Tuesday, August 4, 2015
The Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association is just about to wrap up in Chicago. It was a great event with hundreds of international visitors. The ABA Section of International Law had some lovely events, well-attended and highly enjoyable. They also hosted a leadership retreat at the University Club just prior to the ABA Annual Meeting itself.
Early bird registration is now open for the Fall Meeting of the ABA Section of International Law, which will be held from October 20-24, 2015 in Montreal. The program is packed with some great panels, and special speakers include Beverly McLachlin, the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of Canada.
Reminder for students at ABA-approved law schools: student membership in the ABA is now free, as is membership in the Section of International Law and several other sections.
SAVE THE DATES:
- September 18, 2015, Moscow, Russia -- ABA Conference on Resolution of International Business Disputes
- October 20-24, 2015, Montreal -- ABA Section of International Law Fall Meeting
- November 16-17, 2015, Beijing, China -- ABA Section of International Law Asia Forum
- April 12-16, 2016, New York -- ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting
- August 3-5, 2016, Half Moon Bay, California -- ABA Section of International Law Leadership Retreat
The United Nations will broaden its Millennium Development Goals, which had been set back in 2000, with a 15-year plan called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to an article in today's New York Times. Rick Gladstone, United Nations: Members Establish 15-Year Agenda, N.Y. Times, Aug. 4, 2015, at A10.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will aspire to eliminate poverty and hunger, protect the environment from climate change, achieve gender equality, and raise standards of living. The Agenda will be submitted for adoption next month at a U.N. Summit Meeting.
Monday, August 3, 2015
The 77th Biennial Conference of the International Law Association will take place one year from now on August 7- 11, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The conference theme will be 'International Law and State Practice: Is there a North/South Divide?' The official conference website address is www.ila2016.com.
Hat tip to the South African Branch of the International Law Association (SABILA)
Saturday, August 1, 2015
The International Court of Justice has scheduled public hearings for October in two pending matters:
In the case of Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Colombia) - Preliminary Objections - the Court will hold public hearings from Monday 28 September to Friday 2 October 2015.
In the Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia) - Preliminary Objections - the Court will hold public hearings from Monday 5 October to Friday 9 October 2015.
More information about both these matters may be found on the ICJ website.
Friday, July 31, 2015
The issue of consular notification and access has been much in the news and in the courts in the United States over the last fifteen years. The United States has been brought before the International Court of Justice three times (in Breard, LaGrand and Avena) for its failure to provide consular notification to foreign defendants arrested and tried in the United States as required by article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). Implementation of the ICJ's decision in Avena resulted in the well known U.S. Supreme Court case, Medellin v. Texas (2008).
Most arrests are made by local and state police officers in the United States and thus are handled at a sub-federal level. Much of the litigation has revolved around the issue of exactly who is to give consular notice and how quickly notice must be given. In an effort to better educate local and state law enforcement about the duty of consular notification and to increase clarity of the law and compliance with the VCCR, the state of Illinois recently adopted a new law that specifies which law enforcement officer is to give notice, how quickly that notice must be given, and provides that judges must also ensure that notice have been given when a defendant appears in state court.
Mores specifically, Illinois Public Act 099-0190 amends the Illinois Criminal Code to require that the "law enforcement official in charge of a custodial facility shall ensure that any individual booked and detained at the facility, within 48 hours of booking or detention, shall be advised that if that individual is a foreign national, he or she has a right to communicate with an official from the consulate of his or her country. . . If the foreign national requests consular notification or the notification is mandatory by law, the law enforcement official in charge of the custodial facility shall ensure the notice is given to the appropriate officer at the consulate of the foreign national in accordance with the U.S. Department of State Instructions for Consular Notification and Access."
The new law further provides that: "At the initial appearance of a defendant in any criminal proceeding, the court must advise the defendant in open court that any foreign national who is arrested or detained has the right to have notice of the arrest or detention given to his or her country's consular representatives and the right to communicate with those consular representatives if the notice has not already been provided. The court must make a written record of so advising the defendant. . .If consular notification is not provided to a defendant before his or her first appearance in court, the court shall grant any reasonable request for a continuance of the proceedings to allow contact with the defendant's consulate."
