Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Summer Conference of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning

Call for Proposals

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops on the benefits of variety in all aspects of teaching and learning.  The Institute’s summer conference provides a forum for dedicated teachers to share innovative ideas and effective methods for cutting edge legal education.   This conference will take place at Gonzaga University on June 25, 2012.  The Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme.

Workshops can address teaching and learning in first-year courses, upper-level courses, clinical courses, writing courses, and academic support roles.  The workshops can deal with variety and innovation in learning objectives, materials, teaching methods, and assessment. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop as well as when they return to their campuses.  Workshops should be lively seminar sessions in which presenters model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the participants.  Proposals with strong interactive components will be given preference.

To be considered for the conference, proposals must be limited to one page, single-spaced, and include the following:

  • The title of the workshop;
  • The name, address, phone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
  • A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods.

The Institute must receive proposals by February 1, 2012.  Email proposals to Barb Anderson, Program Coordinator, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning at banderson2 [at]

Hat tips to Conference Organizers Gerry Hess and Sandra Simpson 


December 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference VII

The seventh Global Legal Skills Conference will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica from March 12-14, 2012.  Contact me for more information.


December 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Does Your Law School Offer (or Require) an International Law Course in the First Year?

Join the ongoing conversation on our hot topic of whether law schools (in the United States and other countries) require international law courses for first year students.  Click here.


December 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Julia Sebutinde of Uganda Elected to ICJ

The General Assembly and the Security Council today elected a Ugandan jurist to fill the final vacancy on the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.  Julia Sebutinde obtained an absolute majority in both the Assembly and the Council, a requirement for successful candidates, during voting this afternoon at UN Headquarters in New York.  Ms. Sebutinde obtained 97 votes in the Assembly, compared to 93 for rival candidate Abdul G. Koroma of Sierra Leone, while in the Council she obtained nine votes and Mr. Koroma received six.

The new judge will serve a nine-year term on the ICJ, also known as the World Court, starting on 5 February next year.  She joins Italy’s Giorgio Gaja, Hisashi Owada of Japan, Slovakian Peter Tomka and China’s Xue Hanqin, who were all elected early last month during the first round of simultaneous voting in the Assembly and Council.  The Assembly and Council had been deadlocked on the final vacancy, with Ms. Sebutinde obtaining a majority in the Assembly and Mr. Koroma a majority in the Council during previous rounds of voting.

Judges are chosen on the basis of their qualifications, not their nationality, but no two judges can be from the same country. Effort is also taken to ensure that the principal legal systems of the world are reflected in the composition of the court.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Chad Failed to Arrest al-Bashir

The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided today that Chad has not met its obligation to fully cooperate with the court by failing to arrest and surrender Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to Chad in August.  Following its decision, pre-trial chamber I of the ICC referred the matter to the Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statue, the ICC’s founding treaty.

Mr. al-Bashir is facing charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide with the ICC having issued arrest warrants against him in 2009 and in July last year.  The chamber also concluded that Chad did not fulfil its obligation to consult the chamber by not submitting the question of immunity of Mr. al-Bashir for its determination, and recalled its decision yesterday declaring that Malawi had also failed to cooperate in Mr. al-Bashir’s arrest.

The chamber reaffirmed that there is no conflict between the obligations of States Parties to the Rome Statute towards the court to surrender suspects, and their obligations under customary international law. This reiteration underscores that States Parties, as well as the African Union (AU) cannot refuse to comply with the ICC’s requests for cooperation in this matter.

Under the Rome Statute, States that fail to comply with a request to cooperate with the court may be referred to the Assembly of States Parties or to the Security Council.  “It is for the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to take any measures they may deem appropriate to ensure the full cooperation with the ICC,” said a news release issued by the ICC.

The chamber has previously informed the council and the assembly of Mr. al-Bashir’s visits to Djibouti, Chad and Kenya.

