Saturday, October 16, 2010

International Environmental Law: Preserving Rain Forests in Costa Rica

Costa Rica The Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Costa Rica, the Central Bank of Costa Rica, and The Nature Conservancy have concluded agreements that will provide more than $27 million over the next 15 years for tropical forest conservation in Costa Rica. The agreements were made possible by the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998 (TFCA). Together with a previous TFCA program established in 2007, these agreements make Costa Rica, one of the most biologically-diverse countries on earth, the largest beneficiary under the TFCA, with more than $50 million generated for the conservation, restoration, and protection of tropical forests.

The new TFCA program will support the efforts of the Costa Rican Government, working with the Forever Costa Rica project, a new public-private conservation initiative, to develop and sustainably finance a complete and integrated system of protected areas. TFCA grants will benefit areas such as the Osa Peninsula, including the Terraba-Sierpe mangrove swamps, the Naranjo/Savegre River complex, which contains some of the highest levels of biodiversity in Costa Rica, as well as La Amistad International Park, home to one of Central America’s largest and most diverse ecosystems.

The new agreements were made possible by the contribution of over $19.6 million by the U.S. Government under the TFCA, as well as a donation of more than $3.9 million from The Nature Conservancy. The TFCA provides opportunities for eligible developing countries to reduce concessional debt owed the United States while generating funds to conserve their forests.

The new Costa Rica agreement marks the 17th TFCA agreement. These include agreements with:

  • Bangladesh,
  • Belize,
  • Botswana,
  • Brazil,
  • Colombia,
  • El Salvador,
  • Guatemala,
  • Indonesia,
  • Jamaica,
  • Panama (two agreements),
  • Paraguay,
  • Peru (two agreements), 
  • the Philippines, and 
  • an earlier agreement with Costa Rica.

(Adapted from information provided by the U.S. Department of State)

Hat tip to the Nature Conservancy


October 16, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 15, 2010

European Court of Human Rights to Hear Extraordinary Rendition Case

The lawsuit of Khaled El-Masri, an alleged victim of the U.S.-sponsored program of extraordinary rendition, has taken another step forward at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).  The lawsuit was intiated in September 2009 by the nongovernmental organization, Open Society Justice Initiative, on behalf of Mr. El-Masri, against the State of Macedonia for its participation in the program.  Earlier this week, the ECHR communicated the lawsuit to the government of Macedonia and requested that Macedonia answer specific questions about its alleged role in the rendition program.  According to the Open Society Justice Initiative, only ten percent of the cases filed with the ECHR make it to this stage. The Court also invited Germany to submit comments as Mr. El-Masri is a German citizen.

The lawsuit alleges that Macedonian security forces seized Mr. El-Masri at the request of the United States in December 2003 and held him incommunicado for 23 days. Mr. El-Masri was then handed over to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and flown to a detention center in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was further detained, interrogated, and abused. After several months, El-Masri was released and dumped on a roadside in Albania. Macedonia has denied that El-Masri was detained illegally on its territory or handed over to the CIA.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear El-Masri's case based on the state secrets doctrine.  The United States has not publicly acknowledged El-Masri's rendition.  Mr. El-Masri has never been charged with a crime or given any explanation for his treatment.  Lawsuits and investigations are pending in several other states.



October 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

UN Security Council Extends Sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire

Declaring the situation in Côte d’Ivoire a continuing threat to international peace, the Security Council today extended until the end of next April the weapons, financial and travel sanctions on a country split between a Government-controlled south and rebel-held north by civil war in 2002.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body, which last October renewed sanctions for a full year, said it would review the measures no later than three months after much-delayed presidential elections, now scheduled for 31 October.

A second round is slated to be held on 28 November if there is no clear winner in the final stages of United Nations-backed efforts to reunite the West African country, the world’s largest cocoa producer. Parliamentary polls are also being held.

The sanctions include an arms embargo, restrictions for certain individuals on travel and financial movements, and a ban on any State importing rough diamonds, the so-called “blood diamonds” that have fuelled conflict in the region, including in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The arms embargo does not apply to non-lethal equipment intended solely to enable Ivorian security forces to use only appropriate and proportionate force while maintaining public order.

Today marks the start of the electoral campaign for the polls, and yesterday Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Y. J. Choi in Côte d’Ivoire called on all sides to avoid any violent disruption of the long-delayed process. The elections were originally meant to be held in 2005 but the date was continually pushed back.

The UN peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire, known as UNOCI, has already flown in hundreds of additional soldiers to reinforce its 8,650 troops already there. The mission was set up in 2004 to monitor a ceasefire and to help bring stability, including holding elections, to end the split.

