Friday, August 5, 2016
A new report by the United Nations human rights office released this month describes widespread killings that have taken place in Ukraine since January 2014, concluding that very limited accountability has taken place. The report, which was prepared by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, stated that the armed conflict in certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, “accounts for the majority of violations of the right to life in Ukraine over the last two years,” claiming up to 2,000 civilian lives, with nearly 90 per cent of conflict-related civilian deaths resulting from indiscriminate shelling of residential areas.
More than 9,300 people have been killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the separatist conflict in eastern regions of the country in mid-April 2014. The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission was deployed by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to the country in March 2014 upon the invitation of the Government of Ukraine.
Covering the period from January 2014 to May 2016, the report states that the killings are being According to the report, the killings are being “fuelled by the inflow of foreign fighters and weapons from the Russian Federation.” It concluded that no responsibility has been taken for any civilian deaths caused by the conduct of hostilities, and that some of the killings may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
(Adapted from a UN press release)
An international agreement aimed at tackling illegal fishing “marks the dawn of a new era,” but rapid action is needed to ensure that its implementation is effective, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said. “Generations to come will recognize the importance of this achievement, your achievement,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva at an event held to celebrate the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which went into force on 5 June.
The treaty was adopted as an FAO agreement in 2009 after a years-long diplomatic effort, and is the first-ever binding international accord that focuses specifically on illicit fishing. More than 30 nations, as well the European Union on behalf of its 28 members, have acceded to the treaty. The treaty requires foreign vessels to submit to inspections at any port of call and for port states to share information on violations. An improvement on prior rules requiring countries to control the activities of their own fishing fleets, the new agreement is designed to raise the cost of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as it blocks improperly caught fish from being brought to land and entering markets.
At the event, the FAO Director-General acknowledged that implementation of the agreement may prove challenging for some nations – especially developing and small island States – due to resource and capacity constraints.
The agreement has an article that explicitly enjoins parties to the treaty and international organizations to provide assistance and funding. The Republic of Korea has already confirmed it will make a financial contribution, and other parties should follow suit, Mr. Graziano da Silva said. In addition, FAO has set up an inter-regional Technical Cooperation Programme and a Global Capacity Development Umbrella Programme to support logistical, legislative and legal aspects of translating the agreement into practice.
(Adapted from a UN press release)
During the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, you may see a team of ten refugees marching into the stadium as a team with no nation and no flag. This is the first time a team of refugees has been formed. We wish these brave athletes well in the coming days. Let's hope that this is not just a first time there's a need to form such a team, but the only time.
Friday, July 29, 2016
The World Trade Organization (WTO) welcomed Afghanistan as its 164th member today, making it the 9th Least Developed Country to join the WTO. It took Afghanistan nearly 12 years of accession negotiations to complete the process. Afghanistan also accepted the relatively new Trade Facilitation Agreement, becoming the 90th WTO Member to do so.
19 other governments are currently negotiating terms of accession with the WTO. The list of those countries may be found here.
For more information regarding Afghanistan's accession, see this WTO press release.
Monday, July 25, 2016
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Registration is now open for the Central States Law Schools Association 2016 Scholarship Conference, Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24& at the University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Law faculty from across the country (and, hey, let's be honest, they'll probably take a Canadian professor too) to submit proposals to present papers or works in progress. CSLSA is an organization of law schools dedicated to providing a forum for conversation and collaboration among law school academics. The CSLSA Annual Conference is an opportunity for legal scholars, especially more junior scholars, to present on any law-related topic in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are available to comment. More seasoned scholars have an opportunity to test new ideas in a less formal setting than is generally available for their work. Scholars from member and nonmember schools are invited to attend.
Please click here to register. The deadline for registration is September 2, 2016.
Hotel rooms are now available for pre-booking. The conference hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn in Grand Forks. The hotel phone number is (701) 775-6000. When booking, identify yourself as part of the “UND School of Law” block to receive a daily rate of $89. Conference participants are responsible for all of their own travel expenses including hotel accommodations.
