Saturday, March 2, 2013

International Journal for Court Administration

The latest issue of the International Journal for Court Administration has just been published online.  Have a look at the contents by clicking here.  Articles include:

If any of those article links don't work, go to the website of the International Association for Court Administration. You might want to get involved in the group now -- they are planning a conference in 2014 in Australia.  Click here for more information about the IACA and their 2014 Conference.

Hat tip to IJCA Executive Editor Markus Zimmer.


March 2, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Fun: Law School Parody Music Video

Chocolate Ghost House has produced a "Law School" parody of the song "Payphone" by Maroon 5.  You don't need to know that song to enjoy this video (4 minutes, 18 seconds of non-stop smiles for you!). Congratulations to Tyler Murray and all of the students at West Virginia University College of Law who made this video.  

A challenge to international law students: how about a video on doing international moot court?


Hat tips to Law School Memes and Grace Wigal.


March 1, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WTO News this Week

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body took several actions of note this week.

First, on 26 February 2013, the WTO issued the panel report in the case “China – Definitive Anti-Dumping Duties on X-Ray Security Inspection Equipment from the European Union” (WT/DS425/R).  The panel found that China acted inconsistently with its obligations under articles 3, 6 and 12 of the Anti-Dumping Agreement and requested that China bring it measures into conformity with the Agreement.  More information about the report may be found here.

Second, the WTO DSB established a panel to examine the dispute “US — Anti-Dumping Measures on Certain Shrimp from Viet Nam” (DS429).  The EU, China, Japan,  Norway and Thailand reserved their third-party rights to participate in the  panel’s proceedings.

Fianlly, the DSB also elected Ambassador Jonathan Fried of Canada as its new chairman.


March 1, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Save the Date: ABA President Laurel Bellows Will Deliver the Herzog Lecture on "Human Trafficking"

American Bar Association President Laurel Bellows will deliver The John Marshall Law School Herzog Lecture on Monday, April 8, 2013 on the problem of Human Trafficking.  The lecture will be held at 3:00 p.m. at the Chicago Bar Association, a co-sponsor of the program, followed by a reception at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  Registration information for the free program will be available soon.  Here is a four-minute video with President Bellows' remarks about the problem of Human Trafficking.



February 28, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IACHR Deadline for Comments on Proposed Changes is March 1

As a reminder, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has invited public comment on proposed changes to its rules of procedure, policies and practices.  Comments are due tomorrow, March 1, 2013. 

The  reform program is divided in three parts: a draft reform of the Rules of Procedure, a plan  of possible reforms to the Strategic Plan of the Commission, and a program for changes in practices.  More information and the substance of the proposals for reform may be found on the IACHR website here.


February 28, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

U.N. Human Rights Council Meetings Open with Calls to Strengthen the International Justice System

As the main United Nations human rights body began its work this week, senior UN officials stressed the importance of strengthening international processes that will monitor and prevent rights violations around the world as well as hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.

Addressing the opening of the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that despite significant progress over the past two decades on issues such as the elimination of violence against women and tackling impunity for international crimes, there continue to be systematic human rights violations around the world.  “The promise of respecting all human rights for all people is still a dream for too many,” Ms. Pillay said. “Hundreds of thousands of people have died in genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina; the Palestinian territories are still occupied; massive violations have occurred in Iraq and Sri Lanka; and war crimes continue to be committed in numerous internal conflicts, including those continuing in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Sudan and Syria. 

Ms. Pillay underlined that while many instances of human rights violations have been referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) – the world’s first permanent tribunal with the powers to prosecute suspected perpetrators of war crimes – this can only happen if the State concerned is among the 122 States Parties of the Rome Statute, or if a situation is referred to it by the Security Council.

In particular, Ms. Pillay said this had not happened in the case of Syria, where there have been constant allegations of human right violations committed by the Government forces and the opposition since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

“Two important situations – Darfur in 2008 and Libya in 2011 – have been referred, but the Security Council has so far failed with regard to Syria, despite the repeated reports of widespread or systematic crimes and violations by my office, the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, civil society organizations and Special Procedures,” she said. 

In September, Ms. Pillay urged the Security Council to refer the case of Syria to the ICC. Since then, the High Commissioner has repeated this call, warning that possibly up to 70,000 people have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been displaced, and over 4 million people have been affected by the violence and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

The President of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, told the Council that, like Ms. Pillay, he was gravely concerned with the situation in Syria, and emphasized the need to act immediately to achieve a political solution. “For close to two years, the international community has failed to put a stop to the carnage,” he said. “The immediate cessation of hostilities should be our foremost priority.” Mr. Jeremic appealed to all sides to cease the violence, and warned that without a political solution the consequences would be devastating for the country and the international community as a whole. “There is a manifest danger that the violence will simply be allowed to run its course – a scenario that would continue to disproportionately affect the civilian population.”

