Thursday, June 5, 2014

World Environment Day

World Environment DayJune 5 is World Environment Day.  The United Nations General Assembly created World Environment Day in 1972 to encourage worldwide awareness and action on the environment.

The United Nations General Assembly also declared 2014 the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  Accordingly, this year's World Environment Day theme, "Raise Your Voice, Not  the Sea Level", focuses on the effects of global warming on rising water levels for SIDS.

For more information, visit the website of the United Nations Environmental Program.

(cgb)

June 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lithuania to Join Euro in 2015

The European Commission issued a report yesterday stating that Lithuania is ready to join the eurozone as of January 1, 2015.  The Commission's recommendation now goes to the other Euopean member states for their approval, which is expected in July.  

Lithuania is the only state to have been previously rejected for euro membership in 2006 when it could not hit target inflation rates.  Lithuania has hit all its targets this time around. The other two Baltic states, Lavtia and Estonia, are already members of the eurozone.

Lithuania is likely the last new member of the eurozone for several years.  Romania has begun the process, but is unlikely to meet membership targets and join the eurozone until at least 2019.

(cgb)

June 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Update on U.S. Legislation and Legislative Hearings


Bills Introduced
 

H Res 600 (Grayson, D-FL), urging the government of Afghanistan, following a successful first round of the presidential election on 4/5/14, to pursue a transparent, credible, and inclusive run-off presidential election on 6/14/14, while ensuring the safety of voters, candidates, poll workers, and election observers; to Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services. Congressional Record 5/28/14, H4909. 

Hearings

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on developments in Ukraine. 6/5/14, 10 am, 419 Dirksen. 

Floor Action 

On 5/28/14, the House passed HR 4587, to impose targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for carrying out or ordering human rights abuses against the citizens of Venezuela.

 On 5/28/14, the House passed H Res 599, to urge the government of the People’s Republic of China to respect the freedom of assembly, expression, and religion and all fundamental human rights and the rule of law for all its citizens and to stop censoring discussion of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations and their violent suppression, by a vote of 379 to 1.

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office 

(mew)

June 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

US Supreme Court Declines to Address Scope of Treaty Power in Bond

The United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Bond v United States yesterday, a closely watched case involving the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC materials) that potentially could have restricted the federal government's treaty powers. 

Carol Bond stole a toxic chemical substance at work and used it to harm  her husband's lover. She was charged criminally under a federal statute that implements the CWC in US law. She defended in part on the grounds that the implementing statute exceeds Congress' powers in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution because it intruded into areas of criminal law traditionally regulated by the states, not the federal government.

The Supreme Court refused to reach the constitutional issue regarding the scope of Congress' treaty power, employing the doctrine known as avoidance of constitutional questions.  Instead, the Court focused on the language of the implementing statute and found that Congress did not intend to reach purely local crimes such as Bond's under that statute.

The Court's decision is good news for those who were concerned that the Court would take this opportunity to revisit Missouri v Holland and narrow the understanding of the federal government's treaty powers.

(cgb)

June 3, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

International Courts Committee of the ABA Section of International Law to Discuss What Happens When International Criminal Courts Close Down

Save the Date!  The International Courts Committee of the American Bar Association Section of International Law will present a panel in the section's fall meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the topic of "Closing Courts Down: Residual Mechanisms and the After-Life of International Criminal Courts." The program will be held on Thursday, October 23, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. during the section's fall meeting.

Program Description

A variety of criminal courts established over the past 25 years adjudicated violations of international law. These courts include the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and 'hybrid courts' such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Criminal Panels of the District Court of Dili, the 'Regulation 64' Panels in Kosovo, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. In 2013, the Special Court for Sierra Leone completed its judicial mandate following the appeals judgment in the Charles Taylor case. With the primary work of the court done, issues remain including (a) preservation of evidence and archival of materials, (b) potential requests for pardon or commutation of sentences, and (c) ongoing issues of witness protection. This panel will discuss these residual issues and see what lessons may be applied to other criminal tribunals as they complete their mandates. The panel will also consider ethical issues regarding the temporary nature of the courts, the long-term legacy of international justice, and ethical obligations of attorneys appearing before courts that disappear.