Hat tip to the 2016 CSLSA Board
Sunday, July 17, 2016
The international law community is saddened by the recent passing of Professor Stephen Zamora, from the University of Houston Law Center. Professor Stephen Zamora was a pioneer of scholarship on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and more generally made enormous contributions to U.S.-Mexican relations. The following was written by the Dean of the University of Houston Law Center, Leonard Baynes:
"Stephen Zamora joined the Law Center faculty in 1978, and served as dean from 1995 to 2000. He founded and continued to direct the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law at the law school, served as director of the North American Consortium on Legal Education, and was an adviser to the Houston Journal of International Law. He retired in November 2014 from the classroom where he taught courses on International Business Transactions, International Trade, NAFTA and others. Steve was a member of the American Law Institute, the American Society of International Law, and the American Society of Comparative Law. In 2006, he received the highest distinction awarded by the Mexican government to a foreign national, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, in recognition of his work in promoting U.S. - Mexican understanding. He wrote innumerable articles and book chapters on international law and was the lead author on “Mexican Law,” which is considered the definitive book on the subject. In addition to his tremendous contribution to the growth and reputation of the Law Center and his dedication to educating countless young lawyers, Steve is remembered by his colleagues for his graciousness and kindness to all. As one fellow professor put it, “He didn’t even know how to be unkind.” He will be greatly missed. Please keep his wife, Dr. Lois Zamora, and family in your thoughts and prayers. Final arrangements were held in Mexico City. A memorial service will be held in Houston this fall."
Friday, July 15, 2016
International Law Weekend 2016: International Law 5.0 -- Call for Proposals for Emerging Voices Panel
International Law Weekend 2016 (ILW 2016) calls on scholars and practitioners to address the accelerating nature of change in international law. From technological advances to environmental transformations, international lawyers are forced to confront emerging forces and new scenarios. Even settled principles of law are no longer settled. These tectonic shifts have been felt throughout the geography of international law. Legal professionals at every level - local, national, regional, and international - must change their practice to meet a changing world. Innovation will become necessary for survival.
Honduras has ratified the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), becoming the fifth Central American nation to accept the new accord. Honduras’ Vice-Minister Melvin Redondo presented his country’s instrument of ratification to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on July 14, 2016.
(adapted from a WTO press release)
Senior officials from across the United Nations family today condemned the deadly attack in Nice, France, calling for stepped up efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement from his spokesperson, expressed his deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims of “this horrific act,” including to the Government and all the people of France. He underscored the need to intensify regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism. “The Secretary-General hopes that all those responsible for this massacre will be rapidly identified and brought to justice,” according to the statement.
This morning, Ambassador Koro Bessho of Japan, as the President of the Security Council for the month of July, read out a statement issued last night in which the Council “condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack” and stressed that terrorism constituted one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. “The members of the Security Council reiterated that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed,” Mr. Bessho said.
According to media reports, a truck rammed into pedestrians gathered to celebrate the French holiday in the southern seaside city of Nice on Thursday night, killing as many as 84 persons – including children. Dozens of people have been injured.
The President of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, expressed “horror” at the number of people killed and injured. “This slaughter of innocent civilians is yet another horrific example of the terrorist movement’s total contempt for any kind of humanity,” he said. Mr. Lykketoft noted that this is one of a number of these mass killings across the world in recent weeks, and it is “a dire call” for even stronger international counterterrorism cooperation.
Irina Bokova, who heads the France-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), expressed the organization’s “deep sadness and sincere condolences” and stressed the importance of education and social inclusion in fighting terrorism. “This barbaric attack will never win over our shared resolve to unrelentingly pursue our efforts to prevent violent extremism through education for global citizenship and human rights, respect for cultural diversity and the power of culture as a force for social inclusion,” Ms. Bokova said.
Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the High Representative for the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, also called the incident an “outrageous attack” and a “barbaric crime that is unjustifiable by all means.”
Taleb Rifai, the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, said that “in the face of these forces of darkness, we must more than ever remain united to fight this global threat.” He added that Nice will continue to be one of the leading tourism destinations in France and in the world.
(adapted from a UN press release)
Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed or injured. As with other attacks we have seen in France and in Bangladesh, Belgium, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and other countries, the random murders and hate simply cannot be understood or tolerated. This must stop.