It is hoped that the Illinois law will provide a model for other states. By increasing compliance with consular notification in the United States, the United States will be living up to its international obligations and setting a good example, which will hopefully lead to better compliance in other countries.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Pursuant to a 2013 United Nations General Assembly Resolution (68/192), July 30 is designated as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons to raise awareness about the problem and to focus on protection of victims. The UN estimates that on any given day, 2.5 million persons are trapped in modern-day slavery as victims of sex or labor trafficking, with women and children being especially vulnerable. The United Nations is sponsoring a blue heart campaign to raise awareness and funding for victims.
Every citizen can help fight trafficking by learning the red flags that indicate a person may be a victim. A list of indicators, questions to ask, and resources in the United States may be found on the US State Dept. website.
More information about the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons may be found on this UN website.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
The American Bar Association Section of International Law Leadership Retreat is underway in Chicago, with section leaders attending from around the world. Welcome to Chicago! We wish you a successful leadership retreat and a productive annual meeting of the American Bar Association.
The Association of American Law Schools Section on Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers will present a panel at the 2016 Annual Meeting in New York on the topic of "Recruiting LL.M. Students: Promises, Expectations, Resources, and Realities." The program will be held on Friday, January 8, 2016, from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. We anticipate choosing two or three presenters at the session from this Call for Presenters.
You are invited to submit proposals on any aspect of this topic. The subject of recruiting students is an important topic, critical to the success of all LL.M. programs. Proposals should be comprehensive enough to allow the selection committee to meaningfully evaluate the aims and likely content of the presentation and to consider how various presentations will work together for the program.
Deadline and submission method: To be considered, proposals must be submitted electronically to Prof. Mark E. Wojcik at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Chair of the AALS Section on Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers, at firstname.lastname@example.org, by Monday, September 14, 2015. Presenters will be informed in October whether their proposal was selected.
Eligibility: Only full-time faculty members of AALS member or fee-paid law schools are eligible to submit proposals. Foreign, visiting (without a full-time position at an AALS member or fee-paid law school) and adjunct faculty members, graduate students, fellows, and non-law school faculty are not eligible to submit a proposal. As with other presenters at the AALS meeting, presenters chosen from this call will be responsible for paying their annual meeting registration fee and travel expenses.
For questions, please contact: Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School Chair, AALS Section on Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers, email@example.com.
Each year, the U.S. State Department prepares a report on the progress being made by countries around the world in the fight against human trafficking. Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department released its 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report. Both Cuba and Malaysia have been upgraded from Tier 3 Watch List countries to Tier 2 Watch List countries due to their increased efforts in combating human trafficking. Twenty-three countries remain in Tier 3, meaning they do not comply with minimum international standards to fight human trafficking and are not making significant efforts to do so. On a more positive note, thirty-one countries are fully in compliance with international standards.
In addition to various country reports, the TIP Report defines human trafficking, both sex trafficking and labor trafficking, and describes various industries and practices that are more likely to give rise to the practice. It also features eight women and men who are honored as this year's TIP Report Heros for their devotion to the fight against human trafficking: Betty Pedraza Lozano (Columbia), Ameena Said Hasan (Iraq), Gita Miruskina (Latvia), Norotiana Ramboarivelo Jeannoda (Madagascar), Catherine Groenendijk-Nabukwasi (South Sudan), Parosha Chandran (United Kingdom), Tony Maddox (United States).
Also of note, this year marks the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Protocol). Thre are currently 166 countries that have joined the Palermo Protocol. Seven countries joined between 2014 and 2015: Afghanistan, Angola, Barbados, Czech Republic, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Yesterday, the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) formally adopted Kazakhstan’s WTO terms of entry at the General Council meeting. Kazakhstan will have until 31 October 2015 to ratify the deal to formally become a WTO member. Its membership will become effective 30 days after it notifies the ratification to the WTO Director-General. More information regarding Kazakhstan's WTO membership process is available here.
In other WTO accession news, Working Party Chairman H.E. Joakim Reiter of Sweden reported at the third meeting of the Working Party on Liberia’s WTO accession held last week that Liberia’s accession is “on schedule” to be concluded by the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi scheduled for December 15-18. More information regarding Liberia's accession process may be found here.
The WTO currently has 161 members.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has launched its Individual Petition System Portal (IPSP), making the IACHR the first regional human rights body to offer a digital system that provides remote access to petitions and cases. This launch is part of IACHR’s ongoing efforts to create mechanisms that facilitate access to information for persons seeking remedies from the Inter-American human rights system.
