April 2, 2010
UNA-USA National Conference Call on the Status of Women
On Tuesday, April 6, at 6:30 pm EST, the United Nations Association (UNA-USA) will host a national conference call on the United Nations, the Status of Women and What You Can Do. The public is invited to join UNA-USA activists and members who will discuss women's issues, important UN institutions, their experiences at the 54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and strategies for achieving U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). For more information about how to participate, go to the UNA-USA webpage.
Is There a Right to Same-Sex Marriage Under Customary International Law?
We posted earlier about Professor Sonia Bychkov Green's article that considers whether there is a right to same-sex marriage under customary international law. We have just learned that her article, Currency of Love: Customary International Law and the Battle For Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, will be published this fall by the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change.
ICSID Review -- Law Student Writing Competition
The ICSID Review-Foreign Investment Law Journal Student Writing Competition encourages scholarship in the field of international investment dispute settlement. Current law students are invited to submit articles on a procedural or substantive issue in international investment arbitration. The deadline is July 30, 2010, and the author of the winning submission will receive a cash prize of US$1000 and will have the essay published in the ICSID Review. The Official Announcement, Competition Rules, and Article Submission Guidelines can be found at the ICSID website by clicking here.
Hat tip to Violeta Balan
April 1, 2010
Belgian Parliamentary Committee Votes to Ban Veils
The Los Angeles Times reports today that a parliamentary committee in Belgium voted unanimously to ban face-covering veils in public. The Belgian House of Representatives is expected to vote on the measure later this month. The proposed legislation, if passed, would make Belgium the first European country to ban wearing of face veils in public. A proponent of the legislation, Daniel Bacquelaine, is quoted in the Los Angeles Times today (page A6) as stating: "We cannot allow someone to claim the right to look at others without being seen."
Should the U.S. Become a Party to the Inter-American Convention on the Law Applicable to International Contracts?
The U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on Private International Law announced a public meeting in Washington, DC, on April 9, 2010 of the Study Group for the Organization of American States Specialized Conference on Private International Law (CIDIP). This is a meeting of just the study group and not the full advisory committee on Public International Law.
The meeting is to discuss several proposals concerning consumer rights as part of the committee’s program on private international law. One proposal is a revised Brazilian draft convention on applicable law that was recently expanded to include jurisdiction. Another proposal is a U.S. proposal for legislative guidelines or model rules to promote consumer redress mechanisms such as small claims tribunals, collective procedures, and on-line dispute resolution.
The meeting will also include consideration of whether the United States should pursue ratification of theInter-American Convention on the Law Applicable to International Contracts (known as the Mexico City Convention). You can click here to read the text of that treaty. The treaty entered into force in 1996 when Mexico became the second country to ratify it. The only other party to the treaty appears to be Venezuela, which ratified the treaty in 1995. Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay have signed the treaty but have not yet ratified it.
Teleconferencing will be available for those who cannot attend the meeting in person. Click here to read more in the official Federal Register Notice.
Hat tip to the ABA Government Affairs Office
ASIL Names 11 Winners of Helton Fellowships
The American Society of International Law announced the names of 11 student and young professional winners of its 2010 Helton Fellowships for projects in international law. The winners were selected from more than 50 applicants from Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Oceania, and North and South America. Each winner will receive $2,000 to pursue fieldwork in or research on issues involving international law, human rights, humanitarian affairs, and related areas.
ASIL established the Helton Fellowship Program in 2004 in honor of Arthur C. Helton, an internationally renowned lawyer and advocate for protecting the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons. Arthur Helton died in the August 19, 2003, bombing of the United Nations mission in Baghdad. In the photograph of a commemorative plaque at the United Nations Headquarters in New York (and also Geneva), Arthur's name is included among those killed in that attack.Helton Fellows undertake their fellowship fieldwork and research in association with established educational institutions, international organizations, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The following are the 2010 ASIL Helton award recipients:
Kokuvi Akakpo, LL.D Candidate, University of Ottowa. Kokuvi will examine the nature and extent of the crimes that were committed by children during the Sierra Leone conflict and the proper international legal response to children accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide for the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He will be evaluating evidence and witness proceedings from the trial of Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.Dina Chehata, J.D. Candidate, Georgetown University Law Center. Dina will work with the Alliance for Arab Women, a non-governmental organization working to secure the human rights of women by influencing policy and legislation, as well as providing legal services and education in Cairo, Egypt. She will be providing legal information and translation services to impoverished and illiterate women throughout Egypt and other parts of North Africa.
