Saturday, April 28, 2012
Grants on research on international educational systems are available from the Internaitonal Educational Research Foundation (IERF) in Culver City, California. Get more information by clicking here.
IERF is a credentials evaluation service that was established in 1969 as a non-profit, public-benefit agency in California. It conducts research on international education and prepares credentials evaluations for persons that have studied outside of the United States and need a statement of educational equivalency.
At its meeting earlier this week, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dealt with three matters involving the United States. First, the DSB adopted the panel and Appellate Body reports in US-Measures Affecting the Production and Sale of Clove Cigarettes (DS406). Indonesia welcomed this action, but the U.S. continued to take issue with the Appellate Body's actions.
In a second matter, Antigua and Barbados have requested the WTO Director General (DG) to mediate an ongoing dispute beween them and the U.S. regarding the United States' implemention of an earlier DSB report, US-Measures Affecting the Crossborder Supply of Gambling and Betting Services (DS285). The US stated that it has taken action to amend the schedule of services to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) to remove gambling and has offered compensation, but Antigua and Barbados have not been satisifed with that offer and overall US compliance with its WTO obligations. The US stated that it is willing to consider using the good offices of the DG to resolve the dispute.
Finally, the US reported on its compliance with another ruling, US-Antidumping and Administrative Reviews and Other Measures Related to Imports of Certain Orange Juice from Brazil (DS382), involving the use of "zeroing" or setting to zero any negative antidumping margins when calculating an antidumping duty rate. The US reported that the relevant antidumping order has been revoked and it has abandoned its controversial zeroing methodology for future entries. As a result, it will be refunding certain duties to the Brazilian producers. Brazil welcomed these actions, but stated there may still be a problem with the application of the zeroing methodology to past entries of goods. Accordingly, US compliance will continue to be monitored.
More information regarding these matters may be found here.
Friday, April 27, 2012
The Security Council today joined welcomed the guilty verdict handed down against former Liberian President Charles Taylor for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during Sierra Leone’s civil war. Mr. Taylor, who was found guilty yesterday by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), was on trial on 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
“Serious crimes and violations of international humanitarian law, including murder, rape and enlisting children into armed forces, are of particular concern,” the 15-member Council said in a statement issued to the press. “This verdict is an important step in bringing to justice those individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes, regardless of their official status,” it added.
Mr. Taylor is the first former head of State to be convicted by an international criminal tribunal since the Nuremberg trials in 1946. Although the SCSL is headquartered in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, Mr. Taylor’s trial – which opened in June 2007 – took place in a chamber of the Court sitting in The Hague in the Netherlands for security reasons.
The SCSL’s verdict was welcomed by a host of UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy.
(UN Press Release)
The United Nations human rights chief yesterday welcomed the guilty verdict handed down against former Liberian President Charles Taylor as a “major milestone in” the development of international justice. “It is important to recognise that Taylor may appeal the verdict, and that his guilt is not fully established until the end of the judicial process,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in a news release. “Nevertheless, whatever the final outcome, this is undoubtedly a historic moment in the development of international justice.”
“A former President, who once wielded immense influence in a neighbouring country where tens of thousands of people were killed, mutilated, raped, robbed and repeatedly displaced for years on end, has been arrested, tried in a fair and thorough international procedure, and has now been convicted of very serious crimes,” Ms. Pillay added.
Earlier on Thursday, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) handed down a guilty verdict against Mr. Taylor for planning, aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was on trial on 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
The charges relate to Mr. Taylor's alleged support for two rebel groups – the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the Revolutionary United Front – during Sierra Leone's decade-long civil war. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges. “That is immensely significant, and a stark warning to other Heads of State who are committing similar crimes, or contemplating doing so,” she said. “This is the first time since Nuremberg that an international tribunal has reached judgment in the trial of a former Head of State.”
The High Commissioner noted that others leaders – namely Laurent Gbagbo and Radovan Karadžiæ – have also been charged with international crimes and are either already on trial or will be soon. As well, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has been indicted, while Slobodan Miloševiæ and Muammar Gaddafi were also at various stages of international proceedings at the time of their deaths.
