Monday, July 16, 2012
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes the election of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa as Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and congratulates her on being the first African woman chosen to lead the regional body, his spokesperson said today. Ms. Zuma, who is South Africa’s home affairs minister, defeated the incumbent, Jean Ping of Gabon, in the vote that took place yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the summit of the 54-member African Union (AU).
The Secretary-General also expressed his appreciation to Mr. Ping for his stewardship of the AU Commission over the past four years, the spokesperson noted, and assured Dr. Zuma of the full support of the UN system. “The United Nations will continue to strengthen its strategic partnership with the Africa Union to consolidate peace, security and development in Africa in the years ahead,” the spokesperson said.
(adapted from a UN Press release)
Earlier today, the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute resolution panel issued its report in China - Certain Measures Affecting Electronic Payment Services (DS413). The United States initiated the proceedings in September 2010 when it alleged, inter alia, that China permits only a Chinese entity (China UnionPay) to supply electronic payment services for payment card transactions denominated and paid in renminbi in China. Service suppliers from other Member States can only supply these services for payment card transactions paid in foreign currency. In its report, the WTO panel determined that at least part of the electronic payment services at issue were covered by China's market access commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and that China had violated its obligations under Article XVI of GATS by granting one company a monopoly on clearing certain credit card transactions. However, the panel also rejected some of the United States' other allegations. More information and the full opinion may be found on the WTO website.
ICJ to Deliver Judgment in Questions Relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v Senegal)
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced that it will hold a public hearing on Friday, July 20 at 3 pm to announce its judgment in the case of Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal). The proceedings will also be broadcast live.
Belgium initiated these proceedings in February 2009 when it alleged that Senegal had failed to comply with its obligation to prosecute the former president of Chad, Hissène Habré, or to extradite him to Belgium for the purposes of criminal proceedings. Mr. Habré has been living in exile in Senegal since 1990 and is accused of acts of torture and crimes against humanity.
For more information regarding Friday's proceedings, check the ICJ press release.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Yesterday, US President Barak Obama issued an Executive Order lifting sanctions on U.S. investment in Burma, subject to certain reporting requirements. However, the Order continues and expands sanctions against persons who impede progress towards peace and democracy or who violate human rights. The Order coincides with the arrival of the first US ambassador to Burma in 22 years.
The US Department of Defense announced in a press release yesterday that it has released Mahmoud al Qosi, a Sudanese native and admitted al Qaeda member, from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and allowed him to return to Sudan. Al Qosi was released pursuant to a 2010 plea agreement in which he admitted to supporting al Qaeda since 1996 in hostilities against the United Staes. At various times, he acted as a cook, an accountant and as Osama bin Laden's bodyguard. He was brought to Guantanamo Bay in 2002. Al Qosi was the first detainee to be tried under the revised rules for military tribunals introduced by the Obama Administration. He was originally sentenced to 14 years, but his sentence was reduced by 2 years under the plea agreement. There are 168 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sentenced Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a former Congolese warlord, to 14 years of imprisonment for his involvement in child soldier recruitment.
In March, the ICC found Mr. Lubanga guilty of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 into the Forces Patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC) militia, and using them to participate in hostilities in the Ituri region in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, between September 2002 and August 2003. Mr. Lubanga was the commander-in-chief of the FPLC at the time.
According to an ICC news release, the judges of the Court's Trial Chamber 1 also ordered that the time from Mr. Lubanga's surrender to the ICC on 16 March 2006 until today should be deducted from the 14-year sentence.
At the ICC's open hearing, the Trial Chamber's Presiding Judge, Adrian Fulford, ex
plained that the Chamber considered the gravity of the crimes, with regard, among other things, to the extent of the damage caused, and in particular "the harm caused to the victims and their families, the nature of the unlawful behaviour and the means employed to execute the crime; the degree of participation of the convicted person; the degree of intent; the circumstances of manner, time and location; and the age, education, social and economic condition of the convicted person."
Judge Fulford also highlighted that the crimes for which Mr. Lubanga was convicted were serious crimes that affect the international community as a whole, noting that the "vulnerability of children means that they need to be afforded particular protection that does not apply to the general population, as recognised in various international treaties." Judge Fulford indicated that the Chamber's decision, however, reflected certain other factors involving Mr. Lubanga -- namely, his cooperation with the Court and his respectful attitude throughout the proceedings.
The ICC news release also noted that one of the three judges had written a separate and dissenting opinion on a particular issue. Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito disagreed with the Chamber's majority decision "to the extent that, in her view, it disregards the damage caused to the victims and their families, particularly as a result of the harsh punishments and sexual violence suffered by the victims of these crimes."
