August 13, 2010
Human Rights: Uganda Becomes 24th Country to Ratify the Maputo Protocol
Uganda became the 24th country to ratify the "Maputo Protocol" to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. The protocol was adopted by the Heads of State and Government at a session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) convened in Maputo on July 11, 2003. Uganda signed the protocol in 2004 and this year ratified it.
The other state parties are Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Hat tip to East Africa Business Week and the Public International Law and Policy Group
August 12, 2010
ICJ Sets Briefing Schedule for "Whaling in the Antarctic" Case (Australia v. Japan)
The International Court of Justice has fixed time-limits for the filing of the initial pleadings in the case concerning Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia v. Japan). The Court fixed May 9, 2011 as the time-limit for the filing of a Memorial by Australia and March 9, 2012 as the time-limit for the filing of a Counter-Memorial by Japan.
Ideas for Teaching the ICJ Advisory Opinion regarding Kosovo Independence
As we international law professors start preparing for the fast-approaching new school year, I would like to encourage a sharing of ideas about how we may be incorporating the ICJ's 22 July 2010 Advisory Opinion on the legality of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in our courses on international law. Readers of this blog will likely recall that the exact question posed by the UN General Assemby in its request for the advisory opinion was: ‘Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?’” The succinct answer of the Court to this question was: "yes."
Arguably this opinion is an important one because it sanctions unilateral declarations of independence, reaffirming the concept of declatoratory statehood endorsed by the Montevideo Convention. In response to the argument that the declaration is contrary to Article 2.4 of the UN Charter, the Court opines that the scope of the principle of territorial integrity only applies in relations between states. This opinion thus has the potential to unnerve other states with minority populations that have secessionist tendencies.
On the other hand, it may be argued that the ICJ's decision does little to advance the law. The Court's opinion is only an advisory opinion and is not binding on parties to a contentious dispute. In addition, the Court specifically avoids resolving any debates regarding the scope and application of the concept of self-determination. The Court states that it is not asked to opine on the legal consequences of its decision; in particular, whether Kosovo has reached statehood. The Court simply took a positivist view of international law by declaring that nothing in international law prohibits the actions taken by Kosovo (as it did in The Lotus Case). The Court further states that its opinion does not address whether Kosovo has a positive right to secede.
On a related note, will you teach the jurisdictional parts of the decision, e.g., the Court's decision that it has jurisdiction over the General Assembly's request despite the fact that the UN Security Council was seized of the matter in Kosovo? Or its decision to exercise jurisdiction despite the arguments of some of the parties that the question presented is really a political one intended to serve the interests of particular states, not a legal one? If you use the Certain Expenses or the Western Sahara advisory opinions to teach these points now, will you substitute?
Please consider sharing your thoughts and ideas using the comment feature on this blog.
August 11, 2010
Seychelles is Latest Country to Join the Intenational Criminal Court
The Indian Ocean archipelago of Seychelles has become the latest country to ratify the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court ("ICC"). It ratified the 1998 Rome Statute yesterday. The Statute will enter into force for Seychelles on November 1, 2010.
The ICC was set up in 2002 after more than the required number of 60 nations ratified the Rome Statute. With Seychelles’ ratification, there will be 112 States Parties to the International Criminal Court.
The ICC is currently investigating events in five countries or regions:
- the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),
- Sudan’s Darfur region,
- the Central African Republic (CAR) and
WTO Public Hearings on Country of Origin Labeling Requirements
At the request of the parties in the dispute U.S.—Cool (DS384/DS386), the World Trade Organization Panel has agreed to open its meeting with the parties on September 14, 15, and 16, 2010 with a session open to public.
The meeting will be held at the International Conference Centre (CICG) in Geneva. Click here for more information.
Special Tribunal for Lebanon
The prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon set up to try suspects in the murders of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others has asked the country’s authorities to hand over all information allegedly held by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah pertaining to the 2005 attack. Mr. Nasrallah held a press conference on 9 August during which he offered information to assist the investigation, and showed a video that he claimed implicates Israel in the attack.
