May 28, 2011
State Legislation Prohibiting the Use of Foreign and International Law
The American Society of International Law published a new insight on attempts by state legislatures to prohibit the use of foreign and international law. Here's an excerpt:
In February 2010, a Republican Iowa State Representative introduced a bill to prohibit state judges from using “judicial precedent, case law, penumbras, or international law as a basis for rulings.” The same month, a Utah Republican state representative introduced House Bill 296, prohibiting enforcement of any foreign law, or any decision rendered by a foreign legal or governmental authority, if it would violate a person’s state or federal constitutional rights. Similarly, the bill would nullify or rewrite private contracts with a choice of foreign law clause, the enforcement of which would violate a constitutional right.
Hat tip to Ron Bettauer.
Ratko Mladic Arrested in Serbia
Ratko Mladic, the war-time leader of the Bosnian Serb forces, was arrested this week in Serbia after evading capture for almost 16 years. He is awaiting transfer to The Hague, where he will stand trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He faces numerous charges, including genocide, extermination, murder and inflicting terror on civilians, particularly in connection with the massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the supposedly “safe haven” of Srebrenica in July 1995 in one of the most notorious events of the Balkan wars.
Also this week, Bernard Munyagishari, who is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, was arrested on 25 May in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
UN Security Council Reform
With different groups holding steadfast to their respective positions regarding reform of the Security Council, the President of the General Assembly today called for a “compromise” on the issue, at least a temporary one.
“Probably it is not possible actually to find a solution where one of these different groups will get the total of their aspirations,” Joseph Deiss told a news conference at UN Headquarters.
“We should try to make some reform that could not be final, that means that (it) should be reviewed at some time, but that could bring something which improves the situation in a way that every country can say our own possibility to be a member sometime in the Security Council is improved,” said Mr. Deiss, who heads the 192-member Assembly.
Security Council reform has been under discussion for over 17 years, with the key issues being the category of membership, the question of veto, regional representation, the size of an enlarged Council, and the Council’s working methods and its relationship with the General Assembly.
The 15-member Council comprises five permanent members with veto power – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – and 10 non-permanent members with no veto, who are elected for two-year terms.
Mr. Deiss repeated his concerns that unless the Council is reformed to reflect modern political reality, the entire UN could lose credibility and be marginalized with important issues being discussed in other forums.
In response to a question on the possibility that the Assembly would vote to admit an independent Palestinian state, Mr. Deiss said that the Security Council must recommend new members, without a veto from any permanent member.
“So the General Assembly cannot take the initiative but we are ready to do our work as soon as a recommendation of the Security Council would be addressed,” he said.
“It must be recalled that General Assembly resolution 181 of 1947 already provides for the creation of two states, one Arab, one Jewish, at the end of the British Mandate in Palestine,” he added.
(UN Press Release)
May 27, 2011
U.S. Adds Several Entities and Individuals to Sanctions Programs
The U.S. government announced this week that it is adding a number of entities to two of its sanctions programs. The following information is taken from a U.S. State Department Press Release:
On May 23, 2011, the United States imposed sanctions on the following entities:
- Belarusian entities – Belarusian Optical Mechanical Association and BelTechExport;
- Chinese entities and individuals – Mr. Karl Lee, Dalian Sunny Industries, Dalian Zhongbang Chemical Industries Company, and Xian Junyun Electronic
- Iranian entities and individuals – Milad Jafari, Defense Industries Organization, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force, SAD Import-Export Company, and Shahid Bakeri Industries Group (SBIG)
- North Korean entity – Tangun Trading
- Syrian entities – Industrial Establishment of Defense and Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC)
- Venezuelan entity – Venezuela Military Industries Company (CAVIM)
According to the U.S. government: "Sanctions were imposed on these entities as provided in the INKSNA because there was credible information indicating that they had transferred to or acquired from Iran, North Korea, or Syria equipment and technology listed on multilateral export control lists (Australia Group, Chemical Weapons Convention, Missile Technology Control Regime, Nuclear Suppliers Group, Wassenaar Arrangement) or otherwise having the potential to make a material contribution to WMD or cruise or ballistic missile systems."
The sanctions prohibit U.S. government agencies from entering into any contracts with these entities or providing any assistance to them. In addition, all export licenses are suspended.
In addition, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has announced the imposition of sanctions on seven companies under the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) of 1996, as amended by the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) of 2010, for their activities in support of Iran's energy sector. These are the first sanctions imposed by the United States for refined-petroleum related activities under ISA since it was amended by CISADA. The sanctioned entities are:
"Petrochemical Commercial Company International aka PCCI (Jersey); Royal Oyster Group (UAE); and Speedy Ship aka Sepahan Oil Company or SPD (UAE/Iran): These firms are among the largest current suppliers of refined petroleum products to Iran and all three regularly engaged in deceptive practices in order to ship these products to Iran and evade U.S. sanctions. The sanctions we have imposed on these firms will prohibit them from U.S. foreign exchange transactions, U.S. banking transactions, and all U.S. property transactions.
