Sunday, April 5, 2015
The United Nations has condemned the terrorist attack carried out by Al Shabaab in Garissa, Kenya, in the strongest terms, with the Security Council members stressing their “outrage” at what the President of the General Assembly called a “heinous” attack.
The Secretary-General, who had previously condemned the attack in a statement released on Wednesday, sent a personal letter yesterday to the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, to once again expressed his sincere condolences following the “horrendous” attack. “There is little more appalling than targeting young people for murder and mayhem.” Mr. Ban wrote in the letter. “Those responsible for this heinous attack must be brought to justice.” He also reiterated the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and Government of Kenya in preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism.
Those sentiments were echoed by the members of the Security Council, who issued a statement paying tribute to Kenya's role in the fight against terrorism, in particular the role played by the country in the fight against Al Shabaab as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation, wherever and whenever and by whomsoever committed, Council members reiterated their determination to combat all forms of terrorism, in accordance with their responsibilities under the Charter of the United Nations.
They underlined the need to bring the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the Kenyan authorities in this regard.
The members of the Security Council reminded States that they must ensure that measures taken to combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law.
The President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa (Uganda), also reiterated that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of its motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever commits it, and he joined the Secretary-General and the Security Council in extending condolences to the families of the victims and the people and government of the Republic of Kenya, while wishing a speedy recovery to those injured.
The heinous attack left dozens dead, scores injured and many held hostage and others unaccounted for, the vast majority of whom were students, the statement said, adding a call on the international community to redouble its efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism.
(UN Press Release)
Iran Nuclear Accord Reached With China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has congratulated the team of international negotiators and Iran on achieving a political framework that paves the way for an historic comprehensive joint plan of action on Iran’s nuclear programme to be achieved by 30 June.
“That comprehensive agreement will provide for substantial limits on Iran’s nuclear programme and for the removal of all sanctions,” said Mr. Ban in a statement released by his spokesperson, following the announcement that Iran and the Foreign Ministers of the so-called ‘E3+3’ (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), had reached a deal.
“It will respect Iran’s needs and rights while providing assurances to the international community that its nuclear activities will remain exclusively peaceful,” Mr. Ban’s statement continued.
The statement added that the Secretary-General is convinced that a comprehensive, negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue will contribute to peace and stability in the region and enable all countries to cooperate urgently to deal with the many serious security challenges they face.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
The United Nations Human Rights office has welcomed Malawi President Peter Mutharika's strong statement condemning the recent spate of attacks on people with albinism in his country and urged that the measures he outlined to arrest those responsible for such attacks and better protect albinos be launched “without delay.”
“We hope that this series of measures will result in a significant improvement in the security and well-being of people with albinism in Malawi,” the southern African country where at least six incidents have been reported this year, said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Mr. Colville welcomed President Mutharika’s statement in which he called on security agencies in Malawi to be placed on high alert, to arrest people responsible for such attacks and provide maximum protection to people with albinism.
Malawi’s Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, has unveiled a five-point plan of action, which included the development of an education and awareness programme, strengthening of community policing structure, research to understand the root causes of the problem and what is done with the body parts of people with albinism.
Noting the Minister’s reference to the Government considering appealing against some lenient sentences, the spokesperson said: “We would welcome this as well, and note that earlier this week a man received a sentence of just two years after being convicted of attempting to kidnap his 11-year-old niece Mina Jeffrey.” Her uncle later reportedly said he had been promised $6,500 for her body.
Attacks against albinism had traditionally been recorded in Tanzania, Burundi and Malawi, Mr. Colville said, noting that it was a recent phenomenon in Malawi, while attacks have recently been reported in Mozambique.
The UN has expressed revulsion at a recent spike in gruesome attacks against people with albinism in several African countries where in the past six months, at least 15 albinos were abducted, wounded, or killed, including three such incidents last week.
In Tanzania, in early March, President Jakaya Kikwete promised to put an end to the current wave of killings in that country, saying he will not allow them to escalate as they have done in previous years.
“We have been informed that the Tanzanian authorities, in particular the Attorney General’s Chambers, have started to develop a plan of action to raise public awareness and fight against impunity,” according to spokesman Colville. “However it appears that most of the witchdoctors/arrested over the past few weeks have now been released.”
“We once again call upon the Tanzanian authorities to take prompt and firm action to ensure accountability for the crimes committed against people with albinism and to take effective measures to protect this particularly vulnerable group,” he said.
