Saturday, January 21, 2012

UN Peacekeeper Killed in Darfur

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned today the ambush by an unidentified group on a United Nations-African Union patrol in Sudan's Darfur region that led to the death of a Nigerian peacekeeper and the wounding of three others.  The attack on the joint UN-AU peacekeeping force (UNAMID) took place near Saleah, Eastern State of Darfur.

In a message issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban urged the Government of Sudan to carry out a speedy investigation and to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice.  The Secretary-General also expressed his condolences to the Government of Nigeria and to the family of the fallen peacekeeper.

The head of UNAMID, Ibrahim Gambari, also condemned the attack and stressed that it constitutes a war crime. Mr. Gambari, in a message issued by his spokesperson, committed the Mission to work closely with Sudanese authorities in order to apprehend the perpetrators as fast as possible.

Since the initial deployment of UNAMID on 31 December 2007, 35 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of hostile action.

(UN Press Release)

January 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

150 Reported Killed in Attacks on Police Buildings and Immigration Centers in Nigeria

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned today the multiple attacks across the northern Nigerian city of Kano, which resulted in large-scale casualties and massive destruction to property.  According to media reports, an estimated 150 people were killed on Friday during a series of explosions targeting police buildings and immigration centres around the city.

In a message issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he was "appalled at the frequency and intensity of recent attacks in Nigeria, which demonstrate a wanton and unacceptable disregard for human life."  Mr. Ban voiced his solidarity with the Government and people of Nigeria, and expressed his hope for swift and transparent investigations into the attacks to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.  Mr. Ban also extended his sincere condolences to the people of Nigeria and to the bereaved families.

(UN Press Release)

January 21, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cambodia Decides Not to Appoint Co-Investigating Judge at ECCC

The United Nations today voiced concern at Cambodia’s decision not to appoint the current reserve judge as the new international co-investigating judge at the tribunal set up to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, saying it breaches the agreement that set up the court. Yesterday the Government of Cambodia formally notified Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the decision not to appoint the current reserve international co-investigating judge, Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, to the position of international co-investigating judge of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). “This is a matter of serious concern,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement, stating that the decision is a breach of the 2003 agreement between the UN and the Government that set up the court, which states that the person appointed to fill this particular vacancy must be the reserve international co-investigating judge.

The vacancy on the ECCC resulted from the resignation in October of Judge Siegfried Blunk, the international co-investigating judge, who cited attempted interference by Government officials in the court’s proceedings. The Government had raised ethical concerns in relation to Judge Kasper-Ansermet in November, according to the statement issued today. The UN thoroughly reviewed the concerns, determined that they were unfounded, and requested that the country’s Supreme Council of the Magistracy proceed with his appointment.

“The United Nations continues to support Judge Kasper-Ansermet and Cambodia should take immediate steps to appoint him as international co-investigating judge,” said the statement. It added that the newly designated Special Expert to advise on the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT), David Scheffer, is travelling to the capital, Phnom Penh, today for discussions with the Government and senior ECCC officials.

The ECCC is an independent court that uses a mixture of Cambodian staff and judges and foreign personnel. It is tasked with trying those deemed most responsible for crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979 during which as many as two million people are thought to have died.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

January 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Congrats to New AALS International Law Section Council Members and Officers

At the annual meeting the Association of American Law Schools in Washington, DC earlier this month, the International Law Section Council elected its new officers and executive board for 2012.  The new officers are:

Chair: Christiana Ochoa of Indiana University - Bloomington, Maurer School of Law

Chair-Elect: Stephanie Farrior of Vermont Law School

Secretary: Cindy Buys of Southern Illinois University School of Law

Treasurer: Matthew Charity of Western New England Law School

The Executive Committee Members include: Dan Derby of Touro Law School (Outgoing Chair), Hari Osofsky of the University of Minnesota Law School, Anastasia Telesetsky of the University of Idaho College of Law, and David Gartner of Arizona State University, Sandra Day O'Conner College of Law.

Congratulations to all of them and many thanks to Professor Dan Derby for his leadership this past year and a very interesting program at AALS on North American Legal Developments.

