July 22, 2011
OHCHR Voices Concern on Closings of Housing Camps in Haiti
United Nations human rights officials today urged Haitian authorities to ensure that the closure of camps for people displaced by last year’s catastrophic earthquake is done in a planned way as part of a broader plan to improve access to adequate housing.
The statement from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) follows last weekend’s closure of a camp inside the Sylvio Cator Stadium in Port-au-Prince, where more than 400 families had been living. Each of the evicted families was given the equivalent of about $250.
The relocation proposed by the mayor does not respect the right to adequate housing, OHCHR said in a press release, noting that the lack of basic services and the poor-quality shelters means that the former camp residents will be much more vulnerable than they were in the camp.
“A successful reconstruction and a secure and long-term stabilization of the country will depend in part on the realization of the right to adequate housing,” OHCHR stressed. It noted that the Haitian Government had been repeatedly urged “to take a holistic approach” regarding the closure of camps – many of them makeshift collections of tents – to allow for a reasonable time as well as alternative accommodation to be found.
“Given the continuous cycle of movement of neighbourhood camps, OHCHR remains convinced that only a comprehensive plan can help advance the cause of sustainable progress and respect for human rights,” according to the press release. As many as 2.3 million people, or about a quarter of the national population, were displaced from their homes as a result of last year’s quake, while more than 200,000 others were killed.
(UN Press Release)
UN Security Council Demands Surrender of Lord's Resistance Army
The Security Council today strongly condemned the persistent attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) across Central Africa, demanding that the group end its atrocities against civilians and that its members disarms and surrender.
Attacks by roaming bands of LRA insurgents have displaced more than 380,000 people across Central Africa, the Council said in a press statement read by Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month.
“The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern that the Council’s previous calls for the LRA to cease its attacks, halt the recruitment, abduction and use of children, and to release all women, children and non-combatants, have not been heeded.
“The members of the Security Council demanded an end to all attacks on civilians by the LRA, and urged all LRA elements to surrender and disarm,” said the statement.
The Council commended military operations by the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Uganda against the LRA, and stressed the importance of sustained coordinated action by those governments to bring the problem to an end.
The United Nations body welcomed the leadership shown by the African Union (AU) in its recent initiative in which it proposed a range of measures to lead to the implementation of a comprehensive strategy to tackle the LRA threat.
The AU measures go beyond military action and have prioritized the protection of civilians and the process of demobilization, disarmament, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration.
The Council welcomed the information shared by Ambassador Téte António, the Permanent Observer of the AU to the UN, on the AU proposals for a regional task force, joint operations centre and joint coordination mechanism.
The press statement underlined the need for all action against the LRA to be conducted in compliance with applicable international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law and the need to protect civilians.
The Council encouraged all UN offices in the LRA-affected region to further enhance information-sharing and coordination with all relevant actors and undertake more regional assessments and programming, particularly with regard to the humanitarian response and the protection of civilians.
It requested the UN Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), in coordination with UN Office to the African Union (UNOAU), to engage with the AU and facilitate cooperation between the UN and the pan-African body on issues related to countering the threat.
(UN Press Release)
July 20, 2011
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Mike Koehler, an Assistant Professor of Business Law at Butler University in Indiana, has a new and improved website on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Click here for a quick visit. It is a great resource for professors, students, and practitioners.
Do PTAs Create Trade or Divert Trade?
World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretary-General Pascal Lamy has recently revived the question of whether regional or preferential trade agreements (PTAs) help or hurt the WTO's overarching goal of free trade. On the one hand, some argue that PTA's create trade between the members of the PTA, thereby increasing trade overall and benefitting the worldwide economy. On the other hand, some contend that PTA's simply divert international trade to trade among the PTA partners.
Director-General Lamy seemed to take the latter view in his speech today launching the World Trade Report 2011. He warned that PTAs “may lock in their members to a particular regulatory regime reducing the potential for trade to prosper with countries outside the arrangement . . .The new challenge posed by deep PTAs to the multilateral trading system is one of market segmentation because regulatory systems, which can become divergent, have now more importance on trade flows than tariffs.”
The WTO rules permit PTAs, subject to notification and some oversight and regulation, but the rules have not really been enforced. This issue continues to arise as countries like the United States consider signing additional regional and bilateral free trade agreements, such as the ones currently under consideration by the U.S. Senate with Columbia, South Korea and Panama.
Updated FCPA Professor Blog
Professor Mike Koehler, author of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Professor Blog, has a new and improved blog. To check out the latest changes and additions, click here.
July 19, 2011
ICTY Appeals Chamber Upholds Contempt Conviction of Former Staffer
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has dismissed the appeal of a former staff member against her conviction for contempt of court. Florence Hartmann, who served as a prosecution spokesperson at the ICTY, was convicted of contempt by the tribunal in September 2009 for disclosing confidential information in violation of a court order.