Mr. Colville also welcomed the establishment of the post by the UN Human Rights Council of an Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights of persons with albinism.
“This important new mandate will help give a voice to people with albinism and contribute to their protection, through a dialogue with concerned States, enhanced awareness raising and reporting, and the provision of advisory services and technical assistance,” according to the human rights spokesman.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
United Nations Budget Committee Rejects Proposal to Change How U.N. Categorizes Employment Benefits for Same-Sex Couples
The United Nations budget committee on March 24, 2015 rejected a draft decision that would have had Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon withdraw a bulletin, issued last year, which established rules for the personal status of staff members in determining their benefits and entitlements.
Eighty delegations voted against the draft decision, which revolved around such principles as the Secretary-General’s prerogatives in organizational matters, equality of UN employees, national sovereignty, and transparency. The text received 43 votes in favour, while 37 delegations abstained.
In 2014 the UN changed how it categorizes staff members’ personal status, allowing more same-sex couples access to the same benefits enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts.
In a major policy change that took effect in June, the UN decided to honour the marriage of any same-sex couple wed in a country where same-sex marriages are legal. Previously, a staff member’s personal status was determined by the laws of the country whose passport he or she carried.
Mr. Ban did not consult UN Member States about the policy change.
Following today’s vote, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters that the Secretary-General appreciated the support of those who recognized his authority as Chief Administrative Officer as per the UN Charter.
“I’d like to repeat in issuing his bulletin last year, the Secretary-General was acting under that authority in managing UN staff members,” said Mr. Haq.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
With some 37 million lives saved between 2000 and 2013 through the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis, it is possible to end the epidemic by 2035, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on World Tuberculosis Day, urging leaders to recommit to ending one of humanity's top killers.
“Victory is not guaranteed,” Mr. Ban said in his message for the Day, observed each year on 24 March.
“I urge Governments, communities affected by tuberculosis and health workers around the world to intensify their efforts in line with the ambitious strategy established by the World Health Assembly in 2014 to end the global epidemic within two decades,” he stated.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is one of the world's top infectious killers. Approximately 9 million people fell ill from it in 2013, and 1.5 million died. TB's impact is felt acutely by the most vulnerable populations, including those struggling with poverty and poor health systems. For women aged 15 to 44, tuberculosis is one of the top five killers. For children, prisoners, migrants and those living with HIV, TB remains the most common form of illness and the leading cause of death.
Last May, governments agreed on a new 20-year (2016-2035) strategy to end the global tuberculosis epidemic. To that end, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for new action in the global fight against the scourge. Its 'End TB' strategy outlines clear actions and targets that provide a pathway to a world free of tuberculosis deaths and suffering. The plan also links to the wider poverty eradication, social protection and universal health coverage agenda.
“While achievement by 2015 of one of the key health-focused Millennium Development Goals, namely the reversal of the spread of tuberculosis, is significant, World Tuberculosis Day reminds governments and communities that this is no time for complacency. Efforts must begin now to ensure the effective global roll-out of the 'End TB' strategy and to stimulate the research that will underpin its success,” Mr. Ban said.
'End TB' sets targets and outlines actions for governments and partners to provide patient-centred care, pursue policies and systems that enable prevention and care, and drive research and innovations needed to end the epidemic and eliminate tuberculosis.
WHO is also calling on governments, affected communities, civil society organizations and health-care providers to join the drive to roll out this strategy and to reach, treat and cure all those who are ill today.
“With patient-centred care at the heart, this dynamic action plan will drive forward the critical advances in research and innovation that are needed to combat tuberculosis, including the worrying surge in its multi-drug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant forms,” Mr. Ban emphasized.
(UN Press Release)
Saturday, April 4, 2015
The Private International Law Interest Group (PILIG) of the American Society of International Law invites submissions for this year’s ASIL Private International Law prize. The prize is given for the best text on private international law written by a young scholar. Essays, articles, and books are welcome, and can address any topic of private international law, can be of any length, and may be published or unpublished, but not published prior to 2014. Submitted essays should be in the English language. Competitors may be citizens of any nation but must be 35 years old or younger on December 31, 2014. They need not be members of ASIL.
This year, the prize will consist of a $400 stipend to participate in the 2015 or 2016 ASIL Annual Conference, and one year’s membership to ASIL. The prize will be awarded by the Private International Law Interest Group based upon the recommendation of a Prize Committee. Decisions of the Prize Committee on the winning essay and on any conditions relating to this prize are final.
