Saturday, October 6, 2012

Terrorist Suspects Extradited from UK to US

On Friday, the High Court of England and Wales approved the extradition of five terrorism suspects to the United States for trial, one week after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its final approval.  The suspects had appealed the matter to the ECHR over concerns that extradition would violate the prohibitions on torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment under the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms similar to the Soering case because the U.S. uses the death penalty.  However, the United States gave assurances that it would not seek the death penalty, so the Courts allowed the extradition to go forward.  The UK Court's judgment may be found here.

The five suspects include Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Mazri, who is accused of running a terrorist training camp. Two others are British citizens Syed Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmad who are accused of providing money, equipment and other support to terrorists.  Also included are Khaled Al-Fawwaz and Abdel Bary who are accused of partipating of the bombing of US embassies in Africa.  Immediately after the Court's ruling, the men were extradited overnight to the U.S.  Four of them appeared in court in the U.S. today and pled not guilty; al Mazri entered no plea.  


October 6, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 5, 2012

American-Swiss Foundation

The American-Swiss Foundation finishes its first Leadership Conference and Alumni Reunion today in Washington, D.C., a celebration of the legacy built by Ambassador Faith Whittlesey.  Approximately 900 young leaders from the United States and Switzerland have participated in the Foundation's exchange program since 1990.  Ambassador Whittlesey was honored last night by a lifetime achievement award presented to her at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.  Her work is also honored in a new book about her by Professor Thomas Carty, Chair of the Social Sciences Department at Springfield College in Massachusetts.  The book is called "Backwards in High Heals: Faith Whittlesey, Reagan's Madam Ambassador in Switzerland and the West Wing."


October 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday Fun: What to Do When a Bear Walks Up Your Back Stairs

This woman knows how to scare a bear!


Hat tip to Rex Wockner


October 5, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

UN General Assembly Should Assume a More Prominent Role in Dispute Resolution

Giving the General Assembly a more prominent role in discussions on global economic governance and strengthening efforts to achieve the peaceful resolution of disputes will be among the priorities for the 67th session, the President of the 193-member body said this week. “The next 12 months are probably not going to be remembered as the easiest 12 months in the history of mankind,” Vuk Jeremic told a news conference at UN Headquarters in New York, following the conclusion of the Assembly’s high-level General Debate.

“We are faced with a deteriorating security situation in a number of corners of the world; the world is not out of the economic crisis; there is a huge amount of geo-political volatility and uncertainty that is characterizing the world of today,” he added. He said he hopes to work closely with the entire membership of the Assembly to ensure that the 67th session goes down in history as “an assembly of peace.”

Mr. Jeremic has chosen the peaceful resolution of international disputes as the overarching theme for the Assembly over the next 12 months. Other priorities for the session will include devising the sustainable development goals, giving the Assembly a more prominent role in the global economic governance discourse and enhancing the role of the UN-backed Alliance of Civilizations and strengthening cooperation between that initiative and the Assembly.

The Assembly has been mandated to follow up on the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Brazil in June, Mr. Jeremic said, adding that a group of 30 countries need to be put together to devise the sustainable development goals. Closely linked to this is the design of the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for the achievement of the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“I believe that the efforts of the ‘group of 30’ and the group of leaders that were tasked to do this for the post-2105 agenda need to be somehow combined,” Mr. Jeremic stated. “We need to find a way of making sure that these are not separate, let alone diverging, efforts of the international community.” The President also cited the need for a “consultative mechanism” between the Group of 20 leading economies and the rest of the world – or ‘group of 173’ as he described it – to ensure a more inclusive approach to debating world economic governance issues. Such a mechanism can enable the ‘G173’ put forward their views and ideas, while the G20 countries can benefit from hearing the rest of the world’s ideas and thoughts, he said. There will be consultations on the holding of a high-level debate in 2013 with the aim of creating a consultative mechanism, with the Assembly at its heart.

Mr. Jeremic said he will also work to enhance the role of the Alliance of Civilizations, and seek ways to regularize and strengthen the cooperation between that initiative, which seeks to promote cross-cultural understanding and tolerance, and the Assembly.  At the heart of this cooperation, he said, will be trying to spread a culture of tolerance and mutual understanding in the context of working to achieve the peaceful resolution of disputes.

