Friday, October 23, 2015

Hague Choice of Court Convention Enters Into Force

The Hague Choice of Court Convention entered into force in 28 States (Mexico and all Members of the European Union, except Denmark) on October 1, 2015. This results from Mexico's accession to the Convention in 2007 and the recent approval of the Convention by the European Union as a regional organization able to bind its member states.

The United States and Singapore have signed the Choice of Court Convention but have not yet ratified it. The entry into force for the Convention should encourage other States that are considering joining it.

The Convention has been designed to provide more legal certainty and predictability in relation to choice of court agreements between parties to international commercial contracts.

The Convention essentially allows three things.

  • First, it allows parties to a contract to pick a court that is not necessarily the site of a buyer or a seller in a contract.
  • Second, it gives exclusive jurisdiction to the court chosen; other courts must decline jurisdiction.
  • And third, the judgment rendered by the chosen court must be recognized and enforced in other Contracting States.

As judges, practitioners, and other key players within the international legal community recognize, the application of the Choice of Court Convention will deliver adequate responses to the increasingly pressing need in international transactions for enforceable choice of court agreements and their resulting judgments.

And now that the Convention has entered into force, the United States should ratify the Hague Choice of Convention.

Click here for more information about the Hague Choice of Court Convention.

Click here for the text of the Hague Choice of Court Convention.

(mew)(adapted in part from a press release from the Hague Conference on Private International Law)

October 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Enforcing Forum Selection and Choice of Law Clauses in International Contracts

Intl-contracts-panelThe American Bar Association Section of International Law Fall Meeting in Montreal is in full swing with substantive panels and social events.

Speaking this morning on a panel on "The Enforceability of Form Contract Choice of Law and Jurisdiction Clauses in Cross-Border Transactions" are Andrew M. Danas (USA), Luis Augusto Roux Azevedo (Brazil), Gordon Hearn (Canada), Marco Remiorz (Germany), and Pradnya Desh (USA).



October 23, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Nominations for the Pether Award for Law and Language Scholarship

A passionate advocate for interdisciplinary scholarship in law, literature, and language, Penelope J. Pether was Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law and former Professor of Law and Director of Legal Rhetoric at the American University Washington College of Law. Her own scholarship focused not only on law, literature, and language, but also on constitutional and comparative constitutional law; legal theory, including constitutional theory; common law legal institutions, judging practices, and professional subject formation. 

Beginning in November 2013, the Penny Pether Award for Law and Language Scholarship has been given annually to an article or essay published during the preceding year (September 1 to September 1) that exemplifies Penny’s commitment to law and language scholarship and pedagogy. 

The Committee selecting award recipients from among the articles and essays nominated will look for scholarship that not only embodies Penny’s passion and spirit but also has some or all of the following characteristics:

1. “[S]cholarship concerning itself with the unique or distinctive insights that might emerge from interdisciplinary inquiries into ‘law’ grounded in the work of influential theorists of language and discourse.” 

2. Scholarship that “attempts to think through the relations among subject formation, language, and law.”

3. Scholarship that provides “accounts of—and linguistic interventions in—acute and yet abiding crises in law, its institutions and discourses.”

4. Scholarship and pedagogy, including work addressing injustices in legal-academic institutions and practices, that is “[c]arefully theorized and situated, insisting on engaging politics and law, [and that] charts ways for law and its subjects to use power, do justice.”

More explanations and descriptions of these characteristics can be found in Penny’s chapter from which these quotations are drawn: Language, in Law and the Humanities: An Introduction (Austin Sarat et al. eds., Cambridge U. Press 2010).  

Nominations should be sent by November 13, 2015 to Jeremy Mullem at  You are free to nominate more than one work and to nominate work you’ve written.  Please provide a citation for each work you nominate.

The Selection Committee includes Linda Berger, David Caudill, Amy Dillard, Bruce Hay, Ian Gallacher, Melissa Marlow, Jeremy Mullem, Nancy Modesitt, and Terry Pollman.  Members of the Selection Committee are not eligible for the award.

