Saturday, September 3, 2011
On Friday, the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization adopted a July 2011 panel report finding the United States in violation of its WTO obligations in connection with its use of the zeroing technique in calculating anti-dumping margins in U.S.-Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Shrimp from Vietnam, WT/DS404/R.
This decision is the latest in a series of successful challenges to the use of the zeroing methodology by the United States. The U.S. Department of Commerce has announced a proposal to change the calculation of weighted average dumping margins and assessment rates in certain anti-dumping proceedings. For more information about the case, check the WTO website.
Friday, September 2, 2011
A U.S. District Court judge ruled yesterday that a case against Hungary to reclaim certain artwork confiscated during World War II may proceed. The suit was brought by the grandchildren of Baron Mor Lipot Herzog, a wealthy Jewish Hungarian art collector whose collection was seized by the Nazis during WWII despite attempts to hide it. The complaint alleges that at least 40 pieces of the Herzog collection remain in the wrongful possession of Hungarian government museums and universities. Hungary moved to dismiss the lawsuit on several grounds, including foreign sovereign immunity, that these matters had been resolved by international agreements between Hungary and the United States; forum non conveniens and Act of State.
U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle found that because it is substantially likely that the property was taken in violation of international law, Hungary is not entitled to immunity from suit. More specifically, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. sec. 1605, creates a presumption that States are immune from suit in U.S. courts unless one of several enumerated exceptions applies. In this case, plaintiffs relied on Section 1605(a)(3), which states in pertinent part:
According to the court, "a taking violates international law if: (1) it was not for a public purpose; (2) it was discriminatory; or (3) no just compensation was provided for the property taken." In this case, the Court stated the allegations of the complaint are sufficient to show a likelihood that the property was taken without compensation and for a discriminary purpose. With respect to the requirement of commercial activity, the Court was satisfied with plaintiffs' allegations that Hungary and its museums and universities have been engaged in commercial activity in the United States through lending and borrowing artwork, selling tickets and books to U.S persons on line and at the museum using U.S. credit cards.
The Court also found that plaintiffs had made out a prima facie case alleging bailment that negated the effect of the prior international agreements; that Hungary did not carry its burden to have the case dismissed on the grounds of forum non conviens; and that the Act of State Doctrine does not preclude the case. However, the court did dismiss the complaint with respect to eleven pieces of artwork that had been subject to a previous judgment by a Hungarian court in the Nierenberg litigation out of respect for international comity.
The case is Csepel v. Hungary, No. 10-1261 (DDC Sept. 1, 2011).
Northwestern University School of Law will hold the Julius Rosenthal Foundation Lecture Series from September 12-14, 2011. The 2011 lecturer is Kim Lane Scheppele, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs and the Director of the Program of Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University.
Professor Scheppele will present a series of lectures about The International State of Emergency: Legacies of the Global War on Terror. All lectures will be held at Northwestern Law School, 375 E. Chicago Ave, in Rubloff 150. The schedule is as follows:
- Monday, September 12, at 4 p.m: Lecture I: Empire
Tuesday, September 13, at Noon: Lecture II: Emergency
Wednesday, September 14, at Noon: Lecture III: Entrenchment
Bolivia’s top court has convicted several high-level officials for their part in the deaths of over 60 people during anti-government protests in 2003. In what became known as “Black October,” 69 people were left dead and over 400 injured when, over a period of several days, soldiers repeatedly fired on crowds demonstrating against a government plan to build a gas pipeline through El Alto, near La Paz. After a trial that lasted two years, five senior military officers this week received prison sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years, while the former Ministers of Sustainable Development and of Employment were sentenced to three years each.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
Thursday, September 1, 2011
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) has wrapped up three days of hearings in Phnom Penh to help determine whether two of the most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime are fit to stand trial for alleged genocide and other war crimes.
The session ended yesterday after hearing an expert’s findings regarding the health of former social affairs minister, Ieng Thirith, 79, and Nuon Chea, former deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, 84.
