January 16, 2010
ABILA President John Noyes Named Inaugural Roger J. Traynor Professor of Law
Professor John E. Noyes of California Western School of Law is the current president of the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA). That school named him as the inaugural Roger J. Traynor Professor of Law, a new professorship named in honor of the late justice of the California Supreme Court.
Professor Noyes has just completed a new edition of his book on the Law of the Sea in a Nutshell. I told him that the publisher (West) should call it Law of the Sea in a Seashell instead. (They could start a new series of books and through in some stuff on admiralty as well!)
Congratulations to Professor Noyes on the new honor and new publication.
ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting in New York
The American Bar Association Section of International Law holds an AMAZING Spring Meeting each year. This year it will be in New York City, starting on Tuesday April 13 through Saturday April 17, 2010. Click here for a link to the full program. This simply is one of those international law events that you do not want to miss. Law students are also encouraged to attend and meet the more than 1,000 international law practitioners expected to participate. Click here for more information about the ABA International Section's Spring Meeting.
January 15, 2010
Ban Ki-moon to Travel to Haiti
Understanding the Seal-Products Dispute
The European Parliament and Council recently adopted a regulation that prohibits the marketing and importation of all seal products from commercial hunting. This regulation triggered open opposition by Canada, Norway, and other seal-hunting countries. Canada and Norway requested dispute settlement consultations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement concerning this legislation. This is the 400th trade dispute brought before the WTO. The American Society of International Law has prepared a background paper to explain the dispute. Click here to read more.
The background paper was prepared by Simon Lester, a former Legal Affairs Officer at the WTO Appellate Body Secretariat. He is co-founder of WorldTradeLaw.net. He blogs at the International Eonomic Law and Policy Blog,
Hat tips to Simon Lester and Sheila Ward. And greetings to the International Economic Law and Policy Blog!
Russia Approves Reforms to the European Court of Human Rights
The New York Times reports today that the lower house of the Russian Parliament voted e 392-56 to approve reforms to the European Court of Human Rights. The vote approved Protocol 14, which among other things would speed up the court's work by reducing the number of judges required to make major decisions. The New York Times article notes that the European Court of Human Rights has "a backlog of complaints, nearly one-third of them against Russia." Russia has been the holdout country to ratify Protocol 14, which the other 46 participating nations had all approved by 2006.
The New York Times article by Ellen Barry ("Russia Ends Opposition to Rights Court") quotes one Russian lawmaker as saying that European ministers had finally addressed Russian complaints about the proposed reforms, and that they had now guaranteed that Russian judges would be involved in reviewing complaints against Russia. The article describes some of the important cases coming up against Russia. If you are teaching international human rights law this semester, you might want to have your students pick up a copy of the paper today to read that story.
January 14, 2010
President Obama Urges Help for Haiti
January 13, 2010
A friend who regularly visits and works in Haiti has given me a short list of organizations that he knows do reliable relief work in Haiti. Click below for more information about any of the following organizations and what they are now doing in Haiti.
P.S. Here is the link for the International Response Fund of the Red Cross.
Or text HAITI to 90999 on your cell phone to make an immediate donation of $10 from your phone bill.
Al-Bihani Detainee Decision Badly Misstates International Law
Yesterday, I read the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Al-Bihani v. Obama, No 09-5051 (January 5, 2010). Rarely have I been so dismayed by a court's misstatements about the applicability of international law. Al-Bihani is a Yemeni citizen who, by his own admission, was part of a paramilitary group known as the 55th Arab Brigade that was allied with the Taliban. He was captured by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and turned over to U.S. forces and is now being detained at Guantanamo Bay. He petitioned the U.S. courts for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his detention is not authorized by statute and that the procedures followed in his habeas proceeding were unconstitutional. The Court denied his petition, finding that the U.S. government may detain persons such as Al Bihani who were part of or supported Taliban or Al Qaeda forces or associated forces engage in hostilities against the U.S. and its coalition partners.
In making his arguments, Al-Bihani relied in part on international law, especially the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War, to which the United States is a party. The Court flatly rejected the applicability of international law stating: "Before considering [Al-Bihani's] arguments in detail, we note that all of them rely heavily on the premise that the war powers granted by the AUMF [Authorization for the Use of Military Force], and other statutes are limited by the international laws of war. This premise is mistaken."
Actually, it is the Court that is mistaken.
As the U.S. Supreme Court found in the earlier detainee cases of Hamdi and Hamdan, the President's power to convene military commissions is most definitely limited by international law, especially the Geneva Conventions. The Al-Bihani Court goes on to state that "the international laws of war as a whole have not been implemented domestically by Congress and are therefore not a source of authority for U.S. courts. . .therefore while the international laws of war are helpful to courts, [they] lack controlling legal force."
This statement is also mistaken.
The Geneva Conventions are part of the Supreme Law of the Land under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution and are equally authoritative as U.S. statutes (see Whitney v. Robinson). Moreover, much of the international law of war has been implemented domestically by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), as the Supreme Court has also noted in its earlier detainee decisions. The Al-Bihani Court further states that the "international laws of war are not a fixed code" and cites to section 102 of the Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States for support.
A major problem with this part of the Court's analysis is that the portion of the Restatement relied upon by the Court describes customary international law, not treaty law such as the Geneva Conventions and is therefore inapplicable.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia may be correct that Al-Bihani is among those Congress authorized the President to detain given his admitted involvement with the 55th Arab Brigade. However, the Court's misunderstanding of the role of international law is extremely discouraging to say the least.
