Saturday, March 6, 2010

First Photos and Press Coverage of the Global Legal Skills Conference (Monterrey Mexico)

100_7825 100_7879 The fifth Global Legal Skills Conference was held in Mexico at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (FLDM) from February 25-27, 2010.  More than 80 delegates came to Mexico from 14 countries around the world.  For example, pictured standing here (from left to right) are Professors I Nyoman Nurjaya (Faculty of Law at Brawijaya University in Malang, Indonesia), Fernando Villareal-Gonda (Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey, Mexico), and Helena Whalen-Bridge (National Univeristy of Singapore).  


And pictured here on stage at the opening plenary session are speakers from Mexico, Spain, Japan, and (yes, that's me) the United States.

More than 70 law students also participated in the conference, attending sessions and helping in between sessions and at the fantastic closing party.  Law student volunteers (the famous "los estudiantes") made sure that speakers and participants had an absolutely perfect experience.

The conference was a great success and very well organized by the faculty and staff at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey.  We're still getting photos and we will share more of them with you.  To

see local press coverage of the conference (and some additional photos) from El Norte, click here.  Download El Norte - GLS-V.

Next year, the Global Legal Skills Conference will return to its original home at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  (But following a conference as successful as the one put on in Monterrey is sort of like having to follow the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics!)  


March 6, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Turkey Recalls its Ambassador to United States After House Foreign Affairs Committee Vote

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted 23-22 to condemn as genocide the mass killings of Armenians 95 years ago.  Click here to read more from the New York Times about the vote and the resolution.  It is not known whether the resolution will now be sent to the full House of Representatives for a vote.  A similar resolution passed in 2007 did not make it to the floor of the House.  The BBC is reporting this morning that Turkey has recalled its Ambassador to the United States.


March 5, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Same-Sex Marriage Updates from Washington D.C., Buenos Aires, and Mexico City

We recently posted an item about Professor Sonia Green's article on whether there is a right to same-sex marriage under customary international law.  Click here to read about that article.  It seems to be a good time to review the state of same-sex marriage, particularly given new developments this week.

There are indeed many developments to report this week relating to same-sex marriages around the world.  In the United States, the District of Columbia began to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday, and the first same-sex marriages will be held there next Tuesday.  The Attorney General of the neighboring state of Maryland also issued a 53-page opinion stating that Maryland should recognize valid same sex-marriages from other jurisdictions.  (New York also recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states even though the state itself does not yet allow same-sex marriage.)  Within the United States, same-sex marriages are now legal in five states (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont) and the District of Columbia.  There were also lawful same-sex marriages performed in California between June 16, 2008 and November 4, 2008, when Proposition 8 took effect to amend the California State Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.  California is in the strange position of recognizing only those same-sex marriages performed between those dates (whether the marriages were performed in California or some other jurisdiction).

Seven countries allow same-sex marriage: Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.  Israel does not yet allow same-sex marriage but will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.  The same may be true in other countries (particularly on a case-by-case basis).

Countries that provide for some form of civil union or domestic partnership include Andorra, Austria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Argentina (Damian Ariel Bernath and Jorge Esteban Salazar)

A same-sex couple was married this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  They are Damián Ariel Bernath and Jorge Esteban Salazar, who were authorized last week to marry by Judge Elena Liberatori. (This is their photo from the Buenos Aires Herald.)  They were the second same-sex couple to marry in Argentina and the first to marry in the city of Buenos Aires.  Argentina's constitution (like those of most other countries) is silent on the question of same-sex marriage, and legislation to allow same-sex marriage is still pending in Argentina's Congress.  The same-sex marriage question is also reportedly pending before the Supreme Court of Argentina. In the meantime, however, local officials have been able to decide for themselves whether to issue marriage licenses, and this marriage is proof of that.  Click here for more information in the Buenos Aires Herald about this same-sex marriage in Argentina.

And most significantly perhaps was the new law that entered into effect this week in Mexico City, one of the most densely populated cities in the world.  Same-sex couples started receiving marriage licenses there this week, and same-sex marriages will be performed there starting March 12.  Click here to read more (in Spanish) or click here for a different article here (in English).