Hat tip to Professor Jeremy Mullem of Duke University Law School in Durham, North Carolina


October 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Art Restitution, Preservation of Cultural Heritage, and the Human Right to Identity

The John Marshall Law School in Chicago is hosting a two-day Symposium on Art Restitution, Preservation of Cultural Heritage, and the Human Right to Identity. Speakers include global and local experts on international art law. Scholarly papers will be published in the John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law. CLE Materials for the Symposium can be downloaded at


October 16, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Asian Society of International Law Conference in Thailand

Here's a reminder that the 5th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law 2015 will be held in Thailand next month at the Plaza Athénée Bangkok. Click here for more information about the conference.


October 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ACLU Sues Two Psychologists Who Helped Develop Torture Techniques

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against James Mitchell and Bruce Jesson, two psychologists who helped the Central Intelligence Agency develop interrogation methods that used torture. The suit was filed in federal district court in Spokane Washington on behalf of two former detainees held by the Central Intelligence Agency and the family of a third detainee who died in C.I.A. custody in Afghanistan in 2002.

The New York Times reports that the torture techniques that the two psychologists developed were described in a Senate Intelligence Committee Report released last year, but the report used the pseudonymns Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar. Mark Mazzetti, Psychologists Are Sued Over C.I.A. Techniques, N.Y. TImes, Oct. 14, 2015, at A11.

Mitchell Jessen and Associates received a contract from the C.I.A. to develop the torture techniques used. The two psyhcologists reportedly earned $81 million for their work and their company was paid $180 million


October 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

AALS at the UN

The Association of American Law Schools Section on International Law has organized an impressive lineup of presenters for its one-day field trip to the United Nations on Thursday, January 7, 2016 as part of the AALS Annual Meeting. The event is open to all law professors attending the AALS Annual Meeting and you need not be a member of the AALS Section on International Law (although if you're a U.S. law professor reading this blog, why wouldn't you be a member of that section?).

The day-long program includes a briefing, a luncheon, a tour of the United Nations, and time to visit the U.N. bookstore and gift shop.

Speakers for the program have just been announced. It is an impressive lineup organized by Dean Claudio Grossman of the Washington College of Law at American University. The speakers are:

  • His Excellency Cristian Barros, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations, speaking on challenges facing the U.N. Security Council.
  • Andrew Gilmour (to be confirmed), Director of the Political, Peacekeeping, Humanitarian, and Human Rights Unit of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG). Topic: “Peace, Security, and the Secretary General’s Human Rights Up Front Initiative to Prevent and Respond to Serious Human Rights Violations.”
  • Claudio Grossman (confirmed), Chair, United Nations Committee Against Torture and Dean of the American University Washington College of Law. Topic: “The Human Rights Treaty Bodies of the United Nations – Challenges for the Future”
  • Katarina Mansson (confirmed), Human Rights Treaties Division, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Topic: “Partnering for Peace and Rights: The Evolving Relationship Between the United Nations and Regional Organizations.”
  • Craig Mokhiber (confirmed), Research and Right to Development Division, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Topic: “Development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”
  • Salil Shetty (to be confirmed), Secretary-General, Amnesty International. Topic: “Amnesty International’s Efforts”
  • Moderator: Prof. Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School--Chicago)

When you register for the AALS annual meeting, you can select the field trip as a separate option. The cost for the day-long event is $90.00, which includes the luncheon and tour. The number of tickets is limited.


October 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Guide to Research on Consular Notification and Access under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations

Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) requires that law enforcement authorities provide consular notification and access (CNA) without delay to foreign nationals who are arrested or detained in a host state.  This CNA requirement has been the subject of much litigation in the United States and the United States has been sued at the International Court of Justice three times for failure to comply with this treaty obligation, the most recent case being the  Avena case involving 51 nationals of Mexico.

Questions continue to arise regarding the details of the duty of consular notification and acces, including what does "without delay" mean and what remedies may be available if CNA is not provided? Now there is an updated research guide available on the consular access and notification requirements under the VCCR, which may be found here.


October 12, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Getting Ready for the ABA Section of International Law Meeting in Montreal

To help you get ready for the upcoming Fall Meeting in Montreal of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, here's a video from College Humor called "If Canadians Made a Rap Diss Video."  Enjoy!



October 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Former UN General Assembly President Charged

The New York Times reports that John W. Ashe, a former president of the U.N. General Assembly, was one of six people identified in a criminal complaint outlining a bribery scheme that involved more than $1 million in payments from sources in China to assist in real estate deals and other business ventures. The Times states that the criminal charges represent a widening probe into Ng Lap Seng, a Macau-based developer who was arrested last month in New York and charged with transporting $4.5 million under false pretenses. UN officials have expressed shock at the allegations against the former U.N. General Assembly President. Click here to see the complaint.


