March 18, 2011
Attacks in Côte d’Ivoire
United Nations officials today intensified their condemnation of an attack yesterday by forces allied to Côte d’Ivoire’s defeated president on a market that killed 25 to 30 people and wounded dozens more, with the Organization’s human rights office warning that it could be a crime against humanity.
Such charges can bring the alleged perpetrator within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, whose prosecutor is already leading a preliminary examination into the deadly violence sparked by former president Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down despite his UN-certified and internationally recognized defeat by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara in last November’s run-off elections. “We utterly condemn yesterday's attack by rockets or other missiles on a civilian area in the Abobo suburb of the [commercial] capital Abidjan,” UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva, referring to the neighbourhood that is a Ouattara stronghold. “It is quite difficult to avoid the conclusion that this may be an international crime, possibly a crime against humanity. We are very concerned that the situation in Côte d’Ivoire appears to have deteriorated even further over the past week.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also voiced shock at the attack, in which six mortars were fired into the market, condemned the recent escalation of violence, and warned the Ivorian parties to bring the fighting and related human rights violations to an end without further delay.
The UN peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which has blamed Gbagbo loyalists for much of the violence that has killed over 400 people since December and voiced outrage immediately after yesterday’s attack on the Ouattara stronghold of Abobo, has vowed that the perpetrators will not go unpunished.
(Excerpts from a UN Press Release)
Protecting Civilians in Libya
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the Security Council’s “historic” decision to authorize the use “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya, saying the move was an affirmation of the international community’s determination to fulfil its responsibility to protect people from violence perpetrated by their own government.
The Security Council yesterday passed a resolution permitting the use of all necessary measures, including the imposition of a no-fly zone, to prevent further attacks and the loss of innocent lives in Libya, where the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi has conducted a military offensive against citizens seeking his removal from power. Following the adoption of the resolution, media reports stated that Libyan authorities had declared a ceasefire. Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa was quoted as saying that the truce was intended to “to protect civilians.”
The Arab League last weekend requested the Council to impose a no-fly zone after Mr. Qadhafi was reported to have used warplanes, warships, tanks and artillery to seize back cities taken over after weeks of mass protests by peaceful civilians seeking an end to his 41-year rule.
Mr. Ban said that in adopting Resolution 1973, the Council had placed great importance on the appeal of the League of Arab States for action. “Given the critical situation on the ground, I expect immediate action on the resolution’s provisions. I am prepared to carry out my responsibilities, as mandated by the resolution, and will work closely with Member States and regional organizations to coordinate a common, effective and timely response,” the Secretary-General said in a statement issued overnight. “Once again, I join the Council in calling for an immediate cease-fire, a halt to all attacks on civilians and full humanitarian access to those in need. Our strenuous diplomatic efforts will continue,” Mr. Ban said. He said his Special Envoy for Libya, Abdul Ilah Khatib, yesterday met with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States in Cairo following his visit to Libya. Mr. Khatib was due to brief the Secretary-General at the weekend. “I myself will travel to the region to advance our common efforts in this critical hour,” said Mr. Ban.
Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for the use of force if needed, the Council adopted the resolution by 10 votes to zero, with five abstentions, authorizing Member States “to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamhariya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.” The abstentions included China and Russia, which have the power of veto, as well as Brazil, Germany and India.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also welcomed the Council’s move, terming it an important manifestation of the international community’s commitment to the principle of responsibility to protect civilians. “We are extremely worried about reprisals against opposition supporters by pro-Government forces and security agents in Libya. No one knows what has been going on in the towns that were first of all held by the opposition and then recaptured by Government forces,” Rupert Colville, the OHCHR spokesperson told reporters in Geneva. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, reported that the number of Libyans fleeing to Egypt has been on the rise over the past few days, with about 1,490 of the 3,163 Libyan refugees already in Egypt arriving on Wednesday.
The agency’s spokesperson in Geneva, Melissa Fleming, told reporters that UNHCR and its partners have done extensive contingency planning and are ready to work with the Egyptian Government to prepare for a massive influx of people fleeing the violence in Libya. A total of 300,706 people, most of them foreign workers, had fled Libya to neighbouring countries as of 16 March, according to UNHCR.
Earlier, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, expressed grave concern over reports of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Libya and called on the authorities to refraining from the use of such weapons in populated areas.
(UN Press Release)
Human RIghts and Cultural Heritage
On March 31, Cardozo Law School in New York City will host a conference on Human Rights and Cultural Heritage: From the Holocaust to the Haitian Earthquake. Click here for more information and to register.
Hat tip to Jen Kreder
A Website for Fans of Switzerland
Switzerland has a fun little website with information and photos from Switzlerland, quizes to test your knowledge about Switzerland, and monthly drawings to win various prizes from Switzerland (chocolate, I guess!). Click here for a quick visit.
March 17, 2011
CFP: Missouri Conference on International Commercial Arbitration and Litigation
The University of Missouri is organizing a conference on October 21, 2011 called “Border Skirmishes: The Intersection Between Litigation and International Commercial Arbitration." The Keynote speaker is author and arbitrator Gary Born and other speakers are expected from Canada, Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The call for papers includes a student writing competition and works-in-progress. Click here to download the call for papers. Download CFP Missouri
Hat tip to Stacie Strong
March 16, 2011
Recent ICJ News
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued two press releases yesterday regarding upcoming events. First, on Friday, April 1, 2011, the Court will deliver its judgment on preliminary objections to jurisdiction raised by Russia in Application of the International Covention on the Elimination on All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Russia v. Georgia). Second, from Monday, March 21 to Wednesday, March 30, public hearings will be held in Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia v. Greece). The hearings will be broadcast live. More information on both these events may be found on the ICJ website.
March 13, 2011
Interactive Pictures of the Devastation in Japan
The New York Times website has a page with interactive photos that show "before" and "after" the tsunami. Click here. Our thoughts remain with the people of Japan and all those affected by this terrible disaster.
(Hat tip to David Austin.)
WTO AB Issues Report in US-China Anti-Dumping and CVD Dispute
On Friday, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) issued its report in United States-Definitive Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duties on Certain Products from China (DS379) upholding the panel's findings in part and reversing them in part. There are some interesting discussions in the opinion regarding what constitutes a "public body" within the meaning of Article 1 of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement, as well as whether the imposition of both dumping and countervailing duties on the same products constitutes double penalties contrary to the SCM Agreement. Ultimately, the AB determined that the United States acted contrary to its obligations under the WTO Agreements and, thus, recommended that the United States bring these measures into conformity. To read the opinion in full, click here.