“The days when tyrants and mass murderers could, even when they had been deposed, retire to a life of luxury in another land are over,” Pillay said. “And so they should be. Few things are more repugnant than seeing people with so much blood on their hands, living on stolen money with no prospect of their victims seeing justice carried out.”
Pillay noted that while the delivery of justice was of immense importance to victims, and a key part of the national healing process, reparations were also necessary for people to pick up their lives and move on.
“Just because their suffering is out of the headlines, it doesn't mean it is over,” she said. “Sierra Leoneans suffered so much during the terrible conflict that wracked their country for some ten years, and so many vicious crimes were committed. The victims, and their families, will continue to need help from the current Government and the international community for many years to come.”
The Taylor trial opened on June 4, 2007 in The Hague. It was adjourned immediately after the prosecution's opening statement when Mr. Taylor dismissed his defence team and requested new representation. Witness testimony commenced on January 7, 2008, and ended on November 12, 2010. Closing arguments took place in February and March 2011. The Court heard live testimony from 94 prosecution witnesses, and received written statements from four additional witnesses. The defence presented 21 witnesses, with Mr. Taylor testifying in his defence.
The SCSL was set up jointly by the Sierra Leonean Government and the UN in 2002, with the mandate of trying those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and national law committed on Sierra Leonean territory since the end of November 1996. Although the SCSL is headquartered in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, Mr. Taylor's trial took place in The Hague for security reasons.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
The United Nations Security Council yesterday renewed for another year the set of sanctions imposed on Côte d’Ivoire, while adjusting the arms embargo in light of the need for weapons and ammunition to train and equip the country’s security forces. In a unanimous resolution, the Council decided that the measures on arms and related materiel, first imposed in 2004, “shall no longer apply to the provision of training, advice and expertise related to security and military activities, as well as to the supplies of civilian vehicles to the Ivorian security forces.” In addition, the arms embargo is not to apply to supplies of or use by the peacekeeping mission there, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), and the French forces who support them, or to non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, among other purposes.
The sanctions extended until April 30, 2013 also include the ban on the export of rough diamonds, the so-called “blood diamonds,” that have fuelled conflict in the region, and targeted measures on a number of individuals, including former president Laurent Gbagbo.
The Security Council also extended the mandate of the Group of Experts it set up to monitor the arms embargo, and reiterated the need for the Ivorian authorities to provide unhindered access to the group so it can carry out its work.
The Security Council first imposed the embargo in 2004 after a civil war in 2002 split the country into a rebel-held north and a Government-controlled south. Last year it imposed targeted financial and travel measures against Mr. Gbagbo and his associates after his refusal to leave office following his election defeat to current President Alassane Ouattara.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
“Papua New Guinea is on a slippery path to upending the constitutional order and undermining the rule of law,” the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, warned earlier today. She was voicing concern about recent steps taken by the Government in Papua New Guinea that undermine the rule of law, breach international human rights standards, impinge on the independence of the judiciary, and could lead to serious instability.
Since the August 2011 change of Government in Papua New Guinea, and the subsequent dispute over who is the legitimate Prime Minister, the Executive and Parliament have taken steps which seriously affect the ability of the judiciary to operate independently, according to a news release issued by the High Commissioner’s office (OHCHR).
The enactment of a new Judicial Conduct Act last month is of particular concern, Ms. Pillay said, as it establishes a new parallel system to deal with misconduct of judges, contrary to constitutional provisions on the issue. “It appears that the Judicial Conduct Act is being used to interfere in particular with the legal proceedings to determine the legality of the current administration,” she stated, citing a Supreme Court decision on December 12, 2011 in which it ruled that the Government of Prime Minister Peter O’Neil was unconstitutional.
In that court ruling, the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court restored Sir Michael Somare as the Prime Minister. The 3-2 decision cam shortly after Peter O'Neil's government passed legislation to legitimize the removal of Sir Somare in August when he was in Singapore. The majority found that there was no vacancy in the office of prime minister on August 2 and that the vote of 70-24 lawmakers that elected O’Neill was illegal.
