Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Just five years after joining the European Union, Slovakia is scheduled to become the 16th member of the eurozone in January 2009. Slovakia has experienced the strongest growth rates in Europe, but at the same time has been able to keep inflation under the threshold requirements. Slovakia will be the first Central European member to join the euro and the poorest one to date, with 67% of the eurozone's average gross domestic product. Slovakia's entry into Europe's monetary union is being closely watched by other eurozone hopefuls such as Poland and Hungary.
The American University of Iraq - Sulaimani is a private, non-profit, English language university in the city of Sulaimani in the Kurdistan Region, "with a tolerant and welcoming environment, security, and growing economy." They are looking for professors to teach Business Law and other courses. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Just received from the United Nations . . .
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for an immediate end to hostilities and urged Israel to ensure immediate provision of fuel and critical life-saving and trauma care supplies. “The inability of the hospitals to cope with a problem of this magnitude, if the situation continues unchanged, will result in a surge in preventable deaths from complications due to trauma. Civilians are paying the price for the prolonged blockade,” it added, referring to the closure of crossing points which Israel has imposed, citing rocket attacks by Gaza militants. “As a top priority, the shortages of essential and life-saving medicines need to be abated without delay. The current escalation of the violence only compounds the health situation and unnecessarily exacerbates the fragile status of the civilians caught up in this conflict.”
WHO has secured, in collaboration with several Member States, the dispatch of medical kits to cover surgical and trauma interventions and is following up with Palestinian and Israeli authorities to ensure these supplies reach those who need them. Negotiations with the Israelis are ongoing to guarantee the passage of urgent medical supplies, the agency said, adding that it was also coordinating with other UN agencies, donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure aid arrives to those most in need. “The functioning of hospitals and access to health services is critical in order to respond to the mass casualties,” WHO stressed, calling for the removal of blockades to allow in much-needed food, water, fuel, medicines and other humanitarian aid.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) voiced deep concern over the impact of the current violence on youngsters and urged all parties to abide by their international legal obligation to ensure that children are protected and receive essential humanitarian supplies and support. Over half of the population in Gaza are children. “It is critical that humanitarian assistance, including food, medical supplies and equipment be allowed into Gaza to address the urgent needs of children and women,” UNICEF said in statement.
Monday, December 29, 2008
The U.N. Security Council and the U.N. Secretary General have called on Israel and the Palestinians to end all military activies and violence, as Israeli airstrikes in response to rocket attacks by militants in Gaza reportedly killed 300 people and wounded more than 600 in the Strip. Click here to read more from the UN News Centre. Israeli troops and tanks are gathering along the Gaza border for a possible land invasion. Click here to read more.
I assume many of you international law professors out there are or recently have been spending lots of time grading final papers and exams. When I was a new law professor, I wrote a short tongue-in-cheek essay about the woes of grading that appeared in The Law Teacher in 2002. For those who need a light break, the link is here: The Five Stages of Grading.
Friday, December 26, 2008
How extensively should U.S. federal court judges question witnesses about the circumstances of how they entered the United States? Click here to read a thought-provoking post on this issue from Professor Colin Miller on the Evidence Prof Blog.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The Nicaraguan Government has given the indigenous Awas Tingni community the title to its traditional ancestral territory. The Nicaraguan Government gave the Awas Tingni title to approximately 74,000 hectares of densely forested lands. The move followed the historic decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on August 31, 2001 in the case of the Mayagna (Suma) Awas Tingni Community v. Nicaragua, where the Court found that Nicaragua had violated the rights of the Awas Tigni community by granting logging concessions within its traditional lands. The Court found that the right to property protects the traditional land tenure of indigenous peoples. Click here to read more about the Court decision in an article by S. James Anaya of the University of Arizona and Dean Claudio Grossman of the American University College of Law. (FYI, the article is about the court decision, not the return of land this month).
