May 24, 2008
U.S. Should Pay Its U.N. Dues - Legislation Passes House and Senate
The United Nations Association for the United States of American (UNA-USA) is reporting that both the House and Senate have adopted versions of an emergency supplemental spending bill (H.R. 2642) to provide increased funding for UN peacekeeping and membership dues to international organizations, including the United Nations.
UN Human Rights Council prepares for new session, new members
On Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly elected 15 Member States to three-year terms on the 47-member Human Rights Council. Ten States were effectively "re-elected: Brazil, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Zambia were voted into seats vacated at the conclusion of their own three-year terms.
Meanwhile, five new States joined the Council. Argentina and Chile take the Latin American and Caribbean seats formerly occupied by Guatemala and Peru; Burkina Faso replaces Gabon in the only one of the 13 African seats to change hands; Bahrain replaces Sri Lanka as one of the 13 Asian members; and Slovakia replaces Romania in one of the six seats reserved for Eastern European States.
The African and Latin American/Caribbean slots were uncontested. In other regions, four States (Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Serbia, and Spain) failed to receive the 97-member majority required for election.
The new members will take their seats in the Council on June 20.
Before that date, the Council will conclude one more session in its current composition. The Eighth Session of the Human Rights Council will begin on June 2 and conclude on June 18. The Session will take up a number of issues, including:
(1) Follow-up and implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia;
(2) Follow-up and implementation of the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which clarified the UN's position on the relationship among the various human rights instruments and organs;
(3) Assessing the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied territories;
(4) Assessing the human rights situation in Myanmar;
(5) Hearing reports from UN Special Rapporteurs and Representatives and making recommendations on the following topics:
internally displaced persons, summary executions, judicial independence, poverty, transnational corporations, and trafficking;
(6) Discussing the current state of human rights of women; and
(7) Conducting "universal periodic review" of the human rights situation in 32 States.
On Thursday, the Council completed its Seventh Special Session, on the impact of soaring food prices on the right to food.
Established in 2006 by General Assembly Resolution 60/251, the Council replaced the UN Human Rights Commission as the principle UN body for human rights. For more information on the Eighth Session, see the UN's website on the meetings at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/8session/index.htm. For more information on the Council itself, see its homepage at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/.
May 23, 2008
Human Rights: The Gambia
The President of The Gambia, Yahyeh Jammeh, made statements ordering homosexuals to leave the country within 24 hours, and threatening to arrest hotel owners who rented rooms to gays or lesbians. Below is the text of a letter by Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), condemning the statements and analyzing them in the context of international human rights law.
President Jammeh, a former army lieutenant, overthrew the democratically-elected government of the Gambia in 1994, while the Gambian President was on a visiting U.S. warship.
Here's the text of the letter to President Jammeh:
President Yayeh Jammeh
Private Mail Bag
Banjul, The Gambia
I write on behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) to express our concern and outrage over reports that you have given gay men and lesbians twenty-four hours to leave the Gambia, or face “serious consequences”. Reports in the Daily Observer indicate that you have warned landlords, hotel owners and others who might rent dwellings to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people that they must expel gay men and lesbians from their dwellings.
President Jammeh, your statements are in direct violation of your country’s own Constitution and compromise Gambia’s adherence to several international and regional human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Gambian Constitution states that “every person shall have the right to liberty and security of the person.” The African Charter, in Article 2 states that “every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status."
Your statements tell the people of Gambia that it is acceptable to turn away its neighbors who are need. Article 12 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, of which your country is a signatory, states that, “every individual shall have the right, when persecuted, to seek and obtain asylum in other countries in accordance with laws of those countries and international conventions.” Any gay or lesbian person, be they a Gambian national or a refugee from a neighboring country, has the right to the protection of the Gambian government, not its enmity. By threatening hotel owners who rent rooms to LGBT people, you are further denying individuals the rights to housing and security and ordering business owners to discriminate based on their fear of government reprisal.
You were also quoted, President Jammeh, to have threatened “to cut off the head” of any homosexual caught in the Gambia. The ICCPR and the African Charter condemn extra-judicial executions and political killings. The Yogyakarta Principles, signed by several prominent African jurists, have made clear that “everyone has the right to life” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life, including by reference to considerations of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Your threats are creating an environment of fear and persecution in your country.