Ms. PIllay also called on the Government to uphold constitutional provisions on national elections. The Government had indicated that it may now seek to delay the polls beyond the five-year term fixed by the Constitution.
Also of concern are reports that several journalists have been attacked, allegedly for their role in reporting on the current political situation in the country. “It is the Government’s responsibility and obligation under international human rights law to ensure that freedom of expression is respected, and that when journalists are attacked for doing their jobs, prompt investigations are conducted and perpetrators are duly prosecuted,” Ms. Pillay said.
(mew) (adapted in part from a UN Press Release)
Earlier today, the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly elected Mr. Dalveer Bhandari from India as the newest member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He will complete the term of Mr. Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh who resigned last year. The term will expire in February 2018. More information may be found in this ICJ Press Release.
Need a reason to visit Geneva next month? At the request of the parties in the disputes “Canada — Certain Measures Affecting the Renewable Energy Generation Sector” (DS412) and “Canada — Measures Relating to the Feed-in Tariff Program” (DS426), the panels have agreed to start their second substantive meeting with the parties with a session on 15 May 15, 2012 open to public viewing at the WTO Headquarters in Geneva. Click here to read more.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) has found Charles Ghankay Taylor guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in connection with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including terror, murder, rape, and conscripting child soldiers.
Taylor became President of Liberia in 1997. He was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in June 2003. Taylor stepped down as president (and then went into hiding) in August 2003.
Taylor sought to quash the indictment and avoid any exercise of jurisdiction by the SCSL solely because he was a sitting head of state at the time of his indictment. The SCSL Trial Chamber denied his motion and the SCSL Appeals Chamber upheld that decision in May 2004. The Appeals Chamber held that the sovereign equality of states does not prevent a head of state from being prosecuted before an international tribunal.
Taylor was arrested by Nigerian authorities in Nigeria in March 2006, following a request from Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that Nigeria turn him over to the Special Court. He was transferred to Sierra Leone and arraigned in April 2006, when he pleaded not guilty to all counts in the indictment. Because of security concerns, his trial was transferred to The Hague. The Special Court for Sierra Leone used one of the courtrooms in the International Criminal Court to hold the trial.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
We received the following press release from Intersentia, a legal publisher in Belgium, announcing that Professor Paul Lemmens has been elected to the European Court of Human Rights:
On April 24, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe elected Paul Lemmens (University of Leuven, Belgium) as judge to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of Belgium.
Paul Lemmens was elected with an absolute majority of votes cast. His 9-year term of office will start on 13 September 2012.
Professor Lemmens (°1954) studied law at the Universities of Antwerp and Leuven. He obtained his law degree (“Licentiate in Laws”) in 1976 (magna cum laude) and an additional Master's Degree in Law at Northwestern University, Chicago (1978). In 1987, he successfully defended his PhD thesis at KU Leuven (Disputes about civil rights and obligations. The scope of application of Article 6 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 14 § 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.)
Paul Lemmens began his academic career as a research assistant in constitutional law (1976-1977) and civil procedure (1979-1986). He was subsequently appointed professor (1986) and in this capacity he has taught international human rights law (since 1986), civil procedure (1986-1995), administrative procedure (1995-1997) and constitutional law (1997-2008).
Currently Paul Lemmens is a part-time professor of international human rights law at KU Leuven, and the founder and director of the Faculty of Law's Institute for Human Rights. He is also a councillor (judge) at the Belgian Council of State (Supreme Administrative Court) (since 1994) and a member of the UNMIK Human Rights Advisory Panel in Kosovo (since 2007).
Paul Lemmens is also a member of the Council of Directors (since 1997) of the European Master's Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation, based in Venice. He was president of the Flemish Interuniversity Center for Human Rights (1992-2005), a member of the Commission for Legal Science of the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (1995-2006) and a member of the Association for the Comparison of the Law of Belgium and the Netherlands. He has served as an expert for Belgium on the group of legal experts of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (2008-2010).
In the past, Paul Lemmens was a member of the Brussels bar (1976-1984 and 1987-1994), the Belgian Commission for the Protection of Private Life (1987-1997) and the Board of the Center for Equality of Chances and Combat against Racism (1993-1994). He is a member of the National Commission for the Rights of the Child (since 2007).