Strengthening the role played by outside experts in the Assembly and in UN deliberations will also be crucial, said the President.  “Over the past several decades, our debates have been enriched, and quite substantially so, by views of civil society representatives. But with notable exceptions, I believe the General Assembly has not yet found a way to draw upon the tremendous work done by world public policy institutes and think tanks,” he said, adding that he will try to further engage them in the Assembly’s deliberations.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

October 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Haiti Urged to Strengthen Institutions Promoting the Rule of Law

Haiti must focus on strengthening its rule of law institutions, including its national police and electoral council to consolidate the gains it has achieved in recent years, the United Nations Security Council heard today as it reviewed developments in the Caribbean country. “The political process in Haiti remains vulnerable to setbacks linked to political instability, lack of respect for the rule of law and unmet social grievances,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted in his latest report, which was presented to the Council today by his Special Representative for Haiti, Mariano Fernández Amunátegui.

“In this context, I urge the new Government to do its utmost to continue to strengthen the country’s rule of law institutions and to redouble its efforts to combat unemployment and poverty,” the UN chief added in his report, which also recommends an extension of the mandate of the peacekeeping force there, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Mr. Ban also praised efforts by Haiti’s new Government, headed by President Michel Martelly, to combat corruption and smuggling, create jobs, attract foreign investment and improve socioeconomic conditions for Haitians. However, he underscored that much remains to be done to address other pressing issues, such as extreme poverty and insecurity. In particular, the Secretary-General noted that the strengthening of the Haitian National Police is a main priority for MINUSTAH as this will help to consolidate the rule of law and security conditions in the country. In addition, it would pave the way for the Mission’s eventual withdrawal from Haiti.

“We can classify the security situation as stable but with the fragility appropriate to a society going through a stabilization process, with precarious socio-economic indicators and with extreme poverty affecting important sectors of the country,” Mr. Fernandez said in his briefing to the Council, adding that politically-related violence had, for all practical purposes, ended.

The Special Representative, who also heads MINUSTAH, outlined a consolidation plan that has been created in conjunction with the Haitian Government to reconfigure and gradually reduce the Mission’s military presence and give a stronger security role to national police forces. Mr. Fernandez also pointed to the importance of establishing a Permanent Electoral Council, adding that MINUSTAH and the international community are currently working to facilitate a dialogue to set up a legitimate Council that will then lead to elections of members of the Senate, mayors and municipal officials. The process for these elections has been at an impasse since May.

The UN envoy told the Council that the cholera epidemic which has affected the country since late 2010, remains a serious challenge, with new cases still being reported continuously, many having fatal consequences.  “The epidemic affects the entire island and we are working on a plan to intensify prevention, advance the fight against the disease and carry out all necessary measures to mitigate its effects,” he noted. MINUSTAH has been mobilizing its logistical resources to assist in the effort to contain the epidemic.

MINUSTAH, Mr. Fernandez added, is working to improve the country’s education and infrastructure, promote peaceful coexistence in communities and reduce violence. “After eight years of MINUSTAH’s work in Haiti, the achievements are evident. However, to continue making progress, we must boost efforts of State consolidation that allow the harmonization of the peace dividends obtained until now,” said the Special Representative. He added, “Finding paths that facilitate dialogue and consensus among Haitians is an essential factor to build a country that can stand on its own, with democratic institutions that can respond to numerous challenges today and in the future.”

The Security Council established MINUSTAH in June 2004. In addition to helping support Haiti’s authorities with recovery efforts in the wake of massive earthquake which struck in January 2010, and following the completion of presidential elections in 2011, the Mission has been working to fulfil its original mandate to restore a secure and stable environment, to promote the political process, to strengthen Haiti’s Government institutions and rule-of-law-structures, as well as to promote and to protect human rights.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

October 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Human Rights Chief Urges Serbia to Allow LGBT Pride Parade

The United Nations human rights chief today urged Serbia to allow a pride parade for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to take place after authorities banned the public gathering, stressing that citizens should not be prevented from exercising their fundamental freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.  