Today’s Council resolution noted with concern that despite sustained improvement in the overall human rights situation, reported abuses, including sexual violence, against civilians persist in different parts of the country, and it stressed that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

It declared its determination to impose targeted measures against persons designated by the sanctions committee to be threats to peace and national reconciliation, obstacles to UNOCI action and freedom of movement, or responsible for serious violations of human rights and inciting publicly hatred and violence.

It noted with concern reports that media outlets were inciting violence and a resumption of internal conflict, and it stressed its readiness to impose sanctions against those who obstruct the electoral process, specifically the action of the Independent Electoral Commission and all other operators involved.

(UN Press Release)

October 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Can Costa Rica Intervene in the ICJ Case Between Nicaragua and Colombia?

Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia) Proceedings on whether to grant Costa Rica’s application for permission to intervene Conclusion of the public hearings; the Court to begin its deliberation

The public hearings on whether to grant Costa Rica’s application for permission to intervene in the case concerning the Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia) were concluded today. The Court will now begin its deliberation.

During the hearings, which opened on Monday 11 October 2010 at the Peace Palace, seat of the Court, the delegation of Costa Rica was led by H.E. Mr. Edgar Ugalde Álvarez, Ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica to the Republic of Colombia, as Agent; the delegation of Nicaragua was led by H.E. Mr. Carlos José Argüello Gómez, Ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as Agent and Counsel; and the delegation of Colombia was led by H.E. Mr. Julio Londoño Paredes, Professor of International Relations, Universidad del Rosario, Bogotá, as Agent.

The Court’s decision on whether to grant Costa Rica’s application to intervene will be delivered at a public sitting, the date of which will be announced in due course.

Submissions of Costa Rica and of the Parties

At the end of the hearings, the Agents of Costa Rica and of the Parties presented the following submissions to the Court:

For Costa Rica:

"On behalf of the Republic of Costa Rica, I should like to restate the remedy which my Government requests from the Court in this intervention.

We seek the application of the provisions of Article 85 of the Rules of Court, namely:

⎯ Paragraph 1: ‘the intervening State shall be supplied with copies of the pleadings and documents annexed and shall be entitled to submit a written statement within a time-limit to be fixed by the Court’, and;

⎯ Paragraph 3: ‘The intervening State shall be entitled, in the course of the oral proceedings, to submit its observations with respect to the subject-matter of the intervention.’"

For Nicaragua:

"In accordance with Article 60 of the Rules of Court and having regard to the application for permission to intervene filed by the Republic of Costa Rica and oral pleadings, the Republic of Nicaragua respectfully submits that:

The application filed by the Republic of Costa Rica fails to comply with the requirements established by the Statute and the Rules of Court, namely, Article 62, and paragraph 2, (a) and (b) of Article 81 respectively."

For Colombia:

"In light of the considerations stated during these proceedings, my Government wishes to reiterate what it stated in the Written Observations it submitted to the Court, to the effect that, in Colombia’s view, Costa Rica has satisfied the requirements of Article 62 of the Statute and, consequently, that Colombia does not object to Costa Rica’s request for permission to intervene in the present case as a non-party."

The verbatim records of the hearings held between 11 and 15 October 2010 are available on the Court’s website (

Public hearings on whether to grant the application for permission to intervene filed by Honduras in the same case will be held between 18 and 22 October 2010.

(ICJ Press Release)

October 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for West Africa, visited Niger today as part of a joint mission with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to underline the support of the international community for the country’s transition to constitutional order.

A coup took place in the impoverished Sahelian nation in mid-February when renegade soldiers stormed the presidential palace and deposed Mamadou Tandja, who had been accused by opposition figures and others of anti-democratic practices.

Niger’s head of State, General Salou Djibo, reassured the ECOWAS-UN delegation today that recent developments in the country will not affect the transition or respect of the agreed timeline.

The electoral timetable provides for polls to be held between 31 October and 6 April 2011, beginning with a referendum on the new constitution and culminating with the election of a new president who will be inaugurated on 11 April. Members of the transitional government and the military and security forces will be ineligible to stand.

Last month, Mr. Djibo called on the UN and other international organizations to observe the upcoming elections, stressing the transitional Government’s determination to “guarantee free, fair, transparent and credible elections.”

Addressing the annual high-level General Assembly debate, he noted that “the commitments that we made the day after the events of 18 February 2010, are at an advanced stage of fulfilment and will be held within the agreed timetable, with your support.”

Mr. Djinnit and the joint delegation later travelled to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where they will meet with President Blaise Compaoré, the ECOWAS mediator for Guinea, to discuss the situation in the country ahead of the second round of the presidential election, set to be held on 24 October.

