October 1, 2011
Our 160,000 visitor to the International Law Prof Blog was from Vilnius, Lithuania. We thank all of our blog readers around the world for visiting us.
Job Posting: American-Swiss Foundation
The American Swiss Foundation is seeking a highly motivated person with a few years' experience in public relations, communications, and web technologies to fill the position of Alumni Relations and Communications Associate. Reporting directly to the President, the Alumni Relations and Communications Associate will be responsible for the development and implementation of communications projects involving alumni, the media, and the general public; social media and event management. He or she will also be the manager of the Foundation’s website, www.americanswiss.org.
1. Communications, Website and Social Media
• Maintain and update website and online Young Leaders Directory
• Write & post texts and images on current issues in US-Swiss relations for website and social media group sites
• Update LinkedIn and Facebook pages
• Write content and publish bi-monthly e-newsletter
2. Event Management
• Organize and host alumni receptions, dinners, and meetings in New York and elsewhere, including a major two-day joint US-Swiss reunion in Washington, DC, in the fall of 2012
3. Media Outreach
• Write media releases about upcoming and past events
• Distribute them to media representatives (Young Leaders alumni and general media) in the U.S. and Switzerland
• Invite media representatives to attend and write about events; assist in the organization of off-the-record meetings of VIPs with media representatives
- College degree or higher
- Two years’ experience in Communications/PR, preferably including website and social media administration
- Event management experience
- Willingness to learn new web and database tools
- Excellent English writing skills, knowledge of MS Office
- Interest in international affairs and good interpersonal skills a plus
To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to info [at] americanswiss.org.
Arms Trade Treaty Legal Response Network
We received the following information about the Arms Trade Treaty Legal Response Network as a comment to one of our other posts. As it may be of interest to our readers who want to help smaller and less developed countries negotiate treaties relating to the trade in arms, we're sharing this information also as its own post. We welcome further comments from any of our readers who may have experience with the Arms Trade Treaty Legal Response Network. It seems to be a great initiative.
Here's the information from the post, with additional background information.
A patchwork system of differing national and regional regulation means that there are no comprehensive global regulations on the global trade in conventional arms. This allows unscrupulous arms dealers or governments to easily supply weapons, even where they know they may be used for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, or fuel conflict and undermine development. All other weapons types are subject to global Treaties (nuclear, biological, chemical etc). In 2006, after years of campaigning by NGOs, the UN agreed to start discussing an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Negotiations are ongoing with the final negotiating conference taking place in July 2012. It is vital that affected states and the Control Arms civil society alliance have access to high quality legal advice so they can participate effectively in treaty negotiations an ensure that the Treaty prevents irresponsible arms deals that fuel conflict, poverty and serious human rights abuses.
The Legal Response Network is a pro bono initiative that provides legal advice and legal capacity- building services in relation to the UN arms trade treaty negotiations. The goal is to see a robust Arms Trade Treaty which prevents irresponsible arms deals that fuel conflict, poverty and serious human rights abuses. To achieve this, affected country governments and NGOs need increased access to legal support so they can participate effectively in Treaty negotiations. If you would like to join the network, please complete and submit the form at http://bit.ly/jZ0ErM
Serbia and the WTO; Serbia and a Gay Pride Parade
The Working Party on Serbia’s accession supports an early accession of Serbia and welcomed its progress in the implementation of new legislation to comply with WTO rules. Click here for more information.
In other news relating to Serbia . . . .
Serbia claims that it cannot control anti-gay protesters who are planning to disrupt a gay pride parade planned for Sunday. Because it allegedly cannot control those protesters, it is canceling the parade instead -- giving a victory to those who oppress human rights and equality. Click here to read more from the Hunter of Justice Blog.
WIPO Diplomatic Conference on Protecting Audiovisual Performances
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will hold a diplomatic conference next year to adopt a new treaty to protect audiovisual performances. Click here to read more. The convening of a diplomatic conference signals that WIPO is ready for the final phase of treaty negotiations on the issue.
