Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Institute for Peace and Dialogue in Switzerland has announced several opportunities for research and study, including summer programs and year-long visiting positions.

International  Summer Academies & 3 Month CAS-Research Program 2016

- V Summer Academy Period: 09 - 19 August, 2016

- VI Summer Academy Period: 19 - 29 August, 2016

- 3 Month CAS - Research Program Period: 09 August - 06 November, 2016

 A) The main goal of the Summer Academy is to strengthen the skills of the representatives of state organisations, business sector, INGOs/NGOs, education institutions, religious organisations, independent mediators and politicians through institutional global academic education in peacebuilding, mediation, conflict resolution, security and intercultural dialogue.

B) The main goal of the 3 Month CAS-Research Program is to develop the research skills of the participants and to closely acquaintance them with relevant Swiss state, public and private Institutes.

Topics: Peacebuilding, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, Security and Intercultural Dialogue.

Deadline for Summer Academy Applications: 16 May, 2016

For more information, click here

1 Year Visitor Research Period, VRP

The main aim of the Visitor Research Program is to improve research skills of the researchers through academic trainings, peer to peer education, visit to Swiss Organisations and reading materials.

For more information, click here

(cgb)

March 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

IACHR Issues Its 2015 Annual Report

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented its 2015 Annual Report today, which offers comprehensive and relevant information concerning the Commission’s work and resources. According to the IACHR's news release, the publication of this report seeks to promote compliance with the Commission’s decisions, ensure accessibility to victims, give an accounting of the petition and case system, and report on the human rights situation in the region.

The report has an introduction and six chapters. In the introduction, the IACHR analyzes the status of ratification of inter-American instruments. Chapter I gives a general overview of the Commission’s activities during the year. Chapter II provides an accounting of how cases, petitions, and precautionary measures have been handled. Chapter III covers the activities of the Thematic Rapporteurships. Chapter IV.A provides an overview of the human rights situation in the hemisphere in 2014, derived from the Commission’s monitoring work. Chapter IV.B includes special reports the Commission considers necessary regarding the human rights situation in the Member States. In the Annual Report for 2015, the IACHR analyzes the situation in Cuba, Guatemala and Venezuela. Chapter VI deals with institutional development.  The report also includes 15 Annexes which are the country and thematic reports published in 2015. 

(cgb)

March 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Nine Defense Lawyers Arrested in Turkey

The Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA-International Association of Lawyers) has been informed of the arrest and detention in Istanbul of nine lawyers at around 6 am this morning. Those lawyers are İrfan Arasan, Ayşe Acinikli, Hüseyin Boğatekin, Şefik Çelik, Adem Çalışçı, Ayşe Başar, Tamer Doğan, Ramazan Demir and Mustafa Ruzgar.

According to the information collected by the UIA, the reason for these arrests has so far not been disclosed to the lawyers by Turkish security forces. These lawyers are all members of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (Ozgurlukcu Hukukcular Dernegi - OHD). They are representing 46 lawyers prosecuted for their participation in the defense of the leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, and all have been called to appear at a hearing scheduled tomorrow, on the 17th of March.

The UIA issued a statement severely condemnng these arrests, which appear to be arbitrary and in violation of the rights of the defense as enshrined in all international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Turkey. The UIA also denounced recurrent attacks on Human rights lawyers, stemming from the abusive use of anti-terrorism legislation. It deplores the fact that once again lawyers are systematically identified with their clients or with the cause defended by them. Such assimilation violates the principles protecting the profession.

(Adapted from a UIA press release).

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Turkey is the 71st Nation to Accept the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Turkey has ratified the new Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), becoming the 71st WTO member to do so.  His Excellency Ambassador Haluk Ilicak and Hüsnü Dilerme, Deputy Under-Secretary with the Turkish Ministry of Economy, presented Turkey’s instrument of acceptance to WTO Deputy Director-General Yi Xiaozhun on March 16, 2016.

Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. The TFA also contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.

The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the Agreement.

Click here to read more about the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

(mew)

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Human Rights Expert Urges Support for the New President of the Central African Republic

The United Nations independent expert on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) today called on the international community to support that country's newly elected President Faustin Archange Touadéra, and the government he will form, as he takes measures to meet the high expectations of the population.

These include a return to security, disarming groups, strengthening the rule of law and fighting impunity, encouraging national reconciliation, and providing urgent services, such as education and health.

Speaking from Bangui during her sixth visit to CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita-Bocoum, also shared some concerns coming from civil society, which seeks greater protection of civilians, assistance for victims of sexual violence and of violence based on witchcraft accusations.

