Thursday, June 27, 2013
U.S. President Barak Obama is expected to announce today that the United States is suspending trade privileges for Bangladesh in response to concerns about safety problems and labor rights violations in that country. The move comes in response to pressure on the administration from labor unions and the U.S. Labor Department to take action to address these issues following the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh in April that killed more than 1,000 persons. Labor officials in the United States claim Bangladesh has dragged its feet in addressing the safety issues. Currently, Bangladesh enjoys trade privileges under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which is designed to give special trade privileges to poor countries to assist with development. In the case of Bangladesh, GSP status allows it to ship more than 5,000 products to the United States duty-free, but does not cover the garment industry. Suspending GSP status may influence Europe to apply more pressure on Bangladesh to improve safety and labor conditions.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland has recently completed a renovation of its building and will open its doors to the public to see the results this Sunday, June 30, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The opening ceremony will begin with a video about the WTO building in the Council Room. The WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy will then launch the Opening Day ceremonies with the participation of Chairman of the General Council Amb. Shahid Bashir, Federal Councillor Johann N.Schneider-Ammann, Chairman of the Council of State Charles Beer and Geneva Mayor Sandrine Salerno. For more information, visit the WTO website here.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Lawyers Without Borders, an international not-for-profit focused on promoting rule of law, announced today the appointment of Anne B. Rudman as chair of the organization’s board of directors. Over the past six years Ms. Rudman has worked with Lawyers Without Borders to implement trial advocacy programs in Liberia, Kenya, and Uganda. In addition, she has conducted legal training with the organization, emphasizing trial advocacy skills for criminal practitioners, judges, and magistrates in Liberia and Ghana.
Founded in 2000, Lawyers Without Borders is a U.S.-based international nonprofit dedicated to preserving the integrity of the legal process and access to justice through training, community outreach, capacity building, neutral observation, and other mechanisms that support rule of law in national contexts consistent with international norms.
Get more information about the organization here (including how to support its important work).(adapted from a press release from Lawyers Without Borders) (mew)
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
It's difficult to keep up with international law developments around the world. That's one reason that we are big fans of AWILD, Anton's Weekly International Law Digest. It is a weekly summary of new scholarly articles, books, court decisions, UN documents (including all the ones we especially like, such as those from the International Law Commission), websites, and other sources. In case you don't know the Anton Weekly International Law Digest, click here. Congratulations to Professor Don Anton at the Australian National University College of Law and his army of researchers who produce this useful weekly contribution to the field of international law.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
We received the following press release condeming an attack on the LGBT Centre in Skopje and calling on the Interior Ministry to find and prosecute those who attacked the center and to protect LGBT persons, calling upon the Prime Minister and President to condemn the attack, and calling upon media to report accurately.
Coalition 'Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities' - Skopje
LGBT United - Tetovo
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia
STOP THE HATE VIOLENCE TOWARDS LGBT PEOPLE
We strongly condemn the hate violence that occurred in front of the
monument "A Warrior on a Horse" and the demolition of the LGBT Centre in
the Old Bazaar (during a projection of a film and the forum for the rights
of transgender people) and the hate speech that provokes violence and
We demand that the Ministry of Interior most urgently identify and arrest
the criminal offenders who assaulted a person in the Centre of Skopje, who
yet again demolished the LGBT Centre in the Old Bazaar, who attacked and
injured a police officer while on duty, and who spread and continue to
spread threats and hate speech that provokes violence and discrimination
on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity. Unfortunately, in
spite of the undertaken preventive measurements by the Ministry of
Interior, serious criminal acts were committed (violence on the Square,
violence towards the LGBT Centre and the activists inside it, an attack of
a police officer) for which there are numerous indications to have been
criminal acts committed out of hatred on the ground of sexual orientation
and gender identity.
