Saturday, May 1, 2010
The Brazil Supreme Court voted 7-2 to reject a motion to modify a 1979 law that provides amnesty to those who committed torture under Brazil's military dictatorship. The New York Times reports today that the Brazil Bar Association had proposed that those who commited torture should not be protected under the amnest y law. The majority of justices voting to reject that suggestion said that the law should stand as it is. Brazil (unlike Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay) has nover prosecuted members of its armed forces for human rights abuses committed during the country's military rule. Brazil: No Change to Amnesty Law, N.Y. Times, May 1, 2010, at A5.
Friday, April 30, 2010
On Thursday the U.S. Senate passed HR 3714, which would amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to include in the Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices information about freedom of the press in foreign countries.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 1918 on April 27 calling on Member States to criminalize piracy in their domestic laws and to consider prosecuting pirates in domestic courts. The Resolution also directs the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to prepare a report on possible options for prosecution of pirates in the future, including the feasibility of establishing a regional or international tribunal to prosecute pirates. The Secretary General is to present that report to the UNSC within three months.
The European Union (EU) recently provided Ukraine with a "honey do" list of 18 tasks if Ukraine wishes to have a closer relationship with the EU and eventually become an EU member. Ukraine is already a priority partner country under the European Neighborhood Policy and hopes to establish free trade with the EU by signing an Association Agreement later this year.
The European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Stefan Fule, presented the list of reforms to Ukraine this week. The list includes reforms in the areas of government, finance, business, energy and the environment. Fule's April 28 remarks on this topic may be found here. Many of the tasks are accompanied by specific incentives. For example, judicial reform to improve the efficiency and independence of the judiciary may lead to an additional 10 million euros in aid. Financial aid of 610 million euros is tied to financial reforms including the resumption of payments on a loan from the International Monetary Fund which were suspended when Ukrainian legislators could not agree on a budget last year. (Perhaps these incentives will be more successful in accomplishing the "honey-do" list than in my home.) The ability of Ukrainian legislators to agree on a package of reforms is in doubt, however, after recent media broadcasts of fighting and egg-throwing in the parliament. If you haven't already seen it, the video can be found here.
The 2010 Midwest Association for Canadian Studies Conference -- Building Bridges between Countries and Disciplines -- will take place October 22-24 at The University of Windsor.
The deadline for proposals is May 15 and conference papers on all topics related to Canada and Canadian Studies are welcome. Click here to read the Call for Papers.
Additional details are available on the website for the Midwest Association for Canadian Studies.
Hat tip to Jennifer Herlein, Public & Governmental Affairs Officer / Attachée aux affaires publiques & gouvernementales, Quebec Government Office in Chicago / Délégation du Québec à Chicago
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The International Association of Organizational Innovation is organizing its first Southeast Asian Symposium for Lawyering Skills at Siam University in Bangkok, Thailand, from August 4-6, 2010. The symposium will focus on lawyers from Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the United States and provide attendees with an opportunity to share information about practical lawyering skills, including writing, oral advocacy, drafting, and client representation.
The principal organizer is Professor Kirsten Dauphinais, the Director of Lawyering Skills at the University of North Dakota School of Law. She invites lawyers in Thailand and neighboring countries near Thailand to attend or sponsor this new and exciting event. Further information about the conference and the International Association of Organizational Innovation is available by clicking here.
If you have an interest in attending, please send an expression of possible interest to Professor Dauphinais at kdauphinais [at] law.und.edu.
Hat tip to Kirsten Dauphinais
U.S. President Barack Obama has signed H.R. 4573 (PL 111-158), a law that directs the secretary of the U.S. 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 Office of Government Affairs.
New International Legislation to Protect Minors, Extend International Organizations Immunity Act, and Congratulate Baltic States on 20 Years of Independence
The following pieces of legislation have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives
HR 5137 (Crowley, D-NY), to amend Title 18, United States Code, to provide penalties for transporting minors in foreign commerce for the purposes of female genital mutilation; to Judiciary. H2876, Congressional Record 4/26/10.
HR 5138 (Smith, R-NJ), to protect children from sexual exploitation by mandating reporting requirements for convicted sex traffickers and other registered sex offenders intending to engage in international travel, providing advance notice of intended travel by high interest registered sex offenders outside the United States to the government of the country of destination, and requesting foreign governments to notify the United States when a known child sex offender is seeking to enter the United States; to Foreign Affairs. H2876, Congressional Record 4/26/10.
