Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Yesterday, the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) formally adopted Kazakhstan’s WTO terms of entry at the General Council meeting. Kazakhstan will have until 31 October 2015 to ratify the deal to formally become a WTO member. Its membership will become effective 30 days after it notifies the ratification to the WTO Director-General. More information regarding Kazakhstan's WTO membership process is available here.
In other WTO accession news, Working Party Chairman H.E. Joakim Reiter of Sweden reported at the third meeting of the Working Party on Liberia’s WTO accession held last week that Liberia’s accession is “on schedule” to be concluded by the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi scheduled for December 15-18. More information regarding Liberia's accession process may be found here.
The WTO currently has 161 members.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has launched its Individual Petition System Portal (IPSP), making the IACHR the first regional human rights body to offer a digital system that provides remote access to petitions and cases. This launch is part of IACHR’s ongoing efforts to create mechanisms that facilitate access to information for persons seeking remedies from the Inter-American human rights system.
“We are witnessing a really historic moment that will radically change the processing of petitions, cases, and precautionary measures,” observed IACHR Chair, Commissioner Rose Marie Belle Antoine. “This is a major step forward in the use of new technologies to enable all users of the Inter-American human rights system to exercise the right of access to information,” she added.
According to an IACHR press release: "The IPSP is a document transmission tool that provides online access by the State and the petitioner to information on their pending cases before the IACHR. Moreover, the parties can use the Portal to send communications and annexes and to consult documents issued by the Commission. Individuals, organizations, and States can access information about their pending petitions, cases, and precautionary measures before the Court, thus contributing to greater transparency in procedures and expeditious processing through the use of technology and automated management tools."
“Currently, people with matters pending before the IACHR must make long-distance telephone calls to inquire about the judicial status of their case or verify that the Commission has received a certain document. With the new Portal, people can access this type of information online simply by entering their user name and password,” explained IACHR Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza. The Portal is expected to increase the transparency of the IACHR's procedures and work, lower costs, and increase speed and efficiency.
Earlier today, the European Commission issued a Statement of Objections alleging competition (antitrust) law violations against six U.S. companies in the movie business: Disney, Sony, Warner Brothers, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, and Twentieth Century Fox, along with a British broadcaster, Sky UK. The companies are accused of limiting European access to programming on pay-TV services, violating European laws that provide for free movement of goods and services throughout the European Union. In the EC's preliminary view, the contract clauses at issue create exclusive territorial restrictions contrary to Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. If the companies are ultimately deemed to be in violation, they will likely face stiff penalties.
More details may be found in this European Commission press release.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Today is a historic day on which the United States and Cuba are re-establishing formal diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. The Cuban interest section in Washington, DC has been upgraded to embassy status and the Cuban flag now flies over the embassy. The US interest section in Havana, Cuba will likewise be upgraded to embassy status, but the raising of the American flag has been postponed a few weeks until U.S. Secretary of State Kerry can be there for the ceremony. Much of the trade restrictions imposed on Cuba by the United States will remain in place, however, until Congress decides to amend the relevant laws.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Special Background Briefing on Cuba
MODERATOR: Thanks so much, [Operator], and thanks to all of you for joining us on the call today. Our speaker today is [State Department Official]. For this call, [State Department Official] can be referred to as a State Department Official. He’s briefing today on background on Cuba, previewing the events for Monday, July 20th.
As you know, on Monday in accordance with President Obama’s announcement on July 1st, the U.S. and Cuba will re-establish diplomatic relations. This call is based on several requests and will deal with questions on the logistics of this re-establishment and Monday’s events. Please note we will not – not – address broader questions on U.S. policy towards Cuba on this call.
And while the Secretary of State will travel to Cuba later this summer to celebrate the re-opening of U.S. Embassy Havana and raise the U.S. flag, details regarding the re-opening ceremony will be provided in the coming weeks. Again, we won’t discuss any high-level travel on this call.