Even though this is not the first attack of the LGBT Centre, it is the
first one committed in the presence of people and during an event, hence
it is our opinion that the intolerance towards the LGBT community is
increasing. As a result, we call upon the Public Prosecutor's Office to
finally recognize the criminal acts committed out of hate towards people's
characteristics, therefore we demand that the criminal offenders be found
and prosecuted for violence caused from discrimination on the ground of
sexual orientation and gender identity of people. We demand that the
decisions of the European Court of Human Rights be finally applied,
wherein it is stated that "sexual orientation as a fundamental
characteristic of a person, should be treated in the same manner as the
categories race, ethnicity and religion, which are most often covered by
laws for sanctioning hate speech and hate crimes." It is our opinion that
with this the LGBT Community shall receive the protection and support from
the institutions whose obligations is to protect the rights of all
citizens and shall prevent such violence from occurring again in the
We would like to remind the public that as early as 21.06.2012, the
Coalition and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights reported to the
police that publicly "open violence is encouraged towards LGBT people" and
that "we expect from the Ministry of Interior to undertake the necessary
measurements for protection against violence, discrimination and spread of
hate on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity and to
provide peaceful and undisturbed proceeding of the planned activities
within the "Pride Week".
We call upon the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic of
Macedonia to condemn such violence, because LGBT people are also citizens
of the Republic of Macedonia and should be respected and protected as the
rest of the citizens of this state.
We demand from the leaders of the political parties, as well as the
religious communities to condemn the violence towards the LGBT people and
the human rights activists and to disassociate themselves from the
hooligans and the neo-Nazi groups who publicly encourage violence and
We demand that the Government and the Members of Parliament prepare
amendments to the laws in order to criminally punish hate speech on the
ground of sexual orientation and gender identity and to foresee more
severe punishments for acts committed due to hate towards sexual
orientation and gender identity.
We make an appeal to the media and the journalists to stop spreading
misinformation (for instance the misinformation regarding the "Gay
Pride"), to refrain themselves from spreading negative stereotypes and
prejudices regarding LGBT people and from publishing contents that
encourage violence and discrimination on any ground.
We call upon the civil and intellectual public of the Republic of
Macedonia to condemn most strenuously the violence towards the LGBT people
(who were attacked by masked hooligans during a tribune in the LGBT
centre), as well as the extremists groups (from neo-Nazis, masked
hooligans to religious fanatics) who have begun to ravage publicly in the
centre of Skopje.
Once more, we demand from the Ministry of Interior to undertake the
necessary measures for protection of the LGBT people and human rights
activists against violence, discrimination and spread of hatred on the
ground of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to provide peaceful
and undisturbed proceeding of the other planned activities within the
(mew) (h/t rw)
The rights of the elderly is fast becoming a new major area of focus in the international human rights community. This week, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged greater efforts to support the needs of older people, particularly in developing countries. “People around the world are living longer, healthier lives, thanks to advances in health and well-being,” he said in a video message to the opening on Sunday of the 20th World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Mr. Ban added that more people are living longer means that the world will have more experienced workers and more custodians of culture and heritage, it also puts pressure on national healthcare and pension systems.
By 2050, 80 per cent of the world’s older people will live in developing countries and the population over 60 years old will be larger than the population under the age of 15, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
In a 2012 report, the UNFPA interviewed 1,300 older men and women from 36 countries who highlighted challenges related to continued discrimination, abuse, and violence, underscoring the need for governments, civil society, and the general public to work together to end these destructive practices and invest in older people.
In his message, Mr. Ban called for full implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. The Plan focuses on three priority areas:
- older persons and development;
- advancing health and well-being into old age; and
- ensuring enabling and supportive environments.
The World Congress is held every four years by the International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG) and the International Congress Organizing Committee. It is the world’s largest international congress, according to its website.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew) (adapted from a UN press release)
Monday, June 24, 2013
The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) has announced that the 2013 Rule of Law Award will be presented this year to the Honorable Diego Garcia-Sayan, President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and former Minister of Justice of Peru. The award will be presented in San Francisco as part of the ABA Annual Meeting at a luncheon held from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 10, at the Moscone Center West.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
A diplomatic conference is currently being held in Marrakesh, Morocco to consider a treaty to faciliate access to published works by visually impaired persons. The treaty negotiations have run into a snag, however. While the goal of increasing access for disabled persons is certainly laudable, some copyright owners are concerned that the treaty would weaken copyright protections and set a bad precedent by allowing the reproduction and distribution of books and other published material in different, more accessible formats, like audio, large print and Braille, without the author's permission. In particular, the motion picture, music and book publishing industries have raised objections to some of the proposed treaty language. The Washington Post today contains an article with more details. Information about the diplomatic conference may also be found on the WIPO website.