Brock Dahl, LL.M Candidate, George Washington University Law School. Brock will work under the auspices of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission to propose positive recommendations to the Afghan government on how it can proactively investigate and prosecute crime and corruption by those within its borders who may or may not have ties to the government, while ensuring and respecting international human rights.
Christie Edwards, LL.M Candidate, American University Washington College of Law. Christie will work with the Association Solidarité Féminine on providing literacy and vocational skills training as well as legal assistance to single mothers and their children in Casablanca, Morocco.
Shannon Fyfe, J.D. Candidate, Vanderbilt University Law School. Shannon will provide legal assistance for the Public International Law and Policy Group by working on human rights cases involving the abuse of people in Tanzania who have the genetic condition albinism. She will work with Tanzanian officials, policymakers, and the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance on implementing national laws that promote human rights in accordance with international legal standards for this population.
Eva Garon, J.D. Candidate, University of San Diego School of Law. Eva will provide legal counsel and representation through the nongovernmental organization Asylum Access to refugees in Ecuador who are seeking asylum.
Jennifer Hainsfurther, J.D. Graduate, New York University School of Law. Jennifer will work with the MAP Foundation in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on compiling a “shadow report” on migrant women to present to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, detailing Thailand’s compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Kuong Ly, LL.M Graduate, University of Essex School of Law. Kuong will work with the International Prosecutor of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to prepare the second case to prosecute the senior Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea, known infamously as “Brother Number 2” during the Cambodian genocide. His research will explore the impact of the current Hun Sen government on the ECCC and how the ruling of the ECCC affects the international rule of law and achieving justice for victims of the Cambodian genocide.
Soo-Ryun Kwon, J.D. Graduate, Fordham University School of Law. Soo-Ryun will be continuing her work with Human Rights Watch in Uganda on documenting riots that occurred in Kampala, Uganda, on September 10 and 11, 2009. She will also provide legal analysis of the HIV/AIDS bill being considered by Uganda’s Parliamentary Committee and research on electoral reform efforts within Uganda. Anna Pippus, J.D. Candidate, University of Toronto. Anna’s project entails working with the Access to Justice program of Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women in Thailand. She will provide legal information in accessible language to women who have experienced relocation abuse.
Jacob Zenn, J.D. Candidate, Georgetown University Law Center. Jacob will intern with the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms where he will research the reintegration of Yemeni Guantanamo detainees after their return to Yemen. He will interview and document returnees’ and their families’ experiences in Sana and learn about the challenges of reintegrating into Yemeni society. Jacob will then draft a set of recommendations for the U.S. government and NGOs on providing resources that facilitate the reintegration of Yemeni returnees.
March 31, 2010
EU Extends Sanctions on Fiji's Military Regime
The European Union has extended its sanctions against Fiji for another six months, until October. Radio New Zealand reported that the EU move is designed to continue pressure on the military coup regime to respect human rights and return the country to democracy.
The EU said that its decision to extend sanctions followed the delay in implementing commitments the Fiji authorities made to the EU, notably concerning the abrogation of the constitution, human rights violations, and the postponement of parliamentary elections. The EU froze its development aid to Fiji and cut off the payment of subsidies to Fiji sugar farmers in October 2007 after the military commander ousted the elected government. The EU says it considers the extension of the measures as an opportunity for new discussions with the government of Fiji. The EU also said that its 27 member nations will maintain humanitarian operations and direct support to civil society and democracy building. The Fiji regime says there will be no election before 2014.
The Fiji Times reported this week that the EU was donating FJ$2 million (US$1 million) to help 90 schools damaged in Cyclone Tomas. Half of the money spent will be sued to repair damaged buildings and the other half to replace damaged school equipment such as copiers, computers, and laboratory equipment.
Hat tips to Radio New Zealand and the East-West Center
March 30, 2010
U.S. Supreme Court and "Foreign-Cubed" Securities Fraud Class Actions
The case they were watching involved a suit by Australian investors to challenge statements made by Australia's largest bank.
Got that? The plaintiffs are Australian, the defendants are Australian, and the fraud alleged took place in Australia. The case was described as a "Foreign-Cubed" Securities Fraud Class Action.
Although it seems everything happened in Australia, the suit was filed in the United States.
The federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit both ruled in favor of the bank, holding that there was no federal jurisdiction.
The plaintiffs argued that there is a connection to the United States because the inaccurate information that misled Australian investors was from Florida, where a bank allegedly overvalued mortgages that were part of the portfolio that the subject of the case.