Tanker Pacific (Singapore), Ofer Brothers Group (Israel), and Associated Shipbroking (Monaco): These companies are being sanctioned for their respective roles in a September 2010 transaction that provided a tanker valued at $8.65 million to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), an entity that has been designated by the United States, and the European Union for its role in supporting Iran's proliferation activities.
Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA): PDVSA, the state-owned oil company of Venezuela, has delivered at least two cargoes of reformate to Iran between December 2010 and March 2011, worth approximately $50 million. Reformate is a blending component that improves the quality of gasoline. The sanctions we have imposed on PDVSA prohibit the company from competing for U.S. government procurement contracts, from securing financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and from obtaining U.S. export licenses. These sanctions do not apply to PDVSA subsidiaries and do not prohibit the export of crude oil to the United States."
The U.S. State Department's Press Release contains the following statement: "The United States is aggressively working with international partners to maintain pressure on the Government of Iran to comply with its international nuclear obligations. The sanctions announced today are an important step toward that goal, as they target Iran's ability to acquire and utilize resources in support of its illicit nuclear activities."
May 24, 2011
Call for Papers: 2011 Law and Development Institute Conference
The Law and Development Institute (LDI) has put out a call for paper proposals for its 2011 annual conference, entitled, "Law and Development at the Microlevel: From Microtrade to Current Issues in Law and Development". The conference will be co-hosted with and held at the Seattle University School of Law in Washington on December 10, 2011. The LDI calls for papers on any aspect of microtrade, which is a new system of international trade designed to alleviate populations of least-developed countries of extreme poverty (for a concept paper, click here) as well as for papers on other law and development issues that can be considered broadly at the "micro level", including but not limited to: microfinance, microinsurance, green growth and development, etc.
Paper proposals should be limited to a 500 word abstract, which must be received by June 30 at the latest. Accepted conference papers should be completed by November 15 for circulation among the participants in advance of the conference. All proposals must be sent by email to the Law and Development Institute. The paper proposals will be peer-reviewed by members of the editorial board of the Law and Development Review. It is anticipated that paper selection will be completed by July 31, 2011. The selected authors will be invited to present their papers at the Conference. The invited speakers are expected to cover their own expenses to attend the conference. For more information, including contact emails, click here.
May 23, 2011
Meeting of the U.S. State Dept. Advisory Committee on International Law
A meeting of the U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on International Law will take place on Monday, June 6, 2011, from 9:30 a.m. to approximately 5:30 p.m., at the George Washington University Law School, 2000 H St. NW, Washington, D.C. The meeting will be chaired by the Legal Adviser of the Department of State, Harold Hongju Koh, and will be open to the public up to the capacity of the meeting room.
The meeting agenda covers a range of current international legal topics, including legal responses to recent developments in the Middle East, international accountability mechanisms, the Arctic region and the Law of the Sea Convention and national security in the digital age.
Members of the public who wish to attend the session should, by Friday, May 27, 2011, notify the Office of the Legal Adviser (telephone: 202-776-8323) of their name, professional affiliation, address, and telephone number. A valid photo ID is required for admittance.
May 22, 2011
Violence Against LGBT Persons Around the World
The United Nations human rights chief urged governments to do more to eliminate discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In a video message marking the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said homophobia and transphobia are no different to sexism, misogyny, racism or xenophobia. "But whereas these last forms of prejudice are universally condemned by governments, homophobia and transphobia are too often overlooked," she said. "History shows us the terrible human price of discrimination and prejudice. No one is entitled to treat a group of people as less valuable, less deserving or less worthy of respect. Each and every one of us is entitled to the same rights, to the same respect and ethical treatment, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity."
Ms. Pillay said statistics indicated that homophobic-based hate crimes were on the rise in many parts of the world, from New York to Brazil and Honduras to South Africa. Homosexuality also remains a criminal offence in more than 70 countries. Yet the High Commissioner said homosexuality and transgenderism have been present in all societies throughout human history.
She added that international human rights standards have already incorporated the principle that no one should experience discrimination on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity. "Seventeen years ago the UN Human Rights Committee, whose job it is to remind States of such things, confirmed that, under international law, States have an obligation to decriminalize homosexuality and to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation. Other UN treaty bodies have said the same thing."
In a separate message, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said that the stigma and discrimination faced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people was hampering an effective response to the disease. "The AIDS response has shown that when people are stigmatized because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, they are less likely to access the HIV services they need," said Michel Sidibé. "This leads to new HIV infections and AIDS deaths." Mr. Sidibé urged governments to create social and legal environments that ensure respect for human rights and universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and support.
(UN Press Release)
May 22 is Biological Diversity Day
May 22 is the International Day for Biological Diversity. UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon is using the day to highlight concerns about deforestation and is urging the 193 States Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to implement the Nagoya Protocol to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization. This Protocol, adopted last October, links conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity with development. Thus far, 30 states have ratified the Protocol, but 50 are needed before it will take effect. This year's Biological Diversity Day coincides with celebration of the International Year of the Forest, so it is particulary appropriate to focus on value and need for presevation of forests worldwide.