I’d also like to note we have had questions on the flag installation at the State Department. A few notes on this: First, this is a routine installation with no public or media component. Currently, we do not have clarity on the timing but it will be outside of business hours.
Finally, we’d like to keep questions relatively brief today. As you can imagine, our speaker has a lot to do before Monday, so our goal is to wrap this up in about 25 minutes.
Finally, today’s call is on background, so with that, I will turn it over to our State Department official.
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Great. Thank you [Moderator], and thanks, everybody, for joining us. We do want to answer your questions. It is an incredibly busy time, but we do want to make sure that you do get some of the facts. And so I’ve got a couple of remarks just to explain how we see everything going down on Monday, and then we can open it up for questions.
So as [Moderator] mentioned, this is a direct result of the President’s announcement on July 1st, and we indicated at that time July 20 would be the date that diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba would be re-established. We also announced that this would be the day that we would officially re-open the embassies. So to be clear, legally on July 20th, both interest sections will become embassies.
Now soon-to-be U.S. Embassy Havana will have its – we’ll have more information about that, about when we memorialize that later this summer, but it will officially be an embassy come Monday. And the embassy does plan to put out a short, factual statement to that effect down in Havana.
Up here in Washington, at 10:30, the Cuban Embassy will hold their ceremonial re-opening, and there is very limited attendance by the U.S. Government there. We will have a delegation. We do not have a speaking role. The Cubans are handling their own press, and any questions about their ceremony we would refer to them.
Later at 1 o’clock, Secretary Kerry has invited his counterpart, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, to come to the State Department for an historic meeting. They will meet at 1 o’clock. Afterward at 1:40, they will have a press conference – a joint press conference, and it is there that we’re going to – is that right? So it is there that really there will be sort of the first historic joint press conference between the Secretary of State and the Cuban Foreign Minister.
Really after that event, the minister departs, and that will finish the U.S. involvement for the day. He goes on and does other things that you can ask them about. And then with regard to when our embassy will be ceremonially re-opened in Havana, we’re going to announce those later this summer, or as [Moderator] said, in the coming weeks.
So thank you very much. That’s just sort of our opening comments and pretty much the scope of what we can brief today. But I’m happy to answer any questions about those areas.
OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if you do wish to ask a question, please press * then 1. Our first question is going to come from the line of Matt Spetalnick with Reuters. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, thanks very much. Kirby said today at his briefing that the talks between Kerry and Rodriguez would be substantive, and he ticked off a number of issues that might be involved. I would like you – on the human rights issue, can you give any guidance on whether Kerry will push for the release of more Cuban political prisoners, and will there be any kind of – what about the Cuban demand for the return of Guantanamo? Is the Secretary willing to discuss that?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, I’m not going to try to talk about the – I don’t really want to talk about the conversation that the two ministers will have. I mean clearly as the spokesperson said, they’re going to talk about bilateral issues. He gave a list. Those will be the items that they go through. And what we’re looking at are issues that we’ve already agreed that we can – that we have an agenda that we can talk about. And so on human rights, we won’t get into specifics, but we’ve had a dialogue with them already and we’ve had a pretty robust conversation with them, and we expect that to be continued through the discussion by the ministers.
OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of Karen DeYoung with Washington Post. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi. This is about the ceremonies. [Moderator] said that Kerry would go down there to raise the flag at the new U.S. embassy. Does that mean that the flag will not be raised when the embassy opens until Kerry gets there?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right, Karen, that’s the – that is the plan right now. The Secretary will be there to officiate for these very important events of raising the flag and unveiling the signage for the U.S. Embassy in Havana. He does – his presence there is ceremonial. It’s important, it’s historic, but legally the embassy will be functioning on Monday, July 20th. There is not a legal requirement to fly a flag, and we wanted the Secretary to be there to oversee these important events.
OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of Juan Lopez with CNN Espanol. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. So starting Monday, what changes, what is different at the now-U.S. Embassy in Havana? Can anyone go? Is it like other embassies in the world where you have to have a previous appointment? What is going to happen with U.S. diplomats? Do – starting Monday, are they free to roam the country as they haven’t been before? Can you be more specific on the logistics please?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right. Yes, on Monday they will – all of the employees of the – the American employees of the interest section will be re-accredited as employees of the embassy. So it is an upgrade in status for the – for all the U.S. employees there. The chief of mission will be upgraded to charge d’affaires, and they will be then entered as a member of the diplomatic corps in Havana, and that will mean that they are invited to diplomatic functions just like any other country. That has not been the case previously. And yes, there are conditions that we have talked about previously, about – when we made the agreement to open the embassies. And there will be some – those conditions will all be active and effective on July 20th and will begin to function under those new conditions. Those new conditions do include greater freedom for U.S. diplomats to travel throughout Cuba.
OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of Felicia Schwartz with The Wall Street Journal. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. I’ve got two. One is: Do you have any sort of information on when the last Cuban official to visit Washington was and how high-ranking they were? And then two: Is there any sort of timeline about renovations at the soon-to-be embassy? And I know it has to be upgraded. Do you have anything you can tell us about when those are going to begin? Thanks.
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The Cuban foreign minister has visited New York under the context of the – of UN activities. He has not visited Washington before. And this particular foreign minister has never been to Washington. As far as the – I – actually I don’t have the information as to who was the most senior Cuban to visit before, because there are certain international organizations that are in Washington and may have invited a minister from time to time, so I don’t think that we would keep track of exactly who has been here before.
And with regard to renovations, I really don’t have a – any more information to add other than we don’t have any immediate plans for a major renovation of that facility.
OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of Margaret Brennan with CBS News. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. When is the last time that a meeting of this level has happened? When is the last foreign minister from Cuba – when did he ever come to the State Department?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, that would be a good question for the historian. It has not happened in decades, but we don’t have the exact date. I’m sorry that we – I regret that we don’t have that. As I said, these two gentlemen have met on various occasions and they have met in Panama and they’ve met in New York, but this is historic in that it has been several decades since a Cuban foreign minister has visited Washington or the State Department.
OPERATOR: Next question comes from the line of Julie Davis with New York Times. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thanks, hi. Can you say who – which U.S. officials will be attending the opening of the Cuban embassy here on Monday? And then separately, when Secretary Kerry meets with the Cuban Foreign Minister, will discussing the unresolved property claims be on their agenda? And how quickly does the Secretary hope to make progress on that issue?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you. The delegation is led by Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson, who was the Secretary’s negotiator with the Cubans for – throughout this process. There is a – as I said, it’s a small group. I don’t want – I won’t give all the names here, but they are essentially assistant secretaries and deputy assistant secretaries, both from State Department and other government agencies that have had activities and other negotiations with the Cubans throughout this process. So they are all people that the Cubans are familiar with and reflect an attitude of wanting to work our bilateral agenda in a very robust manner.
I know that the spokesperson mentioned claims as one of the agenda items that they would discuss. It is a priority among many, but we have said this on several occasions that the resolution of these claims is a priority for the State Department and for the U.S. Government. And I don’t have any other information about how that is going to be resolved.
OPERATOR: And our next question comes from the line of Andrea Mitchell with NBC News. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. When Secretary Kerry goes on this trip in presumably August, do you expect that he will do more than the ceremonial flag-raising? Would he also go over to MINREX or do a reciprocal visit? And how long do you expect the Cuban visitors are going to be in Washington?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you for the question. We are still working on the details of that trip, which we haven’t yet announced. Obviously, the Cubans approach this with a – with reciprocity in how they’ve organized their meeting here, and so I’ll just leave it at that, that most things that we do with the Cuban Government are reciprocal in nature. And so July 20 is an important ceremonial activity for us as we look to future travel by the Secretary.