Justice Sotomayor recused herself because she was sitting on the Second Circuit when the case was decided there.
We don't know what the Canadian justices thought of it all, but it certainly was an interesting case for them to watch. A decision is expected before the end of June.
March 29, 2010
UN Human Rights Council Calls for Follow-Up on the Goldstone Report
The United Nations Human Rights Council called on the Israeli Government and the Palestinian side to carry out independent and credible investigations into the deadly conflict in the Gaza Strip that ended early last year. Those inquiries, the Council said, must look into the serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law reported by the fact-finding mission into the Operation Cast Lead, the three-week Israeli military offensive starting at the end of 2008 that had the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by militants operating in the area. The fighting left more than 1,400 people dead, injured 5,000 others and reduced homes, schools, hospitals and marketplaces to rubble.
The Goldstone Report found that both Israeli forces and Palestinian militants were guilty of serious human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law during the Gaza conflict, which began in late December 2008. The General Assembly has endorsed the mission’s findings. The four-member fact-finding team headed by former UN war crimes prosecutor Justice Richard Goldstone, set up at the request of the Human Rights Council, called on the two sides to carry out independent investigations into their actions during the conflict.
The Human Rights Council last week also called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to look into setting up an escrow fund to provide reparations to Palestinians who suffered losses as a result of unlawful Israeli actions during the conflict. It also decided to establish a committee of independent experts to monitor the independence, effective and genuineness of the investigations and their conformity with international standards.
Earlier this month, the U.N. General Assembly also appealed for independent investigations by Israel and the Palestinians, reiterating a call by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a follow-up report to the Goldstone Report that they must conform with “international standards into the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law reported by the fact-finding mission, towards ensuring accountability and justice.”
(adapted from a UN press release)
Australian National University Wins the 2010 World Championship Round of Jessup
Australian National University prevailed in the World Championship Round of the 2010 White & Case International Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.
The final bench was comprised of former International Court of Justice Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, presided Dame Rosalyn Higgins (another ICJ judge and also a former President of the International Court of Justice), and Professor Harold Koh, the Legal Advisor to the U.S. Department of State. Talk about a panel!
A record number of teams attended this year's International Rounds - 127 teams altogether (105 competing, 22 exhibition), representing 76 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
2011 Jessup Problem Topic Announced
The International Law Students Association (ILSA) announced that the 2011 Compromis for the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition will address the legality of the use of unmanned drones and international anti-corruption law. Click here for more information.
U.S. Senate Passes Resolution to Help Haiti Cancel its International Debts
The U.S. Senate passed HR 4573, urging the secretary of the Treasury to instruct the U.S. executive directors at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other multilateral development institutions to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to cancel immediately and completely Haiti’s debts to those institutions.
Hat tip to the ABA Government Affairs Office
Lord's Resistance Army Murders at Least 320 Persons in Democratic Republic of the Congo
The United Nations is investigating a massacre of civilians in the remote northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The murders were reportedly committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the village of Mabanga. Human rights groups say at least 320 people were murdered with machetes, axes, and heavy wooden sticks.
Martin Nesirky, the U.N. Secretary-General’s spokesperson, told reporters in New York that the UN cannot confirm the exact number of victims until the formal investigation by the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC has been completed. He said that the extreme remoteness of the area and the fact that witnesses may have moved were delaying efforts to gather reliable information. Some reports are that the Lord's Resistance Army had kidnapped new child soldiers. The group has already been indicted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.
(adapted from press reports and a UN press release)
Security Council Extends UNAMA for Another Year in Afghanistan
The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to extend the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) for another year. The Council also voted to expand UNAMA's mandate to include support for the parliamentary elections scheduled for September 2010.
March 28, 2010
ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting in New York
Of the most important international law events held each year, I rank near the very top the Spring and Fall Meetings of the American Bar Association Section of International Law. These simply are amazing gatherings that should not be missed by any international law practitioner (or someone who aspires to practice international law). And these meetings are extremely rich for the substantive content that drives international law scholarship in new directions.
The next such meeting will be April 13-17, 2010 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. It simply one of the world’s most important gatherings of international lawyers. (To give you an idea of how many people agree, the section's last meeting in New York in 2008 attracted almost 1400 attendees from 49 countries.)
So here's some information about the meeting from Glenn Hendrix, Chair of the ABA Section of International Law. This 2010 Spring Meeting promises to be even bigger than ever with over 70 substantive programs. Click here to see the full list of programs and speakers.