Confirmed Committee Sponsors of the ABA Section of International Law

Primary Sponsor: International Courts Committee

Co-Sponsors:  Africa Committee, International Criminal Law Committee, International Judicial Affairs Committee, UN and International Institutions Coordinating Committee

Members of the ABA Section of International Law are invited to join the International Courts Committee. Visit the committee webpage on the Section website for more information.

(mew) 

May 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

GLS Award Winners Announced at Conference in Verona, Italy

Verona BridgeMore than 180 persons from over 20 countries around the world participated in the ninth Global Legal Skills Conference, which was held from May 21-23, 2014 at the University of Verona Faculty of Law (Italy).  The conference included presentation of GLS Awards in the following categories: (1) individuals; (2) books; and (3) institutions. 

Announcement of the 2014 GLS Award Winners

Individual Winners

  • Prof. Heidi Brown, New York Law School (New York, USA), nominated and recognized for her work with students to reduce extreme fear of public speaking and increase performance in classrooms, oral arguments, and client-centered legal skills activities.
  • Prof. Juli Campagna, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University (New York, USA) and Adjunct Professor of Law, Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (Mexico), recognized for developing English Immersion Training Programs and for exceptional devotion to meeting the needs of international students around the world.
  • Dean Marion Dent, ANO Pericles, (Moscow, Russian Federation), recognized for her work in higher education in Russia and for her work to bring the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition to Russia.

Book Awards

  • Deborah B. McGregor and Cynthia M. AdamsThe International Lawyer's Guide to Legal Analysis and Communication in the United States (Wolters Kluwer 2008).
  • Anthony S. Winer, Mary Ann E. Archer, and Lyonette Louis-JacquesInternational Law Legal Research (Carolina Academic Press 2013), a book designed to enrich international law courses by showing students how to research sources of international law, and to help law schools create stand-alone courses in international law legal research.

Institutional Winner

  • BarWrite and BarWrite Press, New York, USA (Dr. Mary Campbell Gallagher), for its early and thoughtful recognition of the special bar exam preparation needs needs of lawyers and law students from other countries.

Congratulations to all of the winners.  GLS Awards will be presented again next year in Chicago at the tenth Global Legal Skills Conference, which will be co-hosted by The John Marshall Law School-Chicago and the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (Mexico).

Photo of Verona by Professor David Austin (California Western School of Law).

(mew)

May 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Global Legal Skills Conference in Verona Italy Concludes; Next GLS Conference Will Be Held in Chicago

Verona BridgeThe ninth Global Legal Skills Conference had more than 180 participants from over 20 countries around the world. The conference was held at the University of Verona Faculty of Law (Italy) and organized by The John Marshall Law School of Chicago.

A number of professional associations were co-sponsors of the GLS Conference, including:

  • American Bar Association Section of International Law (ABA-SIL)
  • International Bar Association (IBA)
  • Law Society of England and Wales (International Division)
  • International Law Students Association (ILSA)
  • Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers
  • Teaching International Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA)

The next GLS Conference--an important 10th anniversary--will be held in May 2015 in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School, where the conference was founded by Professor Mark E. Wojcik (a co-editor of this blog). The 2015 Conference will be jointly sponsored by The John Marshall Law School and the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (Mexico), which was the host of the third and fifth editions of the Global Legal Skills Conference.

The call for papers and presenations will be issued by September 2014. The conference will include sessions on teaching international law as well as incorporating legal skills educaiton into international law classes.

(mew)

(Photo of Verona by Professor David W. Austin of the California Western School of Law)

May 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yemen to Become 160th Member of WTO

Yemen filed its "Instrument of Acceptance" with the World Trade Organization (WTO) today and is about to become the 160th member of the trade organization.  Its membership is expected to be effective June 26, 2014.

