Friday, July 31, 2009
The Teaching International Law Group (TILIG) of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) is sponsoring an exciting full-day workshop on international law curricular issues at Hofstra Law School on Friday, September 25, 2009. The first morning panel will focus on what basic knowledge, values and skills should be taught as part of an international law curriculum. Speakers include Professors Jose Alvarez, Barbara Stark, Susan Sample, and Rumu Sarkar. The second morning panel will focus on how to organize the law school curriculum to best teach international law. Speakers include Professors Manual Gomez, Colin Picker, and Julian Ku. The afternoon sessions will focus on the practical side of teaching international law, including the use of video clips, problems, simulations, and negotiations. Afternoon speakers include John Gamble, Chris Borgen, Norm Printer, and Bill Slomanson, among others. For more information, see the TILIG webpage on the ASIL website, or contact TILIG Co-Chairs Cindy Buys and Tom McDonnell.
At the request of China, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has established a dispute resolution panel to hear China's complaint that certain U.S. laws are discriminating against poultry products from China. This dispute stems from concerns over the bird flu, which led both parties to ban imports of poultry products from the other in 2004. China has since allowed some U.S. poultry products to be imported into China, but the U.S. has maintained its ban on poultry products from China. More recently, the U.S. enacted the Omnibus Appropriation Act of 2009, which prohibits any of the funds subject to the Act from being used to establish or implement a rule allowing imports of poultry from China. China claims that the U.S. laws are patently discriminatory in violation of WTO rules. The U.S. disagrees, arguing that it is taking an objective science-based approach to determining whether the Chinese food safety system meets U.S. standards for protection of health, as permitted under WTO rules. Following in the wake of EC-Asbestos and US-Hormones cases, this case may ultimately provide further guidance regarding permissible health and safety measures under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, as well as other WTO rules. A ruling will likely be issued in 2010.
The American Bar Association annual meeting is in full swing in Chicago. The Section Council for the ABA Section of International Law meets this afternoon at the InterContinental Hotel, and other international events continue throughout the weekend. Get more information here. There is an international law section welcome reception this evening from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the InterContinental Hotel.
On Saturday August 1st from 10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. there is an international careers program at the Marriott Hotel on 540 N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The speakers are Gabrielle Buckley, Michelle Rozovics, Penny Wakefield, and Mark Wojcik.
Various committees of the ABA Section of International Law are holding lunch meetings on Sautrday at the InterContinental Hotel.
The International Law Section's dinner will be on Saturday evening from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the John Hancock Building.
CLE programs on Sunday include a program on "NAFTA at 15" (from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 2) and an afternoon program (from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m.) on the International Court of Justice.
Johnson Toribiong, President of the Republic of Palau, has a new blog on which he will post executive orders, news, and various announcements. The links and information may prove especially useful to those researching Palauan law, but the comments left by Palauan citizens and others on various topics posted are also of interest. Here is a link to the Belau Blog, the Official Blog of the President of the Republic of Palau. As a former clerkfor the Supreme Court of the Republic of Palau, it is nice to see new resources like this that are accessible throughout the world.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The International Court of Justice will hold public hearings starting on December 1st on the question of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence early last year. The U.N. General Assembly asked the ICJ for an advisory opinion on that issue. Individual Member States will be able to present oral statements and comments at the hearings. The Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) of Kosovo, which authored the declaration of independence from Serbia, will also be able to present statements and comments. Some 36 Member States and the PISG have already filed written statements on the question. They have until September 15 to indicate to the ICJ whether they wish to participate in the public hearings.