The parade, which was supposed to take place on Saturday, was banned by the Serbian Ministry of Interior based on security assessments. The same occurred last year after the parade held in Belgrade in 2010 faced attacks of violence, resulting in acts of vandalism and the wounding of many police officers and civilians.   “Responding to violent attacks against a vulnerable community by banning them from peacefully gathering and expressing themselves further violates their fundamental human rights,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. “States should confront prejudice, not submit to it.”   

Ms. Pillay noted that Serbia’s progress in the promotion and protection of human rights since 2008 had been cited by a number of UN human rights mechanisms, and the Belgrade Pride Parade presents another opportunity for the Balkan country to reaffirm its commitment to the advancement of human rights, especially those of vulnerable communities.  “I urge the Government to take steps to ensure adequate protection of the LGBT community, as well as other vulnerable communities and minorities such as the Roma, so that they are able to exercise their freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” Ms. Pillay said, adding that the Government should facilitate the rescheduling of the parade.  

Ms. Pillay reiterated the readiness of her office (OHCHR) to assist the Government in these efforts, in close partnership with international and regional organizations as well as national institutions and civil society organizations.   Serbia’s Universal Periodic Review before the UN Human Rights Council next year will provide another forum to analyze the steps the State has taken in the field of human rights, she added.   

(UN Press Release)

October 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Secretary-General Urges Restraint on Spillover of Syria Crisis into Turkey

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced his alarm at escalating tensions along the Syrian-Turkish border, and called on all concerned to exercise maximum restraint.  At least six Turkish civilians were reportedly killed yesterday after mortar fire from Syria hit the town of Akcakale in Turkey’s Sanliurfa province, which shares a border with Syria. Turkey’s parliament today authorized further military action against Syria, as Turkey began its second day of shelling targets within Syria in response to yesterday’s incident, according to media reports.

Mr. Ban has “repeatedly made clear his concern about the spillover of the Syrian crisis into neighbouring countries, as occurred yesterday with Turkey,” said his spokesperson in a statement.  “The Secretary-General calls on all concerned to abandon the use of violence, exercise maximum restraint and exert all efforts to move toward a political solution,” it added. 

More than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died in Syria since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began last year. A further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid, according to UN estimates.

“As the situation inside Syria deteriorates yet further – including the atrocious terrorist bombings in Aleppo this week which killed dozens of people including civilians – the risks of regional conflict and the threat to international peace and security are also increasing,” the statement noted.  Furthermore, it added that the Joint Special Representative for Syria of the UN and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been in communication with officials from Turkey and Syria to encourage an easing of tensions.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

October 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Deadly Attack in Darfur

The United Nations has deplored an ambush that took place in the Sudanese region of Darfur on Tuesday, leaving four peacekeepers dead and eight others injured.  The incident, involving a Nigerian military patrol serving with the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), occurred some two kilometres from the Mission’s regional headquarters in El Geneina, West Darfur. UNAMID personnel, who were heavily fired on from several directions, returned fire, according to a news release issued by UNAMID.  

“The Mission condemns in the strongest terms this criminal attack on our peacekeepers, who are here in the service of Darfur’s people,” said UNAMID’s Force Commander and current officer-in-charge, Lt. General Patrick Nyamvumba. “I call on the Government of Sudan to bring the perpetrators to justice.”  

UNAMID is tasked with protecting civilians, promoting an inclusive peace process and helping ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance across Darfur, which has been the scene of fighting between Sudanese Government troops and their allied militias and rebels since 2003.  Since the Mission’s initial deployment at the beginning of 2008, over 40 peacekeepers have been killed as a result of hostile actions.   

(UN Press Release)

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Mortar Fire from Syria Lands in Turkey

In an exchange with Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoðlu, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his condolences at the “tragic loss of life” caused in a shelling incident reportedly involving Syria, according to the UN chief’s spokesperson. At least three people, including a child, were killed and nine others seriously wounded after mortar fire from Syria hit the town of Akcakale in Turkey’s Sanliurfa province, various news outlets reported earlier on Wednesday.

