February 18, 2012
EU Parliament approves trade agreement with Morocco that raises questions about the status of Western Sahara
The Parliament for the European Union (EU) has approved a trade pact with Morocco that liberalizes trade in agricultural and fisheries products by reducing tariffs by 55-70% over the next ten years. Members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) have stated their belief that the deal will assist in Morocco's transition to democracy while alleviating some economic and security concerns. Not everyone is happy with the deal, however. Some opponents have suggested that the deal is in violation of international law prohibiting the commercial exploitation of Western Sahara. The status of the Western Sahara has been in doubt for decades following Morocco's annexation of the region in the 1970s. Pursuant to a United Nations General Assembly Resolution, the indigenous Sahrawi people of Western Sahara are entitled to hold a referendum on the status of the region, but that referendum has never been held. The text of the EU-Morocco trade deal does not expressly mention Western Sahara. Some MEPs have suggested that the Western Sahara should be excluded from the agreement to avoid implications regarding the status of the region.
February 17, 2012
UN General Assembly Votes 137-12 to Condemn Syria
The United Nations Security Council has been unable to act on Syria because two of the permanent members -- Russia and China -- have blocked action. But those two countries have no veto in the U.N. General Assembly, which late last night voted overwhelmingly to support an Arab League plan that strongly condemns human rights violations in Syria and that calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign.
The U.N. General Assembly Resolution was adopted by a vote of 137 to 12 vote, with 17 abstentions. (There are 193 members of the U.N. General Assembly.) As you can see from the board, those voting "no" include Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.
The photo of digistal display board for the General Assembly vote is from the UN Website. (UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz)
U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Vote on Syria
On February 16, 2012, the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate ordered favorably reported an original resolution condemning violence by the government of Syria against the Syrian people.
(Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office)
ICJ Announces Upcoming Public Hearings
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced public hearings at the Peace Palace in the Hague in two cases:
In Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal), public hearings will be held from March 12 to March 21. More information may be found here.
In Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Columbia), public hearings will be held from April 23 to May 4. The press release with more information may be found here.
Both hearings will be streamed live on the Court's website.
February 16, 2012
Conference for LL.M. Administrators
The Registration site is now up and running for the inaugural LLM Administrators’ Conference at American University Washington College of Law on Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4, 2012. Although the agenda is not set yet, the organizers expect that there will be a few plenary sections and some breakout sessions on specialized topics. Topics covered will include LLM admissions, marketing, academic advising, career advising, international students issues, and LL.M. integration in the law school community. Topics will focus on both U.S. and foreign-trained LL.M. students. The conference is open to all administrators and faculty who work with LLM students, applicants, and alumni.
The Conference website is http://www.wcl.american.edu/llm/adminconference/. At the website, you can register for the conference, obtain information about hotel blocks, and submit panel proposals. Please register and submit panel proposals as soon as you know that you will be able to attend. Whether the organizers will offer concurrent sessions will depend on the number of people registered and the number of proposals that we receive, so early registration and proposal submission is critical.
The registration fee for the conference will be $100, which will help defray the cost of breakfast both days, a networking luncheon, coffee breaks, and program materials. On Thursday night there will be some kind of pay-on-your-own dinner. For planning purposes, the conference will begin at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday and end before lunch on Friday.
Here are the names of the conference planning committee members:
LLM Administrators’ Conference Planning Committees
- Bill Churma, American University Washington College of Law
- Amy Lutgens, Hamline University School of Law
- Cristina Gapasin, Northwestern University School of Law
- Patrick Cassidy, Northeastern University School of Law
- Joseph Schneider, SUNY Buffalo Law School
- Amy Sugin, Cardozo School of Law
- Karen McMichael, Temple University Beasley School of Law
- Yvette Gutierrez, St. John’s University School of Law
- Khary Hornsby, University of Minnesota School of Law
- Mark Shulman, Pace University School of Law
- Anne Dries, Emory University School of law
- Cathy Schenker, American University Washington College of Law
- Ron Rosenberg, William & Mary Law School
- Carrie Feeheley, MSU College of Law
- Elena Helmer, Ohio Northern University College of Law
- Sherhernaz Joshi, George Washington University Law School
- Hilary Lappin, American University Washington College of Law
- Lisa Kaplan, Atlanta's John Marshall Law School
- Anthony Doyle, Widener University School of Law
- Susan Wawrose, University of Dayton School of Law
- Anne Marlenga, USC Gould School of Law
- Polly Lawson, University of Virginia School of Law
Thursday night dinner
- David Dye, University of Oklahoma School of law
- Amy Lutjens, Hamline University School of Law
- Cathy Schencker, American University Washington College of Law
- Jessica Dworkin, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
- Amy Tenney, American University Washington College of Law
- Roza Pati, St. Thomas University School of Law
- Skip Horne, University of San Diego School of Law
Hat tips to Amy Tenney and Hilary Lappin
February 15, 2012
Gay Rights Conference Shut Down in Uganda - Alleged Violations of International Human Rights Law
A group called Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has issued a press release in response to the shutting down of its capacity-building workshop. The workshop was shut down by the Uganda State Minister of Ethics and Integrity, the Reverand Father Simon Likodo. Here is the press release from the group.
SEXUAL MINORITIES UGANDA [SMUG] OUTRAGED BY THE CLOSURE OF LGBTI CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP BY THE STATE MINISTER OF ETHICS AND INTEGRITY REV. FR. SIMON LOKODO
KAMPALA - February 15, 2012
Exactly one week after the re-tabling of the Anti Homosexuality Bill (2009) by MP David Bahati, a workshop organized by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights defenders was invaded and shut down in Entebbe. The State Minister for Ethics and Integrity in the Office of the President, Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo, in the company of an aide and the police, announced that the workshop was illegal and ordered the meeting to close immediately or else force would be used to end the meeting.
