Wednesday, October 31, 2012

European Court of Human Rights Finds Poland Violated Rights of 14-Year-Old Rape Victim

In the case of P and S v. Poland, the European Court of Human Rights issued a decision yesterday finding that Poland had violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in connection with its treatment of a 14-year old rape victim.  

The victim was raped in April 2008 and the rape resulted in a pregnancy.  When she attempted to obtain an abortion with the consent of her parents, the Polish hospital refused.  The hospital then released details of the victim's situation to the media and her case became national news.  When the applicant and her parents went to another hospital in an attempt to obtain the abortion, the applicant was removed from her parents' custody and detained in a juvenile home.  After a hearing, the victim was released to her parents and was able to obtain an abortion.  However, the state brought criminal charges against her for unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and brought charges against her parents for attempting to coerce her into having an abortion.  Both of those cases were eventually dropped.

The Court found that Poland's actions violated Convention Article 8 (right to respect for private life), Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 3 (prohibition on torture and inhumane, cruel or degrading treatment or punishment).  With respect to Article 8, the Court stated:

"The Court is of the view that effective access to reliable information on the conditions for the availability of lawful abortion, and the relevant procedures to be followed, is directly relevant for the exercise of personal autonomy. It reiterates that the notion of private life within the meaning of Article 8 applies both to decisions to become and not to become a parent . . . Having regard to the circumstances of the case, the Court concludes that the authorities failed to comply with their positive obligation to secure to the applicants effective respect for their private life. There has therefore been a breach of Article 8 of the Convention."  The Court also found that "the disclosure of information about the applicants’ case was neither lawful nor served a legitimate interest" and, thus, also violated the right of privacy under Article 8. 

The Court further held that Poland violated Article 5 of the Convention by removing the victim from her parents' custody and keeping her detained. Finally, the Court "conclude[d], having regard to the circumstances of the case seen as a whole, that the [victim] was treated by the authorities in a deplorable manner and that her suffering reached the minimum threshold of severity under Article 3 of the Convention."  As a result of these violations, the Court awarded reparations to the victim and her mother.

The full text of the decision may be found here.


October 31, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Enters Into Force

The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement entered into force today.  Here is a statement about it from the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

Today, the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) enters into force, marking an historic milestone and bringing us closer to our goal of an unbroken network of free trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere.  By eliminating tariffs and other barriers, the TPA will significantly liberalize trade in goods and services between our countries, enhancing competitiveness and supporting jobs.  It’s an example of the Obama Administration’s commitment to economic statecraft and deepening our economic engagement throughout the world. 

Almost all U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Panama will now be duty-free with remaining tariffs phased out over ten years.  Nearly half of all current trade will receive immediate duty-free treatment with most of the remaining tariffs eliminated within 15 years.  This agreement will also preserve duty-free access for Panamanian goods previously granted under trade preference programs and help strengthen the Panamanian economy.  

Not only will this reinforce the ties between our economies and create jobs, it secures our strategic partnership with a key partner.  I want to thank President Martinelli for his leadership on the entry into force of the TPA and look forward to both countries fully realizing the promise of this agreement.


October 31, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Freedom of Religion and the Right to Convert

A United Nations independent expert last week urged the international community to consistently respect, protect and promote the human right to freedom of religion or belief in the area of conversion. “The right of conversion and the right not to be forced to convert or reconvert belong to the internal dimension of a person’s religious or belief-related conviction, which is unconditionally protected under international human rights law,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said in a news release, issued as he presented a report on his work to the UN General Assembly.

In his report, Mr. Bielefeldt analyses the patterns of abuses that are perpetrated in the name of religious or ideological truth claims in the interest of promoting national identity or protecting societal homogeneity, or under other pretexts such as maintaining political and national security. “While some undue restrictions on the rights of converts or those trying non-coercively to convert others are undertaken by State agencies, other abuses, including acts of violence, stem from widespread societal prejudices,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“Violations in this sensitive area also include forced conversions or reconversions, again perpetrated either by the State or by non-State actors,” he added. “In addition, the rights of converts or those trying non-coercively to convert others are sometimes questioned in principle.” In this context, he emphasized, the rights of the child and his or her parents must also be guaranteed.