(UN Press Release)

December 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Malawi Failed to Arrest Sudan's President

The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided today that Malawi failed to cooperate with the court when it did not arrest and surrender Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, when he visited the Southern African country two months ago.  Following its decision, the pre-trial chamber I of the ICC referred the matter to the Security Council and the Assembly to States Parties of the Rome Statute, the ICC said in a news release.
The chamber found that there is no conflict between Malawi’s obligations to the court to arrest and hand over Mr. Bashir and its obligations as a country under customary international law.  ICC judges also indicated that their analysis addressed the legal validity of the African Union’s position, which Malawi relied upon in its submission to the court.

On October 19, 2011, the ICC requested Malawi to explain why it had failed to arrest Mr. Bashir five days earlier when he visited the country. Under the Rome Statute, States that fail to comply with a request to cooperate with the court may be referred to the Assembly of States Parties or to the Security Council.  “The current position of Omar al-Bashir as head of a State which is not a party to the Statute, has no effect on the court’s jurisdiction over the present case,” the chamber said in a statement, adding that Malawi “failed to comply with its obligations to consult with the chamber by not bringing the issue of Omar al-Bashir’s immunity to the chamber for its determination.”

In today’s decision, the chamber also examined Malawi’s observations submitted last month, and considered that international law does not exempt a head of State when he or she is sought out by an international court for crimes.

The ICC judges noted that immunity for heads of State before international courts has been rejected time and again dating all the way back to the First World War, and gave examples of international prosecutions against Slobodan Miloševic, Charles Taylor, Muammar al-Qadhafi and Laurent Gbagbo, noting that initiating international prosecutions against heads of State has gained widespread recognition as accepted practice.  The ICC first issued a warrant against Mr. Bashir in March 2009, making him the first sitting head of State to be indicted by the court. A second arrest warrant was issued in July last year.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More than 5,000 Persons Have Died in Syria

More than 5,000 people have now died since the start of the public uprising in Syria, the United Nations human rights chief said today, sounding the alarm that a crackdown and fresh eruption of violence could be imminent in one of the country’s key cities. 

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said “many voices are warning that a major assault” on Homs – already the scene of frequent clashes between security forces and protesters this year – is about to begin, with a military build-up reported.  “I am not in a position to confirm those reports, but the prospect of such an attack is extremely alarming,” she said after briefing Security Council members in a closed-door session on the latest developments in Syria.

Ms. Pillay’s office (OHCHR) has received reports that hundreds of tanks and weapons have been deployed over the past few days, dozens of checkpoints have been set up and numerous trenches have been dug.  While OHCHR is unable to verify those reports because it has not been allowed access, it has seen video footage showing corpses on the streets, buildings riddled with bullets and tanks in residential streets.

Ms. Pillay said the overall death toll in the Syrian clashes “probably exceeds 5,000,” based on what she said were credible reports from a series of sources. The toll includes at least 300 children.  “This number includes civilians, as well as defecting soldiers and those executed for refusing to shoot civilians,” but does not include serving members of the military, security forces or allied armed groups. Hundreds of people from that category are also thought to have been killed.

“I am appalled by the constant stream of grave violations that have taken place since the first protests in Syria in March. I am concerned that this continued ruthless repression and deliberate stirring of sectarian tensions, especially in Homs, may soon plunge Syria into civil war.”  The High Commissioner said the Syrian Government “has manifestly ignored the pleas and condemnations of the international community at all levels.”

Speaking to reporters after the Council briefing, she reiterated her earlier calls for the situation inside Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the “widespread and systematic nature” of killings, detentions and acts of torture constituted crimes against humanity.  She also noted the “huge numbers” of people kept in detention centres across Syria.

The uprising in Syria is part of a broader popular protest movement that has engulfed North Africa and the Middle East this year and led to the toppling of long-term regimes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

27th Annual Middle East History and Theory (MEHAT) Conference

The University of Chicago, May 4-6, 2012

The MEHAT Conference is celebrating its twenty-seventh year as a leading forum for emerging scholars in Middle East studies. The conference organizing team invites graduate students and faculty in the humanities and social sciences to submit papers. They welcome a broad range of submissions from across the disciplines (including, but not limited to, anthropology, art history, cinema and media studies, history, literature, sociology, and religion) dealing with any topic that has affected the Middle East from the 7th century onwards.