October 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Officials Shocked by Allegations Against Former President of the General Assembly

John AsheTop United Nations officials expressed today that they are “shocked” and “deeply troubled” to learn about the “very serious allegations” announced this morning by United States' federal prosecutors against John Ashe, a former President of the UN General Assembly.

Prior to his appointment as leader of the 68th session of the General Assembly in September 2013, John Ashe had been Antigua and Barbuda's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He was arrested earlier today in New York.

Speaking at the regular UN briefing to news correspondents, the spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric, said these allegations “go to the heart of the integrity of the United Nations.”

Asked about whether the UN was involved in the United States attorney's investigation, Mr. Dujarric said the UN was not informed of the case until it was featured in the press. “Obviously, if we're contacted by the relevant US authorities we will cooperate with them,” he added.

Meanwhile, the current President of the General Assembly's 70th session and former Speaker of the Danish Parliament, Mogens Lykketoft, held a press conference today, during which he underlined that he can only echo the UN Spokesperson. “Coming from a country which is consistently number one on the world transparency index and having served for 34 years in Danish politics without being rich, I certainly am shocked about it and I think that the United Nations and its representatives should be held to the highest standards of transparency and ethics,” Mr. Lykketoft told reporters.

He added that when he took office as the President of the UN General Assembly on 15 September, he committed himself to uphold these principles during his tenure, as “corruption has no place at the United Nations or anywhere else.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

UN Photo of General Assembly President John Ashe by Eskinder Debebe

October 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

International Trade News

Yesterday, the United States and eleven Pacific Rim nations announced they have concluded negotiations and reached agreement on the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the "historic" TPP agreement will "support jobs, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development and promote innovation across the Asia-Pacific region," while also raising living standards.  The White House further asserted that the TPP will eliminate "over 18,000 taxes that various countries impose on Made in America exports," and  that import taxes on U.S. auto products will now be cut in member nations.  The USTR also unveiled a new TPP website.

If ratified, the TPP would be the largest free trade agreement to which the United States is a party. However, ratification is not assured. Opponents have expressed concern about the agreement's effect on intellectual property protections, the cost of generic drugs, and fishing rights. 

In other trade news, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that terms of accession have been negotiated and concluded for Liberia, paving the way for Liberia to become a member of the WTO at the Nairobi meeting in December.


October 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

No Amnesty for Serious Crimes in Colombia, Including Sexual Violence

Colombia UNDPA senior United Nations envoy has welcomed an agreement between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that includes provisions not to grant amnesties for the most serious crimes, including sexual violence.

By the agreement reached on 23 September, the parties have agreed to create a Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which prioritizes the rights of the victims, including in the areas of truth seeking, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition.

“I am particularly glad that the parties have agreed that there will be no amnesties for the most serious crimes, including sexual violence. This constitutes a crucial step forward in the fight against impunity,” Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said in a news release.

“The peace process in Colombia marks a milestone in explicitly addressing gender discrimination and sexual violence in the conflict,” added Ms. Bangura, who visited the country in March of this year.

“The establishment of a Gender Sub-Commission to ensure the integration of a gender perspective in the negotiations, and the participation of sexual violence survivors and leaders of women’s rights organisations in the peace talks are unprecedented and should be an inspiration for other peace processes around the world.”

Ms. Bangura was in Havana, Cuba, in May 2015 to discuss conflict-related sexual violence with the delegations of the Colombian Government and the FARC to the peace dialogue.

“It is essential that the protection and empowerment of women and girls remain at the centre of the peace talks in Havana,” the press release stated.

The 23 September agreement was also welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, commended the parties' commitment to place victims at the centre of the peace process.

“The announcements made in Havana by the parties represent significant progress towards reaching a final peace agreement and bring Colombia even closer to ending the hemisphere’s longest armed conflict,” said the statement.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

Photo: Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, on a visit to Bogotá, Colombia in March 2015. UNDP Colombia/Andrés Bernal

October 6, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in "Suppressed v. Suppressed"

US Supreme Court BuildingWe reported earlier that the U.S. Supreme Court had granted leave to file a petition for writ of certiorari in a case called "Supressed v. Suppressed," No. 15-1171, an appeal from a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit dated February 25, 2015.  The Supreme Court today denied that petition for certiorari.