Submissions to the Prize Committee must be received by June 1st 2015.
Entries should be submitted by email in Word or pdf format. They should contain two different documents: a) the essay itself, without any identifying information other than the title; and b) a second document containing the title of the entry and the author’s name, affiliation, and contact details.
Submissions and any queries should be addressed by email to Private International Law Interest Group Co-Chairs Prof. S.I. Strong (email@example.com) and Cristian Gimenez Corte (firstname.lastname@example.org). All submissions will be acknowledged by e-mail.
Hat tip to Prof. S.I. Strong
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Gunmen have murdered at least 147 students at Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya, and more than 500 students cannot be found and may have been kidnapped. The gunmen reportedly singled out non-Muslim students and executed each one they found. Kenyan security forces have surrounded the campus. We extend our deepest sympathy to the faculty, students, alumni, and families. This is madness.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
The International Criminal Court (ICC) welcomed the Palestine as the 123rd State Party to its founding Rome Statute today, in a ceremony held at the seat of the Court in The Hague in The Netherlands.
“Accession to a treaty is, of course, just the first step,” said Judge Kuniko Ozaki, the ICC’s Second Vice-President. “As the Rome Statute today enters into force for the State of Palestine, Palestine acquires all the rights as well as responsibilities that come with being a State Party to the Statute. These are substantive commitments, which cannot be taken lightly.”
During the ceremony, Ms. Ozaki presented Riad Al-Malki, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, with a special edition of the Rome Statute, as a symbol of their joint commitment to the rule of law.
Joining Ms. Ozaki and Mr. Al-Malki at the ceremony were several other ICC judges, as well as the ICC Deputy Prosecutor, James Stewart, ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel and the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute, Sidiki Kaba.
“Such highly symbolic commitment confirms, once again, that people all over the world embrace the noble ideals of the ICC, that are ideals of peace and justice for all,” said Mr. Kaba.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine Dr. Riad Al-Malki said thee accession brought the world closer to its shared goals of justice and peace.
“As Palestine formally becomes a State Party to the Rome Statute today, the world is also a step closer to ending a long era of impunity and injustice,” he said.
Today’s step comes after the 16 January announcement by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that she had opened a preliminary examination into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, following the accession earlier in January by the Palestinian Authority to the Court’s founding Rome Statute.
A news release from the ICC noted that Ms. Bensouda opened an initial examination of the situation following the Palestinian Government accession to the Rome Statute on 2 January 2015 and its declaration of 1 January 2015, accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC ‘over alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014.’
(UN Press Release)
Photo: ICC Second Vice-President, Judge Kuniko Ozaki (right), walking with Foreign Minister Dr. Riad Al-Malki to a ceremony welcoming the State of Palestine as the 123rd State Party to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty. Photo: ICC-CPI
The Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law, in partnership with the American Society of International Law's Interest Group on the Pacific Rim Region, will hold the ILA-ASIL Asia-Pacific Research Forum on May 25-26, 2015 in Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.
The theme of the Research Forum is: “Integrating the Asia-Pacific: Why International Law Matters.” Confirmed speakers include Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, ASIL President Lori Damrosch, Chief Justice of India H L Dattu, and Judge Helmut Tuerk of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
Click here to see the tentative program and registration information. The registration deadline is May 1, 2015.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The Review of Intellectual Property Law published at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago announced its new editorial board:
- Benjamin Lee
- Ryan Timoney
- Priya Desai
- Vaughn Drozd
- Daniela Velez
Lead Articles Editors
- Paige Clark
- Edward Kuester
- Ingrida Latoza
- Patrick Koncel
- Andrew Manno
- Dan Brainard
- Nick Vogel
- Tom Deahl
Hat tip to Faculty Advisor Maureen B. Collins
The Global Legal Skills conference, in its 10th year, will be held in Chicago, the city of its origin. The Conference began in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School, where it was held three times. It has also traveled to Mexico (twice), to Costa Rica (twice), to Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., and most recently to the University of Verona Faculty of Law in Verona, Italy.
This year’s conference (GLS 10) will be held at The John Marshall Law School for the first two days and will be hosted at Northwestern University School of Law for its final day. The two schools are within walking distance and are also served by subway line
The first call for proposals for presentations has already closed and acceptance messages are going out to those who submitted. This is the second call for presenters. Proposals should be for a 25-minute presentation (for one or two people) or an interactive group panel presentation (no more than four panelists) of 75-minutes (including audience participation).
