Thursday, April 15, 2010

A New Low For Air Travel

Givent the subject matter of this blog, I suspect many readers are frequent travelers by air, both domestically and internationally.  Yesterday, I read a news report that Ryanair is floating a proposal to charge airline passengers to use the restrooms on planes.  I must say, this struck me as a new low in the treatment of airline passengers (following closely on the heels of baggage fees not only for checked bags, but now for carry-ons).  Ryanair claims the proposal is not to make more money on toilets, but to encourage passengers to use the toilet at the airport before boarding the plane.  If passengers did so, fewer toilets would be needed on the plane, allowing the removal of some toilets from the plane and the addition of extra seating instead.  Ryanair CEO O'Leary reportedly has offered to donate the proceeds from this change in policy to charity, but there appears to be no guarantee that any savings would be passed on to charity or customers.

Astoundingly, Ryanair believes that European authorities are willing to accept this inhumane proposal.  European Commission officials allegedly are unconcerned as long as the policy is advertised because consumers can make a choice in air travel.  Fortunately, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is balking.  Although Ryanair does not operate in the United States, the FAA must approve the modification to the planes made by U.S.-based Boeing corporation, which constitutes a large portion of Ryanair's fleet.  The FAA is hesitant to approve the plan because the six extra seats may slow down evacuation of the plane in the event of an emergency, a potential safety hazard.

An airline passenger is captive on a plane and is not able to avoid the fee by using another toilet. Often during travel, one is eating and drinking foods and beverages that are unfamiliar to one's system and may cause a person to be a bit irregular.  Thus, even if the passenger has visited the toilet before boarding, he or she may still require a toilet on board. What is a passenger to do if without the proper coins or coins in the proper currency (something that happens often in international travel)?   It has been my experience that flight attendants often are not willing or able to exchange foreign currency on planes.  What about children and those with health conditions who are less able to predict their bodily functions?  There is no mention that this policy would apply only to flights of limited duration.  International travelers can be thankful for once that airlines often are subject to more than one regulatory body in this global world.


April 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

April marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  His life and work are now being remembered by creating a memorial for him in Washington, D.C.  The memorial will honor his life and contributions to the world through non violent social change.  You can click here to visit a website that includes videos, photos, banners, and other features about the memorial.  After many years of fund raising, the memorial is only $14 million away from its $120 million goal.

Hat tip to Lowell Dempsey and


April 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Karadžic Genocide Trial

ICTY The genocide trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic resumed today in the Hague at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The trial began with the start of the prosecution’s case after judges rejected the defendant’s appeal for another delay to the hearing.

Mr. Karadžic, the highest-ranking Bosnian Serb official to be indicted by the ICTY, had sought a postponement on the ground that the tribunal’s imposition of a lawyer to represent him had made it impossible for the 64-year-old to prepare for or participate in the trial.

But ICTY appeals judges rejected that appeal last month and ordered the trial (which began in October last year) to resume today. Opening statements have already been made by both sides, leaving the prosecution case set to begin.

Mr. Karadžic is charged with two counts of genocide and a series of other crimes, including murder, extermination, persecution, deportation and the taking of hostages, related to actions taken against Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995.

The indictment against the former president of Republika Srpska, head of the Serb Democratic Party and supreme commander of the Bosnian Serb army, alleges he is responsible for the murder of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica – supposedly a “safe haven” – in July 1995 in one of the most notorious events of the Balkan wars.

Mr. Karadžic is also accused of being responsible for the shelling and sniping of civilian areas of Sarajevo during a 44-month siege of the city.

The trial was halted last November to allow time for a court-appointed counsel to prepare a case for Mr. Karadžic, who was found to have obstructed proceedings by absenting himself from the early days of the trial. The defendant had been given four separate warnings that this would occur if he did not change his conduct.

The former Bosnian Serb leader was arrested in 2008 and transferred to the custody of the ICTY in The Hague after 13 years on the run.

(adapted from a UN press release)


April 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 12, 2010

ICJ to Rule Next Week in Case Concerning Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay)

ICJ The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, will deliver its Judgment next week in the case concerning Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay).

A public sitting will take place at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at the Peace Palace in The Hague.  At the session, Judge Peter Tomka, the Vice-President of the Court, will act as President in the case and read the Court’s Judgment.


April 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Injustice in Spain

Spain A New York Times editorial last week called "An Injustice in Spain" decried the politically-motivated prosecution of Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who is charged with ignoring a 1977 amnesty law when he decided to investigate the disappearances of more than 100,000 people during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and the Franco Fascist decade that followed.

The two far-right groups who brought the charges against Judge Garzon were afraid of an open investigation of the Franco era.

As the New York Times notes: "Unfortunately, one of Mr. Garzon's fellow magistrates sustained the complaint and brought formal charges [last] week."

Judge Garzon will now be suspended from his duties pending trial, and if convicted he could be removed from the bench for 20 years.  As the New York Times states, "That would please his political enemies, but it would be a travesty of justice.  The real crimes in the case are the disappearances, not Mr. Garzon's investigation.  If, as seems likely, these were crimes against humanity under international law, Spain's 1977 amnesty could not legally absolve them.  The suspected perpetrators are all dead, and Mr. Garzon long ago halted his investigation, passing jurisdiction to local Spanish courts in the areas where the victims were exhumed."

The editorial reviews more of Judge Garzon's judicial record in bring cases that promote human rights.  The editorial concludes that he should be allowed to resume his human rights work at the earliest date, and that "Spain needs an honest accounting of its troubled past, no prosecution of those who have the courage to demand it."


April 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Call for Submissions – Chinese (Taiwan) Yearbook of International Law and Affairs

The Chinese (Taiwan) Yearbook of International Law and Affairs began publication in 1981 and is jointly published by Cameron May and the Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law. The Yearbook contains contributions addressing issues in international law and international relations with a focus on Taiwan, Mainland China, and the Asia Pacific.

Prospective authors interested in publishing in Volume 27 of the Yearbook should submit a manuscript on any topics in the field of international law to csil [at] by August 1, 2010.  Authors are requested to follow Guidelines for Submissions, which are available by clicking here

Previous volumes of the Yearbook are available on Westlaw and HeinOnline. General inquiries about the Yearbook can be directed to Professor Pasha Hsieh, Managing Editor, at pashahsieh [at]  Professor Hsieh is an Assistant Professor of Law at Singapore Management University School of Law.


April 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

With Justice Stevens' Retirement, International Law Scholars Lose Supporter

US Supreme Court On Friday, Justice John Paul Stevens, the longest serving justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, announced that he would be retiring at the end of this term.  Although not the most outspoken on the issue, Justice Stevens has been one of the justices who is open to the use of international and foreign law at the Supreme Court.  Scholars of international law are likely to miss him.  Justice Stevens was an early advocate for consulting international and foreign norms in the context of determining what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U.S. 361 (1989), and Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815 (1988).  More recently, he continued his support for the use of international and foreign law in death penalty cases of Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), and Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 302 (2002).  He also supported reference to international and foreign law in the context of determining the due process and equal protection rights of lesbian and gay persons in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). 

For those interested in learning more about Justice Stevens' views on international and foreign law, you may wish to read Professor Diane Amman's article, John Paul Stevens, Human Rights Judge, 74 Fordham L. Rev. 1569 (2006), which can be found on SSRN here.  Scholars of international law can only hope that President Obama will nominate a new justice who is knowledgeable about and receptive to the appropriate use of international law in Supreme Court decision-making.


April 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)