Friday, October 17, 2014
Earlier this week, a group of farmers from Columbia filed suit in the United Kingdom against Equion Energia (a UK company formerly known as BP Exploration Columbia) alleging that BP's negligence in building the Ocensa oil pipeline in the 1990s severely reduced the productivity of their land due to environmental damage. The alleged damage includes severe soil erosion, reduced vegetation coverage and areas for pasture, as well as blocked or damaged water resources. Before construction began, BP entered into contracts with the farmers to allow BP to lay the oil pipeline on their land. However, the farmers claim they did not fully understand the contracts and have not been adequately compensated for the damage. The farmers are seeking US $29 million in compensation. According to The Guardian, the trial will be the first time BP has had to defend its actions overseas in a UK court and the first time compensation for environmental damage to privately owned land, caused by a UK oil company, has been litigated in the UK.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda delivered its judgement in three cases at the end of September. The cases are:
The judgements delivered by the Appeals Chamber today bring to 44 the total number of appeal judgements rendered by the Tribunal, disposing of appeals concerning 55 persons. The remaining caseload of the ICTR Appeals Chamber consists of one case which concerns six persons.
Édouard Karemera and Matthieu Ngirumpatse
A panel composed of Judge Theodor Meron, presiding, Judge Fausto Pocar, Judge Arlette Ramaroson, Judge Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, and Judge Koffi Kumelio A. Afanđe delivered judgement in the appeals lodged by Édouard Karemera, Matthieu Ngirumpatse, and the Prosecution. On 21 December 2011, Trial Chamber III convicted Karemera and Ngirumpatse of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, genocide, extermination and rape as crimes against humanity, and murder as a serious violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II. The Trial Chamber sentenced Karemera and Ngirumpatse to life imprisonment.
The Appeals Chamber affirmed Karemera’s and Ngirumpatse’s convictions based on their role in the killings in Kigali by 12 April 1994, the killings following the Murambi Technical School meeting on 18 April 1994, the killings following President Theodore Sindikubwabo’s speech in Butare Prefecture on 19 April 1994, the killings resulting from the creation and implementation of the civil defence system, the killings in Bisesero, acts of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and rape and sexual violence in various parts of Rwanda. The Appeals Chamber reversed certain findings of the Trial Chamber, which, however, did not result in the overturning of any of Karemera’s or Ngirumpatse’s convictions. The Appeals Chamber affirmed Karemera’s and Ngirumpatse’s sentences of life imprisonment.
Karemera served as National Secretary, First Vice President, and Executive Bureau member of the MRND party. On 25 May 1994, Karemera became Minister of the Interior and Communal Development for the Interim Government. Ngirumpatse was National Party Chairman and chairman of the MRND Executive Bureau in 1993 and 1994.
A panel composed of Judge Theodor Meron, presiding, Judge William H. Sekule, Judge Mehmet Güney, Judge Liu Daqun, and Judge Arlette Ramaroson delivered judgement in the appeals lodged by Ildéphonse Nizeyimana and the Prosecution.
On 19 June 2012, Trial Chamber III found Nizeyimana guilty of committing, through his participation in a joint criminal enterprise, the killing of the Ruhutinyanya family, the attack on the Cyahinda Parish, the killing of the former Queen of Rwanda, Rosalie Gicanda, and others taken from her home, the killing of Pierre Claver Karenzi, and the killing of those taken from the Matabaro and Nyirinkwaya households. It also found him responsible for ordering the killings of Remy Rwekaza and Beata Uwambaye, and the serious bodily and mental harm caused to Witness ZAV. The Trial Chamber entered convictions for genocide, extermination and murder as crimes against humanity, and murder as a serious violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II. Nizeyimana was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The Appeals Chamber affirmed Nizeyimana’s convictions for genocide, murder as a crime against humanity, and murder as a serious violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II in relation to the killings of the Ruhutinyanya family, Gicanda and the others taken from her home, and Rwekaza and Uwambaye, as well as for genocide in relation to the serious bodily and mental harm caused to Witness ZAV. The Appeals Chamber also affirmed Nizeyimana’s convictions for murder as a crime against humanity and murder as a serious violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II in relation to the killings of those taken from the Matabaro and Nyirinkwaya households. The Appeals Chamber dismissed the Prosecution’s appeal seeking additional convictions for crimes committed at Butare University Hospital and Butare University.