October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN General Assembly Concludes Historic Opening Debate

UNGAThe United Nations General Assembly wound up its 70th annual General Debate on October 3, 2015, attended by the highest number of Heads of State and Government ever, with Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft calling it a “historic” event crowned by the “truly seminal commitment” to achieving ambitious new development goals by 2030.

In a closing speech he summarized the multifaceted issues raised by speaker after speaker who took the podium in the Assembly hall, both at the six-day General Debate and the three-day summit on the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that preceded it.

“As we commemorate the 70th anniversary [of the founding of the UN], it was fitting and reassuring that leaders recalled and reaffirmed the spirit and the principles of the Charter and confirmed their faith in the central role of UN in international cooperation,” he declared.

He noted that the one of the matters most consistently raised over the past six days, was the plight of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants right across the world.

“It was stressed again and again that this unprecedented crisis of global dimensions calls for an unprecedented global response rooted in international law and international solidarity,” Mr. Lykketoft said.

“Indeed, the tragic humanitarian emergency in many parts of the world - not least in Syria and its neighbouring countries – was highlighted repeatedly. In relation to that particular conflict, many called for a renewed effort from global and regional powers to find a necessary and peaceful political solution.”

He underscored the emphasis many Member States laid on the need to address the particular obstacles to peace in Africa, in parts of Europe and beyond, stemming from instability, violent conflict, and the spread of extremism and terrorism, calling the actions of the so-called Islamic state group, Boko Haram, AI-Shabaab and other extremist groups an affront to common humanity.

He also noted that numerous speakers stressed the pressing need for reform of the Security Council to effectively fulfil its mandate and reflect the geopolitical realities of the world of today, and they voiced the hope for a transparent process over the coming year to identify a new Secretary-General to take over the helm of the UN in 2017.

Photo: President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft (centre), closes the annual general debate. UN Photo/Cia Pak

October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Oman Calls for Greater Dialogue to Solve Conflicts

OmanAddressing the United Nations General Assembly on October 3, 2015, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Oman, Yousef Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, has been looking forward to a peace and justice world with solving all forms of conflict through dialogue.

“We are convinced that dialogue is the natural foundation upon which all forms of conflict can be resolved,” he said, noting that throughout history, mankind has aspired to enhance confidence on the basis of agreed and conciliatory ideas, and that principles of the UN Charter deepen and widen common interests and mutual benefits.

“In this vein, the Foreign Minister welcomed the agreement between international negotiators and Iran on that country’s nuclear programme, and expressed hope that the “historic” deal would reflect positively on regional and international peace and security, and pave the way for a new area of relations, based on cooperation, respect, and mutual trust.

“Strongly concerned about global crisis, he reiterated that his Government’s humanitarian program in Syria would be continued for providing protection to the refugees. He also called on all parties in Yemen to respect the rules of international law and refrain from any act that would violate their international obligations.

“We also call upon the United Nations and the parties sponsoring the peace process in the Middle East, to exert more efforts, so as to reach an agreement for settling this crisis, instead of merely proceeding with managing it,” he added at the Assembly.

“Meanwhile, Oman indicated that the international community should put the economy, commerce, and environment at the forefront of urgent issues that need to be addressed. “My country is looking forwarded to convening the international conference on climate in the [France],” the Minister said, adding that hoped a balanced international programme could be reached.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

Photo: Yousef Bin Al-Alawi Bin Abdulla, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eritrea Calls on United Nations to Become More Agile, Democratic, and Equitable

EritreaAddressing the United Nations General Assembly on October 3, 2015, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, Osman Saleh, focused on bolstering his country’s socioeconomic and also emphasized the need revitalize the United Nations to create a more agile, democratic, and equitable multilateral system.

Mr. Saleh said that, 70 years after the birth of the UN, “it is undeniable that we continue to live in an unfair and unequal world, where conflicts and wars rage, extreme poverty persists in the midst of plenty, children die from easily preventable diseases and justice is routinely trampled.”

“The United Nations Organization itself is a reflection of this unfair, unequal and undemocratic global order,” he continued. “In the UN, the overwhelming majority of member States are marginalized. This assembly of nations, which should be the most powerful organ, is bereft of real power and influence, with decision-making dominated by a few among the few.”

