January 17, 2009
Three Weeks of War; Now, a 10-Day Cease-Fire
The Israeli Cabinet has reportedly voted 9-1 and one abstention in favor of an Egyptian-backed, 10-day unilateral cease-fire in the war in Gaza. At least 1,200 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died over these past three weeks. The United Nations Security Council had called for a cease-fire one week ago, and the United Nations General Assembly held a two-day emergency meeting and adopted (by a vote of 142-4, with 8 abstentions) a resolution demanding an "immediate and durable and fully respected cease fire" in Gaza. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had also renewed his call for a cease fire. He was on a diplomatic mission this week that included meetings in Cairo, Amman, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Ankara.
The Israeli Defense Forces will reportedly stay in Gaza for the time being. If Hamas continues to attack southern Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel would resume its attacks as well. Hamas said that it would continue its attacks as long as the IDF was in Gaza. Click here to read more from the Jerusalem Post.
January 16, 2009
Books We Like
Daniel Girsberger of the University of Lucerne Faculty of Law and Nathalie Voser have just published an interesting and informative new book on International Arbitration in Switzerland. It is called, strangely enough, International Arbitration in Switzerland. It is in English and summarizes the law and practice of arbitration in Switzerland. It was published by Schulthess Juristische Medien in Zurich and is 375 pages long. The ISBN number for the book is 978-3-7255-5693-9.
I do not know his co-author, but I have known Daniel Girsberger for many years and have always enjoyed his work -- but usually I'm reading him in German. This book in English is well done and is a great resource for practitioners as well as students.
Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee
The Illinois Supreme Court Rules Committee will hold a public hearing on Monday, January 26, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. at 160 N. LaSalle Street, Room C-500, Chicago, Illinois. One of the rules up for consideration that day is a proposal designed to provide a back-up mechanism for ensuring that the United States (or at least this small part of it in Illinois) complies with U.S. treaty obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and various bilateral treaties that require notice to be given (without delay) to foreign nationals who are arrested or detained in the United States.
Among those testifying at that public hearing will be . . . (drum roll please) . . . Professors Mark Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School (who will testify on behalf of the Illinois State Bar Association) and Cindy Buys of Southern Illinois University School of Law (who drafted the proposed rule on consular notice).
If Illinois passes the proposed rule, it may be a good model for other states to adopt. The proposed rule is not meant to replace consular notice at the arrest or detention stage; it is merely a proposed backup measure to ensure that the U.S. is in compliance with its international law obligations.
January 15, 2009
Congressional Research Grants
Click here for information on congressional research grants. Deadline is February 1, 2009. Hat tip to the Constitutional Law Prof Blog.
UN Working for Release of Gay Men Jailed in Senegal
Excerpts from a UN press release:
Stressing that homophobia has no place in the response to the AIDS epidemic, the United Nations today deplored the jailing of nine gay men who were members of a group working to provide condoms and HIV treatment in Senegal, and said it is working with a coalition of partners to ensure their release. The men, who were arrested in mid-December, were sentenced by a Senegalese court for acts against nature and the creation of an association of criminals. Their case is currently on appeal.
UNAIDS has teamed up with civil society organizations, the public sector and partners such as the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the French Embassy and the Swedish Embassy representing the European Union, to ensure the release of the detainees, all of whom work for an association called AIDES Senegal.
In addition to taking the necessary steps for the release of the nine men, UNAIDS urges the Government to undertake efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination faced by men who have sex with men and create an enabling legal environment for them and the organizations working with them so as to protect their rights and increase access for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services. Calling for the creation of a social and legal environment that guarantees respect for human rights, the agency recommends that “criminal law prohibiting sexual acts between consenting adults in private should be reviewed with the aim of repeal.”
Just days before the arrests took place, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay had lamented the fact that that there are still too many countries that criminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex and that some 10 States still have laws making homosexual activity punishable by death. “No human being should be denied their human rights simply because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. No human being should be subject to discrimination, violence, criminal sanctions or abuse simply because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” she said in a message to a discussion on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, held at UN Headquarters in New York. “Those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual, those who are transgender, transsexual or intersex, are full and equal members of the human family and are entitled to be treated as such,” she stressed.
EU Terror List and the Rule of Law
In what could be an unprecedented event, several European judgments were recently subject to a full page ad in The New York Times (December 30, 2008, A9). In this ad, the “European Committee in search of Justice” and “The National Association of Iranian Academics inBritain” urge the US
Among the judgments mentioned, the most recent one is a judgment issued by the EU Court of First Instance (strangely enough, the ad refers instead and inaccurately to the EU Court of Justice) in Case T-284/08 People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran v. Council.