The Appeals Chamber, Judge Güney and Judge Ramaroson dissenting, found that the Trial Chamber erred in concluding, as the only reasonable inference, that Nizeyimana planned the attack on Cyahinda Parish and authorized the participation of ESO soldiers therein. As a result, Nizeyimana’s convictions for genocide, extermination and murder as crimes against humanity, and murder as a serious violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II in relation to the attack on Cyahinda Parish were reversed. The Appeals Chamber also found that the Trial Chamber erred in concluding, as the only reasonable inference, that Nizeyimana contributed to the killing of Karenzi, and reversed his convictions based on this event. In view of the reversal of these convictions, one of which involved the killing of thousands of displaced persons, the Appeals Chamber reduced Nizeyimana’s sentence to a term of 35 years of imprisonment.
Nizeyimana held the rank of captain at the military training school, the École des Sous-Officiers in Butare, and served as S2 officer, charged with military intelligence, and S3 officer, responsible for training and operations at the training school.
A panel composed of Judge Mehmet Güney, presiding, Judge William H. Sekule, Judge Arlette Ramaroson, Judge Khalida Rachid Khan, and Judge Koffi Kumelio A. Afanđe delivered judgement in the appeals lodged by Callixte Nzabonimana and the Prosecution.
On 31 May 2012, Trial Chamber III of the Tribunal found that Nzabonimana instigated genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity at the Cyayi centre on 14 April 1994 resulting in the killings of Tutsis at Nyabikenke commune office on 15 April 1994. Nzabonimana was also convicted of conspiracy to commit genocide based on two agreements to commit genocide in Gitarama préfecture. Further, the Trial Chamber found him guilty of direct and public incitement to commit genocide based on his speeches at the Butare trading centre on 12 April 1994, the Cyayi centre on 14 April 1994, and at the Murambi training centre on 18 April 1994. Nzabonimana was sentenced to a single term of life imprisonment.
The Appeals Chamber affirmed Nzabonimana’s convictions for instigating genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity in relation to the events at the Cyayi centre on 14 April 1994 and at the Nyabikenke commune office on 15 April 1994. The Appeals Chamber also affirmed his convictions for direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to events at the Butare trading centre and the Cyayi centre, as well as his conviction for conspiracy to commit genocide in relation to the meeting in Murambi on 18 April 1994. However, the Appeals Chamber reversed Nzabonimana’s convictions for direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to the Murambi meeting on 18 April 1994, and for conspiracy to commit genocide in relation to the establishment of a Crisis Committee and weapons distribution at Tambwe commune. The Appeals Chamber affirmed Nzabonimana’s sentence of life imprisonment. Nzabonimana was born in Kavumu secteur, Nyabikenke commune, Gitarama préfecture, Rwanda. He served as the Rwandan Minister of Youth and Associative Movements from 8 April 1994 to mid-July 1994 and as the Chairman of the Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le développement in Gitarama préfecture during the events.
Adapted from an ICTR Summary
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Call for Papers: 2015 ILA-ASIL Asia-Pacific Research Forum, Taipei, Taiwan
The Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law will hold the ILA-ASIL Asia-Pacific Research Forum on May 25-26, 2015 in Taipei, Taiwan, ROC. The theme of the Research Forum is “Integrating the Asia-Pacific: Why International Law Matters?”
Paper proposals should be submitted by January 20, 2015 to firstname.lastname@example.org. The call for papers is available at http://www.csil.org.tw/2015-research-forum/ Other inquiries can be directed to Pasha Hsieh, co-chair of the Research Forum (email@example.com).
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Once again this year, there were some great presentations relating to various international law topics at the Central States Law Schools Association (CSLSA) annual scholarship conference. Pictured here from left to right are Professors Scott Sullivan (Louisiana State), Milena Sterio (Cleveland-Marshall), Cindy Buys (Southern Illinois) and DeLeith Gossett (Texas Tech). Professor Sullivan spoke about "Statutory Decay and Authorizations of Force"; Professor Sterio addressed the issue of "Juvenile Pirates: 'Lost Boys' or Violent Criminals?"; Professor Buys presented, "New Thinking regarding the Use of Conditions in U.S. Treaty Practice"; and Professor Gossett advocated, "Taking of the [Color] Blinders: How Ignoring the Hague Convention's Subsidiarity Principle Furthers Structural Racism Against Black American Children."
The CSLSA Conference is being held at lovely Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA and is hosted by CSLSA President Missy Lonegrass.
As the U.S. Supreme Court is paving the way for same-sex marriages to take place in more and more states in the United States, Estonia has become the first former Soviet state to approve legislation recognizing all civil unions regardless of the gender of the parties. The new law will take effect in January 2016.