On the issue of conversion, the independent expert noted that in addition to being exposed to manifestations of social pressure, public contempt and systematic discrimination, converts often face “insurmountable administrative obstacles” when trying to live in conformity with their convictions. “In some States, converts may also face criminal prosecution, at times even including the death penalty, for such offences as ‘apostasy,’ ‘heresy,’ ‘blasphemy’ or ‘insult’ in respect of a religion or the country’s dominant tradition and values,” he said.”

On the matter of the right not to be forced to convert, Mr. Bielefeldt stated that converts are often exposed to pressure to reconverting to their previous religion. “Such pressure can be undertaken both by Government agencies and by non-State actors, including by directly linking humanitarian aid to an expectation of conversion,” he added noting also that he was particularly concerned about pressure or threats experienced by women, sometimes in the context of marriage or marriage negotiations, to convert to the religion of their husband or prospective husband.

On the topic of the right to try to convert others through non-coercive persuasion, Mr. Bielefeldt observed that many States impose tight legislative or administrative restrictions on communicative outreach activities, and that many such restrictions are conceptualised and implemented in a flagrantly discriminatory manner.  “For instance, in the interest of further strengthening the position of the official religion or dominant religion of the country while further marginalizing the situation of minorities,” he said. He added, “Members of religious communities that have a reputation of being generally engaged in missionary activities may also face societal prejudices that can escalate into paranoia, sometimes even leading to acts of mob violence and killings.”

On the issue of the rights of the child and his or her parents, the Special Rapporteur said he had received reports of repressive measures targeting children of converts or members of religious minorities, including with the purpose of exercising pressure on them and their parents to reconvert to their previous religion or to coerce members of minorities to convert to more socially ‘accepted’ religions or beliefs. “Such repressive activities may violate the child’s freedom of religion or belief and/or the parents’ right to ensure an education for their children in conformity with their own convictions and in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child,” he said.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not United Nations staff, nor are they paid for their work.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

October 31, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Mladic Files

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum holds an event in Chicago on Wednesday, November 14, 2012.  Michael Dobbs, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Goldfarb Fellow, will discuss the Hague trial of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military leader who is accused of orchestrating Europe's deadliest massacre since World War II.  He will discuss some of the documents, video recordings, and intercepted phone calls that shed light on Mladic's personality and motives.  

The program will be held twice on November 14, 2012.  The first discussion will be at noon at the Kirkland & Ellis law firm, 300 N. LaSalle Street, in Chicago.  The second will be held at 7 p.m. at Am Shalom, 840 Vernon Avenue, in Glencoe, Illinois.  The programs are free and open to the public, but advance reservations are requested.  Call 1-847-604-1924.


October 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Constitutional Democracy in Turkey

The Henry Morris Lecture in International and Comparative Law will next be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, at noon at the Chicago-Kent College of Law.  The speaker is Dr. Bertil Emrah Oder, Dean and Professor of Constitutional Law at Koc Unversity Law School in Turkey.  She will examine Turkish constitutionalism through the evolution of its constitutions.  She'll also review ongoing debates about whether Turkey should pass constitutional amendments or draft a new constitution.  

Although the day is otherwise a busy one with the U.S. elections taking place on the same day, it promises to be a good event.  The lecture is free and open to the public.  Registration is not required.  Call 312-906-5090 for more information.

Turkey celebrated its national holiday yesterday.  


October 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judicial Corruption and Threats to Human Rights

Corruption in judicial systems is threatening the protection of human rights, a United Nations independent expert said last week, urging governments to implement policies to strengthen the rule of law to combat this practice. “The pervasiveness of corruption in the judiciary and the legal profession, whether one off or endemic, is very worrying because it directly undermines the rule of law and the ability of the judiciary to guarantee the protection of human rights,” the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, told the General Assembly while presenting it with her latest annual report. “A judiciary that is not independent can easily be corrupted or co-opted by interests other than those of applying the law in a fair and impartial manner,” she said. “Strengthening the judiciary from within, as well as providing all the safeguards for its independence vis-à-vis other public officials and private actors, is essential in combating and preventing instances of judicial corruption.”

