May 7, 2010
International Law Year in Review
The American Bar Association Section of International Law publishes each year a "year in review" of the most significant international law events of the past year. I served as a co-editor of the 2009 year in review, which is at the printer and will be mailed out to members of the ABA Section of International Law on May 22 (or thereabouts). If you are not a member of the ABA Section of International Law, your law school law library may be receiving a copy of this issue. Hundreds of contributing authors and editors helped to create this wonderful resource for international law researchers.
May 6, 2010
On the Death of Nigeria's President
A press release just received from the United Nations:Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his deep sadness to learn of the death of Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, which he called a great loss for the African nation and its people.
Mr. Yar’Adua, the Secretary-General said in a statement issued by his spokesperson, “will be remembered, among other things, for his efforts to bring peace and stability to the Niger Delta region and for his commitment to democratic governance and electoral reforms.”
The United Nations chief also expressed his gratitude for Mr. Yar’Adua’s “unwavering support” of the world body and its ideals, as well as for the initiative he undertook as chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In the statement, the Secretary-General also extended his condolences to the family of Mr. Yar’Adua, who also served as Nigeria’s Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and to the country’s Government.
In March, Mr. Ban encouraged all people in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, to continue supporting Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, who was installed to lead the country while Mr. Yar’Adua was being treated for his ailments.
Midwest Association for Canadian Studies
Here's a reminder about the 2010 Midwest Association for Canadian Studies Conference -- Building Bridges between Countries and Disciplines. The conference 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
May 5, 2010
WTO Considering Syria's Membership
Yesterday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) formed a working party to consider Syria's application for membership. The process for joining the WTO generally takes four stages. First, the State seeking to join must prepare and present a report to the WTO describing its trade and economic policies that have a bearing on WTO Agreements. Second, the State seeking to join must enter into bilateral negotiations with the existing members of the WTO regarding tariff rates, market access commitments and the like. Third, the WTO working party will draft and finalize the terms of the accession. Fourth and finally, the final package is presented to the WTO and 2/3 of the members must vote in favor for the accesstion to proceed. With the addition of the working party for Syria, there are now 30 States undergoing the WTO accession process. Syria has said it is confident that when its terms of negotiation are completed, they will result in improved market access, strengthening the rules-based multilateral trading system, and increasing the welfare of people both globally and in Syria. More information on WTO accessions can be found here.
May 4, 2010
USTR Releases 2010 Special 301 Report on Protection for Intellectual Property
The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has just released its 2010 "Special 301" Report which evaluates the adequacy and effectiveness of actions taken by its trading partners to protect intellectual property rights (IPR). The Special 301 Report is issued pursuant to section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.
The 2010 report continues to express "serious concerns" about lack of adequate protection for IPR in China. China therefore remains on the Priority Watch List of those countries that do not provide adequate protection for IPR, along with 10 other countries, including Canada, Russia and India. According to the USTR, these countries will be subject to "particularly intense engagement through bilateral discussion" on the subject of better IPR protection.
On a positive note, the 2010 Report removes three European countries, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, from the Watch List in recognition of their increased efforts to fight piracy and counterfeiting. Saudi Arabia and Israel also were removed from the Watch List. A handful of other European countries remain on a lower-level Watch List, including Finland, Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain, along with 24 other countries. The USTR will continue to engage in bilateral efforts to address concerns relating to better protection for IPR with those countries. More information can be found on the USTR website.
May 3, 2010
ABA President Carolyn Lamm Speaks Out on Arizona's New Immigration Law
The recently signed immigration law in Arizona runs contrary to the fundamental tenets of our Constitution relative to equal protection and due process. This draconian, and likely unconstitutional, law threatens to reverse nearly 50 years of civil rights advancements in our nation. It is, quite simply put, a law based on prejudice and fear, one whose purpose is to be divisive.
This law encourages second-class treatment of individuals based on the color of their skin, and that is unacceptable. The American Bar Association has long opposed these kinds of initiatives because they intrude on personal civil rights and because they belie our nation's principle of justice for all. When justice for anyone in America is threatened, it diminishes us all as a free people.
As the ABA's landmark study in our March 2010 report on the immigration adjudication system demonstrates, the U.S. immigration system is fundamentally broken. Indeed, the ABA is aggressively urging Congress to enact immigration reform as a top priority. The Arizona law gives the authority of state and local police to engage in a broad range of immigration enforcement activities, enforcement that is - and should remain - a federal responsibility.
Only with a comprehensive national approach can we enhance our border and national security - which will benefit Arizona and all states - while humanely and realistically addressing the undocumented population and our overburdened immigration court system, and preserving our American traditions of fairness and due process under the law.
As we become more globally interdependent, more sensitivity between peoples and nations are called for, not less. We as Americans must hearken back to the principles on which our nation was formed and which have led to our providing a beacon of liberty for the rest of the world. This law throws a cloak over that light.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on developments in Marjah, Afghanistan on May 6, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. The hearing will be in room 419 of the Dirksen Building.
Hat tip to the ABA Government Affairs Office
May 2, 2010
Trial of Guantanamo Bay Detainee Khadr presents many challenges
Last week, the U.S. began trying Omar Khadr, one of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, in the first military commission case to go foward since President Obama suspended legal proceedings at Guantanamo Bay in 2009. Khadr was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 and is accused of throwing a hand grenade that killed U.S. Special Forces Medic, Christopher Speer. At the time of his capture, Khadr was only 15 years old.
Khadr's young age presents difficult legal issues for the prosecution because international human rights law requires that a juvenile's status be taken into account in charging, trying and sentencing for a crime. See, e.g., International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) at article 10 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), at article 37. International humanitarian law bans the use of children under the 15 in military endeavors (see, e.g., Geneva Convention III at Article 68), but is less clear regarding the status of juveniles between the ages of 15-18.
With respect to the possible punishment, juveniles cannot be sentenced to death under both U.S. law (see Roper v. Simmons) and international law (see, e.g., Geneva Convention IV at art. 68); however, the U.S. is seeking life imprisonment against Khadr. Life imprisonment for juveniles is banned under international law, (see, e.g., the CRC at article 37), but not yet under U.S. law. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering the constitutionality of life imprisonment for juveniles in two cases, Sullivan and Graham, with decisions expected by the end of June.
In addition to being a juvenile at the time of his arrest, Khadr claims to have been severely mistreated while in detention. Khadr allegedly has confessed to throwing the hand grenade, but has since changed his story and now claims that confession was made under duress as a result of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (which, of course, is banned by many international human rights treaties, including article 7 of the ICCPR and article 37 of the CRC). He claims he was subjected to threats of rape, beatings and sleep deprivation while being held at Bagram Air Base and at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. government denies these allegations and claims Khadr was always well treated. However, Khadr's youth and allegations of mistreatment may make him a more sympathetic figure to the military jury and may cast doubt on the reliability of his earlier confession.
Because of these difficult legal issues, the U.S. government is reportedly actively seeking to settle the case by reaching a plea agreement with Khadr.