Monday, March 30, 2015
Costa Rica sued Nicaragua and Nicaragua sued Costa Rica in a dispute about their border. The International Court of Justice consolidated the cases for the oral arguments, which will start on April 14, 2015 in The Hague.
Certain Activities carried out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua)
Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica)
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Congratulations to Haramaya University, winner of the 2015 Ethiopia Rounds in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Enjoy the international rounds in Washington DC!
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was set up in 2006 to bring to trial senior leaders and those most responsible for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, during which at least 1.7 million people are believed to have died from starvation, torture, execution and forced labor.
Ao An, who in one news release was described as a former Investigating Judge at the ECCC, is being charged with “crimes against humanity of murder, extermination, persecution on political and religious grounds, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts” committed at three sites. Specifically, Ao An is being charged under Cambodian law and international criminal law with the following crimes:
- premeditated homicide, as a violation of the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code, allegedly committed at Kok Pring execution site, Tuol Beng security centre and Wat Au Trakuon security center; and
- the Crimes against Humanity of murder, extermination, persecution on political and religious grounds, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts at Kok Pring execution site, Tuol Beng security center and Wat Au Trakuon security center
Ao An, who is now 79 years old, is part of what is known as ‘case number 4.’ He is also known as "Ta An" and when he appeared before the ECCC to hear the charges against him he denied that he was responsible for the killings and said he was not afraid to face the tribunal.
The charges against Ao An were issued by International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon without support from his Cambodian National Counterpart, You Bunleng.
(mew) (parts adapted from a UN Press Release)
And hey, if you read this far, go and "like" the ECCC's Facebook Page.
Unanimously adopting two separate resolutions on Libya, the Security Council, in the first, called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and extended the United Nations Support Mission there (UNSMIL) until 15 September, and in the second, adjusted the arms embargo on the country in light of the terrorist threat there.
Further to that text, adopted yesterday evening, the Council expressed grave concern about the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also referred to by its Arab acronym Da'esh), its supporters and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida and about the negative impact of their presence, violent extremist ideology and actions on stability in Libya.
In a related provision, the 15-member body called on the Sanctions Committee it established in 2011 to consider requests for the transfer or supply of arms and related materiel to the Libyan Government for use by its official Armed Forces to combat ISIL and its supporters.
The Council also expressed support for the United Nations-led political dialogue between the Government of Libya and all Libyan parties that renounced violence, calling on them to engage constructively with the initiative of the Secretary-General's Special Representative and UNSMIL chief, Bernardino Leon, with the purpose of forming a national unity government.
Adopting the resolution by which UNSMIL was extended, the Council decided that the operation's mandate should now focus on support to the Libyan political process and security arrangements. It would include human rights monitoring and reporting, as well as support for securing uncontrolled arms and related materiel and countering its proliferation.
Expressing deep concern at the threat posed by unsecured arms and ammunition in Libya and their proliferation, “which undermines stability in Libya and the region, including through transfer to terrorist and violent extremist groups,” the Council urged the Libyan Government to improve its monitoring of arms and materiel.
Also by that resolution, the Council extended the expert panel on sanctions until 30 April 2016, and parallel to that, the authorizations on illicit oil exports. It reaffirmed that the travel ban and asset freeze, first imposed in 2011, also applied to individuals and entities determined by the Sanctions Committee to be engaging in or providing support for other acts that threatened the peace, stability or security of Libya or obstructed or undermined the successful completion of its political transition.
Condemning the use of violence against civilians and civilian institutions and the continuing escalation of conflict, including attacks on airports, State institutions and other vital national infrastructure and natural assets, the Council called for those responsible to be held accountable.
(UN Press Release) (UN Photo of the Security Council by Devra Berkowitz)
Friday, March 27, 2015
A hot topic here in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe has been the issue of social welfare benefits for migrant workers. European citizens have the right to move freely throughout the European Union (EU) - to attend university, work, etc. However, some EU States are balking at what they perceive as "welfare tourism" - moving to a particular EU State solely to obtain social assistance.
This past November, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that a European national who moves to another EU State solely to obtain social assistance may be denied those benefits. The case involved a Romanian mother, Ms. Dano, and her son, who were denied certain social benefits intended for workers by Germany because she had never worked in Germany, nor had she sought work. She and her son did receive child support and maintenance payments. The ECJ stated that EU Member States do not have to provide benefits for the first three months after residence. The ECJ also emphasized that each person's claim to social benefits must be examined individually.