Ms. Knaul noted that corruption in the judiciary has the potential to victimize those that do not have the means to play by the informal rules set by a corrupt system. “Corruption in the judiciary discourages people from resorting to the formal justice system, thereby diverting dispute settlements towards informal systems that more than often do not abide by the basic principles of impartiality, fairness, non-discrimination and due process,” she said.

Mechanisms of accountability, the Special Rapporteur underlined, should be put in place to investigate acts of corruption and they should be developed with the full participation of the actors concerned.  “I strongly believe that the existing international principles and standards on human rights and corruption provide adequate guidance on how to tackle judicial corruption while respecting the independence of the justice system and human rights,” she said.

Ms. Knaul also emphasized that judges, prosecutors and lawyers are in a unique position to tackle the wider phenomenon of corruption in other instances of the public and private sectors, and that “anti-corruption bodies should be established or developed to effectively assist judicial actors to combat corruption and to implement and strengthen transparency within the public sector.”

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.

(UN Press Release)

October 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 29, 2012

New Gender Equity Study Released

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released a new gender equity study that rates 135 countries on five metrics to measure the degree of gender equity in the country: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.  One basic conclusion from the study: there is a "strong correlation between a country’s gender gap and its national competitiveness. Because women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women."

Iceland is in the number one spot for the fourth year in a row.  Northern European countries tend to dominate the top ranks, along with other Western developed nations such as New Zealand (6), Canada (21) and the U.S. (22).  Non-western countries in the top 20 include South Africa, Cuba, Lesotho, Nicaragua and the Philippines.  Japan is probably the lowest ranked developed country at 101.  Many countries ranked in the bottom 10 in gender equity are Muslim countries, including Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan and Iran.

The Gender Gap Report may be found here.


October 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tajikistan takes another step towards joining the WTO

WTOTajikistan came one step closer to joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday when the Working Party on its accession approved the package spelling out its terms of entry to the organization. The package contains reforms to Tajikistan’s trade  regime, market access schedules on goods and services, the Ministerial Decision and the Protocol of Accession.  The Working  Party will now send its accession recommendation to the General Council which is scheduled to meet December 11-12, 2012. It is expected that all the WTO members will approve these documents and accept Tajikistan as a WTO member.  Tajikistan originally applied for WTO membership in May 2001.  More information may be found on here.


October 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Protecting Human Rights in Times of Conflict

Protecting human rights during times of conflict is one of the greatest challenges that the international community faces today as evidenced by the crises in Syria, Mali and other parts of the world, a senior United Nations official said last week. “The protracted violence is an immediate reminder that the prevention of conflict and the protection of human rights in times of conflict remain among the most daunting challenges for the international community,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, told the General Assembly in New York.  “Outright disrespect for international human rights and humanitarian law, let alone for human life, is an anachronism which cannot be tolerated. The UN must act to uphold the rule of law and protect human rights,” she added during her annual report on the work of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

In particular, Ms. Pillay urged States to take urgent and effective measures to protect the Syrian people. More than 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Syria since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began some 20 months ago. A further 2.5 million people urgently need humanitarian aid, and more than 340,000 have crossed the border to neighbouring countries, according to UN estimates. “There is no doubt that every Security Council member wishes to see an end to the ever-deepening conflict in Syria and to the violence affecting civilians,” Ms. Pillay said. “While taking into account important political concerns, it is urgent to find ways to avert the massive loss of civilians and human rights violations.”

During her presentation, Ms. Pillay underscored that the challenge of addressing crises and protecting human rights has grown due to organized crime, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons and the exploitation of natural resources – all developing at a faster pace. While she acknowledged that much remains to be done to ensure human rights are respected all over the world, Ms. Pillay also noted there have been developments that indicate an enhanced attention to human rights in various countries. For example, OHCHR now has a field presence in 57 countries, and human rights advisers are working with governments to mainstream human rights. OHCHR has also expanded its technical cooperation considerably.

In addition, OHCHR has consistently supported the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, which has, over the past two years, steadily addressed urgent situations and mandated commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions to places where there have been reports of human rights violations, including Syria.