WTO Preliminary Ruling on Electronic Payment Services in China
The WTO Dispute Resolution Panel in the dispute on "Certain Measures Affecting Electronic Payment Services" has circulated a preliminary ruling in the case filed by the United States against China. In that case, the United States is protesting against Chinese restrictions on U.S. suppliers of electronic payment services. Under the current rules in China, credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard cannot process many typical transactions.
This first WTO panel decision rejects China's preliminary objection that the complaint filed by the United States did not "provide a sufficient explanation for the legal basis of its complaint, as required by WTO rules." The panel rejected China's preliminary objection and announced that it would consider the case according to the timetable previously set. A ruling on the merits is expected in 2012. Click here to read more from the WTO website.
September 30, 2011
ICTY Denies Motion to Dimiss Charges Against Jailed Leader of the Serb Radical Party
The United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has rejected a request by the leader of the Serb Radical Party to discontinue proceedings against him, finding he had failed to prove that his right to trial within a reasonable period had been violated.
Vojislav Šešelj, who has been in detention since 2003, is on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Netherlands, for alleged war crimes committed between 1991 and 1994 against the non-Serb population from large parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Vojvodina in Serbia.
The ICTY trial chamber referred to its earlier decision in 2010, when it argued that according to international and European jurisprudence, “there is no predetermined threshold with regard to the time period beyond which a trial may be considered unfair on account of undue delay.”
It further argued that Mr. Šešelj failed to provide concrete proof of abuse of process, besides the fact that his trial is still ongoing, ruling that comparison of the length of his detention to that of other accused in other national and international jurisdictions is not relevant and noting that some trials have far exceeded the length of his.
Mr. Šešelj, who was born in 1954 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is being tried on 14 counts of crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war.
(UN Press Release)
Bahrain's Military Upholds Sentences on Civilian Democracy Protesters
A court in Bahrain has upheld sentences imposed on doctors, nurses, two leaders of a teachers’ association, and at least 32 other individuals. The sentences range from three years’ imprisonment to the death penalty, according to Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told a news conference in Geneva. The Court of National Safety, "effectively a military court" in Bahrain, also upheld the sentences of 21 others. “For such harsh sentences to be handed down to civilians in a military court with serious due process irregularities raises severe concerns,” said Mr. Colville. He also called on the government of Bahrain "to ensure that every detained person is charged with a recognizable criminal offence and has enough time to prepare a defence case.”
The New York Times reported that the death penalty had been imposed on a protester accused of killing a police office in March, and that other sentences were imposed on medical workers who had treated protesters who were wounded during the pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has approximately 525,000 citizens. According to the New York Times, 34 people have been killed, more than 14,00 people arrested, and 3,600 fired from their jobs since protests began as part of the Arab Spring. The New York Times also reports that human rights groups said that four people died in custody after torture.
September 29, 2011
US refers charges against alleged bomber of USS COLE
The US referred charges yesterday against the man accused of masterminding the 2000 bombing the USS Cole in Yemen. It is the first death penalty case to be tried by military commission under President Obama. US military prosecutors charged the accused, Abd al- Rahim al Nashiri, with murder, terrorism and war crimes. The Convening Authority independently reviewed the charges and determined to proceed with the capital charges. Al Nashiri, a Yemeni, was captured in 2002 and was held by the CIA in secret prisons until he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. His attorneys have argued that the case against him should be dismissed because he was tortured while in CIA custody. Al Nashiri was one of the detainees who was subjected to water boarded. His case will likely be the first to be tried in the new facility known as Camp Justice at Guantanamo Bay.
US Senate Approves BIT with Rwanda
The United States Senate approved the United States-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) on September 26 by unanimous consent. The US State Department believes the "treaty demonstrates Rwanda’s commitment to the economic reforms that will help enable sustainable economic development and opportunity.". According to the US State Department, "Since the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has made remarkable progress in implementing economic reforms that have helped rebuild the Rwandan economy and society. Rwanda has opened its economy, improved its business climate, and embraced open trade and investment policies as a means to boost economic development, job creation, and poverty alleviation."