If you wish to participate, please send a 250-word abstract to the conference organizers at mehat2012 (at) gmail (dot) com by February 1, 2012. The organizers will consider both individual papers and prearranged themed panels; the latter is especially encouraged. Please also email them if you have questions.  And May is a fantastic time to visit Chicago.


December 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Croatia Signs Accession Agreement with EU

Croatia_flag[1]On Friday, Croatia signed the accession agreement to become the 28th member of the European Union.  Its membership will take effect on 1 July 2013.  Until then, it will have observer status.  To join the EU, Croatia not only had to meet economic benchmarks, but also had to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law, democracy and human rights, including cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia following the conflict 16 years ago.  Many EU leaders are touting this agreement as an indication that the EU still has value despite all the recent criticism due to the financial crisis.


December 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Comments Sought on NAFTA Regulations and Certificates of Origin

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service is seeking comments on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) regulations and certificates of origin. Comments are due by Februrary 7, 2012.  Click here for more information: FR76983.  (It starts at the bottom of the third column on the first page of that link.)

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office


December 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ICTY Convicts Former Bosnian Security Officer for Contempt of Court

ICTYThe International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has sentenced Dragomir Pecanac, a former security and intelligence officer in the Bosnian Serb armed forces, to three months in prison for refusing to testify in the genocide trial of his commander.  He was convicted of contempt of court for his refusal to comply with a subpoena ordering him to appear as a witness in the case of Zdravko Tolimir.

Describing contempt of the ICTY as a serious offence, the judges said Mr. Pecanac’s “failure to testify has deprived the chamber of relevant evidence.”  The judges noted that the tribunal is dependent on witness testimony and the “deprivation of such relevant evidence… endangers the fulfilment of the tribunal’s functions and mandate.”  Mr. Pecanac, who pleaded not guilty to the contempt charges, will receive credit for the 74 days that he has already spent in detention.

The trial of Mr. Tolimir – who is charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecutions, forcible transfers and deportations – continues. The charges relate to a series of events during the Balkan wars, including the notorious massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995.

(mew) (Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thai Law on Insulting Royals Has Chilling Effect on Free Speech

The United Nations human rights office today called on Thai authorities to reform laws that jail people convicted of insulting senior members of the country’s royal family, saying they were having a chilling effect on freedom of expression.  A spokesperson for Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told journalists in Geneva that the UN human rights office (OHCHR) was concerned about Thailand’s laws of lèse majesté – where anyone deemed to have defamed, insulted or threatened the King and several other senior royals can be jailed for up to 15 years. 

“Such harsh criminal sanctions are neither necessary nor proportionate and violate the country’s international human rights obligations,” said Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson.  She said that in the meantime, Thai authorities should issue guidelines to police and prosecutors to stop arresting and charging people “under these vaguely worded laws. In addition to the disproportionate prison sentences being handed down by the courts, we are also concerned about the extended periods that accused persons are being held in pre-trial detention.”

In October, Frank La Rue, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, also spoke out over the lèse majesté laws, saying their vagueness breached international treaties.  Earlier this month, according to media reports, a man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sending four text messages to a government aide that were deemed to be insulting to the Thai queen.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Human Rights Office is Sending a Delegation to Bahrain

The United Nations human rights office announced that it is dispatching a delegation to Bahrain, where serious rights violations are alleged to have occurred earlier this year, to discuss how to build a more open and democratic society in the Middle East country. 

A four-member team will head to Bahrain next week at the request of the Bahraini Government, according to Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).  “The delegation looks forward to engaging with the Government, civil society, members of the political opposition and victims of human rights violations in the country,” Ms. Shamdasani said.  The team – which will be headed by Bacre Ndiaye, the Director of the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures Division at OHCHR, and Frej Fenniche, the chief of the office’s Middle East and North Africa section – will then submit recommendations to High Commissioner Navi Pillay on the way forward for Bahrain.

The small island country was beset by violent clashes between security forces and protesters earlier this year, part of the Arab Spring uprising that has engulfed much of the region and led to the toppling of long-term regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen.  Last month an independent inquiry into the alleged rights violations during the clashes found, according to media reports, that Government forces had used excessive force during the crackdown in February and March and had tortured some detainees. 

