Thursday, February 11, 2016
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Deems Detention of Julian Assange by the United Kingdom and Sweden to be Arbitrary
On 4 December 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) adopted Opinion No. 54/2015, in which it considered that Mr. Julian Assange was arbitrarily detained by the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In that opinion, the Working Group recognized that Mr. Assange is entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation.
The application was filed with the Working Group in September 2014. The Opinion 54/2015 was sent to the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 22 January 2016 in accordance with the Working Group’s Methods of Work. Given that Mr. Assange is an Australian citizen, one of the members of the Working Group who shares his nationality recused herself from participating in the deliberations.
Another member of the Working Group disagreed with the position of the majority and considered that the situation of Mr. Assange is not one of detention and therefore falls outside the mandate of the Working Group.
In mid-2010, a Swedish Prosecutor commenced an investigation against Mr. Assange based on allegations of sexual misconduct. On 7 December 2010, pursuant to an international arrest warrant issued at the request of the Swedish Prosecutor, Mr. Assange was detained in Wandsworth Prison for 10 days in isolation. Thereafter, he was subjected to house arrest for 550 days. While under house arrest in the United Kingdom, Mr. Assange requested the Republic of Ecuador to grant him refugee status at its Embassy in London. The Republic of Ecuador granted asylum because of Mr. Assange’s fear that if he was extradited to Sweden, he would be further extradited to the United States where he would face serious criminal charges for the peaceful exercise of his freedoms.
Since August 2012, Mr. Assange has not been able to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy and is subject to extensive surveillance by the British police. The Working Group considered that Mr. Assange has been subjected to different forms of deprivation of liberty: initial detention in Wandsworth prison which was followed by house arrest and his confinement at the Ecuadorian Embassy. Having concluded that there was a continuous deprivation of liberty, the Working Group also found that the detention was arbitrary because he was held in isolation during the first stage of detention and because of the lack of diligence by the Swedish Prosecutor in its investigations, which resulted in the lengthy detention of Mr. Assange.
The Working Group found that this detention is in violation of Articles 9 and 10 of the UDHR and Articles 7, 9(1), 9(3), 9(4), 10 and 14 of the ICCPR, and falls within category III as defined in its Methods of Work. The Working Group therefore requested Sweden and the United Kingdom to assess the situation of Mr. Assange to ensure his safety and physical integrity, to facilitate the exercise of his right to freedom of movement in an expedient manner, and to ensure the full enjoyment of his rights guaranteed by the international norms on detention.
The Working Group also considered that the detention should be brought to an end and that Mr. Assange should be afforded the right to compensation.
The Working Group’s Opinion on Julian Assange’s case (No. 54/2015) is available at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Detention/A.HRC.WGAD.2015.docx
Saturday, February 6, 2016
"The Sustainable Development Goals contain a specific target calling for an end to FGM. When this practice is fully abandoned, positive effects will reverberate across societies as girls and women reclaim their health, human rights and vast potential." Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General.
Pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/67/146, February 6 is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). FGM consists of all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. Despite this fact, it is estimated that 200 million women and girls have undergone some form of FGM.
According to a UN website, FGM "reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls. The practice also violates their rights to health, security and physical integrity, their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and their right to life when the procedure results in death." Most girls undergo the procedure before the age of 15.
For these reasons, the UN has included the elimination of FGM among its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Accordingly, the 2016 theme for this day is "Achieving the new Global Goals through the elimination of Female Genital Mutilation by 2030."
More information on this topic may be found here.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Twelve nations with a collective population of 800 million persons signed a new trade deal today known as the Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP. The twelve nations include the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru. They account for 40% of world trade.
The TPP aims to broaden and deepen economic ties between these nations. The agreement will result in a reduction in 18,000 tariffs. Some tariffs will be eliminated immediately; others will be reduced or eliminated over time. The text of the agreement is available here.
The TPP will now require ratification by the various signatories before it will become effective, which is likely to take some time.
Monday, February 1, 2016
The U.S. Department of State will hold a public meeting of the Advisory Committee on Private International Law to discuss international parentage and surrogacy. The meeting will take place on February 9, 2016 from 1 pm until 4 pm, Room 9.04, State Department Annex 17, 600 19th Street NW, Washington, DC. FR3229
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.
