Thursday, June 30, 2011
We extend our good wishes to all of our Canadian readers. Here are the comments on Canada Day offered by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Yesterday, the UN Security Council (UNSC) voted unanimously to extend the terms of the eight permanent judges serving on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The ICTY was created to try perpetrators of the worst crimes committed during conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The extension is necessary to ensure that the court is adequately staffed to complete its work. Their terms have been extended until 31 December 2012 or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned. In addition, the terms of nine ad litem judges – who are limited to particular cases – were also extended until 31 December 2012 or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned.
The UNSC Resolution “reiterates the importance of the International Tribunal being adequately staffed to complete its work expeditiously and calls upon relevant United Nations bodies to intensify cooperation with the Secretariat and the Registrar of the International Tribunal and to take a flexible approach in order to find practicable solutions to address this issue as the International Tribunal approaches the completion of its work, and at the same time calls upon the International Tribunal to renew its efforts to focus on its core functions,” said the resolution.
The Resolution calls on all States, especially those that emerged from the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, to intensify cooperation with and to render all necessary assistance to ICTY, particularly in the arrest of Goran Hadžic, a key war crimes suspect who remains at large.
The UNSC also commended States that have concluded agreements for the enforcement of sentences of those convicted by ICTY or have otherwise accepted such convicts to serve their sentences in their territories, and urged countries to renew their commitment to the enforcement of sentences and to positively consider requests from the tribunal in this regard. Finally, it urged States that have not concluded agreements for the enforcement of sentences of ICTY convicts to consider entering into such pacts.
(cgb) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
This week, the U.S. State Department released its annual report on Trafficking in Persons in which it ranks 184 nations, including the U.S., with regard to efforts to fight trafficking. The report focuses on government efforts towards prevention, prosecution and protection. It defines trafficking in persons as occurring "when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service." The report places countries in one of three tiers: 1. Countries that fully comply with the minimum standards set forth in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TPVA); 2. Countries that do not fully comply with the TPVA, but are making significant efforts to comply; and 3. Countries who are not in compliance with the TPVA and are not making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance. This year, there are 15 countries that fall into Tier 3. For more information or to read the full report, click here.
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) publishes an electronic "International Law in Brief" with discussions of new international law developments and links to original source documents. It is a great resource and one we should all visit regularly. The current issue includes the new ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, the UN General Assembly Resolution on "The Role of Mediation in the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and Conflict Prevention," and the World Health Organization's Preparedness Framework for the Influenza Pandemic. Click here to read more.
Hat tip to Sheila Ward
The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University recently launched a new blog to discuss issues in health law and policy. They will also post announcements on their research and fellowship programs, scholarships, and other events. Click here for more information.
Hat tip to Susan Kim at the O'Neill Institute. Congratulations Larry Gostin!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The primary responsibility for arresting Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi and two others sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) rests with the North African nation, the tribunal’s Chief Prosecutor said today, a day after warrants were issued for the three men for alleged crimes against humanity.
Mr. Qadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam Qadhafi and the head of the Libya’s intelligence forces, Abdullah Al Sanousi, are being sought for their roles in attacks against protesters, hundreds of whom are confirmed to have been killed since opposition forces rose up against the regime as part of a wider pro-democracy movement across North Africa and the Middle East.
“Today, it is time for arrest. Let me clarify who should arrest them and how they can do it,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo told a news conference in The Hague, where the Court is based.
Libya – although not a State party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC – has the primary responsibility to carry out the arrest warrants, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said, noting that it is obligated to comply with Security Council resolution 1970, which was adopted in February. In that resolution, the Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC and specifically called on the country to “cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor.”
“Qadhafi’s inner circle is the first option: they can be part of the problem and be prosecuted, or they can be part of the solution, work together with the other Libyans and stop the crimes,” he stated.
The second option is the Interim National Council, which represents the opposition and has expressed its willingness to implement the arrest warrants, he added.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo noted that the international forces operating in Libya under Security Council resolution 1973, which was adopted in March and authorized States to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians amid the regime’s violent crackdown against its own people, have no specific mandate to carry out arrest warrants. The Prosecutor added that if Mr. Qadhafi travels to a State party to the ICC, he should be arrested.
Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that it has received reports of significant displacement in the Nafusa mountains, which has been the scene of intense fighting between Government forces and opposition groups since mid-March.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that, since the start of the conflict, more than 64,000 Libyans have been displaced from the Nafusa Mountains and other parts of western Libya into Tunisia, where they are largely hosted by local communities. As of Sunday, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been able to deliver, through partners, a total of 546 tons of food for more than 100,000 people in the mountains. However, UN agencies have so far been unable to gain access to the Nafusa mountains to undertake assessments and monitor the delivery of assistance. OCHA says that an inter-agency mission into the Nafusa mountains remains a priority to accurately determine humanitarian needs.
(UN Press Release)
The Thompson Reuters Foundation sponsors TrustLaw - a series of web pages providing legal assistance and news relating to good governance and women's rights. Recently, Trustlaw Women became the lastest member of the Foundation's Trustlaw family. Trustlaw Women is designed to be "a global hub for news, information, resources and discussion devoted to women's legal rights." The Trustlaw Women's page covers everything from the five most dangerous countries for women (Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Pakistan and Somalia), to recent U.S. laws restricting abortions to the rise in mental illness for Nepalese women. It may prove to be a valuable resource for those working on human rights of women.
Another useful resource for those in the field of women's human rights may be the American Bar Association's IMPOWR - International Models Project for Women's Rights. The IMPOWR vision statement describes IMPOWR as "an innovative initiative to harness the information sharing power of the internet to empower advocates and defenders of gender equality under the law around the world. The project is focused on the establishment of a global, collaborative, online database of information on gender-equality laws, law reform efforts and law enforcement strategies." During the last year, IMPOWR launched its website and database, which is a work in progress, but which may prove to be a valuable resource in coming years. Volunteers to work on the website and database are being sought.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Readers of this blog will likely remember Guantanamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamden (Osama Bin Laden's driver), who successfully challenged the United States' use of military commissions before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006. Hamden was subsequently tried before a reconstituted military commission under the 2006 Military Commissions Act and was sentenced to 66 months imprisonment. He served that time at Guantanamo Bay and was released to Yemen. He appealed his conviction and sentence on the ground that providing material support for terrorism is not a crime that is triable by military commission. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review issued its opinion rejecting Hamden's argument and finding that his conduct did, in fact, violate the laws of war. The decision may be found here.
The joint trial of the four most senior surviving leaders of the notorious Khmer Rouge regime got under way today in Cambodia at the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to deal with the worst offences committed under the group’s reign. Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea are all facing charges of genocide, murder, torture, religious persecution and other war crimes and crimes against humanity over their alleged actions when the Khmer Rouge was in power between April 1975 and January 1979.
A five-judge panel at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), sitting in Phnom Penh, today began hearing preliminary arguments from lawyers for the four accused, who were arrested in 2007 and indicted by the tribunal last year. At least 1.7 million Cambodians are estimated to have died from starvation, forced labour, torture and execution during the rule of the Khmer Rouge, which was followed by a protracted period of civil war.
The indictment states that Mr. Nuon, 84, known as “Brother Number Two” under the Khmer Rouge, acted as chief policy architect of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, controlled the country’s internal security apparatus and rendered support for the regime’s policies of forcible relocation, enslavement and other inhumane acts. Mr. Ieng, 84, served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister under the Khmer Rouge.
A former history professor, he fled to Thailand when the regime fell in 1979. His wife, Thirith, served as social affairs minister. Khieu Samphan, 79, was a professor before serving as head of State of Democratic Kampuchea. He took over from Pol Pot when he retired as the official head of the Khmer Rouge in 1987. All four have previously denied the allegations against them.
Between today and Thursday, the ECCC trial chamber is expected to hear arguments over statutory limitations and discuss witnesses for the first phases of the substantive hearing, which is expected to begin later this year. The courtroom was filled with hundreds of Cambodians who came from across the country to observe the proceedings, known as Case 002, in person. The ECCC was set up in 2006 and the UN provides assistance through the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT) and participates in the operations of the tribunal.
