Thursday, February 9, 2017
The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world's largest moot court competition. This year more than 2,000 law students at over 600 law schools in 90 countries around the world are competing in the Jessup.
The competition involves teams of law students who compete against one another through the presentation of oral and written pleadings to address timely issues of public international law in the context of a hypothetical legal dispute between nations. Each team prepares two written memorials and two 45-minute oral presentations, one for each party to the dispute (the “Applicant” and the “Respondent”). Teams argue alternately as Applicant and Respondent against competing teams before a panel of judges, simulating a proceeding before the International Court of Justice.
Qualifying Rounds have already been held in Afghanistan, Belarus, Chile, Ghana, India, Iran, and Russia.
Other countries with rounds happening right now or in the coming weeks include Armenia, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Winners of the national rounds and regional qualifying rounds will travel to Washington D.C. to compete in the International Rounds.
Regional rounds are also starting in the United States, with competitions this weekend in Chicago and New York. Here are some photos from the opening team meeting in Chicago, being hosted at Loyola University of Chicago Law School.
The Jessup Competition is administered by the International Law Students Association (ILSA), a non-profit organization now based in Washington, D.C.
If you're a former Jessuper, you know the importance of this competition. Please consider helping ILSA with a small financial donation. Visit www.ilsa.org for more information about ILSA and the Jessup Competition.
The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois
The Planning Committee for the Second Biennial Moot Court Conference invites proposals from participants on any topic of interest to those who coach moot court teams and teach appellate advocacy. The committee invites individual and collaborative proposals.
- Name(s) and contact information
- Title of presentation
- Brief summary (one paragraph description)
- Time needed (25 minutes or 50 minutes)
- Technology needed.
In the email subject line, please state: Moot Court 2017 Proposal – [Name].
The LWI Moot Court Conference Planning Committee hopes to make its selections by February 27, 2017.
Hat tips to Ardath Hamann and Rob Sherwin.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
The setting up of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a “reckoning” for those who had long disregarded the lives and dignity of their people, the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide has said and warned that withdrawing from the tribunal could have grave implications for victims seeking redress for serious human rights violations.
“The establishment of the Court signified a global commitment to protect victims, when national judicial mechanisms lacked the capacity, willingness or jurisdiction to prosecute those responsible for the most serious crimes,” wrote Special Adviser Adama Dieng in an opinion piece published in The East African.
Since the adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998, more than half of the world’s States have joined the Court, 34 among them are African nations – the biggest regional block to date . In July this year, the Court’s founding Statue will mark the 15th anniversary of its entry into force.
Highlighting the significance of the Court, Mr. Dieng said that the fact that most of the cases in the continent were submitted by African States themselves, reaffirming their belief that it would strengthen the rule of law and respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the African people.
However, he added that despite the ICC’s achievements, it is increasingly coming under threat, with recent announcements by Burundi, South Africa and the Gambia to withdraw from the Rome Statute. “Other States have threatened to do so, if certain conditions are not met,” he wrote, noting that key among the concerns raised by these countries included the “lack of fairness in the prosecution decisions of the Court, perceived by some to disproportionately target African leaders.”
A candid dialogue will enhance mutual trust and cooperation
Noting the need for a candid conversation between all stakeholders, in particular member States and the Court to identify and address legitimate concerns, he said: “Doing this will enhance mutual trust and cooperation and strengthen the capability of the Court to fulfil its mandate.” He added that the States that want to withdraw from the Rome Statute have made little, if any, effort to present their grievances through the established forums, such as the Assembly of States Parties – the management oversight and legislative body of the Court, composed of representatives of the States that have ratified and acceded to the Rome Statute.
“To have done so would have presented an opportunity to have an open and frank dialogue, and discuss how to make the Court a better institution, one that is capable of responding effectively to the challenges it was established to address,” he emphasized, and “engaging and advocating for reforms should serve the interests of all stakeholders of the Court.”
Reaffirm the commitment to ensure accountability for appalling crimes
Drawing attention to the ongoing atrocities in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, South Sudan and in other parts of the world, he underlined that the time is not right to abandon the Court.
“Rather, States and non-State members should reaffirm their commitment to strengthen the Rome Statute and ensure accountability for these horrendous crimes,” Mr. Dieng said, appealing urging for them to work collectively to ensure the Court can effectively administer international criminal justice without fear or favour, contribute to the fight against impunity, and promote respect for the rule of law and human rights. “As someone who witnessed first-hand the horrors in Rwanda, the Former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and elsewhere, and who has been closely involved in the delivery of international justice at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, I know too well the consequences when the international community undermines the efforts of international justice,” he said.