Germany has filed a complaint against Italy at the United Nations International Court of Justice over Italian court judgments that award damages to victims of Nazi war crimes. Germany claims that it has already paid reparations under international treaties with Italy. Germany also argues that as a sovereign state it has immunity in Italian courts, and that any Italian is therefore unenforceable. At the same time, it reiterated that Germany “fully acknowledges the untold suffering inflicted on Italian men and women” during World War ll. Here is a press release from the International Court of Justice with more background and context of this new litigation:
The Federal Republic of Germany instituted proceedings before the International Court of Justice against the Italian Republic, alleging that “[t]hrough its judicial practice . . . Italy has infringed and continues to infringe its obligations towards Germany under international law”.
In its Application, Germany contends: “In recent years, Italian judicial bodies have repeatedly disregarded the jurisdictional immunity of Germany as a sovereign State. The critical stage of that development was reached by the judgment of the Corte di Cassazione of 11 March 2004 in the Ferrini case, where [that court] declared that Italy held jurisdiction with regard to a claim . . . brought by a person who during World War II had been deported to Germany to perform forced labour in the armaments industry. After this judgment had been rendered, numerous other proceedings were instituted against Germany before Italian courts by persons who had also suffered injury as a consequence of the armed conflict.” The Ferrini judgment having been recently confirmed “in a series of decisions delivered on 29 May 2008 and in a further judgment of 21 October 2008”, Germany “is concerned that hundreds of additional cases may be brought against it”.
[Germany] recalls that enforcement measures have already been taken against German assets in Italy: a “judicial mortgage” on Villa Vigoni, the German-Italian centre of cultural exchange, has been recorded in the land register. In addition to the claims brought against it by Italian nationals, Germany also cites “attempts by Greek nationals to enforce in Italy a judgment obtained in Greece on account of a . . . massacre committed by German military units during their withdrawal in 1944”.
[Germany] requests the Court to adjudge and declare that Italy:
(1) by allowing civil claims based on violations of international humanitarian law by the German Reich during World War II from September 1943 to May 1945 to be brought against the Federal Republic of Germany, committed violations of obligations under international law in that it has failed to respect the jurisdictional immunity which the Federal Republic of Germany enjoys under international law;
(2) by taking measures of constraint against ‘Villa Vigoni’ [the German-Italian centre for cultural exchange], German State property used for government non-commercial purposes, also committed violations of Germany’s jurisdictional immunity;
(3) by declaring Greek judgments based on occurrences similar to those defined above in request No. 1 enforceable in Italy, committed a further breach of Germany’s jurisdictional immunity.
Accordingly, the Federal Republic of Germany prays the Court to adjudge and declare that:
(1) the Italian Republic’s international responsibility is engaged;
(2) the Italian Republic must, by means of its own choosing, take any and all steps to ensure that all the decisions of its courts and other judicial authorities infringing Germany’s sovereign immunity become unenforceable;
(3) the Italian Republic must take any and all steps to ensure that in the future Italian courts do not entertain legal actions against Germany founded on the occurrences described in request No. 1 above.”
Germany reserves the right to request the Court to indicate provisional measures in accordance with Article 41 of the Statute of the Court, “should measures of constraint be taken by Italian authorities against German State assets, in particular diplomatic and other premises that enjoy protection against such measures pursuant to general rules of international law”.
As the basis for the jurisdiction of the Court, Germany invokes Article 1 of the European Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes adopted by members of the Council of Europe on 29 April 1957, ratified by Italy on 29 January 1960 and ratified by Germany on 18 April 1961. That Article states:
“The High Contracting Parties shall submit to the judgment of the International Court of Justice all international legal disputes which may arise between them including, in particular, those concerning:
(a) the interpretation of a treaty;
(b) any question of international law;
(c) the existence of any fact which, if established, would constitute a breach of an international obligation;
(d) the nature or extent of the reparation to be made for the breach of an international obligation.”
Germany asserts that, although the present case is between two Member States of the European Union, the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg has no jurisdiction to entertain it, since the dispute is not governed by any of the jurisdictional clauses in the treaties on European integration. It adds that outside of that “specific framework” the Member States “continue to live with one another under the regime of general international law”.