“We are witnessing a really historic moment that will radically change the processing of petitions, cases, and precautionary measures,” observed IACHR Chair, Commissioner Rose Marie Belle Antoine. “This is a major step forward in the use of new technologies to enable all users of the Inter-American human rights system to exercise the right of access to information,” she added.
According to an IACHR press release: "The IPSP is a document transmission tool that provides online access by the State and the petitioner to information on their pending cases before the IACHR. Moreover, the parties can use the Portal to send communications and annexes and to consult documents issued by the Commission. Individuals, organizations, and States can access information about their pending petitions, cases, and precautionary measures before the Court, thus contributing to greater transparency in procedures and expeditious processing through the use of technology and automated management tools."
“Currently, people with matters pending before the IACHR must make long-distance telephone calls to inquire about the judicial status of their case or verify that the Commission has received a certain document. With the new Portal, people can access this type of information online simply by entering their user name and password,” explained IACHR Executive Secretary Emilio Álvarez Icaza. The Portal is expected to increase the transparency of the IACHR's procedures and work, lower costs, and increase speed and efficiency.
Earlier today, the European Commission issued a Statement of Objections alleging competition (antitrust) law violations against six U.S. companies in the movie business: Disney, Sony, Warner Brothers, NBC Universal, Paramount Pictures, and Twentieth Century Fox, along with a British broadcaster, Sky UK. The companies are accused of limiting European access to programming on pay-TV services, violating European laws that provide for free movement of goods and services throughout the European Union. In the EC's preliminary view, the contract clauses at issue create exclusive territorial restrictions contrary to Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. If the companies are ultimately deemed to be in violation, they will likely face stiff penalties.
More details may be found in this European Commission press release.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Today is a historic day on which the United States and Cuba are re-establishing formal diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. The Cuban interest section in Washington, DC has been upgraded to embassy status and the Cuban flag now flies over the embassy. The US interest section in Havana, Cuba will likewise be upgraded to embassy status, but the raising of the American flag has been postponed a few weeks until U.S. Secretary of State Kerry can be there for the ceremony. Much of the trade restrictions imposed on Cuba by the United States will remain in place, however, until Congress decides to amend the relevant laws.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Special Background Briefing on Cuba
MODERATOR: Thanks so much, [Operator], and thanks to all of you for joining us on the call today. Our speaker today is [State Department Official]. For this call, [State Department Official] can be referred to as a State Department Official. He’s briefing today on background on Cuba, previewing the events for Monday, July 20th.
As you know, on Monday in accordance with President Obama’s announcement on July 1st, the U.S. and Cuba will re-establish diplomatic relations. This call is based on several requests and will deal with questions on the logistics of this re-establishment and Monday’s events. Please note we will not – not – address broader questions on U.S. policy towards Cuba on this call.
And while the Secretary of State will travel to Cuba later this summer to celebrate the re-opening of U.S. Embassy Havana and raise the U.S. flag, details regarding the re-opening ceremony will be provided in the coming weeks. Again, we won’t discuss any high-level travel on this call.
I’d also like to note we have had questions on the flag installation at the State Department. A few notes on this: First, this is a routine installation with no public or media component. Currently, we do not have clarity on the timing but it will be outside of business hours.
Finally, we’d like to keep questions relatively brief today. As you can imagine, our speaker has a lot to do before Monday, so our goal is to wrap this up in about 25 minutes.
Finally, today’s call is on background, so with that, I will turn it over to our State Department official.
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Great. Thank you [Moderator], and thanks, everybody, for joining us. We do want to answer your questions. It is an incredibly busy time, but we do want to make sure that you do get some of the facts. And so I’ve got a couple of remarks just to explain how we see everything going down on Monday, and then we can open it up for questions.
So as [Moderator] mentioned, this is a direct result of the President’s announcement on July 1st, and we indicated at that time July 20 would be the date that diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba would be re-established. We also announced that this would be the day that we would officially re-open the embassies. So to be clear, legally on July 20th, both interest sections will become embassies.
Now soon-to-be U.S. Embassy Havana will have its – we’ll have more information about that, about when we memorialize that later this summer, but it will officially be an embassy come Monday. And the embassy does plan to put out a short, factual statement to that effect down in Havana.
Up here in Washington, at 10:30, the Cuban Embassy will hold their ceremonial re-opening, and there is very limited attendance by the U.S. Government there. We will have a delegation. We do not have a speaking role. The Cubans are handling their own press, and any questions about their ceremony we would refer to them.