The expert, Professor John Campbell, a geriatrician from New Zealand, said that Ieng Thirith is suffering from a serious form of progressive dementia, likely due to Alzheimer’s. He said she has “severe cognitive impairment” and recommended her for further assessment by psychiatrists. “There are a number of factors that may be contributing and I think that Alzheimer’s is certainly one of those,” he said, concluding that she would have difficulty instructing her counsel and participating fully in the trial proceedings.
The court decided that psychiatrists would shortly conduct a supplemental assessment on Ieng Thirith’s mental health and that the assessment will be examined in due course.
Nuon Chea, meanwhile, was not found unfit to stand trial by Mr. Campbell in his assessment but contested his assessment and demanded that he be re-assessed by another expert. “It’s not that I don’t believe Dr. Campbell, but my health conditions are getting worse and worse, both physically and emotionally as well as my intellectual ability,” said the accused. Mr. Campbell repeatedly told the court that Nuon Chea displayed no evidence of health conditions that might prevent him from participating meaningfully in the proceedings, adding that his stroke in 1995 was minor and his cardiac conditions appear stable.
The two accused are standing trial along with Ieng Sary, 85, who is Ieng Thirith’s husband and former foreign minister, and Khieu Samphan, 80, former head of State of Democratic Kampuchea, for crimes allegedly committed under the Pol Pot regime in the late 1970s.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Congratulations to Professor Sean Murphy who has been nominated by the United States to the United Nations' International Law Commission (ILC). Professor Murphy is the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School. More information about Professor Murphy may be found on his faculty webpage. The American Society of International Law, of which Professor Murphy has been an active member, is holding a reception in honor of Professor Murphy at its headquarters in Washington, DC on September 7, 2011.
The UN General Assembly established the ILC in 1947 to encourage the progressive development of international law and its codification. More information regarding the ILC may be found on its website.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Here's a reminder that the American Branch of the International Law Association (AmBranch or ABILA) will hold a one-day symposium called "International Law in Crisis." It's being held on Friday, September 9, 2011 at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. Registration is free unless you want CLE credit. The impressive line-up of speakers includes:
- The Honorable Richard Goldstone
- Prof. Michael Scharf
- Prof. Michael Kelly
- Prof. Ruth Wedgwood (President of ABILA)
- Prof. Raj Bhala
- Prof. Joel Trachtman
- Judge Rosemelle Mutoka (Kenya Piracy Court)
- Prof. Elizabeth Burleson
- William Burns
- Prof. Hari Osofsky
- Steven Schneebaum
- Prof. Ved Nanda
- Prof. John Murphy
and other academic and government speakers. Register online at law.case.edu/lectures or call 216-368-1798 for more information.
The United Nations Security Council today voiced concern over increasing maritime piracy, armed robbery and reports of hostage-taking in the Gulf of Guinea, saying the crimes were having an adverse impact on security, trade and other economic activities in the sub-region.
The Council took note of efforts by countries in the Gulf of Guinea to tackle the problem, including joint coastline patrols by Nigeria and Benin and plans to convene a summit of Gulf of Guinea heads of State to discuss a regional response. “In this context, members of the Council underlined the need for regional coordination and leadership in developing a comprehensive strategy to address this threat,” said a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri of India, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency this month.
The Council urged the international community to support countries in the region, as well as the regional organizations – the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) ¬¬– and other relevant bodies, in securing international navigation along the Gulf of Guinea, including through information exchange, improved coordination and capacity building. The Council took note of the intention by the Secretary-General to send a UN assessment mission to look into the situation in the region and explore possible options for UN support. Members of the Council also stressed the need for the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) and the UN Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) to work, within their current mandates, with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO), as well as with all concerned countries and regional organizations.
(UN Press Release)
The International Criminal Court (ICC) today dismissed an appeal by the Kenyan Government to throw out the cases against six high-ranking national officials, including a deputy prime minister, two ministers and a police chief, for possible crimes against humanity in post-electoral violence more than three years ago. The ICC appeals chamber ruled that no legal, factual or procedural error could be discerned in the pre-trial chamber’s decisions in May to proceed with the cases.