Gambia hosts the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and several key human rights non-governmental organizations. As such, you have a special responsibility to move above your personal moral or religious beliefs and recognize that while viewpoints on homosexuality may differ in the Gambia, your country is committed to a human rights regime that includes the basic human rights of all minorities. Intolerance and hatred are distinctly unspiritual values denounced by the Bible, the Koran, and all other major religious texts.
President Jammeh, we ask that you immediately retract your statements and make clear to the Gambian public that violence against any segment of the population will not be tolerated. We will be vigilantly monitoring the human rights situation in the Gambia, with particular focus on the treatment of LGBT Gambians, to ensure that your statements do not escalate levels of violence. Thousands of visitors come to your country each year from Africa, Europe and North America and experience the warm and open hospitality of the Gambian people. Our belief is that the Gambian people are accepting and tolerant of differences, be they linguistic, ethnic or sexual.
Furthermore, we ask that you begin the process of repealing Article 144 of the Criminal Code of 1965, which calls for the imprisonment of people convicted of consensual homosexual acts for up to 14 years. This law, inherited from the British penal code, is no longer acceptable in a modern society, respectful of human rights and values.
Blaming sexual minorities for the problems of the country is a strategy that has been tried in other countries. Gay and lesbian people are not your problem or your enemy. They are your sons and daughters, the teachers of your children, the pastors of your churches, the leaders of your mosques, the seller of tomatoes in the market. We are everywhere, making contributions everyday to the development of our countries.
Gambian authorities must respect and protect the human rights of all those living within the country’s borders, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
We look forward to your rapid response.
Canada: New Supreme Court Decision on International Criminal Law, Human Rights, and More
Today the Supreme Court of Canada issued a ground-breaking decision in Canada (Justice) v. Khadr. I wanted to share this with those who are interested in international criminal law, human rights law, conflict of laws, and what Canada is up to …
Before I provide the information about the decision, I want to say that I sympathize with the soldiers and families of soldiers in Iraq. I am not sending this to offend anyone or to make any sort of political commentary. I acknowledge that the topic is a difficult one for many and the facts are horrible. I only want to share this information because it may be relevant for some.
Omar Khadr is accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Iraq. He was injured in the same fire-fight. He was treated for his wounds. He was sent to Gitmo. Khadr's U.S. war-crimes trial is scheduled to begin later this year. His U.S. defence lawyers are seeking material in order to prepare his defence. Some of the information the U.S defence lawyers cannot get through the U.S. procedures have been requested from the Government of Canada.
In today's decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered the federal government of Canada to hand over information that it obtained during interrogation sessions that Canadian agents held with him in 2003. Further, the Court ordered the delivery of any information that Canadian authorities have given to their US counterparts as a direct consequence of conducting the interviews.
The reason for ordering the disclosure of the information is summarized as follows:
"The principles of international law and comity of nations, which normally require that Canadian officials operating abroad comply with local law, do not extend to participation in processes that violate Canada’s international human rights obligations. ... The process in place at the time Canadian officials interviewed Mr. Khadr and passed the fruits of the interviews on to U.S. officials has been found by the United States Supreme Court to violate U.S. domestic law and international human rights obligations to which Canada is party. In light of these decisions by the United States Supreme Court that the process at Guantanamo Bay did not comply with either U.S. domestic or international law, the comity concerns that would normally justify deference to foreign law do not apply in this case. Consequently, the Charter applies, and Canada is under a s. 7 duty of disclosure. The content of this duty is defined by the nature of Canada’s participation in the process that violated Canada’s international human rights obligations. In the present circumstances, this duty requires Canada to disclose to Mr. Khadr records of the interviews conducted by Canadian officials with him, and information given to U.S. authorities as a direct consequence of conducting the interviews, subject to claims for privilege and public interest immunity."
However, the Supreme Court of Canada did not order the delivery of a U.S. military report of the battle that took place on the day Khadr was arrested, which had been shared with the Canadian authorities.
"The U.S. government claims to have somehow misplaced it," the U.S Defence lawyer said in an interview. "The only way to get that report was to get it from Canada. We requested everything, but unfortunately, the Supreme Court has not gone far enough today."
