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.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
The United Nations released the latest edition of its annual Yearbook, which for the first time is also being made available in digital format for users of e-book readers such as the Kindle, iPad and Nook.
The 61st volume of the Yearbook details all the activities of the UN for the year 2007, the year when Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took office. The volume includes the full texts of all major resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is divided into 33 chapters covering issues ranging from political and security questions to human rights and budgetary questions. The big issues that year included Security Council’s authorization of a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
A woman burst into a hotel room filled with foreign journalists on Sunday. She wanted to show them the bruises and scars and tell the journalists that she had been raped by 15 men. The waiters and hotel staff -- revelaing themselves to be secret police -- raced to silence her, throwing a coat over her head and dragging her out of the room. The journalists tried to help the woman but they were overpowered.
The Qaddafi regime claimed that the woman was a prostitute. She was not, said her mother, who said instead that her daughter was a law student. Some reports about the incident describe her as a law student; other reports describe her as a lawyer. She was abducted at a checkpoint outside Tripoli with three other women who were lawyers -- nothing is known of their fate.
Today, the Financial Times reports that the soldiers alleged to have raped the woman (whose name is Eman al-Obeidy) sued her in Libya for defamation.
The New York Times reported that residents in the woman's home city of Benghazi have held demonstrations to support her. The international community should likewise protest all of the attacks, murders, and rapes being used to try to silence Qaddafi's critics.
With the post-electoral deadlock in Côte d’Ivoire now entering its fifth month and the crisis showing no signs of abating, the Security Council today demanded an immediate end to the violence against civilians and decided to impose targeted sanctions against former president Laurent Gbagbo, his wife and three associates. In unanimously adopting resolution 1975, the Council urged Mr. Gbagbo to immediately step aside, repeating the calls made for months following his UN-certified defeat in November’s presidential run-off, which was won by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.
Top UN officials have voiced growing concern about the situation inside Côte d’Ivoire, where up to 1 million people have been displaced – some internally, and some to neighbouring nations – since fighting first broke out in the wake of the polls, which were meant to reunite a country split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-held south and rebel-controlled north. Nearly 500 people are reported to have been killed, and the violence appears to have stepped up in recent weeks, including the use of heavy weapons. The Council “condemns in the strongest terms the recent escalation of violence throughout the country which could amount to crimes against humanity,” the 15-member body said in the resolution.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which continues to protect civilians during this period of increased fighting to the best of its abilities in line with its mandate, has also been targeted, with a UN-marked bus damaged by stone-throwing demonstrators earlier this week. The Council condemned the use of Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI) and other media to incite discrimination, hostility, hatred and violence, including against UNOCI, and demanded that all parties abide “scrupulously” by their obligation to respect the safety of UNOCI and other UN personnel and ensure their freedom of movement. It decided to adopt targeted sanctions against those individuals who meet the criteria set out in previous resolutions, including those who obstruct peace and reconciliation in the country, obstruct the work of UNOCI and other international actors and commit serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
In addition to Mr. Gbagbo and his wife, Simone, today’s resolution imposed targeted financial and travel measures against Désiré Tagro, Secretary General in the so-called ‘presidency’ of Mr. Gbagbo; Pascal Affi N’Guessan, Chairman of the Ivorian Popular Front; and Alcide Djédjé, a close advisor to Mr. Gbagbo.
(UN Press Release)
The United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia dealing with mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge three decades ago today concluded the appeal hearing for the former head of a notorious detention camp who was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity last year. Kaing Guek Eav, whose alias is Duch, was sentenced last July to 35 years in prison by the trial chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), with a five-year reduction to remedy his illegal detention at a Cambodian military court. The court found that Mr. Kaing not only implemented, but also actively contributed to the development of the policies of the Communist Party of Kampuchea at the S-21 camp, where numerous Cambodians were unlawfully detained, subjected to inhumane conditions and forced labour, tortured and executed in the late 1970s.
During the three-day appeal hearing held by the ECCC’s Supreme Court Chamber, Mr. Kaing and his defence team reiterated that he was neither a senior leader nor one of those most responsible for heinous crimes being prosecuted at the court, and therefore should not have been tried at the court. He told the chamber – consisting of four Cambodian judges and three internationals selected by the UN Secretary-General – that he merely acted on orders from his superior and he would have died if he didn’t. “I survived the regime, only because I respectfully and strictly followed the orders,” he said.
Meanwhile, the prosecution demanded a life imprisonment for Mr. Kaing’s role as a chairman of the security prison, where at least 12,000 people died during the period from 17 April 1975 to 6 January 1979. Co-Prosecutors Chea Leang and Andrew Cayley claimed that Mr. Kaing should have been cumulatively convicted for the crimes against humanity of persecution, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, rape, extermination and other inhumane acts as well as the enslavement of those detained in S-21. They demanded the Supreme Court Chamber impose a heavier sentence. “We call for the imposition of a life term, reduced to 45 years simply to take account of that period of illegal detention,” Mr. Cayley told the judges. “But for the purposes of history, a life term must be imposed in this case.”
The Supreme Court Chamber is expected to hand down its appeals judgment in a few months. The appeal took place as the ECCC prepares for its second case concerning the four most senior members of the Democratic Kampuchea regime who are still alive.
Estimates vary but as many as two million people are thought to have died during the rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979, which was then followed by a protracted period of civil war in the impoverished South-East Asian country.
(UN Press Release)
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The United Nations Convention Against Corruption, UN Doc. A/58/422, was approved by the U.N. General Assembly on October 31, 2003. The UNCAC covers five main areas: prevention, criminalization and law enforcement measures, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange.