The Application was accompanied by a Joint Declaration adopted on the occasion of German-Italian Governmental Consultations in Trieste on 18 November 2008, whereby both Governments declared that they “share the ideals of reconciliation, solidarity and integration, which form the basis of the European construction”. In this declaration Germany “fully acknowledges the untold suffering inflicted on Italian men and women” during World War II.
Italy, for its part, “respects Germany’s decision to apply to the International Court of Justice for a ruling on the principle of state immunity [and] is of the view that the ICJ’s ruling on State immunity will help to clarify this complex issue”.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Dear readers, on this Christmas Eve 2008, we would like to take a moment to wish you all a very happy holiday season (whatever holidays you celebrate in your country) and a great start to 2009. Thank you for being part of this new blog and please keep visiting us in 2009!
Cindy, Cyndee, Mark, and Mike
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
In January 2008, a group of American families obtained a U.S. $6 billion judgment in U.S. District Court against Libya in connection with the 1989 bombing of UTA Flight 772 in which 170 persons lost their lives, including 7 Americans. See Pugh v. Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, 530 F.Supp.2d 216 (D.D.C. 2008). The Americans sued under the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. In August, the governments of Libya and the U.S. reached a settlement agreement pursuant to which Libya agreed to pay the U.S. $1.5 billion in settlement of these claims and others. According to the U.S. State Department, the beneficiaries of the seven American victims will each be eligible to receive approximately $10 million. Some of the Pugh families are unhappy that they took their case to court and won, only to have the judgment nullified by the U.S. government and their award significantly reduced. On the one hand, it may be argued that the U.S. government used these families to pressure Libya into a settlement by encouraging them to invest significant resources, financial, emotional and otherwise, in a lawsuit. On the other hand, the families did get the public condemnation of LIbya they say they desired and they are much more likely to actually recover money from Libya under the settlement than through efforts to collect on their judgment, so perhaps this result is not so bad in the long run. As a legal matter, the President's power to enter into agreements with foreign nations to settle monetary claims has been upheld numerous times in cases, such as Dames & Moore, Garamendi, Pink, and Belmont. In this case, it appears the President is on particularly solid legal ground because Congress has approved the settlement agreement in the Libyan Claims Resolution Act.
For more background, see the N.Y. Times article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/22/AR2008122202050.html?wpisrc=newsletterse
Trademark that hologram? Or a three-dimensional product? The Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks (“the Singapore Treaty”) will enter into force on 16 March 2009, thanks to the ratification by Australia (which became the tenth country to ratify the treaty). The text of the treaty was approved by member States of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in March 2006. WIPO's Director General, Francis Gurry, said that the entry into force opens the way for the branded goods industry to register and manage trademark rights cost-effectively and efficiently. The Treaty standardizes procedural aspects of trademark registration and licensing and enables trademark owners and national trademark authorities to use modern communications technologies to manage trademark rights. Thus the Singapore Treaty explicitly recognizes that trademarks are no longer limited to two-dimensional labels on products. Indeed, the Regulations under the Singapore Treaty expressly mention new types of marks, such as hologram marks, motion marks, color marks, and marks consisting of non-visible signs, such as sound or taste marks. Click here to read more
Monday, December 22, 2008
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Interest Group and the United States Institute for Peace International Network to Promote the Rule of Law (INPROL), in cooperation with the American Bar Association Section of International Law, will host a seminar on “Transitional Justice and Rule of Law.” The speakers will be Ambassador John Herbst (Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, U.S. Department of State) and Ambassador Clint Williamson (Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues). The moderator will be Melanne Civic, Senior Rule of Law Advisor at the U.S. Department of State. The event will be Thursday, January 22, 2009, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the American Society of International Law, 2223 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008. Click here for more information.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
In the United States, federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs provide cash benefits and job retraining to workers and farmers who have been displaced by the off-shoring of U.S. jobs, falling prices resulting from increased imports, and other consequences of international trade. But workers and farmers have been seriously hampered in their attempts to gain TAA benefits by persistent and pervasive mismanagement of the TAA programs by the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's the point made by Professor Steven Schwinn of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, whose new article describes some of the problems that workers and farmers have faced in applying for and receiving TAA benefits. While legislative changes may address some of these problems, the article argues that legal counsel for workers and farmers is a necessary component of any plan to ensure that TAA benefits reach those they were designed to help.
