Thursday, October 13, 2016

António Guterres Appointed Next UN Secretary-General by Acclamation

The General Assembly today appointed by acclamation the former Prime Minister of Portugal, António Guterres, as the next United Nations Secretary-General, to succeed Ban Ki-moon when he steps down on 31 December.

Mr. Guterres, aged 67, was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. He will become the world's top diplomat on 1 January 2017, and hold that post for the next five years.

UN Secretary General Guterres addresses General AssemblyAdopting a consensus resolution put forward by its President, Peter Thomson, the Assembly acted on the recommendation on the UN Security Council, which on 6 October forwarded Mr. Guterres' name to the 193-member body as its nominee for UN Secretary-General for a five-year period, ending 31 December 2021.

Ten years to the day after his own appointment as Secretary-General, Mr. Ban said: “Secretary-General-elect Guterres is well known to all of us in the hall. But he is perhaps best known where it counts most: on the frontlines of armed conflict and humanitarian suffering,” referring to his time as head of the UN refugee agency.

Noting that he has long valued his advice, and long admired his spirit of service, Mr. Ban declared: “He is a wonderful choice to steer this Organization as we build on the progress of the past decade, while addressing the insecurity and uncertainties of today's world.”

Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), also congratulated Mr. Guterres on his election, saying that the Secretary-General-designate “is a strong humanitarian advocate and a successful leader,” and that he looks forward to working with him.

The Assembly's resolution also welcomed the historic process Member States set in motion late last year: the selection of a new United Nations Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries, has for the first time in history, involved public discussions with each candidate campaigning for the world's top diplomatic post.

These so-called 'informal briefings' between the candidates, UN Member States and civil society representatives kicked off on 12 April, when the first three candidates presented their 'vision statements' and answered questions on how they would promote sustainable development, improve efforts to create peace, protect human rights, and deal with huge humanitarian catastrophes should they be selected to lead the Organization.

Mr. Ban also praised UN Member States for the selection process and emphasized that it “opened the [selection] process to the world.”

He further noted that the new steps taken this year established a new benchmark of openness and engagement.

The selection process included, for the first time in the history of the Organization, public hearings with the General Assembly where candidates presented their vision and responded to the questions fielded by the Member States. These informal hearings were also televised and webcast.

The process started off with a joint call from the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council formally soliciting candidates and from the outset, acknowledged the importance of geographic and gender balance in senior posts.

For his part, Assembly President Thomson highlighted that the selection process underscored the principles of transparency and inclusivity.

“It was a process that specifically sought out candidates who embody a firm commitment to the purposes and principles of the [UN] Charter; who exemplify the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity; and who have proven leadership and managerial abilities, extensive experience in international relations, and strong diplomatic, communication and multilingual skills,” said Mr. Thomson in his remarks.

“I am confident that Mr. Guterres will serve the global community with dedication, as a moral authority, and be the voice of our collective conscience and humanity, throughout his term,” he added.

Assuring the Secretary-General-designate of his full support throughout the present session of the General Assembly, the body’s President stressed that he would do everything within his power to facilitate a smooth transition.

In this context, Mr. Guterres will be participating in a meeting called by President Thomson, on 19 October, to discuss with the General Assembly the critical, priority and emerging issues for the global Organization.

(UN press release)

October 13, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, expected to be named as the next Secretary General of the United Nations

UN Secretary GeneralThe General Assembly tomorrow is expected to act on the recommendation of the Security Council regarding the appointment of the next Secretary-General of the United Nations; last week, the Council forwarded to the 193-member body its nomination, António Guterres, former Prime Minister of Portugal, to be the next UN chief.

Mr. Guterres, aged 67, was Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015.

If the Security Council’s recommendation is confirmed, Mr. Guterres will succeed current Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, of the Republic of Korea, who was appointed in 2006 and will leave the post at the end of this year.

On an official visit to Italy, last week when the Council forward its decision to the Assembly, Mr. Ban said in Rome that Mr. Guterres is “an excellent choice," noting that the two had worked closely during Mr. Guterres “long and outstanding tenure” as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Under procedures for appointing the world body’s new chief, after the recommendation is transmitted from the Council to the Assembly, a draft resolution is issued for the Assembly to take action. After appropriate consultations with Member States, the Assembly President fixes a date for the draft to be taken up.

The last five Secretaries-General were appointed by the Assembly through a resolution adopted by consensus. A vote will take place only if a Member State requests it and a simple majority of those voting would be required for the Assembly to adopt the resolution. But the Assembly could decide that the decision requires a two-thirds majority. If a vote is taken, it will be by secret ballot.

The UN Charter, signed in 1945 as the foundation of the Organization, says relatively little about how a Secretary-General is to be selected, aside from Article 97, which notes that the candidate “shall be appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.”

At its first session in 1946, the General Assembly was much more active in the selection process. It created resolution A/RES/1/11 determining that the Council take the lead in the selection process, agree on a single name in a private meeting, and pass that name down to the General Assembly for a vote.

In addition to Mr. Guterres, 12 other candidates were in the running to succeed the current UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who leaves office at the end of the year.