(cgb)

 

January 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scotland to Hold Referendum on Independence

Last week, Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, announced that he intends to hold a referendum in 2014 on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. Such a split would pose many complicated questions regarding Scotland's membership in the European Union as well as other international treaties and organizations. If Scotland is considered a wholly new state, it may have to apply for membership. Alternatively, the other member states of the EU could treat Scotland as an automatic member since it already belonged as part of the UK. The EU treaties don't clearly address these questions and there is no precedent. If Scotland did split off, it would significantly affect the financial benefits and burdens of EU membership for both Scotland and the UK. However, the likelihood of that happening does not appear to be great. News reports indicate that the majority of the Scottish population is not in favor of independence.

(cgb)

January 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ending the Violence in South Sudan

The top United Nations envoy in South Sudan today urged an immediate end to the cycle of ethnic violence in the newly independent nation, and called on the Government to hold the perpetrators to account and to deploy more forces to key areas to avert further bloodshed.  “The ongoing security crisis in Jonglei state is a test for all of us,” Hilde Johnson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), told a press conference in the capital, Juba.  “All concerned should redouble their efforts to put an immediate end to the cycle of violence, which is putting thousands of lives at risk and threatening the stability of the whole area,” she added.

Deadly clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in recent weeks have displaced tens of thousands of civilians and led to UN agencies launching a major humanitarian operation to assist those in need.  Ms. Johnson noted that UNMISS has in recent months consistently deployed its limited resources to reinforce efforts to prevent and mitigate conflict in Jonglei state, including to the Lou Nuer, Dinka and Murle communities.  “However, more Government forces are urgently needed in key locations, as well as to patrol in the buffer zones between the communities to de-escalate tensions between the communities and avert further violence,” she stated. “I urge the Government to deploy additional forces and further strengthen its forces in the key areas to stop further violence.”

She voiced deep concern about hate messages delivered by some individuals and groups, which she said could incite systematic ethnic violence. “Any statements that could incite ethnically based violence are totally unacceptable.  I urge the leaders of all communities at all levels in Jonglei state, and nationally, to call for a halt to any such rhetoric. I also call on the Government to bring the full force of the law to bear against those responsible for inciting violence,” Ms. Johnson stated.  “UNMISS strongly condemns the use of violence by communities and urges their political, traditional and youth leaders to do their utmost to end killings and confrontations in an area that has suffered far too many casualties,” she added.

UN peacekeepers have been deployed to the area in recent weeks to support the efforts of Government forces to restore peace and security, and daily air and land patrols have been stepped up to deter further attacks. However, the Mission has a shortfall of operational helicopters, seriously affecting its ability to carry out its mandate.  Ms. Johnson pointed out that the Mission took “decisive” measures, including committing around half of its combat-ready personnel to the heavily-populated areas of Pibor and Likuongole.   “We moved our forces to where civilians were under greatest threat. These actions combined with the presence of Government troops helped save many lives,” she said.

The Mission’s preliminary findings have confirmed evidence of a number of civilians killed and injured, however, the findings so far do not provide the basis for the scale of casualties claimed by some media, Ms. Johnson stated.  “We urge leaders and the public to avoid jumping to conclusions based on unverified human rights violations,” she said, adding that UNMISS commended the Government’s decision to conduct an investigation into the events and the numbers and who may have been responsible.

Retaliatory violence has continued, with a number of attacks in the past few days on Lou Nuer and Dinka communities, she reported.   “The cycle of violence in Jonglei has caused huge suffering to all the people in the area. It has to end,” stated Ms. Johnson.  UNMISS remained very concerned about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and reiterated its call on the international community to respond generously and rapidly to humanitarian needs.

The UN humanitarian community has launched one of the most complex and expensive emergency operations in South Sudan, aimed at assisting 60,000 people in the affected area. UNMISS will continue to assist in delivering vital supplies, particularly in remote areas where some of the most vulnerable people are located.

The Special Representative also noted that South Sudan is moving with determination towards consolidating its independence on the national and international scenes. At the national level, political reforms and security are among the major challenges that the new State is facing.  “However, the Government’s introduction of political and security reforms show strong commitment to establishing a stable and democratic state worthy of the people of South Sudan,” she stated.

(UN Press Release)

For more information about the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan, click here.

(mew)

January 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Professor David Scheffer named as Special Expert on Khmer Rouge Trials

SchefferSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon has designated David J. Scheffer of the United States as the Special Expert to advise on the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials (UNAKRT), it was announced today.  “Mr. Scheffer is very well qualified to provide expert advice on UNAKRT during this critical phase for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts Cambodia (ECCC),” stated the announcement.

The ECCC, set up under an agreement signed in 2003 by the UN and the Government, is tasked with trying those deemed most responsible for crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979 during which as many as two million people are thought to have died.