The UN human rights chief also highlighted the work of her office with respect to development, the rule of law, democracy, and against all forms of discrimination. “The growing recognition of the centrality of human rights in the peace, security, development and humanitarian agendas, and trust in OHCHR is very rewarding,” Ms. Pillay noted. However, she warned that financial constraints are limiting the resources required to support her office’s mandated activities. “While we continue to endeavour to fulfil such work, without sufficient resources, we are being compelled to do less with less,” the UN official said, and called on the General Assembly to renew its commitment to support OHCHR and maintain its momentum to promote and protect human rights all over the world.

October 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Laos and the WTO

A vote on Friday fomally approved Laos's application to join the World Trade Organization.  The Wall Street Journal, reporting on the developmnt, said that over the longer term, Laos's membership in the WTO "is expected to provide a bade of approval for the country that could make it easier for global firms to do business there, especially as manufacturers look for substitutes for China, where wages have risen rapidly."  Patrick Barta, "Laos Comes of Age as a Trading Partner," Wall St. J., Oct. 27-28, 2012, at A9.  Laos's membership also will "help make it easier for Southeast Asian leaders to make investors view the region as one giant market, with the ability to connect supply chaines acoress its 10 countries, all of which will now be subject to WTO mechanisms for the first time."  Id.  


October 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Philippines Peace Agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front

A senior United Nations official has welcomed the recent peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), establishing a framework for settling the decade-long conflict on the southern island of Mindanao.  “This is a major step not only to bring peace and reconciliation to the region, but also to alleviate the plight of children affected by the conflict,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, said in a news release issued on Tuesday evening.  

Earlier this month, the Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino announced that his Government had reached a preliminary agreement of autonomy with the MILF, which has been fighting for decades for an independent Islamic state on Mindanao. The new autonomous region will be named Bangsamoro.  At the time of the announcement, a spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the accord as a “landmark achievement,” and pledged full UN assistance in helping the parties implement the accord.  

In August 2009, the MILF and the United Nations signed an action plan to halt and prevent the recruitment and use of children in the armed conflict on Mindanao.  The MILF, with the world body’s support, has taken action to build awareness of its international obligations within their ranks and communities, as well as to provide alternatives to children to prevent their association with the armed group, according to Ms. Zerrougui’s office. In Mindanao, children associated with the MILF often perform tasks in support of combatants which expose them to clear risk.  

“The MILF and the United Nations, with the much needed support of the international community, must seize the opportunity of this peace dialogue to fully implement the action plan to ensure that children have no role in armed groups,” Ms. Zerrougui added.  Ms. Zerrougui also expressed concern over reports of recruitment and use of children by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters – a break-away faction of the MILF – and called for the release of children from their ranks as an immediate priority. 

(UN Press Release)

October 28, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's International Law Weekend in New York City!

ABCNY RoomInternational Law Weekend 2012 began on Thursday evening in New York. International Law Weekend ("ILW") is sponsored and organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association (“ABILA” or "AmBranch") and the International Law Students Association (“ILSA”).  And for those of you who really like acronyms, the opening session is being held at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York ("ABCNY"). 

The theme for this year’s meeting is  "Ideas, Institutions, and Interests: Dynamics of Change in International Law." Panels may focus on key regions undergoing particularly dramatic change, for instance in the Middle East or China, and subject matter areas undergoing rapid change, such as tariffs and trade, human rights and humanitarian intervention, immigration, labor, public health, sustainable development and the environment.

The progams and speakers are again outstanding.  On Friday, for example, Judge Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, will give a keynote address on ad hoc criminal tribunals.  And right after that, Meg Kinnear, the Secretary-General of ICSID, will be on two panels on international investment law and dispute settlement.

