September 4, 2009
New Blog on International Trade and Human Rights
Stephen Powell (Director of the International Trade Law Program at the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law) has started a new blog on trade and human rights. Click here to visit JustTrade
New Treasury Regulations Lift Restrictions on Cuba
The US Treasury Department issued new regulations yesterday that lift restrictions on most family visits to Cuba and ease restrictions on sending money to close relatives in Cuba. President Obama first announced these changes in April 2009, but they are now official with the issuance of the new regulations. Pursuant to the new regulations, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued a general license authorizing travel-related transactions for visits to "close relatives" (including, for example, aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins) who are nationals of Cuba. There is no limit on the frequency or duration such visits to "close relatives." OFAC also has issued a general license authorizing remittances to close relatives. Restrictions on telecommunications also have been eased. More information can be found here.
WTO Opens Its Doors to the Public This Sunday
Looking for something to do this weekend in Geneva? The WTO will open its doors to the public for the first time on Sunday September 6, 2009. Although the WTO has always welcomed groups (including me and my students!), this event is an open house for the general public. They will offer guided tours of the building, insights into the work of the WTO, and special activities for children.
September 3, 2009
Using Facebook to Support U.S. Ratification of International Treaties
Guess what? There's now a Facebook page to support U.S. Ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. You can become a FAN of that page if you like (I did!). Click here to visit the Law of the Sea Facebook Page.
The initiative is a wise one -- it is cost effective (free) and can pull in support from around the country to support U.S. ratification of this treaty. A similar strategy might be used to gain more support for other treaties, such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW and the Law of the Sea are two of the 17 treaties identified by the U.S. State Department on its Treaty Priority List.
The Law of the Sea page was apparently put up by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has another useful page on reasons to ratifiy the Law of the Sea Convention. Click here to read more.
Hat tips to Jesper Frant and the Pew Charitable Trusts
The Situation in Madagascar
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed to all sides involved in the political crisis in Madagascar to maintain their commitment to the power-sharing agreement reached last month and to end their deadlock on the composition of a government of national unity.
Mr. Ban "reiterates that there is no alternative to a political agreement and a consensual transition," according to a statement issued on Thursday evening by his spokesperson. "He calls on all parties and all sectors of the Malagasy society to remain calm and allow for a peaceful resolution of the crisis."
The Maputo Political Agreement, reached on 9 August, commits the signatories to devise a government of national unity following months of turmoil and political violence in the Indian Ocean country.
But in the weeks since the pact was struck in the Mozambican capital, the parties have not been able to agree on who should
serve as president, vice-president and prime minister in any transitional government.
In the statement, Mr. Ban appealed "to the President of the Haute Autorité de Transition in Madagascar and other interested parties to adhere to the spirit" of the agreement made in Maputo.
"The United Nations will remain engaged through the Joint Mediation Team for Madagascar and is ready to support the implementation of the Maputo agreements and stand by the Malagasy people as the country returns to normalcy," it added.
The Maputo pact was struck following talks that were mediated by the former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano and a joint team comprising the UN, the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Organization of the Francophonie.
It was signed by current and former leaders in Madagascar -- Andry Rajoelina, Marc Ravalomanana, Didier Ratsiraka and Albert Zafy.
Since the start of the year Madagascar has been engulfed by political tensions, which have led to widespread violence and killings and numerous politically motivated arrests. Mr. Ravalomanana resigned as president in early March amid a dispute with Mr. Rajoelina, the mayor of the capital, Antananarivo, and now the leader of the country.
International Criminal Court Appeals Chamber Nixes Pre-Trial Release of Jean-Peirre Bemba Gombo
The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court has ruled that Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (the former Congolese Vice-President accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic) must remain in custody pending his trial.
Last month the Pre-Trial Chamber ordered temporary release under conditions, finding that his continued detention was not necessary to guarantee that he appear at trial. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo appealed that order, stressing that Mr. Bemba is a flight risk and that he may harm witnesses involved in his trial.
The Appeals Chamber granted suspensive effect to the Prosecutor’s appeal, meaning that Mr. Bemba’s will remain in custody.
Click here to read more from the ICC website (which has further links to relevant documents).