In the call, initiated by the Turkish official, the spokesperson added, Mr. Ban encouraged the Foreign Minister to keep open all channels of communication with the Syrian authorities with a view to lessening any tension that could build up as a result of the incident. The spokesperson noted that the Foreign Minister had also spoken earlier to the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis, Lakhdar Brahimi.

More than 18,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad began last year. A further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid, according to UN estimates.

(UN Press Release)

October 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Does international law permit gender quotas?

There is an interesting article in the EU Observer today (here) describing proposed European Union (EU) legislation that would impose gender quotas for high-level positions in private companies.  Specifically, publicly-listed companies in the EU would have to have at least 40% of the under-represented sex on their boards by 2020.  Currently, women represent only 14% of membership on these boards and it is estimated it will take at least 40 years before the gender gap is bridged.  According to EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, voluntary efforts have failed, thereby justifying more assertive action.

The international community has also been attempting to address the gender gap in international institutions.  For example, when the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court, provides for fair representation of men and women on the Court, and voting rules have been created to ensure the election of at least six women and six men.

Gender differences in business and law leadership positions in the United States are similar, if not worse, than those in the EU.  The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has banned the use of quotas in affirmative action to address discrimination.  See e.g., Baake.  Therefore, it is unlikely that the U.S. will follow a similar path.  The question of whether gender (or other) quotas are permitted under international law to address historical discrimination is an interesting one and likely will invite more discussion and debate.


October 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Law Weekend 2012

International Law Weekend 2012 will be held on October 25-27, 2012, in New York City. 

The overall theme of ILW 2012 is Ideas, Institutions, and Interests – Dynamics of Change in International Law. International Law Weekend is sponsored and organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association – which welcomes new members from academia, the practicing bar, and the diplomatic world – and the International Law Students Association. ILW 2012 will be held in conjunction with the 91st annual meeting of the American Branch. 

The audience is expected to include practitioners, professors, UN diplomats, business leaders, federal and state government officials, NGO leaders, writers, journalists, and interested citizens. There will be a broad array of public international law topics, but there will also be dedicated tracks of private international law topics in each program slot.

The unifying theme for this year’s meeting is to explore the mechanisms ofchange 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 meeting will be held in Manhattan at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York at 42 West 44th Street on Thursday evening, October 25, and at the Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center on October 26-27, in cooperation with the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice. ILW 2012 is expected to attract an audience of more than one thousand practitioners, academics, diplomats, members of the governmental and nongovernmental sectors, and most importantly, foreign policy and law students who are learning about the range of practice and career opportunities. 

The detailed agenda and registration information is available here.


October 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Overview of Treaty Actions at United Nations

Forty States either signed or ratified international treaties on a range of issues, from protecting children from violence to promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, during the annual high-level event that accompanies the opening of the United Nations General Assembly.

“States have again manifested their firm belief in the importance of international treaty law,” the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, Patricia O’Brien, said about the week-long 2012 Treaty Event, which wrapped up today at UN Headquarters. 

It is only by ratifying, accepting, acceding to, or expressing consent to be bound that a State is actually bound by an international agreement. This year’s event resulted in 87 treaty actions – 30 ratifications, 24 accessions, four acceptances and two consents to be bound, all of which represent the step of becoming party to a treaty. 

“The high number of States becoming parties to various treaties makes this one of the most important treaty events in recent years,” said Ms. O’Brien, adding that “it really supports and strengthens the rule of law.” 

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography (Indonesia and Swaziland)

Two States – Indonesia and Swaziland – joined the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

“This is a strong expression of commitment to protect children from violence and prevent the risk of their exploitation as victims of sale, prostitution or pornography,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais

The Protocol supplements the Convention on the Rights of the Child and provides detailed guidance to support States in their efforts to prohibit, prevent and bring to an end incidents of sexual exploitation of children, and to protect children from being sold for non-sexual purposes, including forced labour, illegal adoption and organ harvesting.

Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict (Indonesia, Nigeria, Swaziland)

Indonesia and Swaziland, along with Nigeria, also joined another Optional Protocol that strengthens the Convention on the Rights of the Child – on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The Protocol serves to ensure that children will not be forced to fight in war or be pressed into military service.

Amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court - Defining Aggression (Samoa)

Another important treaty action was Samoa’s ratification of the amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on the Crime of Aggression, making Samoa the second State party to the Rome Statute to ratify the amendments which define the crime of aggression.

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Dominica, Israel, Poland, Russia, and Swaziland)

The 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – the first international agreement requiring governments to uphold the rights of children and adults with disabilities – was ratified by Dominica, Israel, Poland, Russia and Swaziland.

Convention on Stateless Persons (Honduras and Portugal)

Honduras and Portugal joined the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, a 1954 agreement that requires stateless persons – people who are not considered as nationals by any State, but who are not covered by refugee laws either – to be given the same rights as citizens with respect to freedom of religion and education of their children, for instance.

Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (Malta, Nigeria, and Turkey)

Malta, Nigeria and Turkey ratified the 2005 Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism designed to criminalize acts of nuclear terrorism and to promote police and judicial cooperation to prevent, investigate and punish those acts.

International Cocoa Agreement

Also, the International Cocoa Agreement, adopted in 2010 to strengthen the cooperation between exporting and importing countries, entered into force provisionally during the Treaty Event, on 1 October 2012, as foreseen in the treaty.

UN Secretary-General is Depository for more than 550 Mulitlateral Treaties

More than 550 multilateral treaties are deposited with the Secretary-General, a number of which are close to achieving universal participation. Others require just a few more instruments of ratification or accession to trigger their entry into force.

(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)

October 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Human Rights Lawyer and Others Arrested in Iran; Violation of the ICCPR

The United Nations human rights office today voiced serious concern at the arrest and imprisonment of several prominent human rights defenders, journalists and political activists in Iran over the past two weeks.   “This appears to reflect a further severe clamp down on critical voices in the country,” a spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.  “We urge the Government of Iran to promptly release all those who have been arrested for peacefully exercising their fundamental rights,” he added.  

OHCHR is particularly concerned about the 29 September arrest of Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer and co-founder, with Shirin Ebadi, of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders. Mr. Dadkhah is now beginning a nine-year jail sentence previously imposed on him after he was charged with “membership of an association seeking to overthrow the government and propaganda against the system.”  The prison sentence was coupled with a 10-year ban on legal practice and teaching. “Mr. Dadkhah had been involved in defending many high-profile cases, and the case against him is widely believed to be linked to his work as a human rights defender,” said Mr. Colville.   

OHCHR also noted the case of lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, one of the three final nominees for the prestigious Martin Ennals human rights award, which is being awarded this evening in Geneva, despite the fact she is serving a six-year jail term.   

Also, last Wednesday, the authorities closed down an independent newspaper, the Daily Shargh, for publishing a cartoon, and arrested its director, Mehdi Rahmanian. A summons was also issued against the cartoonists.   

Ali Akbar Javanfekr, the press advisor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and head of the state-run news agency (IRNA), was arrested on the same day to serve a six-month jail sentence issued previously for insulting the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.   

The Reuters bureau chief in Iran, Parisa Hafezi, has also been charged with spreading lies and propaganda, and the wire agency’s entire operation has reportedly been suspended, OHCHR noted.   

“The ongoing arrest and detention of media professionals and intimidation of media organizations is deeply worrying, especially given we are now entering the run-up to the June 2013 presidential elections,” said Mr. Colville.   

He also cited the arrest in recent days of Faezeh Hashemi and Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, the daughter and son of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Ms. Hashemi was arrested on 22 September to serve a six-month jail sentence, apparently linked to her participation in an opposition rally in February 2011.   Her brother was taken into custody at a Tehran airport two days later after returning from 36 months exile in London. He is facing charges related to his role in the 2009 post-election unrest.  

“Lawyers, human rights defenders and independent media make a key contribution in democratic societies and must be allowed to carry out their work without facing intimidation, harassment, arrest and prosecution,” stated Mr. Colville.   He added, “The arrests and harsh sentences imposed on such figures reflect a disturbing trend apparently aimed at curbing freedom of expression, opinion and association, which are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a State party.”   