Action in the Assembly will culminate an historic process: the selection of a new United Nations Secretary-General, traditionally decided behind closed-doors by a few powerful countries, has for the first time in history, involved public discussions with each candidate campaigning for the world’s top diplomatic post.

These so-called ‘informal briefings’ between the candidates, UN Member States and civil society representatives kicked off on 12 April, when the first three candidates presented their ‘vision statements’ and answered questions on how they would promote sustainable development, improve efforts to create peace, protect human rights, and deal with huge humanitarian catastrophes should they be selected to lead the Organization.

In addition, this past July, the UN held its first-ever globally televised and webcast townhall-style debate in the General Assembly Hall, where the confirmed candidates at the time took questions from diplomats and the public at large.

(UN press release)

October 12, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Legal Writing Visitor Opening at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Position Opening for Visitor in Legal Analysis and Writing for 2017-18 Academic Year

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law invites applications for a Visiting Professor of Legal Analysis and Writing for the 2017-2018 Academic year. This is position is for a one-year term. The School of Law may conduct a search for a full-time permanent Legal Analysis and Writing faculty position to begin in the 2018-2019 academic year. The Visiting Professor will be welcome to apply for that position, but must compete with other candidates in a national search.

The Visiting Professor will teach two small sections of Legal Analysis and Writing in both the fall and spring. Each small section is 2 credits (for a total of 4 credits each semester). The Visiting Professor should be willing to collaborate closely with our other Legal Writing faculty and be eager to engage with students in and out of the classroom.

The successful applicant for the Visiting Professor position must have a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school, excellent writing skills, an outstanding academic record, and experience teaching Legal Analysis and Writing. Law practice experience or a judicial clerkship is also preferred.

The University of Pittsburgh is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, veteran status, disability, national origin, creed, marital status, age, gender identity or sexual orientation in its hiring. In furtherance of our strong institutional commitment to a diverse faculty, we particularly welcome applications from minorities, women, and others who would add diversity to our faculty. Recruitment is subject to approval by the University’s Provost.

To apply, please send a letter of interest, resume, writing sample, and a list of three references to: Anthony C. Infanti, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 3900 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Email: Email submissions are preferred. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2016.

October 9, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos

Following the awarding of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Peace to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that the award is a timely message to all who have strived hard for peace, and that it provides needed hope and encouragement to all Colombians.

“It tells them to keep working until they have brought the peace process to a successful conclusion,” said Mr. Ban in a statement issued by his office. “I commend the statements of all concerned that they are committed to peace, and I welcome the continuing commitment of the Parties to the cease-fire, if leaders conduct their dialogue with pragmatism, focused on the Colombian people's desire of for peace,” he added.

In today's statement, the UN chief also said that the results of the 2 October plebiscite should not divide the Colombian people who are working to build a peaceful country and that he hailed the dialogue that has started on the way forward. He further commended the statements of all concerned actors in the country that they are committed to peace, and hailed the continuing commitment of the Parties to the cease-fire, if leaders conduct their dialogue with pragmatism, focused on the Colombian people's desire of for peace. “This award says to them: you have come too far to turn back now. The peace process should inspire our world,” the Secretary-General said.

(UN Press Release)

October 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Treaties Help Fight Human Trafficking

With current armed conflicts and humanitarian crises driving massive population movements – and not just in Europe, though the continent has been heavily challenged – an upcoming United Nations report will confirm the troubling fact that human trafficking generally follows the overall migratory flows, a senior UN anti-crime official said, urging States to back the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and other international tools to address the evolving and complex situation.

John Brandolino, Director of the Division for Treaty Affairs at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), spotlighted the importance of international treaties and agreements in tackling human trafficking in his address to a Headquarters event co-hosted with the European Union (EU) following up last week’s first-ever UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants.

“The forthcoming biennial 2016 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, which will be released in November, confirms that human trafficking flows generally follow the overall migratory flows, he said, adding that the majority of trafficking victims detected globally by Member States (around 60 per cent) are foreigners in the country of detection, most of them migrants.

Likewise, information collected for the Global Report has shown an increasing detection of victims from conflict-affected countries such as Syria, Iraq and Somalia in countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

The continuing vulnerability of women and children as victims of trafficking in persons will also be revealed in the Global Report, comprising 79 per cent of the total victims detected. The EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator’s Progress Report from June of this year came to the same conclusion, highlighting the particular vulnerability of migrant children, he added.

Further, EU data confirms that child trafficking is exacerbated by the ongoing migration crisis, during which the number of children arriving in the EU has risen exponentially. A significant amount of these children are travelling unaccompanied, making them preferred targets for traffickers.

With these challenges in mind, Mr. Brandolino said that for him, two core messages stand out in the Summit’s outcome, the New York Declaration: first, a desire to protect and save lives in peril, born from a profound solidarity for the millions of persons around the world who are forced to flee their homes; and second, moving beyond moral compassion, to a call for action. In the Declaration, States reiterate in the strongest language their commitment to fight human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

He went on to reconfirm the centrality of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, known as the TIP Protocol, saying: “This treaty provides us with the first and only internationally agreed upon definition for trafficking in persons, and steers our common efforts with a clear framework for action – a framework which UNODC has been successfully delivering upon for the last 15 years, often with the generous support of partners like the EU and the United States.”