“All the actors of the civil society I met deplored the absence of the criminal justice system, the lack of access to justice and the lack of measures to protect victims and witnesses,” the expert said.

Ms. Keita-Bocoum noted also the challenges from humanitarian needs, which said remain “high”, with international aid often being the only way to meet the health, nutritional and sanitation basics for the population.

The country is emerging from nearly three years of fighting between the mainly Muslim Séléka and mainly Christian anti-Balaka groups.

The UN has played a major role in seeking to restore peace in the CAR, with military and police units from the 11,000-strong UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the country (MINUSCA) joining soldiers from the French Sangaris force and local security teams last 30 December at polling stations to ensure a peaceful presidential vote.

After nine months of improved stability in CAR, a new wave of inter-communal violence erupted in September of last year, killing at least 130 people, injuring 430 others, and triggering an 18 per cent increase in the number of internally displaced persons to 447,500.

The election of President Touadéra, who won the presidential run-off on 14 February and will be sworn in on 25 March, is being seen as a new chapter in the country's political history – despite numerous significant challenges that remain.

In her comments today, the UN expert noted some improvement in security, especially in the capital city of Bangui, but expressed concern about violence in the regions in the country's centre, east and north-east.

In addition, she cautioned against putting in power any individuals with human rights abuses. She stressed “the importance that elected officials are men and women who truly have willingness to represent the interests of the Central African people, with integrity and respect for human rights.”

The UN expert today also thanked the transitional government, led by Prime Minister Catherine Samba-Panza and her transitional government, for their cooperation and expressed her gratitude for their commitments and efforts in the initiatives for peaceful dialogue, national reconciliation and the democratic process, and in particular the holding of the Bangui Forum, the strengthening of women's leadership and the organization of free and peaceful elections.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

(UN Press Release)

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ICJ Concludes Public Hearings on Jurisdictional Question in "Obligations Concerning Negotiations Relating to the Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament"

The International Court of Justice has concluded the public hearings on the question of jurisdiction in the case called Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. India) and (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom). The ICJ will now begin its deliberations.

Ms Neeru Chadha, Former Additional Secretary and Legal Adviser, Ministry of External Affairs, as Agent, led the delegation of the Republic of India.

In a separate action, the delegation of the United Kingdom was led by Mr. Iain Macleod, as Agent.

H.E. Mr. Tony deBrum and Mr. Phon van den Biesen, Attorney at Law, Van den Biesen Kloostra Advocaten, Amsterdam, led the delegation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands as Co-Agents.

The Marshall Islands is asking the ICJ to reject objections to jurisdiction over claims that it brought against India and to declare that the ICJ has jurisdiction over claims submitted in its Application filed in April 2014.  The Republic of India and the United Kingdom urged the ICJ to find that it lacks jurisdiction and that the claims brought by the Marshall Islands are inadmissible.

The ICJ will deliver its judgment at a public session to be announced “in due course.” Further information about the case is available on the ICJ website.

As we reported in 2014, the Marshall Islands sued nine states for their alleged failure to comply with their obligations with respect to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament. The nine states named as respondents are: China, Korea, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Three of the states have accepted the ICJ's compulsory jurisdiction: India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. For the remaining six states, the Marshall Islands has requested that they consent to ICJ jurisdiciton over this dispute pursuant to Article 38(5) of the ICJ's Rules of Court, which reads:

"When the applicant State proposes to found the jurisdiction of the Court upon a consent thereto yet to be given or manifested by the State against which such application is made, the application shall be transmitted to that State. It shall not however be entered in the General List, nor any action be taken in the proceedings, unless and until the State against which such application is made consents to the Court’s jurisdiction for the purposes of the case."

The United Kingdom is the only State over which the ICJ currently has jurisdiction that is also a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). (China, France, Russia, and the United States are also parties to the NPT.)

The Marshall Islands alleges that the United Kingdom and the other States have violated Article VI of the NPT, which provides that: "

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

With respect to India and Pakistan, the Marshall Islands claims that the principles set out in Article VI of the NPT reflect customary international law and are binding as such on non-treaty parties as well. By way of relief, the Marshall Islands requests the ICJ to order the Respondents to take all steps necessary to comply with their obligations under international law with respect to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and nuclear disarmament within one year of the Judgment, including the pursuit, by initiation if necessary, of negotiations in good faith aimed at the conclusion of a convention on nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

(mew and cgb)

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ICRC Combines Ability to Search International Humanitarian Law Databases

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has recently made available a combined search interface for their three International Humanitarian Law Databases:

  • Customary International Humanitarian Law
  • Treaties
  • National Implementation

Click here to have a look.
Hat tip to the American Society of International Law's International Legal Research Interest Group.(mew)

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

LGBT Detainees Suffer More Acts of Violence in Custody

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) detainees suffer more acts of violence than the general population in custody, according to a new United Nations human rights report that explored the link between gender and torture.