On the – was there another question there? Did I miss one? Did I miss another part of that question?
OPERATOR: One moment, I’ll open that line up.
QUESTION: Bruno’s schedule.
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: What? Oh, Bruno’s schedule. Sorry, I’ve got it now. The – from what we know of the foreign minister’s schedule, he will arrive on Sunday and then he will depart on Tuesday early. So it – most of his schedule revolves around the ceremony at the Cuban embassy.
OPERATOR: And our next question comes from the line of Carrie Kahn with NPR. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you. Quickly, will the charge d’affaires, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, be in Havana, and will he do anything in Havana on Monday? Did you get the new employees that you asked for and will they be there start this – starting next week? And you said they get an upgrade of employees that are at the Interests Section. Do they also get a pay upgrade?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The – actually, Jeff DeLaurentis will be – and I should have mentioned that earlier – he will be in the delegation that is here in Washington, and that’s a fairly standard practice and especially for a historic meeting that our representative in the embassy would come back for that meeting. So he will be here in Washington. And so our deputy chief of mission in Havana will actually on that day be in charge of the post. And again, there is no other activity other than we’re going to have a statement put out by the embassy announcing that they have indeed elevated status to an embassy that morning.
There also will be a technical exchange of notes because the Government of Switzerland has been providing us protecting power for many years, and that will now be – that agreement between the U.S. and Switzerland, and another agreement between Cuba and Switzerland, will be terminated as a result of the upgrade.
As for the employees, there may be some confusion in that the discussion of personnel and staffing that we had with the Cubans referred specifically to American employees, and that’s a personnel issue that we’ll work out in the months to come. So on that day, we would not get new employees. In fact, the employees at the Cuban Interests Section will be the same employees and they – as I understand it, they’re excited about becoming (inaudible) of the U.S. embassy.
OPERATOR: Next question comes from the line of Serena Marshall with ABC News. Please go ahead. Ms. Marshall, possibly your mute button is on.
QUESTION: Sorry about that, my mute button was on. I would just like to confirm about the flag raising in Havana, that not only will there not be a ceremonial flag raising, there will not be any American flag outside of the U.S. Interests Section, soon-to-be embassy, on Monday. And secondly, on the State Department raising the flag outside, if we do want to cover that as a historic moment to have the Cuban flag outside of the State Department, will you give any more guidance on what time that will occur or if there will be able to be any video of that?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’ll do the first question and ask [Moderator] about the second. Yeah, to confirm, there – so there will be no flag flying at the U.S. embassy in Havana until the Secretary of State comes down to officiate that ceremony. It is not a legal requirement that they fly the flag, and we are going to function as an embassy. They will do everything just like an embassy, but they will not have the additional feature of flying a flag. With regard to the C Street, it’s not a flag outside the State Department. It’s inside the State Department in our lobby, and [Moderator] was going to – I think [Moderator] addressed that at the top. I don’t know if you want to jump in here, [Moderator].
MODERATOR: No, you are actually great on that. It is in the C Street lobby. That will be up outside of business hours, but that will be one of all of the flags that are displayed in the C Street lobby of the nations with whom we maintain diplomatic relations.
OPERATOR: And it looks like we have time for one more question. That comes from the line of Pam Dockins with Voice of America. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you for doing this. First – two questions, actually. First of all, considering the U.S. trade embargo remains in place and travel to Cuba is restricted under the 12 categories, what tangible changes will result from the opening of the embassies on Monday for the average American who’s interested in Cuba, and also for the average Cuban who’s interested in America? What will be the difference for them, or will the openings be more symbolic?
Oh, and my second question – just because I picked up about a minute late, could you clarify the attribution? Is it senior Administration official or senior State Department official?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right. This is a symbolic step, but it is a very important step in the next stage of our relations with Cuba. The President has been very clear there are many other changes that need to take place, and he has called on Congress to end the embargo. As far as tangible changes that people will see, I will just say that as a result of the President’s decision, more Americans are able to travel to Cuba and they will be supported by a U.S. embassy rather than a U.S. interests section, and that Cubans, as part of the negotiations, will see more accessibility to our facility down there. They will not have the – to – they will not face as many security officials as before due to the conditions that the embassy will operate under, and they will be able to more easily access American officials should they want to talk to them.