Friday, October 10, 2014
A group of independent United Nations rights experts has urged the Government of Malaysia to withdraw its Sedition Act of 1948 amid allegations that critics of the country’s authorities have faced increasing criminalization and persecution.
The Act, which carries sentences of up to five years in jail, outlaws a number of vague offenses, such as expressing “any seditious words” or acting with “seditious tendency” to incite hatred or disaffection of the government or the judiciary, promoting hostility between different races or classes, or questioning any right, privilege, sovereignty prerogative stated in the country’s Constitution, the experts said in a press release.
“The Sedition Act is reportedly used in a way that prevents Malaysians from expressing and debating, freely and openly, a diverse range of political opinions and ideas,” they continued.
“It is time for Malaysia to adjust its legislation, including the 1948 Sedition Act, to be in line with international human rights standards, and take firm steps towards the effective enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression.”
The group of experts included David Kaye, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Gabriela Knaul, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.
According to the UN Human Rights Council, there have been at least 23 recent reported cases of persons charged with sedition – including elected members of Parliament, politicians, human rights defenders, academics, lawyers, students and journalists – for publishing or disseminating information and ideas through the Internet or traditional media.
On that note, the Act itself has been addressed by UN human rights experts on several previous occasions, with the first Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, Abid Hussain, noting that it could suppress expression and curb peaceful assembly.
Independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
(Adapted from a UN press release)
On October 9, 2014, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a request for comments on the reporting requirements under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010. Comments are due by Novmeber 10, 2014. FR61130
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
We've just received a link to "International Law Visualized." And we're impressed.
There are charts for these subjects:
- Three Types of International Law (Public, Private, and Supranational)
- Sources of [International] Law (Customary Law, Silence as Consent, Codifications, and Enforcement by the United Nations)
- The International Court of Justice
- The International Criminal Court
- Who is Affected by International Law (and for that matter, who isn't!!!)
Hat tip to Frida Jackson
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has selected Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India as the winners of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. They were identified for promoting a right to universal education and for protecting children from abuse and exploitation.
Last year and the year before, the Nobel Peace Prize had been given to organizations. In 2013 the prize wen to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In 2012, the prize went to the European Union.
LCIL Friday Lecture 'The Changing Structure of International Law and Its Normative Consequences: International IP Law as an Example' by Dr Holger Hestermeyer
Dr Holger Hestermeyer, Advocate General Cruz Villalón, Court of Justice of the European Union, will give a lecture at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law on Friday, October 17, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.
Much like international law as a whole, international intellectual property law has undergone significant structural changes since its inception. The presentation will conceptualize these changes as a fundamental paradigm shift: an initially sparsely regulated field with minimal obligations focusing on non-discrimination has turned into a densely regulated area of international law. The development of international IP law thus to some extent mirrors the development of international law as a whole, albeit with an accelarated time frame. The presentation will illustrate this development and draw normative conclusions from the development, which are relevant for international law as a whole if the field wants to cope with its development over the last fifty years.
Holger Hestermeyer (Dr. (Hamburg), LL.M. (Berkeley), LL.B. equivalent (Münster)) is a Référendaire in the cabinet of Advocate General Cruz Villalón at the Court of Justice of the European Union and will, after his work at the court, join King’s College. Before working at the court, Holger was head of a research group at Heidelberg’s Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public and International Law. He has lectured at the universities of Heidelberg, Münster, UC Berkeley and the Heidelberg Center in Chile. He is a Co-director of the Red Latinoamericana de Derecho Económico Internacional and a member of the Executive Council of the Society of International Economic Law. He is a former Fulbright Fellow, German National Merit Foundation Fellow, recipient of an Otto Hahn Medal and an Otto Hahn Award. He publishes in the fields of international, European and constitutional law. Of particular interest for the presentation are Human Rights and the WTO (OUP 2007/2008), Reality or Aspiration: Solidarity in International Environmental and World Trade Law (in Hestermeyer et al. eds., Coexistence, Cooperation and Solidarity, Brill 2012), ESC Rights in the World Trade Organization (in Riedel et al., Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in International Law, OUP 2014), The Notion of „Trade-Related“ Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (IIC 2014).