Professor Scheffer, whose designation is for an initial period of six months, replaces Clint Williamson, whose term of office expired on 30 September 2011.  He was involved in the establishment of the ECCC, the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).  He served as the US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues from 1997 to 2001.  He is presently the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law and Director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University School of Law.

It was also announced today that Mr. Ban has appointed John Hocking of Australia as the Registrar of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.  Mr. Hocking has been serving as the Registrar of the ICTY, which is based in The Hague, since May 2009.  He will continue in that position while working as the Registrar of the Residual Mechanism, which was established by Security Council to carry out a number of essential functions of the ICTY and the ICTR after the closure of the Tribunals. The Residual Mechanism will have two branches, in Arusha – where the ICTR is based – and in The Hague, which will commence functioning on 1 July 2012 and 1 July 2013, respectively.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

January 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Books We Like: Human Rights in Times of Conflict and Terrorism

Doswald-BeckLouise Doswald-Beck, Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in Switzerland, has published a new book on Human Rights in Times of Conflict and Terrorism (Oxford University Press 2011). 

The book is a guide to international human rights and humanitarian law as applied to situations of armed conflict, counter-terrorism measures, and other violent situations that endanger fundamental human rights (such as as the right to life, prohibitions on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and other fundamental rights). Professor Doswald-Beck was previously a legal adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and became Head of the Legal Division in 1998.  She brings her knowledge and experience from her work at ICRC in a highly practical text on a difficult legal and political issue.

The book begins by reviewing the "Overarching Elements" such as the application of human rights law during both peace and armed conflict, the international law instruments that create obligations to ensure and implement human rights, the right to a remedy for violations of rights, and the regime of limitations and derogations.  Her treatment of the subject is scholarly, thorough, and impressive.  It focuses deeply on the substantive law and assumes a basic understanding of the procedures of human rights bodies.  There are extensive citations to decisions of human rights tribunals and to primary source documents.

The second part of her book deals with "Absolute Prohibitions" including: the prohibition of the arbitrary deprivation of life; the prohibition on the use of torture, inhuman, or degrading treatment; and the prohibition of enforced disappearances.  That is followed by parts on "Fundamental Requirements of Due Process," "Limitations to Freedoms," and "Protection of Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Populations."  

This book (at 550 pages) would be a useful reference work for any human rights collection.  It would be a good practitioner guide and would also be an excellent textbook for a graduate course in international human rights law.  And although this book focuses on the application of human rights law in times of violence, it also shows how human rights are to be protected at all times.  This book is a direct response to the damage done to human rights and international law over the last decade in the name of combatting terrorism and protecting national security.

Click here for more information about the book.

Mark E. Wojcik

January 18, 2012 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fiji Lifts "State of Emergency"

The United Nations human rights chief last week welcomed the lifting of a state of emergency in Fiji, more than two years after it was imposed, calling it a “step in the right direction” for the Pacific island nation.  “The emergency law has seriously restricted the right to public assembly and freedom of expression, and given the authorities broad powers of arrest and detention,” said Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement.  “I welcome the cancellation of the emergency law and encourage the Government to build on this positive momentum with concrete steps to ensure full respect for the rule of law and human rights.”

Fiji had committed to lifting the emergency regulations before the UN Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review in 2009, a pledge the South Pacific island nation has now fulfilled, Ms. Pillay noted.  She also took note of Prime Minister Josaia V. Bainimarama’s announcement that amendments have been made to the Public Order Act, voicing hope that those amendments would be in line with international human rights norms and would not in any way replicate the restrictions in the public emergency regulations.

Ms. Pillay, however, expressed concern over recent developments in which critics of the Government have faced criminal charges, arbitrary detention and other forms of intimidation.  “Silencing criticism with such heavy-handed measures is in breach of international human rights standards. I urge the Government to ensure that the rule of law is fully respected and that there is space for civil society to operate without fear,” she said.

“As Fiji begins its constitution-making process and prepares for elections to be held in 2014, I look forward to seeing an environment in which ordinary people and civil society organizations can participate fully.”  She said the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regional bureau for the Pacific remains ready to support national efforts to further the promotion and protection of human rights in Fiji.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

January 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Guatemala Ratifies the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Guatemala has ratified the United Nations-backed international treaty banning nuclear tests, bringing the number of State parties to 156.  Out of a total listed number of 195 States, 182 have so far signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

For the treaty to enter into force ratification is required from the so-called Annex 2 States. Of these China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States have yet to ratify it. The Indonesian parliament took the decision to ratify the treaty on 6 December 2011.