He added that there is a need “to persist in our efforts to rebuild and revitalize the United Nations” and “strive and cooperate at the national, regional and global levels for sustainable and equitable development.”

“Today, Eritrea is making remarkable progress in building a nation based on citizenship and an inclusive state and the respect of human dignity and rights. It is peaceful, stable, secure and harmonious.”

He added that it was also “building a solid basis for sustainable development with social justice,” as well as fighting human trafficking and giving youth and women “adequate opportunities to pursue a high quality of life and build their nation.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

Photo: Foreign Minister of Eritrea, Osman Mohammed Saleh, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Cia Pak

October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bhutan is Guided by a Development Philosophy of "Gross National Happiness"

BhutanGuided by its development philosophy of “Gross National Happiness,” Bhutan has consistently worked to ensure that the peace, security and well-being of its people always remain at the centre of development, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the South Asian country told the United Nations General Assembly last week.

“Bhutan has achieved most of the MDG [Millennium Development Goal] targets. Poverty has been reduced to 12 per cent. Our primary school enrolment rate is nearly 100 per cent and life expectancy has increased to 68 years,” declared Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, adding that Bhutan remains a “bastion of environmental conservation” with 72 per cent of land under forest cover.

“Our effort to safeguard the environment is reinforced by a constitutional mandate to maintain a minimum of 60 per cent of our land under forest cover for all times,” he continued. “Our achievements would not have been possible without good governance.”

In addition, Minister Dorji recalled that Bhutan spearheaded the adoption of the Assembly resolution entitled, "Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development" in 2011, which led to the annual observance on 20 March of the International Day of Happiness.

“The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal and embodies the spirit of the 2030 Agenda,” he highlighted, referring to the set of 17 Global Goals adopted by the UN Member States last week. “Even though we have contributed least to the causes of climate change, we, like other least developed countries (LDCs) are amongst the most vulnerable to its adverse impacts.”

According to the Minister, expectations are that by 2025, Bhutan – through the sale of its clean hydro-power – would have the capacity to offset approximately 35 million tonnes of carbon per annum in the region, which he said, is “no small feat considering Bhutan's emissions [are] under 7 per cent of that figure.”

“In moving forward, the first litmus test for our commitment to action on the 2030 Agenda will be whether or not we reach an ambitious and legally binding agreement at COP21 [the UN climate change conference in December],” he insisted. “A second test of our commitment to action would be whether we are able to deliver on our promises and pledges on the means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda.”

On the issue of the UN reform, Bhutan’s Foreign Affairs Minister said the Security Council must reflect current geo-political realities.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

Photo: Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji of Bhutan addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Boko Haram Violence is an Affront to International Law

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the bomb attacks of 2 October in the outskirts of Abuja, Nigeria, as well as the multiple suicide bombings of 1 October in the city of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, all by suspected Boko Haram elements. “The continuing violence by Boko Haram is an affront to international law, to humanity and to religious faith, said Mr. Ban in a statement issued yesterday evening by his spokesperson.

According to the statement, the UN chief extends his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and the Government of Nigeria, and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. He reiterates the United Nations' support to the Nigerian Government in its fight against terrorism. “The Secretary-General also recalls the vital importance and obligation to respect international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law in countering terrorism,” the statement concludes.

(UN Press Release)

October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

German Court Rules on War Crimes in Rwanda

The Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart, Germany, has ruled against the President and Vice-President of the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, also known as FDLR, which has committed war crimes in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). On 28 September 2015, the court sentenced Ignace Murwanashyka and Straton Musoni to 13 and 8 years of imprisonment, respectively, for holding a leadership role in a foreign terrorist organization and for aiding in the commission of war crimes in DRC.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, commended Germany for conducting this trial and, thereby heeding the Security Council’s repeated call on all States to prosecute FDLR elements in their territories,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson.

“This judgement is the first one of its kind and represents an excellent example of how national criminal courts and the United Nations can work together, in accordance with the principle of complementarity, to fight impunity and ensure that those alleged to have committed serious international crimes are held accountable.”

Mr. Ban reiterated the importance of swiftly neutralizing the FDLR and other armed groups in eastern DRC in order to bring stability to the country and the Great Lakes region.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

October 4, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)