Yesterday, Advocate General Melchior Wathelet issued a legal opinion further clarifying the requirement to pay social benefits to migrants. He opined that EU nationals who move to another State to look for work are not entitled to social benefits, but cannot be automatically denied benefits if they have already worked in the country. His opinion was issued in the case of Nazifa Alimanovic and her children, all of whom were born in Germany, but who are Swedish nationals. The family moved back to Germany in 2010 after living abroad. The mother and eldest daughter worked for a few months each, then applied for and received unemployment benefits for six months. The children also received other welfare benefits. Germany stopped the unemployment payments after six months and Ms. Alimanovic sued to have her benefits reinstated, alleging Germany's action is incompatible with EU law.
Mr. Wathelet opined that benefits may not be automatically terminated where a person has already worked in the country; has lived there for longer than three months; and whose children are being educated there. The AG's opinion will not be binding unless adopted by the ECJ. The ECJ is expected to issue a full judgment later this year.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
The International Trade and Investment Law Society at the American University Washington College of Law, with co-sponsorship from the American Bar Association Young Lawyers' Division International Law Committee, presents a free program on "The World Trade Organization in the 21st century: How negotiations are shaping the new rules of global trade."
This panel will discuss recent negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) with a particular emphasis on the Bali Package and the Trade Facilitation Agreement. Panelists will discuss new trade facilitation commitments and their impact upon the global trading system.
- Gary Horlick, Esq, Law Offices of Gary Horlick
- Michael Mullen, Esq, Executive Director, Express Association of America
- Tania Garcia-Millan, Esq., Attorney, United Nations ECLAC
- John Magnus, President Tradewins LLC (Invited)
Time and Location:
- March 31st, 2015; 12-2pm
- American University Washington College of Law, 4801 Massachusetts Ave NW, Room 602
Attendance is free but please RSVP<https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1u8eOgwllgIz5QmobPqVpUynFVH0dRPHX9_Bs5u0YAe8/viewform?usp=send_form>.
Bring a brown-bag lunch if you like.
Hat tip to Cortney O'Toole Morgan at Husch Blackwell LLP in Washington DC
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The Chronicle of Higher Education tells us that Oxford University Press has published a new book called "The Assault on International Law" by Jens David Ohlin. We're told that the book "criticizes the arguments and influence of a handful of legal scholars, here termed the New Realists, who have challenged U.S. compliance with international law." The book is 289 pages and will sell for a very reasonable US$29.95.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that it has updated its website that measures State action with respect to human rights issues. Called "Votes Count: Monitoring the UNHRC", the website keeps track of how the Members States of the UN Human Rights Council voted on various human rights matters involving individual countries that came before the Council in 2014.
According to John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch: “Countries often hide behind their regional groups or the political dynamics at the Human Rights Council, but each has a role in the council's successes and failures, . . . Each council member should be held accountable for its votes and for its leadership, which our VotesCount website makes easily accessible.”
Human Rights Watch provides the voting record, as well as a summary assessment, of each Member States and often does not mince words. It describes Cuba, China, Russia and Venezuela as having the weakest voting records on human rights issues. From the African group, HRW noted that South Africa abstained from voting on all resolutions, except for resolutions focusing on the human rights situation in Paletine and other occupied Arab territories. By constrast, Botswana received high praise from HRW for its human rights records. Japan is described as a strong supporter of the Councils's mandate, but HRW expressed disappointment with Japan's actions towards Sri Lanka. From the Western European & Others region, HRW describes Ireland as a strong supporter of the Council's work and complements the United States' leadership on many issues, but regrets the United States' inaction on Palestine.
This is just a sampling of the information that may be found on the website, so it's worth a look of your own.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Today, March 24, is the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in 2010 in order to:
- Honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice;
- Pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all;
- Recognize, in particular, the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was assasinated on 24 March 1980, after denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.
On this day, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) calls on the States of the Americas to respect the right to the truth. According to IACHR President Rose-Marie Antoine, "The region’s democracies have inherited the responsibility of investigating human rights violations that occurred in times of dictatorships and authoritarian governments, and to punish those responsible, . . . The path to truth and justice for these types of crimes of the past has been extremely long and difficult, but it is an outstanding obligation and a responsibility the States cannot avoid. It is impossible to build a democratic future without first shedding light on the grave violations of the past and achieving justice and reparation.”
Investigations in the Americas to identify and punish those responsible for serious human violations of the past have been seriously flawed. For example, some States continue to apply the military criminal justice system. In addition there are still various types of amnesty laws in effect which ensure that many of these crimes go unpunished. Access to information about what transpired continues to be a major obstacle. The IACHR has called on States to make appropriate legal reforms.