Yesterday, Mr. Ban spoke with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in his role as head of ECOWAS, which has been assisting the process to ensure that the much-delayed run-off is held as scheduled in Guinea.

The Secretary-General voiced hope that in the remaining days, any outstanding issues would be resolved, according to his spokesman.

He thanked Mr. Jonathan for his direct engagement together with Mr. Compaoré of Burkina Faso to ensure that the poll is held in a peaceful climate.

Guinea’s independent electoral authority earlier cited technical difficulties when it postponed the second round between Cellou Dalein Diallo and Alpha Condé, the two candidates with the highest number of votes in the first round in June.

Mr. Djinnit has warned that further delays could seriously undermine the transition process in Guinea. At least one person died earlier this month following clashes in the capital, Conakry, related to the election tensions, and Guinea has been plagued by misrule, dictatorships and coups since it gained independence in 1958.

The election is the final stage of the interim Government’s efforts to set up a democracy after the forces of Captain Moussa Dadis Camara – who seized power in a coup in 2008 after the death of long-time president Lansana Conté – shot, raped and attacked hundreds of civilian demonstrators attending a rally in Conakry in September 2009, killing at least 150.

(UN Press Release)

October 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Take a Guess: What is the New Number of State Parties to the International Criminal Court?

Moldova became the latest country to ratify the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court.  Moldova ratified the 1998 Rome Statute on Tuesday, bringing the total number of States parties to 114. The treaty will enter into force for Moldova on 1 January 2011.

The ICC is currently investigating events in five countries or regions: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Sudan’s Darfur region, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Kenya. An individual State or the Security Council can refer cases to the court for investigation.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

October 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lessons from the Chilean Miners

The rescue of 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped hundreds of metres below ground for two months is a testament to their bravery and perseverance, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said.  In a statement issued last night, he said that “we join with the people of Chile and the families of these heroic miners to celebrate this extraordinary triumph of human ingenuity and the strength of the human spirit.”

International Labour Organization Director-General Juan Somavia, who is Chilean, said that he shares “joy of millions of people all over the world at the return of these heroes from the depths of the earth.”  He pointed out that the incident was a result of inadequate safety measures, underscoring that “employment in unsafe conditions is a human tragedy.”

Every day, some 6,300 people die from occupational injuries or diseases, amounting to 2.3 million deaths per year. In addition, there are more than 330 million accidents at work annually.

“Perhaps one of the most significant contributions of the 33 Chilean miners is to have made the whole world that much more conscious of the need to ensure more safety, more protection, more prevention, more decent work, with the most urgent attention being given to work done in dangerous conditions,” Mr. Somavia said.

(From a UN Press Release)

October 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

UN Security Council Votes to Extend Mission in Afghanistan

Un_symbol_sm[1] Exercising its Chapter VII powers under the UN Charter, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted unanimously today to extend the authorization for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for one year.  In taking this action, the UNSC stressed the importance of continuing to strengthen the Afghan security sector to ensure the observance of the rule of law throughout the country. The UNSC called on its Member States to provide necessary resources to the ISAF to ensure it can satisfy its operational requirements in the areas of personnel, equipment and other resources.  The full text of UNSC Resolution 1943 (2010) may be found here.


October 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CIT Judicial Conference

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.


October 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Five New Countries Elected to Two-Year Terms on the UN Security Council: Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal, and South Africa

The United Nations General Assembly today elected Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa to serve on the Security Council for two-year terms, beginning 1 January 2011.

They will replace Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda, whose two-year terms come to an end on 31 December.

To be elected to the Council, candidate countries need a two-thirds majority of ballots of Member States that are present and voting in the 192-member Assembly. The seats are allocated on the basis of geographical groupings.

Colombia, India and South Africa ran unopposed and were elected to represent their respective regions, having received 186 votes, 187 votes and 182 votes, respectively, in the first round of balloting.

The two available seats from the Western European and Other States category were contested by Germany, Portugal and Canada, with Germany winning one seat with 128 votes in the first round. The contest between Canada and Portugal went to a second round but then Canada withdrew paving the way for Portugal to win the remaining seat, with 150 votes.

The five countries elected today will join Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria, whose terms on the Council end on 31 December 2011. The five permanent members are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Four years ago, the Assembly held 48 rounds of balloting, spread over three weeks, to fill the contested seat for the Latin American and Caribbean region. After the 48th round, the two candidates – Guatemala and Venezuela – had withdrawn and the regional group endorsed Panama, which was consequently elected. 

The longest election ever held took place in 1979, with 155 rounds between 26 October and 7 January, after which the two candidates – Colombia and Cuba – withdrew and Mexico was elected.
(UN Press Release)

October 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Liu Xiaobo, a Prisoner in China

ChinaThe 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu Xiaobo of China.  He is currently in prison in China, having been sentenced to an 11-year term. 

UN Human Rights experts appealed to the People's Republic of China to release him and others detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression in China.  “Liu Xiaobo is a courageous human rights defender who has continuously and peacefully advocated for greater respect for human rights” in China, the experts said in a joint news release.

This year’s Nobel laureate took part in the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in Beijing in 1989.  He had worked as a professor at Beijing Normal University and co-authored the ‘Charter 08’ document calling for multi-party democracy in China.

His wife went to the prison where Liu Xiaabo is being held to inform him of the award.  She was allowed to spend about an hour with him.  She has now also been placed under house arrest.

The People's Republic of China would do well to release Mr. Liu (and his wife), and to allow him to accept this important award.  China is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) but it has not yet ratified that treaty.  UN Human RIghts experts also used the occasion of the award to urge China to ratify the ICCPR.


October 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

New Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Completed

Negotiations over the final text of a new multilateral Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) have been completed in Tokyo.  The negotiations included all 27 European Union (EU) Member States, plus 10 others, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Mexico and the United States.  Supporters argue that ACTA is necessary to combat the growing trade in counterfeited goods and online piracy.  Critics contend that the omission of China from the negotiations makes the new agreement almost worthless from the start.  Critics have also raised concerns about large scale monitoring of Internet users and the possibility of third party liability whereby Internet service providers may be liable for infringement that takes place on their networks.  Defenders of the agreement argue that the final text adequately addresses these concerns and requires that it be implemented in a manner that avoids the creation of barriers to legitimate activity.  See the Preamble and Article 2. The latest draft may be found here.  It is expected to be open for signature within the next few weeks and will take effect once it has been ratified by at least six States.


October 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Next Weekend is International Law Weekend in New York

On October 21-23, 2010, the American Branch of the International Law Association and the International Law Students Association will present the annual International Law Weekend (“ILW”) in New York, in conjunction with the 89th annual meeting of the American Branch.

ILW 2010 brings together hundreds of practitioners, professors, members of the governmental and non-governmental sectors and students. It will feature numerous panels, distinguished speakers, receptions, and the Branch’s annual meeting. ILW 2010 will take place at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York on October 21, 2010, and at Fordham University School of Law on October 22 and 23. The overall theme of ILW 2010 is “International Law and Institutions: Advancing Justice, Security and Prosperity.”

Click here to see the schedule for International Law Weekend.


October 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ABA Section of International Law

ABA Intlaw The American Bar Association Section of International Law will hold its Fall Meeting in Paris, France, November 2-6, 2010 at the Westin Paris Hotel. 

Section meetings provide a great opportunity for law professors and lawyers interested in the most cutting-edge issues of international law.  The official brochure for the 2010 Fall Meeting can be found by clicking here. For additional information, please go to the conference website by clicking here

Important Dates:

October 15, 2010: Pre-Registration Final Deadline
October 18, 2010: Westin Paris hotel room block Deadline


October 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Work of the Ad Hoc International Criminal Tribunals Is Not Done

Many of the international criminal tribunals created by the United Nations are outliving their expected life spans and need more funds to complete their work.  Representatives from the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia (ICTR and ICTY respectively) pled their case to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday, asking for additional funds and other institutional support.   President Patrick Robinson of the ICTY presented his 17th address to the UN General Assembly, in which he highlighted the progess that has been made thus far and the continuing challenges face by the ICTY in completing its work.  President Robinson called on the  Member States to assist the Tribunal in bringing its work to a close in a fair and expeditious manner.  According to the latest estimates, all trials at the ICTY should conclude in 2012, with the exception of the Karadic trial, which should be completed towards the end of 2013.  The President indicated that all appeals are still scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014, again with the possible exception of Karadzic.



October 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

IGLHRC Wins Consultative Status at ECOSOC

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) voted to grant consultative status to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). IGLHRC is only the tenth organization working primarily for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights to have consultative status at the United Nations.  The votes of each nation were as follows:

Vote For - 23

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guatemala
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Republic of Korea
  • Slovenia
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Uruguay

Votes Against - 13

  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • Comoros
  • Egypt
  • Malaysia
  • Morocco
  • Namibia
  • Niger
  • Pakistan
  • Russian Federation
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia

Abstaining - 13

  • Bahamas
  • Cote D'Ivoire
  • Ghana
  • India
  • Mauritius
  • Mongolia
  • Mozambique
  • Philippines
  • Rep. of Moldova
  • Rwanda
  • Saint Kitts & Nevis
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

Absent - 5

  • Cameroon
  • Congo
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Iraq
  • Saint Lucia

 Hat tip (and congratulations) to IGLHRC


October 10, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)