March 13, 2010
How to Submit an Article to the ABA International Law News -- Upcoming Issues on Climate Change, Cross-Border Real Estate, and Outsourcing Legal Services
The flagship newsletter of the American Bar Association Section of International Law is the International Law News. It is distributed in print and electronically to more than 23,000 members of the ABA Section of International Law, so your work gets a wide readership of lawyers and law students from around the world.
The Managing Editor of the International Law News is Angela Gwizdala, who can be contacted by email at this address: iln [at] staff.abanet.org. (substitute an @ for the [at])
The theme of the next issue of the ILN is Climate Change. Articles on this subject (and other articles on international law not related to that theme) are due by March 23, 2010. Articles should not have footnotes or endnotes and should be less than 4,000 words. Much less actually. Go for 1,500 to 2,000 words and you have a better shot at being published.
Cross-Border Real Estate Transactions (for the Fall 2010 issue, article deadline June 21, 2010)
Outsourcing Legal Services (for the Winter 2011 issue, article deadline September 20, 2010).
Membership in the ABA Section of Intenational Law is not limited to U.S. lawyers and law students -- you can join from anywhere in the world. The section's Spring Meeting (in New York) and Fall Meeting (in Paris) are especially good reasons to join as well.
Responsibility to Protect Conference in Sweden
The University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Center for International Law is hosting a conference on "The Responsibility to Protect: From Principle to Practice" which will be held in Scandic Linkoping Vast, Sweden from 8-12 June 2010. Speakers include Francis Deng, Edward Luck, Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, Nicolas Michel, Larry May, Daphna Shraga and Paola Gaeta. The full conference program is available at www.esf.org/conferences/10319. The deadline for registration and the submission of papers is 22 March 2010, so you need to act quickly if you are interested in participating.
March 11, 2010
Trends Identified in the 2009 US State Department Country Report on Human Rights
In addition to highlighting the growing abuse of the LGBT community worldwide, the U.S. State Department identified at least three trends in its 2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices.
First, the State Department pointed out that several foreign governments are becoming less tolerant of nongovernmental human rights organizations. These governments are trying to constrain the ability of these NGOs to register and to operate, as well as their ability to receive foreign funding. According to the U.S. State Department, at least 25 governments have enacted new laws or regulations that contain such restrictions.
Second, increasingly, human rights violations are carried out both by governments and by armed groups opposing them. Some governments misuse or overuse concepts of national security to impose draconian restrictions on people. But the U.S. State Department concedes that, at the same time, those national security emergencies are real in many places.
A third trend is the growing use by both activists and governments of the new communications media, such as the Internet and telephone text messaging, as a form of advocacy. Activists are using it to get their message out, but governments are also very aware of the power of these new media and are trying to control it and control those using it in ways that are troubling and invasive of personal privacy.
U.S. State Department Report Includes Human Rights Abuses Against LGBT People
The Council for Global Equality issued a press release today in which it applauded the 2010 State Department human rights report to Congress for underscoring the clear and growing crisis in human rights abuse directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide, and urges the use of diplomacy to counter this trend. Here is an excerpt from their press release:
Hat tip to Rex Wockner
Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, singled out the case of Uganda, where introduction of a draconian anti-gay bill has resulted in serious abuse directed against Uganda's LGBT community.
The report further documents LGBT-related incidents in almost every country in the world, including a range of cases involving arbitrary arrest and detention, police abuse, rape, and murder.
For instance, the report notes serious assaults against LGBT individuals in Jamaica, “including arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of such persons.” In Iraq, the report notes that “numerous press reports indicate that some victims were assaulted and murdered by having their anuses glued shut or their genitals cut off and stuffed down their throats until they suffocated.” The report highlights numerous instances in which police and other authorities have failed to investigate or prosecute such incidents.
