Saturday, August 17, 2013

Faroe Islands Brings Claim against EU pursuant to UNCLOS

The Faroe Islands has initiated arbitration against the European Union (EU) pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in connection with a dispute over fishing rights. Earlier this year, the Faroese government decided to increase the amount of herring its fishermen were allowed to take.  In response, the EU Member States voted to impose sanctions against the Faroe Islands for overfishing of herring.  Friday, the Faroe Islands and Iceland charged that the EU actions violate international maritime law as reflected in UNCLOS.  Iceland and the Faroe Islands say the dispute should be resolved through negotiations at meetings scheduled next month with the other coastal states: Russia, Norway and the EU.  The EU sanctions are not yet in effect, and negotiations are scheduled for the first week of September, so stay tuned.


August 17, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Public UN Hearings on Human Rights Violations in North Korea -- August 20 to 24

The United Nations panel set up to investigate human rights violations in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will begin a series of public hearings next week in Seoul, Republic of Korea, aimed at gathering information from various witnesses. 

Michael Kirby, the chairman of the three-member Commission of Inquiry, said the panel decided to take public testimony to help raise international awareness of conditions in DPRK and because of a lack of response by Pyongyang to the requests of the UN team to be allowed entry into the country.  “We are approaching this inquiry with impartiality and with no preconceptions,” he stated in a news release. “We have asked to visit the DPRK and we have also taken steps to reach out to the Government to seek their participation in the hearings, so far to no avail.”

Established by the UN Human Rights Council in March for a period of one year, the commission is tasked with investigating the “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights” in DPRK in order to ensure full accountability, in particular for violations which may amount to crimes against humanity.  In addition to Mr. Kirby, a retired judge from Australia, the commission comprises Sonja Biserko, founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, and Marzuki Darusman, former Attorney General of Indonesia and the current UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in DPRK.

The hearings will be held from 20 to 24 August on the campus of Yonsei University and are expected to involve some 30 witnesses. Members of the commission will also hold meetings with senior Government officials, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and research institutions. A similar round of hearings is also scheduled for Tokyo later in the month. 

“We are determined to shed light on the different aspects of various alleged human rights violations,” Mr. Kirby said. “To the extent that we establish that such violations have occurred, we will also seek to determine whether crimes against humanity have occurred and who bears responsibility among different state institutions and officials. But it is not possible at this moment to envisage the level of detail that the commission will be able to achieve in establishing lines of responsibility, if any.”

Possible violations to be investigated by the commission include those pertaining to the right to food, prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary detention, discrimination, freedom of expression, freedom of movement and enforced disappearances.

The commission is scheduled to present an update to the Geneva-based Council on its findings in September, and to the General Assembly in New York in October. A final written report will be submitted to the Council in March 2014.

Mr. Kirby noted that at this stage, it is not possible to say what follow-up process will unfold. “It will mostly depend on the findings of our investigation, the conclusions and the recommendations that will be reached and the decision of the competent organs of the UN and other international institutions in implementing – or not – our recommendations,” he said.

Next week’s hearings will be accessible to the public through media reports and regular updates on the commission’s website, where video will be posted following the public testimonies.

August 16, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Forum Non Conveniens and the Enforcement of Arbitration Awards

The American Bar Association House of Delegates yesterday approved resolution 107C, which "affirms that the U.S. common law doctrine of forum non conveniens is not an appropriate basis for refusing to confirm or enforce arbitral awards" under the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards or the Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration.  The ABA Resolution states that invoking the doctrine of forum non conveniens for such arbitration awards is inconsistent with U.S. treaty obligations and federal implementing legislation.


August 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The United Nations committee tasked with combating racial discrimination has opened its latest round of work in Geneva with a focus on stopping the spread of racist hate speech on the Internet and social media networks, as well as the need to use education to prevent racism and xenophobia. 

“Where does the right of expression, which we all want to respect, stop and the need to sanction and prevent hate speech begin? What is the point in time when one right has to recognize that it cannot be exercised if it implies the violation of another one,” UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said in her address to the opening of the 83rd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). As the world becomes more inter-connected, incidents in numerous countries have drawn attention to the issue of racist hate speech, which today is more easily spread across national borders, she added.

Ms. Pansieri urged the Committee to include in its deliberations the Rabat Plan of Action, adopted by independent UN experts at a meeting in Morocco in October 2012, on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.  The Deputy High Commissioner noted that the Committee meets against a backdrop of two landmark events – the annual Nelson Mandela International Day commemoration and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington in which he made his famous “I have a dream” speech.

Fifty years after his famous speech, Mr. King’s vision remained a dream for many people around the world and that was why, to continue to protect those whose human rights were being violated because of their race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, the Committee’s members are here today, said Ms. Pansieri. She also spoke about the recent adoption by the Human Rights Council in June of a resolution on education as a tool to prevent racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, which recognized that quality education could help create more inclusive societies.

Noting continued attacks on people with albinism in Tanzania and in other countries, Ms. Pansieri reiterated the calls of High Commissioner Navi Pillay to halt these crimes and to engage with national authorities to educate people against stereotypes, including the belief that body parts from albinos have magical qualities.

The three-week session of the Committee will review reports submitted by Chile, Chad, Venezuela, Burkina Faso, Belarus, Jamaica, Sweden and Cyprus.

(adapted from a UN press release)

August 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US Submits Periodic Report under Convention Against Torture

The U.S. State Department has filed its Periodic Report concerning the implementation of its obligations under the Convention Against Torture and has released it publicly here.  Article 19 of the Convention Against Torture requires that member states file such periodic reports with the United Nations Committee Against Torture. The U.S. Report responds to 55 questions prepared by the Committee and sent to the U.S. Department of State in 2010.


August 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

London International Legal Education Summit

The American Bar Association Section of International Law will host a one-day International Legal Education Summit in London, England on Saturday, October 29, 2013.

Registration is FREE but space is limited.  (Because of the space limitations, please register ONLY if you are sure you can go.)  The International Legal Education Summit is designed to foster innovative exchanges and networking.  There will be special programming for students and new lawyers, small group information and innovation exchanges for educators and lawyers, and plenary session roundtables on the changing aspects of international legal practice and the future of international legal education.

Programs will be held at the University of Law in Moorgate (City of London).

Download London Education Summit 2013.  The registration link is included in the flier.


August 11, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)