In her address to the Council, Ms. Pillay also noted that while the increased involvement of civil society in defending human rights is a welcome development, there have been an alarming number of reports of governments persecuting human rights defenders because of the nature of their work. “I continue to hear of brave human rights defenders, journalists or bloggers who have been threatened, harassed, arrested or killed because of their work on behalf of the human rights of others,” Ms. Pillay said. “Such intimidation has sometimes even occurred during the proceedings of this Council. We must never tolerate such pressure, or reprisals against those who rightly seek to engage the international human rights system.” Ms. Pillay also urged Member States to continue to support the work of her office (OHCHR) by providing the necessary resources it requires to fulfil its mandate “to promote and protect the human rights of everyone everywhere.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 27, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

US Court Cases Upholding Foreign Affairs Powers

Federal courts in the United States today issued two decisions which support the federal government's power over foreign affairs and continue the courts' hands off approach when it comes to foreign affairs.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision finding that various news reporters, defense attorneys, human rights organizations and others do not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the government's warrantless wiretapping program, authorized by the 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In the case of Clapper v. Amnesty International, No. 11-1025, the majority of the Supreme Court held that the plaintiffs' assertions of injury as a result of likely surveillance under the wiretapping program due to the nature of the plaintiffs' activities were too speculative to constitute an "injury".   

In another case, a U.S. District Court held that President Obama has the authority to require Chinese investors to sell their interests in certain wind turbine farms in the Pacific Northwest because of unspecified national security concerns arising from the proximity to a U.S. Navy installation.  The President issued his divestiture order pursuant to Section 721 of the Defense Production Act of 1950.  The judge held that the Act prohibits judicial review of the President's order. However, the court will allow Ralls Corporation to continue to pursue its related claim that it is being deprived of property without due process of law because the government did not follow proper procedures under section 721.


February 26, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Global Moratorium on the Death Penalty

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reiterated his call for a global moratorium on applying the death penalty, stressing the United Nations’ long history of opposing the practice and the growing momentum among the international community to permanently end it.  

“A global moratorium is a crucial stepping stone towards full worldwide abolition,” Mr. Ban said in a message delivered by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang.  “Capital punishment is inconsistent with the mission of the United Nations to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights and the dignity and worth of the human person,” Ms. Kang read, during an event at the Human Rights Council in Geneva organized by the International Commission against the Death Penalty, an independent body opposed to capital punishment.

The UN General Assembly first voted on a moratorium in 2007, and again in December 2012 with the support of 111 countries, 41 against and 34 abstentions. The resolution called for a progressive restriction on the use of capital punishment and eliminating it entirely for felons below the age of 18 and pregnant women. Although not legally binding, the UN moratorium on executions carries moral and political weight. 

Approximately150 countries have either abolished the death penalty or do not practice it, but Mr. Ban noted that some recently reinstated the practice.  Thousands of people are executed each year, “often in violation of international standards, such as the right to fair trial and due process,” Mr. Ban said. He added that the death penalty is still used for a wide range of crimes that do not meet the threshold of “most serious crimes” and based on information that is not transparent.  In addition, sometimes “wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice” can occur in well-functioning legal systems that sentence and execute persons who have been ultimately proven innocent, Mr. Ban said.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 25, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Zealand Allowed to Intervene in the ICJ Case "Whaling in the Antarctic" (Australia v. Japan)

The International Court of Justice has issued a unanimous order allowing New Zealand to intervene in the pending case brought before it by Australia against Japan.  

The ICJ found that New Zealand's intervention relates to points of interpretation of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, the treaty at the heart of the case between Australia and Japan.  That Convention provides in Article VIII(1) that "any Contracting Goverment may grant to any of its nationals a special permit authorizing it to kill, take, and treat whales for purposes of scientific research . . . ."

Japan did not object as such to the admissibility of New Zealand's intervention, but it stated that "certain serious anomalies" would result from having New Zealand join as an intervenor.  In particular, Japan stressed the need to ensure the equality of parties before the ICJ and expressed concern that Australia and New Zealand could "avoid some of the safeguards" of procedural equality under the ICJ's Statute and Rules.  

As a particular example, Japan pointed out that Australia had already appointed a judge ad hoc to the case (something countries can do when the bench does not include one of its own nationals), but that there was a judge from New Zealand already on the bench.  The ICJ stated that the Japanese concerns did not affect the admissibility of New Zealand's petition to intervene, and that under Article 63 of the ICJ Statute and Rule 82 of the ICJ Rules, intervenors are limited to submitting observations on the construction of the treaty in question and that they do not become a party to the proceedings to deal with any other aspect of the case before the Court.

Click here to read the ICJ Press Release, which contains more details about the issue of Australia's ad hoc judge as well as summaries of the separate opinions and declaration of:

  • Judge Owada (who voted in favor of the order to intervene but who expressed his serious reservations that New Zealand's intervention could affect the equality of the parties and thus the fair administration of justice);
  • Judge Cancado Trindade (who voted in favor but found -- in a ten-part separate opinion that is sure to be studied carefully -- that a proper understanding of intervention in legal proceedings before the ICJ would contribute to the further development of international legal procedure); and
  • Judge Gaja (who voted in favor but wrote in a separate declaration that the ICJ should have specifically considered that the construction of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling would be binding on intervening states).

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)

February 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)