Council Chair Mark Bromley, while recognizing that the State Department report examines a broad range of human rights concerns impacting various minority communities, nonetheless emphasized that “the level of reporting on LGBT abuses this year is remarkably detailed and truly commendable, and unfortunately this new level of detail shows just how dangerous it is for LGBT individuals to go about their daily lives as ordinary citizens in so many parts of the world.” For the irst time ever, most of the reports have a dedicated section examining “societal abuses, discrimination, and acts of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” Bromley insisted that “the report makes clear that LGBT rights are firmly rooted in basic human rights protections and that those protections are under severe attack in the world today.”
Senior Council adviser and former U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest applauded “President Obama's and Secretary Clinton's principled belief that the human rights of LGBT people cannot be separated from those of all of society.” Emphasizing that “many of the most egregious abuses have been committed in countries considered to be friends and allies of the United States,” he urged that the State Department develop strategies to counter intolerance and homophobia in every region, drawing on all the tools of American diplomacy.
Julie Dorf, another senior adviser to the Council, noted that “the Council has been working closely with the State Department over the past year to help move the Department's human rights bureau from a traditional human rights reporting agenda to an active, human rights protection agenda.” Dorf explained that “in an ironic and unfortunate way, the intensity of the homophobia surrounding the 'kill the gays' bill in Uganda has helped raise awareness within the State Department, within Congress and within the international community more generally on the global impact of LGBT discrimination and abuse.”
Excerpts of the report's findings on LGBT issues in every country can be found on the Council's website at www.globalequality.org
International Law Developments Today From Washington DC
The American Bar Association's Government Affairs Office keeps track of developments at the federal level in a number of areas, including international law. Today seems to have been a particularly busy day. Here's the update we just received from the ABA GAO on new federal legislation, hearings, floor action, and presidential action, and other federal government notices:
S Con Res 54 (Nelson, D-NE), recognizing the life of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died 2/23/10 in the custody of the government of Cuba, and calling for a continued focus on the promotion of internationally recognized human rights, as listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Cuba; to Foreign Relations. S1359, CR 3/10/10.
HR 4801 (Berman, D-CA), to establish the Global Science Program for Security, Competitiveness, and Diplomacy; to Foreign Affairs. H1322, CR 3/10/10.
HR 4807 (Kirk, R-IL), to amend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to require that the president investigate possible violations of that act within a specified period; to Foreign Affairs. H1323, CR 3/10/10.
H Res 1160 (Meeks, D-NY), calling for the establishment of a Haiti Marshall Plan Committee to coordinate aid and development initiatives from multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, U.S. bilateral aid programs, and major international charities and non-governmental organizations in response to the earthquake that struck Haiti 1/12/10, and encouraging them to work in a coordinated manner; to Financial Services. H1323, CR 3/10/10.
The National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will hold a hearing titled “U.S. Aid to Pakistan: Planning and Accountability.” 3/16/10, 10 am, 2154 Rayburn.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing titled “Trans-Atlantic Security in the 21 st Century: Do New Threats Require New Approaches?” 3/17/10, 9:30 am, 2172 Rayburn.
The Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment Subcommittee, House Foreign Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing titled “U.S.-Japan Relations: Enduring Ties, Recent Developments.” 3/17/10, 2:30 pm, 2172 Rayburn.
On 3/10/10, the Senate passed S 1067, to support stabilization and lasting peace in northern Uganda and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army through development of a regional strategy to support multilateral efforts to successfully protect civilians and eliminate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army, and to authorize funds for humanitarian relief and reconstruction, reconciliation, and transitional justice.
On 3/10/10, the House passed, by a 418-1 vote, H Res 1088, to recognize the plight of people with albinism in East Africa and to condemn their murder and mutilation.
On 3/10/10, the House failed to agree, by a 65-356 vote, to H Con Res 248, to direct the president, pursuant to Section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan.
On 3/10/10, the president transmitted to the Senate a report on the continuation of the national emergency declared 3/15/95 with respect to Iran.