BITs establish rules that protect the rights of investors in the signatory countries and provide market access for private investment in the territory of the treaty partners. The purpose of BITs is also to support market-based policies and best practices that treat investment in an open, transparent, and non-discriminatory way.
The US Administration has announced that it is working on an update of the U.S. “model” or "boilerplate" BIT, which will serve as a framework for future BITs. In the meantime, the State Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which co-lead the U.S. BIT program, are continuing technical talks with their current negotiating partners, including China and India.
UN Human RIghts Council Wants to Reinstate Libya as a Member
The United Nations Human Rights Council today called for the lifting of the suspension of Libya’s membership, and welcomed the new Government’s commitment to protect human rights and democracy in the North African nation. Meeting in Geneva, the Council adopted by consensus a resolution recommending to the General Assembly – which suspended Libya from the Council in March over the actions of the regime of then leader Muammar al-Qadhafi towards its population – that it now lift the suspension. This follows the international recognition of the National Transitional Council (NTC) as having assumed authority over Libya, where pro-Qadhafi forces and rebels had engaged in fighting for months after a pro-democracy movement emerged at the start of the year.
The March decision by the Assembly marked the first time that a member was suspended from the Human Rights Council. Today’s resolution noted the new commitments by Libya to protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and to cooperate with all UN human rights organizations and mechanisms.
The Council also congratulated Libya for its willingness to cooperate with the international commission of inquiry investigating human rights abuses in the country committed since the beginning of the popular uprising.
Today the Council also adopted a range of resolutions on various human rights issues, including a mandate for the creation of a special rapporteur or expert on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence of gross violations of human rights or international law.
(UN Press Release)
ABA Section of International Law - Fall Meeting in Dublin Ireland
Although online registration for the Dublin Fall Meeting has closed, you can still register and attend the fabulous fall meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law. To register, please visit the registration area starting October 11th at 1PM at The Convention Centre Dublin, Spencer Dock, Dublin 1, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Registration hours will open on Tuesday, October 11th from 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM and will then be open Wednesday, October 12th – Friday, October 14th from 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Registration questions can be directed to Jessica Smith, Meeting Planner, ABA Section of International Law at Jessica.Smith [at] AmericanBar.org. See you in Ireland!
Happy World Maritime Day
The United Nations marked World Maritime Day today with a warning of the high costs that piracy is imposing on the shipping industry, and a call for collective action from UN agencies, governments and military forces to combat the problem.
“During 2010 alone, 4,185 seafarers were attacked by pirates using firearms – even rocket propelled grenades, 1,090 were taken hostage, and 516 were used as human shields. No fewer than 488 were reported suffering significant psychological or physical abuse,” said International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos. In his message to mark the Day, Mr. Mitropoulos noted that over the years, piracy has taken a high toll in the shipping industry, particularly in the Indian Ocean. “While innocent seafarers bear the brunt of [pirates’] crimes, the world economy suffers too – an annual cost that is now estimated to be between $7 billion and $12 billion,” he said. Mr. Mitropoulos said that piracy has become an entrenched problem that cannot be solved by one entity alone.
“While IMO has positioned itself in the epicentre of the concerted efforts being made, it cannot alone supply an instant solution to the issue,” he said. He stressed that the participation of governments, shipping companies, ship operators and crews, military forces, and UN agencies would all need to act in an orchestral manner if they are to combat piracy successfully. “Shipping companies must ensure that their ships rigorously apply the IMO guidance and industry-developed best management practices in their entirety, so that, when venturing into the western Indian Ocean region, they comply with all the recommended measures: no ship is invulnerable, in particular those with relatively low freeboards and slow steaming speeds.