According to the IACHR, the right to truth has two dimensions. The first is that victims and their family members have the right to know the truth and the identity of those who played a role in the violations, which means that States must investigate the facts, prosecute and punish those responsible, and guarantee access to the information available in State facilities and files. Secondly, society as a whole has the right to know the truth about past events, as well as the motives and circumstances in which the crimes were committed, in order to prevent recurrence of such acts in the future.
For more information, read the August 2014 IACHR Report on the Right to the Truth in the Americas or visit the UN website for the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims.
The Utrecht Journal of International and European Law is seeking submissions for its upcoming issue on "General Issues in International and European Law".
The Board of Editors invites submissions addressing any aspect of International and European law; topics may include, but are not limited to, International and European Human Rights Law, International and European Criminal Law, Transnational Justice, Family Law, Health and Medical Law, Children’s Rights, Commercial Law, Media Law, Law of Democracy, Intellectual Property Law, Taxation, Comparative Law, Competition Law, Employment Law, Law of the Sea, Environmental Law, Indigenous Peoples, Land and Resources Law, Alternative Dispute
Resolution or any other relevant topic.
Submissions should be no more than 15,000 words in length and must be received by 30 April 2015.
The Journal is an academic, peer-reviewed, student-led journal affiliated with Utrecht University in the Netherlands. For more information, please visit the Journal website.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
We frankly are not sure what the international law implications are for this news, but fast-food giant Burger King will sell Whopper-scented cologne in Japan (and only Japan) starting April 1 (and despite the date, it's not an April Fool's joke according to the New York Times). The cologne will be called "Flame Grilled," and yes, it also comes with a hamburger.
Burger King plans to sell only 1,000 of these bottles. For that we thank you Burger King. We hope this doesn't catch on. The cost will be 5,000 yen (about $40).
Leave us your fragrance-free thoughts in the comment box.
Burger King to Offer Fragrance, Eau de Whopper, N.Y. Times, Mar. 21, 2015, at B2.
On a more serious note than yesterday's International Day of Happiness, today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 1966. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Apartheid has, of course, been dismantled since that time. But much more remains to be done to eliminate racism in all its forms. In recognition of that ongoing need, this year's theme is “Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today.”
"The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is an opportunity to renew our commitment to building a world of justice and equality where xenophobia and bigotry do not exist. We must learn the lessons of history and acknowledge the profound damage caused by racial discrimination." ~ Secretary General Ban Ki Moon
To read the Secretary General's full statement and for more information, visit the UN website.
Friday, March 20, 2015
The latest and greatest United Nations Day is today, March 20th -- the International Day of Happiness, a celebration declared by the U.N. General Assembly a couple of years ago. The General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/281 in July 2012 to proclaim March 20 as the International Day of Happiness, recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives.
Here's a video of Ban KiMoon celebrating the #HappySoundsLike Campaign. And when you're done watching that, click here to visit the United Nations Page on the International Day of Happiness.
(mew and cgb)
Thursday, March 19, 2015
The following is taken from a March 18, 2015 communication from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR):
"On March 17, 2015, IACHR decided to request that precautionary measures be adopted for Alfredo Romero and Luis Betancourt (members of the Foro Penal Venezolano, or Venezuelan Penal Forum) and Yoseth Comenares (sister of the Foro Penal Venezolano’s regional coordinator in the state of Táchira), in Venezuela. The request for precautionary measures alleges that the beneficiaries are at risk because of their activities as human rights defenders and a series of stigmatizing statements reportedly made by high-level State officials concerning the organization’s work. After analyzing the allegations of fact and law, the Commission believes that the information shows, prima facie, that the beneficiaries are in a serious and urgent situation, as their life and physical integrity are said to be at risk. Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked the State of Venezuela to adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the life and physical integrity of Alfredo Romero, Luis Betancourt, and Yoseth Comenares, and to ensure that the members of the organization Foro Penal Venezolano can carry out their activities as human rights defenders without being subject to acts of violence and harassment as a result of doing their work. In addition, the Commission requested that the State come to an agreement with the beneficiaries and their representatives as to the measures to be adopted, and that it inform the Commission regarding the actions taken to investigate the alleged incidents that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, and thus avoid a recurrence of similar incidents."
Human Rights Watch has accused Venezuela of committing systematic human rights abuses against human rights defenders. The United States has also expressed increasing concern about human rights in Venezuela. The U.S. Congress passed a bill in December giving the president additional authority to impose sanctions on Venezuela. U.S. President Barack Obama exercised that authority earlier this month when he issued an Executive Order declaring that Venezuela poses a threat to U.S. national security and imposing targeted sanctions on certain persons from Venezuela.
