Thursday, March 31, 2011
The United Nations released the latest edition of its annual Yearbook, which for the first time is also being made available in digital format for users of e-book readers such as the Kindle, iPad and Nook.
The 61st volume of the Yearbook details all the activities of the UN for the year 2007, the year when Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took office. The volume includes the full texts of all major resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is divided into 33 chapters covering issues ranging from political and security questions to human rights and budgetary questions. The big issues that year included Security Council’s authorization of a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
A woman burst into a hotel room filled with foreign journalists on Sunday. She wanted to show them the bruises and scars and tell the journalists that she had been raped by 15 men. The waiters and hotel staff -- revelaing themselves to be secret police -- raced to silence her, throwing a coat over her head and dragging her out of the room. The journalists tried to help the woman but they were overpowered.
The Qaddafi regime claimed that the woman was a prostitute. She was not, said her mother, who said instead that her daughter was a law student. Some reports about the incident describe her as a law student; other reports describe her as a lawyer. She was abducted at a checkpoint outside Tripoli with three other women who were lawyers -- nothing is known of their fate.
Today, the Financial Times reports that the soldiers alleged to have raped the woman (whose name is Eman al-Obeidy) sued her in Libya for defamation.
The New York Times reported that residents in the woman's home city of Benghazi have held demonstrations to support her. The international community should likewise protest all of the attacks, murders, and rapes being used to try to silence Qaddafi's critics.
With the post-electoral deadlock in Côte d’Ivoire now entering its fifth month and the crisis showing no signs of abating, the Security Council today demanded an immediate end to the violence against civilians and decided to impose targeted sanctions against former president Laurent Gbagbo, his wife and three associates. In unanimously adopting resolution 1975, the Council urged Mr. Gbagbo to immediately step aside, repeating the calls made for months following his UN-certified defeat in November’s presidential run-off, which was won by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.
Top UN officials have voiced growing concern about the situation inside Côte d’Ivoire, where up to 1 million people have been displaced – some internally, and some to neighbouring nations – since fighting first broke out in the wake of the polls, which were meant to reunite a country split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-held south and rebel-controlled north. Nearly 500 people are reported to have been killed, and the violence appears to have stepped up in recent weeks, including the use of heavy weapons. The Council “condemns in the strongest terms the recent escalation of violence throughout the country which could amount to crimes against humanity,” the 15-member body said in the resolution.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which continues to protect civilians during this period of increased fighting to the best of its abilities in line with its mandate, has also been targeted, with a UN-marked bus damaged by stone-throwing demonstrators earlier this week. The Council condemned the use of Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) and other media to incite discrimination, hostility, hatred and violence, including against UNOCI, and demanded that all parties abide “scrupulously” by their obligation to respect the safety of UNOCI and other UN personnel and ensure their freedom of movement. It decided to adopt targeted sanctions against those individuals who meet the criteria set out in previous resolutions, including those who obstruct peace and reconciliation in the country, obstruct the work of UNOCI and other international actors and commit serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
In addition to Mr. Gbagbo and his wife, Simone, today’s resolution imposed targeted financial and travel measures against Désiré Tagro, Secretary General in the so-called ‘presidency’ of Mr. Gbagbo; Pascal Affi N’Guessan, Chairman of the Ivorian Popular Front; and Alcide Djédjé, a close advisor to Mr. Gbagbo.
(UN Press Release)
The United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia dealing with mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge three decades ago today concluded the appeal hearing for the former head of a notorious detention camp who was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity last year. Kaing Guek Eav, whose alias is Duch, was sentenced last July to 35 years in prison by the trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), with a five-year reduction to remedy his illegal detention at a Cambodian military court. The court found that Mr. Kaing not only implemented, but also actively contributed to the development of the policies of the Communist Party of Kampuchea at the S-21 camp, where numerous Cambodians were unlawfully detained, subjected to inhumane conditions and forced labour, tortured and executed in the late 1970s.
During the three-day appeal hearing held by the ECCC’s Supreme Court Chamber, Mr. Kaing and his defence team reiterated that he was neither a senior leader nor one of those most responsible for heinous crimes being prosecuted at the court, and therefore should not have been tried at the court. He told the chamber – consisting of four Cambodian judges and three internationals selected by the UN Secretary-General – that he merely acted on orders from his superior and he would have died if he didn’t. “I survived the regime, only because I respectfully and strictly followed the orders,” he said.
Meanwhile, the prosecution demanded a life imprisonment for Mr. Kaing’s role as a chairman of the security prison, where at least 12,000 people died during the period from 17 April 1975 to 6 January 1979. Co-Prosecutors Chea Leang and Andrew Cayley claimed that Mr. Kaing should have been cumulatively convicted for the crimes against humanity of persecution, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, rape, extermination and other inhumane acts as well as the enslavement of those detained in S-21. They demanded the Supreme Court Chamber impose a heavier sentence. “We call for the imposition of a life term, reduced to 45 years simply to take account of that period of illegal detention,” Mr. Cayley told the judges. “But for the purposes of history, a life term must be imposed in this case.”