“Governments need to back up their oft-stated concern over the situation by deploying military and other resources commensurate, in numbers and technology, with the scale of the problem and with a realistic chance of dealing with it effectively,” he said. He remarked that the magnitude of the threat and the urgency for a strategic response prompted this year’s theme for the World Maritime Day: ‘Piracy: orchestrating the response.’ “More needs to be done, including the capture, prosecution and punishment of all those involved in piracy; the tracing of ransom money; and the confiscation of proceeds of crime derived from hijacked ships, if the ultimate goal of consigning piracy to the realms of history is to be achieved,” he said. Rome will be the host this year of the World Maritime Day celebrations on 13–14 October. As part of the event, a series of seminars will take place to discuss anti-piracy measures and international cooperation against piracy.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
ICTR Appeals Chamber Upholds Sentences for Genocide
The Appeals Chamber for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has upheld 25-year jail terms imposed on a former top military officer and a landowner for genocide in the massacres that killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during a 100-day period in 1994. The Appellate Chamber dismissed the appeal by Lieutenant Colonel Ephrem Setako (who was also head of the defense ministry’s division of legal affairs) upholding his conviction for genocide for ordering the killings at Mukamira military camp in 1994. The Chamber also confirmed his convictions for extermination as a crime against humanity and for violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons as a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions that govern the treatment of prisoners of war.
The Chamber also upheld the 25-year jail term imposed on Yussuf Munyakazi, a former farmer and landowner, for genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity based on his role in the killings of Tutsi at Shangi and Mibilizi parishes on 29 and 30 April 1994, respectively.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
September 28, 2011
Saudi Arabia Sentences Woman to 10 Lashes . . . for Driving!
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia granted women the right to vote (starting in 2015), but a court in Saudi Arabia reminded us this week that the situation for women in that country remains tragic. A woman, Shaimaa Ghassaneya, was found guilty of driving and was sentenced this week to ten lashes. The New York Times reports that according to human rights activists she would appeal the sentence. It also reported that more women (at least before this sentence) have been encouraged to violated the ban on driving.
UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts
The Georgetown Center for Transnational Business and the Law will hold a symposium on the 2010 UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts. The session will be on Friday, October 28, 2011, starting at 9:00 a.m. Click here for more information. Download UNIDROIT Symposium
Hat tip to David P. Stewart
South Sudan Joins WHO as its Newest Member
The world’s newest country, South Sudan, joined the World Health Organization (WHO) as its 194th member. UN Member States automatically become WHO members if they accept the WHO constitution.
UN General Assembly President Turns Focus from Talk to Action
As the annual debate of world leaders came to a close yestersday, the President of the General Assembly said it is time to focus on tackling the range of issues raised over the past week, from climate change and sustainable development to United Nations reform and the application for Palestinian statehood. “Coming together is only the start; working together will get us to the end,” Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser told the 193-member body at the closing of the general debate.
The debate drew the participation of 111 heads of State and government, as well as a host of vice-presidents, ministers, senior government officials and one crown prince. A total of 191 Member States – including the UN’s newest member, South Sudan – and three observers took part, with only Saudi Arabia and Seychelles sitting it out this year. “Without question, it has been an historic and unforgettable debate,” Mr. Al-Nasser stated, touching on several of the highlights of the week-long debate that began last Wednesday.
Many Member States, he noted, paid tribute to the hope awakened by the shifts taking place around the world, and praised the courage of those who fought for freedom, dignity and democracy, and made it clear that governments cannot suppress their people without accountability. The Assembly also witnessed the renewed hope and determination of the Palestinian people, Mr. Al-Nasser said, adding that it was indeed “an historic moment” when President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he had submitted an application to the Secretary-General for the admission of Palestine as a UN Member State.
“As we come together to consider these timely and complex issues, the role of mediation is clearly more relevant than ever before,” said the President, who has identified four key areas to help frame the work of the 66th session. These areas are:
- the peaceful settlement of disputes;
- UN reform and revitalization;
- improving disaster prevention and response; and
- sustainable development and global prosperity.
There were also calls during the debate for continuing reform of the UN, including broad agreement on the urgent need to make the Security Council more representative, inclusive, democratic and transparent.
