Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Congratulations to Professor Sean Murphy who has been nominated by the United States to the United Nations' International Law Commission (ILC). Professor Murphy is the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School. More information about Professor Murphy may be found on his faculty webpage. The American Society of International Law, of which Professor Murphy has been an active member, is holding a reception in honor of Professor Murphy at its headquarters in Washington, DC on September 7, 2011.
The UN General Assembly established the ILC in 1947 to encourage the progressive development of international law and its codification. More information regarding the ILC may be found on its website.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Here's a reminder that the American Branch of the International Law Association (AmBranch or ABILA) will hold a one-day symposium called "International Law in Crisis." It's being held on Friday, September 9, 2011 at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. Registration is free unless you want CLE credit. The impressive line-up of speakers includes:
- The Honorable Richard Goldstone
- Prof. Michael Scharf
- Prof. Michael Kelly
- Prof. Ruth Wedgwood (President of ABILA)
- Prof. Raj Bhala
- Prof. Joel Trachtman
- Judge Rosemelle Mutoka (Kenya Piracy Court)
- Prof. Elizabeth Burleson
- William Burns
- Prof. Hari Osofsky
- Steven Schneebaum
- Prof. Ved Nanda
- Prof. John Murphy
and other academic and government speakers. Register online at law.case.edu/lectures or call 216-368-1798 for more information.
The United Nations Security Council today voiced concern over increasing maritime piracy, armed robbery and reports of hostage-taking in the Gulf of Guinea, saying the crimes were having an adverse impact on security, trade and other economic activities in the sub-region.
The Council took note of efforts by countries in the Gulf of Guinea to tackle the problem, including joint coastline patrols by Nigeria and Benin and plans to convene a summit of Gulf of Guinea heads of State to discuss a regional response. “In this context, members of the Council underlined the need for regional coordination and leadership in developing a comprehensive strategy to address this threat,” said a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri of India, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month.
The Council urged the international community to support countries in the region, as well as the regional organizations – the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) ¬¬– and other relevant bodies, in securing international navigation along the Gulf of Guinea, including through information exchange, improved coordination and capacity building. The Council took note of the intention by the Secretary-General to send a UN assessment mission to look into the situation in the region and explore possible options for UN support. Members of the Council also stressed the need for the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the UN Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) to work, within their current mandates, with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), as well as with all concerned countries and regional organizations.
(UN Press Release)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) today dismissed an appeal by the Kenyan Government to throw out the cases against six high-ranking national officials, including a deputy prime minister, two ministers and a police chief, for possible crimes against humanity in post-electoral violence more than three years ago. The ICC appeals chamber ruled that no legal, factual or procedural error could be discerned in the pre-trial chamber’s decisions in May to proceed with the cases.
The six are: Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; William Samoei Ruto, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology; Henry Kiprono Kosgey, Minister of Industrialization; Joshua Arap Sang, Head of Operations for KASS FM radio station; Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet; and Mohamed Hussein Ali, Police Commissioner at the time of the violence.
More than 1,100 people were killed, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced in the violence that followed the December 2007 elections. There were also hundreds of rapes, possibly more, and at least 100,000 properties were destroyed in six of Kenya’s eight provinces, according to ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
Appeals chamber presiding judge Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko explained that for the cases to be inadmissible a national investigation must be ongoing, covering the same individuals and substantially the same conduct as alleged before the ICC. The chamber ruled that the pre-trial chamber made no error when it found that the Government had failed to provide sufficient evidence to substantiate that it was investigating the six suspects for the crimes alleged in the ICC summonses.
The pre-trial chamber found reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Kenyatta, Mr. Muthaura, Mr. Kosgey and Mr. Ruto were criminally responsible as indirect co-perpetrators for murder, forcible transfer and persecution, and also for rape and other inhumane acts in the case of the first two. It found that while there were not reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Sang and Mr. Ali were indirect co-perpetrators, there were such grounds to believe that they otherwise contributed to the alleged crimes.
Mr. Ruto has been suspended and Mr. Kosgey has stepped aside from the ministerial positions because of issues not related to the ICC.
(From a UN Press Release)
Monday, August 29, 2011
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) held hearings today to determine whether two elderly defendants are sufficiently fit mentally and physically to stand trial. The ECCC is charged with prosecuting those responsible for mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s.