With regard to the attribution, I’ll leave that for [Moderator].
MODERATOR: Thanks so much. And just as a reminder, it is a State Department official, and the attribution – this call is on background, State Department official.
Finally, I want to thank all of you for joining us. I’m sorry that the call was so brief. We will push out products on Monday, including transcripts; photos will be posted to the State Department properties. It’s a significant day. I’d like to thank our briefer for joining us, as well as all of you. Have a good weekend.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Here's a reminder that the 5th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law 2015 will be held at the Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Méridien Hotel, in November 2015. <a href="http://asiansil.org/conference/5thBiennial2015/">Click here for more information about the conference.</a>
Each year, the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of International Law publishes the International Legal Developments Year in Review. The most recent volume covering international legal developments around the world in 2014 is now available in print (vol. 49) and on the ABA website. The issue covers everything from international business regulation to public international law to legal practice and includes chapters on regional and comparative.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
The United Nations human rights office has expressed grave concern over Thailand's deportation to China of more than 100 people understood to be ethnic Uighurs – including some 20 women – and strongly urged Thai authorities to ensure the protection of 60 others who remain in detention.
“The 109 individuals, who were part of a larger group of more than 350, had been detained in very poor conditions at various immigration detention facilities across Thailand since March 2014, when they were apprehended after leaving China on their way to Turkey,” Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Despite Turkey's reported willingness to admit them to its territory, only 172 of the 350 were eventually allowed to go to Turkey in late June,” he said, adding that some 60 others remain in detention in Thailand.
The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment has repeatedly expressed concern to the Thai authorities that the deportation of this group to China would amount to “refoulement” and put them at risk of being tortured or subjected to other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The principle of non-refoulement is contained the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to which Thailand is a party.
“We strongly urge the Thai authorities to ensure the protection of the 60 individuals who remain in detention and ensure that no further deportation of individuals, including potential refugees and asylum seekers, are made to countries where there are substantial grounds to believe that they would face an imminent risk of grave human rights violations, including torture,” Mr. Colville said.
The UN human rights office called on the Chinese authorities to ensure that those extradited are treated in full conformity with the country's human rights.
“We understand the Thai authorities have received diplomatic assurances from China that the people will be protected from harm, and urge both countries to ensure that this pledge is scrupulously observed,” Mr. Colville said.
(UN Press Release)
Electoral Crisis Burundi Can Affect Stability and Development of Central Africa; More Than 145,000 Persons Flee to Neighboring Countries in Week Before the Burundi Presidential Election
One day after United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein alerted the Security Council about the seriousness of the electoral crisis in Burundi, his Office today issued a new warning about the impact the “extremely tense situation” there could have on the stability and the development of Central Africa.
Indeed, more than 145,000 people have already fled to neighboring countries less than a week before the presidential election, set for July 15, and ten days after parliamentary and local elections, which took place in an atmosphere far from conducive to a free, fair and inclusive vote, explained the Spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, during a press conference in Geneva.
“Polls were boycotted by opposition parties, with outbreaks of violence, including small-arms and grenade attacks,” he stressed.
Over the past two months, UNHCR office in Burundi has documented over 300 cases of arbitrary arrest and detention of demonstrators, human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists. Numerous cases of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in detention were also reported.
“A severe crackdown on independent media has led to the closure of most private media and radio stations. Large numbers of journalists and human rights defenders have fled Burundi for fear of reprisals. Peaceful protests have been met with unwarranted use of force, including lethal force, in violation of Burundi's obligation under national and international law to guarantee the right to freedom of assembly,” Mr. Colville continued.