Sunday, January 31, 2016
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has announced that it will hold public hearings from March 9-16, 2016 in three related cases brought by The Marshall Islands: Obligations concerning Negotiations regarding Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament. The Marshall Islands filed the cases against the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan. These hearings will address issues relating to jurisdiction, admissibility, and preliminary objections. For more information about these cases, visit the ICJ Press Room.
"L" is the nickname for the Legal Adviser for the U.S. Department of State. Several years ago, the American Bar Association Section of International Law started a program called "Live from L" in which the Legal Adviser would discuss current international law issues. The program will next be held on Thursday, February 18, 2016, at the George Washington University School of Law. It will be co-sponsored by the American Society of International Law. You can attend the program in person or listen in online. The focus will be on the Iran Nuclear Deal, but of course events may bring additional topics for discussion or to be raised in the question and answer segment. The program will also be webcast, making it widely available to all of you.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
On Wednesday this week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized the Prosecutor to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Georgia between July and October 2008 during the Russian-Georgian conflict. The alleged crimes were committed by three different parties to the conflict - the Georgian armed forces, the South Ossetian forces, and the Russian armed forces.
Georgia joined the ICC in 2003 and is therefore subject to the Court's jurisdiction and obligated to cooperate with the Court. Russia is not a party to the ICC Statute. However, the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate alleged crimes that occurred on Georgian territory. Under the principle of complementarity, the ICC did not have jurisdiction to proceed, however, until it was determined that the national authorities were either unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute. As domestic proceedings in Georgia have been indefinitely suspended, that condition has now been satisfied. Proceedings relating to the conflict are also ongoing in the European Court of Human Rights.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Human Rights Watch has published its World Report 2016 containing its annual review of human rights around the globe. The subtitle gives some clues as to the themes of this year's report, "Twin Threats: How the politics of fear and the crushing of civil society imperil global rights." Viewers can download the entire report, or choose specific country chapters to read. In this regard, the chapter on the United States criticizes the U.S. criminal justice system for harsh penalties and racial disparities. It calls on the United States to engage in reform relating to drugs sentences and police tactics and training, among other areas.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The conference focuses on legal skills training for lawyers and law students around the world. There is also a track for substantive international law presentations. Presentations are mostly in English, but one panel can be in German, one in French, and several panels can be in Italian. Participants already confirmed are coming from countries around the world, including Mexico, the Philippines, Italy, Qatar, and the United States.
Early bird registration is now open and presentation proposals are now being accepted. Visit the conference website for more information.
The Appellate Body for dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) will soon be in need of a new member. Ms. Yuejiao Zhang of China will step down at the end of May when her second four-year term expires. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) has agreed with the Chairman’s proposal for appointment/reappointment of Appellate Body members. In particular, it agreed to launch a selection process to replace Ms Yuejiao Zhang, which consists of the establishment of a Selection Committee composed of the Director-General and the 2016 Chairpersons of the General Council, the Goods Council, the Services Council, the TRIPS Council and the DSB, to be chaired by the DSB Chair.
WTO members have until 15 March 2016 to submit nominations of candidates. It is expected the Selection Committee will carry out its work in April/May 2016 in order to make a recommendation to the DSB by no later than 12 May 2016 so that the DSB can take a decision to appoint a new Appellate Body member at its regular meeting scheduled for 23 May 2016.
The DSB also agreed to request the DSB Chairman to carry out consultations on the possible reappointment of Mr Seung Wha Chang of Korea, whose first four-year term of office will expire on 31 May 2016. Mr Chang is eligible for reappointment by the DSB to a second term as Appellate Body member.
For more WTO news, visit the WTO website.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
The U.S. African Development Foundation will hold public meeting of its Board of Directors on February 2, 2016 from 10 am until noon, 1100 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC. FR3377.
After the snow melts, of course.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Are you about to hire a faculty research assistant? Or are you a student wondering whether you should be a faculty research assistant? Have a look at this article: Should You Be a Faculty Research Assistant? It's available for download from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a service already familiar to many of our blog readers. If it's new to you, register for a free account and download this and other papers of interest for your scholarship and research.
