September 7, 2012
Azerbaijan Criticized for Pardoning an Azerbaijani Military Officer Who Killed an Armenian Military Officer During NATO Training
In 2004, Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani military officer, was taking part in a NATO training program. An officer from Armenia, Gurgen Markayan, was taking part in the same program. Mr. Safarov murdered Mr. Markayan and was sentenced in Humgary to life imprisonment for that crime. About a week ago, Mr. Safarov was extradited from Hungary to Azerbaijan, where (instead of serving out the rest of his sentence of life imprisonment), he was pardoned by the Azerbaijani President, publicly praised as a hero, and promoted by the Defense Ministry and given eight years of back pay.
A spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told a news briefing in Geneva this week that these actions have “resulted in an international furore” and that the murder of the Armenian officer had been “clearly ethnically motivated.” Mr. Colville said that international standards regarding accountability for serious crimes should be upheld. “Ethnically motivated hate crimes of this gravity should be deplored and properly punished – not publicly glorified by leaders and politicians,” he stated.
The Co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group also expressed concern over “the damage the pardon and any attempts to glorify the crime have done to the [Nagorno-Karabakh] peace process and trust between the two sides.” Co-chaired by France, Russia, and the United State, the OSCE’s Minsk Group spearheads that organization’s efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, involving Armenia and Azerbaijan. The two countries have been in a dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is part of Azerbaijan’s territory but is occupied by Armenian forces.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
September 6, 2012
Brazil's Independence Day
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Brazil as you celebrate your Independence Day this September 7.
The relationship between our two counties is grounded in common values and a shared history of family and friends. When Brazil gained its independence in the 19th century, the United States was the first country that formally recognized its statehood. Today, we are continuing to strengthen our relationship as we work together to promote open, accountable governance, equality, social inclusion, and respect for the environment and human rights for countries around the world.
As you enjoy your national parade on the Esplanade, watch the aerobatics of the “Quadrilha da Fumaça,” or mark the occasion at one of countless other celebrations across Brazil, know that the United States is a partner and friend. We look forward to strengthening our close relationship in the coming years as we work together toward a more prosperous and peaceful world.
September 5, 2012
The Ultimate Test of the Responsibility to Protect
A timely and decisive response is vital in the face of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. That's the message from the U.N. Secretary General and other top United Nations officials stressed this week, highlighting the need to act when a State fails to protect its own people.
“This is the ultimate test of the responsibility to protect,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks to an informal interactive dialogue of the General Assembly on the principle agreed at a summit of world leaders in 2005.
Sometimes known as ‘R2P,’ the principle of the responsibility to protect holds States responsible for shielding their own populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and related crimes against humanity and requires the international community to step in if this obligation is not met.
Presenting his latest report on the responsibility to protect, Mr. Ban noted that the concept arose out of the brutal legacy of the 20th century, including the Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia, the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica, and other large-scale tragedies that underlined the failure of individual States to live up to their protection responsibilities. “The responsibility to protect is a concept whose time has come. For too many millions of victims, it should have come much earlier,” he said.
This week's dialogue is the fourth held since 2009 and focuses on timely and decisive responses – the third pillar of the responsibility to protect. “We all agree that sovereignty must not be a shield behind which States commit grave crimes against their people. But achieving prevention and protection can be difficult,” said Mr. Ban. “In recent years, we have shown how good offices, preventive diplomacy, mediation, commissions of inquiry and other peaceful means can help pull countries back from the brink of mass violence…
“However, when non-coercive measures fail or are considered inadequate, enforcement under Chapter VII will need to be considered by the appropriate intergovernmental bodies,” he added. “This includes carefully crafted sanctions and, in extreme circumstances, the use of force.” Chapter VII of the UN Charter allows the Security Council to use force in the face of a threat to peace or aggression, taking “such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security,” including blockades and other operations by the forces of Member States.
The Secretary-General pointed to the immense human cost of failing to protect the population of Syria, where more than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began 18 months ago. He commended the General Assembly for its proactive response to the Syrian crisis. “It has shown that, while moments of unity in the Security Council have been few and far between, the rest of the world body need not be silent,” Mr. Ban said.