However with respect to the ordered disclosure and in an attempt to acknowledge the unique nature of the materials at issue, the Court states:
"....This disclosure is subject to the balancing of national security and other considerations as required by ss. 38 ff. of the Canada Evidence Act.
 ... it is not possible on the record before this Court to determine what specific records should be disclosed to Mr. Khadr. In order to assess what specific documents must be disclosed as falling within the group of documents described in para. 37, a designated judge of the Federal Court must review the documents. The designated judge will also consider any privilege or public interest immunity claim that is raised, including any claim under ss. 38 ff. of the Canada Evidence Act.
 The designated judge will review the material and receive submissions from the parties, and decide which documents fall within the categories set out in para. 37 above. In particular, the designated judge will determine which records fall within the scope of the disclosure obligation as being (i) records of the interviews conducted by Canadian officials with Mr. Khadr, or (ii) records of information given to U.S. authorities as a direct consequence of Canada’s having interviewed Mr. Khadr.
 Pursuant to s. 38.06 of the Canada Evidence Act, the designated judge will then consider whether disclosure of the records described in (i) and (ii) to Mr. Khadr would be injurious to international relations or national defence or national security, and whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance the public interest in non-disclosure. The designated judge will decide whether to authorize the disclosure of all the information, a part or summary of the information, or a written admission of facts relating to the information, subject to any conditions that the judge considers appropriate. We note that this review is currently ongoing pursuant to this Court’s order of January 23, 2008."
To read a copy of the decision, please click http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2008/2008scc28/2008scc28.html
Cyndee Todgham Cherniak
Possible international humanitarian law violations in Myanmar
Several European officials have raised the possibility that the government of Myanmar has violated international humanitarian law by hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid to its people after Cyclone Nargis. Some European officials have suggested that the international community should invoke the "responsibility to protect" or "R2P" principle to justify intervention in Myanmar even in the absence of governmental permission. Yesterday (May 22), the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating that if the the Myanmar government does not change its position, it should be held accountable for committing a crime against humanity. The EU Parliament urged the EU to seek a United Nations Security Council resolution referring the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the Myanmar government continues to prevent aid from reaching survivors in disaster areas. In contrast, other European leaders have suggested that these types of actions will provoke the Myanmar government and make the sitution worse.
ICJ Decision in Malaysia v. Singapore
The International Court of Justice ruled today in a territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore. The court found that Singapore has sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh; that Malaysia has sovereignty over Middle Rocks; and that sovereignty over South Ledge belongs to the State in the territorial waters o f which it is located. Click here for the press release from the International Court of Justice. The press release includes a summary of the reasoning of the court. Click here for the text of the decision.
May 22, 2008
Foreign Law Research Guide
Here's a link to a comprehensive list of foreign law sources. It was compiled by Lyonette Louis-Jacques at the University of Chicago Law School.
Hat tip to Danice Kern.
Summer Calendar - Conferences and Events
With North American law schools shutting down for the summer, the international associations and learned societies have kicked their conference season into high gear. The following list is necessarily incomplete; I welcome all submissions and will update this calendar as the summer progresses.