Recently, key members of the Pierre Nkurunziza's own political party and government have fled the country, the Spokesperson added.
“Our field office has also documented dozens of killings, most of them shootings of demonstrators and human rights defenders by members of the Imbonerakure militia and security forces,” he said, urging the authorities to disarm this militia without delay.
Refugees interviewed by our staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Tanzania continue to refer to the Imbonerakure as the main threat, but some have also stated that militants from other groups are also employing violence – a new and disturbing development.
“Media interviews carried out in the past couple of days, with leaders of the attempted coup in May, who talk openly of organizing military units and of resorting to the use of force, are alarming. We call on all sides to make serious and urgent efforts to find a peaceful solution to this crisis before it leads to uncontrollable violence,” concluded Mr. Colville.
(UN Press Release)
Former President of Guinea Indicted in Guinea for Stadium Violence Five Years Ago When 156 People Were Killed, More Than 100 Women and Girls Sexually Violated, and More than 1,000 People Injured
The former President of Guinea, Moussa Dadis Camara, has been indicted in an investigation into the “horrific events” that took place in Guinea's capital, Conakry, nearly five years ago.
Zainab Hawa Bangura, the U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, commended the Guinea national authorities for exercising ownership, leadership and responsibility over this process. which seeks to bring justice to victims of crimes committed during the horrific events which took place Conakry in broad daylight.”
“This indictment represents an important step in Guinea's fight against impunity for the crimes that were perpetrated against unarmed civilians,” she added.
A UN-led International Commission of Inquiry found that at least 156 people were killed, at least 109 women and girls raped and subjected to other forms of sexual violence, and more than 1,000 people injured as a result of the events in the stadium and the surrounding areas.
Mr. Camara was the President of Guinea's National Council for Democracy and Development at the time of the incidents on 28 September 2009.
In the framework of a Joint Communique between the UN and the Government of Guinea signed in November 2011, Ms. Bangura's Office, through the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law/Sexual Violence in Conflict, has been providing technical support to a Panel of Judges established by the Guinean authorities to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
Based on more than 400 hearings, which included 200 victims and witnesses of sexual violence, the Panel has already issued 15 indictments, including against high ranking military officers.
“I praise the courage and determination of the Panel of Judges to investigate the crimes committed, as well as the courage of the victims and witnesses to come forward,” the Special Representative said. “This would not have happened without their relentless efforts in pursuit of justice.”
The United Nations will continue to support ongoing efforts by the Guinean authorities towards a successful conclusion of the process, including in the areas of protection of victims and witnesses, and reparations, she said.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Friday, July 10, 2015
The Annual Meeting Committee of the American Society for International Law (ASIL) is currently accepting proposal submissions for its 110th Annual Meeting, to be held March 30 - April 2, 2016, in Washington, DC. This year's Annual Meeting theme is "Charting New Frontiers in International Law."
The Committee will prioritize session proposals that involve non-traditional formats, such as interviews, Q&A roundtables, lectures, poster sessions, or the use of multimedia or interactive audience participation features. In addition, the Committee is committed to expanding diversity in the issues and voices represented at the Annual Meeting, and is excited to present a track specifically focused on professional and academic development.
Submissions are due Monday, July 20th, 2015, and the Committee will notify proposers regarding the status of their submission via email in the fall of 2015.
For instructions, more information on the Annual Meeting, and to submit a proposal, please visit the ASIL website.
Friday, July 3, 2015
Professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University will deliver the Fred Herzog Memorial Lecture on the subject of "The Changing Face of Holocaust Denial in the 21st Century" at noon on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
Professor Lipstadt is an American historian and author of books including Denying the Holocaust (1993) and The Eichmann Trial (2011). She is currently the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA from the City College of New York and her MA and PhD from Brandeis University.