Thursday, July 14, 2016
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
The American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Section on International Human Rights is pleased to announce that it will sponsor a call for papers for its program during the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA. The program will be called Domestic Humanitarian Law. It will take place during the Annual Meeting, which is scheduled for January 3-7, 2017. The Section anticipates selecting up to two speakers from this call for papers to present their work during our Section’s program.
The Section’s 2017 program will focus on Domestic Humanitarian Law. From Nuremberg to Phnom Penh, humanitarian law over the past sixty years has developed almost exclusively in international (or hybrid) tribunals. What about within domestic legal systems? International tribunals, for all of their virtues, continue to be extraordinary, existing as it were above the "legal fray." This has ramifications for the reception, implementation, and respect for humanitarian law. This panel will investigate how domestic courts handle war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and other atrocities. What are the virtues, and drawbacks, of domestic adjudication? Does this lead to a stronger respect for humanitarian law?
Deadline and Submission
The deadline to submit a paper is September 15, 2016. Please email submissions in Word or PDF format to Section Chair, Milena Sterio at Cleveland Marshall College of Law. and Section Chair-Elect, Tim Webster at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. In selecting proposals, priority will be given to new voices in international human rights (i.e., individuals who have not previously presented a paper at AALS on the topic of international human rights). Presentations at various stages of completion will be considered. Decisions will be made in late September.
Papers may have already been accepted for publication but must not have been published prior to the Annual Meeting. The section has no plans to publish the selected papers, and individual presenters should continue to seek their own publishers.
Per AALS rules, this call for papers is only open to full-time faculty at an AALS member school. Presenters will be expected to cover their own costs in attending the AALS annual meeting.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports in its June 10th issue that 60% of prospective international students said they would be less likely to study at an American college if Donald Trump is elected as President of the United States. Karin Fischer, A Trump Presidency Could Keep Some International Students Away, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 10, 2016, at A12. The findings came in a survey of more than 40,000 students in 118 countries (but not including China or Saudi Arabia). The Chronicle reports that the United States hosts nearly one million international students.
A United Nations human rights expert yesterday deplored the wave of ageist attacks in the wake of the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union, including calls for age ceilings for the exercise of the right to vote. “We have seen a number of European national newspapers and social media outlets stigmatizing older persons as the scapegoats for Brexit and calling for restrictions on ‘grey’ votes,” said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, the UN independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons. “General exclusions of the exercise of certain rights based on age are unacceptable under international human rights law,” she stressed.
The decision to leave the EU reportedly received strong support from voters over the age of 65.
“One magazine even suggested that the pensioners’ right to vote should be taken away, just as their driver’s licenses are, after they reach certain age,” she said.
Ms. Kornfeld-Matte warned that age-based discrimination may also be incorporated in laws and policies, such as those on job recruitment or legal capacity to exercise their rights. “Old age should not be misused to challenge a person’s political competence. The full respect of the equal right of all individuals in public life and decision-making is fundamental to a democratic society,” she stated. “As societies worldwide are ageing, there is a need to invest more to build intergenerational solidarity and foster societies’ understanding of the valuable contribution of older persons,” Ms. Kornfeld-Matte concluded.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the terrorist attacks in the cities of Jeddah, Qatif, and Medina in Saudi Arabia. “These crimes are all the more despicable as they were carried out as residents were preparing for Eid al-Fitr celebrations to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan,” the Secretary-General said in a statement issued today by his spokesperson’s office.
Two security officers were wounded in the city of Jeddah shortly after midnight in Monday’s first bombing attack, according to reports. The second attack took place outside a Shia mosque in the city of Qatif, while four security officers were reportedly killed and five others were injured in another attack near the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina.