Those of us who think that the so-called “war on terror” had led to outrageous violations of the rule of law would certainly be pleased to learn that in the case, the EU Court annuls (for an embarrassing third time!) a decision of the Council of the EU freezing the funds of the PMOI on the grounds that the Council violated has violated the group’s rights of defence and its right to effective judicial protection
This judgment follows a long series of EU judgments where EU “anti-terror” measures, aimed at natural and legal persons suspected of terrorism activities, were found to infringe their fundamental rights as protected under EU law (see in particular the widely discussed “Kadi” case).
New Contributing Editor for the International Law Prof Blog
The International Law Prof Blog is pleased to welcome a new contributing editor, Dr. Laurent Pech of the National University of Ireland, Galway. Dr. Pech (or "LP" as he'll come to be known here) is the Jean Monnet Lecturer in EU Law. He was also appointed as an Emile Noël Fellow at NYU School of Law for the academic year 2008-09.
We welcome him to the blog, and hope you enjoy his posts!
ASIL Annual Meeting
The American Society of International Law will hold its 103rd annual meeting in March 2009. Registration information is available by clicking here. The theme of the meeting will be "International Law as Law."
Early bird registration goes until January 30, 2009, after which rates go up by 15%. Highlights of the always-well-attended meeting included remarks by Dame Rosalyn Higgins, current President of the International Court of Justice, and one of her predecessors, Judge Stephen Schwebel, who will both speak on the special 50th anniversary of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
January 14, 2009
WTO Establishes New Database on Regional Trade Agreements
The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced a new database of information on regional trade agreements (RTAs). Under Article XXIV of GATT, RTAs are permitted under certain conditions, one of which is that duties and other restrictions on commerce must not be higher or more restrictive after the creation of the RTA than before its creation. Any such RTA must be notified to the WTO. As of December 2008, some 421 RTAs have been notified to the GATT/WTO. The new database is intended to provide information about the timetable agreed in the RTA with respect to the reduction of tariffs under the RTA, as well as data on trade in goods and services at the time the RTA was formed. Presumably, this information will help the WTO members determine whether the RTAs do in fact meet the requirements of GATT Article XXIV. This information should help inform the debate as to whether RTAs do more harm than good in the liberalization of trade.
For more information about the new database, click here
New Blog on Interrnational Law and US-UN Relations
A new blog on International Law and U.S.-U.N. Relations has been started by James Bair, a law school graduate who is going to be a law clerk in September for Judge Barbara Lenk of the Massachusetts Court of Appeals. Click here to see his blog. Some of his posts are quite interesting, particularly his thought on the Cambodia tribunal.
ICC Trial of Congolese Military Leader Lubanga to begin Jan. 26
The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced yesterday that it will begin its first ever trial on January 26, 2009. The accused is Thomas Lubanga, the founder and leader of the Union des patriotes congolais (the Union of Congolese Patriots),in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is charged with war crimes relating to the conscription and enlistment of children under the age of 15 as soldiers into the FPLC, the military arm of the Union des patriotes congolais, and actively using them in hostilities during 2002-2003. He was arrested and surrendered to the ICC on March 17, 2006. The hearings are open to the public. More information may be found on the ICC's website by clicking here.
ASIL Resource for Teaching International Law Materials
As the new semester gets underway for many of us, please remember that the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Teaching International Law Interest Group (TILIG) has put together a web site of materials related to teaching international law. Please make use of this resource and, if you have materials you are willing to share with others, please post them on the site. The web site can be found by clicking here: http://www.asil.org/search.cfm?displayPage=1149.
January 13, 2009
Eleventh Circuit scheduled to hear oral arguments in Noriega v. U.S.
Tomorrow, January 14, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, GA is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of General Manuel A. Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, who is fighting his extradition to France under a 1909 extradition treaty between the U.S. and France. In 1992, Gen. Noriega was convicted of various drug-related crimes in U.S. District Court in Miami. He completed his sentence in September 2007. However, he has remained in prison in the United States while fighting an extradition request by France, which wants to try Noriega on charges of money laundering. Noriega would prefer to return to Panama, where he would also face trial on various charges, apparently because his age (73) would allow him to serve any sentence at home rather than in prison. Noriega is arguing that his status as a Prisoner of War (POW) under the Geneva Conventions (GC), which status the U.S. District Court granted him in 1992, requires the U.S. to repatriate him to Panama upon the completion of his sentence rather than extradicting him to France. Noriega lost that argument at the District Court level and has appealled to the Eleventh Circuit.