Here's a random list of some of the speakers during International Law Weekend:

  • Ruth Wedgwood, President of the American Branch of the International Law Association
  • Jerome Cohen, Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
  • John G. Crowley, Partner, Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP
  • Elizabeth Economy, C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Winston Lord, former U.S. Ambassador to China; former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian
  • Ruth, Stephanie, CristinaDarren Rosenblum, Professor of Law, Pace Law School
  • Arnold Pronto, Senior Legal Officer in the Codification Division of the Office of LegalAffairs of the United Nations; Member, Secretariat of the International Law Commission
  • Elizabeth Burleson, Associate Professor of Law, Pace Law School; Member, Legal Principles relating to Climate Change Committee, International Law Association
  • Bruce W. Bean, Lecturer of Global Corporate Law, Michigan State University Law School; Member, ABILA
  • Michael Koehler, Assistant Professor, Southern Illinois School of Law
  • Mark R. Shulman, Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs and International Affairs, Pace Law School
  • Deepa Badrinarayana, Associate Professor, Chapman Law School
  • Anna Dolidze, Visiting Professor, Western University
  • Karen Bravo, Professor of Law, John S. Grimes Fellow, Dean’s Fellow, Associate Dean for International Affairs, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
  • Mathias W. Reimann, Hessel E. Yntema Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
  • Richard Alderman, Former Director, United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office
  • Michael J. Madigan, Senior Counsel, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
  • Kathleen Harris, Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP
  • Daniel C. K. Chow, Joseph S. Platt-Porter Wright Morris & Arthur Professor of Law, Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University
  • Mark Weston Janis, William F. Starr Professor of Law, University of Connecticut School of Law
  • Aaron Fellmeth, Professor of Law, Arizona State University College of Law; Member,Intellectual Property and Private International Law Committee, International Law Association
  • Elizabeth and WinstonJoel Trachtman, Professor of International Law, Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy,Tufts University; Member, International Trade Law Committee, International Law Association
  • Jacob Katz Cogan, Professor of Law, University of Cincinnati College of Law
  • Christiana Ochoa, Professor of Law, Indiana University (Bloomington) Maurer School of Law; Co-Chair, Feminism and International Law Committee, ABILA
  • Tai-Heng Cheng, Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP
  • Thomas H. Lee, Leitner Family Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law
  • Martin Gelter, Associate Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law
  • James Fanto, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School
  • Mary R. “Nina” Henderson, Director, CNO Financial Group
  • John F. Murphy, Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law; Honorary Vice-President, ABILA
  • Katherine M. Gorove, Attorney, Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State
  • Edward J. Flynn, Senior Human Rights Officer, United Nations Counter-Terrorism-Committee
  • Milena Sterio, Associate Professor of Law, Cleveland State University Marshall College of Law
  • The Honorable Duncan Gaswaga, Judge, Seychelles Supreme Court
  • Stephen Rapp, U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues; former Chief Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone
  • Sandy L. Hodgkinson, former Assistant Secretary of Defense< Michael Scharf, Professor of Law & Associate Dean for Global Legal Studies, Case Western Reserve University School of Law; Member, ABILA Executive Committee
  • Paul Williams, President, Public International Law and Policy Group
  • Brian Wilson, Legal and Sanctions Expert, United Nations Security Council
  • John Carey, former Chair, International League for Human Rights; former Alternate U.S.Member, UN Human Rights Sub-Commission; former Justice; New York State Supreme Court; Member, ABILA Executive Committee; Chair, United Nations Law Committee, ABILA
  • Andrew Strauss, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development & Professor of Law, Widener University School of Law
  • Wil Burns, Associate Director & Professor, Energy Policy & Climate program, Johns Hopkins University; Member, Legal Principles Relating to Climate Change Committee, International Law Association
  • Scott Barrett, Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics, School of International & Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Dale Jamieson, Director of Environmental Studies, New York University
  • Norman Gregory Young, Professor of Law for International Business, California State Polytechnic University College of Business
  • Roberto Aguirre Luzi, Partner, King & Spalding; Co-Chair, Bilateral Investment Treaty and Development Committee, ABILA
  • Lawrence Newman, Of Counsel, Baker & McKenzie LLP; Chair, International Judicial
    Integrity Committee, ABILA
  • Mark E. Wojcik, Professor, The John Marshall Law School; Chair, Teaching of International Law Committee, ABILA
  • Liyan Yang, Professor of International Economic Law, GuangXi Normal University School of Law (Guilin, China); Adjunct Professor of Law, South West University of Politics and Law
    (Chongqing, China)
  • Meg Kinnear, ICSID Secretary-General, World Bank
  • Andrea Bjorklund, Professor of Law, University of California, Davis School of Law; Visiting
    Professor of Law, McGill University School of Law; Director of Studies, ABILA; Member,
    ABILA Executive Committee
  • Christina Cerna, Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown Law; Member, ABILA Executive Committee; Chair, International Human Rights Law Committee, International Law
  • Jamie Fellner, Senior Advisor, U.S. Program, Human Rights Watch
  • Juan Méndez, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Taylor Pendergrass, Senior Staff Attorney, New York Civil Liberties Union
  • Alexis Agathocleous, Staff Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights
  • William S. Dodge, Associate Academic Dean for Research and Professor of Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law; former Counselor on International Law, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser
  • Malvina Halberstam, Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; former
    Counselor on International Law, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser;
    Member, ABILA Executive Committee
  • Nathan Lewin, Partner, Lewin & Lewin, LLP, Washington, D.C.; attorney for Menachem
  • Paul B. Stephan, John C. Jeffries, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Law; David H. Ibbeken ’71 Research Professor; Director, Graduate Studies Program, University of Virginia School of Law; former Counselor on International Law, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Legal
  • George Walker, Dean's Research Professor of Admiralty and International Law, Wake Forest University School of Law; Member, ABILA Executive Committee; Chair, Law of the Sea Committee, ABILA; Member, Baselines Under the International Law of the Sea Committee, International Law Association
  • John E. Noyes, Roger J. Traynor Professor of Law, California Western School of Law;
    Chair, ABILA Executive Committee; Member, Baselines Under the International Law of
    the Sea Committee, International Law Association
  • Matthew Schaefer, Law Alumni Professor of Law and Director of Space, Cyber, and
    Telecom Law Program, University of Nebraska College of Law
  • Frans von der Dunk, Harvey & Susan Perlman Alumni and Othmer Professor of Space Law, University of Nebraska College of Law. Benjamin L. Liebman, Robert L. Lieff Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Chinese Legal Studies, Columbia University School of Law, . . . .