Guatemala’s Foreign Minister, Haroldo Rodas Melgar, handed over the instrument of his country’s ratification at a ceremony last week at UN Headquarters in New York.  Welcoming this move, Tibor Tóth, the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), said Guatemala’s ratification is an important building block towards a world free of nuclear weapons.  “It underlines Guatemala’s commitment to outlaw nuclear testing and to enhance non-proliferation and disarmament worldwide,” he stated.

Latin America and the Caribbean was the first region in the world to establish a nuclear-weapon-free zone with the Treaty of Tlatelolco in 1967.

“Guatemala’s ratification of the CTBT is a boost for the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which will soon celebrate 10 years of being the world’s first nuclear-weapon-free zone to include all countries in the region,” noted Mr. Tóth. “This bodes well for the CTBT.” Among the 33 States in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, 31 have now ratified the CTBT, with Cuba and Dominica being the only countries that have not yet signed or ratified.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged all remaining States to sign and ratify the CTBT, with the aim of bringing it into force by 2012. “My message is clear: Do not wait for others to move first. Take the initiative. Lead. The time for waiting has passed,” he told a high-level conference last September on facilitating the treaty’s entry into force. “We must make the most of existing – and potentially short-lived – opportunities.”  In the meantime, Mr. Ban has urged all States to honour all existing moratoria on nuclear-weapon-test explosions, and to refrain from acting in a manner that undermines the purpose of the treaty.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

January 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Representatives of Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have wrapped up two days of United Nations-mediated talks on the dispute over the official name of the latter country, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General announced today.  Matthew Nimetz said the discussions in New York were helpful and focused on the optimal way to move the process forward in a constructive manner.  He added that he was given firm assurances that each Government is sincere in its interest in finding a solution and that they fully respect the UN process.

A UN-brokered interim accord in 1995 details the differences between the two countries over the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It obliges both Athens and Skopje to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General to try to reach an agreement, but so far they have not succeeded.  Mr. Nimetz met separately with Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece and Ambassador Zoran Jolevski of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the two days. Both sides presented the positions of their respective Governments on the name issue as they stand at the present time.   He said he will consult further with the representatives regarding arranging a visit to the two capitals to continue the discussions.  

“As we move forward, I have asked the parties to demonstrate their commitment to the resolution of their difference by promoting a positive atmosphere through their actions and public statements,” he stated.

(UN Press Release)

January 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Job Opening at Indiana University Maurer School of Law

The Indiana University Maurer School of Law is seeking applicants for appointment as a full-time Lecturer to teach in the LLM program, including legal research and writing, beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year. Applicants must possess a J.D. degree, a strong academic record, an interest in teaching writing, and a sensitivity to the needs of international law students. Applicants with substantial practice experience and/or previous law teaching experience preferred. Initial appointment is for two years, renewable annually thereafter with the possibility of promotion and a long-term contract after six years. Applications from minority group members are welcomed. Salary range, depending on qualifications and experience, is in the mid-$50,000s for a 10-month appointment. The position also includes a generous benefits package.

The committee will begin to consider applications on February 13 and will continue to accept applications until the position is filled. To apply, please submit a statement of interest, resume, writing sample, and contact information for three references to Julia Lamber, Professor of Law at lamber@indiana.edu (or mail an application to Professor Lamber, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 211 S. Indiana Ave, Bloomington, IN 47405).  Indiana University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

1.  The position advertised may lead to successive long-term contracts of five or more years.

2.  The professor hired will be permitted to vote in faculty meetings.

3.  The school anticipates paying an annual academic year base salary in the range $50,000 - $59,999. 

4.  The number of students enrolled in each semester of the courses taught by the legal research & writing professor will be 36 - 40 

Website: http://www.law.indiana.edu/
Position Type: long-term

Submission Deadline: 2012-02-13

January 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 16, 2012

US Continues to Pressure Iran through Sanctions

On the same day US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denied US involvement in the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist last week, she also announced that the US is turning up the pressure on Iran by imposing sanctions on three companies for conducting business with Iran’s energy sector. These three firms are Zhuhai Zhenrong Company (Zhenrong) of China, Kuo Oil (S) Pte. Ltd. (Kuo) based in Singapore and FAL Oil Company Limited (FAL) of UAE.