“Gender stereotypes still cause us to downplay the suffering of women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and sometimes even acquiesce in it,” Juan E. Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, said last week.

The report to the United Nations Human Rights Council looks at gender-based violence through the prism of the Convention against Torture, and highlights a tendency to regard violations against these groups as “ill-treatment” even where they would more appropriately be defined as “torture.”

The human rights expert pointed to the clear link between the criminalization of LGBT people and the violence and stigma these groups face. At least 76 countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships between adults, he said.

“States are complicit in the violence women and LGBT groups face if they implement discriminatory laws that trap these people in a spiral of abuse,” Mr. Méndez stressed.

Focusing on detention conditions, the report quotes studies that say women make up between 2 per cent and 9 per cent of the prison population in most of the world’s prisons. Of those, up to 80 per cent are mothers and yet most jails are typically designed for men.

The expert recommends that non-custodial sanctions be given to help protect women, in particular mother and child, since the majority of crimes committed by women tend to be non-violent in nature.

Denial of safe abortion services can also amount to torture or ill treatment in some cases, where the life of the mother is endangered, or the pregnancy is the result of rape and incest, he said, urging States to reform their laws in this respect.

Domestic violence is far more prevalent than most people realise, said the rapporteur, citing an estimate that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced domestic violence of various kinds. Societal indifference, discriminatory laws and attitudes and a culture of impunity exacerbate problems like this, he said.

“States must finally implement their heightened obligation to prevent and combat gender-based violence and discrimination perpetrated by both State and private actors against women, girls and persons who transgress sexual and gender norms,” he stressed.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

March 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cooperation Among Judges Vital to Combatting Terrorism

Formal cooperation among judges is essential in bringing individuals charged with terrorism-related crimes to justice and ensuring that the rule of law is upheld throughout the process, according to officials at a United Nations event that for the first time brought together Supreme Court justices to discuss how terrorism cases are handled in their respective countries.

“Judges play a crucial role in interpreting counter-terrorism measures and promoting counter-terrorism measures within the human rights and legal frameworks,” UN Chef de Cabinet Edmond Mulet said in his opening statement to last week's event, entitled “The Effective Adjudication of Terrorism Cases.”

“Member States must ensure that they provide access to justice for all and work to strengthen institutions, including the judicial,” he told the event, organized by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED).

He stressed the importance of “effective, accountable and inclusive” justice not only for the victims and the perpetrators, but also for ensuring public confidence in the judicial process.

He pledged the UN's commitment to strengthening support to these efforts, telling the judges that “ultimately it is your work at the local, national and regional levels that will have the most impact.”

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer provided an overview framing the issues that would be discussed in an interactive panel, namely the role of the country's top judiciary during times of conflict.

Echoing the idea that greater cooperation is useful between judicial representatives, he characterized being a judge as “not a gregarious job; it is a rather lonely job.”

He began by quoting the Roman philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero, who said: “In times of war, the law falls silent.” He then noted some key judicial moments from US history, including political and social challenges when the Supreme Court's decisions were ignored, such as immediately after the 1954 landmark case on racial segregation, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

In the context of war and anti-terrorism measures, the top court cannot write the government a blank check, the Justice said, before asking – then what colour is the check? How is this done in different Supreme Courts? And how do you create a rule of law where people agree to do it?

Speaking of his experience in Afghanistan, Supreme Court Justice Abdul Rasheed Rashid discussed the physical security threats facing judges in his country, and praised the people of Afghanistan for being “really courageous even if the kind of terrorism we have here is one of the worst.”

Justices from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan also participated. From Pakistan, Justice Asif Khosa, stressed that the main principle of a judge is to be fair, irrespective if the perpetrator is alleged to be a terrorist or a more common criminal.

“In the name of terrorism, I cannot brutalize justice,” he said.

The discussion was held under the umbrella of CTED's cooperation with the Global Center on Cooperative Security and the South Asia Judges Project, which consists of a series of workshops for judges, attended by representatives of all member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) [Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka], as well as by prosecutors and police officers from all the SAARC countries.