Later at 1 o’clock, Secretary Kerry has invited his counterpart, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, to come to the State Department for an historic meeting. They will meet at 1 o’clock. Afterward at 1:40, they will have a press conference – a joint press conference, and it is there that we’re going to – is that right? So it is there that really there will be sort of the first historic joint press conference between the Secretary of State and the Cuban Foreign Minister.
Really after that event, the minister departs, and that will finish the U.S. involvement for the day. He goes on and does other things that you can ask them about. And then with regard to when our embassy will be ceremonially re-opened in Havana, we’re going to announce those later this summer, or as [Moderator] said, in the coming weeks.
So thank you very much. That’s just sort of our opening comments and pretty much the scope of what we can brief today. But I’m happy to answer any questions about those areas.
OPERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, if you do wish to ask a question, please press * then 1. Our first question is going to come from the line of Matt Spetalnick with Reuters. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, thanks very much. Kirby said today at his briefing that the talks between Kerry and Rodriguez would be substantive, and he ticked off a number of issues that might be involved. I would like you – on the human rights issue, can you give any guidance on whether Kerry will push for the release of more Cuban political prisoners, and will there be any kind of – what about the Cuban demand for the return of Guantanamo? Is the Secretary willing to discuss that?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, I’m not going to try to talk about the – I don’t really want to talk about the conversation that the two ministers will have. I mean clearly as the spokesperson said, they’re going to talk about bilateral issues. He gave a list. Those will be the items that they go through. And what we’re looking at are issues that we’ve already agreed that we can – that we have an agenda that we can talk about. And so on human rights, we won’t get into specifics, but we’ve had a dialogue with them already and we’ve had a pretty robust conversation with them, and we expect that to be continued through the discussion by the ministers.
OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of Karen DeYoung with Washington Post. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi. This is about the ceremonies. [Moderator] said that Kerry would go down there to raise the flag at the new U.S. embassy. Does that mean that the flag will not be raised when the embassy opens until Kerry gets there?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right, Karen, that’s the – that is the plan right now. The Secretary will be there to officiate for these very important events of raising the flag and unveiling the signage for the U.S. Embassy in Havana. He does – his presence there is ceremonial. It’s important, it’s historic, but legally the embassy will be functioning on Monday, July 20th. There is not a legal requirement to fly a flag, and we wanted the Secretary to be there to oversee these important events.
OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of Juan Lopez with CNN Espanol. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you. So starting Monday, what changes, what is different at the now-U.S. Embassy in Havana? Can anyone go? Is it like other embassies in the world where you have to have a previous appointment? What is going to happen with U.S. diplomats? Do – starting Monday, are they free to roam the country as they haven’t been before? Can you be more specific on the logistics please?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right. Yes, on Monday they will – all of the employees of the – the American employees of the interest section will be re-accredited as employees of the embassy. So it is an upgrade in status for the – for all the U.S. employees there. The chief of mission will be upgraded to charge d’affaires, and they will be then entered as a member of the diplomatic corps in Havana, and that will mean that they are invited to diplomatic functions just like any other country. That has not been the case previously. And yes, there are conditions that we have talked about previously, about – when we made the agreement to open the embassies. And there will be some – those conditions will all be active and effective on July 20th and will begin to function under those new conditions. Those new conditions do include greater freedom for U.S. diplomats to travel throughout Cuba.
OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of Felicia Schwartz with The Wall Street Journal. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. I’ve got two. One is: Do you have any sort of information on when the last Cuban official to visit Washington was and how high-ranking they were? And then two: Is there any sort of timeline about renovations at the soon-to-be embassy? And I know it has to be upgraded. Do you have anything you can tell us about when those are going to begin? Thanks.
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The Cuban foreign minister has visited New York under the context of the – of UN activities. He has not visited Washington before. And this particular foreign minister has never been to Washington. As far as the – I – actually I don’t have the information as to who was the most senior Cuban to visit before, because there are certain international organizations that are in Washington and may have invited a minister from time to time, so I don’t think that we would keep track of exactly who has been here before.
And with regard to renovations, I really don’t have a – any more information to add other than we don’t have any immediate plans for a major renovation of that facility.
OPERATOR: The next question comes from the line of Margaret Brennan with CBS News. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, thanks for doing this. When is the last time that a meeting of this level has happened? When is the last foreign minister from Cuba – when did he ever come to the State Department?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, that would be a good question for the historian. It has not happened in decades, but we don’t have the exact date. I’m sorry that we – I regret that we don’t have that. As I said, these two gentlemen have met on various occasions and they have met in Panama and they’ve met in New York, but this is historic in that it has been several decades since a Cuban foreign minister has visited Washington or the State Department.
