Saturday, June 27, 2009
The application deadline for the 2010-11 traditional Fulbright Scholar Program will close on August 1, 2009. Please remind interested faculty members at your school to submit their applications by then. Click here for more details about the Fulbright program and application. Or click here for a list of staff if want to speak with the program staff for a specific country or world region.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) appointed two new members to its Appellate Body this week: Mr Ricardo Ramírez Hernández of Mexico was appointed to a four-year term commencing on 1 July 2009 and Mr Peter Van den Bossche of the European Communities also was appointed to a four-year term commencing on 12 December 2009. These two gentlemen will replace Mr Luiz Olavo Baptista of the Philippines, who resigned last February for health reasons, and Mr Giorgio Sacerdoti of Italy, whose second and final term expires on 11 December 2009. The DSB also agreed to reappoint Mr David Unterhalter of South Africa, the current Chair of the Appellate Body, for a second four-year term starting on 12 December 2009. The WTO Appellate Body is a standing body that hears appeals from WTO dispute resolution panels. It has seven members who must be “persons of recognized authority, with demonstrated expertise in law, international trade and the subject matter of the WTO agreements generally.” The WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding also requires that the Appellate Body membership be broadly representative of the WTO membership.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone announced that lawyers for the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, will begin their defense against charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on July 13, 2009. Mr. Taylor’s lawyers will make their opening arguments on that day in The Hague, where the Court is based. In 2006, the U.N. Security Council authorized the trial to be held in the Netherlands, instead of its usual venue in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, citing security reasons. The Prosecution rested its case against Mr. Taylor in February after presenting 91 witnesses to provide testimony.
The former President has pleaded not guilty to the 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment, and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The charges relate to his alleged support for two rebel groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the Revolutionary United Front, during that country’s civil war from 1996 to 2002.
The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established in January 2002 through an agreement between Sierra Leone’s Government and the United Nations. It cannot impose a life sentence, but it has already sentenced two defendants in another case to 50 years in jail. The United Kingdom has said it would be willing to imprison Mr. Taylor if he is found guilty.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda was established to deal with the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994, when more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates died during a period of less than 100 days. The ICTR yesterday found a former Government minister guilty of genocide and sentenced him to 30 years in prison for his role in those killings.
On 23 April 1994, Callixte Kalimanzira, former Chef de Cabinet of Minister of the Interior, lured thousands of Tutsi refugees to Kabuye hill in Butare prefecture, where they were attacked and killed. The ICTR Trial Chamber found that Mr. Kalimanzira substantially contributed to the attack, finding him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt that he aided and abetted genocide at Kabuye hill. It also found him guilty of direct and public incitement to commit genocide on several occasions, including at the Nyabisagara football field, in April 1994.
The former ministersurrendered voluntarily to ICTR in November 2005. His trial began last May.
The Washington College of Law at American University has prepared summaries of ICTR judgments. Click here for more information.
According to various news reports, Russia apparently provided the World Trade Organization (WTO) last week with unofficial, verbal notification that it plans to suspend its accession negotiations with the WTO in favor of forming a regional customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan by January 2010. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had suggested that this move was coming in comments made earlier this month. He stated that the WTO will receive offical documents shortly. He also stated that Russia may be interested in negotiating accession to the WTO as part of the customs union, rather than as an independent state. Russia had been negotiating accession to the WTO for the past 16 years. It is not clear what caused this change of policy. Some commentators have suggested that Russia is frustrated by the slow pace of accession negotiations and wants the WTO to realize the importance of having Russia as a member. Other commentators have suggested the change in policy reflects internal divisions within Russia's government. Whatever the reason, it will almost certainly further delay accession as all the commitments negotiated between Russia and the various members of the WTO will have to be scrapped and negotiations will have to begin again with the customs union, if and when it is formed.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
We're can say definitively that we've now had visitors to our blog from at least 100 countries. We previously posted a list of 98 countries from which we have had visitors. Ethiopia was our 99th country and Saudi Arabia is now our 100th country to be added to that list.
On Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon formally announced the appointment of a independent commission charged with investigating the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The Commission was created in response to a request for an inquiry from Pakistan. The Commission will be led by Heraldo Munoz, Ambassador to the UN from Chile, and will include Peter Fitzgerald (a veteran of the Irish national police) and Maruki Darusman (former Attorney General of Indonesia). UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon stressed that the Commission's mission is to conduct fact finding and that the duty of assigning criminal responsibility remains with Pakistan. The Commission will officially begin work on July 1 and has six months in which to complete its report.
The European Union (EU) summit concluded on Friday with agreement being reached between the Irish government and the Council of the European Uinon regarding independence guarantees for Ireland in the areas of taxation, ethics (abortion), and neutrality. The Irish did not get their wish that the protocol containing the guarantees be attached to the Lisbon Treaty, but instead agreed that the guarantees would be contained in a protocal attached to the next accession treaty for a new member state. EU leaders from other countries had worried that if the protocal were attached to the Lisbon Treaty itself, that could open debate on the Treaty in Member States where it has already been agreed to. This latest agreement paves the way for the Irish to hold a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, which will likely occur in October.