The New York Declaration actually reaffirms the importance of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the two Protocols – the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol. Specifically the TIP is one of the most successful treaties in modern international law, enjoying one of the speediest ratification trajectories ever, and soon approaching universality, he said, noting that as of today, there are 170 ratifications, or nearly 90 per cent of all Member States, including most recently, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and the Maldives.

Mr. Brandolino noted that UNODC is also facilitating direct support to victims of trafficking in persons through the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and that around 2,000 victims a year are being provided critical assistance, such as safe shelter, legal support and advice on victims’ rights, appropriate treatment for physical and mental abuse, vocational training, establishing small businesses, schooling for children, and basic health services, among others.

“The Trust Fund has so far allocated nearly $3 million and stands ready to continue this work should more donations be made,” he added.

Wrapping up his presentation, he said “commitment yields results,” and “the Trafficking in Persons Protocol is the cornerstone of our response and should continue to be so. More than 15 years on, this hard-won instrument appeals to nearly all States while containing progressive, forward-looking provisions which promote the protection of victims.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

October 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yahoo Helped U.S. National Security Agency by Searching Emails of Hundreds of Millions of its Customers

The top United Nations expert of free expression said today that reports that Yahoo complied with United States intelligence demands by searching the e-mails of hundreds of millions of customers “raise serious human rights concerns.”

According to reports, Yahoo customized software to scan all incoming e-mail traffic for information responsive to criteria provided by the US National Security Agency or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“Government monitoring of digital communications, when conducted as described in recent reports, could undermine the privacy that individuals depend on in order to seek, receive and impart information online,” the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, said, adding: “Based on the allegations reported, I have serious concerns that the alleged surveillance fails to meet the standards of necessity and proportionality for the protection of legitimate government interests.”

In a 2013 report to the UN Human Rights Council on communications surveillance, the previous special rapporteur, Frank La Rue, concluded that government “access to communications data held by domestic corporate actors should only be sought in circumstances where other available less invasive techniques have been exhausted.”

Mr. Kaye said that Yahoo’s apparent accession to government surveillance requests, without evident legal challenge, also raises concern about the involvement of technology companies in questionable government programs that impact freedom of expression, recalling his June 2016 report on the private sector and freedom of expression in the digital age.

“States place undeniable pressures on the private information and communication technology sector that often lead to serious restrictions on the freedom of expression,” the 2016 report stated. Mr. Kaye reiterated that companies in all areas of the industry “are capable of establishing and exercising varying degrees of leverage in their relationships with States to resist or mitigate the harm caused by abusive application of the law.”

His report also highlighted that private entities should be evaluated on the steps they take both to promote and undermine freedom of expression, even in hostile environments unfriendly to human rights.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

October 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

UNSC Reaches Consensus on Antonio Guterres as Next UN Secretary General

Guterres UNSGThe United Nations Security Council (UNSC) met yesterday and quickly reached consensus on their next choice for Secretary General: Antonio Guterres.  Mr. Guterres is the former prime minister of Portugal and a former UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  The formal vote of the UNSC will occur today and will need to be confirmed by a vote of the UN General Assembly next week.


October 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dispute Resolution Works-in-Progress Conference and Student Writing Competition

The Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution at the University of Missouri School of Law and the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Dispute Resolution and Midwest Interest Groups, in association with Young ICSID and TDM, are pleased to announce two upcoming events:  (1) a works-in-progress conference and (2) student writing competition.  Both events focus on international dispute resolution, broadly defined.  More information on both events shows below and on the event website (home page).  

Works in Progress Conference

The works-in-progress conference will take place on February 2 and 3, 2017, at the University of Missouri School of Law. The purpose of the conference is to help authors develop draft articles for publication, so authors will be required to submit a working draft before the conference takes place. Papers will be circulated in advance of the session, and all participants will be expected to provide detailed feedback on a limited number of other papers.

The works-in-progress conference will also feature various networking opportunities as well as several substantive presentations on issues relating to international dispute resolution. Presentations will be live or by video and include:

  • Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch, Judge and First Vice-President of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, who will be speaking on matters of public international law;
  • Ryan Reetz and Pedro Martinez-Fraga of Bryan Cave, who will be speaking on their recent book, Public Purpose in International Law:  Rethinking Regulatory Sovereignty in the Global Era (Cambridge University Press 2015); and
  • Paul-Jean Le Cannu, Legal Counsel at ICSID, who will speak on the future of investor-state dispute settlement systems.

Papers presented at the works-in-progress conference will be eligible for expedited review by the University of Missouri’s highly regarded Journal of Dispute Resolution as well as for consideration by the ICSID Review-Foreign Investment Law Journal. While submissions will have to go through the normal publication process and an offer of publication is not guaranteed, the editors of both journals are very interested in reviewing submissions from works-in-progress participants.