OPERATOR: Next question comes from the line of Julie Davis with New York Times. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thanks, hi. Can you say who – which U.S. officials will be attending the opening of the Cuban embassy here on Monday? And then separately, when Secretary Kerry meets with the Cuban Foreign Minister, will discussing the unresolved property claims be on their agenda? And how quickly does the Secretary hope to make progress on that issue?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you. The delegation is led by Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson, who was the Secretary’s negotiator with the Cubans for – throughout this process. There is a – as I said, it’s a small group. I don’t want – I won’t give all the names here, but they are essentially assistant secretaries and deputy assistant secretaries, both from State Department and other government agencies that have had activities and other negotiations with the Cubans throughout this process. So they are all people that the Cubans are familiar with and reflect an attitude of wanting to work our bilateral agenda in a very robust manner.
I know that the spokesperson mentioned claims as one of the agenda items that they would discuss. It is a priority among many, but we have said this on several occasions that the resolution of these claims is a priority for the State Department and for the U.S. Government. And I don’t have any other information about how that is going to be resolved.
OPERATOR: And our next question comes from the line of Andrea Mitchell with NBC News. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. When Secretary Kerry goes on this trip in presumably August, do you expect that he will do more than the ceremonial flag-raising? Would he also go over to MINREX or do a reciprocal visit? And how long do you expect the Cuban visitors are going to be in Washington?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thank you for the question. We are still working on the details of that trip, which we haven’t yet announced. Obviously, the Cubans approach this with a – with reciprocity in how they’ve organized their meeting here, and so I’ll just leave it at that, that most things that we do with the Cuban Government are reciprocal in nature. And so July 20 is an important ceremonial activity for us as we look to future travel by the Secretary.
On the – was there another question there? Did I miss one? Did I miss another part of that question?
OPERATOR: One moment, I’ll open that line up.
QUESTION: Bruno’s schedule.
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: What? Oh, Bruno’s schedule. Sorry, I’ve got it now. The – from what we know of the foreign minister’s schedule, he will arrive on Sunday and then he will depart on Tuesday early. So it – most of his schedule revolves around the ceremony at the Cuban embassy.
OPERATOR: And our next question comes from the line of Carrie Kahn with NPR. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you. Quickly, will the charge d’affaires, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, be in Havana, and will he do anything in Havana on Monday? Did you get the new employees that you asked for and will they be there start this – starting next week? And you said they get an upgrade of employees that are at the Interests Section. Do they also get a pay upgrade?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: The – actually, Jeff DeLaurentis will be – and I should have mentioned that earlier – he will be in the delegation that is here in Washington, and that’s a fairly standard practice and especially for a historic meeting that our representative in the embassy would come back for that meeting. So he will be here in Washington. And so our deputy chief of mission in Havana will actually on that day be in charge of the post. And again, there is no other activity other than we’re going to have a statement put out by the embassy announcing that they have indeed elevated status to an embassy that morning.
There also will be a technical exchange of notes because the Government of Switzerland has been providing us protecting power for many years, and that will now be – that agreement between the U.S. and Switzerland, and another agreement between Cuba and Switzerland, will be terminated as a result of the upgrade.
As for the employees, there may be some confusion in that the discussion of personnel and staffing that we had with the Cubans referred specifically to American employees, and that’s a personnel issue that we’ll work out in the months to come. So on that day, we would not get new employees. In fact, the employees at the Cuban Interests Section will be the same employees and they – as I understand it, they’re excited about becoming (inaudible) of the U.S. embassy.
OPERATOR: Next question comes from the line of Serena Marshall with ABC News. Please go ahead. Ms. Marshall, possibly your mute button is on.
QUESTION: Sorry about that, my mute button was on. I would just like to confirm about the flag raising in Havana, that not only will there not be a ceremonial flag raising, there will not be any American flag outside of the U.S. Interests Section, soon-to-be embassy, on Monday. And secondly, on the State Department raising the flag outside, if we do want to cover that as a historic moment to have the Cuban flag outside of the State Department, will you give any more guidance on what time that will occur or if there will be able to be any video of that?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’ll do the first question and ask [Moderator] about the second. Yeah, to confirm, there – so there will be no flag flying at the U.S. embassy in Havana until the Secretary of State comes down to officiate that ceremony. It is not a legal requirement that they fly the flag, and we are going to function as an embassy. They will do everything just like an embassy, but they will not have the additional feature of flying a flag. With regard to the C Street, it’s not a flag outside the State Department. It’s inside the State Department in our lobby, and [Moderator] was going to – I think [Moderator] addressed that at the top. I don’t know if you want to jump in here, [Moderator].