The UN chief added that the Council’s paralysis does the Syrian people harm, damages its own credibility and weakens a concept that was adopted with such hope and expectations. “Let us by all means continue to talk through the responsibility to protect in all its aspects. Each year we achieve greater precision and common understanding,” he stated. “But let us recognize that we face an urgent test here and now. Words must become deeds. Promise must become practice.”
Addressing the gathering, the General Assembly’s President, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, noted that, through implementation of the responsibility to protect, the role of the UN is not to supplant or replace the State in meeting its legal obligation to protect. “The responsibility to protect is rather intended, as a modality for assisting a government that is unable to deliver on its protection obligations. The international community can only act, in the event that a State ‘manifestly fails’ to protect its citizens,” he said. “So the international response is intended to reinforce, not undermine, national sovereignty. This should help governments to ensure full protection to populations.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Court in Bahrain Upholds Life Imprisonment for Democracy Advocates
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is concerned at the harsh sentences, including life imprisonment, upheld by a Bahrain appeals court against 20 Bahraini political activists, according to his spokesperson. “He urges the Bahraini authorities to allow all defendants to exercise their right to appeal and to ensure that due process is observed,” his spokesperson added in a statement. “The Secretary-General reiterates his appeal to the Bahraini authorities to ensure the application of international human rights norms, including the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”
The men, who include activists Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Ebrahim Sharif, were originally sentenced last summer to between two years and life in prison, according to media reports. The charges included espionage and “setting up terror groups to topple the royal regime and change the constitution.”
Since February, there have been clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged in the Gulf country. In today’s statement, Mr. Ban calls again on the Bahraini Government to complete the full implementation of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations. The Commission had reportedly found that Government forces had used excessive force during the crackdown in February and March 2011 and had tortured some detainees.
“He reaffirms his belief that there needs to be an all-inclusive and meaningful national dialogue that addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis, as this is the only way to promote peace, stability and justice in the country,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said.
The 17 recommendations made by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry included the creation of independent bodies to investigate claims of human rights violations, the review of convictions and sentences of individuals detained during the unrest, and the avoidance of detention without prompt access to lawyers and without access to the outside world, with all cases of detention subject to effective monitoring by an independent body.
(UN Press Release)
A New Treaty Will Enter Into Force Next Year: The Convention on Domestic Workers
The Convention on Domestic Workers provides a set of international standards to improve the lives of millions of domestic workers around the world. The treaty has now been ratified by a second Member State, the Philippines, allowing it to come into force next year.
The Convention provides that workers who care for families and households must have the same basic labor rights as those available to other employees. The Convention , was adopted at the annual conference of the International Labor Organization (ILO) last year in Geneva.
The Convention required ratification by only two countries to come into force. In June, Uruguay became the first country to ratify it. The Philippines has now become the second country to ratify the treaty.
“Today’s ratification by the Philippines sends a powerful signal to the millions of domestic workers who will be protected when the Convention comes into force,” said ILO’s Director-General, Juan Somavia. “I hope it will also send a signal to other Member States and that we will soon see more and more countries committing to protect the rights of domestic workers.” Recent ILO estimates based on national surveys or censuses in 117 countries place the number of domestic workers at a minimum of 53 million, but experts say they could be as many as 100 million across the world. In developing countries, they make up at least four to 12 per cent of those in wage employment, and around 83 per cent of them are women or girls, many of whom are migrant workers.
“The new standard covers all domestic workers and provides for special measures to protect those workers who, because of their young age or nationality or live-in status, may be exposed to additional risks,” ILO said in a news release.
The Convention also states that domestic workers must have the right to reasonable working hours, weekly rest of t least 24 consecutive hours, a limit on in-kind payments and clear information on terms and conditions of their employment, as well as the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Earthquake in Costa Rica
We've just learned of an 7.6 earthquake in Costa Rica this morning. The quake appears to be the largest that country has experienced in 50 years. We hope that our friends and colleagues there are safe and that there is not too much damage from this event.
September 4, 2012
The growing number of Syrian refugees is proving to be an increasingly heavy burden on Lebanon, a United Nations senior official said today in his meeting with the Lebanese Prime Minister, during which he also expressed concern over the security situation along Lebanon’s border with Syria. In a press encounter following the meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, also voiced concern over the spate of violence and kidnappings which have raised fears of renewed sectarian conflict in Lebanon. “I am very conscious of the challenges to law and order that have occurred recently here, particularly the fighting in Tripoli that led to serious loss of life and the kidnappings in Lebanon and previously in Syria,” Mr. Plumbly said. “In that context, I would like to say that we strongly hope that all those who have been kidnapped will be released without any further delay. It is unacceptable that this situation should continue and people should be held in this way,” Mr. Plumbly continued, adding that he welcomed efforts by Lebanese authorities to address the country’s security challenges.
According to media reports, the last weeks of August witnessed fighting between supporters and opponents of the Syrian Government in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, which killed more than 12 people, while tensions also increased in other parts of the country, such as the northern city of Tripoli.
Turning his attention to the escalating refugee crisis, Mr. Plumbly noted that increased UN assistance was imminent as displaced Syrians continued to flee the violence in their country and cross the border into neighbouring Lebanon. Syria has been wracked by violence since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 18 months ago, with an estimated 18,000 people, mostly civilians, killed and hundreds of thousands others displaced. “I expect to see a further appeal from the United Nations to donors to assist in caring for the displaced people here in Lebanon because their numbers have increased and the burden is understood,” Mr. Plumbly stated, referring to the swelling number of Syrian civilians seeking refuge in Lebanon.
In a recent news release, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) confirmed that it was seeing an increase in the number of Syrian refugees arriving in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa valley, with local charities and authorities reporting about 2,200 people settling in the east over the past week – almost double the recent weekly average. Overall, some 51,000 Syrians have registered or applied to register with UNHCR in Lebanon. Moreover, in addition to the continuing wave of refugees, cross border incursions and shelling have also contributed to the precarious state of security along the Lebanese-Syrian border.
Overall, UNHCR has stated that the total number of Syrians who have registered as refugees or are awaiting registration, as of 2 September, stands at 235,368 – with most of those seeking safety in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Argentina Cries Sour Lemons To US at WTO
Sorry, readers, but I couldn't help the pun.
Argentina claims that the United States is restricting imports of fresh lemons from the northwest part of Argentina in a manner that violates the United States' WTO obligations. In particular, Argentina claims that the prohibition of imports of this fruit for the last 11 years, and other restrictive measures, lack scientific justification. Argentina also claims that the US measures appear to cancel or impair the benefits for Argentina derived, directly or indirectly, from the relevant WTO Agreements.
If the parties do not resolve the matter through consulations within the next 60 days, Argentina will be free to request the establishment of a dispute resolution panel. The matter has been assigned case number WT/DS448/1.
ABA Section of International Law Meeting in Miami
The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of International Law will hold its 2012 Fall Meeting at the Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach, from October 16-21, 2012. The ABA International Fall Meeting is one of the world’s most important gatherings of international lawyers, and its programs and networking opporunities should not be missed.
September 2, 2012
Reminder of Upcoming Deadline to Submit Proposals for Central States Law Schools Association Conference
The Central States Law Schools Association (CSLSA) Annual Scholarship Conference is scheduled for October 19-20, 2012 at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Law faculty are invited to submit proposals to present papers at the conference. Please send abstracts of proposals (500 words or less) to Secretary Missy Lonegrass at Missy.Lonegrass[at]law.lsu.edu by September 15, 2012. Any late submissions will be considered on a space available basis only.
The purpose of CSLSA is to foster scholarly exchanges among law faculty across legal disciplines. The annual CSLSA conference is a forum for legal scholars, especially more junior scholars, to present working papers or finished articles on any law-related topic in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are available to comment. More mature scholars have an opportunity to test new ideas in a less formal setting than is generally available for their work.
For those who are interested, the CSLSA mentorship program pairs interested junior scholars with more senior mentors in their fields of expertise to provide feedback on their presentations or papers. To participate in the mentorship program as either a mentor or mentee, please contact Vice-President Elizabeth Young at ely001[at]uark.edu.