“In line with its mandate, the Office of the Prosecutor has requested the Lebanese authorities to provide all the information in possession of Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah,” the Special Tribunal for Lebanon stated in a news release. “This request includes the video material that was shown on television during the press conference, as well any other material that would be of assistance to the Office of the Prosecutor in unveiling the truth,” it added. The Office of the Prosecutor also invited Mr. Nasrallah to “use his authority to facilitate its investigation.”
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an independent body that was set up in The Hague in the Netherlands, following a probe by an independent international commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing in February 2005 was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack. The investigation of the murders continues under the guidance of the Tribunal’s Prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare, who reported in December that the probe “is making progress and proceeding at full pace.” He stressed that the ultimate goal of the Tribunal, beyond finding out the truth and ensuring that justice is done, is to help Lebanon and its people in their continued efforts to further promote the rule of law and fight impunity.
(from a UN Press Release)
Reminder: Deadline to Submit Presentation Proposals to CSLSA Annual Conference Fast Approaching
The Central States Law Schools Association (CSLSA) is hosting its annual conference September 24-25, 2010 and is actively soliciting law faculty to present papers and works in progress. This year's conference will be held at the University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks, ND. (Having been to a conference there before, I can attest to the beauty of the campus and the ease of getting in and out of the area.) The CSLSA conference is a wonderful, informal environment in which to receive interdisciplinary feedback on a work in progress. The deadline to submit proposals is August 31, 2010. An abstract of no more than 500 words should be sent to Professor Wes Oliver at Widener. More details and contact information can be found at the CSLSA website.
There is no registration fee. If your school is a member of CSLSA, the conference will pay for one night's lodging. Several meals are also included. So in this time of tight budgets, the CSLSA is also a great deal!
August 10, 2010
Avoiding the Rule of Law
In disappointing news for a country that prides itself on following and promoting the rule of law, the Associated Press reported over the weekend that the United States government transferred detainees in the war on terror into and out of Guantanamo Bay earlier than previously acknowleged to avoid the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts and the application of the rule of law.
According to the Associated Press, four of the most highly valued prisoners in the war on terror were brought to Guantanamo Bay in September 2003, three years earlier than the U.S. government had previously disclosed. They were then removed from Guantanamo Bay within months when it appeared that the U.S. Supreme Court was poised to give detainees access to U.S. courts and lawyers in the case of Rasul v. Bush. The March 2004 transfer to CIA "black sites" allowed the continued interrogation of the detainees without access to lawyers or human rights observers, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. The detainees were then transferred back to Guantanamo Bay two years later when the Bush Administration came under domestic and international pressure for its extraordinary rendition program. A European investigation established that 14 European countries participated in the program, including Poland, Romania and Lithuania, who hosted prisons. President Obama ordered the secret prisons closed shortly after taking office.
More details may be found in this Washington Post story.
August 9, 2010
WTO Panel Issues Report on Apples
The World Trade Organization issued a panel report on New Zealand's complaint against Australia regarding measures affecting the importantion of apples from New Zealand. Click here to read the report. The WTO panel concluded that certain measures taken by Australia to protect applies from pests violate the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement and have nullified and impaired benefits to New Zealand under the WTO Agreements. The panel has recommended that the WTO Dispute Settlement Body request that Australia bring its measures into conformity with the SPS Agreement.
UPDATE: Australia announced in September that it was appealing the panel's report
Judicial Conference for the U.S. Court of International Trade
Save the Date! The 16th Judicial Conference of the U.S. Court of International Trade will be held on Thursday, November 18, 2010 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Trump Soho, located at 248 Spring Street in New York City.
Mark E. Wojcik (former law clerk at the U.S. Court of International Trade)
ICJ Schedules Public Hearings in Georgia v. Russian Federation
The International Court of Justice will hold public hearings in the case concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation) from Monday, September 13 to Friday, September 17, 2010, at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The hearings will concern solely the preliminary objections to jurisdiction raised by the Russian Federation.
ICTY Donates Books to Law School in Kosovo
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, announced last week that it is donating law journals law books to the Law Faculty and Human Rights Centre of Pristina University in Kosovo. In a press release, the ICTY said it “is committed to promoting respect for the rule of law,” and hoped that “the donated books will greatly benefit the students of law in Kosovo.”