MODERATOR: No, you are actually great on that. It is in the C Street lobby. That will be up outside of business hours, but that will be one of all of the flags that are displayed in the C Street lobby of the nations with whom we maintain diplomatic relations.
OPERATOR: And it looks like we have time for one more question. That comes from the line of Pam Dockins with Voice of America. Please go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you for doing this. First – two questions, actually. First of all, considering the U.S. trade embargo remains in place and travel to Cuba is restricted under the 12 categories, what tangible changes will result from the opening of the embassies on Monday for the average American who’s interested in Cuba, and also for the average Cuban who’s interested in America? What will be the difference for them, or will the openings be more symbolic?
Oh, and my second question – just because I picked up about a minute late, could you clarify the attribution? Is it senior Administration official or senior State Department official?
STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right. This is a symbolic step, but it is a very important step in the next stage of our relations with Cuba. The President has been very clear there are many other changes that need to take place, and he has called on Congress to end the embargo. As far as tangible changes that people will see, I will just say that as a result of the President’s decision, more Americans are able to travel to Cuba and they will be supported by a U.S. embassy rather than a U.S. interests section, and that Cubans, as part of the negotiations, will see more accessibility to our facility down there. They will not have the – to – they will not face as many security officials as before due to the conditions that the embassy will operate under, and they will be able to more easily access American officials should they want to talk to them.
With regard to the attribution, I’ll leave that for [Moderator].
MODERATOR: Thanks so much. And just as a reminder, it is a State Department official, and the attribution – this call is on background, State Department official.
Finally, I want to thank all of you for joining us. I’m sorry that the call was so brief. We will push out products on Monday, including transcripts; photos will be posted to the State Department properties. It’s a significant day. I’d like to thank our briefer for joining us, as well as all of you. Have a good weekend.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Here's a reminder that the 5th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law 2015 will be held at the Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Méridien Hotel, in November 2015. <a href="http://asiansil.org/conference/5thBiennial2015/">Click here for more information about the conference.</a>
Each year, the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of International Law publishes the International Legal Developments Year in Review. The most recent volume covering international legal developments around the world in 2014 is now available in print (vol. 49) and on the ABA website. The issue covers everything from international business regulation to public international law to legal practice and includes chapters on regional and comparative.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
The United Nations human rights office has expressed grave concern over Thailand's deportation to China of more than 100 people understood to be ethnic Uighurs – including some 20 women – and strongly urged Thai authorities to ensure the protection of 60 others who remain in detention.
“The 109 individuals, who were part of a larger group of more than 350, had been detained in very poor conditions at various immigration detention facilities across Thailand since March 2014, when they were apprehended after leaving China on their way to Turkey,” Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Despite Turkey's reported willingness to admit them to its territory, only 172 of the 350 were eventually allowed to go to Turkey in late June,” he said, adding that some 60 others remain in detention in Thailand.
The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment has repeatedly expressed concern to the Thai authorities that the deportation of this group to China would amount to “refoulement” and put them at risk of being tortured or subjected to other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The principle of non-refoulement is contained the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to which Thailand is a party.
“We strongly urge the Thai authorities to ensure the protection of the 60 individuals who remain in detention and ensure that no further deportation of individuals, including potential refugees and asylum seekers, are made to countries where there are substantial grounds to believe that they would face an imminent risk of grave human rights violations, including torture,” Mr. Colville said.
The UN human rights office called on the Chinese authorities to ensure that those extradited are treated in full conformity with the country's human rights.
“We understand the Thai authorities have received diplomatic assurances from China that the people will be protected from harm, and urge both countries to ensure that this pledge is scrupulously observed,” Mr. Colville said.
(UN Press Release)
Electoral Crisis Burundi Can Affect Stability and Development of Central Africa; More Than 145,000 Persons Flee to Neighboring Countries in Week Before the Burundi Presidential Election
One day after United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein alerted the Security Council about the seriousness of the electoral crisis in Burundi, his Office today issued a new warning about the impact the “extremely tense situation” there could have on the stability and the development of Central Africa.