Expressing his deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Saudi Arabia, the Secretary-General said he hoped that those responsible for the crimes will be identified and brought to justice. “He stresses the need to intensify regional and international efforts to prevent and combat terrorism,” the statement said. Mr. Ban also wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
Also today, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, deplored the attack in Medina. “This is one of the holiest sites in Islam, and for such an attack to take place there, during Ramadan, can be considered a direct attack on Muslims all across the world,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in a press briefing note. “The significance of this attack cannot simply be measured in terms of the four policemen who were reported to have been killed, and the physical damage. It is an attack on the religion itself,” the spokesperson added.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
UN Human Rights Chief Deplores Terrorist Bombing in Baghdad; Also Calls for Iraqi Authorities to Find and Free Hundres of Men and Boys Abducted by a Militia Group
The United Nations human rights chief has deplored the terrorist bombing in Baghdad on Sunday that reportedly killed more than 150 people, calling on Iraqi authorities to do more to protect civilians as well as halt uncontrolled militias from continuing to take revenge on civilians fleeing towns recaptured from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh).
“I utterly condemn this latest horrendous ISIL atrocity, targeting innocent civilians who were celebrating Ramadan in the heart of Baghdad,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a news release issued by his Office (OHCHR). “Along with other recent abominations associated with ISIL in Dhaka, Istanbul and Orlando, the sheer unrestrained viciousness of these people defies belief.” The High Commissioner warned, however, that “acts of revenge and hasty, injudicious policy decisions in reaction to such attacks are simply helping ISIL carry out its strategy to divide societies and promote hatred.”
Emphasizing that ISIL “needs to be defeated, and defeated soon,” Mr. Zeid stressed that in trying to defeat them, the international community must be careful not to react to their provocations in the way ISIL predicts and wants the community to react. “We need not just to be stronger than they are, but cleverer than they are. And in this we are failing badly, not just in Iraq but in a variety of responses all over the world, enabling them to tap into resentments about heavy-handed or unlawful responses to recruit more followers, create more fanatics and suicide bombers,” he said.
The High Commissioner said that following the loss of Ramadi and Fallujah, with Mosul likely to be the next big battleground, he fears there will be more of such atrocities by ISIL, as they “seek to make Iraq implode once more.” “The way we react, in Iraq and elsewhere, will in many ways decide whether ISIL benefits from its indiscriminate acts of mass murder, or is ultimately destroyed by them,” the UN human rights chief said.
Mr. Zeid also urged the Iraqi authorities to take immediate action to locate and free more than 600 men and boys reportedly abducted by a militia group involved in the recapture of Fallujah from ISIL in June.
On 1 June, according to various witnesses interviewed in Iraq, approximately 8,000 civilians, including some 1,500 men and boys over the age of 14, left their village in Saqlawiyah, near Fallujah, the High Commissioner said. Nearly all belonged to the Albo Akash clan of the al Mahamda Tribe. In the distance they saw what appeared to be a line of government forces, who hailed them with loudspeakers, saying the villagers had nothing to fear from them. However, once they reached the line, witnesses said that hidden behind the Iraqi flags they saw the flags of a militia called Kataaib Hezbollah.
The militia fighters immediately separated the men and teenage boys from the women and children, who were transferred to government-run camps for displaced people near Amiryat al Fallujah. On 5 June, the males were separated into two groups – one consisting of 605 men and boys, and the other of around 900, and the fate of the larger group is currently unknown, the High Commissioner said.
Noted that “this appears to be the worst – but far from the first – such incident involving unofficial militias fighting alongside government forces against ISIL,” the UN human rights chief urged the Government of Iraq to take serious action to prevent further occurrences, including bringing those responsible to account. “These crimes are not only abhorrent,” Mr. Zeid said, “they are also wholly counterproductive. They give ISIL a propaganda victory, and push people into their arms. They increase the likelihood of a renewed cycle of full-throttle sectarian violence.”
“People who escape from ISIL should be treated with sympathy and respect, not tortured and killed simply on the basis of their gender and where they had the misfortune to be living when ISIL arrived,” he added.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Monday, July 4, 2016
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he was “deeply saddened” to learn the passing of Elie Wiesel, 87, a Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and long-standing UN Messenger of Peace.
“The world has lost one of its most important witnesses -- and one of its most eloquent advocates of tolerance and peace,” the UN chief said in a statement issued by his spokesperson, describing him as “a powerful voice” for Holocaust remembrance. “Elie Wiesel turned the nightmare of his youth into a lifelong campaign for global equality and peace,” Mr. Ban said. “As a UN Messenger of Peace since 1998, he called for constant vigilance in combatting anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred.”