Hundreds of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, gang-rapes, sexual slavery, forced abortion, massive child soldier recruitment and indiscriminate attacks against civilians with entire villages burned down have been perpetrated by all in sides in war-torn South Sudan, the United Nations reported this week.
“The constant attacks on women, the rape, enslavement and slaughter of innocents; the recruitment of thousands upon thousands of child soldiers; the deliberate displacement of vast numbers of people in such a harsh and poverty-stricken country – these are abhorrent practices that must be halted,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, whose Office (OHCHR) compiled the report along with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
The country, which only gained independence in 2009 after breaking away from Sudan, its northern neighbour, was thrown into turmoil when conflict erupted between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President Riek Machar in December 2013, killing thousands, displacing over 2.4 million people, 650,000 of whom fled abroad, and impacting the food security of 4.6 million.
“Very few places in areas of conflict have been safe, as the parties have intentionally attacked traditional safe havens, such as places of worship, hospitals and, from time to time, United Nations bases,” the report said. “These attacks reveal a shocking disregard for civilian life, with an increasing number of armed groups and communities being involved in the violence.”
From the middle of 2015, a new pattern emerged, particularly in the central and southern counties of Unity state, with entire villages being burned down, food crops destroyed and livestock looted, amid indications that this may have been a deliberate strategy by the Government or army to deprive civilians of any source of livelihood and force their displacement, it added.
It documented at least 280 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, including gang-rape, sexual slavery and forced abortion, as well as a sharp increase in child recruitment, with at least 13,000 to 15,000 child soldiers, recruited mainly, but not solely, by opposition forces, as of December 2015.
“Despite the severity of the human rights and humanitarian law violations perpetrated by both sides to the conflict, there are no tangible accountability mechanisms beyond the rhetoric of the main belligerents,” the report stressed.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative UNMISS chief Ellen Margrethe Løj underscored that accountability must be a fundamental element in the ongoing peace process seeking to end the strife.
“It is time to end the cycle of impunity that has allowed these violations to occur and embrace a brighter future of sustainable peace for all South Sudanese,” she said.
Mr. Zeid added: “Accountability and justice sound like empty words in such a bleak landscape, but they are essential if South Sudan is to come out of this terrible period. The current regional and international peace efforts offer some hope that this perpetual cycle of bloodshed and misery can be brought to an end, and I urge all sides to negotiate in good faith.”
Adapted from a UN Press Release
Friday, January 22, 2016
The U.S. Department of State announced a public meeting of the Advisory Committee on Private International Law to discuss international parentage and surrogacy. The meeting will take place on February 9, 2016 from 1 pm until 4 pm, Room 9.04, State Department Annex 17, 600 19th Street NW, Washington, DC. FR3229
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.
The United Nations human rights office today expressed concern over recent developments in Malawi, after the spokesperson of one of the country’s main political parties recently called for gay and lesbian people to be killed, describing them as “worse than dogs.”
The spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told the regular bi-weekly press briefing in Geneva that “the statements were made earlier this month by People’s Party spokesperson Kenneth Msonda on his personal Facebook page and repeated in media interviews.”
A criminal case was subsequently lodged against Mr. Msonda by two civil society organizations and he was due today to appear before the Blantyre Magistrate Court on charges of inciting others to break the law.
However, the OHCHR spokesperson said that yesterday the director of public prosecutions decided to discontinue the case – underlining that the State would not prosecute Mr. Msonda.
Mr. Colville said: “We are concerned that the failure to prosecute this case sends a dangerous message that inciting others to kill gay people is legitimate and will be tolerated by the authorities – in effect encouraging violent threats and attacks on the gay and lesbian community in Malawi.”
In May 2015, Malawi accepted a recommendation under the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva to “take effective measures to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from violence, and prosecute the perpetrators of violent attacks.”
“The Government of Malawi has a responsibility, enshrined in international human rights law, to protect all individuals from hatred and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and to hold to account anyone who either engages in such violence or incites others to do so,” said Mr. Colville, concluding: “We urge the Government to meet its responsibilities in this regard.”
UN Press Release
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for “substantial policy changes on the ground” by Israel, voicing deep concern at reports that the Government has declared of 370 acres in the occupied West Bank south of Jericho as so-called “state land.”