In the second half of the event, judicial representatives discussed the cooperation and support necessary to support senior judges in leading a criminal justice response to terrorism.

One of the main issues that evolved was that terrorists should not be able to take advantage of legal loopholes or differences between jurisdictions in a country or between countries, in order to absolve themselves of wrongdoing.

The speakers included Chief Justice Jean Fahed, Court of Cassation of Lebanon, and Chief Justice Khaled Ayari, Court of Cassation of Tunisia.

In his closing remarks, Jean-Paul Laborde, the Executive Director of CTED, said today's event would be a first step in giving Supreme Court justices access to the global institution so that they can continue to become familiar with the international challenges and debates.

“These connections between the diplomatic and judicial world are essential for the future of our fight against terrorism and for our fight against all forms of international crime,” Mr. Laborde said.

He noted that judges need to be able to stay abreast of the flexibility and the speed of action of these terrorist organizations, to be fully aware of the type of response that needs to be provided at the judiciary level.

“We in the Security Council and the CTC [Counter-Terrorism Committee] need to raise our voice and give judges this ability to administer justice, to be able to speak with States, to be able to take action against these situations,” he added.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

March 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

United Nations Human Rights Council Marks 10th Anniversary

Human rights are, sadly, “under attack” worldwide, and the United Nations Human Rights Council must increase its impact on the ground over its second decade, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as the Organization's main human rights body marked the 10th anniversary of its creation.

“Ten years on, I commend the Council on making important progress towards putting the human rights pillar back at the centre of the United Nations system,” the UN chief said at an anniversary event organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

When the UN General Assembly voted to create the Human Rights Council 10 years ago, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, Assembly President at that time, had described the occasion as “a new beginning for the promotion and protection of human rights.”

Today, Mr. Ban said that over the decade, human rights mechanisms have been strengthened, with such instruments as the Universal Periodic Review, which periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN Member States.

The Council's work on Burundi, Guinea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syria and many other places has helped the international community to respond to human rights emergencies and work towards accountability, he noted.

In particular, Syria figured high in Mr. Ban's speech, as today also marked the start of a sixth year of conflict there. “For five years, the people of that country have endured horrific and widespread human rights abuses including extrajudicial executions and torture,” he said, noting that over 250,000 Syrians have been killed, and nearly half of all Syrians have been displaced from their homes.

Mr. Ban repeated his call to the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, while also urging Syrian parties, regional and international stakeholders and the Security Council, to make the inter-Syrian talks successful, to end this human rights and humanitarian catastrophe.

The UN chief said an important task for the 47-member Human Rights Council is to reinforce the links between human rights, peace and security, and development. This interdependency is also at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the Assembly last year, which serves as the global blueprint for ending poverty and building a safer, healthier world.

“While Member States have the primary responsibility for upholding rights, it is Member States that are all too often in breach of their commitments,” he said, urging the Human Rights Council to more than ever pursue its work with courage and persistence.

(UN Press Release)

March 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Colloquium on Emotions and International Law

The School of Law of the University of Buenos Aires will hold a colloquium entitled "Emotions & International Law" in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 25-26 August 2016. The event is organized by the Permanent Seminar on the Theory and History of International Law and the DECyT Research Project, "The feelings in the history of ius gentium", under the direction of Prof. Emiliano J. Buis.  The colloquium is intended to create an opportunity to reflect and debate the conceptual discussion on feelings such as hatred, resentment, compassion, nostalgia, fear, empathy/sympathy, jealously, shame, humiliation, affectation/love, among others, which are considered as possible keys of interpreting international law on a broad sense, involving States and non-State actors, as well as the generation of rules regulating them.  Registration for the conference is now open.

(cgb)

March 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Canada Raises Number of Political Refugees it Will Accept

The New York Times reports today that after admitting 25,000 refugees from Syria last month, that Canada would admit a total of 55,800 political refugees this year, many of them fleeing the Syrian civil war that has now raged for six years. The new number is reportedly part of Canada's overall goal to admit 305,000 permanent residents this year. Canada: Government Raises Its Target for Admitting Political Refugees, N.Y. Times, Mar. 9, 2016, at A7.

The situation for individuals in Syria remains grim. See, e.g., Rick Gladstone, Eating Leaves, and Other Ways Besieged Syrians Try to Survive, N.Y. Times, Mar. 9, 2016, at A9.

(mew)

March 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women's Day

March 8 is International Women's Day, a day to celebrate the economic, cultural, and political progress of women.  