“We owe it to the victims of these horrendous crimes to strengthen rather than undermine the International Criminal Court, and to reaffirm our commitment to the Rome Statute to ‘put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus contribute to their prevention’.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
The ABA House of Delegates, the policy-making arm of the American Bar Association, voted yesterday to urge the United States to ratify and implement the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty ("ATT").
As noted in Report 104 to the ABA House of Delegates, the ATT aims to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and prevent their diversion. G.A. Res. 64/48, art. 1, U.N. Doc. A/RES/64/48, (Dec. 2, 2009). The report urged that ratification "presents an opportunity for the United States to curb illicit international weapons transfers to war-torn countries, terrorist organizations, and murderous regimes" and that this was "a benefit not only to international peace and security but also to U.S. interests."
The Future of U.S.-Russia Relations under the Trump Administration: Heading for a Reset or an Overload?
The ABA Section of International Law will present a teleconference on Monday, February 27, 2017, from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. ET on the Future of U.S. relations with Russia.
As a candidate, President Trump repeatedly made comments suggesting that he would take a different approach to dealing with Russia than his predecessor. In addition to praising President Putin, Mr. Trump suggested that he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting sanctions against Russia, support Russia’s involvement in Syria, and reduce U.S. support for NATO. President Putin, in turn, expressed hope to work together with Mr. Trump toward “removing Russian-American relations from their crisis state."
Although these statements raise a possibility of a rapprochement, whether and how they will translate into actual policies remains unclear. At the same time, the reports that Russia meddled in the U.S. elections to help Mr. Trump raise serious national security concerns and further questions about the future of bilateral relations.
As the new administration is taking control, our panel of distinguished policy experts will discuss what the future might hold for the U.S.-Russia relations in the areas of national security, foreign policy, and economic matters. They will also discuss how the Trump administration might respond to the continuing pressures on a civil society in Russia in light of a possible reset in the relations.
- Michael Shapiro, Bazelon Less & Feldman, P.C., Co-Chair of Russia and Eurasia Committee
- Angela Stent, Professor at Georgetown University, Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian & East European Studies
- William Burke-White, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Director of Perry World House
- Carroll Colley, Principal at Highgate Consulting LLC, former Director of Research at Eurasia Group
Section of International Law Member Teleconference: $15
Non-Section of International Law Member Teleconference: $25
Contact the ABA Section of International Law for more information.
ICJ Decides it Has Jurisdiction in Case of Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya)
The International Court of Justice ruled to admit an application submitted by the Federal Republic of Somalia against the Republic of Kenya over the maritime delimitation between it and Kenya in the Indian Ocean.
In its final judgement and without appeal, the Court rejected objections raised by Kenya which referred to a memorandum of understanding and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and found that it has jurisdiction to entertain Somalia's application and that the application is admissible.
In August 2014, Somalia had approached the Court, requesting it to determine, on the basis of international law, the complete course of the single maritime boundary dividing all the maritime areas appertaining to Somalia and to Kenya in the Indian Ocean, including the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles (370.4 kilometres or 230.156 miles).
According to media reports, Somalia believes that the seabed area under contention could hold possible oil or natural gas reserves.
As basis for the Court's jurisdiction, Somalia invoked the declarations recognizing the Court's jurisdiction as compulsory made by the two States.
Kenya, however, raised two preliminary objections.
The first concerned the jurisdiction of the Court: Kenya argued that the Court lacked the jurisdiction as a result of one of the reservations to its declaration accepting the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court, which excludes disputes in regard to which the parties have agreed “to have recourse to some other method or methods of settlement”.
Kenya asserted that the memorandum of understanding constituted an agreement to have recourse to another method of settlement. It added that the relevant provisions of Convention on the Law of the Sea on dispute settlement also amounted to an agreement on the method of settlement.
In the second objection, concerning the admissibility of the application, Kenya argued that the two countries had agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to delimit their boundary by negotiation only after the completion of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) review of their submissions.
Kenya also contended that Somalia's withdrawal of its consent to the consideration by the CLCS of its submission was in breach of the MOU.
The Court concluded that the MOU did not constitute an agreement “to have recourse to some other method or methods of settlement” within the meaning of Kenya's reservation and consequently the case did not, by virtue of the memorandum of understanding, fall outside the scope of Kenya's consent to the Court's jurisdiction.
