Saturday, June 21, 2014
We are sad to learn of the passing of Andreas Lowenfeld, an international law professor and scholar for more than 50 years. Professor Lowenfeld was a member of the New York University School of Law faculty for 47 years and a long-time member of the American Society of International Law amoung other organizations. He was the author of 18 books and 115 law review articles and is perhaps best known for his work in international trade and economic law and international arbitration. His obituary may be found here. Our condolences to his family friends, and colleagues.
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) has been granted observer status at the forty-seventh session of UNCITRAL, which will be held July 7-18, 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The session will open on Monday, July 7, at 10:30 a.m. and is expected to run until Friday, July 18. Topics under consideration include a draft convention on transparency in investment arbitration and a possible new convention on international commercial mediation.
ASIL is able to send several representatives to the meeting, and inquires are being coordinated by the Private International Law Interest Group (PILIG). If you are interested in attending this session as an observer, please contact PILIG Co-Chair Professor S.I. Strong at the University of Missouri Law School no later than close of business on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Please include a copy of a recent c.v./resume and a brief (one-paragraph) summary describing which of the agenda issues are of interest to you and how your expertise may be relevant.
Anyone seeking to attend the UNCITRAL meeting as an ASIL observer must be a member of ASIL and the PILIG. If you are already a member of ASIL, you may join the PILIG free of charge. If you are not yet a member of ASIL, there are special rates for students, new professionals, and government/NGO/IO employees. Students and faculty at ASIL Academic Partners get 50% off membership. Member benefits and pricing are at here.
In the future, the PILIG hopes to be able to extend the opportunity to attend UNCITRAL meetings as an observer to law students. If you join the PILIG, you will be sure to receive the notifications, both for yourself and your student.
Please note that any individual selected to attend this event bears full responsibility for travel and other costs associated with participation. PILIG and ASIL cannot provide any funding assistance.
Furthermore, anyone who attends the UNCITRAL session on behalf of ASIL/PILIG is required to write a brief summary of their experiences. Attendees are also required to abide by ASIL’s rules of participation. Please note that according to ASIL’s Constitution and reflecting its diverse membership, ASIL does not normally advocate positions on matters of policy. Accordingly, ASIL designees may not undertake any advocacy or otherwise advance substantive positions on behalf of ASIL at the conference.
Although opportunities are limited for this particular meeting, the PILIG hopes to make similar offerings available in the future so as to help increase participation in and understanding of international law processes.
Friday, June 20, 2014
The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the transition in Afghanistan. 6/25/14, 10 am, 2172 Rayburn.
The Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, House Foreign Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing on the transition in Libya. 6/25/14, 2 pm, 2172 Rayburn.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the outlook on relations between the United States and China. 6/25/14, 3 pm, 419 Dirksen.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will mark up the following bills:
- the Energize Africa Act of 2014; S 1933,
- the Global Human Rights Accountability Act; S 1104,
- the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act; and
- S Res 447, recognizing the threats to freedom of the press and expression around the world and reaffirming freedom of the press as a priority in the efforts of the United States Government to promote democracy and good governance.
The markup session will be June 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm, S-116 Capitol Building.
Hat tip to ABA Governmental Affairs Office
A group of independent United Nations human rights experts today called on the Government of Myanmar to do away with a draft bill imposing restrictions on religious conversion, stressing the right of every individual to freely choose or to change their faith. The experts – on freedom of religion, minority issues and human rights in Myanmar – warned that the draft bill, made public on 27 May inviting comments from monks and the public, sets out a cumbersome application and approval process for conversion while purporting to make it easier for individuals to freely convert. It also provides for disproportionate criminal sanctions on offenders, according to a news release issued by the three experts. In addition, some provisions are “vague and subject to interpretation that may lead to discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities or the poor.”
The experts noted that seeking comments from the public on draft legislation is commendable in promoting political participation of the people. “But in this instance,” they added, “this process appears partial to the interest of one particular group and simply propagates the spread of incitement of racial and religious hatred, which the Government must do more to address.”
The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, noted that State interferences into the right to change one’s religion or belief are “illegitimate and incompatible with international human rights standards.”
“Freedom of religion or belief is a human right, irrespective of State approval, and respect for freedom of religion or belief does not depend on administrative registration procedures,” he stressed. “I am very disturbed by the attempt to regulate religious conversion.”
Rita Izsák, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, highlighted the potential for the bill to impact negatively on religious freedoms and the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. “I urge Myanmar to strengthen its protections in line with international standards not to create obstacles to the enjoyment of religious identity, minority rights, and the right of every individual to freely choose or to change their faith,” she said.