The Supreme Court Chamber is expected to hand down its appeals judgment in a few months. The appeal took place as the ECCC prepares for its second case concerning the four most senior members of the Democratic Kampuchea regime who are still alive.
Estimates vary but as many as two million people are thought to have died during the rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979, which was then followed by a protracted period of civil war in the impoverished South-East Asian country.
(UN Press Release)
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UN Doc. A/58/422, was approved by the U.N. General Assembly on October 31, 2003. The UNCAC covers five main areas: prevention, criminalization and law enforcement measures, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange.
The UNCAC covers many different forms of corruption, such as trading in influence, abuse of power, and various acts of corruption in the private sector. A further significant development was a specific chapter dealing with the recovery of assets, a major concern for countries that pursue the assets of former leaders and other officials accused or found to have engaged in corruption
As of today, there are 150 state parties to the Convention. The latest countries to become parties are Iceland and Thailand, which joined on March 1, 2011. Click here for more information.
On October 20-22, 2011, 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 90th annual meeting of the American Branch. ILW 2011 will bring together hundreds of practitioners, professors, members of the governmental and non-governmental sectors and students. It will feature numerous panels, distinguished speakers, and receptions. The overall theme of ILW 2011 is “International Law and National Politics.”
This year’s three-day conference will explore the intersection of international rules and norms and domestic politics and policymaking. To what extent do international standards influence the application and interpretation of national law including complimentary or countervailing policies sought by domestic policymakers, non-governmental actors and/or civil society? Expert panels and discussion sessions will examine these and other issues with regard to such diverse areas as human rights and humanitarian intervention, national security, immigration, trade, labor, health care and the environment.
The Co-Chairs of ILW 2011 are Professor Martin S. Flaherty, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School, mflaherty17 [at] yahoo.com, Sahra Diament of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, diament [at] un.org, and Jill Schmieder Hereau, Program Coordinator at the International Law Students Association, jshereau [at] ilsa.org.
The Co-Chairs invite proposals for panels for ILW 2011. Please submit proposals by email to each of the Co-Chairs no later than Wednesday, May 4, 2011. 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 2011 is to promote a dialogue among scholars and practitioners from across the legal spectrum, so whenever possible, panels should include presentations of divergent views.
Hat tip to Jill Schmieder Hereau
This conference is dedicated to the study of the interaction between the European and the international legal order and speakers are expected to discuss the influence of the EU legal order on the development and functioning of international law. More information available here.
Monday, March 28, 2011
For those of you interested in legislative developments related to international law, here is a schedule of some upcoming hearings before the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
- Runner-up: University of Hawaii, William Richardson School of Law
- Best Oralist, Final Round: Laura Chen Allen, University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law
- Hugh Wooding Law School (Trinidad)
- University of the Philippines College of Law
- Ateneo de Manila School of Law
- Law Society of Ireland, Team 1143A
- National University of Advanced Legal Studies, India
- University of California-Hastings College of Law
- Memorial Awards:
- Best Memorial: Ateneo de Manila School of Law
- Second Place Memorial: University of the Philippines College of Law
- Third Place Memorial: National University of Advanced Legal Studies, India
- Oralist Awards, Preliminary Rounds:
- Best Oralist: Lance Cidre, University of California-Hastings College of Law
- Second Best Oralist: Vladimir F. Bedural, Ateneo de Manila School of Law
- Third Best Oralist: Sarelle Buckley, Law Society of Ireland, Team 1143
- Fourth Best Oralist: Douglas Raphael, University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law
- Fifth Best Oralist: Luz Danielle O. Bolong, Ateneo de Manila School of Law
- Sixth Best Oralist: Tecla Duncan, Hugh Wooding Law School
- Seventh Best Oralist: Maeve Larkin, Law Society of Ireland, Team 1150
- Eighth Best Oralist: Tarun Gopalakrishnan, NALSAR University of Law
- Ninth Best Oralist: Jeric Alvin Ferrer Cruz, University of Philippines College of Law
- Tenth Best Oralist: Ajitha Pichaipillai, National University of Advanced Legal Studies, India
Hat tips to Roy Gardner and to all of the winners!
The University of Sydney (Australia) beat Columbia Law School (USA) in an incredibly close final round of the 2011 International Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. The final round was presided over by Thomas Buergenthal (former judge on the International Court of Justice), with and Dean Claudio Grossman (Dean of the American University Washington College of Law and Chair of the United Nations Committee against Torture), and Professor Mark Pieth (Professor of Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Basel, Switzerland).
Now in its 52nd year, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world's largest moot court competition, with participants from over 500 law schools in more than 80 countries. The Competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. One team is allowed to participate from every eligible school. Teams prepare oral and written pleadings arguing both the applicant and respondent positions of the case.