Greetings to everyone who is attending the Leadership Retreat today and tomorrow for the American Bar Association Section of International Law. We wish you a productive meeting in advance of the annual meeting for the American Bar Associaiton.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
International criminal tribunals have it hard enough, but disclosing the identity of protected witnesses cannot help. Here is a a press release from the United Nations describing a 15-month jail term given to a defendant who published a book containing the names of three witnesses.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) gave the leader of the Serbian Radical Party a 15-month jail term after finding him guilty of contempt of court for publishing the names of three protected witnesses in his war crimes trial. Vojislav Šešelj, who is facing nine charges relating to his alleged role in an ethnic cleansing campaign in the Vojvodina region of Serbia between 1991 and 1993, authored a book containing detailed information – including the names and court-given pseudonyms – about the three witnesses. Mr. Šešelj said he did not reveal the witnesses’ names with the intention of intimidating them, but rather to “unmask a plot in public” regarding some events in the indictment for his war crimes trial. But the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said it was gravely concerned with “the deliberate way in which the protective measure decisions” concerning the witnesses had been defied by Mr. Šešelj.
“The Chamber considers this a serious interference with the administration of justice, particularly given the potential adverse impact of such conduct upon witnesses’ confidence in the Tribunal’s ability to guarantee the effectiveness of protective measures,” according to a summary of the judgment read out by Judge O-Gon Kwon, the ICTY’s Vice-President. “Furthermore, the Chamber recognizes the need to discourage this type of behaviour, and to take such steps as it can to ensure that there is no repetition of such conduct on the part of the Accused or any other person.”
The ICTY, which sits in The Hague, also ordered Mr. Šešelj to withdraw the book from his website and to report back to the Tribunal on this action by 7 August.
The separate war crimes trial of Mr. Šešelj, which began in late 2006, was adjourned in February this year. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which include murder, torture and persecution.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced last week that he had instructed Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, to sign the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Click here to read more.
The Disability Convention already has been signed by 140 nations and has been ratified by 60 nations. (The most recent ratifications were those of Georgia and Burkina Faso in July 2009). The Convention (and an Optional Protocol) entered into force in May 2008. Once signed, the Disability Convention must be submitted to the U.S. Senate where it must be ratified by a 2/3 vote. Click here to read more about the Disability Convention, Optional Protocol, and an upcoming September Conference of State Parties.
Monday, July 27, 2009
The United Nations is reporting that 36 child soldiers who once served with an armed rebel movement in Sudan’s Darfur region have been voluntarily demobilized and given assistance so that they can return to school and to their communities. The joint African Union-UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) provided logistical support to the Darfur Child Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which are spearheading the demobilization initiative. The U.N. also reports that another 17 child soldiers are expected to be released and demobilized by the end of the week, and also given help with reintegration into their communities. The programme is taking place in Tora, a village located about 60 kilometres from El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state. The first group of 36 former soldiers received backpacks with school and educational supplies, as well as some sports equipment.
Earlier today, the European Union (EU) accepted Iceland's application to join the bloc at a meeting in Brussels, only one week after Iceland applied. The EU meeting of foreign ministers asked the European Commission (EC) to analyze whether Iceland has taken the necessary legal steps to begin membership negotiations, which is the first formal step in the EU enlargement process. If the EC completes its analysis before the end of the year, Iceland could begin accession talks in 2010. Iceland's accession process is moving at a faster pace than that of other applicants, in particular, some Balkan states. The fast pace may be explained by the facts that Iceland has a higher GDP per capita than most EU member states and has already been a member of the European Economic Area for 15 years.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
The International Court of Justice decides cases disputes submitted to it by states (contentious cases) and renders advisory opinions (advisory proceedings) on legal questions referred by other organs of the United Nations or by one of the U.N. agencies that are specifically authorized to submit questions to the Court. Fourteen cases are now pending before the Court. Thirteen of the cases are contentious cases between states. One case (on the Independence of Kosovo) falls under the Court’s advisory jurisdiction. Here is a list of pending cases (in the order in which they were filed):
Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary/Slovakia) Ahmadou Sadio Diallo (Republic of Guinea v. Democratic Republic of the Congo) Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda) Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia) Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia) Certain Criminal Proceedings in France (Republic of the Congo v. France) Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay) Maritime Dispute (Peru v. Chile) Aerial Herbicide Spraying (Ecuador v. Colombia) Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation) Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo (Request for Advisory Opinion) Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece) Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy) Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal)
Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary/Slovakia)
Ahmadou Sadio Diallo (Republic of Guinea v. Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)
Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Croatia v. Serbia)
Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia)
Certain Criminal Proceedings in France (Republic of the Congo v. France)
Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay)
Maritime Dispute (Peru v. Chile)
Aerial Herbicide Spraying (Ecuador v. Colombia)
Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation)
Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo (Request for Advisory Opinion)
Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece)
Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy)
Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal)
Click here for more information about these cases. A program about the International Court of Justice will be held in Chicago on Sunday, August 2, 2009 as part of the American Bar Association Annual Meeting.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Natural Disastors and the Responsibility to Protect -- Looking Back at the 2008 Cyclone that Hit Myamar
A cyclone hit Myanmar (Burma) in May 2008, devastating large portions of the Irawaddy Delta and creating a humanitarian crisis. Foreign goverments offered humanitarian assistance to Myanmar, but the the government of Myanmar rejected aid from some countries, limited the amount of aid entering the country, and strictly controlled how aid was distributed.
The United Nations, many governments, and many NGOs criticized Myanmar’s response to the cyclone as inadequate an inhumane. Senior politicians from a number of countries discussed whether the situation justified invoking the “responsibility to protect.” (R2P)
Stuart Ford (a new professor at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago) has written a rather interesting and well-written paper that explores the crisis in Myamar and the responsibility to protect. His paper explores several important questions, including these:
- Can a natural disastor give rise to the responsibility to protect?
- What would countries have been obligated to do if the responsibility to protect had been invoked?
- Assuming that the invocation of the responsibility to protect would have been based on a finding that the Myanmar government was committing crimes against humanity, would the international community be obligated to prosecute violations of international criminal law?
Friday, July 24, 2009
The Central States Law Schools Association (CSLSA) is accepting presentation proposals for its annual scholarship conference scheduled for October 23 and 24, 2009. This year's conference will be held at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio. The purpose of CSLSA is to foster scholarly exchanges among law faculty across legal disciplines. The conference is a forum for legal scholars to present papers and works-in-progress in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere where junior and senior colleagues are available to comment. In the past few years, we have had a number of international law scholars from across the country participate and share their work with one another. Proposals for this year's conference are due August 31, 2009. For more information, see the CSLSA website at www.cslsa.us.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Mr. Ricardo Ramirez Hernandez of Mexico was sworn in on July 20, 2009 as the newest member of the World Trade Organization's Appellate Body. Mr. Ramírez is Counsel and Head of the International Trade Practice for Latin America at the law firm of Chadbourne & Parke in Mexico City. He has extensive experience with NAFTA and trade across Latin America, including international trade dispute resolution. Prior to practicing with a law firm, Mr. Ramírez was Deputy General Counsel for Trade Negotiations of the Ministry of Economy in Mexico for more than a decade. He was lead counsel to the Goverment of Mexico in several WTO disputes and has been a NAFTA panelist. He also holds the Chair of International Trade Law at the Mexican National University (UNAM) in Mexico City. His WTO Appellate Body term will run until 2013.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Czech Republic is the latest country to join the International Criminal Court. The government of the Czech Republic deposited its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute yesterday. The Statute will enter into force for the Czech Republic on October 1, 2009, bringing the total number of States Parties to the Rome Statute to 110.
Monday, July 20, 2009
From a press release from the United Nations:
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today convicted two Bosnian Serb cousins of war crimes, including the burning alive of scores of Muslim women, children and elderly men, an act the court said ranks among “the worst acts of inhumanity that a person may inflict upon others.”