New UN Treaty to Prevent Illegal Fishing
The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced agreement on a first-ever treaty designed to prevent and punish illegal fishing. The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets. The draft text may be found here. The treaty addresses longstanding international concerns regarding IUU which has a detrimental effect on fish stocks, marine ecosystems, food supplies, and those who depend on fishing for their livelihood. Environmental groups estimate that 20% of fish are caught illegally. The treaty seeks to better detect, prevent and punish IUU fishing by creating special rules for port entry and docking, inspections of vessels, and information-sharing among States Parties. Ninety-one states participated in the negotiation and drafting of the treaty. The United States Department of State participated actively in this work and has expressed its strong support for the treaty. The text must now be formally approved, which is expected to occur at an FAO World Food Summit in Rome in November. Once that is done, twenty-five states must ratify the treaty before it will take effect.
The Rising Price of International Law Textbooks
We posted previously about the rising prices of international law textbooks. We've had a number of comments about that post. Click here to read the post and comments (and feel free to add your own thoughts on the price of textbooks).
Professors and students will only have themselves to blame if we don't start letting some of these publishers know that their books are too expensive.
September 2, 2009
U.N. Security Council Extends UNIFIL Mandate in Lebanon
The U.N. Security Council has extended the mandate of UNIFIL for another year pursuant to a request from the Lebanese Foreign Minister. The resolution adopted August 27, 2009 also emphasized the importance of establishing between the Blue Line and the Litani River an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Lebanese Government and UNIFIL. Click here to read Security Council Resolution 1884 (2009).
September 1, 2009
U.N. Security Council Resolution Extends Assistance Mission in Iraq for Another Year
The United Nations Security Council extended for another 12 months the mandate of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). UNAMI advises, supports, and assists the strengthening of democratic institutions, advances inclusive political dialogue and national reconciliation, strengthens gender equality, and promotes the protection of human rights. Click here to read a copy of Security Council Resolution 1883 (Aug. 7, 2009).
August 31, 2009
China Rubber Industry Association is Against 55 Percent U.S. Taxes on Chinese Tires - An "Op Ed" on Section 421
We received the following "Op-Ed" from the China Rubber Industry Association. As it discusses a new trade law, we thought it would be of interest to our colleagues teaching international business and trade law courses.
President Obama’s First Choice On China
Will President Obama maintain his liberal posture on relations with China, fostering increasing cooperation and guaranteeing American-made products and services further access to China’s soon-to-be largest consumer market in the world, or will narrow, shortsighted and protectionist special interests redefine the Administration’s “China policy” moving forward? Soon, we’ll know.
President Obama must choose between a narrow special interest (the United Steel Workers Union) and continued strong US-Sino relations, at a time when both countries have pledged their collaboration in response to the global economic crisis. The union, under Section 421, a law that has never before been invoked, has asked the Administration to impose extreme tariffs of at least 55-percent on imported Chinese tires. President Obama must personally make the final decision on this matter by late September.
Not a single US tire manufacturer has joined the union in their Section 421 efforts. In fact, the union makes no claim of unfair or illegal behavior by China’s tire makers, at least not in legal filings before the International Trade Commission. The USW simply demands the White House restrict trade because they believe “organized labor” now has an ally in the Oval Office who will support them regardless of the legitimacy of this particular claim or its potential outcomes. We [the China Rubber Industry Association] hope the USW is wrong.
This attempt seems aimed at forcing the White House to redefine its China strategy into a policy of confrontation instead of cooperation. Rejection of the 421 petition will send a strong signal that President Obama is committed to the balanced and cooperative approach necessary to keep the US and world economies growing—something that is front-of-mind for all American workers, consumers and job-creators.
We [the China Rubber Industry Association] urge President Obama to make a principled choice to reject this restrictive effort to subvert trade law and make China a scapegoat. China had no part in the process that led US tire manufacturers to decide over a decade ago to stop manufacturing entry-level tires in the US. These same companies have made clear that they still have no plans to manufacture entry-level tires in the US. Their decision to abandon entry-level manufacturing allowed others from around the world to fill this void.