He was a visiting professor at Northwestern University (1999), where he worked in close collaboration with Prof. Dr. Douglass Cassel. He has been an ad hoc judge in the European Court of Human Rights in four cases against Belgium (judgments handed down in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2009).
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Dr. Isabella D. Bunn has published a new book called The Right to Development and International Economic Law: Legal and Moral Dimensions. Here's a description of the book from her publisher, Hart Publishing:
The United Nations is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the 1986 Declaration on the Right to Development, which proclaimed the right to be: 'an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be realized'. The UN now aims to mainstream the right into its policies and operational activities, and is reviewing prospects for an internationally-binding legal instrument. The evolution of the right to development, however, has been dominated by debates about its conceptual validity and practical ramifications. It has been hailed as the cornerstone of the entire human rights system and criticized as a distracting ideological initiative. Questions also persist about the role of the right in reforming the international economic order.
This book examines the legal and moral foundations of the right to development, addressing the major issues. It then considers the right to development in the global economy, noting the challenges of globalization and identifying key principles such as differential treatment of developing countries, participation and accountability. It relates the right to broad objectives such as the Millennium Development Goals, the human rights-based approach to development, and environmental sustainability. Implications for international economic law and policy in the areas of trade, development finance and corporate responsibility are assessed. The conclusion looks to the legal and ethical contributions - and limitations - of the right to development in this new context. With an academic and professional background in international law, human rights and moral theology, the author brings a unique interdisciplinary focus to this timely project.
Isabella is affiliated with Regent's Park College, University of Oxford, and is Professor of Ethics at the Florida Institute of Technology, College of Business. She serves on the Founding Executive Committee of the Society of International Economic Law and on the Section Council of the American Bar Association's Section of International Law. We congratulate her on the publication of this new book, which was unveiled last month at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law. Here's a link to the Table of Contents.
Monday, April 23, 2012
The American Bar Association Tort, Trial, and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) will hold its Spring 2012 Leadership Meeting from May 16-20, 2012 in Charleston, South Carolina at the Charleston Place Hotel. It is a joint meeting with the ABA General Practice and Solo Practitioners, as well as the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA).
The Charleston Place Hotel is located at 205 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401. The special group rate being offering is $279.00 single/double plus 12.5% tax per night. Hotel reservations can be made by calling the hotel directly at 843/722-4900 or toll free at 800/831-3490 and refer to the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Spring 2012 Meeting. The room block will be held until exhausted or until Tuesday, April 24, 2012 5:00pm (CST).
I am the incoming Chair of the ABA TIPS International Committee and I look forward to working with section members on various international activities over the coming year.
Mark E. Wojcik
The East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. Policy in Burma on April 26, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. in Room 419 Dirksen, Washington, D.C.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
The John Marshall Law School in Chicago unveils its new State Street entrance tomorrow as well as its new, attractive, and quite comfortable Student Commons. The new facilities include the "Binding Authority Bookstore" and the "Boiler Plate Café." The school celebrates the opening of the new entrance and student commons tomorrow from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Last week, the US State Department announced that it has updated its model bilateral investment treaty or BIT. A BIT is an international agreement that provides binding legal rules regarding one country’s treatment of investors from another country. The U.S. negotiates BITs on the basis of a “model” text that provides investors with improved market access; protection from discriminatory, expropriatory, or otherwise harmful government treatment; and a mechanism to pursue binding international arbitration for breaches of the treaty. Beginning in 2009, the US government has solicited comments from various interest groups regarding the model BIT. Based on the the comments received, the Obama Administration decided to make serveral changes to the model BIT. According to a US State Department Press Release:
"The Administration made several important changes to the BIT text so as to enhance transparency and public participation; sharpen the disciplines that address preferential treatment to state-owned enterprises, including the distortions created by certain indigenous innovation policies; and strengthen protections relating to labor and the environment."
The US currently has 40 BITs in place in addition to regional trade agreements such as NAFTA. For more information and the new language of the model BIT, click here.