(UN Press Release)
Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued three arrest warrants today for Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, and Abdullah Al-Senussi. They are being sought for crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from February 15, 2011 until at least the end of February. Click here to read more.
Friday, June 24, 2011
The United Nations has granted the International Human Rights Program at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis "Special Consultative Status" at the UN in recognition of the valuable work of the students and faculty on behalf of human rights. George Edwards, the program's founding director had this to say:
"This is the equivalent of the U.N. telling the [program], 'We have vetted your organization extensively and have determined that you and your members possess special expertise. We trust you and your expertise. . The U.N. is telling us we can freely provide them with research, position papers, reports and briefs in written form. We can also participate by making speeches or interventions on the floor at UN proceedings."
Since its founding in 1997, the program has submitted numerous "shadow reports" to the United Nations, researching and detailing human rights violations in a number of countries. Faculty members and law students have traveled to New York and Geneva to present their findings before U.N. officials. The new status will give them greater access to the UN.
More information about the program can be found on Indiana's website.
Twelve nations and the European Union have added their signatures to a United Nations treaty on the equitable sharing of the planet’s genetic resources in a ceremony at UN Headquarters.
Representatives from Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom and the European Union signed the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, which calls for “fair and equitable sharing” of the utilization of genetic resources.
The protocol, adopted last year in Nagoya, Japan, will enter into force 90 days after the fiftieth country ratifies it.
The protocol envisages the setting up of an international regime on access and benefit sharing of genetic resources, which will lay down the basic ground rules on how nations cooperate in obtaining genetic resources, according to the administrative offices of the 193-member Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which drafted the protocol.
It outlines how benefits – for example, from when a plant's genetics are turned into a commercial product, such as medicine – will be shared with countries and communities which conserved and managed that resource, in some cases for millennia.
Genetic resources, whether from plant, animal or micro-organisms, are used for various purposes, ranging from basic research to the development of products. Users of genetic resources include research institutes, universities and private companies operating in various sectors such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, horticulture, cosmetics and biotechnology.
The benefits derived may include the sharing of the results of research and development carried out on genetic resources, the transfer of technologies that make use of those resources, participation in biotechnological research activities, or monetary benefits arising from the commercialization of products based on genetic resources, such as pharmaceuticals, CBD said.
(UN Press Release)
Thursday, June 23, 2011
The following bills relating to international law have been introduced in the U.S. Congress. The text of the bills can be found in the Congressional Record (CR) citations below.
S 1245 (Blunt, R-MO), to provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia; to Foreign Relations. CR 6/22/11, S4023.
S 1259 (Durbin, D-IL), to amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to prohibit the provision of peacekeeping operations assistance to governments of countries that recruit and use child soldiers; to Foreign Relations. CR 6/22/11, S4024.
HR 2271 (Royce, R-CA), to prohibit the awarding of contracts by the federal government to Chinese entities until the People’s Republic of China signs the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement; to Oversight and Government Reform. CR 6/22/11, H4455.
HR 2278 (Rooney, R-FL), to limit the use of funds appropriated to the Department of Defense for United States Armed Forces in support of North Atlantic Treaty Organization Operation Unified Protector with respect to Libya, unless otherwise specifically authorized by law; to Armed Services. CR 6/22/11, H4456.
HR 2283 (Gohmert, R-TX), to restrict funds for operations in Libya, and for other purposes; to Foreign Affairs. CR 6/22/11, H4456.
HJ Res 68 (Hastings, R-FL), to authorize the limited use of the United States Armed Forces in support of the NATO mission in Libya; to Foreign Affairs. CR 6/22/11, H4457.
ICC Prosecutor wants to investigate election crimes from Côte d’Ivoire (a country that is not a party to the Rome Statute)
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has requested authorization to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Côte d’Ivoire following the presidential run-off held last November. At least 3,000 persons were killed, 72 persons disappeared and 520 persons were subject to arbitrary arrest and detentions in Côte d’Ivoire during the post-election violence, according to the sources quoted by the Prosecution in its application. There are also over 100 reported cases of rape, while the number of unreported incidents is believed to be considerably higher, a news release issued by the Court stated.
The violence erupted when former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he lost the United Nations-certified election to Alassane Ouattara, who was eventually sworn in after Mr. Gbagbo surrendered in April.