However, despite the progress made by women, in 2015, the World Economic Forum predicted that at the current pace, it will take until 2133 to achieve gender parity globally.  In recognition that this glacial pace is not acceptable, men and women are being asked to step it up for gender equality and make a "pledge for parity".  Each person is asked to pledge to take concrete steps to achieve gender parity in his or her own sphere of influence. 

Although celebrations of an international women's day date back more than 100 years, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8 during the International Year of Women in 1975. 

More information can be found here and here.

(cgb)

March 8, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 5, 2016

New Additions to the UN Audiovisual Library of International Law

The Codification Division of the UN Office of Legal Affairs recently added new lectures to the UN Audiovisual Library of International Law website, which provides high quality international law training and research materials to users around the world free of charge. 

The latest lectures were given by Professor Concepción Escobar Hernández on Immunity and by Professor Françoise J. Hampson on Reservations to Human Rights Treaties.

(cgb) (Hat tip to Galina Rudenko)

March 5, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Where Can Graduates of Non-U.S. Law Schools Become Licensed as Lawyers in the United States?

Which jurisdictions allow graduates of non-U.S. law schools to become licensed as lawyers?

Although the rules differ from state to state (such as whether the state requires additional education at an ABA-approved school before taking the state's bar exam), here's the list!

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Florida
  6. Georgia
  7. Hawaii
  8. Illinois
  9. Iowa
  10. Kentucky
  11. Louisiana
  12. Maine
  13. Maryland
  14. Massachusetts
  15. Missouri
  16. Nevada
  17. New Hampshire
  18. New Mexico
  19. New York
  20. Ohio
  21. Oregon
  22. Pennsylvania
  23. Tennessee
  24. Texas
  25. Utah
  26. Vermont
  27. Washington
  28. West Virginia
  29. Wisconsin

and the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

(mew)

March 3, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Judge Meron to Become President of International Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals

According to a United Nations press release, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Judge Theodor Meron of the United States as President of the International Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, the body that will carry out the residual functions of the UN war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. Judge Meron will continue to serve as a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), while working as the President of the Mechanism. Mr. Ban also welcomed the Security Council's decision to appoint Serge Brammertz of Belgium as Prosecutor of the Mechanism.  Mr. Brammertz will continue serving simultaneously as ICTY Prosecutor. Both appointments are effective March 1st.

The Mechanism – which has two branches, one in Arusha, Tanzania and the other in The Hague, Netherlands – was established by Security Council resolution 1966 (2010) of 22 December 2010 to carry out the residual functions of the main tribunals after they wrap up their respective work. The ICTR, set up 21 years ago to judge those guilty for the genocide in Rwanda formally closed on 31 December 2015.

(cgb)

March 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

International Community Urged to Make the Responsibility to Protect "a Living Reality"

The principle of “responsibility to protect,” a call for putting into action legal commitments to protect populations from atrocity crimes, has seen mixed results since its inception in 2005, the United Nations deputy chief said yesterday, urging the international community to make the protection of populations from such heinous acts “a living reality.”

Addressing a UN General Assembly panel discussion, titled “from commitment to implementation: ten years of the responsibility to protect,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson recalled that Member States back then identified the need to bridge the gap between legal commitments to protect populations from genocide and crimes against humanity and the continuing failures of protection on the ground.

As President of the General Assembly in 2005, Mr. Eliasson said he had witnessed the birth of the principle of responsibility to protect, or 'R2P, as it is often called, which was not designed to be a comfortable rhetorical restatement of common values, but a call to action. At the beginning of its second decade, the international community must unequivocally reaffirm the principle, he urged.

The last decade has seen mixed results, he noted. Developments in Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea and Kenya count as successes. But the global response to the Syrian crisis has been a catastrophic failure. And the situation in South Sudan is deeply troubling. Other crisis areas are still the subject of debate.

“Impunity is pervasive, and accountability is distant,” he said, noting that too many Member States are failing to live up to fundamental rules of international humanitarian and human rights law. And too many have yet to become Parties to the international conventions which set out the framework for preventing and punishing the crimes identified by the principle of the responsibility to protect.

On the positive note, the responsibility to protect has helped to generate a growing political understanding among Member States on how to prevent and respond to atrocity crimes.

Through successive General Assembly dialogues since 2009, Governments have agreed that prevention is at the core of the UN agenda. The responsibility to protect has also led to the development of new political commitment and new institutional capacities.