The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, noted some “worrying backtracking” on Myanmar’s progress towards a more democratic nation in the last six months, including through the arbitrary arrest and the prosecution of activists and journalists deemed anti-establishment. Ms. Lee warned the draft bill – one of four composing a legislative package on the protection of race and religion – “signals the risk of Myanmar going off-track on its path to being a responsible member of the international community that respects and protects human rights.”
Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
(UN Press Release)
World Refugee Day is commemorated every year on June 20. It is a day to reflect on the plight of persons who are forcibly displaced from their homes and communities, to recognize their resilience, and to find ways to help refugees rebuild their lives.
The most recent statistics available from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show that more than 42 million persons were forcibly displaced from their homes in 2012, the highest number in 20 years. In 2013, asylum claims increased by 28%, indicating that the trend continues.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is conducting a "1 Campaign" meaning that one family torn apart by war is too many. If you are a lawyer or a law student reading this blog, you can help a refugee by providing pro bono legal services.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
On this day, June 18, in 1948, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted its International Declaration of Human Rights, creating "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations." The vote was 12-0 in favor, with an abstention from the Soviet bloc. A New York Times article describing the action and containing the text of the Declaration may be found here. This act led to the subsequent adoption of the UN Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948. That Declaration has now largely made its way into customary international law and inspired many subsequent international human rights treaties.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Save the date! The International Law Students Association (ILSA) and the International Bar Association (IBA) will hold a conference in London (United Kingdom) on September 5-6, 2014.
The conference will offer student participants:
- A chance to meet fellow law students from around the world
- A range of educational and vocational panels
- A Jessup Compromis Panel Discussion with experts considering the issues raised by the newly released 2015 Jessup Compromis
- A complementary drinks and canapé reception, as well as catered lunches and breaks for all delegates.
- A chance to explore one of the world’s most iconic cities
Monday, June 16, 2014
Join the Association of American Law Schools Section on Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers at its business meeting on Friday, January 2, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. That's the first night of the conference when the Registration Area opens.
Professor George Edwards of Indiana University is the current chair. Professor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago is the Chair-Elect and will become Section Chair at the end of that AALS Annual meeting.
When you book your flight or train to DC, please plan to arrive in time to attend the 6:30 p.m. business meeting and to share your ideas on graduate legal education for international lawyers.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Sam Kutesa, the foreign minister of Uganda, was unanimously elected to be President of the U.N. General Assembly at the start of the 69th Session of the General Assembly. Kutesa will follow current Assembly President John Ashe of Antigua at the start of the 69th session of the U.N. General Assembly in September.
Kutesa's election is controversial because Uganda recently passed extreme anti-gay legislation. There are also allegations that he abused his office and accepted bribes from foreign companies.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
I am pleased to share that my colleague at Southern Illinois University School of Law, Michael Koehler (aka the FCPA Professor) has published a new book, “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a New Era" (Edward Elgar Publishing). The book dissects the FCPA’s new era and places the FCPA’s new era in context, providing a practical and provocative analysis of the FCPA, its enforcement, and related topics.
The book contains excerpts from the FCPA’s statutory text, legislative history, judicial decisions and enforcement agency guidance. In addition, over seventy FCPA enforcement actions are discussed and useful tables and charts concerning a variety of FCPA enforcement topics are included. The book places an emphasis on learning FCPA issues incrementally in the belief that foundational knowledge introduced early will best enhance understanding and comprehension of specific FCPA topics.
The book contains compliance pointers and risk-assessment strategies that can lessen the likelihood of FCPA violations from occurring when doing business in the global marketplace. In this way, the book provides a toolkit that readers can use to better understand the FCPA, its enforcement, and the many legal and policy issues present in this new era.
For more information about the book, or to order a hard copy, click here. Professors interested in receiving a review copy can e-mail email@example.com (with details of the class the book will be used for). Professor Koehler uses the book as a foundation his Foreign Corrupt Practices Act class at Southern Illinois University School of Law.
German International Law Professor and President of Bucerius Law School Elected to German Constitutional Court
The Judges Election Committee of the German Federal Parliament has elected Prof. Dr. Doris König, President of the Bucerius Law School and holder of the ‘Clausen-Simon-Foundation Chair for International Law,’ as a judge of the German Federal Constitutional Court. Judges to that court are elected for a 12-year term and cannot be re-elected.
