Saturday, May 7, 2011
The sixth Global Legal Skills Conference finished this afternoon at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. More than 200 participants came from around the world to discuss international legal education with a special focus on legal writing and skills education. Participants attended from Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries. Legal writing professors, ESL professors, business professors, judges, and practicing attorneys mixed for three days of highly-interactive discussions. It was a great conference and we are already making plans for the next one, which we expect to be in Central America this Spring.
Special thanks to Anthony Niedwiecki, Lurene Contento, Kim Chanbonpin, William Mock, and David Austin for all of their help.
Mark E. Wojcik
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Earlier this year, I blogged about life sentences imposed on convicted pirates in federal courts in the United States. The U.S. court imposed the lengthy sentence in part as a deterrent measure. However, this week, the Spanish National Court imposed a 439-year sentence on two Somali pirates who were involved in the 2009 hijacking of a Spanish fishing boat off the coast of Somalia. Spain is really serious!
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
After several months of lobbying, the United Nations (UN) has granted greater powers to the European Union (EU). The EU used to only have observer status at the UN. But the UN General Assembly voted 180-0 (with 2 abstentions) in favor of a resolution on Tuesday that gives the EU almost all the same rights as a Member State, including the right to speak, the right to make proposals and submit amendments, the right of reply, the right to raise points of order and the right to circulate documents. The resolution also paves the way for other regional blocs with observer status to request similar rights. The regional representatives will not have voting rights and will not be able to put forward candidates for UN offices. Additional seats will be added to the General Assembly to accomodate the regional representatives.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Here's the press statement from Mark C. Toner, Acting Deputy Spokesman at the U.S. State Department, who today had this to say about the membership of Honduras in the Organization of American States:
We welcome the announcement by the Organization of American States (OAS) that the Principal condition for the return of Honduras to the OAS has now been met. The Honduran Supreme Court, on May 2, resolved the criminal cases against former President Zelaya in accordance with Honduran law. While the United States Government did not take a position on how these cases should be decided, we hope that their resolution will promote continued national reconciliation in Honduras.
The sixth Global Legal Skills Conference is being held this Thursday to Saturday at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Attendees and speakers come from countries all around the world to discuss issues in international legal education.
Click here to see the the program schedule. Download GLS Schedule (FINAL)
See you in Chicago!
Mark E. Wojcik, Conference Co-Chair
Monday, May 2, 2011
As many of you know, this Friday, May 6, the Teaching International Law Interest Group (TILIG) of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) is hosting a conference at Pace Law School in New York on "Teaching Inernational Law Beyond the Classroom." (For last minute registration and information, click here.)
This conference will mark my last event as an officer of the group. My term, along with that of my fantastic co-chairs, Tom McDonnell and Sang-Myon Rhee, is at an end. However, we are leaving the group in very capable hands.
The incoming Co-Chairs are Karen Bravo from Indiana University and Mark Shulman from Pace. They will be assisted by Co-Vice-Chairs Norm Printer from Seattle University and Sonia Rolland from Northeastern. Please lend them your support and ideas.
Thank you to all of you who have helped make the TILIG one of the largest and most active groups in ASIL. And congratulations to the new officers!
New sanctions and condemnation of Syria are coming from many directions - the United Nations (UN), the United States (US) and the European Union (EU) - in response to the Syrian government's violent repression of anti-government protesters.
On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) issued a statement condemning Syria's actions. However, the statement barely garnered the support of a majority of the 47-member council. Members expressing opposition included Russia and China, both of whom indicated concerns about the Syrian situation turning into another Libyan conflict. The UNHRC also decided to send a fact-finding mission to Syria to investigate the killing of the protesters and possible violations of international law, including hindering access to medical treatment and represssion of freedom of speech and press. It is not yet clear whether these actions will become a bar to Syria's admission to the UN Human Rights Council (Syria was running unopposed for the seat). In other action, the UN Development Program has decided to postpone an aid package slated for Syria.
The latest US sanctions are targeted at three senior Syrian officials who are members of the security apparatus and Syria's intelligence service more generally. The three officials include Ali Mamluk, director of the security service, Maher al-Assad, the Syrian President's brother and a brigade commander, and Atif Najib, the Syrian President's cousin and a political operator. The US government has also revoked certain commercial export licenses for aircraft used to transport senior Libyan officials. The US already had sanctions in place that barred most trade with Syria as a result of labeling Syria as a state sponsor of terror.
EU officials met on Friday and also agreed on broad sanctions against Syria. The EU sanctions include a travel ban and asset freeze on members of President Bashar al-Assad's regime considered responsible for the crackdown on protesters, but not the president's family. The EU will freeze any direct payments going to the al-Assad regime from a 40 million euro aid programe and will freeze negotiations on the EU-Syria political "association" agreement. EU officials are still working on the details of the sanctions.