The two defendants, Nuon Chea, 84, and Ieng Thirith, 79, are among the four most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge facing charges before the ECCC. Nuon Chea was known as “Brother Number Two” under the Khmer Rouge, and acted as chief policy architect of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, which controlled the country’s internal security apparatus and rendered support for the regime’s policies of forcible relocation, enslavement and other inhumane acts. leng Thirith was a social affairs minister and is married to Ieng Sary, an 84-year-old former history professor who served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister under the Khmer Rouge and who is also on trial. They are accused 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.
Professor John Campbell, a specialist geriatrician from New Zealand, was appointed by the trial chamber as a medical expert to assess the mental and physical health of the defendants. Professor Campbell reported that in his opinion, Ieng Thirith is “cognitively impaired” to an extent that will compromise her rights to a fair trial. Professor Campbell also opined that although Nuon Chea is unable to sit for long periods, he is otherwise fit to stand trial and did not suffer from cognitive or memory problems.
The hearings are open to the public and are scheduled to continue for two more days.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
On Friday, a key witness pleaded guilty to contempt of court at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) for refusing to testify in the 2007 trial of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, on charges of crimes against humanity. The witness, Shefqet Kabashi, was a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which Mr. Haradinaj commanded in 1997-98 in its conflict with the Serbs. The ICTY acquitted Mr. Haradinaj in 2008 of charges of murder, rape, torture, abduction, cruel treatment, imprisonment and the forced deportation of ethnic Serbian and Kosovar Roma civilians. But appeals judges partially quashed the acquittal in 2010, calling for a re-trial because the trial chamber had not done more to ensure the testimony of certain witnesses given “serious witness intimidation,” thus depriving the prosecution of vital support for its case. The original trial had heard how many witnesses felt unsafe. Earlier this month, the tribunal said Mr. Kabashi’s testimony was relevant as it related to the alleged responsibility of Mr. Haradinaj and two co-accused, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, on six counts of torture and murder of prisoners at the KLA headquarters and the prison in Jablanica/Jabllanicë.
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council discussed how to improve the UN's peacekeeping capabilities. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed the Security Council and called for greater funding and flexibility to allow UN peacekeepers to address ever more complex situations around the world. He noted that the number of uniformed personnel in UN peacekeeping operations exceeded 100,000 last year, more than double the number ten years ago. Mr. Ban also outlined the requirements for a successful peacekeeping operation, including the need for a clear and achievable mandate, unified political support from the Security Council, and adequate, predictable human, material and financial resources.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
For those of you who are coaching teams in the 2012 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, here is a link to the competition schedule. The 2012 Jessup problem is expected to be released around September 12, 2011. Memorials will be due on January 10, 2012. Regional and national rounds will be held in January and February. The international rounds will be held in Washington DC from March 25-31, 2012.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The International Criminal Court today welcomed Grenada as a new State party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the tribunal, three months after the Caribbean nation deposited its instrument of accession to the accord, becoming the 115th signatory.
The statute took effect in Grenada on 1 August, the ICC said in a statement issued after the President of the Court, Sang-Hyun Song, presented the ambassador of Grenada, Stephen Fletcher, with a special edition of the Rome Statute in The Hague, where the court is based.
“Each State that joins the ICC sends out a powerful message that it does not tolerate genocide, crimes against humanity or the other atrocious offences listed in the Statute, and it will not provide refuge to those suspected of such crimes,” said Mr. Song.
The Vice-President of the Assembly of States Parties and Ambassador of Mexico, Jorge Lomónaco, placed the occasion in Grenada’s historical context.
“After 300 years as a colony, an overthrow of the government, an invasion in the mid-’80s and a full restoration of democracy to follow, Grenada has come out as a strong and independent State of the Caribbean Community.” That community, he added, is strongly committed to “combating impunity and bringing justice to victims.”
Established by the Rome Statute of 1998, the ICC can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.
(UN Press Release)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the Government of South Sudan to restore security in Jonglei state, where recent ethnic clashes have claimed at least 600 deaths. Unconfirmed reports indicate that almost 1,000 people have also been wounded during the fighting between the Murle and Lou Nuer communities in Jonglei that followed large-scale cattle raids by members of the two groups which have led to the theft of between 26,000 and 30,000 cattle.
“The Secretary-General calls on the Government of South Sudan to take all steps to restore security in Jonglei state, to protect civilians affected by this violence and to work with both communities to reduce tensions,” a statement issued by his spokesperson said. The statement added that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) stands ready to assist the Government fulfil its primary role to provide security and protect civilians.
UNMISS has been in place since early July, when South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan following a referendum held in January. It took over from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which was created following the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the north-south civil war and paved the way for the referendum.