19th Annual Conference on the Globalisation of Investment Funds
International Bar Association and National Investment Company Service Association
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/19th_Globalisation_Investment_Funds/
"Complementing IHL: Exploring the Need for Additional Norms to Govern Contemporary Conflict Situations"
Hebrew University Jerusalem
For more information: http://law.mscc.huji.ac.il/law1/minerva/docs/ComplIHL.pdf
2nd Annual Asia Pacific Mergers and Acquisitions Summit
Asia Law and Practice
Hong Kong, PRC
For more information: http://international.lawsociety.org.uk/node/2305
2008 Pathways to Justice Conference
California State Bar
Los Angeles, California (USA)
For more information: http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/comcom/SCDLS_Pathways-2008_Save-Date.pdf
International Council for Commercial Arbitration 2008 Conference
For more information: http://www.iccadublin2008.org/
36th National Spring Conference on the Environment, "Climate Change II: How the Law Can Best Address Climate Change"
ABA Standing Committee on Environmental Law
Baltimore, Maryland (USA)
For more information: http://www.abanet.org/environ/calendar/pdf/36thNatSprConf060608_brochure.pdf
International Maritime Law Conference
International Bar Association
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/Maritime_Law/
U.S.-Latin American Tax Planning Strategies Conference
American Bar Association
Miami, Florida (USA)
For more information: http://meetings.abanet.org/meeting/tax/miami08/
11th Transnational Crime Conference
International Bar Association Criminal Law Committee
London, United Kingdom
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/11th_Transnational_Crime/
7th International Mergers and Acquisitions Conference
International Bar Association Business Organisations Committee
New York, NY (USA)
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/7th_Mergers_Acquisitions/
"Capital Markets Conference"
International Bar Association
Sao Paulo, Brazil
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/capitalmarkets/
World Jurist Association 2008 Jerusalem Conference
"The Pursuit of Peace Through the Rule of Law at Times of Violence"
For more information: http://www.worldjurist.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=41
4th Global Administrative Law Seminar: "GAL: From Fragmentation to Unity?"
Istituto di Ricerche sulla Pubblica Amministrazione
For more information: http://www.irpa.eu/index.asp?idA=167
"Justice Sector Reform: Applying Human Rights Based Approaches"
International Human Rights Network training programme
National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland
For more information: http://www.ihrnetwork.org/justice-sector-reform_202.htm
Fordham Law School's Third Annual Conference on International Arbitration and Mediation
New York, New York (USA)
For more information: http://law.fordham.edu/ihtml/eventitemPP.ihtml?id=37&idc=9070&template=cle
"Crisis Litigation: The Role of the Lawyer"
International Bar Association Litigation Committee
Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/Litigation/
44th Conference of the Inter-American Bar Association
For more information: http://www.iaba.org/XLIV_Conf_Lima_main.htm
2008 International Law Enforcement IP Crime Conference
Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada)
For more information: http://www.interpol.int/public/financialcrime/intellectualproperty/meeting/CanadaJune2008/Default.asp
"The Aarhus Conference at Ten: Interactions and Tensions between Conventional International Law and EU Environmental Law"
University of Amsterdam Centre for Environmental Law
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
For more information: http://www.jur.uva.nl/cvm/actueel.cfm/F58D5861-1321-B0BE-A4F8DAF20303D4F3#p2
5th Annual Convention of the North American South Asian Bar Association
Chicago, Illinois (USA)
For more information: http://www.nasabaconvention.org/
2008 Annual Conference
Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law
For more information: http://law.anu.edu.au/anzsil/
June 30-July 1
"Europe and the Globalisation of Antitrust"
International Bar Association Antitrust and Trade Law Section
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/Europe_Golbalisation_Antitrust/
July 7-August 8
60th Session of the International Law Commission
For more information: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/sessions/60/60sess.htm
Resources Law Conference South East Asia
International Bar Association and Australian Resources and Energy Law Association
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/Mining_Oil_Gas_Law/
"The Function of Law in the International Community"
25th Anniversary Celebration of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law
Cambridge, United Kingdom
For more information: http://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/news/article.php?section=25&article=673
Inaugural Conference of the Society of International Economic Law
For more information: http://www.sielnet.org/Default.aspx?pageId=108611
Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law
New York, NY (USA)
For more information: http://www.abanet.org/intlaw/annual08/annual_home.html
International Law Association, 73rd Annual Biennial Conference
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For more information: http://www.ilabrasil.org.br/hotsite/?lang=en
2nd International Humanitarian Law Dialogues
For more information: http://law.wustl.edu/higls/documents/IHLDialogsSavetheDate08.pdf
Chautauqua, New York (USA)
UN Human Rights Council Elections
Elections were held on May 21 for 15 of the 47 seats in the UN Human Rights Council. The elections were somewhat controversial because some of the newly elected members, including Pakistan, Bahrain, Gabon and Zambia, have been critized by NGO watchdogs for their human rights records in the recent past. France and the United Kingdom also were among those elected.