On 3/11/10, the Foreign Agricultural Service, Department of Agriculture, announced a 3/29/10 public meeting in Washington, DC, of the Consultative Group to Eliminate the Use of Child Labor and Forced Labor in Imported Agricultural Products to solicit input from the public regarding the group’s statutory mandate to develop recommendations for independent, third-party monitoring and verification to reduce the likelihood that agricultural products or commodities imported into the United States are produced with the use of forced labor or child labor. Comments are due 5/30/10. FR 11512 .
On 3/11/10, the State Department announced the waiver of the assistance requirements of Section 7086(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act of 2010 with respect to the government of Cambodia. FR 11620 .
On 3/11/10, the State Department announced a request for grant proposal applications for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ United States/Pakistan Professional Partnership Program, which will bring young professionals from the two countries together to develop cross-cultural relationships and professional skills that will positively impact people’s lives and will result in stronger ties between the two nations. Applications are due 4/9/10. FR 11612 .
Books We Like: Human Rights in Europe
Professor William B.T. Mock, Jr. of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago (pictured at left) and his Italian colleague, Professor Gianmario Demurro of the University of Cagliari Faculty of Law (pictured at right) have just published an important new book called Human Rights in Europe: Commentary on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The book is published by Carolina Academic Press.
The book tracks the Charter of Fundamental Rights in its parts and divisions. The book is divided into chapters on Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens' Rights, Justice, and General Provisions. Each of those chapters has commentary on individual articles of the Charter.
The book is extremely well written and provides researchers with a wealth of information and commentary. It originated as a scholarly volume in Italian, called L'Europa dei Diritti: Commento all Carta dei diritta fondamentali del l'Unione Europea. This new, English-language version makes available to more researchers and policymakers the scholars' important observations on human rights in Europe. The book has an added benefit of introducing significant civil and constitutional law issues to comparative law scholars around the world.
This book is an important resource for any human rights researcher. I also especially like its price -- the publisher has priced it at a very affordable $45.00 (and the publisher's website will even give you 10% off of that). The book is 398 pages long. Click here for more information.
If you happen to be in Chicago, there will be a book signing at The John Marshall Law School on Tuesday, April 6, 2010.
P.S. Happy Birthday to Keith Sipe at Carolina Academic Press!
ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting
There's now a Facebook Group for the 2010 Spring Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law. Click here.
United States to Release 2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices
The United States State Department is scheduled to release its 2009 Country Report on Human Rights Practices later today. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. to announce the release. The full text of the report will be available for downloading from the State Department web site at: www.state.gov as soon as possible after the briefing on March 11. The press briefing itself will be available via live video streaming on the state.gov web site as well. The U.S. State Department is required by law to prepare and submit the Country Report on Human Rights Practices to the U.S. Congress on an annual basis. The Country Report is to provide a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights including individual civil, political, and workers' rights as set forth in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The reports are often used by Congress in making decisions about foreign aid and as evidence of persecution in asylum cases in the United States.
March 10, 2010
International Criminal Court Delays Trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo
The International Criminal Court announced this week that it will delay the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, a former senior official of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who has been charged with war crimes. Bemba's trial was supposed to start on April 27, 2010 but it has been pushed back to July 5, 2010. Gombo faces charges for alleged crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) between October 2002 and March 2003, including rape, murder, and pillaging.
The trial is being delayed because Mr. Bemba’s lawyers had challenged the admissibility of the case against him on the grounds of respecting the complementarity between the ICC’s work and that of authorities in the Central African Republic. They argued that he should not be tried before the Court because the ICC can only proceed where there are no national proceedings against those responsible for the alleged crimes. His defense team is also questioning “the lack of the requisite level of gravity” and “an abuse of process in the case against Mr. Bemba."
The Trial Chamber for the International Criminal Court said that is “in the interests of justice” to rule on the defence’s application before the start of the proceedings. The Office of the Prosecutor and the victims’ legal representatives have until March 29 to submit their observations. Authorities in both the CAR and the DRC must respond by April 19, 2010.
The trial chamber said that it will issue its decision after considering observations as well as oral submissions made at a status conference scheduled to be held on April 27, 2010.