March 5, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

International Arbitration in the Asia-Pacific Region

The International Chamber of Commerce's International Court of Arbitration will host a two-day ICC Asia-Pacific Conference, "East Meets West: Evolving Issues in International Arbitration in the Asia-Pacific Region.”  The event wil be held at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, on March 14-16, 2010.


March 4, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Online Minnesota Journal of International Law Seeks Articles

The Minnesota Journal of International Law is seeking articles for its new online companion. The Journal will retain the multidisciplinary mission of the print journal, and will keep the journal’s historical focus by highlighting scholarship related to global trade.  The online journal is intended to be a content base of shorter and more responsive articles on topics of international law and policy.

The Minnesota Journal of International Law Online is requesting submissions from all interested authors of between 1500 and 3000 words, or approximately five to ten pages. Selected articles will be published on a rolling basis and will undergo the same rigorous cite checking process as articles selected for the print journal.  Articles may be submitted via ExpressO, LexOpus, or directly through the journal's website.

The online journal is intended to reach a diverse audience of legal academics, practitioners, and students, as well as academics and practitioners from related fields.  To that end, the online journal invites submissions not only those with a J.D. or comparable degree, but also from academics in other fields such as economics, science, and medicine.


March 3, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Law Weekend (New York in October) -- Call for Proposals Deadline is April 9

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

ILW 2010 will address the role of international law and institutions in reducing conflict, promoting security, fostering human rights, protecting the environment, facilitating trade and investment, and resolving public and private international disputes. Panels will examine subjects such as the extent to which treaties currently under negotiation or consideration would further these objectives, and the operation and effect of international organizations, international courts, and arbitral institutions on the global legal order.

The Co-Chairs of ILW 20010 are Professor Elizabeth Burleson of the University of South Dakota Law School, Elizabeth.Burleson [at], Hanna Dreifeldt Lainé of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, dreifeldt [at], Vincent J. Vitkowsky, Partner, Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, vvitkowsky [at], and Jill Schmieder Hereau, Program Coordinator at the International Law Students Association, jshereau [at]

The Co-Chairs invite proposals for panels for ILW 2010. Please submit proposals by email to each of the Co-Chairs no later than Friday, April 9, 2010. The proposals should be structured for 90-minute panels, and should include a formal title, a brief description of the subjects to be covered (no more than 75 words), and the names, titles, and affiliations of the panel chair and three or four likely speakers. The proposals should also describe the format envisaged (point-counterpoint, roundtable, or other). One of the objectives of ILW 2010 is to promote a dialogue among scholars and practitioners from across the legal spectrum, so whenever possible, panels should include presentations of divergent views.

Save the ILW dates now in your day planner too!   State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh has agreed to be the keynote speaker at the annual luncheon on Saturday, October 23.

Hat tips to ABILA and to Jill Schmieder Hereau


March 3, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is there a right to Same-Sex Marriage under Customary International Law?

Green, Sonia Bychkov Professor Sonia Bychkov Green of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago has written an interesting and provocative paper called "Currency of Love: Customary International Law and the Battle for Same-Sex Marriage in the United States."  Here's the abstract of the article from SSRN:

The battle for same-sex marriage is likely to be the civil rights issue of this decade. Developments all over the world over the last several years have caused celebration, public outcry and passionate debate. In the last year alone, the first Latin American same-sex wedding was performed, Sweden joined the nations who allow same-sex marriage, and the United States saw the “Proposition 8” debacle in California, and the new federal lawsuits that will inevitably propel the issues toward the Supreme Court. The legal debate in the United States has asked the crucial question: is there a legal right to marriage for each person, regardless of sexual orientation? This article examines the debate through the prism of international law and argues that there is.

Scholars and courts have analyzed the constitutional, legal and moral implications of this debate. This article adds a new argument to the debate: same-sex marriage should be allowed in the United States because it is protected by customary international law, and U.S. courts do, and should, consider international custom in their jurisprudence.

Part One of the article details the myriad of areas in which “marriage” is a legally significant designation. Part Two describes the legislation, judicial opinions and contours of the debate in the United States to date. Part Three presents arguments for how same-sex marriage is protected by customary international law: it is protected through codifications of custom, it is a trend in at least parts of the world, and most importantly, the justifications of the nations who allow same-sex marriage evidence a sense of legal obligation to allow it. Part Four examines how the United States courts have used customary international law in a variety of cases, and explains how courts could incorporate those norms to find that same-sex marriage should be legalized. The article concludes with two essential appendices that illustrate the current status of same-sex marriage: a state-by-state current summary of the issue in the United States and a large selected nation-by-nation compilation.