According to the statement, Mr. Wiesel was a regular presence at the UN, including at the first-ever International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and often spoke about his experiences at the Auschwitz Birkenau German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp and appealed to the world to “reject indifference” in the face of genocide, discrimination and other horrors.
Extending his condolences to Mr. Wiesel's wife, family and all others touched by this loss, the Secretary-General said that the UN is grateful for Mr. Wiesel's contributions and remains strongly committed to Holocaust remembrance and the wider struggle for human rights for all, the spokesperson added.
His family said, according to media reports, Mr. Wiesel died peacefully after a long illness.
Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), also paid tribute to the memory of Mr. Wiesel. “Elie Wiesel was a pillar of the conscience of humanity, a moral compass for human rights, human dignity, human strength,” said Ms. Bokova. “Through his work, he put words on the unspeakable, to awaken all minds to the horror of the Holocaust.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the terrorist bombing in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad tthat reportedly killed more than 100 people in a busy shopping street – an attack which the top UN official in that country described as an “avenge by the terrorists of Da'esh who have suffered defeats at the battlefront.”
The Secretary-General “condemns" the terrorist attack and “is appalled by the utter disregard for human life displayed by the perpetrators, who struck as residents prepared for Eid al-Fitr celebrations,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.
The Secretary-General appeals to the people of Iraq to reject any attempts to spread fear and undermine the unity of the country, calling on the Government to ensure that the perpetrators of this horrific crime are brought to justice as soon as possible, the spokesperson added. In the statement, Mr. Ban expressed his deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, and to the Government and people of Iraq, wishing the many injured a speedy recovery. He also wished the people of Iraq a peaceful remainder of the holy month of Ramadan.
According to preliminary reports, a bomb hit a neighborhood of Karada shortly after midnight, and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) has claimed responsibility.
Ján Kubiš, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), joined Mr. Ban in condemning the terrorist bombing.
The terrorists of Daesh who have suffered defeats at the battlefront are seeking to avenge their losses by targeting vulnerable civilians
“This is a cowardly and heinous act of unparalleled proportions, to target peaceful civilians in the closing days of the holy month of Ramadan including shoppers preparing for the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday. This shows Daesh's wanton intentions to kill, maim and demoralize,” said Mr. Kubiš. “The terrorists of Daesh who have suffered defeats at the battlefront are seeking to avenge their losses by targeting vulnerable civilians,” Mr. Kubiš added. He also said that despite the pain and agony, the Iraqi people will not surrender to the designs of those terrorists, will continue to reject their ways through displaying steadfast national unity and will eventually triumph.
Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the UN General Assembly, has also condemned the attack. “This horrific act of violence perpetrated upon people, including many children, just going about their business during the holy month of Ramadan is outrageous,” he said."This despicable attack is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms."
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
International Community Should Not Undermine Human Rights in Myanmar by Rushing to Forge Political and Economic Ties
A United Nations human rights expert today urged the international community rushing to forge or strengthen political or economic ties with Myanmar not to undermine the country's rights priorities. “International actors must continue to prioritize human rights, particularly in business and investment relations,” said Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, at the end of a visit to Myanmar from 20 June to 1 July. These actors should neither remain silent when confronted with human rights concerns nor become complicit in perpetuating human rights abuses, she said.
“Myanmar's young democracy can only advance if human rights are fully mainstreamed into its institutional, legal and policy framework,” the expert said. “Building a culture of respect for human rights must be a priority now and in the future.”
Ms. Lee visited Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States, recommending that future political dialogues tackle the root causes of conflict and the long-standing grievances of ethnic communities. Additionally, she called for an end to the institutionalized discrimination against the Muslim communities in Rakhine State.
“It is clear that tensions along religious lines remain pervasive across Myanmar society. Incidents of hate speech, incitement to discrimination, hatred and violence, and of religious intolerance continue to be a cause for concern,” Ms. Lee said.
The Special Rapporteur will present her report to the UN General Assembly in October 2016, which will include her observations and recommendations to the Government.
(UN Press Release)