Click here to download the article. (Click on the link, then click on Download this paper)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
We're celebrating more than 15,000 visits to the International Law Prof Blog. We are especially pleased to have a wide readership from all around the world, including with colleagues who live in countries where direct communication is sometimes otherwise difficult. We thank you for your visits, comments, and contributions. Please continue to send us news of conferences, books and other legal scholarship, moot court competitions, international exchange opportunities, and important substantive developments in international law. Here's an update of the list of places from which we have visitors to our blog . . . our latest addition to the list is Malta!
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Thank you all for visiting the International Law Prof Blog.
The U.N. Security Council called on the United Nations war crimes tribunals dealing with the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the Balkans conflicts of the 1990s to conduct their trials as quickly and efficiently as possible, and pledged to support their efforts to complete their work.
Ambassador Neven Juric of Croatia, which holds the Council Presidency for the month of December, noted that “the deadline for completion of trial activities at first instance has not been met and that the Tribunals have indicated that their work is not likely to end in 2010.”
The completion strategy of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) requires it to finish trials of first instance by 2009. But its President, Patrick Robinson, told the Security Council that while the Tribunal was still on track to complete most of its trials during 2009, some trials would continue into the first part of 2010. This would also affect the dates for appeals, which may spill over into 2012.
Likewise, President Dennis Byron of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said that instead of the decreased workload that might have been expected with the Tribunal moving towards the completion of its mandate, the court was now confronted with as many as 10 new cases. At the same time, ICTR is faced with the resignation of judges and 13 fugitives remained at large.
To assist the ICTR, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing the Secretary-General to appoint up to three additional ad litem, or short-term, judges to ICTR, as requested by its President. The Council took a similar decision regarding the ICTY last week. Click here to read Security Council Resolution 1849 on ICTY.
Friday, December 19, 2008
For those of you who enjoy following briefing schedules, the International Court of Justice has directed the Rebublic of Nicaragua to submit a Reply and the Republic of Colombia to submit a Rejoinder in the case known as Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia). Click here to read more.
The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia rendered its judgment in the Astrit Haraqija and Bajrush Morina Contempt of Court case. It found both defendants guilty of trying to persuade a witness not to testify in the trial of Ramush Haradinaj and others. Harqija was sentenced to five months' imprisonment and Morina to three months’ imprisonment.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia ordered disclosure to Radovan Karadzic of any written or recorded evidence the prosecution may have concerning an alleged meeting in July 1996 between Karadzic and Richard Holbrooke. Karadzic claims that Holbrooke offered him immunity if he would withdraw from public life. Click here to read more on the International Law Reporter Blog nicely run by Professor Jacob Katz Cogan at the University of Cincinatti College of Law.
By the way, the ICTY has now concluded proceedings against 116 persons. Click here to visit the new website for the ICTY.
ICTR Gives Life Sentences for Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity to Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva; Kabiligi Acquitted and Released
From an ICTR Press Release: Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) rendered judgement in the “Military I” case involving four senior officers of the Rwandan army in 1994: Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, Director of Cabinet in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence; General Gratien Kabiligi, head of the military operations bureau (G-3) of the army general staff; Major Aloys Ntabakuze, commander of the Para Commando Battalion; and Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva, commander of the Operational Sector of Gisenyi.
It sentenced Bagosora, Ntabakuze and Nsengiyumva to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes based on their role in crimes committed in Rwanda. The Chamber acquitted Kabiligi of all charges against him and ordered his release. It also acquitted each of the Accused of conspiring to commit genocide before 7 April 1994.
