Thursday, April 10, 2014
The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world's largest moot court competition, with more than 550 teams competing from law schools all across the world. This year, for example, the Kingdom of Bhutan participated. The international final rounds, known as the White & Case Rounds, are being held this week in Washington, D.C. Last night, 32 teams from the following countries were announced as those advancing further in the competition:
United Kingdom (2)
United States (5)
Rounds are open to the public (just no scouting for other teams), so if you are near the Capital Hilton in Washington DC stop in to see a round. The finals are on Saturday afternoon, being judged by two judges of the Internaitonal Court of Justice and Professor Cherif Bassiouni of DePaul University College of Law.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
The American Society of International Law holds its 108th annual meeting this year. For the first time, it is a joint meeting with another organization. ASIL is partnering with the American Branch of the International Law Association (ILA) to combine each organization's major conference for 2014 into a single, joint event. This unprecedented ASIL Annual Meeting and ILA Biennial Conference will represent a unique and historic gathering of the international law community.
The featured speaker at the Joint Conference Opening Plenary last night was Mary McLeod, Acting Legal Advisor for the U.S. Department of State (pictured above left).
Also speaking was Lord Mance (Executive Chair of the International Law Association), Professor Ruth Wedgwood (President of the American Branch of the International Law Association), Marcel Brus (Director of Studies for the Intenational Law Association), and Donald Francis Donovan (President of the American Society of International Law).
Musical entertainment--by the way the best way to open an international law conference--was provided by four women singers in the group called Women of the World. I hope to see them at many more international conferences -- they were fantastic.
The conference continues until Saturday, April 12, 2014 and is being held at the Ronald Reagan Building at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW in Washington, D.C. The conference facility is a fantastic venue for this conference.
The American Society of International Law announced that the new ASIL-Midwest Vice Chair is Prof. Milena Sterio of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
Monday, April 7, 2014
On Friday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concluded its 150th session. The IACHR is celebrating 55 years of work since its creation.
During the 150th session, the Commission held meetings with high-level authorities from States, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Missions to the Organization of American States (OAS), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and civil society organizations, among others involved in the inter-American human rights system.
According to its press release, "The session included 55 public hearings with the participation of delegations from 20 OAS Member States, as well as 30 working meetings on petitions, cases, and precautionary measures. The Commission approved reports on individual cases and petitions and made progress in friendly settlement proceedings. During the session, the IACHR presented two Commission reports, one on guarantees for the independence of justice operators and the other on the use of pretrial detention in the Americas."
The IACHR noted that significant progress was made in various working meetings with representatives of States and petitioners from Argentina, Colombia, the United States, Honduras, Jamaica, Paraguay, and Peru with respect to the implementation of precautionary measures in effect. These meetings make it possible "to reach agreements and overcome hurdles in order to ensure greater protection in the face of grave and urgent situations that pose a risk of irreparable harm to people."
The IACHR also was encouraged by friendly settlement proceedings and increased compliance with previous reached agreements, shown by the parties in 17 working meetings on petitions and cases from Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Suriname.
The press release also stated that: "For this session, the IACHR received 61 requests to hold working meetings and 220 to hold hearings, including 12 requests from Member States. The Commission notes in particular the initiative by nearly one third of the OAS Member States to request a hearing on the issue of the death penalty in the Americas, a step toward identifying ways to work toward the abolition of the death penalty in the region. The participating States were Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay, with the Permanent Observer Mission of France to the OAS and Amnesty International also joining in. In addition, a significant number of civil society organizations from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay requested a hearing to address an emerging issue and one that the Inter-American Commission will be following: the adverse impact of repressive anti-drug policies on the exercise of the human rights of major sectors of the population, with a disproportionate impact on children and adolescents, women, poor people, people of African descent, and campesinos, among other groups."
