September 13, 2008
Serbian President Calls for ICJ Advisory Opinion on Kosovo
On Thursday, September 11, Serbian President Boris Tadic sent a letter to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly requesting that the General Assembly adopt a resolution asking that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) render an advisory opinion on the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence. President Tadic proposes that the Court answer the following question: "Was the unilateral independence declaration by the temporary self-government institutions in Kosovo in line with international law?" Serbia has not recognized Kosovo's independence, believing that it is a violation of Serbia's territorial integrity as recognized by the UN Charter and UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The United States and several European countries have recognized Serbia's independence, but Russia, a close ally of Serbia, has not. Kosovo's neighboring states in the former Yugoslavia remain divided on the issue as well.
Under Article 65 of the ICJ Statute, the Court may give an advisory opinion on any legal question at the request of any body that is authorized to make such a request under the UN Charter. Article 96 of the UN Charter authorizes the UN General Assembly to request advisory opinions. In his letter to the General Assembly, President Tadic stated his belief that: "The impartial advisory opinion is considered to be the most deserving interpretation of the principles of international legal order. The opinion of the ICJ would significantly contribute to easing tensions created as a consequence of the unilateral declaration of the independence of Kosovo, it would prevent unfavorable developments in the region and facilitate efforts for agreement between all the sides involved.” The UN General Assembly will begin its 63rd Session on Tuesday, September 16, at which time it will may whether to take up the request.
War Crimes Conference Streamed Live This Weekend
A war crimes conference is streaming live this weekend. Click here for details from our friends at the Law Librarian Blog.
September 12, 2008
Dutch Court Rejects Claim Against its Peacekeepers
A court in the Netherlands this week rejected a claim for compensation that a group of Bosnian Muslims had brought against the Dutch government, alleging that the Dutch peacekeepers failed to protect them during the massacres at Srebrenica. Click here to read more in a post on intlawgrrls.
Professor Cindy Buys and I made two presentations today on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) and current efforts in Illinois to promote knowledge about rights that foreign nationals have when they are arrested or detained. The issue is one that poses interesting and difficult situations for consular officials working in the United States.
Effect of the Dissolution of Canada's Parliament on Business
On September 7, 2008, the Governor General of Canada dissolved the House of Commons on the advice of the Canadian Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Stephen Harper. The Governor General of Canada gave instructions to issue writs of election, and thereby started an election campaign period. Election day is set for October 14, 2008 and the writs of election are to be returned by November 4, 2008, at which time the House of Commons will resume. The effect of the September 7, 2008 dissolution of the House of Commons is that the life of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session has ended. This means that all business of the House of Commons has ended. For example:
Canada's House of Commons had ceased to exist as an assembly.
- All Chamber activity has stopped and all incomplete business has been terminated. This means that any legislation that has been tabled for consideration stops and must be retabled when the House of Commons resumes, regardless of the stage at which the legislation reached in the legislative process. All government bills tabled in the House of Commons, or sent to the Senate, all Senate bills and all Private Members' bills die on the order paper.
- The Government is no longer obligated to answer written questions, to respond to petitions, or produce papers requested by the House of Commons.
- The Government is no longer obligated to provide responses to Committee reports. Even those that may have been requested in the previous session.
- The Committees (such as the Standing Committee on Finance) have ceased to exist.
- All orders of reference have expired, and the chairs and vice-chairs of all Committees are relieved of their duties.
Some federal activities continue. The Government bureaucrats continue to forge ahead on various initiatives even though their instructions may change depending on the outcome of the election. Orders in Council and regulations continue to be made as they do not require approval of the House of Commons to become law. However, during an election campaign period, Orders in Council and regulations are usually limited to noncontroversial administrative matters. Controversial decisions, appointments to important positions, and/or policy decisions that might unreasonably bind future governments are usually postponed until a new government is sworn in.
The Cabinet and its Ministers continue to hold full and complete authority and to function as Ministers until their replacements are sworn in. Their ministerial work is limited to tasks that are routine in nature, such as signing official documents that require a Minister's signature.
The Cabinet might meet during the election period, particularly if there is an emergency. However, government policy initiatives will not go forward for Cabinet approval.