The conference audience will include legal writing professionals, international and comparative law professors, clinical professors and others involved in skills education, law school administrators, law librarians, and ESL/EFL professors and scholars. Also attending will be faculty members teaching general law subjects with a transnational or international component. Attendees have also included judges, lawyers, court translators, and others involved in international and transnational law. Attendees come from around the world, and as many as 35 countries have been represented in past conferences.
Please submit a proposal on any aspect of Global Legal Skills, including experiential learning, distance education, comparative law, international law, course design and materials, teaching methods, and opportunities for teaching abroad and in the United States. However, because the conference focuses on legal skills for a global audience, please tailor your proposal accordingly.
The schedule for GLS 10 will allow for professional networking opportunities and development and also a chance to take in the many sites (and excellent restaurants!) Chicago has to offer. Chicago is served by two airports, O’Hare and Midway, making travel to the city easy. The timing of the conference (the week before Memorial Day weekend) is intended to allow you to spend extra time exploring Chicago and its environs at a time when the temperatures are moderate and the skies are clear.
This is a self-funded academic conference, and as in past years, presenters will be asked to pay the registration fee of $225.00. A small number of need-based scholarships will also be available, especially for participants from outside the United States. Additional tickets for family members and friends will also be available for the walking tour, law school reception, and Union League Club Gala Dinner. Chicago in the springtime is a great travel destination for families where they can enjoy Millennium Park, two world class zoos, and the amazing Museum Campus.
You may submit more than one proposal but because of high demand for speaking slots you will only be allowed to speak on one panel.
Please send program proposals to GLS10Chicago@gmail.com. You can also send a copy to Lurene Contento (Program Chair of GLS 10). Her email is 9Content@jmls.edu.
Please include “GLS 10 Proposal” in the subject line. Then, list the names and institutional affiliations of presenters, the title of your presentation, a brief summary of your presentation, the format you would prefer (25 minutes or 75 minutes), and the target audience.
You will find travel information and more conference information on the GLS website, glsc.jmls.edu/2015. Additional proposals will be accepted through April 15 if additional speaking slots are available.
Spanish Language CLE Proposals
You may also submit proposals for CLE presentations in Spanish. A Spanish-language CLE track will include sessions for attorneys, law students, and court translators. Persons submitting proposals for presentations in Spanish may also submit a proposal in English as an exception to the single presentation rule. Proposals are sought on topics such as “Introduction to Mexican Law,” “Understanding the Amparo,” and “Latin American Corporation Law.”
Scholars’ Forum (Tues. May 19, 2015)
A one-day scholars’ forum is also planned for May 19th, the day before the GLS conference begins. Participation in this forum will be limited to 16 persons and will include special sessions on international legal research as well as the presentation of papers and works-in-progress. For more information about the Scholars’ Forum, send an email to Prof. Mark E. Wojcik at email@example.com with the title of your proposed work. Registration for the scholars’ forum is at this link: http://events.jmls.edu/registration/node/677
We hope to see you in Chicago this May for the 10th anniversary of the Global Legal Skills Conference!
Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, Chair, Global Legal Skills Conference
Prof. Lurene Contento, Chair GLS 10 Program Committee, The John Marshall Law School
Monday, March 30, 2015
Costa Rica sued Nicaragua and Nicaragua sued Costa Rica in a dispute about their border. The International Court of Justice consolidated the cases for the oral arguments, which will start on April 14, 2015 in The Hague.
Certain Activities carried out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua)
Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica)
Saturday, March 28, 2015
Congratulations to Haramaya University, winner of the 2015 Ethiopia Rounds in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Enjoy the international rounds in Washington DC!
The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was set up in 2006 to bring to trial senior leaders and those most responsible for crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979, during which at least 1.7 million people are believed to have died from starvation, torture, execution and forced labor.