This is expected to be a very international event, and submissions are sought from academics and practitioners around the world. Junior professionals, including aspiring and untenured academics, are encouraged to submit proposals. To be considered, potential participants must submit a one-page abstract of their work on or before October 15, 2016.  

Student Writing Competition

The University of Missouri is also sponsoring a student writing competition in conjunction with this event. The competition is open to current students at any institution in the world granting a degree in law. The competition carries a prize of $450 for first place and $125 for second place, and the winning paper is eligible to be considered for publication in the University of Missouri’s Journal of Dispute Resolution. The prize amounts may increase (funding is still being finalized), so be sure to check back for additional details. Students of all levels (J.D., LL.B., LL.M., S.J.D., and Ph.D.) are eligible to submit papers. Advanced degree students (LL.M., S.J.D. or Ph.D.) may submit the same paper for both the works-in-progress conference and the student writing competition. The deadline for the student writing competition is January 15, 2017.  

(CGB) (hap to to S.I. Strong, FCIArb)

October 6, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Happy International Day of Older Persons

The United Nations is marking the International Day of Older Persons by encouraging countries to draw attention to and challenge negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older persons and ageing, and to enable older persons to realize their potential to build a life of dignity and human rights.

“While older persons are often said to enjoy particular respect, the reality is that too many societies limit them […] The marginalization and devaluing of older persons takes a heavy toll,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message on the International Day, marked annually on 1 October.

“Ending ageism and securing the human rights of older persons is an ethical and practical imperative,” said the UN chief, urging for measures to address this violation of human rights as well as calling for greater legal guarantees of equality for older persons to prevent ageism from resulting in discriminatory policies, laws and treatment.

People aged 60 and older accounted for 12.3 per cent of global population in 2015, and by 2050, that number will rise to almost 22 per cent, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

The agency notes that Most of the projected growth of the older population is expected to take place in developing countries. Asia is home to more than half of the world's 901 million older persons, with 508 million people aged 60 or over. Another 177 million older persons reside in Europe, 75 million in North America, 71 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, 64 million in Africa and six million in Oceania.

Therefore, “more efforts are needed to minimize lifelong inequalities and improve the life conditions of older people,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director, in a statement on the transformative force of population ageing.

Strongly agreeing with this year's theme – 'Take a Stand against Ageism'– Mr. Osotimehin said UNFPA believes that reducing lifelong inequalities and embracing the contributions of older people offer tremendous prospects for development.

“UNFPA continues to help countries respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing by promoting policy dialogue and supporting training, research and data collection disaggregated by age and sex,” he said.

Also to mark the Day, new analysis released by the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals a trend of widespread negative or ageist attitudes towards older people, which also negatively affect older people's physical and mental health.

“Most people are completely unaware of the subconscious stereotypes they hold about older people," said John Beard, WHO Director of Ageing and Life Course, in a news release stressing that “it is time to stop defining people by their age. It will result in more prosperous, equitable and healthier societies.”

Other newly published research indicated that negative attitudes about ageing and older people also have significant consequences for the physical and mental health of older adults.

“Society will benefit from this ageing population if we all age more healthily,” said Alana Officer, WHO Coordinator of Ageing and Life Course. “But to do that, we must stamp out ageist prejudices,” she underscored.

October 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Hiring at Georgetown

Georgetown Law, and the Law Center's Language Center, are hiring another fellow. More information about that position and other legal writing jobs is available by clicking here.
Hat tip to Almas Khan.

September 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Destruction of Cultural Heritage is a War Crime

The International Criminal Court (ICC) this week found a Malian Islamist accused of destroying historical and religious monuments in the fabled city of Timbuktu guilty in a prosecution of the destruction of cultural heritage as a war crime. [An earlier version of this post said this was a first-ever prosecution of the destruction of cultural heritage as a war crime, but a thoughtful blog reader correctly reminded us that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and some of the post WWII trials had also prosecuted such acts as war crimes. See the comments for more information]

The judges sentenced Ahmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi, a member of a jihadist group linked to Al Qaeda, to nine years in prison for committing a war crime by deliberately destructing in 2012 nine mausoleums and the secret gate of the Sidi Yahia mosque in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site of Timbuktu in Mali, the ICC said in a press release.

“The decision of the International Criminal Court is a landmark in gaining recognition for the importance of heritage for humanity as a whole and for the communities that have preserved it over the centuries. It also supports UNESCO’s conviction that heritage has a major role to play in reconstruction and peace building,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO.

This past month, Mr. Al-Mahdi pleaded guilty to the charges, which consisted in attacking 10 historic and religious monuments in Timbuktu between around 30 June 2012 and 11 July 2012. All sites but one are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The case comes amid growing concern about attacks by Islamists on cultural and religious monuments in the Middle East and North Africa, including, among others, in the ancient cities of Bosra and Palmyra in Syria, and in Nimrud and Nineveh in Iraq.

UNESCO highlighted today that the “historic” decision, a first under the ICC’s founding Rome Statute, is a “crucial step to end impunity for the destruction of cultural heritage.”

