Monday, April 11, 2011
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire today confirmed that the country’s former president Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered to forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara and is currently in their custody. “ONUCI [UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire] is providing protection and security in accordance with its Security Council mandate,” the spokesperson of the Secretary-General told reporters at UN Headquarters.
Côte d'Ivoire has been engulfed by violence since last November, when Mr. Gbagbo refused to step down from power, despite losing a UN-certified and internationally recognized presidential election to Mr. Ouattara. The Security Council, meanwhile, went into urgent consultations during which it will hear a briefing on the unfolding situation in Côte d’Ivoire from the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy.
(From a UN Press Release)
The ABA Section of International Law held a briefing today at the United Nations in New York. While the ABA delegation was meeting at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and the Office of the Legal Advisor for the United Nations, the U.N. Security Council decided to consider establishing specialized Somali courts to try suspected pirates both in the Somalia and in the region. The Council also urged both State and non-State actors affected by piracy, most notably the international shipping community, to provide support for a host of judicial- and detention-related projects through the trust fund set up for that purpose. In the resolution adopted unanimously today, the Security Council stressed the need for “a comprehensive response to tackle piracy and its underlying causes by the international community.”
Piracy is a crime of universal jurisdiction, meaning that any country in the world would hae jurisdiction (and perhaps even the obligation) to prosecute pirates. In one sense, when universal jurisdiction already exists there may be no need for a special courts. Specialized courts face funding problems even when funded by voluntary donations.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Each year, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the U.S. State Department prepares and publishes Country Reports on Human Rights Practices around the world. 2010 marks the 35th anniversary of this publication. The State Department released the new Country Reports for 2010 today covering 194 countries. The full reports may be found here.
The State Department acknowledges in its introduction that the reports are already out of date in light of developments in Northern Africa and the Middle East. It also notes three important trends: the increasing influence of nongovernmental organizations, the growth of the Internet and other connective technologies and increasing violence, persecution and societal discrimination against vulnerable groups.
The report highlights positive developments in Columbia, Guinea and Indonesia, will noting backsliding in Ukraine. Countries with serious human rights concerns include Cote d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Belarus, Russia, Bahrain, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Cuba and Venezuela.
The American Society of International Law has just released an explanation of the arbitration action that Mauritius is bringing against the United Kingdom over the Chagos Archipelago. Click here for to read it.
Hat tip to Sheila Ward at ASIL
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Vanuatu is in the final stages of accession to the World Trade Organization and plans to complete all steps necessary to join the WTO by the United Nations Least Developed Country Conference scheduled to be held May 9-13, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. If all goes as planned, Vanuatu will be the 154th member of the WTO.
The sixth Global Legal Skills Conference will be held at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago from May 5-7, 2011.
Click here to see the draft program. Download GLS Schedule (Version 2.1)
The International Law Students Association (ILSA) and the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) will hold their annual International Law Weekend from October 20-22, 2011 in New York. Proposals for panels are due by May 4, 2011. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) announced the nine student and young professional winners of its 2011 Helton Fellowships for projects in international law. Selected from more than 50 applicants from Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Oceania, and North and South America, the students will receive micro-grants of to pursue fieldwork in or research on issues involving international law, human rights, humanitarian affairs, and related areas.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
International Summer School decicated to The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The purpose of this six-day Summer School, which is jointly directed by the Centre for Disability Law & Policy, NUI Galway (Ireland) and the Harvard Project on Disability (USA), is to equip participants with the insights and skills necessary to translate the generalities of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into tangible reform for persons with disabilities. Further details available here.
Monday, April 4, 2011
The New York Times has jus announced that the Obama administration has decided to use a military commission at Guantánamo Bay to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed for his alleged role in the attacks of
September 11. This is a major reversal of the policy that he was going to be tried instead in a civilian courtroom. A Department of Justice press conference is expected later today.
The United Kingdom's new Bribery Act was meant to enter into effect on April 10, 2011. The effective date was pushed back, however, pending publication of Guidance Documents from the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice. The guidance documents were finally released last Thursday.