Mark E. Wojcik, ILSA Board Member
The 2012 Jessup Problem will involve a dispute between two states over the destruction of a cultural site of great importance and the important question of who gets to represent a state internationally in the immediate aftermath of a coup d'etat. It also involves international responsibility for the use of force by one state while taking part in a regional operation to bring about democracy. Get more infomation about the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition by visiting the website for the group that organizes the Jessup, the International Law Students Association (ILSA).
UN Human Rights Council Issues Statement on Ending Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Last week, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations issued a Joint Statement entitled "Ending Acts of Violence and Other Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity." The statement received the support of 85 nations, the largest level of support similar statements have ever received. For more information and for the text of the Joint Statement, click here.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The U.S. State Department has annouced that Turkey will serve as Protecting Power in Libya for U.S. interests. Under international law, a Protecting Power is a State who acts to protect the interests of another State within a third State. This role is specifically recognized in international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War and the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Reations. Already, the United States has expressed its gratitude to Turkey for assisting in getting four New York Times journalists out of Libya last week.
Friday, March 25, 2011
For those of you who want to keep current with recent developments in U.S. customs law, one of the best ways to stay connected is through the Customs and International Trade Bar Association (CITBA). Click here to visit the announcements page on their website.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
11:55 a.m. – 1:45 p.m.
1.75 MCLE hours
Presented by International and Immigration Law
Co-sponsored by Human Rights and ISBA Diversity Leadership Council
ISBA Chicago Regional Office
20 S. Clark Street, Suite 900
Hey! Where are law schools in the United States? Have a look at this map to see where ABA-approved law schools are located in the United States.
Readers may remember the controversy about the criminal libel case brought in France against a NYU law professor based on a complaint by an academic working in Israel unhappy with the review of her book available on Global Law Books, a website associated with The European Journal of International Law. The Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris issued its judgment earlier this month. I finally took the time to read this fascinating decision last week and readers may be interested in the short note I just published on EJIL:Talk!
A former Bosnian Serb army general convicted of war crimes by the United Nations tribunal set up to judge the worst abuses committed during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s was transferred to Estonia today to serve out his 29-year jail term for terror, murder and inhumane acts.
Dragomir Miloševic, who is not related to the former Serbian leader Slobodan Miloševic, was convicted in 2007 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of five counts of murder, inflicting terror and inhumane acts during the second half of the 1992-1995 siege of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, when a campaign of sniping and shelling killed or injured large numbers of civilians. His initial sentence of 33 years was cut to 29 years in 2009 by an ICTY appeals chamber ruling that evidence cited in the judgment did not support a finding that Mr. Miloševic, now 69, planned and ordered the sniping incidents but that his command responsibility for failing to prevent and punish committed by his subordinates had been established beyond reasonable doubt. The chamber upheld the majority of his convictions for ordering the shelling of the civilian population.
For 15 months, from August 1994 to November 1995, Mr. Miloševic was commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps (SRK) of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) which encircled and entrapped Sarajevo during the conflict. He is the second convicted person to be transferred to Estonia. Milan Martic, a former wartime political leader of Croatian Serbs, was transferred there in 2009 to serve out his 35-year jail sentence for his role in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.
The ICTY thanked the Estonian authorities for their continued support in ensuring the enforcement of its sentences and stressed the “crucial role” that Member States play in enforcing the sentences. It has so far signed agreements on serving sentences with 17 States, and today it called for help in securing additional enforcement capacity. Since its establishment, the ICTY has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Proceedings against 125 have been concluded. Proceedings are currently ongoing for 34 accused.
(adapted from a UN Press Release)
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously yesterday to extend the mandate of the UN mission in Afghanistan for one more year so that it can continue to assist the Afghanistan Government as it assumes greater responsibility for ensuring the country’s security and development.
Under the new resolution, the UN mission in Afghanistan, known as UNAMA, will continue its activities until 23 March 2012, including in the fields of monitoring human rights, promoting good governance, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance and assisting in the fight against corruption.
In his most recent report to the Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated UN support for the so-called “Kabul Process” that spells out a transition to greater Afghan responsibility and ownership, in both security and civilian areas. He stated: “Our approach to the Kabul process and transition is based on three key principles; transition must be Afghan-owned; it must be planned and implemented in a sustainable manner; and it must ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of all Afghans.”
UNAMA has been in place since March 2002, when the Bonn Agreement established an interim Government and prescribed the drafting of a new constitution and the holding of elections.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Today, Tuesday, March 22, is World Water Day. The declaration of the first World Water Day in 1993 grew out of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janiero. On this day in 2004, a network to address water concerns in Africa was launched in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This year's focus is on waters for cities, which constitute only 2% of the land mass, but hold 50% of the population.
Potable water is an increasingly precious resource, yet European experts estimate that 20-40% of all water in Europe is lost due to leaks in the supply system, dripping taps and unsustainable irrigation practices, a problem that must be addressed.
Morer information on World Water Day 2011 may be found here.