Yemen applied for membership in 2000 and completed the accession process in 2013.  It is one of the  least developed countries to join the WTO. Yemen hopes to benefit from technical assistance and capacity building from the WTO Secretariat.

For more information, visit the WTO website.

(cgb)

 

May 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Successful Global Legal Skills Conference Comes to a Close

GLS closingThe 9th annual Global Legal Skills (GLS) Conference held in for the first time in Verona, Italy has come to a close. It was the largest GLS conference to date with more than 180 participants from over 20 countries.  

Verona Photo 1GLS-9 was held on May 21-23, 2014 at the University of Verona Faculty of Law, with an additional day (May 24) as an excursion to Vicenza, Italy, where participants heard presentations from a member of the City Council of Vicenza, the President of the Bar Association of Vicenza, and from three Italian lawyers who described various aspects of the Italian legal system and Italian legal education. Professor David Austin of California Western School of Law in San Diego, California was an additional commentator and translator for some of those presentations. 

The conference opened on the evening of Wednesday, May 21, with a reception across from the Roman Arena in Verona, a complex built in the 1st Century A.D.  Family members and friends joined the conference participants that evening for an enjoyable and memorable evening.

The opening plenary session included the Conference Founder and Co-Chair, Professor Mark Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School (a co-editor of this blog, pictured below left with Professor Cindy Buys of Southern Illinois University School of Law, who is also a co-editor of this blog). Also speaking on the opening Plenary were other Conference Co-Chairs Professor Stefano Troiano of the University of Verona Faculty of Law, Professor Kimberly Holst (Chair-Elect of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research), Professor William B.T. Mock, Jr. (Secretary of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, one of the co-sponsoring organizations), Mr. Leonard Amari (President of the Board of Trustees of The John Marshall Law School), Gerardo Puertas Gomez (Presidente del Consejo, Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey, Mexico, the institution that hosted GLS-3 and GLS-5), and the other GLS-9 Conference Co-Chairs Professor David Austin (California Western School of Law), Lurene Contento (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago), and Paolo Butturini (University of Verona). 

GLS Mark and Cindy

Professors Contento, Butturini, and Wojcik presided over the GLS "Parade of Nations," which introduced national delegations from the following countries participating in GLS-9: 

  • Australia
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • China
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Republic of Georgia
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Delegates expected from other countries including Japan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and the Islamic Republic of Iran were unable to attend.

Many great presentations and ideas for improving teaching students from around the globe were shared, including one session of international law professors from around the world who exchanged information on teaching opportunities and on cutting-edge issues in international law. As many as six concurrent panels were held in nine different session time slots over the two days that the conference presentations were made at the University of Verona Faculty of Law.  

Mark Wojcik deserves a huge amount of praise for the great work he and his planning team did to make the conference such a great success.  And many thanks for the University of Verona Law School for hosting!

(cgb)

 

May 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

World Biodiversity Day

Since 2000, May 22 has been designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day of Biological Diversity. The 2014 theme is Island Biodiversity. This theme was chosen to coincide with the UN General Assembly's designation of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (A/Res/67/206).

From 1993-2000, the day was celebrated on December 29 in commemorationof the entry into force of the Convention on Biological Diversity. In 2000 the UN General Assembly shifted the date to May 22 to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention at the Rio Earth Summit on 22 May 1992.

The UN General Assembly also has declared 2011-2020 to be the UN Decade on Biodiversity. The purpose is to promote implementation of the objectives of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity.

(cgb)

May 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Happy Sixth Birthday to Us

The International Law Prof Blog is six years old on Monday, May 19, 2014. Since we started we've had more than 276,350 visits and more than 473,600 page views. We have regular readers in more than 100 countries. Thank you for your continued support and for your commitment to the promotion of international law.