The meeting will kick off on Tuesday, April 13th, with a full slate of programming, including a day-long series of “Fundamentals” programs on the nuts and bolts of handling cross-border matters. Those sessions are organized in cooperation with the International Section of the New York State Bar Association and will qualify for “bridge the gap” CLE credit. The day’s programming will be capped by the ever-popular “speed networking” event (where the section guarantees that you will walk away with new friends and a fist full of business cards) and the opening reception at the Grand Hyatt.
The programming shifts into high gear on Wednesday, April 14, with five concurrent sessions per time slot. The overwhelming offering is divided into useful program tracks (twelve consecutive programs over the course of three days) that help you decide which sessions to attend. Some of these program tracks are dedicated exclusively to dispute resolution, business/transactional, corporate counsel, regulatory, and public international law/rule of law. In addition, there will be a series of “mini-tracks” – a clustering of programs over the course of one or two days – on customs/trade law, antitrust, employment/human resources, and cross-border real estate. Our single-day registration rates should be very attractive to practitioners in the fields covered by these mini-tracks.
Building on the successful “Managing Partner Roundtable” at the Fall Meeting in Miami, the section will present its first-ever full-day “Managing Partner Summit” on Wednesday, April 14. Leaders of more than twenty law firms – representing not only some of the world’s largest multinationals, but also top regional and niche practice market leaders – will share their insights on a series of panels on the following topics: “Law Firm Strategy after the Recession”, “Managing an International Law Firm -- The Opportunities & Challenges of Operating in Multiple Jurisdictions”, and “The Secrets of Attracting and Leading the Best People”. Paradigms are changing in the legal industry, and these sessions will provide a fresh perspective on where things are headed.
Here are some of the other programs of broader interest for international law practitioners and professors:
- Legal Process Outsourcing -- A Reality Check: [How] Has It Affected Your Practice?
- CEDAW Turns 30: Much Accomplished and More to Come
- Legal Issues in the Creation of a Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What Are They and How Can They Be Resolved?
- A New World Order for Corporate Governance? Issues, Trends and the Creeping Role of Government in the Boardrooms of the World
- Is "Buy American" Best for America? The Rise of Protectionism and Its Effects. PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) in a Turbulent Market: Views from around the world
- Global and Cross-Border Pro Bono Service: Opportunities and Models for Feasible Participation
- Harmonization of Law: North America, Europe, and Latin America -- Developments and Future Prospects
- Seventh Annual “What's New In International Commercial Dispute Resolution?”
- Renewable Energy – Legal Framework Comparison: U.S. versus the Rest of the World
- Executive Compensation in the Wake of the Financial Crisis: What Next?
- Libel Tourism: Should the U.S. Be Exporting the First Amendment?
If getting a year’s worth of cutting edge CLE credit weren’t enough, attendees will enjoy unparalleled opportunities to network at such venues as Astor Hall in the New York Public Library (the term “breathtaking grandeur” is often used in describing the space), Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur (a quintessentially New York space overlooking Grand Central), and the historic Yale Club of New York.
The Spring Meeting will also showcase an exhibition with the title, “Lawyers Without Rights”. Mounted by the German Federal Bar, the exhibition features detailed and poignant accounts of the lives and fates of Jewish lawyers who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime. Extensive photographic material is used to present lively biographies of the subjects. “Lawyers Without Rights” demonstrates what can happen when the rule of law is trampled by the state.
There will also be numerous opportunities to become more engaged in the activities of the Section. Most of the Section’s 60 committees will be holding business meetings and a committee dinner at the Yale Club. These sessions represent the ultimate networking opportunity – face time with your peers from around the world who share your area of interest. Sitting across the table from your colleagues in a committee business meeting discussing upcoming plans for programs, publications, policy initiatives, and projects can be a great way to break the ice. More importantly, committee involvement represents an opportunity to effect change in the legal sphere. Most of the “big ABA’s” initiatives bubble up from the committee-level. Getting involved in one or more committees gives you a chance to become part of the action.
The pre-Registration Final Deadline is March 31, 2010. You will still be able to register on-site, but it is really much better to have your name listed among the attendees.Click here to see the full program agenda for the Spring Meeting. You'll notice some pretty cool stuff in there -- like having lunch with Harold Koh, the Legal Advisor of the U.S. State Department.
If you have questions about the meeting, you can click here to see a list of frequently asked questions (and, of course, the answers!)
And to register for the meeting, click here. See you in New York!
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
Hat tip to Jenny Abreau.