In a book she wrote and in a separate article, Ms. Hartmann was found to have disclosed the contents, purported effect, and confidential nature of two decisions by the ICTY appeals chamber in the case involving the former Serbian leader Slobodan Miloševic. When convicting her, the court had said Ms. Hartmann’s actions could deter countries from cooperating with the ICTY regarding the provision of evidence.
The ICTY’s appeals chamber, in dismissing the appeal today, noted that neither the parties to a case nor third parties can decide which aspects of a confidential decision may be disclosed. The appeals chamber also upheld the imposition of a fine of €7,000 against Ms. Hartmann. She is required to pay the fine in two instalments by mid-August and mid-September respectively.
(mew) (Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Seventh Circuit Says Corporations Can Be Liable Under ATSLast week, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that corporations can be liable for violations of customary international law under the Alien Tort Statute. The decision in the case of Flomo v. Firestone is at odds with the decision of the Second Circuit last year in Kiobel, increasing the likelihood that the issue will go to the US Supreme Court. Unfortunately for plaintiffs, however, the court held that they did not prove that Firestone Corporation violated a well established norm of customary international law through the use of children on rubber plantations in Liberia. The full name of the case is Boimah Flomo v. Firestone Natural Rubber Co., No. 10-3675 (July 11, 2011). (cgb)
Save the Date: International Law Weekend in New York
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 City.
ILW 2011 will bring together hundreds of practitioners, professors, representatives of government and NGO organizations, and law students. It is a gem of a conference that you don't want to miss if you live near New York (and many people fly in from across the United States and Canada to attend it as well). The ABILA Committee on Teaching International Law (which I chair) will present a program on "Libel Tourism." Click here for more information about the International Law Weekend in New York City.
The ILW is one week after the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law meeting in Dublin.
Mark E. Wojcik
July 18, 2011
150,000 Visits to the International Law Prof Blog
Our blog launched just over three years ago. This week, we celebrate more than 150,000 visits from readers in more than 100 countries and territories. We are extremely proud of our global community and we thank you for your continued support. Please continue to send us news of important international law developments around the world.
Thank you all for visiting the International Law Prof Blog.
Mark, Cindy, Cyndee, Laurent, and Mike
More on Today's ICJ Ruling
Here's the press release from the United Nations about today's ruling from the International Court of Justice. Click here for a copy of the decision.
The International Court of Justice today ordered Cambodia and Thailand to withdraw their military personnel from around a disputed temple site near their joint border and to agree not to engage in any further fighting in the immediate area.
The ICJ issued a series of provisional measures in the dispute between the South-East Asian neighbours over Preah Vihear, an 11th century Hindu temple complex located on the Cambodian side of the border. The site is inscribed on the UN World Heritage List.
Cambodia and Thailand have repeatedly clashed over the area in recent years and earlier this year there were fatal skirmishes that forced thousands of people to flee. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other top UN officials have urged the two countries to engage in dialogue to resolve the dispute.
Cambodia had applied for provisional measures as part of its request to the ICJ for an interpretation clarifying the meaning or scope of a 1962 judgement that it made in the dispute.
Today the court’s 16-member panel found unanimously that the matter was urgent enough, and the potential risk of damage and renewed clashes sufficiently serious, that provisional measures were necessary. Thailand had requested that the case be removed from the ICJ’s general list, but the court rejected that.
By a vote of 11 to five, the judges then ruled that the two sides should immediately withdrew their military personnel from a provisional demilitarized zone around the temple which the tribunal has defined, and that they should refrain from having any military presence within the zone or directing any armed activity at the zone.
In a vote of 15 to one, the ICJ also stated that:
1. Thailand should not obstruct Cambodia’s free access to Preah Vihear, or prevent it from providing fresh supplies to its non-military personnel;
2. Cambodia and Thailand should continue their cooperation within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in relation to the dispute, particularly by allowing the ASEAN observers to have access to the provisional demilitarized zone;
3. The two countries should refrain from any actions which could aggravate or extend the dispute or make it more difficult to resolve.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Jordan Paust on Nonstate Actors in International Law
Professor Jordan Paust (University of Houston) has published a new essay on "Nonstate Actor Participation in International Law and the Pretense of Exclusion." You can find it in the Summer 2011 issue of the Virginia Journal of International Law (volume 51 at page 977). It won't take you long to read (unless you read the footnotes!). In the essay, he shows that for the last 250 years, international law has not merely been state-to-state. Contrary to many popular myths about the history of international law, Paust shows that international law has reached a wide range of non-state actors over all of these years. As such, we need to re-evaluate the nature, sources, and evidence of international law. As Paust writes: "Ignorance of our past should no longer be used to deny our common dignity."
Be sure to put this article on your summer reading list!
Hat tip to Jordan Paust
ICJ Tells Both Sides to Remove Troops from Temple of Preah Vihear
The International Court of Justice has just issued its ruling in the Request for interpretation of the Judgment of 15 June 1962 in the Case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand).
Ruling on a request for preliminary measures, the ICJ found that both Parties must immediately withdraw their military personnel currently in the provisional demilitarized zone and refrain from any military activity directed at that zone.
Let us know your thoughts on the ruling.