November 19, 2011
A Cautionary Tale for International Business Lawyers
News reports indicate that technology produced by a United States company is being used by the Syrian government to monitor dissidents. Under the US Export Administration Act and accompanying regulations, as well as US economic sanctions against Syria, it is illegal to sell and export such technology to Syria without a license from the government. The producer of the technology is a California company called Blue Coat Systems. Blue Coat maintains that it did not sell any technology directly to Syria. Syria likely obtained the surveillance equipment though a third party intermediary - a common way in which the export control regulations may be violated. Accordingly, the US government requires exporters to "know their customers" and many exporters require their buyers to sign contracts promising not to resell the technology. However, it is not always possible for a US producer to control what happens to its products once they leave the country. Lawyers who advise such businesses must work with their clients to develop procedures to ensure to the best of their ability that their products are being put to proper end uses by approved end users. A company that does not have such procedures in place may face significant fines and may lose the ability to obtain future export licenses.
November 18, 2011
Libya to rejoin Human Rights Council
The United Nations General Assembly voted today to readmit Libya to the Human Rights Council. Libya's membership was suspended on March 1 of this year due to Qadhafi's violent suppression of the opposition movement. The UN welcomed the commitment of the new government to human rights and the rule of law. The vote was 123 in favor; six opposed; and four abstentions.
November 16, 2011
ICTY Orders Medical Examination of Ratko Mladic
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today ordered a medical examination of Ratko Mladic, the former head of the Bosnian Serb armed forces who is being tried on genocide charges, to assess whether he is fit for trial.
The ICTY trial chamber requested the examination to determine to what extent Mr. Mladic’s health condition would affect the preparation of his upcoming trial. The Chamber stated it would be able to substantiate or deny claims of Mr. Mladic’s deteriorating health and would allow it to better evaluate future motions on requests made in relation to his health.
The tribunal stressed that the assessment was necessary as it could not base its findings on Mr. Mladic’s health on media reports or other similar sources. The assessment would provide an overall picture of Mr. Mladic’s health, including his medical history and background. According to a news release issued by the ICTY, the medical report would need to be submitted no later than 6 December, in time for the next status conference in the case.
Mr. Mladic was arrested in May after 16 years on the run. According to the indictment, forces under his command committed genocide when they executed more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995. Mr. Mladic is also charged for genocide crimes committed in eastern and north-western Bosnia and Herzegovina.
(adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
Trrops Extended in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The United Nations Security Council today extended for another year the European Union stabilization force (EUFOR) tasked with ensuring that all sides continue to comply with the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement that ended fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a unanimous resolution, the 15-member Security Council also expressed its intention to “consider the terms of further authorization as necessary in the light of developments in the implementation of the Peace Agreement and the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
The EU force assumed peacekeeping responsibilities in 2004 when it took over from a stabilization force led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which continues to have a presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Yesterday the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, told the Council that the country continues to stagnate politically mainly because of politicians’ reluctance to compromise and engage in dialogue. He also pointed out that given the negative trends and political instability, it is essential that EUFOR remains in place to continue to assist his office and other international organizations to fulfil their respective mandates.
The Council, in its resolution, “reiterates that the primary responsibility for the further successful implementation of the Peace Agreement lies with the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves.” It also authorized Member States to take all measures to defend the EUFOR and NATO presence and to assist both organizations in carrying out their missions, and recognized the right of both EUFOR and the NATO presence to defend themselves from attack or threat of attack.
(Adapted from a UN Press release) (mew)
Former ICTY Spokesman Ordered to Be Arrested for Contempt of Court
The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has ordered France to arrest a former tribunal spokesperson who failed to pay a €7,000 fine imposed for contempt of court. The panel “directed and authorized” France to arrest Florence Hartmann, a French national convicted in 2009 of contempt of court for publishing a book and writing an article that disclosed confidential information about two court decisions involving former Serbian leader Slobodan Miloševic.
After losing her appeal in July this year, Ms. Hartmann was ordered to pay her fine in two instalments of €3,500 each by mid-August and mid-September respectively. She wrote to the tribunal to say she had no money and could not pay the fine, but that her supporters deposited the funds in a French bank account to pay the fine.
The tribunal’s finance department said it had not received any money. The ICTY said that Ms. Hartmann was obligated to pay the fine in the exact manner prescribed. Because she did not pay as ordered, the appeals chamber today decided to convert the fine into a term of imprisonment of seven days.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Todres on Trafficking
Professor Jonathan Todres (Georgia State University College of Law) has published an essay on human trafficking in the Michigan Journal of International Law. In his essay, he explores some of the limits in current anti-trafficking law and possible solutions. Click here for more information and to download the article from SSRN.
Writing Competition in International Humanitarian Law
The Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law and the American Society of International Law’s (ASIL) Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict have announced the second annual International Humanitarian Law Student Writing Competition.
The Competition seeks submissions of academic papers on the topic of international humanitarian law (IHL) from students currently enrolled in a law degree program in the United States or abroad. The purpose of the Competition is to enhance scholarship and deepen understanding among students in this important area of international law. The winning authors will be flown to Washington, DC to present their papers at a conference at American University Washington College of Law focused on emerging issues in IHL with a panel of expert professors and practitioners. In addition, winners will receive a complimentary registration to the ASIL 2012 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on March 28-31, 2012 and a one-year ASIL student membership. Last year the Competition received nearly 50 submissions from 17 different countries.
To be eligible to make a submission, students must be enrolled in a law degree program at a US or foreign law school. Submissions must be unpublished academic papers on a topic within the scope of international humanitarian law. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm (noon) EST.
Hat tip to Whitney Hayes, Dean’s Fellow, Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law.