It confirms earlier decisions taken by international jurisdictions and it amplifies them in a judgment entirely devoted to the destruction of cultural heritage. This is a major step for the strengthening of international justice and towards peace and reconciliation in Mali,” UNESCO added.

The agency also pointed out that the case “reminds us all of how heritage protection has become a major security issue, which cannot be delinked from the protection of human lives.”

“Deliberate attacks on culture have become weapons of war in a global strategy of cultural cleansing seeking to destroy people as well as the monuments bearing their identities, institutions of knowledge and free thought,” UNESCO said.

According to Ms. Bokova, immediately after the destruction in 2012, UNESCO alerted the international community and seized the ICC to ensure that such crimes do not go unpunished.

“In the context of repeated violence against people and their heritage, this sentence of the International Criminal Court is a key element in the broader response to violent extremism,” the Director-General said.

UNESCO added that it takes the judgment as an encouragement to continue the work engaged over the past few years to protect and rehabilitate heritage in Mali, in close cooperation with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and to preserve cultural diversity and human rights as a “lasting foundation for peace, not only in Mali but also across the world.”

The Malian Government has been seeking to restore stability and rebuild following a series of setbacks since early 2012, including a military coup d'état, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical extremists. The country has also been wracked by a series of humanitarian crises. MINUSMA was established in 2013 to support the political process and carry out a number of security-related stabilization tasks.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

September 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Palau Underscores Dangers of Climate Change, Global Conflict, Violent Extremism, and Nuclear Weapons

Caleb Otto Palau UNAddressing the General Assembly, Palau’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations underlined this week the urgency of addressing challenges such as threats from climate change, global conflict, issues of migrants and refugees, violent extremism, antimicrobial resistance and nuclear weapons.

Making particular reference to the impacts of climate change, Caleb Otto said the country participated actively at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process and was the second country in the world to have ratified the Paris Agreement.

“We are encouraged by the 127 other nations who have signed the Agreement and are confident that by the end of the year, the Agreement will being to work for all of us,” Mr. Otto said in his address.

Noting that 14 years, the time from now until 2030, is a short period within which to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he stressed an urgent need implement the global development agenda to transform the world.

He also informed the General Assembly of steps taken at the national level to implement the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, as well as underlined the importance of genuine and durable partnerships for their global success.

Mr. Otto further expressed particular appreciation for the leadership of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his support of and focus towards the Pacific small island developing States and his stewardship of the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Agenda and other achievements of the UN.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release. Photo: Caleb Otto, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-first session. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard)


September 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Senior UN officials seek accountability for human trafficking crimes in forced migration

Senior United Nations officials have called for those responsible for human rights violations and crimes associated with human trafficking and forced migration to be held accountable, noting that some of the crimes committed in this respect may amount to atrocity crimes.

“During their journey to Europe and other locations, many migrants and refugees have witnessed or been victims of crimes and human rights violations, including murder and enforced disappearance, slavery and extortion, sexual violence, torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment,” said Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide.

Mr. Dieng was speaking at an event held on the fringes of the General Assembly, today, to consider how States, intergovernmental organizations and faith-based organizations can together be agents of change in addressing the growing problem of trafficking and forced migration. Also at the event was Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict, who spoke about the scourge of conflict-related sexual violence in the context of displacement –particularly forced displacement – and trafficking.

“This is a fact. Sexual violence has become both a push for displacement and a consequence of displacement,” she began. “Women and children remain extremely vulnerable to sexual violence – including rape, survival sex, and trafficking – not only when they flee, but in places where they are seeking refuge.”

Speaking about forced displacement and related crimes, Mr. Dieng noted that people fleeing their countries are in many cases escaping armed conflict, serious human rights violations or persecution that in some cases may constitute atrocity crimes, “if they violate international humanitarian law or are carried out in a widespread or systematic manner,” adding, “I will personally support efforts to pursue accountability for serious crimes linked to human trafficking and forced migration.”

“I also believe,” he continued “that there is considerable overlap between the risk factors for atrocity crimes and the drivers of forced migration, including situations of armed conflict; widespread human rights violations and targeted discrimination based on identity; poverty, structural inequality and lack of socio-economic opportunities; and humanitarian crises.

The Special Adviser stressed that while many actors help migrants and refugees during their passage to Europe and other countries, faith-based organisations deserved special mention, as “faith is what moves many to offer support and aid along the migration route – from origin to host countries.”

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

September 28, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Trump Failed to Disclose Foreign-Owned Business on Financial Disclosure

Donald Trump failed to list one of his European companies on the Public Financial Disclosure Report submitted at the start of his campaign to the United States Office of Government Ethics, according to the Democratic Coalition Against Trump (DCAT).  The company that Trump failed to list is DT Connect Europe Limited, which is registered in Turnberry, Scotland and co-owned by Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. The paperwork for the company can be found through the United Kingdom’s official government business register by clicking here.

According to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, “the Attorney General may bring a civil action against any individual who knowingly and willfully falsifies or who knowingly and willfully fails to file or report any information that such individual is required to report,” on the Public Financial Disclosure Report. Additionally, the individual may be fined or may be imprisoned for up to one year.

