Friday, April 5, 2013
At the request of the parties to the dispute, European Communities and Certain Member States — Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft (Recourse to Article 21.5 by the United States) (DS316
(Article 21.5 — US)), the World Trade Organization Dispute Resolution Panel has agreed to show a video recording of the non-confidential portions of its hearing on 18 April (and possibly 19 April) 2013. For more information, click here.
The American Society of International Law, which is meeting this week in Washington, D.C., holds a special luncheon today to honor Benjamin Ferencz. The event was organized by Professor Shahram Dana of The John Marshall Law School and the ASIL Interest Group for International Criminal Law.
Ben was an investigator of Nazi war crimes after World War II and served as the Chief Prosecutor for the United States Army during the Einsatzgruppen Trial, which was one of the twelve military trials held by the U.S. authorities at Nuremberg, Germany.
The photo here is of Ben Ferencz and his son, Donald Ferencz, attending the 106th Annual Meetingo fthe ASIL.
Pictured here (from left to right) are International Law Prof Blog Editor Mark Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago), Former U.S. State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh (Yale Law School), and Hari M. Osofsky (University of Minnesota Law School).
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Inter-American Commission of Human Rights Refers Land Disputes involving Panama and Honduras to Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Earlier today, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced that it has filed applications with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in two new cases, both involving land claims by indigenous groups in Panama and Honduras respectively.
In Case No. 12.548, Garífuna Community of "Triunfo de la Cruz" and its Members v. Honduras, the petitioners claimed that Honduras failed to protect the ancestral territory of the Triunfo de la Cruz Community from occupation and dispossession by third parties. This failure has caused a situation of permanent conflict for the community due to actions in its territory by third parties, both private individuals and public authorities. Moreover, the sale of communal lands by public authorities
has negatively affected the community's ancestral territory and led to pressure, threats, and even murders or arrests of community leaders and authorities. In addition, the community does not have proper and culturally appropriate title to its ancestral territory, and access to certain parts of its territory has been restricted by the establishment of protected areas, which has hampered its ability to maintain its traditional way of life. The Triunfo de la Cruz Community also claims that Honduras failed to consult the Community and its members concerning the adoption of decisions affecting the territory they have occupied historically, including the execution of tourism projects and megaprojects, the creation of a protected area in part of their ancestral territory, and sales of communal lands.
The IACHR determined that the Community have not had effective access to justice in the context of complaints related to the sale of ancestral lands; acts of threats, aggression, harassment, and persecution suffered by community authorities; and the situation of ongoing violence and insecurity caused by third parties in their territory. The IACHR decided to refer the case to the Court when Honduras failed to inform the IACHR regarding compliance with the recommendations contained in its Report on the Merits.
Similar issues are involved the second Case No. 12.354, Kuna Indigenous People of Madungandí and Emberá Indigenous People of Bayano and their Members v. Panama. There, the IACHR determined that Panama failed to meet its obligation to provide the Kuna indigenous people of Madungandí and the Emberá indigenous people of Bayano, and their members, with adequate, effective procedures for gaining access to their ancestral territories and for obtaining a response to the numerous complaints of third-party interference in their territories and natural resources. The IACHR determined that the violations committed against these two indigenous peoples constitutes a form of discrimination due to the application of laws that reflect an assimilationist policy.
More specifically, the case refers to the ongoing violation of the right to collective property of the Kuna indigenous people of Madungandí and the Emberá indigenous people of Bayano and their members, as a consequence of the State of Panama's failure to pay economic compensation stemming from the dispossession and flooding of the victim's ancestral territories that began in 1969. In addition, Panama failed to comply with its obligations to prevent the invasion of colonists and illegal logging, as a corollary of its obligation to effectively protect the territory and natural resources of the Kuna of Madungandí and Emberá of Bayano indigenous peoples and their members. This situation worsened beginning in the 1990s. The case was sent to the Inter-American Court on February 26, 2013, because the Commission deemed that the State had not complied with the recommendations contained in the IACHR's Report on the Merits of the case.