Among other things, the Bribery Act 2010 creates a new offense (under section 7) which can be committed by commercial organisations that fail to prevent persons associated with them (such as employees, agents, other third parties, and also subsidiaries) from bribing another person on their behalf. An organization that can prove it has adequate procedures in place to prevent persons associated with it from bribing may be able to defend a charge of violating section 7.
The guidance published last week was intended to help commercial organizations of all sizes and sectors understand what sorts of procedures they can put in place to prevent bribery, as mentioned in section 7.
and it has now been announced that the UK Bribery Act will now enter into effect on July 1, 2011.
Click here for the text of the UK Bribery Act and other information about the Act.
The new Act presents many law firms with the opportunities to educate clients about the new act and how to avoid violating it. Mayer Brown, for example, is conducting an informative telephone conference today on "The UK Bribery Act Guidance: Implications for Anti-Corruption Compliance." Among the tips shared is one from Kristy Balsanek, who recommends that corporations review contracts as to supervision of subagents and that any anti-corruption provisions in a contract refer not only to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA) but also to the new UK Bribery Act. She also recommends reviewing joint venture agreements.
This past Friday marked the 10th anniversary of the world's first same-sex marriages, which took place in the Netherlands on April 1, 2001. Since then, almost 15,000 same-sex couples have married in the Netherlands.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in the following 12 countries:
- the Netherlands,
- South Africa,
- Spain, and
Additionally, Israel will recognize lawful same-sex marriages performed in other countries even though same-sex marriage is not presently allowed under Israeli law. And in Mexico, where same-sex marriages are lawful in the Federal District, a Supreme Court ruling requires all other Mexican states to recognize those marriages.
Five U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage in the United States. Other states also provide for civil unions -- Illinois, for example, will allow civil unions starting on June 1.
Hat tip to Rex Wockner
The Teaching International Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law is hosting a conference on "Teaching International Law Beyond the Classroom." The one-day conference will be held at Pace University School of Law in White Plains, N.Y., on Friday, May 6, 2011. The conference is being co-sponsored by the American Branch of the International Law Association.
The focus of the conference is on getting both students and faculty involved in empirical research, historical research, Web 2.0, and experiential learning. Beth Simmons of Harvard is one of the country’s leading empiricists in the field of international law; she will be speaking along with Jordan Paust, Houston; Sital Kalantry, Cornell; Julian Ku, Hofstra; Peggy McGuinness, St. John's; Tom Lee, Fordham; among other distinguished speakers. Anthony VanDuzer, from Ottawa University Faculty of Law, will be discussing his course on NAFTA, which he co-taught with a U.S. law professor and a Mexican law professor, using Skype to bring professors and students together from the three countries simultaneously. Robert Van Lierop, former UN ambassador and currently with the UN in Darfur, will be discussing the externship program he supervises with law students assisting island countries at the United Nations.
Discounted rates are available under April 6. For more information and to register, click here.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives will hold a hearing titled “Reforming the United Nations: The Future of U.S. Policy" on April 7, 2011 at 10 am, 2172 Rayburn, Washington DC.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
Friday, April 1, 2011
If you haven't recently visited the international law page on the United Nations website, you're in for a big surprise. It's been updated and includes a tremendous amount of helpful information for researchers and international lawyers. Click here for a quick visit.
U.S. Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts has introduced H Res 193 to call on the new Government of Egypt to honor the rule of law and immediately return Noor and Ramsay Bower to the United States. The bill was referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressional Record at H2214 (Mar. 31, 2011). Click here for more information about Noor and Ramsay Bower.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its opinion today regarding Russia's Preliminary Objections in the Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Georgia v. Russian Federation). The Court determined that there is an existing dispute between the parties regarding Russia's compliance with CERD based on Georgia's allegations of ethnic cleansing by Russia in 2008. However, the ICJ held that it has no jurisdiction to hear the case at the present time because Georgia did not engage in negotiations with Russia as required by CERD before filing the suit at the ICJ. The Court did not address Russia's two other objections to jurisdiction.
The Court's press relase may be found here.