May 21, 2011
Syria Liable for US$413 Million Judgment
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court judgment against Syria in the amount of US$413 million on Friday. Syria is accused of providing material support to al Qaeda, which claimed responsiblity for the murders of two American military contractors in Iraq. The estates of the two victims brought suit against Syria under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. FSIA provides immunity for foreign states subject to a number of exceptions. In this case, plaintiffs relied on exceptions found in 28 U.S.C. 1605 and 1607, because Syria provided material support to terrorists and because Syria has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. government. Syria did not participate in the original district court proceedings and the court entered a default judgment. Much of the appeal focused on Syria's claim that it had not properly been served with notice of the lawsuit. The appellate court considered Syria's argument, ultimately finding that service was properly made in accordance with FSIA. Accordingly, the appellate court upheld the award. The case is Gates v. Syrian Arab Republic, No. 08-7118 (May 20, 2011).
115 States are now parties to the International Criminal Court
Grenada has become the latest country to agree to be bound by the International Criminal Court. The small Caribbean country acceded to the 1998 Rome Statute this week, bringing the total number of States Parties to the treaty to 115.
May 20, 2011
Election Results for the UN Human Rights Council
Six countries that have never previously served on the United Nations Human Rights Council are among 15 new members of the Geneva-based body after a round of balloting among UN Member States this morning.
Austria, Benin, Botswana, the Republic of Congo, Costa Rica and Kuwait will make their debut on the Council next month, starting three-year terms on the 47-member panel that allots seats according to a formula based on world regions.
The other newly elected members – although they have previously completed stints since the Council was created in 2006 – are Burkina Faso, Chile, Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Italy, Peru, Philippines and Romania.
General Assembly President Joseph Deiss announced the results of the voting, which was conducted by secret ballot among Member States at UN Headquarters in New York.
Four countries were elected in the African category, four in the Asian States grouping and three from Latin America and the Caribbean, while two countries were chosen from Eastern Europe and two from the Western European and other States grouping.
In the Eastern European category, Georgia was unsuccessful, while in Latin America and the Caribbean, Nicaragua missed out on a seat.
(UN Press Release)
May 19, 2011
Syrian Sanctions News
The U.S. announced yesterday that it is imposing sanctions on the personal finances of Syrian President Bashar al Assad for the first time. The new sanctions also include restrictions on six more of Bashir al Assad's aides. The increased sanctions are in response to the Syrian government's harsh response to anti-government demonstrators. More information can be found in this Washington Post news report.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) may be joining in the action. It also announced yesterday that it is considering new sanctions on Bashar al Assad and nine other members of his regime, including visa restrictions and a freeze on personal assets. More details regarding the proposed EU sanctions can be found in this EU Observer report.
WTO AB Finds EU Violated WTO Rules With Airbus Subsidies
Yesterday, the Appellate Body (AB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) upheld a WTO panel decision finding that the European Union (EU) and some of its member states violated Article 5 of the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement by providing certain subsidies to Airbus that caused serious prejudice to the United States or more specifically, to the U.S. company, Boeing. The subsidies at issue included equity infusions and favorable land lease deals by the French, U.K., German and Spanish governments. The AB disagreed with certain other findings of the panel, including its determinations regarding export subsidies. A summary of the key findings of the AB may be found here. A separate dispute brought by the EU against the U.S. alleging the improper provision of subsidies to Boeing is pending.
ICJ Announces Public Hearing in Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand)
On Monday, May 30 and Tuesday, May 31, 2011, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings in the Request for interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (Cambodia v. Thailand) - Request for the indication of provisional measures.
The Kingdom of Cambodia filed the Application requesting interpretation of the 1962 Judgment by the ICJ in the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear on April 28 of this year. Cambodia asserts that the 1962 Judgment recognizes Cambodia's territorial sovereignty over the disputed region, including over the Temple itself, and obligates Thailand to withdraw any military or other personnel from the vicinity of the Temple on Cambodian territory. More information and the press release may be found here.
May 18, 2011
Happy Birthday to Us
Our blog is three years old today. We thank you for your support over the past three years, and we hope that you keep visiting us regularly. Please also continue to send us news of your events, publications, conferences, and accomplishments.
Mark, Cindy, Cyndee, Laurent, and Michael
May 17, 2011
Syria Drops Its Candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council
According to the UN Interdependent, Syria has given up its bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Syria had been running unopposed. This action follows the HRC's April 29 censure of Syria for its violent crackdown on protestors. The Asian Group has agreed to endorse Kuwait as its candidate instead. The vote for the new members of the HRC will be held on Friday of this week (May 20).
Indigenous Peoples' Forum Opens at UN
Yesterday, the United Nations convened its annual forum aimed at advancing the rights of the estimated 370 million indigenous persons around the world with a call to turn those rights into a practical reality. The following is from a UN Press Release:
"More than 1,300 delegates are expected to participate in the two-week Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which is being held at UN Headquarters in New York and is marking its tenth anniversary. This year the forum will focus on reviewing progress made on issues ranging from economic and social development to the environment and whether indigenous peoples have given free, prior and informed consent to decisions affecting their communities.
Opening the forum, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007 – finally had the consensus support that it deserved. “Now we need to make the declaration’s principles a reality,” he said, stressing that protecting and promoting the rights of indigenous peoples benefited everyone, and not only those groups. Mr. Ban urged participants to “raise your voices” during the forum so that the world can hear about the threats and risks that indigenous communities face, as well as the unique expertise that they can bring to issues such as climate change. “This forum can play a dynamic role in… helping indigenous peoples around the world achieve the self-determination they deserve. Your success can build momentum toward the World Conference in Indigenous Peoples planned for 2014. You can identify ways to bring to life the principles enshrined in the declaration.”"
May 16, 2011
Irish Yearbook of International Law Invites Submissions
The editors of the Irish Yearbook of International Law invite submissions on any area of public or private international law for publication as an article in the Yearbook. An annual, peer reviewed publication, the Irish Yearbook of International Law is committed to the publication of articles of general interest in international law as well as articles that have a particular connection to, or relevance for, Ireland.
Submissions are normally 10,000 to 12,000 words in length, although longer pieces will be considered. Submissions should be sent to the Editors by 15 August 2011, whose contact information may be found here. Initial inquiries may be made to the Editors as well.