Ao An, who in one news release was described as a former Investigating Judge at the ECCC, is being charged with “crimes against humanity of murder, extermination, persecution on political and religious grounds, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts” committed at three sites. Specifically, Ao An is being charged under Cambodian law and international criminal law with the following crimes:
- premeditated homicide, as a violation of the 1956 Cambodian Penal Code, allegedly committed at Kok Pring execution site, Tuol Beng security centre and Wat Au Trakuon security center; and
- the Crimes against Humanity of murder, extermination, persecution on political and religious grounds, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts at Kok Pring execution site, Tuol Beng security center and Wat Au Trakuon security center
Ao An, who is now 79 years old, is part of what is known as ‘case number 4.’ He is also known as "Ta An" and when he appeared before the ECCC to hear the charges against him he denied that he was responsible for the killings and said he was not afraid to face the tribunal.
The charges against Ao An were issued by International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon without support from his Cambodian National Counterpart, You Bunleng.
(mew) (parts adapted from a UN Press Release)
And hey, if you read this far, go and "like" the ECCC's Facebook Page.
Unanimously adopting two separate resolutions on Libya, the Security Council, in the first, called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and extended the United Nations Support Mission there (UNSMIL) until 15 September, and in the second, adjusted the arms embargo on the country in light of the terrorist threat there.
Further to that text, adopted yesterday evening, the Council expressed grave concern about the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also referred to by its Arab acronym Da'esh), its supporters and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida and about the negative impact of their presence, violent extremist ideology and actions on stability in Libya.
In a related provision, the 15-member body called on the Sanctions Committee it established in 2011 to consider requests for the transfer or supply of arms and related materiel to the Libyan Government for use by its official Armed Forces to combat ISIL and its supporters.
The Council also expressed support for the United Nations-led political dialogue between the Government of Libya and all Libyan parties that renounced violence, calling on them to engage constructively with the initiative of the Secretary-General's Special Representative and UNSMIL chief, Bernardino Leon, with the purpose of forming a national unity government.
Adopting the resolution by which UNSMIL was extended, the Council decided that the operation's mandate should now focus on support to the Libyan political process and security arrangements. It would include human rights monitoring and reporting, as well as support for securing uncontrolled arms and related materiel and countering its proliferation.
Expressing deep concern at the threat posed by unsecured arms and ammunition in Libya and their proliferation, “which undermines stability in Libya and the region, including through transfer to terrorist and violent extremist groups,” the Council urged the Libyan Government to improve its monitoring of arms and materiel.
Also by that resolution, the Council extended the expert panel on sanctions until 30 April 2016, and parallel to that, the authorizations on illicit oil exports. It reaffirmed that the travel ban and asset freeze, first imposed in 2011, also applied to individuals and entities determined by the Sanctions Committee to be engaging in or providing support for other acts that threatened the peace, stability or security of Libya or obstructed or undermined the successful completion of its political transition.
Condemning the use of violence against civilians and civilian institutions and the continuing escalation of conflict, including attacks on airports, State institutions and other vital national infrastructure and natural assets, the Council called for those responsible to be held accountable.
(UN Press Release) (UN Photo of the Security Council by Devra Berkowitz)
Friday, March 27, 2015
A hot topic here in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe has been the issue of social welfare benefits for migrant workers. European citizens have the right to move freely throughout the European Union (EU) - to attend university, work, etc. However, some EU States are balking at what they perceive as "welfare tourism" - moving to a particular EU State solely to obtain social assistance.
This past November, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that a European national who moves to another EU State solely to obtain social assistance may be denied those benefits. The case involved a Romanian mother, Ms. Dano, and her son, who were denied certain social benefits intended for workers by Germany because she had never worked in Germany, nor had she sought work. She and her son did receive child support and maintenance payments. The ECJ stated that EU Member States do not have to provide benefits for the first three months after residence. The ECJ also emphasized that each person's claim to social benefits must be examined individually.
Yesterday, Advocate General Melchior Wathelet issued a legal opinion further clarifying the requirement to pay social benefits to migrants. He opined that EU nationals who move to another State to look for work are not entitled to social benefits, but cannot be automatically denied benefits if they have already worked in the country. His opinion was issued in the case of Nazifa Alimanovic and her children, all of whom were born in Germany, but who are Swedish nationals. The family moved back to Germany in 2010 after living abroad. The mother and eldest daughter worked for a few months each, then applied for and received unemployment benefits for six months. The children also received other welfare benefits. Germany stopped the unemployment payments after six months and Ms. Alimanovic sued to have her benefits reinstated, alleging Germany's action is incompatible with EU law.
Mr. Wathelet opined that benefits may not be automatically terminated where a person has already worked in the country; has lived there for longer than three months; and whose children are being educated there. The AG's opinion will not be binding unless adopted by the ECJ. The ECJ is expected to issue a full judgment later this year.