(From a UN Press Release)

October 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Iraq Warns of Dangers of Providing Arms to Parties in Syrian Conflict

Iraq’s Vice-President, Khudier Alkhuzae, cautioned against arming either side in the Syrian conflict, telling the United Nations General Assembly last week that the escalating violence in his country’s neighbour was a “reason for distress to all.”

“We would like to draw your attention to the danger of providing the fighting parties with weapons, which only leads to more violence, blood and loss of life,” the Vice President said in his speech to the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, at UN Headquarters in New York. “This situation endangers the social fabric of the Syrian people, whom we cherish and (for whom we) fear for their unity and sovereignty.”  Vice President Alkhuzae also cautioned against “negative regional and international interference,” saying it could “adversely impact the Syrian issue, and may cause unlimited chaos… that may spare not even those who interfered.”

In Iraq’s view, he continued, only “negotiations and peaceful solutions” stand any chance of ending the crisis, which otherwise risked drawing in the region. “Solving the crisis by force could double the costs incurred by the Syrians and the region,” the Vice President said. “I hope that all of the parties realize that the bet on the military solution is a dangerous move.”

He called on world leaders to support the “international and Arab initiative” promoted by the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar
Brahimi, and warned that continued violence could “lead the region (into) a spiral of fighting known only to God.”

Vice President Alkhuzae delivered the warnings on Syria after recalling his own country’s path towards democracy. But he said that, in Iraq’s case, “confronting terrorism caused a lot of blood, tears and money,” yet “rewarded our people with everlasting immunity against violence and gave us protective vaccines against the use of force and arms to deal with our differences.”

On the question of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iraqi Vice President said his country’s position mirrored that of the wider Arab world in its support for the establishment of a State of Palestine within the “occupied Palestinian territories, with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Looking beyond conflict in the Middle East, in his statement, Vice President Alkhuzae touched on the question of “discriminatory policies” targeting religious and ethnic minorities, saying that Iraq condemned the “inhumane violations of the rights of Muslims in Myanmar.” He said they faced a “genocide that (the) world’s conscience” should not ignore. 

Recent tensions between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine left at least a dozen civilians dead and hundreds of homes destroyed, as well as at least 64,000 people displaced.

Referring to an anti-Islam video produced in the United States, and which led to a violent reaction in several cities around the world, the Iraqi Vice President echoed other Muslim leaders speaking from the Assembly rostrum in commenting on the “repulsive abuses” directed against the Prophet of Islam, and the ensuring protests.  He said the protests had “almost rocked” East-West relations, and called for a “sincere look” at the prospect of internationally banning such offending material with a measure that “criminalizes anyone who insults heavenly religions, disrespects religious symbols, or insults the Great Prophets and Messengers.”

Click here for the text of his remarks to the United Nations.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

October 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Turkmenistan Proposes New International Legal Framework on Energy Security

The Deputy Prime Minister of Turkmenistan, Rashid Meredov, stressed energy security as a basic condition for global development and proposed the creation of an international legal framework on the issue, as he addressed the high-level debate of the United Nations General Assembly last week.  “One of the basic conditions for a stable and conflict-free development of the world today is energy security,” said Vice President Meredov, who is also his country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.  Click here for a copy of his statement to the United Nations.

Turkmenistan, he noted, is one of the leading suppliers of energy resources and possesses the fourth largest reserves of hydrocarbon resources. It has “responsibly and consistently” called for the establishment of a stable and reliable system of international energy supplies and the elaboration of schemes and patterns of interaction in the global energy markets. “We believe that today there is a need for the adoption of UN-level consensus decisions, which would serve as a basis for the creation of universal political and legal mechanisms governing global energy cooperation,” said Vice President Meredov.  He recalled that his country launched a number of initiatives related to energy security and mutually beneficial cooperation in the energy sector. 

“As a step forward with regard to these initiatives, Turkmenistan suggests that the UN member countries consider in great detail the idea of creating an international legal framework that would govern the functioning of energy supply systems, taking into due consideration the interests of hydrocarbon producers, transit and recipient nations,” he said.  

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

October 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lebanon Calls for International Help for Syria's Refugees

Speaking from t

he podium of the United Nations General Assembly last week, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati called on the international community to help his country tend to the influx of refugees fleeing the violence in neighbouring Syria.  “Lebanon alone cannot handle the increasing number of displaced migrants, as international support and assistance on all levels is much needed,” he told the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, at UN Headquarters in New York.  Click here for a copy of his remarks.