Subsequently Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement through his spokesperson in which he welcomed the report’s release and said he would study it closely, along with Ms. Pillay and other senior UN officials.  “The Secretary-General calls on the Government to ensure the implementation of its recommendations as a meaningful step in addressing serious allegations of human rights violations,” the statement said.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Secretary General Speaks Out Against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Homophobic bullying of young people constitutes a “grave violation of human rights,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week, urging States to take the necessary measures to protect their citizens from violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.  “Bullying of this kind is not restricted to a few countries but goes on in schools and local communities in all parts of the world,” Mr. Ban said in a message delivered by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic to a panel discussion on ending violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation at UN Headquarters in New York.  “It affects young people all the way through to adulthood, causing enormous and unnecessary suffering. Bullied children may become depressed and drop out of school. Some are even driven to suicide.” 

Mr. Ban stressed the need to change harmful attitudes in society that encourage discriminatory laws and practices by State authorities.  “Tackling this problem is a shared challenge. We all have a role, whether as parents, family members, teachers, neighbours, community leaders, journalists, religious figures or public officials,” he said, adding that States are legally obliged to protect their citizens from this type of violence.

There are currently 76 countries where individuals face criminal sanctions for engaging in private in consensual sexual relations with another adult of the same sex, Mr. Šimonovic told the panel, adding that the UN has been working to establish dialogue with these States to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons and that while several countries have made remarkable progress, there is still much to be done.  “Gradually, States are coming to see that the commitments to eliminate discrimination enshrined in the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] and in our core United Nations human rights treaties apply to everyone, not just heterosexuals but gays and lesbians and bisexual, transgender and intersex people too.”

The panel discussion included the participation of: Philippe Kridelka, Director of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch; Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, a gay United States man who was tortured and killed; and Doi Nakpor, Nadine Moawad and Kelly Orazulike, human rights defenders in Thailand, Lebanon and Nigeria, respectively.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

December 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 9, 2011

WTO Appellate Body Welcomes Two New Members

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body welcomed two new members at a swearing-in ceremony yesterday. The new members are Mr. Ujal Singh Bhatia from India and Mr. Thomas R. Graham from the United States. They replace retiring members Ms. Lilia Bautista and Ms. Jennifer Hillman, who completed their four-year terms. The WTO Appellate Body now has just one female member, Ms. Yuejiao Zhang from China.


December 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Human Rights Day

Saturday December 10 is Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. Although adopted as a UN General Assembly Resolution and not a binding treaty, the Declaration has become part of customary international law. It is often referred to as being part of the International Bill of Rights along with the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These Covenants flesh out the rights identified in the Declaration and make them binding on states through treaty law. This year's theme for Human Rights Day is Celebrate Human Rights.

Also on December 10 the international community celebrates the International Day for Migrant Workers.


December 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Does Your Law School Require (or Offer) International Law to First Year Students?

We received an interesting question as to which law schools in the United States require an international or comparative law in the first year or offer such a course as an elective to first year law students.  If you know of such a school, please send us a message or use the comment function to share with other readers.  We'll publish the list as we receive your input.  Thanks.  We're also interested in knowing when law schools in other countries start teaching their students about international law.  Here's some of the answers we've received so far . . .


  • Jennifer Gundlach tells us that the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University requires first-year students to take a two-credit course entitled Transnational Law.
  • Colleen Medill tells us that the University of Nebraska at Lincoln has just reformed its first-year curriculum to include a two-credit mandatory International Legal Perspectives course.  You can read more about it by clicking here for a post from Professor Matt Schaefer. 


  • ISRAEL.  We heard from two of our readers that the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzalia, Israel has a mandatory first year course in public international law and a mandatory second year course in private international law.  Advanced international law courses are also available as electives.
  • ITALY.  Dr. Gianluca Gentili, Comparative Public Law, University of Siena,  commented that law school in Italy takes five years to complete (the "Laurea Magistrale"), wich is an undergraduate degree (students start attending Law School when they are 19).  As part of those five years, stduetns must take Comparative Law and EU Law as mandatory second-year courses, while International Law is a mandatory third-year course.  After the second year, students can choose to take elective courses in Private Comparative law, Comparative Administrative Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, Comparative Labor Law, Anglo-American Law, International Tax Law, Comparative Systems of Judicial Review, even if these are formally defined as fifth year courses.  He also noted that even first-year courses dealing with typical "domestic" subjects (e.g. Constitutional Law, Private Law) always include comparative references.  Here's a link to the curriculum for the University of Florence, Italy     

See the "Comments" to this post for additional entries, and please add your own contributions to this list.