Link to U.S. State Department Briefing on the Situation in Haiti
Click here for the text and video of the U.S. State Department briefing on the terrible situation in Haiti. The video is just over 28 minutes long and includes a great deal of information. The U.S. Embassy building has remained in tact following the earthquake and aftershocks, and it has become a focal point for U.S. relief efforts. There are many Americans working in Haiti. Persons seeking information on individuals in Haiti can call a special State Department hotline at 1-888-407-4747.
The goal in the first 72 hours is on saving lives. The State Department briefing explains some of the immediate relief efforts being undertaken.
The U.S. government has announced that it will suspend deportations of persons to Haiti. Many persons are calling for the renewal of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States to allow them to remain here longer.
Earthquake in Haiti
Haiti has been hit by a major earthquake. Thousands appear to have died and many thousands of buildings damaged throughout the country, including even the apparent collapse of well-constructed buildings such as the Presidential Palace. The U.N. Headquarters in Port-au-Prince is also among the buildings destroyed -- click here to see video of rescue efforts to remove survivors from that building.
Many news sources are carrying news and videos of the recovery efforts. Click here for updated live coverage from the BBC. Please help if you can.
January 12, 2010
UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Just received from the United Nations . . . .
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that he regrets that the Registrar of the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try the perpetrators of political killings in Lebanon is stepping down, but congratulated him on his appointment as the head of an organization focusing on transitional justice.
David Tolbert’s resignation from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will be effective on 1 March, and he will return to the United States to assume his new position as President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).
The Tribunal, which began its operations last March, was set up following a probe by an independent international commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing that killed Rafiq Hariri and 22 others in 2005 was seriously flawed.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General expressed his deep gratitude for the work of Mr. Tolbert, who took up his duties at the Tribunal last August.
“During Mr. Tolbert’s tenure as the Registrar, the Special Tribunal has made excellent progress, and the Registry is an efficient and fully functioning office which is ready to support the judicial activities of the Special Tribunal,” the statement said.
“His achievements include ensuring that the administrative infrastructure is in place to support future judicial activities, including key measures such as for witness protection and court management,” it added.
Further, the Secretary-General noted that Mr. Tolbert has steered the Tribunal’s 2010 budget through and raised a significant amount of the needed funding, and said that he will appoint an acting Registrar to ensure the court’s continued smooth functioning.
2010: International Year of Biodiversity
The United Nations officially launched the International Year of Biodiversity this week. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called the failure to protect the world’s natural resources a “wake-up call” and urged each country and each person to engage in a global alliance to protect life on Earth. The legal treaty that provides focus for the year (and many teaching opportunities for international law professors) is the the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which entered into force at the end of 1993 and now has 193 parties. The Biodiversity Convention is based on the premise that the world's diverse ecosystems purify the air and the water, stabilize and moderate the Earth's climate, renew soil fertility, cycle nutrients and pollinate plants.
The first major event of the International Year of Biodiversity is scheduled to be a high-profile meeting on January 21-22 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
January 11, 2010
ASIL TILIG Discussion on Publishing International Law Books
For those of you who missed the very informative program hosted by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Teaching International Law Interest Group (TILIG) this past weekend, there was an interesting discussion of the issues involved in publishing international law books. Our very knowledgeable speakers, Mary Ellen O'Connell from Notre Dame Law School, John Berger, from Cambridge University Press, and John Bloomquist from Foundation Press/Thomson Reuters led the discussion.
Professor O'Connell talked about her entry into publishing international law textbooks by becoming a co-author on established case books with senior colleagues. This led to a discussion of the pros and cons of co-authorship in general, from benefits such as sharing the workload and the potential for wider adoption of a book with more than one author to the potential problem of delays caused by individual co-authors who do not complete their portions in a timely manner. Many of the authors stated that regardless of co-authorship, their books took longer to complete than they originally anticipated - often several years.
The publishers stated that they are very open to "cold calls" for new book proposals by authors. For authors ready to "pitch" a book proposal, the publishers recommended submission of a complete table of contents and one chapter. They suggested not writing more than one chapter in case the publishers' board of editors recommends changes. Further, they stressed the importance of finding an editor who is really excited about the book and who can be an advocate for the author. Finally, both publishers and authors emphasized the need to identify the intended audience for the book and to write for that audience. The co-editor of this blog and former Publications Officer for the ABA Section of International Law, Professor Mark Wojcik, pointed out that the ABA Section of International Law has a Publications Manual on its website for authors interested in publishing with the ABA Section of International Law. The Publications Manual will also help help prospective authors think through some of the issues that arise in putting together a book proposal.
Copyright issues were also a hot topic. Policies and fees for permission to use material from a book in other books and articles vary substantially from publisher to publisher. Some authors suggested that the publishers reconsider some of the more restrictive policies.
On behalf of the ASIL TILIG, many thanks to the speakers and to the audience participants for a great program!
Call for Papers - Journal of International Law and International Relations
The Journal of International Law and International Relations (JILIR) is now inviting submissions from scholars of both International Law and International Relations for its Summer 2010 issue. The deadline for submissions is January 23, 2010.
A joint venture of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and the Munk Centre for International Studies, the JILIR is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal that publishes articles on the wide variety of topics located in the intellectual space jointly occupied by International Law and International Relations.
Submissions should be in Microsoft Word or Rich Text format, preferably with footnoted citations and include the author's full contact information (name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, telephone number(s), and e-mail address. For more information and the address for submissions, click here.