The crisis in Syria has seen over 18,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands of others driven from their homes since a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad erupted 18 months ago. A further 2.5 million Syrians urgently need humanitarian aid, according to UN estimates. “The security consequences of the Syrian crisis threaten peace and stability in the Middle East and specifically in Lebanon,” Prime Minister Mikati said. “The international community must exert more efforts in order to assure political consensus among Syrian parties to end violence that is claiming hundreds of innocent lives each day.” The ongoing violence in neighbouring Syria has fuelled sectarian tensions across Lebanon and raised concerns that the country could plunge back into the internecine violence it endured during its 15 year civil war, which ended in 1990.

In his statement to the Assembly, the Lebanese leader also urged the United Nations to further the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland and achieve an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. He also denounced Israel for violations of the accord that ended its month-long war with Hizbollah in 2006, calling on it to end its continued occupation of land in southern Lebanon. “Our region is still striving to cope with the dramatic consequences that followed the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and its on-going occupation of Arab territories and its continued violations of International Law and United Nations resolutions,” Prime Minister Mikati said. He added, “Peace along with freedom and justice are the pillars for attaining both security and stability and will pave the way towards the eradication of oppression, extremism, and terrorism in our world. Stability cannot occur without a Palestinian spring through the full implementation of the Palestinians right to self-determination on their land.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

October 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Are Student Rights in Danger?

The Online Colleges Website has posted a piece called "9 Signs Student Rights Are In Danger."  Click here to have a look.

Hat tip to Dollie Todd


October 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Small Island Developing States Warn of Dangers from Climate Change

Caribbean ministers at the United Nations General Assembly today called on Member States to pay attention to the devastating effects of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable populations, and urged greater international cooperation to achieve a common UN-sponsored climate agreement.


“Inaction or inadequate action is inexcusable and morally indefensible, given the level of certainty of the scientific evidence before us, and the technological and financial tools at our disposal to affect the necessary change,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados, Maxine McClean, said in her remarks to the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, taking place at UN Headquarters in New York.  Click here for a copy of her statement.

Noting that there was “no greater threat” to the survival, viability, and security of Barbados and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) than the “potentially catastrophic” changes to the global climate system, Ms. McClean warned that although some progress had been made at last year’s Durban Climate Change Conference, the world remained far from finding a solution to the problem.  “Barbados welcomes the decision taken in Durban to launch negotiations on a new legally binding agreement that would take effect after 2020,” she continued. “However, for us a post-2020 agreement is meaningless if ambitious actions are not taken now to reduce global emissions and provide finance and technology to vulnerable developing countries.”


Grenada’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dessima Williams, in her remarks to the Assembly, similarly noted the risks that Caribbean island nations faced due to climate-related events. She urged Member States to support the UN’s impending Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, also known as COP18, in an effort to move “steadfastly toward the finalization of a new binding climate treaty by 2015.” Click here for a copy of her statement.

“Without a legally binding climate regime to uphold environmental integrity, Caribbean and other small island states could lose the opportunity for achieving sustainability soon and some could even disappear,” Ms. Williams said. “We see the upcoming COP 18 in Doha, Qatar as an opportunity to move decisively away from this scenario.” 


In his statement, Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston G. Lackin, echoed this concern and recalled that the recent UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20), which was held in Brazil in June, concluded without an agreement on the financing of sustainable development. “The international community cannot abandon its obligation to provide the necessary means to combat serious consequences of over-consumption, pollution, and carbon emissions, which threaten to undo our own achievements in protecting the environment and securing the well-being of our peoples,” he said.  Click here for a copy of his statement.


Touching upon climate-related issues in his address to the General Debate, Belize’s Foreign Minister, Wilfred P. Elrington, added that his country fully supported all regional initiatives tackling issues of common concern such as security, economic development and climate change.  “The impact of climate change on our region has been direct and devastating, compelling us to work with our CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) partners and with the wider Alliance of Small Island States to advance our interests in the climate change negotiation process,” Mr. Elrington told the gathered delegates.  Click here for a copy of his statement.