It further concluded that neither the memorandum of understanding nor the relevant part of the of UN Convention on the Law of the Sea fell within the scope of the reservation to Kenya's optional clause declaration and rejected Kenya's preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the Court, also having previously found that the memorandum of understanding did not contain an agreement as stated by Kenya, the Court rejected that aspect of Kenya's second preliminary objection.
Lastly, the Court also rejected the preliminary objection to the admissibility of Somalia's application given its objection to CLCS consideration of Kenya's submission, finding that it did not render the application inadmissible.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Lèse-Majesté: Royal Criminal Defamation Law in Thailand -- Student Imprisoned for Posting a Link to a BBC News Article on His Facebook Page
As a student activist awaits trial in detention for posting a news article about the new monarchy on social media, an independent United Nations expert today called on Thai authorities to stop using royal defamation laws to stifle free speech.
At issue is the concept of lèse-majesté – the defaming, insulting or threatening of the royal family – which in Thailand carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
“Lesè-majesté provisions have no place in a democratic country,” said David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of freedom of opinion and expression. “The lèse-majesté provision of the Thai Criminal Code is incompatible with international human rights law.”
The expert underlined that public figures, including those exercising the highest political authority, may be subject to criticism. “The fact that some forms of expression are considered to be insulting to a public figure is not sufficient to justify restrictions or penalties,” he stressed.
The comments were sparked by a case against Jatupat Boonpatararaksa, a student activist, who shared a BBC news article on the new King, Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, on his private Facebook page. Mr. Boonpatararaksa is being held in detention after an appeals court revoked his bail on 27 December, reportedly justified by the case's sensitive matter and on public order and national security grounds. He is expected back before a judge on 10 February.
In 2015, three people were sentenced to decades in prison for criticizing the monarchy on Facebook.
Mr. Kaye has repeatedly urged the Thai Government to allow free speech, including in July of last year when authorities clamped down on public and social media expressions ahead of a constitutional referendum later in the year.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
(UN Press Release)
Israeli Legislation Allowing Israeli Settlements on Privately-Owned Palestinian Land Said to Contravene International Law
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today deeply regretted the adoption by Israel’s legislative body, the Knesset, of the so called “Regularisation bill,” saying the measure contravenes international law and will have “far-reaching legal consequences” for the country.
A statement from the UN spokesperson noted that the bill, adopted yesterday, reportedly provides immunity to settlements and outposts in the occupied West Bank that were built on privately-owned Palestinian land. “The Secretary-General insists on the need to avoid any actions that would derail the two-state solution,” the statement said, adding that all core issues should be resolved between the parties through direct negotiations on the basis of relevant Security Council resolutions and mutual agreements. “The United Nations stands ready to support this process,” it concluded.
(UN Press Release)
The International Court of Justice has fixed December 18, 2017 as the due date for the Republic of Kenya to file its Counter-Memorial in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya). The order setting the briefing schedule was delivered after the International Court of Justice found that it had jurisdiction to adjudicate the dispute between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Republic of Kenya concerning maritime delimitation of the Indian Ocean and that Somalia's Application was admissible.
Monday, February 6, 2017
The American Bar Association urged President Donald Trump today to withdraw the executive order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days and indefinitely suspends the entry of Syrian refugees.
By voice vote, the ABA House of Delegates, the association’s policy-making body, adopted resolution 10C calling on the executive branch to ensure full, prompt, and uniform compliance with court orders addressing the executive order.
The House––made up of 589 members representing state and local bar associations, ABA entities and ABA-affiliated organizations––also urged the administration to take care that all executive orders regarding border security, immigration enforcement and terrorism:
- respect the bounds of the U.S. Constitution and due process rights;
- not use religion or nationality as a basis for barring an otherwise eligible individual from admission to the United States;
- adhere to the U.S.’s international law obligations relating to the status of refugees and to the principle of non-refoulement; and
- facilitate a transparent, accessible, fair and efficient system of administering the immigration laws and policies of the United States and ensure protection for refugees, asylum seekers, torture victims and others deserving of humanitarian refuge;
In Resolution 10B, the House also reaffirmed the ABA’s support of legal protection for refugees, asylum seekers, torture victims, and others deserving of humanitarian refuge. It urged Congress to adopt additional legislation to appropriate funds for refugee applications and processing, and mandate that refugees receive an appropriate individualized assessment in a timely fashion that excludes national origin and religion as the basis for making such determination.
The association’s policy-making body discussion took place at the James L. Knight Center of the Hyatt Regency Miami. The session concluded the 2017 ABA Midyear Meeting, which began Feb. 1.
