July 10, 2010
UN Security Council Condemns Attack on South Korean Naval Vessel
The United Nations Security Council today condemned the recent sinking of a Republic of Korea (ROK) naval vessel, stressing the need to prevent further attacks both against the East Asian nation and in the region. Forty-six people onboard the Cheonan ship died when it was sunk in late March. Seoul released the findings of an international report in May that concluded that the vessel was hit by a torpedo launched by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“The Security Council condemns the attack which led to the sinking of the Cheonan,” the 15-member body said in a statement read out by Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for this month. It added that such an incident “endangers peace and security in the region and beyond.”
The Council expressed its deep concern over the findings of the international report, but noted that the DPRK has “stated that it had nothing to do with the incident.”
Welcoming the restraint showed by the ROK, the Council stressed the importance of maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula as well as in all of North-East Asia. The Council encouraged “the settlement of outstanding issues on the Korean peninsula by peaceful means to resume direct dialog and negotiation through appropriate channels as early as possible, with a view to avoiding conflicts and averting escalation.”
It urged the DPRK to fulfill its commitments under the now-suspended Six-Party Talks which sought to resolve the crisis over the country’s nuclear program. The Talks – bringing together North Korea, South Korea Japan, China, Russia and the United States –- have been stalled for more than one year.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Security Council Resolutions are available here.
July 9, 2010
Department of Education Announces Procedures for New Law Student Loan Repayment Program
The U.S. Department of Education announced the requirements, definitions, eligibility criteria, and procedures for the implementation of the Civil Legal Assistance Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program, under which civil legal assistance attorneys who meet certain qualifications may have a portion of their Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Family Education Loan, and William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program loans repaid based on qualifying full-time employment for at least three years. Applications are due by August 16, 2010. Get more information at Fed. Reg. 38,999.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.
Homeland Security Seeks Comments
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking public comments on a proposed guidance for recipients of federal financial assistance regarding Title VI’s prohibition against national origin discrimination affecting limited English proficient persons.
This proposed guidance is issued pursuant to Executive Order 13166 and is consistent with the government-wide guidance previously issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Comments are due by July 17, 2010. Get more information at Fed. Reg. 38,821.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.
July 8, 2010
ICC Trial Suspended Because Prosecutors Failed to Disclose Information
The International Criminal Court suspended proceedings in the case of a Congolese warlord accused of recruiting child soldiers, saying that prosecutors have refused orders to disclose information to his defence.
Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the founder and leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots in the Ituri region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), faces two counts of war crimes: conscripting and enlisting child soldiers into the military wing of his group and then using them to participate in hostilities between September 2002 and August 2003.
His trial began at The Hague, where the ICC is based, in January 2009.
The Court’s Trial Chamber I ordered to stay the proceedings “considering that the fair trial of the accused is no longer possible due to non-implementation of the Chamber’s orders by the Prosecution.”
The judges had ordered the Office of the Prosecutor to confidentially disclose to the defence the names and other necessary identifying information of “intermediary 143,” according to a news release issued by the ICC.
The Trial Chamber considered that “in order for the Chamber to ensure that the accused receives a fair trial, it is necessary that its orders, decisions and rulings are respected, unless and until they are overturned on appeal, or suspended by order of the Court.”
Established by the Rome Statute of 1998, the ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern – namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The UN Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the Court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.
(From a UN press release)
Taiwan and the WTO
Who can be a member of an international organization? And who gets to decide who gets to be a member? Those questions arise each time I teach International Organizations and other international law courses.
In that context, it comes as a surprise to many that although Chinese Taipei is not an individual member of the United Nations, Chinese Taipei is a member of the World Trade Organization. (And in case you were wondering, there are now 153 members of the WTO.)
The WTO Secretariat has just issued its trade policy review for the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu. The report says that Chinese Taipei’s economy would improve with more flexibility and more competitiveness.
Click here to read a WTO press release on the customs territory’s trade policies and practices. (That page has many further links of interest).
Click here for the Chair's concluding remarks or, if you prefer, click here for the audio.
And click here for more general information on Chinese Taipei from the WTO.
Click here for the current list of 153 WTO members. Chinese Taipei is in that list, which is otherwise alphabetical except that Chinese Taipei appears where it would otherwise read "Taiwan." Have a look!
ICJ Elections Scheduled for September 9
The Security Council and General Assembly will hold elections on 9 September to fill a vacancy on the United Nations International Court of Justice ("ICJ") arising from the resignation of Judge Thomas Buergenthal.
The date for the simultaneous but separate meetings was fixed in a resolution adopted unanimously by the 15-member Council.
Judge Buergenthal has been a member of the Court – the principal judicial organ of the UN – since March 2000 and was re-elected to serve a nine-year term beginning in February 2006.
Established in 1945 under the UN Charter, the ICJ settles legal disputes between States and gives advisory opinions on legal questions that have been referred to it by authorized UN organs or specialized agencies. It is also sometimes referred to as the World Court.
Judges are chosen on the basis of their qualifications, not on the basis of nationality, and care is taken to ensure that the principal legal systems of the world are represented. No two judges can be from the same country. They cannot engage in any other occupation during their term of office.