December 8, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Professor David Bederman of Emory Law School has Died

Bederman, DavidWe are sorry to report the death of David J. Bederman, the K.H. Gyr Professor in Private International Law at Emory Law School.  He was only 50 years old.

He had taught at Emory Law School for two decades, including courses and seminars on international law, torts, admiralty, international institutions, law of international common spaces, legal methods, legislation and regulation, customary law, international environmental law, and foreign relations power.  He was an advisor to the Emory International Law Review and was director of international legal studies.  He held degrees from Paideia, Princeton University, the University of London, the University of Virginia School of Law, and The Hague Academy of International Law. He also held a score of distinguished appointments to boards of journals, NGOs, a publicly traded corporation and various governmental committees.

You can read more here at the law school website.

We extend our sympathy to his family, friends, colleagues, and students.  A memorial service for Professor Bederman is scheduled in Cannon Chapel of Emory University on Tuesday, December 13, 2011, at 12:30 p.m.

Thanks to Jordan Paust for alerting us to this news.

Ruth Wedgwood, President of the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA), shared this message about Professor Bederman:

David Bederman was a member of the ABILA Executive Committee, and a truly brilliant mind. He was the complete international lawyer -- teaching public international law, legislation and regulation, admiralty, international institutions, law of international common spaces, Roman law, international environmental law and foreign relations power.  He had an intellectual command of the legal history of international law that few could match.  And of course, he had a boy's love of the sea and its wrecks, litigating cases on finds on the seabed floor, and serving as chairman of the board of directors of Odyssey Marine Exploration.  Not least, David was a wonderful human being -- lively, gracious, and unduly modest about the Renaissance range of his accomplishments.  It is hard to think of anyone who has matched his Olympiad as a lawyer, able to command the courtroom and the classroom with insight and humor, graced by a humane sense of people and their quixities.  His books included Custom as a Source of Law (2010), Globalization and International Law (2008); The Classical Foundations of the American Constitution (2008); The Spirit of International Law (2002); International Law in Antiquity (2001); and International Law Frameworks (2001).

We send our true condolences to his wife Lorre and his daughter Annilese, and our memory of an admirable man who combined the best of mind and heart. 



December 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Indonesia Has Ratified the Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed yesterday’s ratification by Indonesia of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and encouraged all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify this instrument to advance its entry into force.  Indonesia is one of the so-called Annex 2 States, whose ratification is required for the treaty to enter into force. The States in that group that have yet to ratify are China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States.

Mr. Ban is the depositary of the treaty, which bans all nuclear explosions. As of today, 182 States have signed the CTBT. Once Indonesia deposits its instrument of ratification, the total number of ratifying States will stand at 156, including 36 Annex 2 States.

(Adapted from UN Press Release)

December 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Death of Human Rights Defender Sonia Pierre

The U.S. State Department has just released the following statement regarding news of the death of Sonia Pierre:

We are deeply saddened by the death of Sonia Pierre. She was a courageous human rights defender who dedicated her life to fighting anti-Haitian injustice in the Dominican Republic as well as the broader issue of statelessness. Secretary Clinton awarded Ms. Pierre, founder of Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women (MUDHA), the State Department’s 2010 International Women of Courage Award in March 2010. The award honored Ms. Pierre “for advancing the cause of social justice, confronting exploitation and discrimination, defending the dignity of persons of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, and helping marginalized communities develop their own voices for their own future.”
We offer our sincere condolences to her family and to all the communities she touched in her lifelong fight against injustice in the Dominican Republic.
Through her brave actions, the world bears witness to the plight of those who remain stateless. The U.S. government will continue its efforts to address this problem which endangers the human rights of as many as 12 million people worldwide and deprives them access to crucial services such as healthcare, education, and safe housing and working conditions.

December 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)