Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, today received a letter from the Syrian Government informing him of its decision “to cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6:00 a.m. (Damascus time) tomorrow, Thursday, 12 April 2012,” Mr. Annan’s spokesperson said today. The letter, from Syria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, added that the Syrian Government reserved “the right to respond proportionately to any attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against civilians, Government forces or public and private property,” the spokesperson, Ahmad Fawzi, said in a statement issued in Geneva.
Last week, the Syrian Government told Mr. Annan that it would complete the withdrawal of troops by 10 April. The Envoy had previously stated that, once that happens, all parties should move immediately to cease all forms of violence, so that a complete cessation is in place by Thursday, 12 April. The UN estimates that more than 8,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed, and tens of thousands have been displaced since protests in Syria – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began in March last year.
In his statement, Mr. Fawzi added that the Joint Special Envoy will continue to work with the Syrian Government and the opposition to ensure the comprehensive implementation of his six-point plan to end the violence. “The Joint Special Envoy looks forward to the continued support of relevant countries in this regard.” Mr. Fawzi said.
Mr. Annan's proposal, which was submitted during his visit to Damascus last month, seeks to stop the violence and the killing, give access to humanitarian agencies, release detainees, and kick-start an inclusive political dialogue. A UN team visited the country in recent days to start technical preparations for the potential deployment of observers to monitor a cessation of armed violence and the full implementation of Mr. Annan’s plan. The Joint Special Envoy is expected to update the Security Council on Thursday.
(UN Press Release)
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The United Nations Security Council today urged the military rebels who seized control of the government in Mali to immediately implement the agreement signed last week with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which provides a series of steps to restore constitutional order in the country.
Last month, rebel Malian soldiers took control of the country and announced the dissolution of the Government led by President Amadou Toumani Toure. The country is also dealing with renewed fighting in the north between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, which has uprooted more than 200,000 people since January.
In a statement to the press, the members of the Council reaffirmed the need “to uphold and respect the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Mali and reject categorically any declarations to the contrary,” and demanded “an immediate cessation of hostilities in the north of Mali by rebel groups.” The Council also condemned all violence against humanitarian workers after it was reported that seven Algerian diplomats were abducted in the town of Gao in northern Mali last week. The Council called for the immediate release of all abductees and renewed its call to all parties in Mali to seek a peaceful solution through appropriate political dialogue.
In addition, the Council reaffirmed its support to the efforts made by ECOWAS and its mediator, the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, as well as by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Said Djinnit, and by the African Union, to initiate concrete steps to restore peace and security and protect the sovereignty of Mali.
The members of the Council reiterated their serious concern over the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country, and expressed deep concern at the increased terrorist threat in the north due to the presence among the rebels of members of the terrorist group Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and extremist elements.
(UN Press Release)
Monday, April 9, 2012
The American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) and the International Law Students Association (ILSA) have issued a call for proposals to be presented at the 2012 International Law Weekend, which will be October 25-27, 2012. Proposals are due by Friday, April 13, 2012. Click here for more information.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Co-Bloggers Mark E. Wojcik and Cindy Buys were two of the speakers at an international law career panel at Southern Illinois University School of Law on April 2, 2012. The program was sponsored by the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Section of International and Immigration Law and co-sponsored by the International Law Society at Southern Illinois University School of Law.
Pictured here (from left to right) are Carol McCann (President of the International Law Society at Southern Illinois University), Tejas Shah(an immigration attorney in Chicago at the firm of Kriezelman Burton & Associates LLC), Cindy Gallway Buys (Professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law), Mark E. Wojcik (Professor at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago and member of the ISBA Board of Governors), Erin Doyle (panel moderator), Mark Hassakis (Former ISBA President, of the law firm Hassakis & Hassakis in Mount Vernon, Illinois), and Kateah McMasters (SIU student).
Director, Education and Research Programs
The American Society of International Law (ASIL), the leading society of international lawyers and scholars in the United States, is dedicated to promoting greater understanding of international law. It pursues this mission through training, education, and research programs serving judges, lawyers, law students, policy makers, the media, and the general public.
