilities, as well as the 58 million Americans with disabilities right here at home, including 5.5 million disabled American veterans. This treaty should be ratified and I will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans to achieve this worthwhile and meaningful goal.”
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
The Editors of Trade, Law and Development invite original, unpublished manuscripts in the form of articles, notes, comments, and book reviews. Manuscripts received by September 17, 2014 pertaining to any area of international economic law will be reviewed for possible publication in the Winter 2014 issue (volume 6, number 2).
Trade, Law and Development aims to generate and sustain a democratic debate on emerging issues in international economic law, with a special focus on the developing world. For more information, see the submission guidelines at www.tradelawdevelopment.com or contact the editors by email at: editors[at]tradelawdevelopment.com.
LAST DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS: SEPTEMBER 17, 2014
TRADE, LAW AND DEVELOPMENT
NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, JODHPUR
NH-65, JODHPUR, RAJASTHAN
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
During the month of July, the State of Mexico has withdrawn its reservations to several human rights treaties, including three treaties adopted through the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS). Earlier this month, Mexico deposited instruments with the OAS withdrawing the reservations Mexico had made to the Convention on the Status of Aliens, the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons, and the Declaration Recognizing the Contentious Jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The withdrawal of the reservation to the Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons is in compliance with the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the Radilla Pacheco case.
In its press release, the IACHR stated that "this action broadens the potential for protecting the rights that have been internationally recognized by Mexico, and therefore constitutes an important step in Mexico’s commitment to the promotion and protection of such rights." The IACHR also took this opportunity to reiterate its call to all the OAS Member States to ratify the instruments of the Inter-American human rights protection system, particularly the American Convention on Human Rights, and to accept the contentious jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human
Additionally, Mexico deposited instruments with the United Nations Secretary General withdrawing reservations to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families. The withdrawal of these reservations widens protections for the expulsion of foreign persons and military justice.
The withdrawal of these reservations is part of a package of human rights initiatives presented in October 2013 by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and of the commitments made by Mexico related to its second-cycle review under the UN Universal Periodic Review Mechanism.
Monday, July 21, 2014
From a statement by U.S. Ambassador Samantha Powers, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, on the Downing of Flight MH17:
"To the families and friends of the victims, it is impossible to find words to express our condolences. We can only commit to you that we will not rest until we find out what happened. A full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation must begin immediately. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. They must not be sheltered by any member state of the United Nations."
-Ambassador Samantha Power
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Professor Dan Markel, the D'Alemberte Professor at Florida State University College of Law in Tallahassee, focused his scholarship on topics such as the proper scope of mercy, the death penalty, punitive damages, shaming punishments, and transitional justice in states recovering from mass atrocities.
He was raised in Toronto and studied politics and philosophy as an undergraduate at Harvard. He did graduate work in political philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Cambridge, before returning to Harvard for his law degree, where he was an Olin Fellow and on law review. Upon graduation from law school, Professor Markel was a research fellow at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, a clerk for Judge Michael Daly Hawkins on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and an associate at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel in Washington, D.C., where he practiced white-collar criminal defense and civil litigation in trial and appellate courts. At Florida State University, he primarily taught in the area of criminal law.
He was shot at his home on Friday morning, around 11:00 a.m. and died of his wounds early this morning. Here is a link to a news report about the shooting.
A memorial service is planned for noon Sunday at Congregation Shomrei Torah, located at 4858 Kerry Forest Parkway, Tallahassee, Florida. His funeral will be held in Toronto.
We extend our deepest sympathy to his family, friends, students, and colleagues.
Professor Jonathan Todres of Georgia State University College of Law, with whom I had the pleasure of editing a book urging U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, has published a new article on that topic in volume 22 of the Michigan State University College of Law Journal of International Law. Here's the abstract of the new article:
The United States, Somalia, and South Sudan are the only countries in the world that have not ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The symposium essay examines the value of U.S. ratification of the CRC to the prevention of child trafficking. The essay discusses procedural benefits of human rights treaty ratification, drawing on lessons from the U.S. ratification of the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography. The essay then examines substantive benefits of the CRC, highlighting the treaty’s capacity to address many of the root causes of child trafficking and related forms of exploitation. Finally, the essay outlines the importance of a child rights framework to address the severe violations of rights that occur when children are trafficked.
Click here to download the article from SSRN. We continue to hope for U.S. ratification of the CRC and for full implementation of its rights around the world.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for universal ratification of the Rome Statute, which was adopted 16 years ago today and established the International Criminal Court (ICC), the world’s first permanent court set up to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
“Accountability for serious crimes of international concern is central to our global commitment to peace, security, human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Mr. Ban said in his message for International Criminal Justice Day. The Day is dedicated to celebrating the development and achievements of international criminal justice institutions. It is observed on 17 July, the date on which the Rome Statute was adopted in 1998.
The President of the ICC, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, noted that the core of the Rome Statute system is the responsibility of States to themselves investigate and prosecute “where the law is sovereign and respected and where justice for all is recognized as being crucial for peace, stability and development worldwide.” He added that the Court’s intervention has galvanized more international attention to communities affected by crimes and the efforts essential to aiding the survivors. “However, we are all conscious of the limits of the ICC’s current jurisdiction, which have to be remedied by continued progress towards universal ratification of the Rome Statute,” Judge Song stated.
In a letter to Judge Song, the Presidents of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR), Theodor Meron and Vagn Joensen, respectively, said that today offers an opportunity to reflect on achievements of international criminal justice in the last 20 years. The establishment of the ICC, ad hoc international courts and the hybrid criminal courts has “helped to transform the political and legal landscape,” they said in a letter of congratulations. They added that “calling senior political and military leaders to account for their acts before courts of law is increasingly the expectation, rather than the exception.” The letter also noted that the Day serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done at both national and international levels “to bring an end to impunity and, more importantly, to prevent the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in the first place.”
(adapted from a UN press release)
The American Bar Association also announced today a new resource web page for the International Criminal Court. Click here to visit.
Yesterday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, issued a report on the protection and promotion of the right to privacy in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveilliance, the interception of digital communications, and the collection of personal data. The report reviews international agreements that protect privacy, including article 12 of the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights and article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which protect the right to be free from unlawful arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home and correspondence. The report expresses concerns about government surveillance of personal information on the Internet. The report states that the government's use of surveillance techniques should be legal (e.g., transparent and for a legitimate purpose), proportionate and necessary. The report also relies on international nondiscrimination principles to argue that both citizens and noncitizens should receive equal privacy protections. Finally, the report states that effective remedies are needed when the right to privacy has been invaded. The report calls on States to review their national laws, policies and practices to ensure compliance with the right to privacy.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Comments Sought on Regulations to Implement the Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that it was seeking comments on Bank Secrecy Act regulations implemented under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010. Comments are due September 15, 2014. Get more information from the Federal Register at FR41360.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Save the date! The International Law Students Association (ILSA) and the International Bar Association (IBA) will hold a conference in London (United Kingdom) on September 5-6, 2014.
The conference will offer student participants:
- A chance to meet fellow law students from around the world
- A range of educational and vocational panels
- A Jessup Compromis Panel Discussion with experts considering the issues raised by the newly released 2015 Jessup Compromis
- A complementary drinks and canapé reception, as well as catered lunches and breaks for all delegates.
- A chance to explore one of the world’s most iconic cities