Saturday, October 4, 2008
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has added two new judges. Mr Boualem Bouguetaia (Algeria) and Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Golitsyn (Russian Federation) were sworn in this week as new members of the Tribunal. The two judges were elected on 13 June 2008 at the eighteenth Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to serve a term of nine years, commencing October 1, 2008. The curriculum vitae of the two new judges may be found by clicking here.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Each year, the United Nation holds an annual event to encourage States to participate in the development and codification of international law by becoming parties to various treaties and other international agreements. This year's event was held from September 23-October 1, 2008 at the UN's headquarters in New York. The title of this year's event was "Towards Universal Participation and Implementation - Dignity and Justice for All of Us." This year's event focused on increasing participation in human rights treaties in particular in honor of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. As a result of the annual treaty event, 43 nations signed or ratified 80 separate conventions, agreements, treaties and optional protocols. Some of the treaty actions included Cameroon's signature on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol and Belarus' ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Conventional Weapons Convention. Laos, Tanzania, Greece and Iceland all signed the Convention on Forced Disappearances. That Convention is now just five States short of the 20 needed for the Convention to enter into force.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
In elections held in 1990, the Burmese people elected the leaders of the Members of Parliament Union (MPU) as their representatives in government. However, the ruling military junta in Burma prevented the MPU leaders from taking office. Representatives of Burma's military government have occupied Burma's seat at the U.N. since taking power. On September 9, 2008, the MPU submitted credentials to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, initiating a rival claim to Burma's seat at the U.N. Last week, the U.N. General Assembly rejected MPU's credentials on the basis of advice from the U.N.'s chief legal counsel, Patricia O'Brien, who opined that according to Rule 27 of the U.N.General Assembly's Rules of Procedure, the credentials must be issued by the head of state or government or ministry for foreign affairs. U Thein Oo, Secretary of the MPU, has vowed to continue the challenge.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Judge José Luis Jesus was today elected as President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for the period 2008–2011 by the 21 members of the ITLOS Tribunal. President José Luis Jesus has been a member of the Tribunal since 1999. In accordance with the Rules of the Tribunal, the President is elected for a period of three years and may be re-elected. He presides at all meetings of the Tribunal, directs its work and supervises its administration. He represents the Tribunal in its relations with States and other entities and is the only judge required to reside permanently at the seat of the Tribunal in Hamburg.
The International Law Students Association (ILSA) released the 2009 Jessup Problem--"the Compromis." Click here to see it.
ILSA also has created a summary of the events to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Jessup Competition. Highlights of the Anniversary Programme for the Shearman & Sterling International Rounds are now available by clicking here. If you're a Jessup alum in any capacity (competitor, coach, judge, or simply a supporter), please contact ILSA to let them know of your support for the 50th anniversary.
The United States began requiring country-of-origin labeling (“COOL”) for imported beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. Country-of-origin labels are also required for perishable items, such as fruits, vegetables, and a variety of nuts. The new labeling requirements entered into effect on September 30, 2008.
Exempt from the new disclosure requirements are “processed” foods, such as mixed frozen vegetables. Some food safety advocates reportedly are complaining that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has “bent over backward to make as few things be covered as possible.” Stephen J. Hedges, Soon, Meet Your Meat’s Maker,: County-of-Origin Labels to Be Required, Chicago Tribune, Sept. 13, 2008, sec. 1, at 1, 5 (quoting Michael Hansen, a senior staff scientist with Consumers Union). They may have a point: under the Department of Agriculture rules as reported in the Chicago Tribune, a bag of imported peas or a bag of imported carrots must disclose the country of origin, but not if the peas and carrots are mixed together. The carrots and peas mixed together are considered to be “processed” and as such do not require country-of-origin labeling.
Country-of-origin labels have been long required for other products. Markings must be conspicuous and legible. How a product must be marked depends on the product. A hangtag or sticker will often suffice, but many products require permanent markings. (Pick up something on your desk to see where it came from.) The cost of compliance can be steep. The estimated cost to the food industry (and consumers) in this first year was $2.5 billion dollars. There are civil and criminal penalties under U.S. law for non-compliance. But the debate on whether to incur that cost is over – the regulations are now in effect and industries have no choice but to comply.