HR 5139 (Berman, D-CA), to provide for the International Organizations Immunities Act to be extended to the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the International Civilian Office in Kosovo; to Foreign Affairs. H2876, Congressional Record 4/26/10.
H Con Res 267 (Shimkus, R-IL), congratulating the Baltic regions of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the 20 th anniversary of the reestablishment of their full independence; to Foreign Affairs. H2877, Congressional Record 4/26/10.
Hat tip to the ABA Government Affairs Office
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on U.S.-Cuba policy on Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. in Washington D.C. (Room 1100 of the Longworth Office Building). The hearings will before the Trade Subcommittee will focus on whether relaxing current Cuba travel and trade restrictions would advance U.S. economic objectives, democracy, and human rights in Cuba.
Hat tip to the ABA Government Affairs Office
Fiona Cownie, a professor of law at Keele University, has published what appears to be an interesting book on legal education. The book brings together a distinguished group of researchers to examine the power relations which are played out in university law schools as a result of the different pressures exerted upon them by a range of different stakeholders, including students, governments, lawyers, and universities. Here's the information about the book in case you want to investigate further.
Jan 2010 268pp Pbk 9781841137216 US$60
Published by Hart Publishing Ltd, 16C Worcester Place, Oxford, OX1 2JW, UK
Telephone number: 01865 517530; Fax Number: 01865 510710 Website http://www.hartpub.co.uk
Monday, April 26, 2010
The American Bar Association Section of International Law has approximately 60 committees that focus on substantive areas of international law practice and on specific regions of the world.
One of those committees is the Canada Committee. The Canada Committee focuses on programs and policy dealing with international and cross-border aspects of issues affecting Canada and its trading partners across a broad range of areas, including
- national security,
- cross-border litigation,
- government procurement,
- product safety regulation,
- trade remedies,
- economic sanctions
- export controls,
- public law, and
- bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements, including NAFTA and the agreements of the World Trade Organization.
If you're a member of LinkedIn (and a member of the ABA and the ABA Section of International Law), you can join the group for the Canada Committee on LinkedIn. Click here for more information about the Canada Committee Group on Linked In.
April 26, 2010 represents the 10th Anniversary of World Intellectual Property Day. The membership growth in international treaties protecting intellectual property (IP) and harmonizing IP laws has grown significantly since the creation of the TRIPS Agreement (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) became part of the multilateral World Trade Organization (WTO) family of agreements. However, protection of intellectual property continues to be a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, IP protection provides incentives to creative persons who know they will reap the financial rewards of their hard work and will be able to control what happens with their creations, at least for a number of years. We need to encourage continued innovation to find solutions to disease, hunger and climate change. On the other hand, too great protections for IP can limit access to needed medicines and jeopardize farmers' ability to re-use seed to start next year's crops. Thus, the world community might consider using this anniversary to examine whether a proper balance is being struck between these competing interests.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Yesterday, the Paraguayan Congress voted to give the President and army emergency powers to deal with guerillas who are responsible for kidnappings in the northern part of the country. The Congress proclaimed constitutional order at risk and declared a 30-day emergency in a five-state region. Pursuant to his new emergency powers, President Fernando Lugo will be able to order arrests and transfers of suspects without court approval. The law also limits other freedoms, such as the freedom of assembly, to limit protests. The Paraguayan Minister for the Interior emphasized the temporary and limited nature of the emergency powers, which do not alter the country's democratic form.
The guerilla group, known as the Paraguayan People's Army, claims to be kidnapping people for ransom which will be used to finance political change to help the rural poor. Since 2008, it has raised $700,000 in the kidnappers of two wealthy ranchers. It also has been accused of killing police and civilians in attacks on police stations and military posts.
Many human rights treaties permit State Parties to derogate from certain human rights obligations in times of national emergency. Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is an example of such a derogation clause. However, certain rights, such as the right to life and the right to be free from slavery and torture, are considered so fundamental that no derogation is permitted. To invoke the derogation clause, a State Party such as Paraguay is required to publicly announce a state of emergency, to report to the United Nations (UN) and to provide an ending date for the derogation. While news reports did not indicate whether Paraguay has officially reported to the UN, it appears to have met the other preconditions of article 4 of officially proclaiming a national emergency and providing a date of termination.