Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
A few weeks before private security companies are scheduled to sign onto a voluntary code of conduct comes news today of a death onboard a flight of a man being deported from the United Kingdom to Angola. He was in the custody of guards for a private security company, after his appeal to remain in the European country was rejected.
“I am disturbed at seeing the manner in which migrants are being treated, with no dignity at all, due to the criminalization of irregular migration which leads to such a situation,” said Jorge Bustamante, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, in a statement.
Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan national, reportedly died 50 minutes after boarding a British Airways flight at Heathrow airport in London on 13 October. He was reportedly surrounded by three guards working for G4S, a private security company, when he died.
“I hope the fact that British Airways staff responsible for safety and security on board did not intervene, despite numerous cries for help, is not a reflection of a growing indifference to the human rights of persons under custody of an authority,” Mr. Bustamante said. He and the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries both welcomed the UK Government’s probe into the incident.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
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 for more information about the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA).
Click here for more information about the International Law Students Association (ILSA).
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
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.
The ABA Journal carried an interesting international trade-related story recently regarding rumors that the United States and the European Union are considering filing a complaint against China under the dispute settlement processes of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with respect to China's restrictions on Internet access. Also sometimes referred to as the "Great Firewall of China," the restrictions prohibit the vast majority of persons in China from freely accessing websites outside of China and from obtaining what the Chinese government considers to be politically senstive information.
The theory is that the Great Firewall violates China's obligations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) by discriminating against foreign companies that maintain websites. Article II of GATS contains a "most favored nation" principle which requires WTO Member States "to accord immediately and unconditionally to services and service providers of any other Member treatment no less favorable than that it accords to like services and service suppliers of any other country." Thus, if China allows a different level of access to different Internet websites, it may be violating this provision. In addition, Article XVII of GATS contains a "national treatment" obligation, which requires China to accord services and service suppliers of other WTO Member States treatment no less favorable than treatment given to domestic Chinese service providers. This obligation only applies to those services sectors for which China has made a specific service commitment, however.
There are several possible weaknesses with these legal theories. First, there may not be discrimination in fact if China places the same restrictions on all websites. Second, it is not clear whether China has made a specific commitment under GATS which includes Internet service providers. Third, China is likely to argue that any such discrimination qualifies for an exception under Article XIV of GATS because the restrictions are necessary to protect public morals or to maintain public order. As previously reported on this blog, there have been a number of WTO challenges to Chinese law and practices in the last couple of years and China has been found in violation of its WTO obligation on more than one occasion. Therefore, this may be a case to watch.
Cambridge University Press will publish the first issue of the Asian Journal of International Law (AsianJIL) in January 2011. It is the Journal of the Asian Society of International Law. The Journal is now soliciting submissions for future issues. Articles should be between 8,000 and 12,000 words (excluding footnotes) and be submitted exclusively to the AsianJIL, with publication subject to double-blind peer-review and editorial discretion.
It publishes peer-reviewed scholarly articles and book reviews on public and private international law. The regional focus of the Journal is broadly conceived. Some articles may focus specifically on Asian issues; others will bring one of the many Asian perspectives to bear on issues of global concern. Still others will be of more general interest to scholars, practitioners, and policymakers located in or working on Asia. The Journal is published in English as a matter of practical convenience rather than political endorsement. English language reviews of books in other languages are particularly welcomed.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Court reversed an earlier decision to suspend the case against a notorious Congolese warlord, ruling that his trial will resume.
In July, the Court’s trial chamber suspended proceedings against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, founder and leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots in the Ituri region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), saying that prosecutors had refused orders to disclose information to his defence. It also ordered the warlord’s release.
Judge Sang-Hyun Song, who presided over the appeals, said that it is undisputed that the prosecution did not divulge certain information. But he said that the trial chamber erred by immediately ordering the proceedings to stop without first imposing sanctions to ensure prosecutors complied with its orders. “Sanctions are a tool for Chambers to maintain control of proceedings within the trial framework and to safeguard a fair trial without having to have recourse to the drastic remedy of staying proceedings,” Judge Song stressed.
Mr. Lubanga Dyilo, whose trial at The Hague-based ICC began last January, stands accused of having committed, as co-perpetrator, war crimes of enlisting and conscripting of children under the age of 15 into the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, and using them to participate actively in hostilities in Ituri district between September 2002 and August 2003.
The case was referred to the ICC by the Congolese Government in April 2004. Other suspects standing trial at the ICC for alleged offences committed within the context of the DRC conflict are Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. Bosco Ntaganda has been indicted but remains at large. ICC investigations in the DRC are ongoing.
(From a UN Press Release)
Monday, October 18, 2010
Louis Henkin was born in the year of the Russian Revolution. He died last week after a rich and wonderful life. He was a professor at Columbia Law School and chaired its Center for the Study of Human Rights. He is widely recognized as one of the most important scholars in the field of international law and U.S. foreign policy. He was a president of the American Society of International Law and the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy. And to all of us who knew him, he was an all around wonderful guy.
Here is some more information about Professor Henkin, provided courtesy of Columbia Law School:
Louis Henkin was a clerk to Judge Learned Hand and to Justice Felix Frankfurter. He served as the book review editor for the Harvard Law Review. After a period as consultant to the United Nations Legal Department, Professor Henkin served with the Department of State from 1948 to 1956 in the U.N. Bureau and in the Office of European Regional Affairs (NATO). He went on to represent the U.S. on the committee drafting the Convention on the Status of Refugees and to serve on U.S. delegations to the U.N. and to international conferences.
Professor Henkin then spent a year at Columbia from 1956-1957 as associate director of the Legislative Drafting Research Fund while writing his first book, Arms Control and Inspection in American Law. After five years as professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania, he became a member of the Columbia Law School faculty in 1962. Simultaneously, Professor Henkin was also a faculty member of the School of International and Public Affairs, as well as of the Political Science Department in Columbia's Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences. He was the Hamilton Fish Professor of International Law and Diplomacy. Later, Professor Henkin was the Harlan Fiske Stone Professor of Constitutional Law, a position he held until he was designated University Professor in 1981.
Professor Henkin divided his time and interests among constitutional law, international law, law and diplomacy, and human rights, and specialized in the legal aspects of American foreign relations and international and comparative human rights.
He held the position of chairman of the board of directors for the Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights. In addition, Professor Henkin was the founding chair and director of the Law School's Institute of Human Rights. In 1982, the Law School awarded him the Medal for Excellence and, in 1999, it honored him by establishing the Louis Henkin Professorship in Human and Constitutional Rights.
Professor Henkin held positions in numerous domestic and international governing bodies. He served as a U.S. member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration from 1963-1969, as well as a member of the Advisory Committee on International Law at the U.S. Department of State from 1967-69, 1975-80, 1993-2010. In addition, he was an adviser on the Law of the Sea from 1973-80; president of the American Society of International Law from 1992-94; co-editor-in-chief of the American Journal of International Law from 1976-1984; chief reporter of the American Law Institute's Restatement of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States (Third); a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the board of directors of Human Rights First. Professor Henkin was a member of the Institut de Droit International, the American Philosophical Society, and the Human Rights Committee pursuant to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Professor Henkin's publications include Law for the Sea's Mineral Resources (1968); The Rights of Man Today (1978); How Nations Behave: Law and Foreign Policy (1979); The International Bill of Rights (ed., 1981); The Age of Rights (1989); Constitutionalism, Democracy, and Foreign Affairs (1990); Constitutionalism and Rights: The Influence of the U.S. Constitution Abroad (coed., with Rosenthal, 1990); International Law: Politics and Values (1995); Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Constitution (1996); Human Rights (coed., with D. Leebron, G. L. Neuman, and D. Orentlicher, 1999); International Law: Cases and Materials (coed., 2001); among other numerous books and articles.
Professor Henkin earned a Silver Star for service in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
International Environmental Law: U.S. Government Certification of Mexico Sea Turtle Conservation and Shrimp Imports
The U.S. Department of State has certified Mexico under Section 609 of United States Public Law 101-162, a law that prohibits the import of shrimp and shrimp products harvested in ways that may adversely affect some sea turtle species. This certification is based on a determination that Mexico’s turtle excluder devices (TEDs) program is comparable in effectiveness to the U.S. program.
The United States and Mexico have been working in close cooperation on sea turtle conservation as well as a range of bilateral fisheries and marine conservation issues of importance to the two Nations. The Government of Mexico implemented a plan of action in the past several months to strengthen sea turtle conservation in its shrimp trawl fisheries. This plan of action represents significant improvements in the use of turtle excluder devices by its fishing industry. The U.S. government’s decision regarding Mexico’s certification means that wild-harvested shrimp from Mexico’s commercial trawl fisheries now may be imported into the United States.
The shrimp and shrimp products importation prohibition does not apply when the Department of State certifies to Congress that the government of the harvesting nation has taken measures to reduce the incidental taking of sea turtles in its shrimp trawl fisheries, such as through the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs), or that the fishing environment of the harvesting nation does not threaten sea turtles. This law has proven to be an effective conservation method to protect endangered sea turtles species by encouraging foreign governments to regulate the use of well-designed and installed turtle excluder devices. Other countries are currently assessing TED technology and the United States assists those efforts through technology transfers and capacity building in the hope that more countries can contribute to sea turtle species recovery and be added to the certified list.
(Information provided by the U.S. State Department)
The Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute recently hosted a debate on the questions of "Are U.S. Drone Attacks in the 'War on Terror' Lawful? Do They Make for Sound Foreign Policy?" The debate participants were:
- Kenneth Anderson, Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law and a Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and
- Mary Ellen O'Connell, the Robert & Marion Short Professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School.
The event already took place, but luckily it was recorded and you can click here to listen to that debate. We imagine that it will be a popular website around the world because the issue of drone attacks happens to be the subject of this year's Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition problem, sponsored by the International Law Students Association (ILSA).
The website for the debate also includes a suggested reading list that Jessup Students will find of particular interest for the 2011 season. It includes:
- Articles by Kenneth Anderson, Mary Ellen O'Connell, Jordan J. Paust, Afsheen John Radsan, and Richard W. Murphy;
- Congressional Testimony from Kenneth Anderson and Mary Ellen O'Connell;
- A 2010 Report of the Special UN Rapporteur in Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions;
- Other popular media articles (for additional background and context); and
- two court cases (CCR v. OFAC and Al-Aulaqi v. Obama).