Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Photo

UNOG March 2010 Mark Wojcik, at the United Nations in Geneva, with 28 law students from The John Marshall Law School--Chicago.

The students were studying International Organizations.  They also visited the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Museum of the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC).

May 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Republic of Guyana's Independence Day

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued the following message on the occassion of Guyana's independence day. 

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I extend my congratulations to the people of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana as they celebrate 44 years as an independent nation. Our countries are united by shared values and our common commitment to promote environmental sustainability that safeguards the health of our people and our planet, economic development that spreads prosperity further and deeper, and democratic governance that respects human rights and the rule of law. Our partnership is based on mutual appreciation and respect, and we look forward to continuing collaboration on the common challenges facing our nations, our hemisphere and the world.

On this occasion, I want to reaffirm the enduring friendship of the United States and offer our warmest wishes for the year ahead.

May 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A New Global Law Firm: SNR Denton

The Chicago Tribune reports today that the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal will merge with London-based Denton Wilde Sapte, a British firm. The new entity, to be called SNR Denton, will create a global firm with more than 1,300 lawyers. The merger must be approved by partners at both firms in a vote scheduled for June 9.


May 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Should the U.S. Ratify CEDAW?

United States The United States has signed but not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  Last year, the U.S. State Department included CEDAW as the only human rights treaty on its Treaty Priority List.

The Illinois State Bar Association (a voluntary association of lawyers and law students in Illinois) will consider two questions this year:

1.  Should the ISBA take a position on CEDAW?
2.  If yes, what should that position be?

A draft resolution and report is about to be circulated to ISBA Section Councils and Committees for their comments.  We welcome your comments on it as well (contact information is contained in the document.  There may very well be a 1.5 version of the document before the ISBA Assembly votes on this issue in December 2010.  Comments on the draft resolution are requested by October 1, 2010.

Download CEDAW Resolution (Version 1.4)

Mark E. Wojcik and Cindy Buys

May 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Torture Found in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Radio Australia reports that the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture says he found abundant evidence of police brutality during a visit to Papua New Guinea.

Manfred Novak visited police stations and prisons across PNG. He told Radio Australia that evidence of police brutality amounting to torture was not hard to find. "We found abundant evidence of beatings with fanbelts, with gun butts, with bamboo and wooden sticks, etc.," Mr Novak said.

Mr. Novak said police watch-houses and prisons were overcrowded, filthy, and lacked ventilation.  There was no access to food or water.

Mr. Novak said that inmates who escape are often tortured on recapture. In the most severe cases, he said, they have tendons in their legs cut to disable them.

Mr Novak called on the PNG Government to ratify the Convention Against Torture.


May 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Assassinations and Death Threats in Honduras

Honduras Assassinations, abductions, and threat continues to grow under the successor to the coup government in Honduras. Human rights activists are calling for more attention to be paid to the ongoing human rights abuses in Honduras.  Click here to read about the assassinations of Adalberto Figueroa, Gilberto Alexander Núñez Ochoa, Jose Andres Oviedo, Olayo Hernandez Sorto, and the death threats against Carlos H. Reyes.

Hat tips to Jim Vondracek and the Chicago Religious Leadership Network.


May 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

American Woman Released from Prison in Peru

Lori Berenson, a 40-year-old New Yorker who has spent the past 15 years in a Peruvian prison, was released yesterday by Judge Jessica Leon in Peru.  She had been accused of collaborating with a Marxist rebel group in a foiled attempt to overthrow the Peruvian Congress.  Click here for more information and background about the case.  She must remain in Peru while on parole.


May 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

South Africa Sets Up 56 Special Courts to Handle World Cup Tourist Offenses

South Africa The New York Times reports today that the South African Justice Ministry has set up 56 special courts to handle offenses associated with the World Cup.  The courts open for business on Friday and will have 93 interpreters to translate court proceedings. 


May 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ILSA Conference in Istanbul, Turkey

ILSA-1 The International Law Students Assocation (ILSA) will hold an international conference in Istanbul, Turkey on July 7-10. The conference is organized by the ILSA Chapter at Bahcesehir University and is titled “Discussing Global Issues within the Framework of the United Nations.” Registration for the conference is now open.

The conference, like the Jessup, is expected to be an enthusiastic academic and cultural exchange fuelled by participation from students from around the world. Conference events will include:

  • Lectures by leading academics and practitioners from the international legal field;
  • Panel discussions among students and academics about the UN Security Council and its role in the 21st century, the proliferation of courts within the UN system, and the involvement of the UN in non-international armed conflicts, among other topics;
  • The opportunity for students to participate in Model UN negotiations; and
  • Social and networking events including cocktail parties and tours of Istanbul.

Click here to register and learn more about the conference. You can visit the conference blog at for updates.

Hat tip to the ILSA Executive Office.

To learn more about the International Law Students Association and to support its work, click here.