“At this point, Trump has to release his tax returns to give the American public a full overview of his business dealings, both foreign and domestic,” said Scott Dworkin, Senior Advisor of the Democratic Coalition Against Trump. “But Trump obviously doesn’t have an issue lying on government documents, so who knows if we'll be able to to trust what’s in the returns when he does release them. It only makes sense that the Attorney General’s office open up an investigation into the matter.”

(Adapted from a DCAT Press Release)


September 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hiring Faculty at Texas A&M University School of Law

Since Texas A&M University School of Law acquired the law school from Texas Wesleyan University in August of 2013, the law school has embarked on a program of investment that increased its entering class credentials and financial aid budgets, while shrinking the class size; hired nineteen new faculty members, including thirteen prominent lateral hires; improved its physical facility; and substantially increased its career services, admissions, and student services staff.

The school is again hiring additional faculty. Texas A&M University School of Law now seeks to expand its academic program and its strong commitment to scholarship by hiring multiple exceptional faculty candidates for contract, tenure-track, or tenured positions, with rank dependent on qualifications and experience.  Candidates must have a J.D. degree or its equivalent.  Preference will be given to those with demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement and strong classroom teaching skills.  Successful candidates will be expected to teach and engage in research and service.  Although the law school welcomes applications in all subject areas, it particularly invites applications from:

1)      Candidates who are interested in expanding and building on our innovative Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic (with concentrations in both trademarks and patents), or in one of our other acclaimed clinical areas, including Family Law and Benefits Clinic, Employment Mediation Clinic, Wills & Estates Clinic, Innocence Clinic, and Immigration Law Clinic; and

2)      Candidates with an oil and gas law and/or energy law background, either domestic U.S. or international, who are interested in interdisciplinary research, teaching, and programmatic activities.

3)      Candidates with strong classroom skills and scholarly achievement interested in teaching in its Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing Program.

Although the law school is primarily interested in entry-level candidates for the above positions, more experienced candidates may be considered to the extent that their qualifications respond to the law school’s needs and interests.

In addition, the law school welcomes lateral and highly experienced professionals for the following positions:

1)      Candidates with experience in IP licensing and technology transfers, with relevant academic and/or professional science background, and who are interested in working and building synergies with the Texas A&M University’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

2)      Candidates in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution with a national or international reputation and stellar credentials in scholarship, teaching, and service, and with an interest in building our nationally ranked dispute resolution program;

3)      Candidates in any field with a national or international reputation and stellar credentials in scholarship, teaching, and service;

Texas A&M University is a tier one research institution and American Association of Universities member.  The university consists of 16 colleges and schools that collectively rank among the top 20 higher education institutions nationwide in terms of research and development expenditures.

Texas A&M School of Law is located in the heart of downtown Fort Worth, one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the country.  The Fort Worth/Dallas area, with a total population in excess of six million people, offers a low cost of living, a strong economy, and access to world-class museums, restaurants, entertainment, and outdoor activities.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Texas A&M welcomes applications from a broad spectrum of qualified individuals who will enhance the rich diversity of the university’s academic community. Applicants should email a résumé and cover letter indicating research and teaching interests to Professor Gabriel Eckstein, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at  Alternatively, résumés can be mailed to Professor Eckstein at Texas A&M University School of Law, 1515 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102-6509.

September 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Security Council Adopts Resolution 2309 on Threats to International Peace and Security Caused by Terrorist Acts

The global aviation system is of vital importance to economic development and prosperity, and all States must strengthen, both individually and collectively, aviation security measures, in order to secure a stable and peaceful global environment, the United Nations Security Council declared today.

Adopting resolution 2309 (2016) at a meeting, this morning, on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, the Council called on States to work within the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ensure that its international security standards are reviewed and adapted to effectively address the threat posed by terrorist targeting of civil aviation.

UN Security Council Resolution 2309Expressing particular concern that terrorist groups are actively seeking ways to defeat or circumvent aviation security, the 15-member body also called on all States to strengthen and promote the effective application of ICAO standards and recommended practices, and to assist ICAO in continuing to enhance audit, capacity development and training programmes in order to support their implementation.

In the resolution, the Council noted with concern that the “terrorism threat has become more diffuse,” with an increase, in various regions of the world, of terrorist acts including those motivated by intolerance or violent extremism. The Council expressed its determination to combat that threat, and also expressed grave concern over terrorist attacks against civil aviation and over the fact that civil aviation may be used as a transportation means by foreign terrorist fighters.

Further to the text of the resolution, the Council called on all States to, among other action, ensure that effective, risk-based measures are in place at the airports within their jurisdiction; take all necessary steps to ensure that such measures are effectively implemented on the ground on a continuing and sustainable basis; ensure that such measures take into account the potential role of those with privileged access to areas, knowledge or information that may assist terrorists in planning or conducting attacks; and urgently address any gaps or vulnerabilities that may be highlighted by ICAO or national self-risk assessment or audit processes.

In addition, all States should strengthen security screening procedures and maximize the promotion, utilization and sharing of new technologies and innovative techniques that maximize the capability to detect explosives and other threats.