Time: 1pm with sandwiches from 12.30pm
Venue: Finley Library, Lauterpacht Centre, 5 Cranmer Rd, Cambridge
Hat tip to Karen Fachechi
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Closing arguments in the case of Radovan Karadžić concluded yesterday, October 7, 2014, after 497 trial days. The Office of the Prosecutor presented evidence from 336 witnesses of which 195 testified during the trial. The Defense presented evidence from 243 witnesses of which 238 testified during the trial. 6669 exhibits were tendered by the Office of the Prosecutor, and the Defense tendered 4806 exhibits. The Trial Chamber presented 3 exhibits.
Prosecutors demanded a life sentence for the former Bosnian leader Radovan Karadžić, accusing him of being the primary force behind efforts from 1992 to 1995 to eliminate non-Serb inhabitants of the ethnically-mixed Bosnia. The conflict left more than 100,000 people dead and countless others maimed and traumatized by rape and other crimes. Karadžić is accused of responsibility for the seige of Sarajevo, the murder of more than 7,000 men and boys in Srebrenica, and the nothing-clean-about-it "ethnic cleansing" of towns and villages. (See, e.g., Marlise Simons, The Hague: Bosnian's Trial Nears End, N.Y. Times, Sept. 30, 2014, at A6.)
Radovan Karadžić, for his part, told the International Crminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that he expects to be acquitted of all charges of war crimes and orchestrating acts of genocide. He reportedly told the court that he had a "clear conscience." As reported by the BBC, he told the three-judge panel: "I have a clear conscience, the war did not happen as I wanted it, it was a horrible war, let's hope to God that it is the last in this area. I expect and I trust that the chamber will study carefully every document and every exhibit both from the defence and from the prosecution, and if that happens I have no doubt that a judgment of acquittal will follow."
The latest estimate for delivery of the Trial Chamber Judgement is October 2015.
"International Business With Russian Nexus: Why Not New York Law?"
On November 12, 2014 - from 6-8 PM -the International Centre for Dispute Resolution ("ICDR"), in cooperation with the Russian Arbitration Association ("RAA") and with support of the American Bar Association Section of International Law ("ABA SIL"), the US-Russia Business Council ("USRBC"), and the New York State Bar Association, International Section ("NYSBA IS") will host a discussion on the topic of "International Business With Russian Nexus: Why Not New York Law?" The event will take place on November 12, 2014 at the ICDR office located at 150 East 42nd Street, 17th Floor from 6 to 8 PM. Reception to follow.
The focus is to explore whether New York law may be an attractive option to international businesses with Russian nexus. Registration is on a first come, first served basis as space is limited. Please be sure to RSVP early. Thanks to the generosity of the sponsor, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, this event is free of charge. To get a registration form, email Mandy Sawier at SawierM@adr.org
International Law Weekend 2014
October 23-25, 2014 -- New York City
Thee annual International Law Weekend (ILW) conference will take place October 23-25, 2014, in New York City. The theme of ILW 2014 is "International Law in a Time of Chaos.” The role of international law in conflict mitigation remains key – whether by building commercial links between states, fighting corruption, improving democratic governance, or providing methods for resolving international and ethnic disputes. ILW 2014 will seek to address the role of public and private international lawyers in each of these tasks.
ILW begins Thursday evening, October 23, 2014, with a distinguished opening panel at the House of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 42 W. 44th Street, New York, New York. A reception will follow and is open to all conference attendees. The conference continues Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25 at Fordham University School of Law, 150 West 62nd Street, New York, New York. Friday’s activities feature a keynote address at Fordham University School of Law.
For ILW 2014, a number of ILW panels have been designated for mandatory continuing legal education credit (MCLE). The American Society of International Law has obtained accreditation for a maximum of 10.5 MCLE credits from Pennsylvania and California and is seeking accreditation from New York and Virginia. An attorney may also count Pennsylvania approved credits towards her or her New York CLE requirement credit through the Approved Jurisdiction policy without notifying the New York CLE Board.
Attendance at ILW is free for members of ABILA, ILSA, United Nations employees, students, and co-sponsoring organizations. For all others, there is a fee of $175.
Hat Tip to the International Law Students Association
Join the Association of American Law Schools Section on Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers at its business meeting on Friday, January 2, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. That's the first night of the conference when the Registration Area opens.
Professor George Edwards of Indiana University is the current chair. Professor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago is the Chair-Elect and will become Section Chair at the end of that AALS Annual meeting.
When you book your flight or train to DC, please plan to arrive in time to attend the 6:30 p.m. business meeting and to share your ideas on graduate legal education for international lawyers.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
In between 1998-2002, Argentina suffered a horrible secession that weakened its economy and resulted in the country defaulting on billions of sovereign bonds they owed. The country began a debt restructuring in between 2004-2005 allowing it to resume payments on the bonds but at a lower rate than the face value that the bonds initially were. According to news sources, 93% of the bonds were to be paid through restructured payments whereas the remaining 7% of bondholders would be paid in full. The repayments were to be handled through a NY corporation under US law. Argentina drafted agreements but omitted preferential treatment against bondholders (when the 7% should technically be treated preferentially). The bondholders then sought (and later won) an injunction that prohibited Argentina from paying the 93% of renegotiated bonds without also paying the 7% in full. There are currently two hold out funds that demand repayment in full- NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management.
Argentina has been arguing that these claims for full repayment are known as vulture funds and thus should not be allowed (i.e. large companies taking advantage of struggling companies and forcing repayment plus interest). However, earlier in July of this year, U.S. Judge Thomas Griesa has ruled Argentina MUST repay these funds before repaying other bondholders. Argentina has not done so, and thus finds itself in contempt of court as a result. (Note: It has been alleged that Judge Griesa is the first judge to hold a sovereign state in contempt for its indebtedness. )
Last week, the Argentine ambassador to the U.S. warned State Department officials that the ruling is an unlawful interference, and other Argentine government officials have echoed similar opinions. This particular situation made me reflect back to last week's class in evaluating the Greenland case where we spoke of officials and their binding authority in foreign affairs issues. The letter sent earlier this week also made me consider the consequences the judge's ruling may have in the future in regard to relations with Argentina; both through the perspective of an ally, as well as a financial /trading partner. I am not sure as to the extent of the effects when speaking in terms of foreign policy, but the financial consequences already seem to be bearing down upon Argentina, since its access to foreign credit markets is quite limited in recent times.
A pending patent case shows a successful use of the Hague Service Convention to serve process on two Switzerland-incorporated corporate defendants.
In a case initiated last year, Chiesi USA, Inc. v. Sandoz Inc., No. 1:13-cv-05723 (D.N.J. filed Sept 25, 2013), plaintiffs Chiesi USA, Inc., Cornerstone BioPharma, Inc., and EKR Therapeutics, LLC (collectively “Chiesi”) sued Sandoz Inc. Later in the litigation, Cheisi sought to add Sandoz AG and ACS Dobfar Info S.A. as defendants. For whatever reason, the defendants’ lawyers refused to accept service on behalf of Sandoz AG and ACS Dobfar Info S.A. Both these corporations are organized and existing under the law of Switzerland.
As its next move, Chiesi wrote a letter to the district court judge protesting that because of the defendants’ lawyers refusal to accept service, Chiesi had "no choice but to proceed with service through the Hague Convention [on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters].” The Hague Service Convention allows a competent judicial officer of one State to forward a judicial document to the central authority of another State.
The court first determined that Switzerland is a signatory to the convention. Next, the court found that Chiesi had complied with the requirements of the formal procedure that the Hague Convention has set up for forwarding judicial documents. The court also noted that the Swiss authority to whom Chiesi wants the court to transmit the documents is the same authority that is designated by Switzerland under the Hague Service Convention. Having found that Chiesi has met all the requirements of the treaty, the court ordered that service be executed in accordance with the Hague Service Convention.
Monday, October 6, 2014
The theme of this year’s annual high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly was the post-2015 agenda of global sustainable development but it was by no means the only subject of the speeches as kings, presidents and prime ministers mounted the podium to speak on behalf of 193 Member States and two Observer delegations.
From countering climate change – which received equally high billing thanks to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s decision to hold a summit of leaders on the crisis on the eve of opening the Assembly’s 69th General Debate – to combating terrorism, to addressing regional issues of interest to particular States, such as the Ukraine crisis, and the Syrian and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, the topics this year ran the gamut of dilemmas facing the world.
“The General Debate is indeed the world’s premier political global stage. It serves as a unique opportunity to recall the intrinsic value of our mutual engagement in the work of this Organization,” Assembly President Sam Kutesa said in his closing address last week.
Virtually all leaders referred to the post-2015 development agenda, the fight against poverty, climate change and terrorism, with those States considered among the more powerful tending to dwell on political issues. Nearly all highlighted the terrorist threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
While flagged as a pressing issue by nearly all speakers, Ebola, the deadly epidemic sweeping West Africa, was a particular concern for African leaders, who appealed for global help in combating the scourge, but it was also referenced by most speakers. The outbreak was also the subject of a ministerial-level meeting convened by the Secretary-General last Thursday.