“If implemented, this declaration would constitute the largest land appropriation by Israel in the West Bank since August 2014,” a statement issued by his spokesman said last night. “The Secretary-General reiterates his call for substantial policy changes on the ground by Israel that will improve the lives of Palestinians. Settlement activities are a violation of international law and run counter to the public pronouncements of the Government of Israel supporting a two-state solution to the conflict.”
The two-state solution forms the main plank of efforts by the diplomatic Quartet, comprising the UN, European Union, Russia and the United States, to solve the Middle East crisis, with two states – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security.
UN Press Release
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
- Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty;
- Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty;
- Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria as a journalist for reporting purposes;
- Individuals who traveled to Iran for legitimate business-related purposes following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (July 14, 2015); and
- Individuals who have traveled to Iraq for legitimate business-related purposes.
The Michigan State International Law Review has published its latest issue and made all of its articles available online. Here's what's in the latest issue.
By: Tanya Kapoor
By: Gregory Sunshine and Aila Hoss
By: Craig A. Stern
By: Matthew T. Drenan
Visualizing an International Human Right to Self-Sufficiency
By: Haley Palfreyman Jankowski
Thursday, January 21, 2016
A list of past individual and institutional recipients of Global Legal Skills Awards is now available by clicking here.
The GLS awards were first given out in Costa Rica at the seventh Global Legal Skills Conference. Awards are given for individuals, scholarship (including new books and new editions of previously published books), institutions, and law schools. Nominations for 2016 Awards are now being accepted in all categories. Send nominations to email@example.com by March 30, 2016. There is no particular form for nominations, but please include sufficient information to explain to the Awards Committee why the person, institution, publication, or law school is deserving of the award. Contact Professor Mark E. Wojcik at The John Marshall Law School for more information about the GLS Awards.
The next Global Legal Skills Conference (and Awards Presentation) will be held May 24-26, 2016 at the University of Verona Department of Law. Click here for more information about the conference, including how to submit a proposal for presentation.
- David Moore, Brigham Young University Law School
- David P. Stewart, Georgetown University Law Center; President, International Law Association - American Branch
- Maxine Burkett, University of Hawaii School of Law (via video conference)
- Cinnamon Carlarne, Ohio State University Law School
- Hari Osofsky, University of Minnesota Law School
- Karen Bradshaw Shulz, Arizona State University College of Law
- Lisa Grow Sun, Brigham Young University Law School
- Frederick Axelgard, Brigham Young University Wheatley Institution
- Sahar F. Aziz, Texas A&M University School of Law (invited)
- Christopher Jenks, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
- Rachel VanLandingham, Southwestern Law School
- Stirling Adams, Novell
- Curtis Anderson, Brigham Young University Law School
- Jacob Briem, LANDESK Software
- Loren Hulse, Stoel Rives
- Gayla Sorenson, Brigham Young University Law School
- Lew Cramer, Coldwell Banker Commercial Associates
- Richard Hartvigsen, NuSkin Enterprises
- Kirk Jowers, dōTERRA
- Derek Miller, World Trade Center Utah
- Craig Parry, Parr Brown Gee & Loveless
- David Rudd, Ballard Spahr
- Kif Augustine-Adams, Brigham Young University Law School
- David Moore, Brigham Young University Law School
- Mike Ramsey, University of San Diego Law School
- David Sloss, Santa Clara Law School
- Michael Van Alstine, University of Maryland School of Law
- Nikki Eberhardt, Progress Through Business, Inc.
- Janet Eberle, U.S. Air Force, Judge Advocate General Corps
- Trent Pedersen, Federal Bureau of Investigation
- David Stewart, Georgetown University Law Center
- Katerina Linos, Berkeley Law School
- Charles Jalloh, Florida International University College of Law
- Leila Sadat, Washington University, St. Louis School of Law
- Miriam Baer, Brooklyn Law School
- Tom Lee, Fordham University School of Law
- Philip Nichols, The Wharton School
- Andy Spalding, University of Richmond School of Law
- Carolina Núñez, Brigham Young University Law School
- Moria Paz, Stanford Law School
- Charles "Chip" Brower, Wayne State University Law School
- Victoria Sahani, Washington & Lee University School of Law
- Eric Jensen, Brigham Young University Law School
- John McClurg, Dell
- Chantal Thomas, Cornell Law School