Specifically, under the terms of the resolution, States that are able to do so are urged to assist in the delivery of effective and targeted capacity development, training and other necessary resources, technical assistance, technology transfers and programmes.

Furthermore, the Council called on all States to strengthen their international and regional cooperation to boost information-sharing, border control, law enforcement and criminal justice to better counter the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters and returnees.

By the terms of the resolution, the Security Council also encouraged continued cooperation between ICAO and the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate on identifying gaps and vulnerabilities relevant to aviation security.

In addition, the Council requested that its Counter-Terrorism Committee hold a special meeting within 12 months, in cooperation with ICAO, on the issue of terrorist threats to civil aviation.

In July 2014, following the crash of a Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine that killed 298 people on board, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2166 calling for an international investigation into the incident, and demanded at the time that armed groups allow unfettered access to the crash site and ensure that its integrity was maintained. Later that month, ICAO convened a special Task Force on Risks to Civil Aviation arising from Conflict Zones.

In September 2014, the Security Council adopted resolution 2178 in response to an unprecedented flow of foreign terrorist fighters and the growth of facilitation networks fuelling conflicts around the world. Under the terms of that resolution, the Council called on Member States to require that airlines operating in their territories provide advance passenger information to the appropriate national authorities in order to detect the departure, from their territories, of individuals designated by the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.

(UN Press Release; UN Security Council Photo/Rick Bajorna)

September 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professor Anastasia Telesetsky Promoted at University of Idaho College of Law

Telesetsky The University of Idaho College of Law announced the promotion of Professor Anastasia Telesetsky to Professor of Law. She holds a J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and an LL.M. from the University of British Columbia. She is the current co-chair of the International Environmental Law Committee of the American Bar Association Section of International Law and an active member of the American Society of International Law. She has also served as part of a legal team representing the IUCN before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.

Congratulations, Professor Telesetsky!


September 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ethiopia Warns of Negative Impacts of Social Media

Ethiopia Prime MinisterAs much as social media offers a digital platform to improve exchange of information and enhance popular participation, its attendant negative impacts simply cannot be ignored, Hailemariam Dessalegn, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, told the United Nations General Assembly yesterday.

“In fact, we are seeing how misinformation could easily go viral via social media and mislead many people, especially the youth,” he said in his address to the annual general debate, adding: “Social media has certainly empowered populists and other extremists to exploit people's genuine concerns and spread their message of hate and bigotry without any inhibition."

On other global challenges, he said international peace and stability is facing greater risks with the rise of geo-political tensions and the growing threats posed by “all shades” of terrorist groups. Moreover, the global economy has not yet rebounded from the financial crisis.

Further, “it is critical to underline one critical matter which is usually given short shrift, both by the media and others. It is simply hypocritical to deny that some of our countries have been targets for destabilization activities carried out with no accountability by people and groups who have been given shelters by states with whom we have absolutely no problems,” he stressed.

It is under these challenging circumstances that countries are striving to implement the new UN transformational agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals, and, obviously, he said, there are no easy solutions to these complex issues. “The situation is much more pronounced specially for least developed countries like us which are making every possible effort to […] escape from the poverty trap.”

“We believe our vision is right and we are determined to get there. Whatever challenges and shortcomings we may have, we don't have difficulty owning up to them and we will make every- possible effort to deal with them in close consultation, cooperation and participation of our people,” Prime Minister Dessalegn said, noting that there is no better testimony for the resolve Ethiopia had shown in this regard than the way it had handled this past year’s devastating El-Nino.

At the same time, he said Ethiopia could not simply “wish away” the challenges it is facing. Indeed, they need collective and coordinated responses “and we are always ready willing to continue to contribute positively in close partnership with others in our region and beyond in tackling these challenges.”

(Adapted from a UN press release)


September 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Small Island States Unite to Warn of Dangers of Global Warming

Small island Pacific States threatened with disappearing under the flood of rising oceans took the podium at the General Assembly yesterday to warn that the United Nations remains their last best hope as climate change outpaces efforts to counter it.

“Twenty-five years ago, the small island developing States cried out for action against human-induced climate change, stressing that we literally face extinction as nations and as oceanic cultures due to surging sea level rise and related consequences,” President Peter Christian of the Federated States of Micronesia told the Assembly’s annual general debate.

“I must concede, Mr. President, that our voices have not been entirely unheard. We stand today, at last, many nations united to confront this dark, glaring reality,” he said, in a reference to last December’s global accord in Paris to reduce global warming emissions, appealing for greater mitigation efforts and financing.

“However, even in the relatively short span of 25 years the relentless advance of climate change has outdistanced the pace of our effort to deal with it, so that today, while all countries must count themselves as vulnerable, the small island developing States are dealing with an already clear and present danger, the result of adverse climate change impacts.”

Mr. Christian turned to other issues, both regional and global, including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's “ongoing provocative actions and rhetoric, which he condemned, and the need for Russia and the United States to enforce a viable ceasefire in Syria.