Her book History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2005) is the story of her libel trial in London against David Irving, who sued her for calling him a Holocaust denier and right wing extremist. The book has been described as a “fascinating and meritorious work of legal—and moral—history” (Kirkus, November 2004). It won the National Jewish Book Award and was a finalist for the Koret Book Award. It was ranked by the editors at Amazon.com as number four on its list of top ten history books of 2005.
The Daily Telegraph ( London) declared that Lipstadt's trial had “done for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations.” The Times (London) described it as “history has had its day in court and scored a crushing victory.” The judge found David Irving to be a Holocaust denier, a falsifier of history, a racist, an antisemite, and a liar. Her legal battle with Irving lasted approximately six years. According to the New York Times, the trial “put an end to the pretense that Mr. Irving is anything but a self-promoting apologist for Hitler.”
Professor Lipstadt's story is being made into a movie, and Hillary Swank has been chosen to portray her. See the links below for more information about the movie.
The Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization has issued its Annual Report for 2014 (WT/AB/24). The Report includes information about:
- appeals filed by WTO members,
- the key findings of reports circulated in 2014,
- the composition of the Appellate Body,
- the participation of WTO members in appeals,
- dispute settlement statistics, and
- activities undertaken by the Appellate Body and its Secretariat during this period.
Only the hardest of the hard-core international law nerds will care about this. The International Court of Justice announced that Judge Antônio Augusto Cançado Trindade has been named chair of the ICJ Library Committee. Serving with him will be ICJ Judges Giorgio Gaja, Dalveer Bhandari, and Kirill Gevorgian.
Brought to International Law Nerds Around the World as a Public Service of the International Law Prof Blog
Thursday, July 2, 2015
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed yesterday's announcement that Cuba and the United States will reopen their embassies in Havana and Washington, D.C.
“The restoration of diplomatic ties is an important step on the path toward the normalization of relations”, says a statement released by his spokesperson earlier.
In keeping with the principles of its founding Charter, the United Nations supports efforts to promote more harmonious and good neighbourly relations among States, adds the statement.
“The Secretary-General hopes that this historic step will benefit the peoples of both countries.”
On December 7, 2014, the UN chief welcomed the beginning of normalization of their relations between Cuba and the United States, which put aside decades of hostility.
Media reports said at the time that, as part of a deal negotiated over a period of 18 months, the US would restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than 50 years after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years.
(Adapted from a UN press release)
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
A lifetime achievement award will be presented to Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 2000 until 2005. Under the Constitutional Reform Act of 2005, Lord Woolf was also the first Lord Chief Justice to be President of the Courts of England and Wales. When he served as Master of the Rolls (the third most senior judge in England and Wales), Lord Woolf brought forth legal reforms that have been described as “the most fundamental reform of the civil justice system of the 20th century.” Lord and Lady Woolf will be present at the award luncheon.
Keynote Speaker Bryan Garner will speak on “The Biggest Secret for Clear and Persuasive Writing.” Garner has written several books about English usage and style, including Garner's Modern American Usage and Elements of Legal Style. He is the editor-in-chief of Black's Law Dictionary and he has coauthored two books with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia: Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (2008) and Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts (2012). He is the Founder and president of LawProse, Inc. and serves as Distinguished Research Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University School of Law.
The event will also include presentations of the prestigious Scribes Book Awards and Brief-Writing Awards.
The luncheon will also mark a change in leadership for Scribes. Darby Dickerson, Dean of Texas Tech University School of Law, will finish her term as President. The new President is Justice Michael B. Hyman of the Illinois Appellate Court. Justice Hyman is a former President of the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois Judges Association, and the Decalogue Society.
The Scribes Luncheon will be held during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago on Saturday, August 1, from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the Swissotel, 323 Upper Wacker Drive, in the Edelweiss I Room on the 43rd Floor. Tickets are $75 per person with a special rate of $50 for judges, government employees, young lawyers, law professors, and law students. RSVP to email@example.com with your choice of lunch entrée: (chicken or vegetarian). For more information visit the Scribes website at www.scribes.org or call (806) 834-5792.