According to the IACHR, "The active participation of States and civil society in these mechanisms and the constant increase in the requests received are indicators of these mechanisms’ effectiveness, as well as an acknowledgment of the credibility and legitimacy of the inter-American human rights system as a whole. . . The IACHR views as extremely positive the growing interest of people of the Americas to be informed about the human rights situation in the region and the inter-American human rights system’s mechanisms to protect and promote fundamental rights so that they are respected and guaranteed."
The IACHR press release also listed "some of the structural human rights problems that persist in the region. These have to do with respect for the right to life and humane treatment; guarantees of due process and judicial protection; judicial independence; justice and reparation for grave human rights violations of the past; the exercise of economic, social, and cultural rights and the right to freedom of expression; discrimination based on race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity; and the situation concerning the rights of children, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, persons of African descent, women, persons deprived of liberty, and persons with disabilities, among other matters. The Commission also addressed emerging issues such as corporate responsibility as regards the impact of extractive industries on the observance of human rights, especially the impact on certain groups such as Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples. In one hearing to follow up on recommendations from the report “Juvenile Justice and Human Rights in the Americas,” the IACHR received troubling information indicating a regressive trend in this area in several countries in the region, including the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility and an increase in penalties, in a context of poor incarceration conditions and scant socio-educational measures."
With respect to violence against women, "The Commission examined the implementation status of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, “Convention of Belém do Pará,” 20 years after the treaty’s adoption. Violence against women and structural gender-based discrimination continue to be profound and widespread problems in the region, and the response from States continues to be inadequate, in terms of both prevention and investigation and punishment. An unacceptable percentage of killings and other violent attacks on women continue to go unpunished, while human rights defenders—particularly those who defend the rights of women—are victims of attacks, the criminalization of their activities, public defamation campaigns, and the excessive use of police force against them, among other grave problems. The IACHR urges the States to make significant and urgent advances in implementing public policies that give effect to the standards established in the Convention of Belém do Pará, particularly through measures that dismantle the structural discrimination underlying violence against women."
For more information, especially with respect to the human rights records of specific states, visit the OAS website.
The new and improved Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) took effect yesterday, April 6, 2014. The new Agreement's text has been streamlined and modernized to include, inter alia, standards related to the use of electronic procurement tools and a new provision relating to the prevention of corrupt practices in the parties’ procurement systems. The revised GPA also reinforces the provisions of the original Agreement aimed at promoting the conservation of natural resources and protecting the environment through the application of appropriate technical specifications.
The parties to the revised Agreement expect to see market gains of US$80-100 billion annually for their businesses. These gains will result from numerous government entities (ministries and agencies) being added to the scope of the GPA and from new services and other areas of public procurement activities being included in its expanded coverage.
Sunday, April 6, 2014
The International Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition take place this week in Washington D.C. The Jessup Competition, which started in 1960 as the "International Law Moot," has grown into the world's largest moot court competition. It is named after the Honorable Philip C. Jessup, a former ambassador and a judge on the International Court of Justice.
Teams competing this year come from the following jurisdictions:
- Chinese Taipei
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominic Republic
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
- New Zealand
- The Philippines
- Puerto Rico
- South Africa
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
Competing for the first time this year is the team from the Kingdom of Bhutan (pictured above, from the Jessup Parade of Nations at this afternoon's opening session). Congratulations to all of the participants and thank you to the judges, bailiffs, Jessup staff, board members of the International Law Students Association, and the many supporters -- large and small -- of the Jessup Competition, especially the law firm of White & Case which is a major financial supporter of the competition.
If you're a past competition in Jessup, you know what a great experience it is. Visit the website of the International Law Students Association to see how you can support the Jessup Competition and its magnificent ability to bring international law to students around the world.
2014 International Law Weekend will be held from October 23-25, 2014 in New York City. ILW is sponsored and organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) and the International Law Students Association (ILSA). This annual conference attracts an audience of more than one thousand practitioners, academics, diplomats, and students. The theme for this year's meeting is “International Law in a Time of Chaos” and panel proposals (relating to that theme, or not) can be submitted online by April 23, 2014 by clicking here.