"I have closed this conference because it is illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home," Mr Lokodo told the workshop participants.
SMUG condemns this outright abuse of office by the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity.
According to Frank Mugisha one of the Coordinators of the Capacity Development workshop and present at the time: "Closing our workshop today totally violates our constitutional rights and this intimidation will not stop us from fighting, for equal treatment of all Ugandan citizens."
Frank Mugisha is the Executive Director of SMUG and 2011 Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award Laureate.
The Minister also ordered the arrest of Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, the Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda and 2011 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders when she dared to challenge him for disrupting the workshop. Kasha with the help of colleagues was whisked out of the hotel to safety.
The State Minister's actions are illegal and in direct contravention of the Constitution of Uganda, The African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other international human rights covenants to which Uganda is a party. These human rights instruments all robustly promote and protect the rights to Freedom of Speech, Expression, Association, Peaceful Assembly and the Right to Information of all citizens and human beings, without discrimination.
Sexual Minorities Uganda strongly condemns this notorious and continuous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders in Uganda. Our campaign for equal rights is rooted in the fact that, as Ugandans, we are entitled to the respect and protection of the law just like all other Ugandans.
1. We call on the Government of Uganda to protect the rights of citizens to peacefully assemble and associate as is guaranteed in our Constitution and in international human rights law.
2. We call on the Government of Uganda to protect all peoples within her borders against threats, violence and harassment by state and non-state actors, irrespective of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
3. We call on the Government and people of Uganda to reject the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would only serve to further violate international human rights law and plant seeds of hate, intolerance and violence in Ugandan society.
4. We call on the Ugandan people to reject the government's move to use homosexuality issues to divert Ugandans' attention from the most pertinent issues that are affecting the nation.
ASIL Insight Explains ICJ Decision in Germany v. Italy
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) which publishes a series of "Insights" on international law, has released its latest installment covering the recent dection of the International Court of Justice in the case of Germany v. Italy (with Greece intervening), in which the ICJ majority affirmed principles of state immunity. Click here to read the ASIL Insight about that case.
Hat tip to Sheila Ward.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern about reports of fresh clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators, a year after widespread civil protests first emerged in the Middle East country.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson Mr. Ban called on all sides to show maximum restraint and said he expected Bahrain’s authorities “to act in accordance with their international human rights obligations. “The Secretary-General strongly believes that a genuine, all-inclusive and meaningful dialogue that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis is the way to promote peace and stability in the country.”
Last year’s protests in Bahrain were part of the wider Arab Spring movement that resulted in the toppling of long-standing regimes in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen and has led to deadly fighting and humanitarian suffering in Syria.
In his statement Mr. Ban reiterated his earlier call on Bahraini authorities “to do everything possible to expedite the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, especially its provisions aimed at effective confidence-building measures.”
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Sudan and South Sudan Sign a Peace Treaty
The governments of Sudan and South Sudan have signed a "Memorandum of Understanding on Non-Aggression and Cooperation." The peace treaty was signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday. It calls for the respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs, and rejects the use of force in relations between the two countries.
South Sudan became an independent State last July, six months after its people voted overwhelmingly to secede from Sudan. Tensions between the two countries over unresolved border disagreements have simmered since, with a dispute over tariffs charged by Sudan on South Sudan for the use of a pipeline and port to export oil recently further straining relations.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
Mladic Trial to Begin on May 14, 2012
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced that the trial of Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb military chief facing charges of genocide and other war crimes, will begin on May 14, 2012.
The trial was previously expected to begin in late March, but the court pushed back the date to allow both sides to complete their pre-trial preparations.
Prosecutors told the court last week that they expect to call more than 400 witnesses and present nearly 28,000 exhibits during the trial, and they anticipate they will need about 200 hours of tribunal time to present their case.
Mr. Mladic, 68, is accused of carrying out genocide and other crimes against Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians between May 1992 and late 1995. The indictment against him alleges that Mr. Mladic led forces that conducted the notorious massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the supposed safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995 in the most notorious episode of the war. The former army chief also faces charges for the shelling and sniping of Sarajevo during the protracted wartime siege of the city. In addition, the indictment lists more than 70 incidents of murder in 20 municipalities across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and accuses forces under Mr. Mladic’s supervision of torturing, mistreating and physically, psychologically and sexually abusing civilians confined to detention centres.
Defence lawyers had argued that the health of Mr. Mladic be considered in determining the trial’s schedule, but ICTY judges said they were not convinced that his health condition required modification of the schedule.
Mr. Mladic was arrested in May last year in Serbia after evading capture for 16 years. In July, at a court hearing, a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)
February 14, 2012
Global Legal Skills Conference in Costa Rica
The seventh Global Legal Skills Conference will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica from March 12-14, 2012.
Click here for more information about the conference.
Click here to register.
February 13, 2012
Tenth Anniversary of the OP to the CRC on Children in Armed Conflict
February 12, 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, used the anniversary to call for universal ratification of protocol that outlaws the use of minors to fight wars and encourages States to set 18 years as the minimum age for recruitment. Thus far, 144 States have ratified the treaty.
“Every country, big or small, with or without a standing army, at peace or in conflict, has a role to play in abolishing the inhumane practice of recruiting and using children in war,” said Ms. Coomaraswamy.
In an effort to strengthen international norms against child recruitment, in 2010, Ms. Coomaraswamy jointly with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Special Representative on Violence against Children, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched the universal ratification campaign of the Optional Protocol.
Since the launch of the ‘Zero under 18 Campaign,’ 16 additional States have signed or ratified the protocol, with Grenada becoming the most recent party to the treaty just last week on February 6.