I'm speaking today at a meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) International Legal Research Interest Group. Also speaking will be Sonia Roland of the ASIL Teaching International Law Interest Group (a group that I had the privilege to chair some time ago. Our topic is listed as "Teaching Substantive International Law in an International Legal Research Class" but I will also speak about "Teaching International Legal Research in a Substantive International Law Class." I think that international law students (as well as judges, lawyers, professors, and other researchers) need to improve their international legal research skills. I'm looking forward to the program and the discussion. I hope to see you there or at another session of this week's meeting of the American Society of International Law.
Mark E. Wojcik
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) announced the winners of the ASIL-Midwest Interest Group officer’s election. Hari Osofsky and Alexandra Huneeus were elected Co-Chairs. Shayan Davoudi was elected Vice Chair. Congratulations to all.
Hat tip to Matthew Gomez at ASIL.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The United Nations General Assembly has approved a global arms trade treaty that failed to achieve unanimous support last week but which garnered the support of a majority of Member States when put to a vote today. The resolution containing the text of the treaty, which regulates the international trade in conventional arms, received 154 votes in favour. Three Member States – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Iran and Syria – voted against the decision, while 23 countries abstained.
Today’s action follows the failure of the Final UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) last Thursday to reach an agreement among all 193 Member States on a treaty text at the conclusion of its two-week session.
Speaking ahead of the vote, the President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, called the text “groundbreaking,” as well as “robust and actionable.” He recalled that in 2006, Member States had pledged in the same General Assembly Hall to engage in a multilateral effort to produce a legally binding instrument, establishing common standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms – including warships and battle tanks, combat aircraft and attack helicopters, as well as small arms and light weapons. “I personally believe that the final text of this conference meets those commitments to a great extent,” Mr. Jeremic said, adding that the lack of a regulatory framework for such activities had made a “daunting” contribution to ongoing conflicts, regional instabilities, displacement of peoples, terrorism and transnational organized crime.
The text draws a link with the presence of weapons across the developing world, especially in conflict-affected areas, with the challenge of sustainable development and safeguarding human rights, added Mr. Jeremic.
The President of the ATT conference, Ambassador Peter Woolcott of Australia, noted that the conference “came very close to success.” He praised all delegations for “working hard and negotiating in a constructive manner and looking for success,” adding that the different interests and perspectives in the conference room required work through complex issues.
Each version of the text built on previous ones, Mr. Woolcott said, and represented “a fair expression of negotiation, compromise between many different interests in the room, and ultimately what might command consensus at the end of the final conference.” Once the text was rejected Thursday evening, a Member State introduced a General Assembly draft resolution that same evening, according to the Office of the President of the Assembly.
Unlike in the Conference, where all 193 Member States had to agree on the final text, the Assembly needed only a simple majority, or 97 votes, to pass the text. The treaty will enter into force 90 days after ratified by the 50th signatory.
The treaty regulates all conventional arms within the following categories: battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons.
According to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the treaty will not do any of the following: interfere with domestic arms commerce or the right to bear arms in Member States; ban the export of any type of weapon; harm States' legitimate right to self-defence; or undermine national arms regulation standards already in place.
(UN Press Release)
Despite hurdles, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly today in favor of the first treaty to restrict the global trade in conventional weapons. Once in effect, the treaty will require states exporting covered weapons to develop criteria that would link exports to avoiding human rights abuses, terrorism and organized crime. It would also ban shipments if they were deemed harmful to women and children. Countries that join the treaty would have to report publicly on sales every year, bringing more transparency to the trade in weapons. The vote was 154 in favor, 3 opposed (Iran, Syria and North Korea).
The Obama Administration has expressed support for the treaty, formally co-sponsoring it at the UN, despite domestic opposition from gun rights groups. The Obama Administration has pointed out that the treaty does not affect domestic sales, but instead will apply to the $70 billion dollar annual trade in arms globally.
The treaty will be opened for signature and ratification by Member States in June 2013. 50 states must join before it will become effective.