If the judges grant the Prosecutor’s request, it will be the first time the ICC opens a case in a State that is not party to the Rome Statute, which set up the Court.
Côte d’Ivoire has, however, accepted the jurisdiction of the Court, and Mr. Ouattara sent a letter urging the Prosecution to open the investigation. He is also working closely with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to make sure that crimes committed in the West African nation do not go unpunished.
All ICC investigations so far related to crimes committed on the territory of States parties to the Rome Statute, or were carried out following a referral from the Security Council.
If authorized, Côte d’Ivoire will be the seventh investigation in Africa for the ICC, in addition to the Central African Republic (CAR), Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda, Kenya and Libya.
Regarding Libya, the ICC announced today that it is scheduled to render its decision on 27 June in relation to the Prosecution’s application for the issuance of three arrest warrants for Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi, one of his sons, Saif al-Qadhafi, and the head of the country’s intelligence forces, Abdullah al-Senussi, for alleged crimes against humanity committed during the ongoing conflict in the North African nation.
(UN Press Release) (mew)
Last week, the World Justice Project released its second annual Rule of Law Index. According to the WJP's website, the Index is a "quantitative assessment tool designed . . . to offer a detailed and comprehensive picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law in practice." This year's Index includes 66 countries. It "consists of 9 factors and 52 sub-factors, organized under the following set of four principles, or bands, which constitute the WJP definition of the rule of law:
- The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law;
- The laws are clear, publicized, stable and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property;
- The process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair and efficient;
- Access to justice is provided by competent, independent, and ethical adjudicators, attorneys or representatives, and judicial officers who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve."
Not surprisingly, countries in North American and Western Europe tend to rank high in the Index as countries that do a pretty good job of adhering to the rule of law. However, the report chastises four countries: Austria, Canada, Norway and the United States for not doing enough to provide access to legal counsel. The Index also states that police discrimination against ethnic minorities and foreigners remains a problem in many North American and Western European countries.
In Eastern and Central Europe, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic scored the highest marks, while significant concerns are expressed regarding Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.
In Latin America, Chile leads the region with Brazil in second place. El Salvadore and Guatamala have much more mixed records.
Also not surprisingly, in East Asia and the Pacific, wealthier nations such as New Zealand, Australia and Japan receive relatively high marks, while Malaysia and Vietnam present a more mixed picture. Cambodia scores lowest in the region.
On average, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia rank lowest by region in terms of adherence to the rule of law. The Index only covers three countries in South Asia, however: India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, all of whom face challenges in this area to varying degrees. With respect to sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa performed best, followed by Ghana. Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda are singled out as areas of significant concern.
More information and the 2011 WJP Index may be found here.
The U.S. Department of State announced a meeting on July 12, 2011 of the U.S. Advisory Committee on Public Diplomacy, in Washington, D.C., to discuss funding public diplomacy. The meeting will be part of its mandate to appraise U.S. Government activities intended to understand, inform, and influence foreign publics. FR36612.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I remember standing on a street corner in The Hague, waiting for a tram. I happened to look over at another man who was also waiting for a tram . . . it happened to be Judge Bruno Simma of the International Court of Justice. You just never know who you're going to run into on a tram line in the Netherlands.
But now I have just received an extraordinary book honoring that same man on his 70th birthday. Published by the good people of Oxford University Press, this magnificent tribute to Judge Simma is more than 1300 pages long. Its contibutors include international law professors, judges, and practitioners. It has a useful index, something often omitted in works like this. It is carefully edited and beautifully presented. And it has an unfortunate title: "From Bilaterialism to Community Interest." OK, we know that all titles can't be perfect (and this one isn't), but that unfortunate title is saved by the line underneath it: "Essays in Honour of Judge Bruno Simma." The cover is an attractive painting by Monet -- a sailboat upon still waters. It is perhaps a metaphor for the extraordinary career of Judge Simma, whose decisions and leadership on the court are so appreciated.
It will take us some time to get through this entire volume, but it is indeed a gem and a fitting tribute to an extraordinary man. Click here for more information about the book (and how to order it for your library).
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)