The sanctions were imposed under the Iran Sanctions Act, as amended by the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) and in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1929, which recognized the potential connection between Iran’s revenues derived from its energy sector and the funding of its proliferation sensitive nuclear activities.

The sanctions apply only to the sanctioned companies, and not to their governments or countries.

Zhenrong is the largest supplier of refined petroleum product to Iran. The US determined that Zhenrong brokered the delivery of over $500 million in gasoline to Iran between July 2010 and January 2011, with individual deals entered into worth significantly more than the $1 million threshold under U.S. law and the total values of the transactions well above the $5 million threshold for sanctionable activities within a 12-month period.

Kuo is an energy trading firm based in Singapore. The US has determined that Kuo provided over $25 million in refined petroleum to Iran between late 2010 and early 2011.

FAL is a large independent energy trader based in the UAE. The US has determined that FAL provided over $70 million in refined petroleum to Iran over multiple shipments in late 2010.

Under the new sanctions, all three of these companies are barred from receiving U.S. export licenses, U.S. Export Import Bank financing, and loans over $10 million from U.S. financial institutions.

(cgb)

January 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IMO Secretary-General Calls for Investigation into Cruise Ship Accident

IMOA senior United Nations official today called for a thorough investigation into the incident involving the Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy over the weekend.  “In the centenary year of the Titanic, we have once again been reminded of the risks involved in maritime activities,” Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), said in a speech to the agency’s Sub-Committee on Stability, Load Lines, and Fishing Vessel Safety.

Mr. Sekimizu expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the tragic incident that occurred on Friday near Giglio Island.  Six people reportedly died and at least 16 are missing after the Costa Concordia’s hull was torn open after it ran aground. A total of 4,200 passengers and crew were on board the vessel, according to media reports. 

“Causes of this accident are still not yet established,” noted Mr. Sekimizu. “We must wait for the casualty investigation and should not pre-judge or speculate at this stage. “I would like to urge the Flag State administration to carry out the casualty investigation covering all aspects of this accident and provide the findings to the IMO,” he added.

Mr. Sekimizu voiced his appreciation to the Italian Coast Guard for their rescue operations over the night of the accident, adding that the IMO must not take this accident lightly.  “We should seriously consider the lessons to be learnt and, if necessary, re-examine the regulations on the safety of large passenger ships in the light of the findings of the casualty investigation,” he stated.

The International Maritime Organization, based in London, is the a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent marine pollution from ships. It is also involved in legal matters, including liability and compensation issues and the facilitation of international maritime traffic. It was established by means of a Convention adopted under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva on 17 March 1948 and met for the first time in January 1959. It currently has 170 Member States. IMO's governing body is the Assembly which is made up of all 170 Member States and meets normally once every two years. It adopts the budget for the next biennium together with technical resolutions and recommendations prepared by subsidiary bodies during the previous two years. The Council acts as governing body in between Assembly sessions. It prepares the budget and work programme for the Assembly. The main technical work is carried out by the Maritime Safety, Marine Environment Protection, Legal, Technical Co-operation and Facilitation Committees and a number of sub-committees.

(mew)(Adapted from a UN Press Release with additional material from the IMO website)

January 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Myanmar (Burma): Largest Release of Political Prisoners in Asia

The United Nations independent expert on the human rights situation in Myanmar today welcomed the recent decision by President Thein Sein to grant another amnesty and set free a significant number of prisoners of conscience.  “I welcome the release of many prisoners of conscience, individuals who have been imprisoned for exercising their fundamental human rights or whose fair trial or due process rights have been denied,” said Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana.  “This is an important and necessary development to advance national reconciliation and deepen Myanmar’s transition to democracy,” he added in a press release.

While the exact number of prisoners of conscience released has yet to be confirmed, among those released last Friday were prominent figures whose cases have been previously addressed by Mr. Ojea Quintana, as well as individuals he visited in jail.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday also commended the authorities in Myanmar on the long-awaited release of the political prisoners, as well as other important efforts being made to advance democracy and national reconciliation. He described the release – reportedly of 651 prisoners – as “the most significant release to date.”

Mr. Ojea Quintana termed the developments in Myanmar, coming in the lead-up to by-elections slated for April, as “critical.”  “It is fundamental that all citizens, including those just released from prison, are allowed to play an active and constructive role in political and public life,” he said.  The Special Rapporteur also voiced concern that a number of prisoners of conscience remain in detention and urged the Government to immediately release all of them without conditions.