ASIL seeks an experienced international law professional to direct its Education and Research Programs. Managing a small staff, several consultants and pro bono fellows, ASIL member volunteers, and partner organizations, and working closely with the Executive Director and other senior staff, the Director will oversee and implement all aspects of the Education and Research Programs. Responsibilities include the development and presentation of educational curricula, publications, and resources for diverse constituencies, including through innovative new formats and media; development and administration of a research agenda, including oversight of ASIL task forces and working groups on a variety of international law topics and commission of and editorial responsibility for ASIL discussion papers; budgeting; grant writing; staff management; and oversight of the Society’s growing Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program. The Director will be the Society’s primary liaison to relevant advisory boards and ASIL committees, including the Society’s Judicial Advisory Board. The Director will also participate in the ASIL senior management team and contribute to the overall management of the organization.
Required: BA/BS and JD or equivalent graduate degree and 7-10 years’ relevant experience, reflecting increasing program management responsibility and solid grounding in international law. Strongly preferred: Experience in international law teaching and administration, oversight of CLE and/or judicial education programs; program management of think tank research activity; and grant writing or other donor relations. Language skills and experience working in international, multicultural environment a plus. Generous benefits and salary commensurate with experience. Candidates should send a cover letter, resume, and three references to jobs [@] asil.org, with “Director, Education and Research Programs” in the subject line. No calls please.
Hat tip to Sheila Ward
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Among the attendees this year at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law were Judge Peter Tomka, President of the International Court of Justice (pictured at left, with me), and Professor Sean Murphy of the George Washington University School of Law (pictured at right), who was recently elected to the International Law Commission.
Secretary-General Ki-moon today noted with concern that bloodshed continues in Syria despite the Government’s acceptance of proposals by the Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations-League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, to end the violence, and urged the international community to deepen support for the envoy’s initiative.
“Despite the Syrian Government’s acceptance of the Joint Special Envoy’s plan of initial proposals to resolve the crisis, the violence and assaults in civilian areas have not stopped,” Mr. Ban told an informal meeting of the General Assembly on the situation in Syria, which also heard from Mr. Annan, via a video-conference link from Geneva. “The situation on the ground continues to deteriorate.”
Mr. Annan’s six-point proposal, which was submitted during his visit to Damascus last month, seeks to stop the violence and the killing, give access to humanitarian agencies, release detainees, and kick-start an inclusive political dialogue. The Syrian Government has informed the Envoy that it will complete the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from population centres by 10 April.
“It is the responsibility now of the Syrian authorities to deliver on what they have promised, and to implement, fully and unconditionally, all the commitments they have given to Joint Special Envoy Annan,” Mr. Ban told Assembly members, adding the he counted on the Assmebly’s continued support for the Envoy’s efforts. He appealed to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, his Government and all concerned, to show “vision and leadership,” and also urged the opposition to be ready to cease all violence, as outlined in Mr. Annan’s plan.
“Beyond a cessation of violence, it is critical to move fast on the political process. A pause in hostilities will not hold without a political horizon,” Mr. Ban said. “In this regard, the Syrian opposition is taking steps to present itself as a coherent body. This will be important for dialogue. I hope we can launch an inclusive and genuine process very soon.”
The UN estimates that more than 8,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising – part of the broader Arab Spring movement across North Africa and the Middle East – began in March last year.
In his remarks to the General Assembly, Mr. Ban said that humanitarian needs stemming from the situation continue to rise dramatically, with over a million Syrians needing relief inside the country and tens of thousands seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
The UN, he said, has started to mobilize assistance and has delivered help to 2,000 families in need inside Syria. “We need to do more and we will work with all stakeholders to ensure that the Syrian people are not left alone at this critical time,” said the Secretary-General. “As relief efforts expand, it will remain essential to preserve the independence and impartiality of humanitarian assistance.”
(UN Press Release)
The U.N. Security Council has condemned the seizure of power in Mali by military rebels and called for the restoration of constitutional rule. In a presidential statement yesterday, the Security Council said it expected the mutineers to take immediate steps to restore constitutional rule. It also called on all parties to allow access to aid organizations to provide assistance to civilians.
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has continued engaging with regional and other leaders on the situation in Mali, having held conversations with the President of Mauritania (Ould Abdel Aziz), the President of Niger (Mahamadou Issoufou), and the Foreign Minister of Algeria, (Mourad Medelci). He has also held discussions with the President of Côte d’Ivoire and Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) (Alassane Ouattara); the President of Burkina Faso (Blaise Compaoré, who is also the ECOWAS appointed mediator on Mali); and the Chair of the African Union Commission (Jean Ping).
