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?
July 24, 2009
Call for Presentation Proposals - Central States Law Schools Association
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.
July 23, 2009
WTO Appellate Body Welcomes New Member
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.
July 22, 2009
110 Countries Are Now Parties to the International Criminal Court
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.
July 20, 2009
Two More Convictions from the ICTY
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.
Take a Quick Quiz on International Humanitarian Law
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.