The ICC’s pre-trial chamber confirmed last summer that Mr. Bemba had the “necessary criminal intent” when in 2002 he ordered his armed group, the Mouvement de libération du Congo (MLC), into the CAR to back up embattled leader Ange-Félix Patassé. It said that MLC fighters committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during that mission, with Mr. Bemba “effectively acting as military commander.”
He was transferred to the ICC in July 2008 after being arrested by Belgian police. Last September, the Court decided that Mr. Bemba will remain in custody until the start of his trial, reversing an earlier decision to grant him temporary conditional release.
The situation in the CAR is one of four – along with the Darfur region of Sudan, the DRC and Uganda – currently under investigation by the Prosecutor of the ICC, an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
March 9, 2010
New Prosecutor Named for Special Court for Sierra LeoneA United States attorney, who leads the prosecution against former Liberian president Charles Taylor, has been named by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the new Prosecutor of the United Nations-backed tribunal trying the worst acts committed during the decade-long brutal civil war in Sierra Leone.
Since 2007, Brenda Joyce Hollis has served as a principal trial attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, where she heads up the legal team prosecuting Mr. Taylor, who is under indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Prior to that, she was an expert legal consultant on international law and criminal procedure, training judges, prosecutors and investigators at courts and international tribunals in Indonesia, Iraq and Cambodia.
Ms. Hollis has helped victims of international crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Colombia prepare submissions requesting investigations by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
She was also senior trial attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia from 1994-2001, serving as lead counsel in preparing the case against former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic as well as cases in which rape was charged as torture.
The newly-appointed prosecutor paid tribute to Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Kamara, who has served as Acting Prosecutor since Stephen Rapp left the post last September.
Also today, Mr. Ban named Binta Mansaray, a Sierra Leonean national, as the Special Court’s Registrar.
Appointed as Deputy Registrar in 2007, she has served as Acting Registrar since last June.
Ms. Mansaray first joined the SCSL as an Outreach Coordinator, where she designed its acclaimed grassroots programme to inform the people of Sierra Leone and Liberia about the Special Court and its trials.
Prior to joining the SCSL, she worked as a human rights advocate for victims and ex-combatants.
The Special Court is an independent tribunal established jointly by Sierra Leone’s Government and the UN in 2002. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone after 30 November 1996.
Last September, the eight prisoners convicted and held by the SCSL were transferred to Rwanda to serve their sentences since no prison in Sierra Leone meets the required international standards. The remaining trial, involving Mr. Taylor, is continuing at The Hague, where it was moved for security reasons.
ICTR Sentences Former Soldier to 15 years for Incitement to Commit Genocide
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced a former soldier for 15 years after convicting him of direct and public incitement to commit genocide. The decision issued on February 11, 2010 follows Tharcisse Muvunyi’s retrial after he was found guilty of several acts of genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and other inhumane acts and sentenced to 25 years in prison by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 2006.
In 2008, the tribunal’s appeals chamber set aside the convictions and sentence, but ordered a retrial that began last June of one allegation of direct and public incitement to commit genocide related to a speech Mr. Muvunyi gave in Butare prefecture in May 1994, in which he called for the killing of Tutsis, whom he referred to as snakes.
Mr. Muvunyi, 57, was formerly a lieutenant colonel in the Rwandan army. He was arrested in the United Kingdom in 2000 and transferred to the UN detention facility and transferred to Arusha, Tanzania.
The U.N. Security Council authorized the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in 1994 in response to the genocide, in which an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed within just 100 days that year.
(adapted from a UN Press Release)
Does the World Still Need U.S. Tort Law? Or Did it Ever?
The Pepperdine Law Review is hosting a symposium on April 16, 2010 entitled Does the World Still Need United States Tort Law? Or Did it Ever? The symposium will examine the present and future influence of United States tort law on other nations in light of globalization’s rise and United States tort law’s concurrent retrenchment on many fronts.