Please provide a title, description, and the names and affiliations of the chair and proposed speakers as well as the proposal format (debate, roundtable, lecture, etc.). Formats should include presenters with diverse experiences and perspectives.
ILW 2014 will be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Branch in Manhattan at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York at 42 West 44th Street on Thursday evening, October 23, and at the Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center on October 24-25, 2014. We expect an audience that will include practitioners, professors, UN diplomats, business leaders, federal and state government officials, NGO leaders, writers, journalists, and interested citizens. This year, we plan to have a broad array of public international law topics, but will also have dedicated tracks of private international law topics in each program slot. Questions regarding ILW 2014 can be directed to email@example.com.
Members of the ILW 2014 Program Committee are:
- Tamara Cummings-John (Legal Officer, United Nations Office of Legal Affairs);
- Davis Robinson (Former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State);
- Stephen Shapiro (Managing Partner, BSR Investments);
- Vivian Shen (Programs Director, International Law Students Association);
- David Stewart (President-Elect, American Branch of the International Law Association); and
- Ruth Wedgwood (President, American Branch of the International Law Association).
Unfortunately ILW conflicts this year with the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, which will meet in Buenos Aires. But if you're not planning on going to Argentina, the ILW in New York will be well worth the investment of your time.
The White and Case International Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competiton take place this week in Washington, D.C. Teams arriving from around the world check in today and rounds start tomorrow. Visit www.ilsa.org for more information about the Jessup Competition.
As voters across Afghanistan braved inclement weather and security threats to cast their ballots in Saturday's presidential and provincial council elections, the top United Nations official there congratulated them for participating in this "historic moment" for the country. "We are receiving reports that many people are showing their wish to vote; they are queuing in places all around the country," the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, told journalists while on a visit to a polling centre in the capital, Kabul.
Afghans thronged to polling stations, which opened their doors at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, to cast their ballots for a successor to President Hamid Karzai and members of 34 provincial councils. The polls will result in the first transfer of power from one democratically-elected leader to another in the country.
According to Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC), polling took place in 6,212 polling centres across the country, while a further 250 polling centres -- that were originally scheduled to be kept open -- were closed down due to the failure to dispatch necessary polling materials in light of adverse security developments.
"I am hopeful for the future -- I have lots of children and I vote for the future of my children," said 70-year-old Haji Awlia Qul, in the north-eastern province of Kunduz. "It doesn't matter even if I die for this. The important thing is the bright future of my children. I vote for their better future and for the well-being of my grandchildren."
Unlike the countries previous elections, which were conducted jointly by the Afghan authorities and the UN, the world body does not formally have a role in these polls, leaving Afghan authorities to organize and manage the entire electoral process.
The UN -- primarily through the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) -- ¬has been advising on election-related matters and providing capacity building and technical support. "I hope that everything will work well," said Mr. Kubiš, who is also head of UNAMA. "I hope that people will come and will vote for their candidates -- whoever that is, and candidates for the provincial council -- in good numbers. And I hope that at the end of the day, we will be able to say this is really a historic moment, opening a totally new chapter for the country."
(adapted from a UN press release)
Friday, April 4, 2014
The sessions have just ended at the Spring Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law Conference in New York, where more than 1,600 lawyers from around the world gathered to discuss the latest developments in international law.
In addition to the substantive knowledge, you meet interesting people that you wouldn't otherwise meet. I'm pictured here with the Honorable Justice Abdulai Sheikh Fofanah of the High Court of Sierra Leone -- one of the many distinguished participants in the conference.
Congratulations, ABA Section of International Law, Section Chair Gabrielle Buckley, Section Staff, and the organizers of the Spring Meeting.
The 2014 Spring Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law continues in New York. Panels are well attended, as you can see from the photograph of this panel on the topic of Humanitarian Intervention and the International Criminal Court's Crime of Aggression. That program was sponsored by the International Courts Committee, the International Criminal Law Committee, and the International Human Rights Committee and included speakers such as Roger Clark of Rutgers-Camden, Jennifer Trahan of New York University, David Crane of Syracuse University, and Ambassador Christian Wenaweser of the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations.