(From a UN Press Release)
July 7, 2010
What Happens When an Appellant Dies?
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ("ICTY") terminated appellate proceedings today against the former head of Bosnian Muslim forces during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, who had died in April.
The trial court had sentenced Rasim Delic in 2008 to three years’ imprisonment for failing to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or punish the crimes committed by his subordinates in July and August 1995, in Livade and also the Kamenica Camp.
Mr. Delic; had appealed the sentence and was granted provisional release in May 2009 while the proceedings were reviewed. After Mr. Delic’s death, his son filed a request that the appeal process continue.
The appeals chamber ruled that it is not legally possible to continue appellate proceedings in circumstances where the appellant has died before the rendering of an appeal judgement, and the case should be terminated due to lack of jurisdiction.
In its decision, the appeals chamber wrote that it “cannot discern any prevalent approach, let alone identify any rules of customary international law that would be directly applicable to the situation at hand.”
As a consequence, “nothing can undermine the finality of the trial judgement” and ruled that the record of the case remain intact.
This case represents the first time at either the ICTY or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) where an appellant has died before the appeals judgment is delivered.
(From a UN Press Release)
UN Internal Justice System Marks One-Year Anniversary
The new administration of justice system that resolves internal disputes at the United Nations has transformed the way employment grievances are addressed in the world body, with hundreds of staff embracing the system during the first year of the reform, senior officials said today. "The system serves as a milestone in strengthening the committeemen of the Organization to the rule of law, to justice and to accountability,” Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel Patricia O’Brien told journalists in New York. She stressed that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is fully committed to upholding the system of justice as prescribed by the General Assembly, and to ensuring that the Organization complies fully and promptly with the final decisions of the appeals tribunal once they have been issued.
The administration of justice system resolved disputes between staff and management, which cannot be filed in national courts. The system relies on informal and formal mechanisms to resolve disputes, including the Management Evaluation Unit, which covers staff of all levels and grades at the Secretariat and the UN programmes and agencies.
The role of the unit is to assure that “decisions are taken and comport with rules and regulations, but also support enhanced managerial accountability,” said Under-Secretary-General for Management, Angela Kane.
Nearly 300 ¬cases – double the number from the same period in 2009 – have been filed in the first three months of this year. The majority related to benefits and entitlements. Other options are provided by the Office for Ombudsman and Mediation Services, where some 536 cases have been filed in the first five months of the year, up 70 per cent from the same period last year.
The head of the service, John Barkat, said the service is growing because it is quick, interest based, preserves relationships and allows parties to select the outcome themselves.
The fourth section of the system consists of the Office of Administration of Justice, which services the UN Dispute Tribunal and the UN Appeals Tribunal (UNAT), which is the highest court of the new internal justice system.
In the year since 1 July 2009, some 500 cases have been filed with the tribunals, of which 200 have been disposed and 200 judgements rendered.
For the 60 years before the new internal justice system was created, the UN relied on peer review bodies composed of staff members, followed by a review by the UN Administrative Tribunal.
The new system called for by the General Assembly in 2005 has introduced two tiers of judicial review with judges who are “professional, qualified and independent,” according to Executive Director of the Office of Administration of Justice, Andrei Terekhov, who also took part in today’s press conference.
In a related development, the UNAT announced today its decisions on 31 cases, which include disputes over promotions, discipline, pensions, contract matters and many other issues. The full texts of the judgements have not yet been released.
(From a UN Press Release)
July 6, 2010
Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition
Click here to view a video clip of the World Championship Round of the 2010 Jessup Competition. In the final round, Columbia University (USA) argued as Applicant against Australian National University (Australia), the Respondent. Australian National University was selected as the winner by distinguished final round judges Harold Koh, Legal Advisor to the U.S. Department of State, and Dame Rosalyn Higgins and Judge Stephen Schwebel, both former presidents of the International Court of Justice.
The complete DVD recording of the 2010 World Championship Round is also available for purchase by clicking here. In addition, the Jessup 10-Year DVD Collection (2000-2009) is available at 10% off the cost of purchasing all ten DVDs separately.
Hat tip to the International Law Students Association
July 4, 2010
Happy Independence Day USA!
For readers in the United States, best wishes for a happy Fourth of July! May all our readers around the world have freedom and independence to celebrate.
A New Book Studies the ICJ Decision on Israel's Security Fence
From time to time we receive news of new books that may be of possible interest to some of our blog readers. In that longstanding tradition, Solon Solomon has sent us news of his new book, "The Justiciability of International Disputes: The Advisory Opinion on Israel's Security Fence as a Case Study"
The book is a revision of thesis written at Hebrew University under the tutoring of Professor Yuval Shany, The prologue is authored by the Legal Advisor of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. Click here to download a flyer with more information about the book. Download Israel Fence.
We have not yet seen the book (although we probably will at some point), so we cannot tell you one way or another anything more about it, but if your research interests include the ICJ's Advisory Opinion on the Fence there is probably some useful information in this book for you.
Hat tip to Solon Solomon.