GC III relating to POWs does not appear to directly address this legal issue. Article 118 of GC III relating to POWs does set forth a general rule that POWs be repatriated after the cessation of hostilities. However, Article 119 states that POWs may be detained longer pending criminal proceedings and completion of punishment. Article 119 may be read to permit further criminal prosecution by France because it states: "Prisoners of war against whom criminal proceedings for an indictable offense are pending may be detained until the end of such proceedings." Noriega has been indicted in France and criminal proceedings are pending there.
GC IV relating to protections for civilians during armed conflict contains provisions allowing the transfer of detained persons to other states that are also parties to the GCs and that pledge to respect the GCs. France is a party to the GCs and has given assurances to the United States that it will respect the GCs in the case of Noriega. Accordingly, these provisions from GC IV may be used to inform the analysis under GC III and allow the transfer of Noreiga to France.
It may be some months before the Eleventh Circuit issues its decision in this interesting case involving the interplay between the 1949 GCs and a prior extradition treaty.
Legal Information and Law Library Conference in Beijing
The Law Librarian Blog has information on how to register for the China-U.S. Conference on Legal Information and Law Libraries, to be held in Beijing at the end of May 2009. I heard about the conference during the AALS Annual Meeting, and it sounds like an interesting program for those able to attend. Click here for more information.
Rumsfeld and Others Sued Over Guantanamo Suicides
The Legal Times reports that the parents of two detainees who committed suicide while being held at Guantanamo have sued former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others for failing to respect basic rights and for causing the conditions that lead to these suicides. Click here to see the 79-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The New York Times reports that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama wants to issue an executive order on his first day to shut down the U.S. military prisions and military commissions in Guantanamo. Among those quoted in the article are Catherine Powell, an associate professor of law at Fordham, who said that the Obama transition officials appeared most interested at a meeting last month in being able to show the world that the United States was returning to traditional American legal values. Also quoted in the article is Mark P. Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall and a lawyer for Guantánamo detainees, who told the New York Times that senior officials seemed to have decided to suspend the military commissions immediately, because those commissions are "a complete and utter failure.” Click here to read more. Another news story on the reported decision to close Guantanamo can be found by clicking here.
The New York Times also created an "interactive Guantanamo database" that pieces together who was being held at Guantanamo, where detainees were transferred to, and who died while in U.S. custody. Click here to see that interactive database. It includes names, countries of origins, and countries to which detainees were transferred. It is not a complete list, but it is the most comprehensive list I've seen.
Confirmation Questions for Hillary Clinton
The New York Times asked ten international relations experts what questions they would ask Hillary Clinton when she goes before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her confirmation hearings as the next U.S. Secretary of State. Click here to see their questions for her.
January 12, 2009
Report from the ASIL TILIG Meeting in San Diego
On January 9, the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Teaching International Law Interest Group (TILIG) held a breakfast meeting in San Diego to discuss international law curricular issues. According to Frank Gevurtz of Pacific McGeorge, only 20% of law students take international law electives during law school. Given the increasing globalization of our society, how do we increase the exposure of students to international law? Different schools are taking different approaches. Eight law schools now require that students take some form of international or transnational law course during law school. Julian Ku spoke about Hofstra's two-year old experiment with a required second semester first year international law course. Frank Gevurtz spoke about how Pacific McGeorge has worked to incorporate international law issues across the curriculum. Manuel Gomez stated that Florida International University takes both these approaches. Most of these experiments are only a few years old, so there is not a lot of consensus on which approach is best or what is being accomplished. The meeting participants agreed that there is a lot more information that could be shared and suggested a follow-up day-long conference or workshop on the issue. Watch this blog more more information on these issues in the future.
Also, be sure to sign up for the ASIL Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 25-28, 2009. The TILIG tentatively is planning to sponsor a program during that meeting on using simulations to teach international law.
Comments on Italy v. Germany
Guillermo Otálora Lozano has posted on Jurist some interesting comments on Italy's recently-filed lawsuit against Germany before the International Court of Justice. Click here to read his comments.
AALS International Law Section Elects Diane Marie Amann as New Section Chair
Congratulations to the newly-elected Chair of the AALS Section on International Law, Diane Marie Amann, Professor of Law at the University of California, Davis, School of Law and Director of the California International Law Center at King Hall. She's a founding contributor to IntLawGrrls Blog (which is one of the best international law blogs around, after this one of course! It is one of the only "other blogs" that we link to right now in the left hand column). Professor Amann is a well-recognized international law scholar, particularly in the field of international law and terrorism. The section will have a great year under her leadership.
[I'm also proud to have also been elected as an officer of the section, and I'm happy as well that Professor Cindy Buys of Southern Illinois University School of Law (another of our blog editors) was also elected to the AALS International Law Section's executive committee.]
Professor Amann follows Professor James R. Maxeiner of the University of Baltimore School of Law, who chaired the section this past year and served as moderator of the section's panel in San Diego.