(Excerpts from a UN Press Release)
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need for maintaining national unity and fostering reconciliation in Libya when he spoke with the leader of the North African country’s National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil. The Secretary-General also spoke of the need to protect diplomatic premises in Libya during the telephone conversation with Mr. Abdul-Jalil, who for his part, expressed appreciation for the United Nations’ engagement in Libya.
The regime of Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi is reported to be on the brink of collapse as rebels who have been seeking his ouster gained control of parts of the capital, Tripoli, amid heavy fighting in the city.
Mr. Abdul-Jalil told Mr. Ban that the National Transitional Council appreciated the role played by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Abdel-Elah al-Khatib, adding that Libya will need UN support during the post-conflict period.
(Excerpt from a UN Press Release)
The United States must do more to protect women from domestic violence after a regional body found it wanting in defending a battered woman and her three murdered children from her ex-husband, an independent United Nations human rights expert warned today. “The US Government should reassess existing mechanisms for protecting victims and punishing offenders, and establish meaningful standards for enforcement of protection orders and impose consequences for a failure to enforce them,” the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, said.
The case at issue involves Jessica Lenahan, a victim of domestic violence along with her daughters Leslie, Katheryn and Rebecca Gonzales, ages seven, eight and 10, who obtained a restraining order against her ex-husband Simon from the Colorado state courts in 1999. Not knowing where her daughters were, Ms. Lenahan contacted Castle Rock Police Department eight times on the evening of 22 June and the morning of 23 June 1999. That morning, Simon Gonzales drove his pick-up truck to the department and fired through the window. In an exchange of gunfire he was killed. The dead bodies of the three girls were found in his truck.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACR) found that the fragmented police response did not respect the terms of the restraining order, and that Colorado state did not duly investigate Ms. Lenahan’s complaints. It called on the US to conduct a full investigation into these systemic failures and reinforce through legislation the mandatory character of protection orders.
Ms. Manjoo noted that she conducted a fact-finding mission to the US earlier this year. “In my discussions with Government officials, victims, survivors, and advocates, including Jessica Lenahan, I found a lack of substantive protective legislation for domestic violence victims in the United States, as well as inadequate implementation of certain laws, policies and programs,” she said. While landmark US legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act exists to address the high incidence of violence against women, “there is little in terms of legally binding federal provisions which provide substantive protection or prevention for acts of domestic violence against women,” she added.
Ms. Manjoo acts in an independent, unpaid capacity and reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
(UN Press Release)
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has called for an immediate end to all violence in Syria. It also decided to dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged abuses committed during the crackdown on protesters. In a resolution adopted at the end of a two-day special session, the Geneva-based Human Rights Council also strongly condemned the “continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities.” By a vote of 33 in favor to 4 against, with 9 abstentions, the 47-member Council also welcomed the report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
As many as 2,000 Syrians have been killed in the past five months since the start of the pro-democracy protests, which are part of a broader uprising across North Africa and the Middle East that has led to the toppling of long-standing regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and conflict in Libya.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
Monday, August 22, 2011
The Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association announced that it is forming a new committee on International and Foreign Law. (There was already an International and Foreign Law Committee at the CBA -- this new committee is one in the Young Lawyers Section.) The committee will examine public and private international law issues, including U.S. and foreign law aspects of international business transactions, litigation, arbitration, taxation of foreign income, foreign investment laws, treaties, and international organizations.
The chairs for the coming year will be Kyle Olson, John Tufano Jr., and Maya Ganguly. The committee will meet regularly on the third Monday of the month.
If you're in Chicago, take advantage of this opportunity. If you're not in Chicago, check with your own local bar association about starting an international and foreign law committee if you don't have one already.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recently made public its report finding that the United States violated its obligations under the American Declaration on Human Rights by failing to protect a mother and her daughters from domestic violence. In Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States, the police failed to respond to Jessica Lenahan's repeated calls for help over several hours when her estranged husband took their children despite the fact that Ms. Lenahan had a restraining order against him. By the time the father was located, he had already killed the three girls. The Commission found that the United States had failed to take adequate measures to protect the girls' right to life under article I of the Declaration in conjunction with their right to special protection as girl children under article VII; and had failed to provide Ms. Lenahan with judicial protection under article XVIII of the Declaration because it failed to conduct a proper investigation into the incident. The Commission recommended that the US conduct a full and proper investigation and that it amend its laws to provide more effective protection for victims of domestic violence. The full report no. 80/11 may be found at www.OAS.org or by clicking here.