The American Bar Association Section of International Law will hold a leadership retreat in Chicago on July 29-31, 2015, in advance of the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. Information about the retreat (and how to register for it) is available on the section's website.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Over six years since the issuance of the first warrant of arrest against Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today said that her Office's determination to bring “independent and impartial justice” to the people of Sudan remains “unshaken”.
“The question we need to ask of ourselves today is whether the people of Darfur, who continue to endure the suffering widely recognized by, amongst others, the African Union (AU), will ever receive the justice they deserve? Will their plight be finally answered through independent and impartial justice, or will their cries continue to face silent inaction?”
Ms. Bensouda’s comments led off her briefing to the Security Council and come amid a worsening security climate and dire humanitarian crisis in the western Sudanese region, with ramped-up hostilities between Government forces and armed movements, deadly inter-communal conflicts and a precipitous rise in criminality and banditry.
This morning, the Security Council decided to extend the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation (UNAMID) mandate for an additional year.
Dismissing “those who have chosen to deliberately distort facts by alleging that the ICC imposed itself on Sudan,” Ms. Bensouda said that efforts of “detractors and naysayers” only serve to strengthen her Office’s resolve.
“Omar Bashir's rapid departure from South Africa proves that the warrants of arrest against him are as valid as they were when issued; that they remain in full force and effect, and that my Office is committed to ensure they are executed”, she went on to say.
While the Sudanese President may have escaped the law in South Africa through an unanticipated and premature departure from the 24th AU Summit, “the swift judicial action by South African courts we have witnessed is a shining precedent that must be emulated in other States,” the Prosecutor continued.
“More generally, the High Court's ruling in South Africa has also underlined a growing recognition by domestic courts of states' obligations to uphold their commitments under international law - in this case, the ICC’s Rome Statute.”
It is “past time” for the Security Council and UN Member States to join forces with the Court and civil society in devising concrete and effective strategies for the arrest of accused persons wanted by the Court, and to give the ICC the full support it requires, Ms. Bensouda stressed.
“I encourage States Parties to plan – ahead – for the arrest of each individual wanted by the Court in a targeted and efficient manner.”
Reminding the Council of the “frequency” and “brutality” of the targeting of civilians, women in particular, the Prosecutor claimed that the people alleged to be most responsible for these ongoing atrocities are “the same people against who warrants of arrest have already been issued.”
She repeated to the Council what she said during her last briefing about the situation in Darfur in December 2014 : that her Office has finite resources and a heavy caseload, and is therefore struggling to commit to full, active investigations of the on-going crimes in Darfur.
“This however, should not in any-way be misconstrued or interpreted to mean that investigations have been closed or that we have abandoned the victims of mass atrocities in Darfur. Far from it”, she insisted.
The ICC Prosecutor called “once again” on the Council to ensure Sudan's compliance with its resolution 1593 , as well as on States Parties to the Rome Statute to promote cooperation and affect the arrest of individuals wanted by the Court in the Darfur situation.
“If there is no follow-up action on the part of the Security Council, any referral by the Council to the ICC…would never achieve its ultimate goal, namely, to put an end to impunity. Accordingly, any such referral would become futile."
“There is more that we can and must all do to achieve peace and justice in Darfur. It must be stressed that this Council also has a vital role to play and must do its part.”
(UN Press Release)
Monday, June 29, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court today granted certiorari in Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, No. 14-981 (June 29, 2015). Justice Kagan took no part in the consideration of the petition. The case is "a legal challenge to the race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin, setting the stage for new arguments in a closely watched case that the justices decided once before, in 2013." Andy Thomason, Supreme Court Will Again Hear 'Fisher" Case on Race-Conscious Admissions, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 29, 2015, http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/supreme-court-will-again-hear-fisher-case-on-race-conscious-admissions-3/101259?cid=bn&utm_source=bn&utm_medium=en