Mark and Cindy

May 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 16, 2014

More Friday Fun: Differences Between Italy and the Rest of Europe

And another video to explain differences between Italy and the rest of Europe.  Five minutes.  Enjoy!

 

(mew)

May 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday Fun: Video Explains Differences Between Germany and Italy

One of our all time favorites, this video explains differences between Germans and Italians. Essential viewing for those attending the Global Legal Skills Conference in Verona next week!

 

(mew)

May 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Things Could Be Worse . . . .

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that an associate professor of English at Central Connecticut State University was approved for a promotion this week by the state’s Board of Regents for Higher Education while he was in prison for a probation violation.

(mew)

May 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Professor Jobs in Ireland

Yes, seriously. Look who is hiring. The Department of Law at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth (perhaps better known as Ollscoil na hEireann, Ma Nuad) (oh wait, it's probably NOT better known that way . . .)  

They are looking for two Professors/Senior Lecturers in Law. The closing date is this Thursday May 22, 2014 so don't wait. Click here for more information.

Hat tip to Michael Doherty

(mew)

May 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Global Legal Skills Conference -- Arrival Information for Conference Attendees

Verona Photo 1The ninth Global Legal Skills Conference takes place May 21-23, 2014 in Italy at the University of Verona Faculty of Law. 

The conference is organized by The John Marshall Law School of Chicago and is co-sponsored by a number of bar associations and other organizations, including:

  • American Bar Association Section of International Law (ABA-SIL)
  • International Bar Association (IBA)
  • Law Society of England and Wales (International Division)
  • International Law Students Association (ILSA)
  • Scribes—The American Society of Legal Writers
  • Teaching International Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA)

Verona Porta NuovaIf you're attending the GLS-9 Conference in Verona, click on the link at the end of this paragraph for a helpful guide that gives tips on your arrival in Verona from either the airports in Verona (VRN) or Venice (VCE).  Download GLS-9 Arrival Info

We look forward to seeing many of you next week in Verona at the Global Legal Skills Conference. Registration information and a schedule of panels is available by clicking here.

If you are taking the train to Verona (from Milan, Venice, Rome, or someplace else equally fabulous), you should know that there are TWO train stations in Verona.  You will most likely want the train station for Verona Porto Nuovo.

Prof. Mark E. Wojcik , Conference Co-Chair

(mew)

May 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Day of Families

May 15, 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the International Day of Families. The day began in 1994 when the UN General Assembly declared 1994 to be the International Year of the Family.  The UN will host a special panel discussion on "Families Matter in the Achievementof Development Goals."  Many other events will be held worldwide to explore recent family trends, family poverity and best policies and practices relating to families.

(cgb)

May 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Month Has Passed Since Boko Haram Kidnapped More Than 200 Girls

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has added its voice to the chorus of condemnation of the abduction on April 14 of over 200 girls from their school in the the village of Chibok (Borno State) in north-eastern Nigeria. The Committee urged Nigeria to use "all necessary means to obtain the release of the girls and to bring to justice the perpetrators of this heinous crime.” 

(mew)

May 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hey, United Nations! Get a Better Acronym for Killer Robots!

Michael Moller UN GenevaOK, we're officially complaining. The United Nations held its first meeting on killer robots, which it is calling Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS).

Come on, United Nations. We're lawyers and we talk about laws all the time. We do not need the confusion you're about to create by pushing LAWS as an acronym for killer robots.

Dear blog readers, please help the United Nations (and all of us) by suggesting other ways to describe killer robots (although we happen to like killer robots just fine!). And we hope that Michael Moeller (pictured at right and mentioned in the press release below) can put a stop to this unfortuante acronym before it's too late.

We also note the link to the story below that despite record attendance, NONE of the delegates debating killer robots are women. Go get 'em, our blogger friends at Intlawgrrls!