Climate change, also a major subject for virtually all Members, received particular attention, and pleas for help, from the least developed countries and small island States who face the prospect of bearing the brunt of global warming as rising sea levels threaten to swamp them out of existence, or lingering droughts and massive floods endanger further their already imperilled economic base.
The richer and more powerful countries all mentioned the need for a more equitable distribution of wealth in the new sustainable development agenda, but it was these poorer States who brought home the message with their pleas for a multifaceted global approach to eliminate poverty and its attendant and interrelated impact on health, education and development in their aspirations to rise to middle-level economies.
In all, of 117 Heads of State and Government, three Vice-Presidents, eight Deputy Prime Ministers, 56 Ministers as well as delegation chairpersons, took the podium in the freshly-renovated Assembly hall.
“The General Debate continues to serve as an opportunity for the international community to come together under one roof to explore the world’s current state of affairs,” Mr. Kutesa said in his closing remarks. “It is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for Member States to share with a worldwide audience their accomplishments, ambitions, hopes and fears.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Bringing homophobia and transphobia to an end is “a great human rights cause,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on September 25, adding that the fight against discrimination “lies at the core of the mission of the United Nations.”
In his video message to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Core Group Ministerial Event, the Secretary-General stressed his strong support for equal rights for LGBT people everywhere, underlined the UN’s own efforts towards eliminating discrimination within the Organization and voiced concern over the widespread harassment members of the LGBT community continue to face around the world.
“I speak out against the appallingly high levels of stigma, discrimination and violence people suffer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” he said.
More than 76 countries still criminalize consensual adult same-sex relationships, while in many more countries discrimination against LGBT people is widespread – including in the workplace and in the education and health sectors.
A study carried out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) drew on almost two decades worth of work by UN human rights mechanisms and found a “deeply disturbing pattern of violence and discriminatory laws and practices” affecting people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Secretary-General noted that although many Member States disagreed with the concept of LGBT rights, the world “cannot back off from human rights protection just because governments differ on certain issues.”
“It may be tough – but that will never stop us from pressing ahead,” Mr. Ban continued.
“We are not here to tackle only easy matters, or to discuss only what everyone agrees on already. We are here to protect the rights of all people, everywhere.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Saturday, October 4, 2014
We are pleased to share with you a guest blog post from Victor Cerda of Chicago, on the situtaiton in Hong Kong.
The international community should have its ears perked because the events in Hong Kong have global implications. The demonstrations in Hong Kong are a direct result of what China has labeled “one country, two systems.” In the past, a 1,200 member electorate of Hong Kong voted to elect the Chief Executive, but recent policy changes would allow five million eligible voters in Hong Kong to elect the new leader. The problem arises in that Beijing will choose the eligible candidates and will veto any unfavorable result.
Protesters of this “reformatory” measure challenge the policy as more of the same. They call for true reform where the people elect the leader that best reflects their voice, not the voice of those loyal to Beijing. The protest have lasted seven days while many have been arrested and hospitalized. Counter-protesters have also surfaced dawning blue ribbons as a show of solidarity for law enforcement.
Beijing has issued a deadline for protest to cease by Monday. It has also warned the United States to respect its sovereignty in dealing with internal affairs, and states that it will not tolerate any “illegal acts.” The United States has expressed its desire for universal suffrage for Hong Kong residents, and claims to watch the situation very closely.
Coincidentally, the United States has lifted an armament ban in the south Asian sea claiming that it has concerns with Vietnam’s ability to defend itself from maritime aggression. Of course, Vietnam, a former American foe, is strategically close to Hong Kong. The United States has not revealed what weaponry will arrive in the area, but the move is obviously a statement in light of the Hong Kong situation.
Why does this situation matter?
China is a signatory to the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) but has not ratified it. So, although it has an international obligation not to defeat the purpose of the treaty under Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, China is not legally bound to the same standards as Nation States that are parties to the treaty, like the United States or the United Kingdom.
Hong Kong was previously a British colony held under a 99-year lease. Before the United Kingdom returned Hong Kong to China, China had sent assurances to the U.N. Secretary-General that China would apply the ICCPR to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
News reports suggest that China might resort to extreme measure to suppress the protest occurring in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the international community must consider the next level of progression that this internal conflict can reach, an armed conflict. I hope that China can reconcile the differences between the protesting parties for the sake of security and stability, even if that means that the United States will lose some influence on China’s next move. More than anything, I hope against all doubt that the “deadline” does not become deadly.