Saturday, June 2, 2012
The vote tallies are in and the result is that the Irish voted to accept the European Union's new fiscal treaty. The vote was 60% in favor and 39% against, although voter turnout was only about 50%. Under the new treaty, EU states must advise the EU before issuing new debt and will face fines and other measures if they exceed deficit limits. The treaty will take effect when 12 of the 17 euro zone countries ratify it.
Friday, June 1, 2012
The US State Department Office of the Legal Advisor is sponsoring a meeting of the Advisory Committee on International Law on Wednesday, June 13, 2012, from 9:30 a.m. to approximately 5:30 p.m., at the George Washington University Law School (Michael K. Young Faculty Conference Center, 5th Floor), 2000 H St. NW., Washington, DC. The meeting will be chaired by the Legal Adviser of the Department of State, Harold Hongju Koh, and will be open to the public up to the capacity of the meeting room. It is anticipated that the agenda of the meeting will cover a range of current international legal topics, including the law of immunity, international criminal law, transnational disincentive mechanisms, and future international law priorities for the Office of the Legal Adviser.
Members of the public who wish to attend the session should, by Wednesday, June 5, 2012, notify the Office of the Legal Adviser (telephone: (202) 776-8344) of their name, professional affiliation, address, and telephone number.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
At the end of last week, the European Union (EU) filed a new complaint against Argentina at the World Trade Organization (WTO) requesting consulatations with respect to Argentina's import restrictive measures (WT/DS438/1). The challenged measures include an import licensing regime and an obligation on companies to balance imports and exports. According to the EU, the new import license requirements are causing delays and licenses are sometimes denied on nontransparent grounds. The EU also alleges that importers must agree to balance imports with exports as an unwritten and nontransparent condition of receiving an import license. The parties now have a 60-day consultation period. If the consultations do not resolve the matter within 60 days, the EU may request the establishment of a dispute resolution panel. The US, Australia, Japan and South Korea have also expressed concern regarding the measures and may join as interested third parties.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Later this week on May 31, the citizens of Ireland will vote on ratification of the European Stability/Fiscal/Austerity Treaty (the name depends on your view of the treaty here in Ireland). The treaty will allow Ireland to receive additional financial aid from the EU to help it recover from the recession, but comes with strings attached which will mean more belt tightening. Irishmen and women who describe themselves as practical believe they must vote in favor because the money is needed, while the other side argues that austerity measures have already been tried and are not working. Both sides are angry at the banks for making bad loans and essentially "getting away with it" while the citizens have to suffer cuts. There is also concern about the effect of the ill health of banks in Greece and Spain on Ireland. The countryside is plastered with posters such as those shown here urging citizens to vote one way or the other. The polls show the "yes" vote has it, and my informal talks with friends and acquaintances here in Ireland gives me the impression the polls have it right, although many people have commented that they will be voting "yes" while "holdin' their nose."
Sunday, May 27, 2012
The United Nations Security Council, meeting in an emergency session on Sunday, added its voice to the condemnation by United Nations officials of the recent massacre of men, women and children in the Syrian village of Houla. The Council was briefed in a closed-door session by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous as well as by video-link by General Robert Mood, head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), on the killings that took place on 25 May and in the early hours of 26 May of a reported 108 civilians, including over 30 children.
On Saturday UN observers went to Houla, a village near Homs, and confirmed the killings as well as the wounding of hundreds of civilians. They also confirmed from an examination of ordnance that artillery and tank shells were fired in the area.
In a letter sent to the Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that, "while the detailed circumstances are unknown, we can confirm that there has been artillery and mortar shelling. There have also been other forms of violence, including shootings at close range and severe physical abuse."
The Council, in a statement to the press, condemned the killings "in the strongest possible terms" as well as the killing of civilians by shooting at close range and by severe physical abuse. It also demanded that the Syrian Government immediately cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and immediately pull back its troops and its heavy weapons from in and around population centres and return them to their barracks.
Yesterday Mr. Ban, Gen. Mood and the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan, issued statements in which they strongly condemned the killings and urged that those responsible be held to account.
The killings have also sparked outrage from the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, who said in a statement that these "shocking" killings in a populated neighborhood are a flagrant violation of international law and the commitments made by the Syrian Government, and from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). "This outrageous crime against such young children who have no part in these battles points to a new urgency in finding solutions to the Syrian conflict. Such a massacre cannot go unpunished," said Sarah Crowe, spokesperson for the Executive Director of UNICEF.
The UN estimates that more than 9,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 14 months ago.
(UN Press Release)