Two weeks ago, rebel Malian soldiers took control of Mali and announced the dissolution of the Government led by President Amadou Toumani Toure. Additioanlly, fighting in northern Mali between Government forces and Tuareg rebels has uprooted more than 200,000 people since January, with most seeking safety in neighboring countries and some 93,000 believed to be internally displaced.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Honduras has requested consultations with Australia under the World Trade Organization dispute settlement system concerning Australia's measures concerning trademark and other plain packaging requirements for tobacco products. Click here to read more. You can also check back on the WTO website later and search for case number WT/DS435/1.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
US Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald, a senior Pentagon official and the Convening Authority for the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, has completed his review of the charges against the five detainees accused of orchestrating the attacks of September 11, 2001 and has determined the case may proceed to trial. The five accused are the alleged ringleader Khalid Sheik Mohammad, Abdul Aziz Ali, a Pakistani, Ramzi Binalshibh and Walid bin Attash, both from Yemin, and Mustafa al-Hawsawi, from Saudi Arabia. The men are charged with violations of the laws of war, attacking civilians and civilian objects, hijacking aircraft and terrorism. If convicted, they could face the death penalty. An arraignment will be held at Guantanamo Bay next month and a number of pre-trial issues will have to be decided, including legal representation. The men are entitled to a military lawyer as well as a second "learned counsel" experienced with the death penalty. However, previously, some of the men had established the right to represent themselves. That issue will likely have to be re-litigated. Evidentiary issues, especially relating to the use of evidence obtained through the use of harsh interrogation techniques, will likely continue to be a central focus of debate.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has decided to initiate a selection process for new international judges for the United Nations-backed Cambodia genocide tribunal, and stressed that the Government must provide full cooperation so they can carry out their duties. Recent months have witnessed the resignations of the international co-investigating judge, Siegfried Blunk, and the reserve international co-investigating judge, Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Judge Blunk cited attempted interference by Government officials in the court’s proceedings, while Judge Kasper-Ansermet stated that he was being prevented from properly and freely carrying out his duties at the tribunal, which was set up as an independent court using a mixture of Cambodian and foreign personnel.
“The circumstances that have given rise to these two resignations remain worrying,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson. Both judges were working on cases 003 and 004, which involve former senior members of the Khmer Rouge military suspected of being responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. “The Secretary-General believes that it is essential that the judicial process in relation to cases 003 and 004 be brought back onto a positive course,” said the statement.
Mr. Ban has decided to initiate a process for the selection of a new international co-investigating judge, and a new reserve international co-investigating judge, in accordance with the provisions of the agreement signed by the UN and Cambodia in setting up the court. At the same time, their selection by the Secretary-General will not by itself fully address the concerns that have arisen in regard to the judicial process in these cases, the statement noted. “It is essential that the Royal Government of Cambodia extend full cooperation to the new judges once it has been informed by the Secretary-General of their selection,” it stated, adding that the new judges should be promptly appointed by the Cambodian authorities.
The new international co-investigation judge, the statement added, should be afforded “every assistance and full cooperation” to carry out his or her functions. “The Secretary-General encourages the Royal Government of Cambodia and the international community to view the selection of the new judges as an opportunity to move forward beyond recent events, and enable the ECCC to carry out its obligations in full by considering all of the cases before it in accordance with international standards of fairness” the statement added. Mr. Ban also encouraged all partners to provide financial contributions to enable the court, which faces a serious funding challenge, to concentrate on the critical judicial work at hand.
The ECCC is designated to try those deemed most responsible for crimes and serious violations of Cambodian and international law between 17 April 1975 and 6 January 1979 during the Khmer Rouge regime.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Sunday, April 1, 2012
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued a press release on Friday stating that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has agreed for the first time to hear one of the cases of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The case it will hear is that of Algerian national Djamel Ameziane. Ameaziane's lawyers allege that he has been held at Guantanamo Bay for ten years without charge or trial. They claim that his indefinite detention violates international human rights law and seek his safe resettlement in a third country. The CCR press release may be found here.
In other IACHR news, the IACHR concluded its 144th session in Washington, DC last week. The session made history because for the first time, it met in sessions with a majority of women commissioners.
The team from Moscow State University (Russia) beat Columbia University (United States) in the final rounds of the 2012 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, organized by the International Law Students Association.
A DVD of the final round will be available for purchase from the International Law Students Association -- it's a great training tool for Jessup teams competiting next year.
(Click on photos to enlarge them).
The Jessup Competition is the largest moot court competition in the world. A DVD of the final round will be available for purchase from the International Law Students Association.