Why are there such labels? The labels allow customers to know the origin of the goods they are purchasing. Consumers may want to avoid buying products from certain countries because of a poor human rights record, lack of care for the environment, or food safety issues (such as killer tomatoes, tainted spinach, a sudden outbreak of Mad Cow disease). And on the other side of the coin, some consumers may want to know the country so that they can purchase products from that country (such as fair trade coffee from Kenya or Brazil, products “Made in the U.S.A.” to support domestic industries in the United States, or chocolate from Belgium or Switzerland because they make the best chocolate).
Our readers in the United States can start checking in supermarkets for new country-of-origin labels. Let us know what you find!
What special problems do in-house counsel face when their firm is international? Click here for a great new article by Rees Morrison.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
The ABA Section of International Law is this year celebrating its 75th anniversary as an ABA Section and its 130 anniversary as an ABA entity. (The International Committee was established as one of the original committees when the ABA was founded in 1878 in New York). The section is celebrating its anniversary by launching the publication of a new book on the section's history. It is available for purchase through the ABA webstore at www.abanet.org.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Yesterday, the interdisciplinary conference "John F. Kennedy: History, Memory, Legacy", at the University of North Dakota wrapped up. It was a great conference largely due to the amazing energy and organizing efforts of Professor Greg Gordon at UND. Ted Sorenson shared insights from his time as special counsel to President Kennedy and Richard Reeves shared his perspectives as Kennedy's biographer. One of the panels dealt with international treaties negotiated and signed during President Kennedy's time in office. Professor David Tal from Emory University gave an insightful presentation on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Professor Marjorie Florestal from University of the Pacific drew some very interesting comparisons between trade negotiations and interest group pressures in Kennedy's time and the Doha Round today. Professor Cindy Buys from Southern Illinois University spoke about the Kennedy Administration's contributions to the law of consular relations and the continuing difficulties the United States has with respect to implementing consular notification rights. Look for all these papers on SSRN and in other venues in the near future. On a teaching note, we viewed the very intense and moving film, "Thirteen Days," a reference to the Cuban missile crisis. The movie has some rich material for classroom discussion, including an oral international agreement between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. regarding the removal of missiles from Turkey.
The American Bar Association Section of International Law has just finished its Fall Meeting in Brussels Belgium. It was another high quality meeting with many interesting and informative panels. Approximately 600 lawyers attended, a number smaller than expected but many canceled at the last minute because of legal work relating to the financial crisis in the United States. The organizers put on some splendid events, including a fantastic reception at the Belgian Parliament -- one of the best events I have attended in many years.
ABA International meetings bring together practicing lawyers from around the world. Judges, lawyers, and law students also attend, but there is a heavy focus on practical aspects of private and public international law. These meetings are well worth the time for international law professors to attend. Be sure you get the information on the next meetings by becoming a member of the ABA Section of International Law. You need not be a U.S. lawyer to become a member of the ABA or the section. Click here for more information.
U.S. lawyers and law students don't know enough about doing legal research with Canadian sources. They do know how to use Westlaw though. So, here are some databases for Canadian law to share with your moot court teams and others who are interested in improving foreign legal research skills. (This isn't a comprehensive list of the sources available, but it will give you a good start.)
CAN-ALLCASES -- Full text of decisions from Canadian federal, provincial, and territorial courts.
CANST-ALL -- Federal, provincial, and territorial statutes in force, and recently enacted legislation not yet in force.
CANST-RULES-ALL -- All Canadian statutes and rules
CANFED-REG -- Canadian Federal Regulations
TP-CANADA -- Texts and periodicals from Canada, including Canadian law reviews, texts, and bar journals
CANADANEWS -- The Canada News database with information from newspapers, magazines, journals, and wire services.