Milan Lukić was sentenced to life in prison, having been found guilty by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of murder, extermination, cruel treatment, inhumane acts and war crimes. He was found responsible for the murders in 1992 of 59 Muslim women, children and elderly men by barricading them in one room of a house in the town of Višegrad, in south-eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, where a carpet had been treated with an accelerant and an explosive device was exploded, setting the house on fire. According to evidence presented to the ICTY, victims were shot as they tried to escape the flames through the windows. In another fire for which the defendant was found guilty, at least 60 Muslims were burned alive at a house in Bikavac, where all exits had been blocked by heavy furniture to prevent people from fleeing. Mr. Lukić was also found guilty today of killing seven Muslim men at the Varda factory in Višegrad, with evidence showing that he collected them from their workplaces and shot them on the banks of the Drina River in full view of others, including the wife and daughter of one of the victims. The trial chamber convicted him of beating Muslim detainees at the Uzamnica detention camp between August 1991 and October 1994.
His cousin, Sredoje Lukić, a former police officer in Višegrad, was sentenced by the ICTY to 30 years in prison for his roles in the house fires in Višegrad and Bikavac as well as in the beatings of inmates at Uzamnica.
The trial of the two cousins, both members of a paramilitary group, began last July, with Milan having been arrested in Argentina in August 2005 after evading justice for seven years. Sredoje surrendered to the Bosnian Serb authorities the following month.
Since its establishment in 1993, the ICTY has indicted 161 people for war crimes. Proceedings against 120 people have been completed, with only two indictees still on the run – Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. The so-called “completion strategy” of the ICTY requires it to finish trials of first instance by 2009, and then start downsizing in 2010, and earlier this month, the Security Council extended the term of office of eight permanent judges and 10 ad litem, or temporary, judges until 31 December 2010, or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned. In addition, the Council decided, on the request of the President of the ICTY, that the Secretary-General may appoint additional temporary judges to complete existing trials or conduct additional trials.
OK, this is fun. TRIAL ("Track Impunity Always"), a Geneva-based NGO, has prepared a quiz for International Justice Day and the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions. It's actually pretty fun and will take you only a few minutes to complete. Click here to take the quiz.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
On July 15, the customs territory of Taipei, Phengu, Kinmen and Matsu (collectively known as "Chinese Taipei") joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) Procurement Agreement. Chinese Taipei has been a member of the WTO since January 1, 2002. There are currently 41 members of the WTO Procurement Agreement and nine more States are negotiating membership. The purpose of the Agreement is to open up government procurement to international competition by eliminating discrimination in government procurement against products, services, or providers from other WTO Member States and by increasing transparency in government procurement.
The Icelandic Parliament voted on Thursday to apply for membership in the European Union. The vote was 33 to 28 to start membership talks with the EU, with two abstentions. A report in the New York Times states that Iceland strongly cherishes its independence but that it would also like some greater economic stability during times of global economic downturn. The prime minister of Iceland, Johanna Sigurdardottir, reportedly wants to submit a membership application to the EU by the end of July.
Friday, July 17, 2009
We reported on July 2, 2009 that the Delhi High Court, in a landmark decision, ruledthat the sodomy law (Section 377 of the Indian PenalCode) was unconstitutionall under Indian law. It is a beautiful decision (particularly the last parts) and well worth reading. We posted a link to it previously in this post. Click here to read that earlier post, which includes excerpts from the decision and a link to the full court opinion. In its landmark decision, the Delhi High Court ruled that India's sodomy law could no longer be enforced between consenting adults of the same sex.
Newspapers in the United States and other countries reported about the Indian sodomy law decision, but most of those reports wrongly suggested that the decision was limited only to Delhi. William Kelley has shared with us a link to a newspaper in India that supports the view that the decision does indeed apply to all of India. This means that the decision decriminalized same-sex relationships for roughly 17 percent of world's population. Click here to read more. Reports that the decision is limited only to Delhi simply "got it wrong." The decision applies throughout India, and rightfully so (as you can see by reading the 105-page decision!).
Hat tips to Rex Wockner and William Kelley.