Mr. Lubanga is the first person to be tried at the ICC since it came into being on 1 July 2002.
Established by the Rome Statute of 1998, the ICC can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The United Nations 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.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Following up on another post from last week, news reports now indicate that the United States is refusing to turn over custody of non-Afghan detainees being held at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to the Afghani government. The United States maintains that although it has an agreement with the Afghanistan government to turn over control of prisons in Afghanistan to the Afghani government in September, the agreement does not apply to foreign nationals being held Bagram Air Base. These detainees are located at the Parwan Detention Center, a portion of the Bagram Air Base that will remain in U.S. hands. The United States has been criticized by human rights groups for its treatment of detainees at the Bagram Air Base.
Following up on a post earlier this week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down a sentence of 14 years against former Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga for his recruitment and use of child soldiers. Human Rights Watch has a special webpage on Lubanga where much more information may be found.
The Russian parliamentary body, the Duma, voted yesterday to approve Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), clearing the way for Russia to complete the accession process. The accession package will not be fully ratified until it is signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia will officially become a member 30 days after that happens. Russia will become the 156th member state of the WTO and is the largest economy not already part of the interantional trade agreement. Once Russia joins, it has committed to reduce its average tariffs approximately 3% and to open up certain industries to foreign competition.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
In yet another trade dispute between the US and China, China has blocked the formation of a WTO dispute resolution panel with respect to complaints by the United States, the European Union and Japan that China is engaging in unfair trade practices with respect to the exportation of rare earths, tungsten and molydenum. The United States requested consulatations with China in March of 2012. Subsequently, the EU, Japan and Canada all joined in the consultations. The United States reported to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) today that those consulations have failed; therefore, it requested the establishment of a dispute resolution panel. Under WTO rules, China is allowed one opporunity to block the establishment of a panel, a right it exercised today. Accordingly, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body has deferred the establishment of the panel until its next meeting, at which time a panel will be established unless there is a reverse concensus of all the parties that no panel should be established. The matter is formally titled, China-Measures Relating to the Exportation of Rare Earths, Tungsten and Molydenum (DS431).
The Central States Law Schools Association (CSLSA) Annual Scholarship Conference will be held on October 19-20, 2012 at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Law faculty are invited to submit proposals to present papers at the conference. Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted by September 15, 2012.
The purpose of CSLSA is to foster scholarly exchanges among law faculty across disciplines. The annual conference is a forum for legal scholars, especially junior scholars, to present working papers or finished articles on any law-related subject in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are avialable to comment. More mature scholars have an opportunity to test new ideas in a less formal setting than is normally available for their work.
For more information about how to submit an abstract or updates on the conference, visit the CSLSA website.
Monday, July 9, 2012
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is scheduled to impose its first sentence tomorrow in the case of Thomas Lubango, the former president of the Union of Congolese Patriots, a rebel group implicated in many serious human rights abuses. He was the first person arrested and brought before the ICC for trial. He was found guilty in March of this year for recruiting child soldiers and using them in combat in 2002 and 2003. Lubanga potentially faces the maximum prison term allowable - 30 years. In determining his sentence, the court will consider the gravity of his crimes, his personal circumstances, and any aggravating or mitigating factors. The decision on the sentence can be appealed.
This isn't related to internaitonal law, but we know that many of our blog readers are interested in various job announcmenets. The University Of La Verne College Of Lawin Ontario, California, is currently accepting applications for one visitor to teach Legal Analysis and Writing for the 2012-2013 academic year. The individual filling the position will teach two sections of Introduction to Jurisprudence, a 2-credit Fall semester course that exposes first-year students to the basic principles of legal research and writing. The visitor will also teach two sections of Legal Analysis and Writing I, a 2-credit Spring semester course that continues the process of legal writing instruction, focusing on core lawyering skills. Salary will depend upon experience. Send a letter of application, a resume or vitae, and the names and contact information for three references by July 13, 2012, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or regular mail to Jodi Jewell, Director of Legal Analysis and Writing, University of La Verne College of Law, 320 East D Street, Ontario, CA 91764.
Human RIghts Watch has issued the following press release, relating to the expected sentencing this week before the International Criminal Court:
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is scheduled to impose its first sentence on July 10, 2012, in the case of Thomas Lubanga, who faces up to 30 years in prison.
Lubanga is the former president of the Union of Congolese Patriots, a Congolese rebel group implicated in many serious human rights abuses. He was the first person arrested and brought before the ICC to be tried. Lubanga was found guilty on March 14 for recruiting children to be soldiers and using them in hostilities in the Ituri district of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002 and 2003.