Friday, February 3, 2017
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Here's a final reminder that the Board of Editors of Trade, Law and Development invites original, unpublished manuscripts for publication in the Summer 2017 Special Issue of the Journal on "Recent Regionalism." Manuscripts may be in the form of Articles, Notes, Comments, or Book Reviews.
TL&D aims to generate and sustain a democratic debate on emerging issues in international economic law, with a special focus on the developing world. Towards these ends, we have published works by noted scholars such as Professors Petros Mavroidis, Mitsuo Matsuhita, Raj Bhala, Joel Trachtman, Gabrielle Marceau, Simon Lester, Bryan Mercurio, E.U. Petersmann, and M. Sornarajah among others.
TL&D is ranked as the best journal in India across all fields of law and the 10th best trade journal worldwide by Washington and Lee University, School of Law for five consecutive years (2011-15) [The Washington & Lee Rankings are considered to be the most comprehensive in this regard].
The last date for submissions is February 15, 2017.
Hat tip to Rhea Jha, Editor-in-Chief
The American Bar Association holds its Midyear Meeting in Miami this week. The ABA Section of International Law will hold a Council Meeting and other events of interest. If you are in the Miami area, registration for the ABA Midyear Meeting is free (there is a charge for some ticketed events).
Monday, January 30, 2017
On the eve of the International Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Holocaust, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning refugees and nationals from seven Muslim countries where he does not own hotels or other businesses. Demonstrations erupted at airports across the United States to protest the order. Here is a link to the text of that order.
The exclusion order does nothing to increase the safety of the United States. It instead will become a recruiting tool for ISIL and endanger the safety of U.S. citizens abroad. Trump's proposal to impose "extreme vetting" was not itself vetted.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Enrique Peña Nieto, the President of Mexico, has canceled a meeting to have been held next week with U.S. President Donald Trump after Mr. Trump ordered construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico.
A story in The New York Times relates that according to some historians, the antagonism against Mexico is the worst since President Calvin Coolidge. Friendly relations have been replaced by insults and threats to a longstanding partner.
Monday, January 23, 2017
As predicted in our earlier post, the website for the U.S. Trade Representative has quickly removed the information on the benefits that the Trans Pacific Partnership would have had for the United States and replaced it with a statement about an "America First Trade Policy." This follows the Executive Order signed by President Trump withdrawing the signature of the United States from the TPP.
In case you weren't fast enough to download documents about the TPP that you may need, here is the document describing benefits that the TPP would have had for the United States. Download TPP-Overall-US-Benefits-Fact-Sheet
U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Order withdrawing the signature of the United States to the Trans Pacific Partnership ("TPP"). Here is the text of the Executive Order:
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Agreement
MEMORANDUM FOR THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
SUBJECT: Withdrawal of the United States from the
Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations
It is the policy of my Administration to represent the American people and their financial well-being in all negotations, particularly the American worker, and to create fair and economically beneficial trade deals that serve their interests. Additionally, in order to ensure these outcomes, it is the intention of my Administration to deal directly with individual countries on a one-on-one (or bilateral) basis in negotiating future trade deals. Trade with other nations is, and always will be, of paramount importance to my Administration and to me, as President of the United States.
Based on these principles, and by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby direct you to withdraw the United States as a signatory to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), to permanently withdraw the United States from TPP negotiations, and to begin pursuing, wherever possible, bilateral trade negotiations to promote American industry, protect American workers, and raise American wages.
You are directed to provide written notification to the Parties and to the Depository of the TPP, as appropriate, that the United States withdraws as a signatory of the TPP and withdraws from the TPP negotiating process.
You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
DONALD J. TRUMP
If you teach international trade or international business, you will miss the resources previously available on the website for the United States Trade Representative, such as the list of benefits that the TPP would have brought to the United States if it had become a party to that treaty (for example, by eliminated more than 18,000 taxes that other countries impose on exports from the United States). Check for another post here on the International Law Prof Blog for one of those now-missing documents.
[Post updated on January 30, 2017 with the text of the statement withdrawing the signature of the United States.]
Saturday, January 21, 2017
One day following the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. President, massive demonstrations and marches were held in Washington, D.C. and it cities all across the United States. Reports indicate that turnout for these events dwarfed the numbers who showed up for Trump's inauguration ceremony itself.