Indeed, more than 145,000 people have already fled to neighboring countries less than a week before the presidential election, set for July 15, and ten days after parliamentary and local elections, which took place in an atmosphere far from conducive to a free, fair and inclusive vote, explained the Spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, during a press conference in Geneva.
“Polls were boycotted by opposition parties, with outbreaks of violence, including small-arms and grenade attacks,” he stressed.
Over the past two months, UNHCR office in Burundi has documented over 300 cases of arbitrary arrest and detention of demonstrators, human rights defenders, political opponents and journalists. Numerous cases of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in detention were also reported.
“A severe crackdown on independent media has led to the closure of most private media and radio stations. Large numbers of journalists and human rights defenders have fled Burundi for fear of reprisals. Peaceful protests have been met with unwarranted use of force, including lethal force, in violation of Burundi's obligation under national and international law to guarantee the right to freedom of assembly,” Mr. Colville continued.
Recently, key members of the Pierre Nkurunziza's own political party and government have fled the country, the Spokesperson added.
“Our field office has also documented dozens of killings, most of them shootings of demonstrators and human rights defenders by members of the Imbonerakure militia and security forces,” he said, urging the authorities to disarm this militia without delay.
Refugees interviewed by our staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Tanzania continue to refer to the Imbonerakure as the main threat, but some have also stated that militants from other groups are also employing violence – a new and disturbing development.
“Media interviews carried out in the past couple of days, with leaders of the attempted coup in May, who talk openly of organizing military units and of resorting to the use of force, are alarming. We call on all sides to make serious and urgent efforts to find a peaceful solution to this crisis before it leads to uncontrollable violence,” concluded Mr. Colville.
(UN Press Release)
Former President of Guinea Indicted in Guinea for Stadium Violence Five Years Ago When 156 People Were Killed, More Than 100 Women and Girls Sexually Violated, and More than 1,000 People Injured
The former President of Guinea, Moussa Dadis Camara, has been indicted in an investigation into the “horrific events” that took place in Guinea's capital, Conakry, nearly five years ago.
Zainab Hawa Bangura, the U.N. Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, commended the Guinea national authorities for exercising ownership, leadership and responsibility over this process. which seeks to bring justice to victims of crimes committed during the horrific events which took place Conakry in broad daylight.”
“This indictment represents an important step in Guinea's fight against impunity for the crimes that were perpetrated against unarmed civilians,” she added.
A UN-led International Commission of Inquiry found that at least 156 people were killed, at least 109 women and girls raped and subjected to other forms of sexual violence, and more than 1,000 people injured as a result of the events in the stadium and the surrounding areas.
Mr. Camara was the President of Guinea's National Council for Democracy and Development at the time of the incidents on 28 September 2009.
In the framework of a Joint Communique between the UN and the Government of Guinea signed in November 2011, Ms. Bangura's Office, through the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law/Sexual Violence in Conflict, has been providing technical support to a Panel of Judges established by the Guinean authorities to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
Based on more than 400 hearings, which included 200 victims and witnesses of sexual violence, the Panel has already issued 15 indictments, including against high ranking military officers.
“I praise the courage and determination of the Panel of Judges to investigate the crimes committed, as well as the courage of the victims and witnesses to come forward,” the Special Representative said. “This would not have happened without their relentless efforts in pursuit of justice.”
The United Nations will continue to support ongoing efforts by the Guinean authorities towards a successful conclusion of the process, including in the areas of protection of victims and witnesses, and reparations, she said.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Friday, July 10, 2015
The Annual Meeting Committee of the American Society for International Law (ASIL) is currently accepting proposal submissions for its 110th Annual Meeting, to be held March 30 - April 2, 2016, in Washington, DC. This year's Annual Meeting theme is "Charting New Frontiers in International Law."
The Committee will prioritize session proposals that involve non-traditional formats, such as interviews, Q&A roundtables, lectures, poster sessions, or the use of multimedia or interactive audience participation features. In addition, the Committee is committed to expanding diversity in the issues and voices represented at the Annual Meeting, and is excited to present a track specifically focused on professional and academic development.
Submissions are due Monday, July 20th, 2015, and the Committee will notify proposers regarding the status of their submission via email in the fall of 2015.
For instructions, more information on the Annual Meeting, and to submit a proposal, please visit the ASIL website.