The ICC trial chamber, in determining the sentence, will consider the gravity of the crimes, Lubanga’s personal circumstances, and any aggravating or mitigating factors. Under the ICC statute, the maximum prison term if the number of years is specified is 30 years. A life sentence may be imposed when justified by the extreme gravity of the crime. The court can also order a fine against the accused. In the case of Lubanga, the ICC prosecutor has asked for a 30-year sentence.
“The sentence against Lubanga should be fair and reflect the gravity of the crimes for which he was convicted,” said Géraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Lubanga’s sentence is important not only for the victims who want justice done, but also as a warning to those who use child soldiers around the world.”
The decision on the sentence can be appealed.
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the Lubanga case, please visit:
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Lubanga’s co-accused Bosco Ntaganda, please visit:
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the ICC, please visit:
Hat tip to Human Rights Watch
U.S. embassies around the world have joined in celebrations for LGBT pride. Click here for a report of events in Honduras, Costa Rica, Chile, Panama, Ecuador, and El Salvador.
Hat tip to Rex Wockner
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Our good friend Professor Jordan Paust recommends the following article written by a former student of his: Surendran Koran, The International Criminal Court and Crimes of Aggression: Beyond the Kampala Convention, 34 Hous. J. Int’l L. 231 (2012). The article is also available on SSRN at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2085030
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has transferred four convicts to serve their sentences in Mali and four to Benin. Yusuf Munyakazi, Tharcise Renzaho, Dominique Ntawukukukyayo and Théoneste Bagosora were transferred to Mali, while Aloys Ntabakuze, Ildephonse Hategekimana, Gaspard Kanyarukiga and Callixte Kalimanzira will serve their sentences in Benin.
The ICTR has made other transfers in recent months, with three other convicts having been transferred to Benin on 20 March, bringing the total number of convicts serving sentences to 14, while another 19 are serving theirs in Mali. According to a press release issued by the tribunal, two convicts, Jean Bosco Barayagwiza and Georges Rutuganda, who were serving a 32 year sentence and a life sentence, died on 25 of April 2010 and 11 October 2010, respectively, in Benin.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this week called on Member States which use the death penalty to abolish this practice, stressing that the right to life lies at the heart of international human rights law. “The taking of life is too absolute, too irreversible, for one human being to inflict on another, even when backed by legal process,” Mr. Ban told a panel organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on ‘Moving away from the death penalty – Lessons from national experiences’ at UN Headquarters in New York. “Where the death penalty persists, conditions for those awaiting execution are often horrifying, leading to aggravated suffering,” he added.
In 2007, the General Assembly endorsed a call for a worldwide moratorium of the death penalty. Since then, the practice has been abolished by countries like Argentina, Burundi, Gabon, Latvia, Togo and Uzbekistan. More than 150 States have either abolished the death penalty or do not practice it. However, Mr. Ban noted, the death penalty is still used for a wide range of crimes in various countries. In particular, he expressed concern that 32 States retain the death penalty for drug-related offences, and its use on juvenile offenders.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has also repeatedly called for the universal abolition of the death penalty, citing a host of reasons ranging from the fundamental right to life to the possibility of judicial errors.
In addition, Mr. Ban’s Guidance Note of 2008 on the UN Approach to Rule of Law Assistance stated that the United Nations will not establish or directly participate in any tribunal that allows for capital punishment.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release) (mew)
Thursday, July 5, 2012
For the first time since the Lisbon Treaty took effect, the European Parliament has used its powers to block the adoption of an international treaty. Members of Parliament voted overwhelmingly against ratification of the Anti-Counterfeiting Treaty Agreement (ACTA). ACTA is intended to establish international standards for the enforcement of intellectual property rights to combat counterfeiting and piracy. It also would establish a new international body, the ACTA Committee, to oversee the treaty's implementation. It has been signed by eight nations, including the US, plus the EU and 22 of its member states, but has not been ratified by any nations yet. Six ratifications are needed for the treaty to take effect. Concerns have been raised regarding the treaty's impact on freedom of expression, privacy, transparency, and access to medicines in developing countries. The final text of ACTA may be found here. However, some predict that the European Commission may now try to persuade the other signatory parties to reopen negotiations on the more controversial provisions.
Earlier today, the United States formally filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) alleging that China is violating its WTO obligations with respect to its imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on certain automobiles from the United States. The parties will now enter the consultation stage. If consulations do not resolve the matter within 60 days, the United States may request the formation of a dispute resolution panel. More information regarding this dispute, WT/DS440/1, may be found here.