The Global R2P Focal Point Network, the Regional Committee at the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, the Latin American Network on Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, and the Global Action against Mass Atrocity Crimes all aim to prevent a downward spiral towards systematic violence. They help identify ways to assist States to better protect their populations.

Mr. Eliasson outlined three priorities going forward. First is prevention, he said, stressing the need to act early instead of waiting for disaster to occur. The Human Rights Up Front Initiative is an important step in this direction. Second, when crimes against humanity occur, the international community must respond faster and more decisively. Third, a stronger emphasis must be placed on peacebuilding – financially and politically, he said, noting how South Sudan's gains have been reversed.

This year, Special Advisers Adama Dieng and Jennifer Welsh are launching a research project to draw conclusions about the combination of tools likely to make the most difference in protecting populations at risk, Mr Eliasson said. The results of this research can guide the development and use of the different instruments at disposal.

“We must work collectively to make the protection from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity a living reality,” he concluded.

(adapted from a UN press release)

February 27, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Trans-Pacific Partnership Discussed at John Marshall's Intellectual Property Law Conference

JMLS IP USTRThe Intellectual Property Law Conference taking place today at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago featured a luncheon speaker on the Intellectual Property issues of the Trans-Pacific Pacific Partnership. The speaker was Probir J. Mehta, the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation. [In the photo, left to right, are Professor Daryl Lim, Director of the John Marshall Center for Intellectual Property Law, Dean John Corkery of The John Marshall Law School, Mr. Mehta, and Professor Mark Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School). Mr. Mehta gave a broad overview of the intellectual property issues covered in the TPP, including matters affecting trademarks, copyright, patents, pharmaceuticals, data protection, and enforcement. As the protection of intellectual property rights is essential to global business and investment, these are each important issues.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries to establish "a comprehensive regional agreement that promotes economic integration to liberalise trade and investment, bring economic growth and social benefits, create new opportunities for workers and businesses, contribute to raising living standards, benefit consumers, reduce poverty and promote sustainable growth." It is also intended to make businesses more competitive in global markets, support the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and promote "efficient and transparent customs procedures that reduce costs and ensure predictability for their importers and exporters." And a whole lot more.

The TPP was signed on February 4, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand after seven years of negotiation. Here are the 12 countries that signed the TPP. Each nation must now undergo its own process of ratification.

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Peru
  • Singapore
  • United States
  • Viet Nam

These countries represent an astounding 40 percent of the world's GDP.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has a tremendous amount of information about TPP on its website, including the text of the TPP agreement. We urge readers of this blog to visit the USTR website for more information about the TPP. And we welcome your guest commentary posts here on the International Law Prof Blog, whether you support or oppose the agreement. 

(mew)

February 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

60th Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference Opens at The John Marshall Law School

Daryl LimThe 60th Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference opens today at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago to discuss hot topics in patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets law. The conference is sponsored by the Center for Intellectual Property, Information, and Privacy Law at The John Marshall Law School. (The Director, Professor Daryl Lim, is pictured at left.) It's a packed room with attendees from around the world, including countries as far away as China and Egypt.

The conference focuses on the many challenges to intellectual property rights in a global economy. In addition to updates on recent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and other developments in patents, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets, the conference includes significant JMLS IP Conferenceinternational content, including a panel on protecting international property law in China and a keynote address from Probir Mehta, the Acting U.S. Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation, who negotiated the IP provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

If you are missing today's program, there are upcoming events of interest to readers of this blog include a presentation on March 23, 2016 at The John Marshall Law School by Kenneth Adamo on Recent Changes in Law and Practice before the United States International Trade Commission.

Congratulations to Professor Daryl Lim, the Center for Intellectual Property, Information, and Privacy Law, and the conference organizers.

(mew)

February 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

US President Obama Announces Plan to Close Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility

U.S. President Obama announced a new plan today to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office. However, his proposal cannot go forward unless Congress agrees to lift legal restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the continental United States.

At its peak, Guantanamo Bay housed nearly 800 detainees. That number has been reduced to 91. Some of those detainees may be eligible for transfer to third countries (35 of the 91 have been deemed eligible already); others are involved in pending military commission proceedings; and a third group may continue to be held indefinitely in other facilities.

Although the Obama Administration estimates that this plan could save money and enhance national security by eliminating a propaganda tool for terrorists, the likelihood of its success is in doubt. The Republican-controlled Congress has not indicated significant interest in allowing detainees to be transferred into the United States due to security concerns.

(cgb)

February 23, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)