Some of the symposium speakers include Roger Alford (Pepperdine), Michael Bidart (Shernoff, Bidart & Echeverria), Ellen Bublick (University of Arizona), Richard L. Cupp (Pepperdine), John C.P. Goldberg (Harvard), Michael D. Green (Wake Forest), Ellen S. Pryor (SMU), Robert L. Rabin (Stanford), Michael L. Rustad (Suffolk), Victor E. Schwartz (Shook, Hardy & Bacon), Marshall S. Shapo (Northwestern), and Stephen D. Sugarman (Boalt Hall). International scholars speaking at the symposium include Peter Cane (Australian National University), Bruce Feldthusen (University of Ottawa), Lewis N. Klar (University of Alberta), the Honorable Allen M. Linden (Pepperdine; former judge of the Federal Court of Appeal of Canada), and Jane Stapleton (University of Texas). The Honorable Allen M. Linden will be honored at the symposium for his enormous contributions as a tort law scholar and teacher both in Canada and in the United States.
And as if you needed another reason to go to Malibu California, here's some unexpected news -- there are even a limited number of stipends available for law professors who wish to attend the symposium. Please contact Professor Richard Cupp at richard.cupp [at] pepperdine.edu regarding stipend applications. Click here for more information about the symposium.
Hat tip to Richard Cupp
March 8, 2010
Click here for the latest World Bulletin e-newsletter from the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA). If you don't know the organization, you should spend a few minutes to learn about its work promoting the United Nations.
International Women's Day 2010
March 8 is International Women's Day (IWD), a day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future around the globe. There is no single theme for IWD. Instead, organisations, governments and women's groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues. The IWD website can be found here.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made women's issues a top priority and appears to be emphasizing these issues in her statements and activities. Last week, she announced the 10 winners of this year’s International Women of Courage (IWOC) award. The award recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and advancement. Secretary Clinton will present the awards to the honorees at the Department of State on March 10. The awardees are: Shukria Asil (Afghanistan), Col. Shafiqa Quraishi (Afghanistan), Androula Henriques (Cyprus), Sonia Pierre (Dominican Republic), Shadi Sadr (Iran), Ann Njogu (Kenya), Dr. Lee Ae-ran (Republic of Korea), Jansila Majeed (Sri Lanka), Sister Marie Claude Naddaf (Syria), and Jestina Mukoko (Zimbabwe). The awardees' biographies can be found here.
The first IWD was celebrated in 1911, making next year the 100th anniversary. During International Women's Year in 1975, IWD was given official recognition by the United Nations and was taken up by many governments. International Women's Day is marked by a national holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Although not a national holiday in the United States, there are over 100 events taking place around the United States in celebraiton of IWD.
March 7, 2010
Obama Administration Opposed to Congressional Recognition of Armenian Genocide
In an update to the report a few days ago on the vote by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs to officially recognize the mass killings in Armenia in 1915 as genocide, Assistant Secretary of State Philip Crowley, stated on Friday that the Obama Administration does not believe that further Congressional action on the issue is appropriate because it will impede normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia. However, he did not say whether the Administration and Congressional leaders had reached any agreement regarding whether to allow a full vote on House Resolution 252.
H.R. 252 "Call[s] upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide."
Interestingly, as a candidate in January 2008, President Obama issued a statement supporting the recognition of Armenian Gencode. In April 2009, he issued statement on Armenian Remembrance Day asserting that his views had not changed (but avoiding use of the word "genocide").
This debate between the Congress and the Executive has implications for federalism as well as international relations. In 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a California law that extended the statute of limitations on insurance policies for victims of the Armenian Genocide and gave California courts jurisdiction over some of the claims arising from it. The Ninth Circuit held in Movsesian v. Versicherung, 578 F.3d 1052, that the California law was preempted by Executive policy opposed to the official recognition of the term "Armenian Genocide" despite the fact that no laws, Executive orders, or international agreements expressed such a policy. The case raises a serious question regarding the federal government's ability to preempt state law in the absence of a formal written statement of federal policy. If that decision stands, proclamations, resolutions and laws adopted by 43 of the 50 states within the United States incorporating the words "Armenian genocide" are potentially in jeopardy.