The six are: Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; William Samoei Ruto, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology; Henry Kiprono Kosgey, Minister of Industrialization; Joshua Arap Sang, Head of Operations for KASS FM radio station; Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet; and Mohamed Hussein Ali, Police Commissioner at the time of the violence.
More than 1,100 people were killed, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced in the violence that followed the December 2007 elections. There were also hundreds of rapes, possibly more, and at least 100,000 properties were destroyed in six of Kenya’s eight provinces, according to ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
Appeals chamber presiding judge Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko explained that for the cases to be inadmissible a national investigation must be ongoing, covering the same individuals and substantially the same conduct as alleged before the ICC. The chamber ruled that the pre-trial chamber made no error when it found that the Government had failed to provide sufficient evidence to substantiate that it was investigating the six suspects for the crimes alleged in the ICC summonses.
The pre-trial chamber found reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Kenyatta, Mr. Muthaura, Mr. Kosgey and Mr. Ruto were criminally responsible as indirect co-perpetrators for murder, forcible transfer and persecution, and also for rape and other inhumane acts in the case of the first two. It found that while there were not reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Sang and Mr. Ali were indirect co-perpetrators, there were such grounds to believe that they otherwise contributed to the alleged crimes.
Mr. Ruto has been suspended and Mr. Kosgey has stepped aside from the ministerial positions because of issues not related to the ICC.
(From a UN Press Release)
Monday, August 29, 2011
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) held hearings today to determine whether two elderly defendants are sufficiently fit mentally and physically to stand trial. The ECCC is charged with prosecuting those responsible for mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970s.
The two defendants, Nuon Chea, 84, and Ieng Thirith, 79, are among the four most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge facing charges before the ECCC. Nuon Chea was known as “Brother Number Two” under the Khmer Rouge, and acted as chief policy architect of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, which controlled the country’s internal security apparatus and rendered support for the regime’s policies of forcible relocation, enslavement and other inhumane acts. leng Thirith was a social affairs minister and is married to Ieng Sary, an 84-year-old former history professor who served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister under the Khmer Rouge and who is also on trial. They are accused of genocide, murder, torture, religious persecution and other war crimes and crimes against humanity over their alleged actions when the Khmer Rouge was in power.
Professor John Campbell, a specialist geriatrician from New Zealand, was appointed by the trial chamber as a medical expert to assess the mental and physical health of the defendants. Professor Campbell reported that in his opinion, Ieng Thirith is “cognitively impaired” to an extent that will compromise her rights to a fair trial. Professor Campbell also opined that although Nuon Chea is unable to sit for long periods, he is otherwise fit to stand trial and did not suffer from cognitive or memory problems.
The hearings are open to the public and are scheduled to continue for two more days.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
On Friday, a key witness pleaded guilty to contempt of court at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) for refusing to testify in the 2007 trial of former Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, on charges of crimes against humanity. The witness, Shefqet Kabashi, was a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which Mr. Haradinaj commanded in 1997-98 in its conflict with the Serbs. The ICTY acquitted Mr. Haradinaj in 2008 of charges of murder, rape, torture, abduction, cruel treatment, imprisonment and the forced deportation of ethnic Serbian and Kosovar Roma civilians. But appeals judges partially quashed the acquittal in 2010, calling for a re-trial because the trial chamber had not done more to ensure the testimony of certain witnesses given “serious witness intimidation,” thus depriving the prosecution of vital support for its case. The original trial had heard how many witnesses felt unsafe. Earlier this month, the tribunal said Mr. Kabashi’s testimony was relevant as it related to the alleged responsibility of Mr. Haradinaj and two co-accused, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, on six counts of torture and murder of prisoners at the KLA headquarters and the prison in Jablanica/Jabllanicë.
On Friday, the United Nations Security Council discussed how to improve the UN's peacekeeping capabilities. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed the Security Council and called for greater funding and flexibility to allow UN peacekeepers to address ever more complex situations around the world. He noted that the number of uniformed personnel in UN peacekeeping operations exceeded 100,000 last year, more than double the number ten years ago. Mr. Ban also outlined the requirements for a successful peacekeeping operation, including the need for a clear and achievable mandate, unified political support from the Security Council, and adequate, predictable human, material and financial resources.