Friday, April 15, 2011
The registration deadline for the 2011 International Law Association (ILA) Asia-Pacific Regional Conference is fast approaching. The conference will take place in Taipei, Taiwan from May 29 to June 1, 2011. The conference theme is “Contemporary International Law Issues in the Asia Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges.” The registration deadline is May 10.
The keynote speakers are Judge Helmut Tuerk (Vice President, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, ITLOS) and Professor David Caron (President, American Society of International Law). Other speakers include President Ying-jeou Ma (President, Republic of China), Lord Mance (Justice, Supreme Court of the United Kingdom), Professor Nicolaas Schrijver (President, International Law Association), Judges Albert Hoffmann, Jin-Hyun Paik and Shunji Yanai of the ITLOS, scholars and government legal advisors from various ILA branches. The ILA Research Committee on Recognition and Non-Recognition will also convene at the conference. The tentative conference program and other information is available here.
On April 8, 2011, President Barack Obama issued Proclamation 8651 to declare April 14, 2011 as "Pan American Day" and the week of April 10 to April 16, 2011 as "Pan American Week." The Proclomation urges nation’s officials to honor these observances with appropriate ceremonies and activities. Click here for more information. FR20831.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
Two former top Croatian generals were today convicted and sentenced to lengthy jail terms by a United Nations war crimes tribunal over atrocities carried out against ethnic Serb civilians during a military offensive in the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. But a third ex-general was acquitted by judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on charges relating to his role in the same offensive, known as Operation Storm, in the Krajina region of Croatia in mid-1995.
Judges serving on the ICTY trial chamber found Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac guilty of various crimes against humanity, including murder, persecutions, deportation and plunder. Both were acquitted of charges of inhumane acts (forcible transfer). Mr. Gotovina, 55, who commanded the Split military district of the Croatian army from 1992 to 1996, was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Mr. Markac, 55, who served as the Assistant Interior Minister in charge of Special Police matters after 1994, was jailed for 18 years.
Ivan Cermak, 61, who commanded the Knin Garrison from August 1995, was acquitted of all charges, including murder, persecutions, deportation and the wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages.
The judges noted that Operation Storm took place within a wider armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia and followed years of Serb-Croat ethnic tensions in the Krajina region and crimes committed against Croats. But Judge Alphons Orie, who presided over the trial, said that the case was not about the legality of resorting to and conducting war. “This case was about whether Serb civilians in the Krajina were the targets of crimes and whether the accused should be held criminally liable for these crimes,” he stressed. The judges found that “a high number of crimes” were carried out during Operation Storm, which had the objective of permanently removing ethnic Serbs from the Krajina region by either force or threat of force.
At the end of July 1995 the then Croatian president Franjo Tudman met with high-ranking military officials – including Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac – to discuss Operation Storm, which began on 4 August. Military forces and special police under the control or influence of Mr. Gotovina and Mr. Markac shelled a series of towns and villages, murdered several elderly residents of another village and burned or looted property belonging to ethnic Serb civilians. The men created a climate of impunity and were aware of the involvement of subordinates in the commission of these crimes, but did nothing to stop them. The judges found, however, that Mr. Cermak did not have effective control over army units outside of his own subordinates at the Knin garrison, and there was no reliable evidence that those subordinates committed crimes.
The joint trial of the three former generals was one of the ICTY’s longest, beginning in March 2008 and concluding in September last year. The tribunal, which is based in The Hague, has concluded proceedings against 125 people and is still conducting proceedings against 34 others.
(UN Press Release)
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Today marks the beginning of the 2011 annual conference of the International Association of Law Schools (IALS) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The theme of the conference is "Teaching, Legal Education and Strategic Planning" and it is being hosted by the University of Buenos Aires from April 13-15, 2011. There are plenary sessions on Curriculum Content of Legal Education, Pedagogy, and Regulation and Accreditation Models. Conference papers have been posted and are available to the public at the IALS website. For those looking ahead to next year, the IALS annual meeting on Human Rights and the Role of Law Schools will be held in Bangalore, India in 2012.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Yesterday, Icelandic voters rejected a referendum for a second time that would have authorized repayment of monies to the governments of the United Kingdom and Netherlands in connection with the 2008 collapse of the Icelandic Icesave bank. The Netherlands now states that it will be impossible for Iceland to join the European Union. But EU enlargement spokesperson Natashia Butler said that it is not an issue that will affect accession negotiations. For more information, see this report from the EU Observer.
Monday, April 11, 2011
The Research Project on Shared Responsibility in International Law (SHARES) at the Amsterdam Center for International Law announced the launch of the SHARES website. The website will feature news, events, and resources on shared responsibility in international law. The SHARES project is led by Professor André Nollkaemper and funded by the European Research Council. Get more information at http://www.sharesproject.nl/
Hat tip to Isabelle Swerissen
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire today confirmed that the country’s former president Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered to forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara and is currently in their custody. “ONUCI [UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire] is providing protection and security in accordance with its Security Council mandate,” the spokesperson of the Secretary-General told reporters at UN Headquarters.
Côte d'Ivoire has been engulfed by violence since last November, when Mr. Gbagbo refused to step down from power, despite losing a UN-certified and internationally recognized presidential election to Mr. Ouattara. The Security Council, meanwhile, went into urgent consultations during which it will hear a briefing on the unfolding situation in Côte d’Ivoire from the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy.
(From a UN Press Release)
The ABA Section of International Law held a briefing today at the United Nations in New York. While the ABA delegation was meeting at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and the Office of the Legal Advisor for the United Nations, the U.N. Security Council decided to consider establishing specialized Somali courts to try suspected pirates both in the Somalia and in the region. The Council also urged both State and non-State actors affected by piracy, most notably the international shipping community, to provide support for a host of judicial- and detention-related projects through the trust fund set up for that purpose. In the resolution adopted unanimously today, the Security Council stressed the need for “a comprehensive response to tackle piracy and its underlying causes by the international community.”
Piracy is a crime of universal jurisdiction, meaning that any country in the world would hae jurisdiction (and perhaps even the obligation) to prosecute pirates. In one sense, when universal jurisdiction already exists there may be no need for a special courts. Specialized courts face funding problems even when funded by voluntary donations.