But he again returned to the existential threat climate change posed for the small island states. “This United Nations remains our last best hope to galvanize the political will and the necessary commitment for our global agenda on climate change,” he stressed.

“Here, from this podium and elsewhere, leaders from small island developing States, like many others, have called upon those Member States of our Organization, and especially those in position of world leadership to step up and take charge in raising the urgency of greater mitigation and finance ambition to implement agreements addressing climate change.”

Nauru President Baron Divavesi Waqa said full implementation of international commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Agenda 2030 takes on much greater urgency in the face of climate change.

“That is why Nauru was among the first countries in the world to ratify the Paris Agreement. It is encouraging to hear we are on track for entry into force this year. However, it is far too early to celebrate. The Paris Agreement is not the end of our climate work. It is only the beginning,” he said.

”And while Nauru will be among the first to experience the worst impacts, climate change will be your humanitarian challenge as well. The Paris Agreement notwithstanding, these dangerous climate impacts will continue to grow worse over the coming decades. We have little understanding of how our human systems will hold up under climate stress,” he stated.

He cited threats to global supply chains, finance and insurance markets, food and water distribution that form the foundation of modern civilization, with question marks having over such issues as the ability to feed a planet of nine billion people when crop yields are projected to fall or share declining freshwater resources as glaciers disappear.

“Will we be able to protect the millions who are rendered homeless when low-lying coastal areas are inundated?” He asked. “And can these and many other challenges be managed effectively so that we avoid a proliferation of failed states? We are simply not prepared,” he emphasized.

(Adapted from a UN press release)


September 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Secretary General Calls for Continued Efforts to Secure Equality for the LGBT Commuity

Ki Moon LGBT EqualityUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday urged the international community to continue working for equal rights and fair treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, reiterating the UN’s commitment to securing their human rights.

“I will always fight for the equality of the LGBT members of our human family,” the UN chief said at a high-level side event of the UN’s LGBT Core Group, entitled “#Path2Equality: Global leaders discuss progress towards LGBT equality,” held at UN Headquarters in New York this afternoon. “This work will not leave me when I leave office – and it must not leave the office of the Secretary-General after I depart,” he said.

Acknowledging that when he first became Secretary-General, he did not know much about the challenges faced by LGBT people, Mr. Ban said that he learned by listening. “Everyone who lacks understanding should listen closely,” he stressed. “The facts are disturbing. Every year, hundreds are killed, thousands are badly hurt, and millions live their lives under a shadow of discrimination and disapproval. That is an outrage.”

Moreover, many governments refuse to acknowledge human rights abuses against LGBT people – or accept responsibility for ending them, Mr. Ban said. Noting that several countries are “bucking the tide of history with draconian new punishments for being gay – or even just talking about being gay,” the Secretary-General said that he is particularly worried for children and youth who are bullied at school, thrown out of their homes or living on the streets.

Those abuses will only end when countries take concrete steps to protect people, including instituting new laws, policies and programmes, he said, adding that such action requires leadership and a commitment to work with affected communities.

“I ask those who use religious or cultural arguments to deprive LGBT people of their human rights: what do you gain by making others less equal? Is your religion or culture so weak that the only way you can sustain it is by denying others their basic rights? There is no room in our 21st century for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Mr. Ban said.

Progress, however, is being seen at the UN Nations Human Rights Council, where more than 100 countries have accepted recommendations aimed at protecting LGBT people from discrimination, he said. In addition, next month, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will release a study on more than 200 initiatives in 65 countries.

Decriminalize gay relationships as starting point

In some cases, the starting point has been to decriminalize gay relationships, the UN chief explained. Over the past year, three more countries have abandoned criminal sanctions following UN recommendations: Mozambique, the Seychelles and Nauru, Mr. Ban said, commending their leadership.

In addition, he highlighted that many countries have new laws to stop discrimination, punish hate crimes and restrict hate speech, while almost 40 countries now legally recognize same-sex couples and some are looking at making it easier for transgender people to have their gender legally recognized. “These major advances happened thanks to brave individuals who stood up for what is right,” the Secretary-General stressed.

For its part, the UN is “committed to action,” Mr. Ban said, citing as an example the Human Rights Council’s recent decision to appoint the first-ever UN independent expert to monitor and report on violations against LGBT people. “The UN system is moving forward together. This progress was hard-fought and hard-won,” Mr. Ban said. “The LGBT Core Group is our great ally – but we have many adversaries. There is a [political] cost to speaking up – one which I am proud to pay,” he added.

The Secretary-General also noted that he himself has been criticized by many people around the world, including by many Member States. “You may not know how much I have been fighting and been criticized by certain Member States,” he said. “When I made an administrative action to give equal pay and same allowances for those gay couples, even though their home countries do not recognize it, the United Nations for the first time has recognized that, regardless of what their home countries are doing, the UN has recognized it.”

Emphasizing that many human rights defenders have “paid a far higher price,” the Secretary-General told participants that “lacking unanimity should never stop us.”

“All countries have accepted the principle – enshrined in international law – that human rights are universal. Consensus is ours. Let’s insist on action,” he said.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)


September 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)