Monday, March 16, 2015
The sponsors of International Law Weekend 2015 (ILW 2015) invite proposals for panels, roundtables, and lectures. ILW 2015 is scheduled to be held on November 5-7, 2015, in New York City.
ILW is sponsored and organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) – which welcomes new members from academia, the practicing bar, and the diplomatic world – and the International Law Students Association (ILSA). This annual conference attracts an audience of more than eight hundred academics, diplomats, members of the governmental and nongovernmental sectors, and foreign policy and law students.
Call for Proposals
The unifying theme for ILW 2015 is Global Problems, Legal Solutions: Challenges for Contemporary International Lawyers.
ILW 2015 will explore the many roles that international law plays in addressing global challenges. The aim is to provide an opportunity for discussion and debate about the ways in which international law provides fundamental tools and mechanisms to address emerging global issues. ILW 2015 will offer engaging panels on current problems and innovative solutions in both public and private international law.
The ILW Organizing Committee invites proposals to be submitted online on or before Friday, March 20, 2015 by clicking here to use the ILW Panel Proposal Submission Form.
Panel proposals may concern any aspect of contemporary international law and practice, including:
- international arbitration,
- international environmental law,
- national security,
- cyber law,
- use of force,
- human rights and humanitarian law,
- international organizations,
- international criminal law,
- international intellectual property,
- the law of the sea,
- space law,and
- transnational commercial and trade law.
When submitting your proposal, please identify the primary areas of international law that your proposed panel will address. We also ask that you provide a brief description of the topic, and the names, titles, and affiliations of the chair and likely speakers. One of the objectives of ILW 2015 is to promote new dialogues among scholars and practicing lawyers, so all panels should include presenters with diverse experiences and perspectives.
On the submission form, you will be asked to describe what you think would be the most engaging and exciting format for your proposed program. The organizers encourage suggestions of varied formats, such as debates, roundtables, lectures, and break-out groups, as well as the usual practice of panel presentations. Additionally, they encourage you to consider taking the necessary steps to qualify your panel for CLE credit. They hope to offer at least seven panels qualifying for CLE.
ILW 2015 is scheduled to be held at 42 West 44th Street on Thursday evening, November 5, and at Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center on November 6-7, 2015. The ABILA Annual meeting will also be held during ILW 2015 at the same location.
The audience will include practitioners, academics, UN diplomats, business leaders, federal and state government officials, NGO leaders, writers, journalists, and interested citizens. We plan to have a broad array of both public international law and private international law topics in each program timeslot. For questions regarding ILW 2015, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015 ILW Program Committee Members
- Chiara Giorgetti, Assistant Professor of Law Faculty Director, LLM Program Richmond School of Law
- David P. Stewart, President, ABILA, Georgetown University Law Center
- Santiago Villalpando, Acting Chief, Treaty Section, Office of Legal Affairs United Nations
- Jeremy Sharpe, Chief of Investment Arbitration Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State
- Tessa Walker, Programs Director, ILSA
Hat tip to David Stewart
On Friday, Indonesia formally requested consultations with the United States, the first step in the dispute resolution process at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Indonesia believes the United States' imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on certain coated paper products from Indonesia violates the Antidumping Agreement, the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement and GATT 1994. If the parties are not able to reach a settlement of the matter within 60 days, Indonesia will be entitled to request the formation of a WTO dispute resolution panel. For more information, visit the WTO website.
On Friday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) elected today its new board. The board of officers is composed of Rose Marie Antoine (Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago), Chair; James Cavallaro (United States of America), First Vice-Chair; and José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez (Mexico), Second Vice-Chair. The election was held, in accordance with the IACHR rules of procedure, at the beginning of the Commission’s 154th regular Period of Sessions. The other members of the IACHR are Tracy Robinson (Jamaica), Felipe González (Chile), Rosa María Ortiz (Paraguay) and Paulo Vannuchi (Brazil). The Executive Secretary is Emilio Alvarez Icaza (Mexico). For more information, visit the IACHR website.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
The Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law, in partnership with the American Society of International Law's Interest Group on the Pacific Rim Region, 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.” Confirmed speakers include Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, ASIL President Lori Damrosch, Chief Justice of India H L Dattu, and Judge Helmut Tuerk of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
Click here to see the tentative program and registration information. The registration deadline is May 1, 2015.
A cyclone expected to miss Vanuatu turned and hit the island nation. Click here to read more and see a short video from the BBC.
Wishing you a speedy recovery, Vanuatu, and hoping that all of our readers there are safe.