The UNCAC covers many different forms of corruption, such as trading in influence, abuse of power, and various acts of corruption in the private sector. A further significant development was a specific chapter dealing with the recovery of assets, a major concern for countries that pursue the assets of former leaders and other officials accused or found to have engaged in corruption
As of today, there are 150 state parties to the Convention. The latest countries to become parties are Iceland and Thailand, which joined on March 1, 2011. Click here for more information.
On October 20-22, 2011, the American Branch of the International Law Association and the International Law Students Association will present the annual International Law Weekend (“ILW”) in New York, in conjunction with the 90th annual meeting of the American Branch. ILW 2011 will bring together hundreds of practitioners, professors, members of the governmental and non-governmental sectors and students. It will feature numerous panels, distinguished speakers, and receptions. The overall theme of ILW 2011 is “International Law and National Politics.”
This year’s three-day conference will explore the intersection of international rules and norms and domestic politics and policymaking. To what extent do international standards influence the application and interpretation of national law including complimentary or countervailing policies sought by domestic policymakers, non-governmental actors and/or civil society? Expert panels and discussion sessions will examine these and other issues with regard to such diverse areas as human rights and humanitarian intervention, national security, immigration, trade, labor, health care and the environment.
The Co-Chairs of ILW 2011 are Professor Martin S. Flaherty, Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School, mflaherty17 [at] yahoo.com, Sahra Diament of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, diament [at] un.org, and Jill Schmieder Hereau, Program Coordinator at the International Law Students Association, jshereau [at] ilsa.org.
The Co-Chairs invite proposals for panels for ILW 2011. Please submit proposals by email to each of the Co-Chairs no later than Wednesday, May 4, 2011. The proposals should be structured for 90-minute panels, and should include a formal title, a brief description of the subjects to be covered (no more than 75 words), and the names, titles, and affiliations of the panel chair and three or four likely speakers. The proposals should also describe the format envisaged (point-counterpoint, roundtable, or other). One of the objectives of ILW 2011 is to promote a dialogue among scholars and practitioners from across the legal spectrum, so whenever possible, panels should include presentations of divergent views.
Hat tip to Jill Schmieder Hereau
This conference is dedicated to the study of the interaction between the European and the international legal order and speakers are expected to discuss the influence of the EU legal order on the development and functioning of international law. More information available here.
Monday, March 28, 2011
For those of you interested in legislative developments related to international law, here is a schedule of some upcoming hearings before the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
- Runner-up: University of Hawaii, William Richardson School of Law
- Best Oralist, Final Round: Laura Chen Allen, University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law
- Hugh Wooding Law School (Trinidad)
- University of the Philippines College of Law
- Ateneo de Manila School of Law
- Law Society of Ireland, Team 1143A
- National University of Advanced Legal Studies, India
- University of California-Hastings College of Law
- Memorial Awards:
- Best Memorial: Ateneo de Manila School of Law
- Second Place Memorial: University of the Philippines College of Law
- Third Place Memorial: National University of Advanced Legal Studies, India
- Oralist Awards, Preliminary Rounds:
- Best Oralist: Lance Cidre, University of California-Hastings College of Law
- Second Best Oralist: Vladimir F. Bedural, Ateneo de Manila School of Law
- Third Best Oralist: Sarelle Buckley, Law Society of Ireland, Team 1143
- Fourth Best Oralist: Douglas Raphael, University of Hawaii, William S. Richardson School of Law
- Fifth Best Oralist: Luz Danielle O. Bolong, Ateneo de Manila School of Law
- Sixth Best Oralist: Tecla Duncan, Hugh Wooding Law School
- Seventh Best Oralist: Maeve Larkin, Law Society of Ireland, Team 1150
- Eighth Best Oralist: Tarun Gopalakrishnan, NALSAR University of Law
- Ninth Best Oralist: Jeric Alvin Ferrer Cruz, University of Philippines College of Law
- Tenth Best Oralist: Ajitha Pichaipillai, National University of Advanced Legal Studies, India
Hat tips to Roy Gardner and to all of the winners!
The University of Sydney (Australia) beat Columbia Law School (USA) in an incredibly close final round of the 2011 International Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. The final round was presided over by Thomas Buergenthal (former judge on the International Court of Justice), with and Dean Claudio Grossman (Dean of the American University Washington College of Law and Chair of the United Nations Committee against Torture), and Professor Mark Pieth (Professor of Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Basel, Switzerland).
Now in its 52nd year, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world's largest moot court competition, with participants from over 500 law schools in more than 80 countries. The Competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. One team is allowed to participate from every eligible school. Teams prepare oral and written pleadings arguing both the applicant and respondent positions of the case.
Mark E. Wojcik, ILSA Board Member
The 2012 Jessup Problem will involve a dispute between two states over the destruction of a cultural site of great importance and the important question of who gets to represent a state internationally in the immediate aftermath of a coup d'etat. It also involves international responsibility for the use of force by one state while taking part in a regional operation to bring about democracy. Get more infomation about the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition by visiting the website for the group that organizes the Jessup, the International Law Students Association (ILSA).
UN Human Rights Council Issues Statement on Ending Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Last week, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations issued a Joint Statement entitled "Ending Acts of Violence and Other Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity." The statement received the support of 85 nations, the largest level of support similar statements have ever received. For more information and for the text of the Joint Statement, click here.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
The U.S. State Department has annouced that Turkey will serve as Protecting Power in Libya for U.S. interests. Under international law, a Protecting Power is a State who acts to protect the interests of another State within a third State. This role is specifically recognized in international treaties such as the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War and the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Reations. Already, the United States has expressed its gratitude to Turkey for assisting in getting four New York Times journalists out of Libya last week.