Most importantly, it is well-known that China’s entry-level tire imports simply don’t compete with US-produced premium tires. Sales of US-produced premium tires is affected by the woes of American automakers and recent high gas prices, not imports of entry-level tires from China, Mexico, South Korea or anywhere else.
The “USW tariff” will amount to a protectionist “zero quota” and would drive up all tire prices. Morgan Stanley recently stated that, “a tire consumer may not be able to accept further price increases.” This is the first protectionist action aimed at a product that is widely used by individual consumers. President Obama’s rejection of this bid will protect American families. A price increase on entry-level tires will hit low-income families hardest. These families might even defer replacing worn tires – not a good thing for highway safety.
According to the International Trade Commission’s report to the President, the “USW tariff” will likely not have the intended effect of adding a single USW job; however, independent studies suggest that 25,000 other American workers will be victimized by losing their jobs as a direct result of this politically-motivated and ill-conceived attempt to manipulate US-China relations.
President Obama affirmed at the G-20 summit that the last thing the world needs is a rise in protectionism. Now is the time for the President to make a clear statement that the world can depend on strong bilateral trading relations between the world’s two most important economies and on deepening cooperation between the two countries on a wide range of global issues.
If the President invokes the 421 law, a flood of additional protectionist petitions is sure to follow from other special interest groups. This will only serve to further complicate and degrade US-China relations, threatening cooperation and putting the world’s economic recovery at risk. Instead of this dark and uncertain future, we urge President Obama to reject the USW’s 421 petition. By doing so, the President will affirm the need for strong relations between our two countries and ensure a strong global recovery from the recent financial crisis that will be the by-product of US-China cooperation.
We in China look to President Obama for his international leadership. His pending Section 421 decision will indicate the type of leader he wants to be.
China Rubber Industry Association
Kinglong International B 5 Floor, Fu Lin Road 9, Chao Yang District, Beijing 100107 China
Forced Vaccinations of Female Immigrants Violates International Law
Elizabeth Sheyn has written a new article entitled An Accidental Violation: How Required Gardasil Vaccinations for Female Immigrants to the United States Contravene International Law, that is forthcoming in the Nebraska Law Review. The article is available on SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1429782.
This article provides an overview of the development and use of the Gardasil vaccine, examines, from an international law perspective, the problems raised by the requirement that all female immigrants between the ages of 11 and 26 who are seeking permanent resident status receive Gardasil vaccinations, and argues that the Gardasil vaccine must be reclassified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ('CDC'), or, more correctly, by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices ('ACIP'), so that the vaccine stops being a mandatory part of female immigrants’ process of obtaining permanent residency (and naturalization) status.
Hat tip to Elizabeth Sheyn
August 30, 2009
Prof. Cindy Buys on Intlawgrrls!
My co-editor, Professor Cindy Buys at Southern Illinois University School of Law, was a guest blogger this week on Intlawgrrls. Click here to read more. In her guest post on Intlawgrrls, Cindy posits a way forward respecting U.S. obligations under international law in light of recent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and the International Court of Justice on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Another topic of current research is linkage between the ICJ Nottebohm Case (Liechtenstein v. Guatemala) (1953) and the World War II-era U.S. detention program in Latin America.
Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi Will Deliver Keynote Address to Open Scholars at Risk, Ireland Section
Sinead O’Gorman, Deputy Director of Scholars at Risk, informs us of an event in Dublin, Ireland to launch Scholars at Risk, Ireland Section. The event will be held at Trinity College Dublin on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 4.30 p.m. Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Iranian human rights lawyer Dr. Shirin Ebadi will deliver a keynote address.
Scholars at Risk, Ireland Section will be a partnership between Universities Ireland, an umbrella body established by the nine universities on the island of Ireland to promote co-operation and collaboration among universities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and Scholars at Risk, an international network of higher education institutions committed to promoting academic freedom and to defending the human rights of scholars worldwide.
In joining Scholars at Risk, Irish universities, academic leadership and staff are sending a strong message of solidarity with scholars and universities in situations where academic freedom is restricted and research, publication, teaching and learning are repressed. Together with Scholars at Risk members around the world, they really will make a difference.
Registration for the event is now open. Click here for more information about the event and the organization.
Hat tip to Sinead O’Gorman at New York University