Marches for Women's Rights in solidarity with the marches in the United States were also held around the world. We have seen reports of marches taking place today in these countries and cities:
- Australia: Melbourne
- Belgium: Brussels
- Brazil: Sao Paolo
- Cambodia: Phnom Penh
- Canada: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver
- China: Beijing (Candlelight Vigil)
- Costa Rica: Nosara
- France: Paris
- Germany: Berlin and Duesseldorf
- Hungary: Budapest
- Iceland: Reykjavik
- India: New Delhi
- Indonesia: Ubud
- Ireland: Dublin
- Italy: Milan and Rome
- Kenya: Nairobi
- Mexico: Oaxaca
- Mozambique: Maputo
- New Zealand: Auckland and Wellington
- St. Kitts and Nevis: Nevis
- Serbia: Belgrade
- Spain: Barcelona and Madrid
- Switzerland: Geneva
- Tanzania: Dar Es Salaam
- United Kingdom: Edinburgh (Scotland), London (England), and York (England)
In addition to the marches across the United States, we know there have been many other marches around the world today. Please use the "comment" feature to advise us of other marches in your part of the world.
Urging all Gambian parties to respect the outcome of the 1 December election recognizing Adama Barrow as the country’s President-elect, the United Nations Security Council this week expressed its support for the commitment of West African States to “ensure, by political means first, respect of the will of the people.”
Amid a political standoff over Gambia’s presidency, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution expressing grave concern at the risk of deterioration of the situation. Mr. Barrow was sworn in as President of The Gambia in the Gambian embassy in neighboring Senegal.
The Council strongly condemned former President Jammeh’s 9 December statement rejecting the official election results and the takeover of the Independent Electoral Commission by the Gambian Armed Forces on 13 December 2016, as well as the attempt by the Parliament on 18 January 2017 to extend President Jammeh’s term for three months beyond his current mandate, which ends today.
Against this backdrop, the Council strongly condemned the attempts to usurp the will of the people and undermine the integrity of the electoral process in Gambia. It also condemned the attempt to prevent a peaceful and orderly transfer of power to President Barrow by declaring a state of emergency.
Endorsing the decisions of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) to recognize Mr. Barrow as the President of Gambia, the 15 nation Council called upon the countries in the region and the relevant regional organization to cooperate with him in his efforts to realize the transition of power.
The Council also requested the Gambian defence and security forces to demonstrate “maximum restraint” to maintain an atmosphere of calm in country, and stressed “their duty and obligation to place themselves at the disposal of the democratically elected authorities.”
The text further commends and strongly supports continued efforts of the AU and ECOWAS to promote peace and stability in the region. By the text, the Council requests for the Secretary-General to update the body on the resolution’s implementation within 10 days.
According to a statement issued by Mr. Guterres’ spokesperson, the Secretary-General expressed deep concern about the refusal of outgoing President Yahya Jammeh to step aside and about the high outflow of Gambians into Senegal.
“The Secretary-General told President Barrow of his full support for his determination, and ECOWAS’s historic decision, with the unanimous backing of the Security Council, to restore the rule of law in The Gambia so as to honour and respect the will of the Gambian people,” said the statement.
Mr. Guterres also conveyed the readiness of the UN system to support President Barrow and his government in their efforts to promote democracy and achieve sustainable development in Gambia.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
One Week Left for Early Bird Registration for the 2017 Global Legal Skills Conference in Mexico; Presentation Proposals Still Being Accepted Until January 28th
There's still a week left for the early bird registration for the 12th Global Legal Skills Conference being held at in Monterrey, Mexico at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (FLDM), a previous host of the third and fifth Global Legal Skills Conferences. The conference is being held March 15-17, 2017. There is an optional full-day city tour of Monterrey on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
Proposals for presentations at the conference are also being accepted for another week.
The first Global Legal Skills started as a conference to connect legal writing and ESL professionals who had an interest in teaching international students and lawyers who speak English as a second language. The GLS Conference series has since grown to include not only legal writing faculty, but also international and comparative law professors, clinical faculty, linguists, librarians, judges, attorneys, court translators, law students, and scholars interested in global legal skills education. Now in its 12th iteration, the conference draws hundreds of professionals from around the world.
The conference being hosted at the FLDM is being cosponsored by The John Marshall Law School-Chicago (Illinois, USA), the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico Department of Law (Mexico City, Mexico), and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law (Texas, USA). The conference is also supported by various professional organizations, including the American Bar Association Section of International Law, the American Society of International Law, the International Law Students Association, Lawbility (Switzerland), Scribes — The American Society of Legal Writers, and the Teaching International Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association.
Click here for more information about the conference (including descriptions of presentations already accepted), the early bird registration, conference hotel discounts, city tour information, and nominations for the GLS Awards.