Thursday, March 26, 2015
The International Trade and Investment Law Society at the American University Washington College of Law, with co-sponsorship from the American Bar Association Young Lawyers' Division International Law Committee, presents a free program on "The World Trade Organization in the 21st century: How negotiations are shaping the new rules of global trade."
This panel will discuss recent negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) with a particular emphasis on the Bali Package and the Trade Facilitation Agreement. Panelists will discuss new trade facilitation commitments and their impact upon the global trading system.
- Gary Horlick, Esq, Law Offices of Gary Horlick
- Michael Mullen, Esq, Executive Director, Express Association of America
- Tania Garcia-Millan, Esq., Attorney, United Nations ECLAC
- John Magnus, President Tradewins LLC (Invited)
Time and Location:
- March 31st, 2015; 12-2pm
- American University Washington College of Law, 4801 Massachusetts Ave NW, Room 602
Attendance is free but please RSVP<https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1u8eOgwllgIz5QmobPqVpUynFVH0dRPHX9_Bs5u0YAe8/viewform?usp=send_form>.
Bring a brown-bag lunch if you like.
Hat tip to Cortney O'Toole Morgan at Husch Blackwell LLP in Washington DC
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The Chronicle of Higher Education tells us that Oxford University Press has published a new book called "The Assault on International Law" by Jens David Ohlin. We're told that the book "criticizes the arguments and influence of a handful of legal scholars, here termed the New Realists, who have challenged U.S. compliance with international law." The book is 289 pages and will sell for a very reasonable US$29.95.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that it has updated its website that measures State action with respect to human rights issues. Called "Votes Count: Monitoring the UNHRC", the website keeps track of how the Members States of the UN Human Rights Council voted on various human rights matters involving individual countries that came before the Council in 2014.
According to John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch: “Countries often hide behind their regional groups or the political dynamics at the Human Rights Council, but each has a role in the council's successes and failures, . . . Each council member should be held accountable for its votes and for its leadership, which our VotesCount website makes easily accessible.”
Human Rights Watch provides the voting record, as well as a summary assessment, of each Member States and often does not mince words. It describes Cuba, China, Russia and Venezuela as having the weakest voting records on human rights issues. From the African group, HRW noted that South Africa abstained from voting on all resolutions, except for resolutions focusing on the human rights situation in Paletine and other occupied Arab territories. By constrast, Botswana received high praise from HRW for its human rights records. Japan is described as a strong supporter of the Councils's mandate, but HRW expressed disappointment with Japan's actions towards Sri Lanka. From the Western European & Others region, HRW describes Ireland as a strong supporter of the Council's work and complements the United States' leadership on many issues, but regrets the United States' inaction on Palestine.
This is just a sampling of the information that may be found on the website, so it's worth a look of your own.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Today, March 24, is the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. The UN General Assembly proclaimed this Day in 2010 in order to:
- Honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice;
- Pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all;
- Recognize, in particular, the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was assasinated on 24 March 1980, after denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.
On this day, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) calls on the States of the Americas to respect the right to the truth. According to IACHR President Rose-Marie Antoine, "The region’s democracies have inherited the responsibility of investigating human rights violations that occurred in times of dictatorships and authoritarian governments, and to punish those responsible, . . . The path to truth and justice for these types of crimes of the past has been extremely long and difficult, but it is an outstanding obligation and a responsibility the States cannot avoid. It is impossible to build a democratic future without first shedding light on the grave violations of the past and achieving justice and reparation.”
Investigations in the Americas to identify and punish those responsible for serious human violations of the past have been seriously flawed. For example, some States continue to apply the military criminal justice system. In addition there are still various types of amnesty laws in effect which ensure that many of these crimes go unpunished. Access to information about what transpired continues to be a major obstacle. The IACHR has called on States to make appropriate legal reforms.
According to the IACHR, the right to truth has two dimensions. The first is that victims and their family members have the right to know the truth and the identity of those who played a role in the violations, which means that States must investigate the facts, prosecute and punish those responsible, and guarantee access to the information available in State facilities and files. Secondly, society as a whole has the right to know the truth about past events, as well as the motives and circumstances in which the crimes were committed, in order to prevent recurrence of such acts in the future.
For more information, read the August 2014 IACHR Report on the Right to the Truth in the Americas or visit the UN website for the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims.