August 24, 2011
Schedule for 2012 Jessup International Law Moot Competition
For those of you who are coaching teams in the 2012 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, here is a link to the competition schedule. The 2012 Jessup problem is expected to be released around September 12, 2011. Memorials will be due on January 10, 2012. Regional and national rounds will be held in January and February. The international rounds will be held in Washington DC from March 25-31, 2012.
August 23, 2011
Grenada Joins ICC Rome Treaty as 115th Signatory
The International Criminal Court today welcomed Grenada as a new State party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the tribunal, three months after the Caribbean nation deposited its instrument of accession to the accord, becoming the 115th signatory.
The statute took effect in Grenada on 1 August, the ICC said in a statement issued after the President of the Court, Sang-Hyun Song, presented the ambassador of Grenada, Stephen Fletcher, with a special edition of the Rome Statute in The Hague, where the court is based.
“Each State that joins the ICC sends out a powerful message that it does not tolerate genocide, crimes against humanity or the other atrocious offences listed in the Statute, and it will not provide refuge to those suspected of such crimes,” said Mr. Song.
The Vice-President of the Assembly of States Parties and Ambassador of Mexico, Jorge Lomónaco, placed the occasion in Grenada’s historical context.
“After 300 years as a colony, an overthrow of the government, an invasion in the mid-’80s and a full restoration of democracy to follow, Grenada has come out as a strong and independent State of the Caribbean Community.” That community, he added, is strongly committed to “combating impunity and bringing justice to victims.”
Established by the Rome Statute of 1998, the ICC can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.
(UN Press Release)
Violence in South Sudan
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the Government of South Sudan to restore security in Jonglei state, where recent ethnic clashes have claimed at least 600 deaths. Unconfirmed reports indicate that almost 1,000 people have also been wounded during the fighting between the Murle and Lou Nuer communities in Jonglei that followed large-scale cattle raids by members of the two groups which have led to the theft of between 26,000 and 30,000 cattle.
“The Secretary-General calls on the Government of South Sudan to take all steps to restore security in Jonglei state, to protect civilians affected by this violence and to work with both communities to reduce tensions,” a statement issued by his spokesperson said. The statement added that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) stands ready to assist the Government fulfil its primary role to provide security and protect civilians.
UNMISS has been in place since early July, when South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan following a referendum held in January. It took over from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which was created following the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the north-south civil war and paved the way for the referendum.
(Excerpts from a UN Press Release)
The Future of Libya
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need for maintaining national unity and fostering reconciliation in Libya when he spoke with the leader of the North African country’s National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil. The Secretary-General also spoke of the need to protect diplomatic premises in Libya during the telephone conversation with Mr. Abdul-Jalil, who for his part, expressed appreciation for the United Nations’ engagement in Libya.
The regime of Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi is reported to be on the brink of collapse as rebels who have been seeking his ouster gained control of parts of the capital, Tripoli, amid heavy fighting in the city.
Mr. Abdul-Jalil told Mr. Ban that the National Transitional Council appreciated the role played by the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Abdel-Elah al-Khatib, adding that Libya will need UN support during the post-conflict period.
(Excerpt from a UN Press Release)
US Must Do More to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence
The United States must do more to protect women from domestic violence after a regional body found it wanting in defending a battered woman and her three murdered children from her ex-husband, an independent United Nations human rights expert warned today. “The US Government should reassess existing mechanisms for protecting victims and punishing offenders, and establish meaningful standards for enforcement of protection orders and impose consequences for a failure to enforce them,” the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, said.
The case at issue involves Jessica Lenahan, a victim of domestic violence along with her daughters Leslie, Katheryn and Rebecca Gonzales, ages seven, eight and 10, who obtained a restraining order against her ex-husband Simon from the Colorado state courts in 1999. Not knowing where her daughters were, Ms. Lenahan contacted Castle Rock Police Department eight times on the evening of 22 June and the morning of 23 June 1999. That morning, Simon Gonzales drove his pick-up truck to the department and fired through the window. In an exchange of gunfire he was killed. The dead bodies of the three girls were found in his truck.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACR) found that the fragmented police response did not respect the terms of the restraining order, and that Colorado state did not duly investigate Ms. Lenahan’s complaints. It called on the US to conduct a full investigation into these systemic failures and reinforce through legislation the mandatory character of protection orders.
Ms. Manjoo noted that she conducted a fact-finding mission to the US earlier this year. “In my discussions with Government officials, victims, survivors, and advocates, including Jessica Lenahan, I found a lack of substantive protective legislation for domestic violence victims in the United States, as well as inadequate implementation of certain laws, policies and programs,” she said. While landmark US legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act exists to address the high incidence of violence against women, “there is little in terms of legally binding federal provisions which provide substantive protection or prevention for acts of domestic violence against women,” she added.
Ms. Manjoo acts in an independent, unpaid capacity and reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
(UN Press Release)
UN Human Rights Council Calls for End to Violence in Syria
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has called for an immediate end to all violence in Syria. It also decided to dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged abuses committed during the crackdown on protesters. In a resolution adopted at the end of a two-day special session, the Geneva-based Human Rights Council also strongly condemned the “continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities.” By a vote of 33 in favor to 4 against, with 9 abstentions, the 47-member Council also welcomed the report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
As many as 2,000 Syrians have been killed in the past five months since the start of the pro-democracy protests, which are part of a broader uprising across North Africa and the Middle East that has led to the toppling of long-standing regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and conflict in Libya.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
August 22, 2011
Chicago Bar Association Starts New International Law Committee for Its Young Lawyers Section
The Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association announced that it is forming a new committee on International and Foreign Law. (There was already an International and Foreign Law Committee at the CBA -- this new committee is one in the Young Lawyers Section.) The committee will examine public and private international law issues, including U.S. and foreign law aspects of international business transactions, litigation, arbitration, taxation of foreign income, foreign investment laws, treaties, and international organizations.
The chairs for the coming year will be Kyle Olson, John Tufano Jr., and Maya Ganguly. The committee will meet regularly on the third Monday of the month.
If you're in Chicago, take advantage of this opportunity. If you're not in Chicago, check with your own local bar association about starting an international and foreign law committee if you don't have one already.
August 21, 2011
IACHR Finds US in Violation of American Declaration of Human Rights
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recently made public its report finding that the United States violated its obligations under the American Declaration on Human Rights by failing to protect a mother and her daughters from domestic violence. In Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States, the police failed to respond to Jessica Lenahan's repeated calls for help over several hours when her estranged husband took their children despite the fact that Ms. Lenahan had a restraining order against him. By the time the father was located, he had already killed the three girls. The Commission found that the United States had failed to take adequate measures to protect the girls' right to life under article I of the Declaration in conjunction with their right to special protection as girl children under article VII; and had failed to provide Ms. Lenahan with judicial protection under article XVIII of the Declaration because it failed to conduct a proper investigation into the incident. The Commission recommended that the US conduct a full and proper investigation and that it amend its laws to provide more effective protection for victims of domestic violence. The full report no. 80/11 may be found at www.OAS.org or by clicking here.
The Perceived Legitimacy of International Criminal Courts
A critical factor in the success of transitional justice mechanisms has been whether a criminal court is perceived as being legitimate. Where the local population perceives an international criminal tribunal in lacking legitimacy, the prospects for success are grim. Or at least we thought so until this article came along. We may still have something to learn about the perceptions that affect international criminal tribunals and transitional justice.
Stuart Ford of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago has posted on SSRN a new article on the perceived legitimacy of international criminal courts. The article uses social psychology research and applies it to survey data to understand how populations affected by violence perceive the legitimacy of international criminal courts. The article includes case studies from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), the Extraordinary Chambers for the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), and Regulation 64 Panels in Kosovo.
In his article, Professor Ford find that short-term negative perceived legitimacy does not necessarily indicate that a court is failing, but rather shows discord between internal narratives about the conflict and the facts of what actually happened. This discord poses an obstacle to post-conflict reconciliation as it prevents participants from accepting responsibility and cases each group in a conflict to blame others for what actually happened. Professor Ford argues that courts can serve a useful purpose in transitional justice if they can help align the dominant internal narratives within the various affected populations with what actually happened during the conflict.
It's an interesting aritclethat will provide you with some thoughtful commentary on international criminal law.