Here's the UN press release issued yesterday:

The top United Nations official in Geneva today urged bold action by diplomats at the start of the world body's first ever meeting on Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWS), better known as “killer robots,” telling them: “You have the opportunity to take pre-emptive action and ensure that the ultimate decision to end life remains firmly under human control. The remarks were made by Michael Møller, Acting Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, at the opening session of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems taking place this week at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

 

Ambassador Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel of France, who is chairing the four-day expert meeting, noted: “Lethal autonomous weapons systems are a challenging emerging issue on the disarmament agenda right now.”

 

The four days of discussions will focus on technological developments, the ethical and sociological questions that arise from the development and deployment of autonomous weapons, as well as the adequacy and legal challenges to international law and the possible impact on military operations, according to the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA).

 

The Geneva meeting has attracted record attendance by States, UN organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations, ODA said.

 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon took note of “killer robots” in his report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict issued in November 2013, saying important questions have been raised as to the ability of such systems to operate in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law. “Is it morally acceptable to delegate decisions about the use of lethal force to such systems? If their use results in a war crime or serious human rights violation, who would be legally responsible? If responsibility cannot be determined as required by international law, is it legal or ethical to deploy such systems,?” he asked. The Secretary-General went on to say: “Although autonomous weapons systems have not yet been deployed and the extent of their development as a military technology remains unclear, discussion of such questions must begin immediately and not once the technology has been developed and proliferated.”

 

While noting the Meeting of Experts was only a first step towards addressing lethal autonomous weapons, Acting Director-General Møeller urged the delegates gathered in Geneva to take bold action. “All too often international law only responds to atrocities and suffering once it has happened,' Mr. Moeller said and noted that Geneva has had “a historical record that is second to none for achieving results in disarmament and international humanitarian law negotiations."

 

The outcomes of the Geneva discussions will be submitted to the formal conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in November 2014, where States will discuss possible next steps on autonomous weapons. The purpose of the Convention is to ban or restrict the use of specific types of weapons that are considered to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants or to affect civilians indiscriminately. Currently 117 States are parties to the Convention.

(mew)

UPDATE from Blog Reader Comments (Thank You)

Maya Brehm said:

If you are interested in a more substantive engagement with the legal aspects of this debate, you may find the experts' presentations and statements by government representatives, internatioanl organisations and civil society on the website of Reaching Critical Will: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/others/ccw/2014/statements#legal1 Of particular interest, the statements on legal issues by the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) http://icrac.net/2014/05/icrac-statement-on-legal-issues-to-the-un-ccw-expert-meeting/ http://icrac.net/2014/05/icracs-second-statement-on-legal-issues-to-the-un-ccw-expert-meeting/ See also, this analysis of the dynamics of the debate by Charli Carpenter: http://www.whiteoliphaunt.com/duckofminerva/2014/05/dynamics-of-debate-at-the-experts-meeting-on-autonomous-weapons.html
 

May 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

ECJ Holds Google Must Remove Irrelevant Information About Individuals Upon Request

GoogleApplying a 1995 European Union (EU) Directive on the protection of personal data, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled yesterday that: "People have the right to request information be removed from search engine results if it appeared to be "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant."  As a result, companies like Google must remove such information about ordinary individuals from their search engines if so requested.

The case was filed by Spaniard Mario Costeja González who stated in his complaint that search results for his name on Google brought up links to Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia from 1998 including an announcement about old social security debts. Costeja Gonzalez argued that the issue had long been settled and that the information was now irrelevant. In response, the Spanish data protection agency ordered Google to remove the data from its index.  When Google resisted, the matter went to the ECJ, which sided with the Spaniards.

The ruling may assist in the inclusion of an express "right to be forgotten" that has been proposed during the ongoing process of updating the EU's data protection rules.  It is also likely to raise costs for companies like Google and Facebook, which are now responsible for identifying and removing information from their databases when requested.

For more information, see this ECJ Press Release.

(cgb)

May 14, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)