Click here to download the article.


March 3, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Supremes hear oral argument in Samanter

US Supreme Court The United States Supreme Court hears oral argument today in the case of Samanter v. Yousuf, docket number 08-1555.  The case, on appeal from the Fourth Circuit, explores the breadth of foreign sovereign immunity under U.S. law.

The defendant in the underlying civil case, Mohamed Ali Samantar (sometimes "Samatar"), was Minister of Defense (1980-1986) and then Prime Minister (1987-1990) of Somalia.  The plaintiffs are a group of former Somali nationals who allege that soldiers, intelligence officials, and other government officials under Samantar's command engaged in systematic torture and extrajudicial killings.  At trial, Samantar invoked the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1604, asserting that sovereign immunity from civil suit extended to him, as a former head of government.  The trial court agreed, but on appeal, the Fourth Circuit held that the Act extends immunity to neither current nor former government officials.

Fifteen amicus briefs have been filed in the case, including -- of particular interest to this blog -- one by "Professors of International Litigation and Foreign Relations Law" and one by "Professors of Public International Law and Comparative Law." 

For longer analysis, see the Legal Information Institute's discussion at  For links to all party and amicus briefs see SCOTUSwiki at


March 3, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another Stupid Government Name Change: "The Operational Records System of Records"

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced on March 1, 2010 that it is updating an existing system of records, the Removable Alien Records System, and renaming it the “Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Operational Records System of Records.”

The Department of Homeland Security is also retiring an existing system of records, the Enforcement Operational Immigration Records System of Records, and transferring certain law enforcement and immigration records owned by ICE to this updated record system.  The amended system becomes effective March 31, 2010.  Comments are due by March 31, 2010 (see Federal Register 9238).

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office


March 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Canceling Haiti's Debts to International Lending Institutions

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee (International Monetary Policy and Trade Panel) is expected to mark up legislation on March 4, 2010 in Room 2128 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC. 

The legislation (HR 4573) would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the U.S. executive directors at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other multilateral development institutions to use the "voice, vote, and influence of the United States" to cancel completely Haiti’s debts to those institutions.

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.


March 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Supreme Court Dismisses Uighurs' Appeal & Sends Case Back to Lower Court

US Supreme Court The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will not consider whether it has the power to order the Executive Branch to release persons held at Guantanamo Bay who are subject to potential indefinite detention and allow them to enter the United States.  The Court dismissed the appeal of seven Chinese Muslims known as Uighurs because the Uighurs have received offers of resettlement.  The Pacific Island nation of Palau has offered to take five of them and Switzerland has offered to take the other two.  The Court stated that these offers of resettlement change the factual basis for the case and may affect the legal issue.  Accordingly, the Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to consider the issues in light of these new facts in the first instance.  The case is Kiyemba v. Obama, No. 08-1234 and the Court's opinion can be found here.

March 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Legal Frontiers

Canada Legal Frontiers is a new academic blog on international law run by law students at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  The blog contains a number of interesting short essays from Canadian law students.  Click here to pay them a visit

Hat tip to James Nowlan of Legal Frontiers


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

Iceland moves a step closer to joining EU

Iceland EU Flag The European Commission recommended that the European Union (EU) move forward with accession talks with Iceland.  If the EU Member States agree, EU Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fuele estimated that the process would take around 14 months based on past experience with Finland and Austria.  Iceland is already a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), which gives it preferential trading rights with the EU and requires it to adopt many EU laws.

The European Commission expressed some concerns over the independence of the judiciary in Iceland and conflicts of interest for some in public service due to close links between the political class and business interests.  The size of Iceland's debt also raised some concerns.  Some Member States are involved in bilateral disputes with Iceland, which may hold up the process.  For example, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands believe they are owed money to repay a loan to British and Dutch investors who lost money when the online bank Icesave went under in 2008.  On the other hand, Icelandic fishermen are concerned that joining the EU could force them to share their fishing rights with other Europeans, which could lead to overfishing.  In light of these concerns and others, a 14-month timetable may be ambitious.


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