Separately, Mr. Ojea Quintana took note of preliminary agreements that have been reached between the Government and the Karen National Union, and with other ethnic groups. He expressed hope that there would be further progress in resolving conflicts with armed ethnic groups throughout Myanmar and called on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and respect for international human rights and humanitarian law.  “I renew my call on the Government to develop a comprehensive plan to officially engage ethnic minority groups in an inclusive dialogue to resolve long-standing grievances and deep-rooted concerns,” he added. “All parties to this dialogue must ensure that investigations and accountability for past gross and systematic human rights violations are on the agenda.  “Ending discrimination and ensuring fundamental rights for Myanmar’s ethnic minorities is essential for national reconciliation and will contribute to Myanmar’s long-term political and social stability,” he said.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

January 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Secretary General Urges Syria's President to Stop Killing His People

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon again called on the Syrian leadership to end the ongoing bloodshed in the country, stating that the era of one-man rule and the perpetuation of family dynasties are crumbling.

"I say again to President Assad of Syria: Stop the violence. Stop killing your own people. The path of repression is a dead end," Mr. Ban said in a keynote address at the High-Level Meeting on Reform and Transitions to Democracy, held in Beirut.

He said that the "remarkable" events of the past year transformed the region and changed the world, and their lessons are clear.  "The winds of change will not cease to blow. The flame ignited in Tunisia will not be dimmed," he stated, referring to the popular uprising that one year ago brought down that country's president-for-life, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.  Tunisia's revolution set off a wave of uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, later described as the Arab Spring, which also led to the toppling of long-standing regimes in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

"None of these great changes began with a call for a regime change," noted the Secretary-General. "First and foremost, people wanted dignity. They want an end to corruption. They want a say in their future. They want jobs and justice? a fair share of political power. They want their human rights.

"The old way, the old order, is crumbling -- one-man rule and the perpetuation of family dynasties ? monopolies of wealth and power? the silencing of the media? the deprivation of fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of men, women and children on this planet," he added.

For democracy to succeed in the Arab world, Mr. Ban cited four prerequisites: real and genuine reform inclusive dialogue ensuring that women are at the centre of the region's future and heeding the voices of the young.  He pledged the UN's firm commitment to help Arab countries through their transition.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

January 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Upcoming Symposium: Our Courts and the World: Transnational Litigation and Civil Procedure

On Friday, February 3, 2012, Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles and the Southwestern Journal of International Law are hosting a symposium titled Our Courts and the World: Transnational Litigation and Civil Procedure.  The purpose of the symposium is to explore issues related to transnational litigation.   

Panelists include (in alphabetical order):

  • Samuel P. Baumgartner, Professor of Law, University of Akron School of Law
  • Vaughan Black, Professor of Law, Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law
  • Gary B. Born, Partner, WilmerHale, Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School
  • Stephen B. Burbank, David Berger Professor for the Administration of Justice, University of Pennsylvania Law School
  • Montré D. Carodine, Associate Professor of Law, University of Alabama School of Law
  • Donald Earl Childress III, Associate Professor of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law
  • Paul R. Dubinsky, Associate Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School
  • Allan Ides, Christopher N. May Professor of Law, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
  • Thomas Orin Main, Professor of Law, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
  • Erin O’Hara O’Connor, Professor of Law and Director of Graduate Studies, Law & Economics PhD Program, Vanderbilt Law School
  • Cassandra Burke Robertson, Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
  • Linda J. Silberman, Martin Lipton Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
  • Linda Sandstrom Simard, Professor of Law, Suffolk University Law School
  • Adam N. Steinman, Professor of Law and Michael J. Zimmer Fellow, Seton Hall University School of Law
  • Janet Walker, Professor of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School      
  • Rhonda Wasserman, Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of  Law                                                                             

Moderators include:

  • William E. Thomson, Partners, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
  • James H. Broderick, Jr., Partner, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP
  • Marcus S. Quintanilla, Counsel, O’Melveny & Myers LLP
  • Ray D. Weston Jr., Vice President and General Counsel, Taco Bell Corp.

Symposium Co-Chairs:

  • Austen Parrish, Professor of Law and Vice Dean, Southwestern Law School
  • Christopher A. Whytock, Acting Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine

The symposium is co-sponsored by the American Society of International Law, the Junior International Law Scholars Association (JILSA), the Los Angeles County Bar Association -  International Law Section, and the State Bar of California - International Law Section.  A brochure with more information may be found here.

(cgb)

January 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)