And many, many more.  Click here to see the program. 

ILW opens tonigh at ABCNY at 42 West 44th Street.  On Friday and Saturday, events will be held at Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center.  More than a thousand practitioners, academics, diplomats, members of the governmental and nongovernmental sectors, and foreign policy and law students are expected to attend.

Congratulations to the members of the 2012 Organizing Committee:

  • Steven A. Hammond, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
  • Nikolai B. Krylov, Winston & Strawn LLP
  • Mark R. Shulman, Pace Law School
  • Michael Shewchuk, United Nations Office of Legal Affairs
  • Vivian Shen, International Law Students Association
  • Ruth Wedgwood, President of the American Branch of the International Law Association

Mark E. Wojcik (mew), Chair, ABILA Committee on the Teaching of International Law

October 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WTO News

Earlier this week,the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures approved the final extension of the transition period until the end 2013 for export subsidy programmes of 19 developing countries. These programmes consist mainly of free trade zones and tax incentives. The beneficiary countries include: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Granada, Guatemala, Jamaica, Jordan, Mauritius, Panama, Papua New Guinea, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Uruguay. These states are urged to adopt legislation to phase out these subsidy programs.

At the same meeting, the Committee Chair expressed concern that 73 states have not submitted their 2011 subsidy notifications.

In other WTO news, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), established two panels this week. One panel is to examine a complaint by the United States against China'santi-dumping and countervailing duties on US automobiles. The second is established at the request of the European Union to examine whether the US had complied with DSB recommendations in the Boeing dispute. It will consider the EU's request to take countermeasures for $12 billion against the US.


October 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Happy United Nations Day!

The International Law Prof Blog wishes each of you a Happy United Nations Day!

Mark, Cindy, Cyndee, Laurent, and Michael

October 24, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Books We Really, Really, Really Like: Return of an Old Friend -- Comfort Food for International Lawyers -- A New Edition of Brierly's Law of Nations

BrierlyIt's small enough to fit in your coat pocket.  