September 11, 2008
Memorial services are being held today in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania to remember the terrible attacks of September 11, 2001.
We take a moment here to remember as well.
September 10, 2008
Serbia takes a step closer to the EU
On Tuesday, September 9, the Serbian National Assembly ratified a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union (EU) by a vote of 140-28, bringing Serbia a step closer toward EU accession. The SAA must now be ratified by the EU Member States, the EU Council of Ministers and the EU Parliament. According to the EU, the Stabilization and Assocation Process with respect to the countries of the Western Balkans is intended to ensure peace and stability in the region by providing support for the strengthening of democracy and the rule of law and the development of a market economy. The EU has made Serbia's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia a key condition of the SAA.
September 9, 2008
Call for Papers: National Law School of India Review
The National Law School of India Review invites submissions for its forthcoming issues. Click here for more information. A further link on that website provides information on author guidelines for articles, essays, and casenotes on develpments in India and other countries.
Washburn Conference on Terrorism, Detainees, and Military Commissions
The Washburn University School of Law Center for Law and Government and the Washburn Law Journal will present a conference on November 13-14, 2008 on the topic of The Rule of Law and the Global War on Terrorism: Detainees, Interrogations, and Military Commissions. Click here for more information.
- William C. Banks
- Christopher W. Behan
- George P. Fletcher
- David J. R. Frakt
- David E. Graham;
- Amos Guiora
- Samuel V. Jones
- Joseph Margulies
- The Honorable Alberto J. Mora
- Mary Ellen O'Connell
- Michael P. O'Connor
- Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper
- Celia Rumann
- Thomas J. Romig
- Philippe Sands
- Charlie Savage
- Robert F. Turner
- Sean Watts
- Noah S. Weisbord
Selected papers will be published in the Washburn Law Journal. Click here for a complete schedule of presentations and registration information. Registration is complimentary, but do register in advance. Gosh, with that many speakers, they want to be sure they'll have enough room for you! Congratulations to the organizers on an important and interesting conference.
Hat tip to Martin Wisneski.
Internship Opportunity to Preserve Cultural Property
Heritage Watch is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of the world's cultural legacy. Heritage Watch has been working since 2003 to raise awareness of looting and research the illicit trade in antiquities. While founded and still based in the small Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia, Heritage Watch is now a thriving organization with a high global profile. It has witnessed firsthand how global efforts to protect cultural heritage are hampered by the lack of a single reference that those working in heritage preservation can turn to for comprehensive and current legal information. Heritage Watch is filling this conspicuous gap with the creation of DHARMA - the Database of Historical and Archaeological Regulations for the Management of Antiquities. For the first time, lawyers, archaeologists, law enforcement officers, government officials, and collectors will have easy access to current national and international legislation affecting the management of heritage resources.
Through its internship program, HeritageWatch is giving undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to become involved in this exciting project. For either academic credit or on a volunteer basis, interns will research and analyze municipal and international legislation affecting cultural heritage in Southeast Asia. Due to the project's large scope - both legally and geographically - there is much room for accommodating individual research interests. Furthermore, interns have the choice of working remotely or on-site at one of HeritageWatch'
* developing a pragmatic understanding of numerous foreign legal systems and public international law
* becoming competent in international legal research, using both print and electronic resources
* learning standard international legal citation
* gaining hands-on experience in cultural property law, a fast growing legal field of increasing importance.
September 8, 2008
Customary Law in Africa
The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice and the University of Botswana are holding a conference on the future of customary law in Africa. The two-day (October 23-October 24, 2008) conference, African Customary Law Revisited: The Role of Customary Law in the 21st Century, will be held at the Library Auditorium at the University of Botswana's Gaborone campus. The conference is free and open to the public. For more details and to register for the conference, please click here.
Hat tip to Libby Mooers, Program Assistant at the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at
Fordham Law School in New York
Call to Temporarily Loosen Restrictions on Cuba in Wake of Hurrican Gustav
The U.S. State Department has just released this transcript of a question asked to the State Department Spokesman:
Question: What is your reaction to the call to temporarily loosen restrictions on travel and sending money to Cuba in the wake of Hurricane Gustav?Answer: We have been heartened by the outpouring of compassion for hurricane victims in Cuba. The U.S. Government has offered humanitarian aid to the Cuban people that would be distributed through in-country non-governmental organizations.
In fact, there is sufficient flexibility under existing regulations to permit humanitarian organizations or individuals licensed to send money and other assistance to Cuba to significantly increase such assistance in support of Hurricane Gustav relief efforts. The State Department has been coordinating closely with the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department to facilitate humanitarian relief directed to hurricane victims in Cuba.
We do not believe that at this time it is necessary to loosen the restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuba to accomplish the objective of aiding the hurricane victims. Non-governmental organizations on the ground in Cuba are already mobilizing to provide such assistance.
September 7, 2008
Some Articles to Recommend to Law Students
Click on the name of the article. Then click on "choose download location." Pick one of the locations (it really doesn't matter which one) and click on that. You'll get a free copy of the article. You might have to register your email address, but it just takes a moment and isn't a big deal.
- Working Internationally
- Should You Join a Bar Association?
- Why Work for the Government?
- Practical Career Advice for Young International Lawyers: How to Build a Killer Resume, Network Effectively, Create Your Own Opportunities, and Live Happily Ever After
- The United States, the International Court of Justice, and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations: Introductory Note to Medellin v. Texas
- Designing Writing and Research Courses for International Students
New President Elected in Pakistan
Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was yesterday elected president of Pakistan. He is replacing former President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned to avoid an impeachment trial stemming from various charges, including those related to firing judges in Pakistan. Click here to read more.
WTO: Public Forum 2008 - Trading Into the Future
Registration is now open for the 2008 WTO Public Forum, which will take place September 24-25, 2008. Click here for more information.
U.S. Court of International Trade Judicial Conference
Save the date! The 15th Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of International Trade will be Wednesday, November 19, 2008, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It will be held at Bridgewaters, 11 Fulton Street, atop the Fulton Market Building at the South Street Seaport in New York.
The judicial conference is not just for judges. Laywers who practice before the CIT (or who are thinking about doing that) also attend this important conference to get a better understanding of how the court works.
Plain Language in Government Communication
Professor Joe Kimble of Thomas Cooley School of Law advises us of efforts to move S. 2291--the Plain Language in Government Communications Act to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote. The bill would require the U.S. federal government to write more clearly in any letter, publication, or form that it sends to the public about federal requirements, programs, and services. (The bill does not cover federal agency regulations.)
Using plain language improves government communicates with citizens. Research shows that plain language saves time and money, gets better results, reduces confusion and frustration, and avoids call-backs and mistakes.
The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a plain-language bill last year (H.R. 3548) by a vote of 376 to 1. The companion bill (S. 2291) passed out of the U.S. Senate committee and is ready for a vote by the full Senate, but a staff member working for Senator Bob Bennett of Utah has placed the bill on hold for no obvious good reasons. (Must be afraid of plain language, I guess!)
If you are in the United States, here are three ways to help:
1. Send a letter to Senator Bennett supporting the bill. (If you are an attorney or law professor, put that in the letter too.) Tell them there's no conflict between clarity and precision and explain some of the benefits of plain language. The letter does not need to be long -- even a sentence or two is enough. Mail the letter to Hon. Bob Bennett, 431 Dirksen Building, Washington, DC 20510-4403. If you can, please also fax it to the attention of Shawn Gunnarson at (202) 228-1168.
2. If you live in California, call Senator Feinstein's office. She chairs the Rules Committee. Tell her office that S. 2291 will benefit the American people, and it's being held up at the whim of a staff attorney in Senator Bennett's office. Ask her to intervene as chair of the Rules Committee. The number for her D.C. office is (202) 224-3841.
3. There are several Republican cosponsors. If you live in any of the states that these cosponsors represent, call the D.C. office and ask them to please talk to Bennett's office to get it moving again.
- Susan Collins, Maine (202) 224-2523
- Thad Cochran, Missouri 202-224-5054
- George Voinovich, Ohio (202) 224-3353