May 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dutch Court Begins First Piracy Trial

The Netherlands District Court of Rotterdam began Europe's first trial of Somali pirates this week. The five pirates are charged with "sea robbery" for hijacking a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden last year.  The ship is registered in the Netherlands Antilles.  A Danish Navy frigate sunk the pirates' boat.  The trial is scheduled to last 5 days and, if convicted, the pirates could face up to 12 years in prison.


May 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

U.S. Senate Affirms Support for the Kingdom of Thailand

US Senate The U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 538 on May 24, 2010.  The resolution affirms the support of the United States for a strong and vital alliance with Thailand.

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office


May 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICJ Judge Thomas Buergenthal to Retire

The George Washington (GW) University Law School announced today that Thomas Buergenthal, a judge on the International Court of Justice (ICJ), will retire in September 2010 and re-join the GW faculty.  Judge Buergenthal joined the ICJ in 2000 and thus has served on the court for a decade.  A prolific scholar, Judge Buergenthal is particularly well known for his writings on international human rights.

As for his replacement, while there is technically no U.S. seat on the Court, each of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council traditionally has been able to nominate a judge to the court.  Accordingly, it is very likely that another U.S. person will be nomiated to replace Judge Buergenthal.


May 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

USITC Investigates Effects of FTAs with Chile, Australia, and Singapore

What are the actual effects of a free trade agreement? 

The United States International Trade Commission is looking into that question. It announced the institution of an investigation entitled the “Actual Effects of the Free Trade Agreements with Chile, Australia, and Singapore.” The investigation and proceeding report will examine the effects of the phasing-out of tariffs, anomalies in U.S. export levels (and the possible causes for these anomalies), and related matters.

Written submissions are due by July 15, 2010.  The Intenational Trade Commission Report will be transmitted on December 13, 2010.  Get more information at volume 75, page 28059 of the Federal Register.

Hat to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.


May 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Professor Michael Scharf Elected as New Chair of ILSA

Scharf, Michael Professor Michael Scharf (pictured at left) was elected today as Chair of the International Law Students Association (ILSA),the organization that brings us the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. 

Professor Scharf is the John Deaver Drinko-Baker & Hostetler Professor of Law, Director of the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and Director of the Summer Institute for Global Justice. He is also co-founder of the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that provides pro bono legal assistance to developing states and states in transition.

Professor Scharf succeeds Professor Leila Sadat (Washington University School of Law--St. Louis), who completed her successful two-year term as Chair of ILSA this afternoon.  She continues as a member of the ILSA Board.

Peil, Michael Also elected today to the ILSA Board is Michael A. Peil, Associate Dean for International Programs at Washington University School of Law.  Michael Peil is a former executive director of ILSA and a contributing editor to this blog (he's the guy in the picture on the right). 

Other individuals elected to new, three-year terms on the ILSA Board today were Russell Dalferes and Stephanie Farrior.

Re-elected to three-year terms today were Pedro Muñoz of Costa Rica and Sandra Hodgkinson.

Other members of the ILSA Board are 

  • William Aceves
  • Kelly Askin
  • Dagmar Butte
  • Brian Havel
  • Cynthia Lichtenstein
  • Ved Nanda
  • Claire van Overdijk
  • Mark E. Wojcik (hey, that's me!)

To learn more about ILSA and to support its work, click here.


May 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Should Taiwan have Oberserver Status at the ICAO?

Taiwan's status within international organizations has always presented interesting political and legal issues.  Taiwan, for example, is not a member of the United Nations. It is, however, a member of the World Trade Organization.

Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota introduced S Con Res 63, expressing the sense of Congress that Taiwan should be accorded observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization.  The proposed resolution was assigned to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Get more information on page S3908 of the Congressional Record (May 18, 2010).

(By way of background, Senator Johnson introduced another resolution in 2007 that called for lifting of travel restrictions to the U.S. by “high level and elected officials of Taiwan, including the President of Taiwan” and for direct Cabinet level exchanges to strengthen a policy dialog with Taiwan.)

Concurrent resolutions, if passed by Congress, are not submitted to the president.  They lack the force of law.  They are instead intended to express the sentiments of the Congress in a formal way towards a particular political or legal issue.

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office

Click here for more information about the ICAO.


May 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Liability for Economic Damages from the Oil Spill

The oil continuing to spill into the Gulf of Mexico for more than a month has been called the worst environmental crisis ever experienced in the United States.  

Unlike the drill pipe leaking at the bottom of the ocean, British Petroleum's liability for economic damages from that spill is capped under federal law in the United States. 

U.S. law requires companies to pay for all environmental damage, but the law caps economic damages at $75 million. Some Democratic lawmakers want to raise the cap to $10 billion, and others want to take it off completely.  Legislation to lift the caps has been introduced in Congress but was blocked this week by Senate Republicans, meaning that U.S. taxpayers rather than the oil company will be the ones to pay.  Click here to read more.  Please use the comment function on this blog to leave us your thoughts.

If the surface oil (and oil beneath the surface) drifts to Mexico and Caribbean nations, what will BP's liability be under international law or the laws of those nations?


May 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)