You also know it's a good conference when the first question from the audience comes from Ambassador Hans Corell, former Legal Counsel of the United Nations.
The conference panels continue today and the conference itself concludes tomorrow with the ABA Section Council Meeting.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
The Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex is holding a summer school on Human Rights Research Methods at its Colchester (United Kingdom) campus from 30 June to 5 July 2014.
Methodology has a direct bearing on the strength, persuasiveness and legitimacy of human rights research findings and their impact on policy and practice. Strong methodology is also a central requirement in order to secure funding. Yet, we often focus on the substance of human rights without sufficient attention to the methods used. This summer school will seek to fill that gap by providing the core methods and skills needed to carry out human rights research whether documenting human rights violations, drafting human rights reports and articles or preparing funding bids. Participants will learn everything from interviewing victims to researching in repressive societies to becoming ‘quantitatively literate’ in human rights research. The teaching team includes anthropologists, lawyers, political scientists, psychologists and sociologists, three current and former UN Special Rapporteurs, a member of the UN Committee against Torture, the Interim Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International and donors, all with significant experience on the theory and practice of human rights. It is an ideal course for human rights professionals working in NGOs, international organisations and government, academics and postgraduate students. Click here for more information.
Hat tip to Lorna McGregor Co-Chair, Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law and Director, Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex
One of the panels held this week at the Spring Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law was called "Finding Your Place in the World: Making Your Name in Internaitonal Legal Education." The panel was sponsored by the Section of International Law Committee on International Legal Education and Specialist Certification.
Professor Ved Nanda (University of Denver) snuck off before we took this picture of the panel. Pictured here (from left to right) are Professor Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago), Adelaide Ferguson (Philadelphia), Professor Jennifer Henderson (University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law and Windsor University School of Law in Canada), Panel Chair Diane Edelman (Villanova University School of Law), and Lucy Quacinella (Multiforum Advocacy Solutions, San Fransico).
The Spring Meeting of the ABA Section of International Law continues in New York until Saturday.
The United Nations confirmed this week that Palestinian Authority officials have presented letters for accession to 15 international conventions and treaties. UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters that the documents had been presented to Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. “Once we receive the letters at Headquarters, we will be reviewing them to consider the appropriate next steps,” Mr. Haq said. He added that the Palestinian leadership, including President Mahmoud Abbas upon signing the accession letters on Monday night, has repeatedly emphasized that it wants to continue the negotiations with Israel that resumed in July 2013 under United States auspices. “We hope that a way can be found to see negotiations through until the scheduled end of the nine-month timeframe set to expire on 29 April. The goal remains to arrive at a substantive basis for negotiations towards a comprehensive peace agreement on all final status issues.”
Mr. Haq went on to say that the UN is in contact with the sides to emphasize the need to manage current developments responsibly and act with restraint.
In that regard, Mr. Serry met with the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyad Malki, this morning. He also met with Israeli negotiator and Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni. “A constructive approach from all sides is extremely important to preserve the prospects to arrive at a peace agreement and salvage the two-State solution,” said Mr. Haq, adding that envoys representing the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East peace process have also spoken today by telephone.
The UN treaties and conventions, as well as the four Geneva Conventions and The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War (accession letters were submitted to the Swiss and Dutch Representatives to the Palestinian Authority), can be found here. They are:
The treaties and conventions that Palestine wants to join are:
- The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
- The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR)
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
- The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT)
- The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
- The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- The United Nations Convention against Corruption
- The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
- The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid
- The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
Accession letters for two additional conventions were submitted to the Swiss and Dutch Representatives to the Palestinian Authority:
- The Four Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the First Additional Protocol
- The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and its annex: Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land
At a press conference in New York, Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said that, at the request of his Government, he had delivered copies of the 15 letters to the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, Susana Malcorra. The Palestinian Authority expected the documents would be subsequently transmitted to the UN Office for Legal Affairs (OLA).