You can carry it with you in the winter months.  

You can pull it out when you need the international lawyers' equivalent of comfort food.  

It's a new edition of Brierly's Law of Nations, prepared by Andrew Clapham and published by Oxford University Press.  

And it's wonderful.

The book first appeared in 1928 and it attracted a wide readership of lawyers and non-lawyers alike.  Over the years, new editions became a standard reference work and introduction to international law.  

The last edition was published in 1963.  This new, seventh edition is the first revision of the book in almost 50 years.  It was revised by Andrew Clapham, a Professor of Public International Law at the Graduate Institute of International Law and Development Studies in Geneva and Director of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.  He's updated the book in innovative ways, sometimes taking passages from Brierly's other work.  He also focused more on Brierly's fifth edition, rather than the 1963 edition revised by Sir Humphrey Waldock.  Professor Clapham has updated the work with references to recent treaties, tribunal decisions, and international law scholarship.  He has made revisions with a view of keeping the easy readability of this treasure.

The revised edition is available in hardback and paperback.  It's just over 500 pages of text, easy to read in both the style of prose and in the typesetting of the book.  You do want a copy of this.  You know you do.  This would make a great holiday gift for your favorite international lawyer too, and we just can't say that about most law books.  Grab a hot cup of tea, build a warm fire, and enjoy some time with a classic text on international law.

The ISBN number for the hardback edition is 978-0-19-965793-3.  The ISBN number for the paperback edition is 978-0-19-965794-0.  The publisher is Oxford University Press.

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)

October 23, 2012 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Obama-Romney Foreign Policy Debate

US Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debated foreign policy issues last night in the third of three presidential debates.  Next Media Animation has recreated that debate in a most interesting way . . .


Hat tip to Next Media Animation


October 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Egyptian-American Rule of Law Association

The Egyptian-American Rule of Law Association (EARLA) seems to be a relatively new nonprofit organization whose members are Egyptian-American lawyers and policy specialists experienced in legal practice, academia, government, nonprofit management, grassroots leadership, consulting, and public policy.  They are holding upcoming events in Dallas, Detroit, and New York City.  Click here for more information about the events, the organization, and its recent publication on the freedom of information in Egypt.  In addition to the organization's main website, they also have a Facebook page that you can look at.


October 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Argentina to Join UN Security Council; Argentina's Foreign Minister Also Discusses Situation of its Seized Vessel in Ghana

United Nations Security Council LogoUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met yesterday with Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and congratulated Argentina on its accession to the Security Council for the 2013 – 2014 session. In the meeting with Mr. Timerman, the Secretary-General thanked Argentina for its “steadfast support” of UN priorities and welcomed the South American nation’s new Permanent Representative-designate to the UN, Ambassador María Cristina Perceval. 

On January 2013, Argentina will join Australia, Rwanda, the Republic of Korea and Luxembourg as a non-permanent member on the Security Council for a two-year term. 

The two men also discussed the ongoing diplomatic incident between Argentina and Ghana over the Fragata Libertad – an Argentine sailing ship used for naval training exercises which has been detained in Ghana’s port of Temma for almost three weeks, following an official request by local authorities.  According to media reports, a Ghanaian judge ordered the seizure of the ship at the behest of NML Capital Ltd, a hedge fund group demanding full compensation from the Argentine Government following the country’s financial default over a decade ago. 

Mr. Ban acknowledged the Government of Argentina’s concern for the well-being of its crew members and voiced hope that both Buenos Aires and Accra would find a way to address the issue of a bilateral basis, in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which both nations are parties.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release) 

October 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Books We Like: Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law

Dr. Jane McAdam is a professor on the Faculty of Law at the the University of New South Wales.  She is recognized as an international expert in the field of refugee law.  Much of her recent work focuses on issues of refugees and international climate change.  For example, you can see one of her lectures by clicking here.  She has written a new book called "Climate Change, Forced Migration, and International Law," published by Oxford University Press.