Member States also emphasized the importance of international cooperation in disaster prevention and recovery, and acknowledged the need to “act cooperatively and think creatively” regarding sustainable development and global prosperity as the world’s population reaches the 7-billion mark next month. In addition, there were calls for redoubling efforts to achieve progress in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the targets to slash hunger, poverty, disease and lack of access to education by 2015 – as well as tackling climate change and advancing efforts on nuclear disarmament.
“We now turn our attention to the crucial next step,” said the President, stressing the need to translate words into deeds. He added that in fulfilling their responsibilities, Member States must build consensus and sustainable solutions to global challenges.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Wrapping Up the Opening Debates at the UN General Assembly
From climate change and sustainable development to the importance of multilateralism and the need for an end to impunity for war crimes and human rights, officials from United Nations Member States around the world have taken to the podium during the General Assembly’s annual general debate to voice their views about issues both global and national.
Ambassador Lucy Mungoma of Zambia told the debate that the recent political upheavals across North Africa and the Middle East have underscored the value of mediation as a way to try to resolve conflicts. Welcoming Libyans’ ousting of the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi earlier this year, Ms. Mungoma said she was nevertheless concerned about “new atrocities being committed against black people in that country – both the citizens and migrants from other African countries. “We call on this august body to send a strong message that not only will it pursue perpetrators of these atrocities as vigorously as it did Qadhafi, but it undertakes to investigate all allegations thoroughly. It would be tragic if, in the euphoria of celebrating the ousting of Qadhafi, the UN turns a blind eye to atrocities still being committed.”
Angola’s External Relations Minister Georges Rebelo Chikoti stressed the value of multilateralism as a method to resolve not just conflicts but all major challenges confronting humanity. “Angola advocates a shared commitment to find solutions at all levels for the problems we face,” he said. “My country gives priority to political and diplomatic coordination and to the strengthening of institutional relations with the organizations of the United Nations system, as well as regional and sub-regional organizations.”
For his part, Basile Ikouebe, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Congo, used his address to call for a successful conclusion of international negotiations on a climate change agreement beyond the life of the Kyoto Protocol. He said the global conference on the issue that will take place in Durban, South Africa, in December must lead to an international instrument that is open for countries to sign by the start of Rio+20, the sustainable development conference scheduled for Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. Mr. Ikouebe singled out sustainable forestry management as being particularly important, noting that many poor or developing countries often lacked the necessary human, material or financial resources to adequately protect their forests stocks.
Manuel Salvador dos Ramos, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Communities of São Tomé and Principe, highlighted the Assembly debate’s theme this year – the role of mediation as a means of settling disputes. He noted that “the widespread use of international mediation as a technique of resolving crises as a fundamental feature of peaceful conflict resolution has not always matched our expectations and produced the expected results.” The minister said it was important for international mediators such as the UN to evolve from a peacekeeping role to one of peacebuilding. “The definition of the legal status of the mediator, the methodology of mediation and a better involvement of diplomats and experts with experience in international law appear to us as a necessary and important step that the United Nations should take in the future,” he added.
Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi voiced serious concern about the ongoing impact of climate change, especially in his own region of Central Asia. “In Tajikistan, where about 60 per cent of all water resources of the entire Central Asia originate, in the last 30 years more than 35 per cent of glaciers disappeared,” he said. “Accelerated melting of glaciers creates additional risks for sustainable development and regional water, energy and food security.” Mr. Zarifi called on fellow Member States to back a Tajik initiative from 2009 to establish an international fund aimed at saving glaciers.
Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said his country’s efforts to promote sustainable social and economic development were bearing fruit, with expanding forest cover in its territory and a rich biodiversity. Ahead of Rio+20 next year, he emphasized that countries should adopt an approach that aims towards happiness or well-being – as measured against “a well-developed set of indices.” – and not just a narrow material sense of improvement. The pursuit of happiness or well-being is “a universal value that binds the rich and the poor, the developed and the developing, and articulates the ultimate purpose of life. It is about making true societal progress in ways that are meaningful, joyful and lasting,” he said. A failure to do so, or a continuation of the current global path, “comes at the cost of our physical, psychological and spiritual well-being. It is destroying our natural life support systems and threatening our long-term survival.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)