“Palestine is exercising its legal right as a State to join those instruments and live up to its international responsibility,” said Mr. Mansour, recalling the November 2012 General Assembly vote according Palestine the status of non-member observer State at the UN. “We are proud of this and consider it a step by our President to consolidate and strengthen the pillars of the State of Palestine in the international system,” he added, referring to the applications.
Mr. Mansour went on to thank those assisting the Israeli-Palestinian political process, including US Secretary of State John Kerry. The Palestinian side, he said, will continue to participate in the process towards ending the occupations and realizing the aims of the two-state solution.
“We are ready to negotiate in good faith with Israel to put an end to this indignity,” he added.
Responding to questions regarding the impact of this decision on the peace process, particularly regarding the confidence-building measures agreed by both sides, Mr. Mansour said: “We do not believe what we have done violates anything.”
According to media reports, under the terms paving the way for the current round of talks between the two sides, Israel was to release some 100 Palestinian prisoners in four phases, and the Palestinians were to refrain from taking action in the international arena.
Mr. Mansour said that the Palestinian leadership had been ready and willing to keep this [latest] exercise on hold as long as Israel had lived up to its pledge to release the next group of Palestinian prisoners.
“But Israel did not honour its part of the agreement and when that happened, we were free to do whatever we feel we need to do. In any case, it was our right after the adoption of the [General] Assembly resolution,” he declared. As to whether the submission of letters to join the international treaties could be considered a “provocation,” he said it was Israel that had violated the agreement with regards to prisoner releases. “We are not looking for a confrontation with anyone. We are exercising our right and we will not be apologetic about that. We are only responsible to the Palestinian people.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
The Spring Meeting of the American Bar Associaiton Section of Internatioanl Law is in full swing here in New York, where more than a thousand international lawyers have gathered from around the world. The networking opportunities and substantive knowledge exchanged this week is overwhelming.
There's also a good mix of social events too. Last night receptions were held at the New York Stock Exchange as well as the impressive downtown Cipriani. Those were followed by dozens of committee dinners for the section. Tonight's events include receptions at the U.S. Court of International Trade, the Swiss Permanent Mission to the United Nations, a Women’s Networking Cocktail Reception from 5:00 to 6:00 pm at the Waldorf Astoria, and a Black Tie Optional Reception at the USS Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum from 7:00 to 9:30 pm.
Spoiler alert: We expect that at tonight's reception on the Intrepid, one of the Section meeting chairs, Ingrid Busson, will also perfom the show-stopping final number from "Anything Goes."
On the Oxford University Press Blog Marco Roscini writes about reports that Russia is engaging in a Cyber War against Ukraine. Here's an excerpt that explains past uses of cyberwarfare by Russia against Georgia and Estonia, with thoughts about its use in the current crisis between Russia and Ukraine:
In 2008, immediately before and after the Russian troops entered the secessionist Georgian province of South Ossetia, several Georgian governmental websites were defaced and their content replaced with anti-Georgian propaganda, while DDoS attacks crippled the Caucasian nation’s ability to disseminate information. Estonia was also the target of severe DDoS attacks in 2007, although in the context of a political, and not military, confrontation with Russia. In neither case has it been convincingly demonstrated that Russia (or any other state) was responsible for the cyber operations. The same can be said of the cyber operations against Ukrainian computer systems and websites, which have also been, at least until now, far less severe than those on Georgia and on Estonia, leading some to suggest that Russia is exercising restraint in the use of its cyber capabilities.
Hat tip to Katherine Marshall.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
It's time for you to pay another visit to the Internationally Wrongful Memes tumblr site! It's a collection of memes about international law. Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
One of the most important events in international law starts today in New York -- the Spring Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law. We'll have news, photos, and updates from the conference. If you want to contribute a "guest blog post" from the conference, look for me at the conference (ask the ABA staff to point me out) or send a message through the comments function on this blog.
Mark E. Wojcik