In accordance with paragraph 7 of General Assembly Resoultion 60/251, the Human Rights Council "shall consist of forty-seven Member States, which shall be elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the General Assembly; the membership shall be based on equitable geographical distribution, and seats shall be distributed as follows among regional groups: Group of African States, thirteen; Group of Asian States, thirteen; Group of Eastern European States, six; Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, eight; and Group of Western European and other States, seven; the members of the Council shall serve for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms”.
Welcome and Introduction by Michael Peil
I am the Assistant Dean for International Programs at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, where I administer the school's study abroad, exchange, Visiting Scholars, and other student and faculty mobility programs. In particular, I administer the annual Summer Institute for Global Justice (jointly run with Case Western and Utrecht Law School) and the new Transnational Law Program (a joint enterprise with Utrecht University, University of Trento, Queen's University Belfast, and Catholic University of Portugal). I am also the Executive Director of the law school's Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute, where I work with director Leila Nadya Sadat to administer the scholarly aspects of the school's international, comparative, and transnational programming.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Ukraine Joins WTO
Ukraine became the 152nd member of the World Trade Organization, completing a accession negotiations that began 15 years ago. Read more about it from the WTO. Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe by area, and has a population of 46.6 million people.
The Law Librarian Blog announced that a book called The Secret Treaties of History has won the Association of American Law Libraries Joseph L. Andrews Bibliographical Award. The book is by Edward Grosek, and it indexes treaties that nations entered into secretly. The book annotates 973 secret treaties (some going back to as early as 499 A.D.) among 110 nations.
The Law Librarian Blog notes correctly that is a unique resource for legal researchers. Grosek is an associate professor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb Illinois and is in charge of the United Nations collection at the Founders Memorial Library. The book is now in its second edition, published by Hein.
Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog
May 21, 2008
Bibliographies for International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law
China: U.S. State Department Background Notes
When I was a college student I subscribed to the U.S. State Department's Background Notes, which had detailed information on every country. These reports were always fascinating to me, and they still are. The only difference is that they are now available online for free. Here's a link to the report for China. You can click on that link and find reports for other countries. These reports are a great resource, and now they're free.
China: WTO Trade Policy Review
China is the third largest trader in the world, thanks to reforms in Chinese trade laws and policies. The World Trade Organization has just posted its trade policy report for China. Click here for a link to a WTO press release that will give you further links to the WTO report and also a report from the Chinese government.
International Students in U.S. Law Schools
U.S. law schools continue to admit an ever-increasing number of students from other countries, including students whose first language is not English. Here is a short article that describes curricular choices that writing directors at U.S. law schools must make to meet the needs of international students. The article considers five essential points when designing writing and research programs for international students: (1) assess the needs of your international students; (2) set reasonable goals; (3) find appropriate course materials; (4) evaluate the course and have students evaluate it as well; and (5) document the need to support additional resources for international students. Click here to read the full article.
May 20, 2008
Not too late to study in Greece this summer
If your students are still wondering what to do this summer, our friends at the Legal Profession Blog have posted news that it is not too late to get into Tulane's summer study program in Greece. Click here for more information.
Hat tip to the Legal Profession Blog
International Law Reports
International Law Reports will soon be available electronically. This is the reporter series that gave us the most significant international law cases, going back to 1919. I've always found it to be an excellent resource in its printed version, and enjoyed browsing the subject-matter index in the back of each volume and the wide range of jurisdictions and international tribunals set forth in the front of the book. Now we'll have the pleasure of searching electronically as well. Click here for more information on the forthcoming electronic version.
This series is a great resource for international scholarship and for students competiting in moot court competitions such as the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. It was, at least for me, a great way to document some of the national practices that help create rules of customary international law, as well as being a source of general rules and interpretations of treaties.
Careers in International Law
Careers in International Law, a best-selling career guide from the ABA Section of International Law, has now been published in a second edition. It's a collection of essays by leading international lawyers about their own careers and career paths. It's a useful guide for law students and new lawyers who are seeking to enter the field of international law. It's also useful for more experienced international lawyers who are seeking to move into a new area of international practice. Here's the table of contents, which shows a wide range of topics and author experiences:
May 19, 2008
A Good First Day!
We had approximately 100 visitors on our first day of operation. Thank you all. Most of our visitors were from the United States, but we had visitors from these jurisdictions:
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
Thanks for visiting!