The Chamber found that, in the first days after the death of President Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, Bagosora was the highest authority in the Rwandan Ministry of Defence with authority over the Rwandan military. He was considered responsible for the killing, on 7 April, of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana, Joseph Kavaruganda, the President of the Constitutional Court, as well as Frédéric Nzamurambaho, Landoald Ndasingwa and Faustin Rucogoza, who were opposition party officials and government ministers. He was found guilty in connection with the killing of ten Belgian peacekeepers who were killed by soldiers at Camp Kigali on 7 April. Bagosora was also responsible for the organised killings perpetrated by soldiers and militiamen at a number of sites throughout Kigali and Gisenyi between 6 and 9 April. Ntabakuze was found guilty, as the commander of the elite Para Commando Battalion, for the participation of his soldiers in killings at Kabeza, Nyanza Hill and the L’Institut Africain et Mauricien de Statistiques et d’Economie (IAMSEA) in Kigali. Nsengiyumva was considered responsible for massacres at Mudende University, Nyundo Parish as well as the targeted killing of civilians in Gisenyi prefecture, the area under his operational command. He was also guilty of sending militiamen to the Bisesero area of Kibuye prefecture to kill Tutsi refugees in June 1994. The Prosecution alleged that Kabiligi participated in the distribution of weapons, meetings to plan the genocide as well as a number of specific crimes, many of which were related to roadblocks in the Kigali area. Kabiligi advanced a successful alibi for much of this time period. It was also not proven that he had operational authority or that he targeted civilians.
The trial opened on 2 April 2002 before Trial Chamber III. After the non-reelection of one judge and the announced retirement of another, the case was transferred with the consent of the Accused in June 2003 to Trial Chamber I, composed of Judges Erik Møse of Norway (presiding), Sergei Alekseevich Egorov of Russia and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji.
A total of 242 witnesses were heard during the trial, 82 for the Prosecution and 160 for the Defence. The trial concluded after 408 days. More than 300 written judicial decisions were issued during the course of the proceedings.
In parallel with this trial, the judges heard nine single-accused cases. The Prosecution trial team was lead by Barbara Mulvaney of the United States. The Defence teams were led by Raphaël Constant of Martinique (Bagosora); Paul Skolnik of Canada (Kabiligi); Peter Erlinder of the United States (Ntabakuze); and Kennedy Ogetto of Kenya (Nsengiyumva).
Thursday, December 18, 2008
It used to be that when I taught the 1980 Filartiga v. Pena-Irala case on torture and came to the reference to piracy from United States v. Smith (1820), it all seemed like ancient history to my students. However, the regular news reports in 2008 regarding piracy off the coast of Somalia has renewed interest in the issue of piracy under international law. In Filartiga, the U.S. Circuit Court opined: "[t]he torturer has become-like the pirate and slave trader before him-hostis humani generis, an enemy of all mankind." Statements such as these by jurists and others contribute to the international law concept that piracy is a crime over which there is universal jurisdiction, i.e., that all states have the duty to prevent and punish piracy. Regional and international cooperation will clearly be necessary to reduce or end piracy in the waters surrounding the Horn of Africa.
On December 16, 2008, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) issued a press release proposing measures to stop piracy in the Horn of Africa, which includes a number of measures to deter, arrest and punish pirates. In this day and age, "[p]irates cannot be keel-hauled or forced to walk the plank, nor should they be dumped off the Somali coast," says UNDOC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. Rather, "they need to be brought to justice." Somali pirates cannot be tried in Somalia because its criminal justice system has collapsed. According to Mr. Costa, trials in the countries where the vessels are flagged are also unlikely because those countries do not want to deal with crimes committed thousands of miles away. Some consideration has been given to the idea that the country that captures the pirates, such as the United States or India, could hold trials; however, Mr. Costa suggests that procedural protections under international human rights law may hinder that idea as well. Accordingly, UNDOC is proposing that pirates be tried in the region after having been arrested by local policemen. UNDOC suggests that local policemen from countries such as Kenya, Tanzania or Yemen, be employed as "ship riders" on warships operating off the Horn of Africa and that these "ship riders" effect the arrest of the pirates in the name of their home countries and have the pirates sent to those countries for trial. According to UNDOC, this practice has been employed in the Caribbean to arrest drug traffickers.