The book examines whether States have obligations to protect people displaced by climate change under international law, including international refugee law, international human rights law, and the international law on statelessness.  She examines the nature of displacement, the "importance of context," and the "invisibility" of climate-change related migration.  She considers closely contemporary applications of treaties such as the 1951 Refugee Convention as well as the relevance of regional refugee instruments.  Using field work from Asia and some Pacific islands, she considers a number of issues relating to climate change in relation to other factors traditionally associated with migration.  She examines specific international human rights including the right to life, the right to be free of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and other human rights that "may give rise to complementary protection." She considers problems of "disappearing states" and relocation.  She also examines the "Climate Refugee Treaty Debate" and political obstacles to a new treaty on that subject.

In addition to its well-written analysis and commentary, the book includes great resources such as the list of applicable treaties and other international instruments and the list of applicable national legilsation from such countries as widespread as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, FInaland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Niue, Ireland, and South Africa.  An interesting appendix lists countries around the world that make reference to migration and relocation as an adaptation strategy in national programs of action.  The 47 countries included there include range from Afghanistan to Zaire.  And the bibliography is a treasure trove for anyone doing research on issues of international law, climate change, and forced migration.

This book is a welcome addition to the legal literature on the future of our planet.  The book is published by Oxford University Press.  The ISBN Number is 978-0-19-958708-7.





October 22, 2012 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.N. Independent Experts Urge Colombia to Reconsider Proposed Criminal Law for Military

A group of United Nations independent human rights experts today called on Colombian authorities to revisit the military criminal law provisions of proposed constitutional reforms, warning they could have serious implications for the rule of law, violate international law, and reverse the Latin American nation’s achievements in advancing respect for human rights.

“Should this reform be approved, it could seriously undermine the administration of justice for cases of alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including serious crimes, by military or police forces (Fuerza Pública),” the 11 independent experts said in an open letter to the Government and Congress of Colombia, focussing on their concerns over plans to reform the country’s Constitution. “We believe that such a reform would represent a historic setback in terms of progress achieved by the State of Colombia in the fight against impunity and the respect and guarantee of human rights,” the experts stated, noting that it would send the wrong signal to members of the Fuerza Pública of the consequences of committing human rights and international humanitarian law violations. “We have noted with serious concern that the constitutional reform project would expand the jurisdiction of military or police tribunals, giving them the power to investigate, process and decide on cases of human rights violations which should be under the authority of the ordinary criminal justice system,” the experts added.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes. The 11 experts who signed the letter included those mandated to monitor international human rights law in respect to executions, arbitrary detention, use of mercenaries, freedom of expression and assembly, judicial independence, torture, discrimination and violence against women, enforced disappearances and the situation of human rights defenders.  The proposed provisions, the experts continued, would establish a Penal Guarantees Court to deal exclusively with accusations against members of the military or police forces of the Fuerza Pública – a measure, they said, which could generate a climate of impunity by giving the impression that those charged were receiving preferential treatment.

“We believe that there is a real risk that Colombia’s obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law could be infringed if this reform is adopted, and would imply a significant retrogression in the efforts carried out by the Colombian State to overcome and prevent repetition of the notorious human rights violations committed in the past, particularly between 2003 and 2008, by members of the Fuerza Pública,” the experts wrote.  “Precisely as a result of these efforts, since 2009 Colombia has achieved a notable reduction in the reported occurrence of these types of violations, which raises the question of whether such a constitutional reform is needed,” they added.

While noting that crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and the crime of enforced disappearances would be excluded from the jurisdiction of military and police tribunals, the experts noted that the proposed reforms would also expand their jurisdiction, allowing them to investigate and decide on cases of other serious human rights violations – the 11 experts noted that these violations should be under the authority of the ordinary criminal justice system and courts.

The areas in which the military and police tribunals would have expanded jurisdiction include violations such as war crimes, sexual violence, extrajudicial executions, child recruitment or use, arbitrary detention, and torture. They also included violations touching on how individuals are treated, including outrages upon personal dignity, and taking of hostages. 

The experts offered to help the Colombian authorities to develop the “necessary measures” to ensure a constitutional and legislative framework that “strengthens the fight against impunity and the achievement of peace in Colombia.”

(UN Press Release)

October 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)