Mr. Elrington, however, also noted the impact the transnational trafficking of weapons was having on the region and lamented what he said was a lack of consensus over a global response to the issue. “Our region, Central America and the Caribbean, has been labelled among the most violent regions of the world, with homicide rates that have reached crisis levels,” the Foreign Minister stated. He added, “It is therefore with deep regret that despite what appeared to be an emerging consensus and despite the underlying global urgency for a multilateral response the conclusion of an Arms Trade Treaty has so far been beyond the reach of the international community.” 

Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Dookeran, warned that every moment of delay from fully implementing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was “a step closer to our own demise.” Furthermore, Mr. Dookeran called on Member States to follow though on their obligations as stipulated by the Kyoto Protocol, suggesting that “this would guarantee the survival of those of us most vulnerable to climate change, climate variability, and sea level rise.” He also weighed in on the transnational trafficking of weapons, agreeing with his Belizean counterpart that the high-incidence of gun-related crimes in the region had become “intolerable” and “an affront to efforts to resolve disputes by peaceful means.”  Click here for a copy of his statement.  “We join with out CARICOM partners and others in the call for the resumption of negotiations for the Arms Trade Treaty by the first quarter of 2013,” he added.   


Dominica’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Vince Henderson, stressed that his island nation is committed to the foundational principle of environmental sustainability.  “The unsustainable consumption and production systems that continue to deplete the world's resources and simultaneously contribute to global warming, remains a major threat to the survival of those of us who live close to the world's oceans,” he said. “The very vulnerability of Dominica to the effects of global warming underscores our commitment to a multilateral approach aimed at combating climate change.”  Click here for a copy of his statement.


Representing the Pacific island nation of Palau, on the other side of the world, the small nation’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Stuart Beck, told the Assembly that Palau rejected the advice – contained in the International Panel on Climate Change's Report on Managing Risks – that SIDS policy-makers might, in certain cases, consider relocating populations. “We assure you, Mr. President, that Palau has no intention to move our people,” Ambassador Beck said. “Our islands are our home. They are essence of our very being. We will pursue every legitimate recourse available to us before we concede hope.”  Click here for a copy of his statement.

(mew) (adapted from a UN press release)

October 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

European Union Wants to Take $12 Billion in Countermeasures Against the United States

The European Union notified the World Trade Organization last week that it intended to ask the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to authorize the EU “to take countermeasures” against the United States for an approximate value of US$12 billion annually (EUR 9.35 billion) because the United States has not yet withdrawn its subsidies in the dispute involving “Large Civil Aircraft” (DS353). In its communication, the European Union said that it intended to put this request on the agenda of the regular DSB meeting of October 23, 2012. This request will be under Article 22.2 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding concerning failure to comply with DSB recommendations and rulings.


October 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reminder of Call for Papers for Guantanamo Bay Symposium

If you are a newer scholar and you are interested in legal issues surrounding what the future holds for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, be sure to submit an article to the call for papers issued by the law review for my home institution, the Southern Illinois University Law Journal. The SIU Law Journal seeks scholarly articles for a special Symposium issue relating to the U.S. constitutional, procedural, ethical and international law issues relating to the military trials and continued detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The SIU Law Journal
will choose the best Symposium article from a newer law faculty member (defined as a law faculty member who has been part of the legal academy for seven (7) years or less) on a legal issue pertaining to Guantanamo Bay.  The article should be approximately twenty to twenty-five pages in length.  In addition, the author of the chosen article will be invited to attend the Guantanamo Bay Symposium at SIU School of Law on February 22, 2013, all travel expenses paid, to give a presentation on the topic of his or her article.  Although only one scholar will be invited to participate in the symposium through this call for papers, the SIU Law Journal will consider the other articles submitted for publication in the Symposium issue.

The full manuscript, in Word format, should be e-mailed to the Editor-in-Chief of the SIU Law Journal by November 19, 2012.  Please feel free to contact the Editor-in-Chief, Brian Lee, if you have any questions or concerns.  The contact information for the SIU Law Journal may be found here.


October 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)