Monday, June 9, 2014
The American Society of International Law (ASIL) is calling for submissions of scholarly papers for the Fourth Annual ASIL Research Forum to be held at the organization's Mid-Year Meeting in Chicago, Illinois on November 6-8, 2014.
The Research Forum is a Society initiative that aims to provide a setting for the presentation and focused discussion of works-in-progress. Papers can be on any topic related to international and transnational law and should be unpublished. The deadline for submission of proposals has been extended to June 15. Additional details may be found here.
The Chicago Research Forum will also include an international career event to be held at The John Marshall Law School from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. on November 6, 2014
(cgb and mew)
Thursday, June 5, 2014
The United Nations General Assembly also declared 2014 the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Accordingly, this year's World Environment Day theme, "Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level", focuses on the effects of global warming on rising water levels for SIDS.
For more information, visit the website of the United Nations Environmental Program.
The European Commission issued a report yesterday stating that Lithuania is ready to join the eurozone as of January 1, 2015. The Commission's recommendation now goes to the other Euopean member states for their approval, which is expected in July.
Lithuania is the only state to have been previously rejected for euro membership in 2006 when it could not hit target inflation rates. Lithuania has hit all its targets this time around. The other two Baltic states, Lavtia and Estonia, are already members of the eurozone.
Lithuania is likely the last new member of the eurozone for several years. Romania has begun the process, but is unlikely to meet membership targets and join the eurozone until at least 2019.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
H Res 600 (Grayson, D-FL), urging the government of Afghanistan, following a successful first round of the presidential election on 4/5/14, to pursue a transparent, credible, and inclusive run-off presidential election on 6/14/14, while ensuring the safety of voters, candidates, poll workers, and election observers; to Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services. Congressional Record 5/28/14, H4909.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on developments in Ukraine. 6/5/14, 10 am, 419 Dirksen.
On 5/28/14, the House passed HR 4587, to impose targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for carrying out or ordering human rights abuses against the citizens of Venezuela.
On 5/28/14, the House passed H Res 599, to urge the government of the People’s Republic of China to respect the freedom of assembly, expression, and religion and all fundamental human rights and the rule of law for all its citizens and to stop censoring discussion of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations and their violent suppression, by a vote of 379 to 1.
Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
The United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Bond v United States yesterday, a closely watched case involving the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC materials) that potentially could have restricted the federal government's treaty powers.
Carol Bond stole a toxic chemical substance at work and used it to harm her husband's lover. She was charged criminally under a federal statute that implements the CWC in US law. She defended in part on the grounds that the implementing statute exceeds Congress' powers in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution because it intruded into areas of criminal law traditionally regulated by the states, not the federal government.
The Supreme Court refused to reach the constitutional issue regarding the scope of Congress' treaty power, employing the doctrine known as avoidance of constitutional questions. Instead, the Court focused on the language of the implementing statute and found that Congress did not intend to reach purely local crimes such as Bond's under that statute.
The Court's decision is good news for those who were concerned that the Court would take this opportunity to revisit Missouri v Holland and narrow the understanding of the federal government's treaty powers.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
International Courts Committee of the ABA Section of International Law to Discuss What Happens When International Criminal Courts Close Down
Save the Date! The International Courts Committee of the American Bar Association Section of International Law will present a panel in the section's fall meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina on the topic of "Closing Courts Down: Residual Mechanisms and the After-Life of International Criminal Courts." The program will be held on Thursday, October 23, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. during the section's fall meeting.
A variety of criminal courts established over the past 25 years adjudicated violations of international law. These courts include the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and 'hybrid courts' such as the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Criminal Panels of the District Court of Dili, the 'Regulation 64' Panels in Kosovo, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. In 2013, the Special Court for Sierra Leone completed its judicial mandate following the appeals judgment in the Charles Taylor case. With the primary work of the court done, issues remain including (a) preservation of evidence and archival of materials, (b) potential requests for pardon or commutation of sentences, and (c) ongoing issues of witness protection. This panel will discuss these residual issues and see what lessons may be applied to other criminal tribunals as they complete their mandates. The panel will also consider ethical issues regarding the temporary nature of the courts, the long-term legacy of international justice, and ethical obligations of attorneys appearing before courts that disappear.
Confirmed Committee Sponsors of the ABA Section of International Law
Primary Sponsor: International Courts Committee
Co-Sponsors: Africa Committee, International Criminal Law Committee, International Judicial Affairs Committee, UN and International Institutions Coordinating Committee
Members of the ABA Section of International Law are invited to join the International Courts Committee. Visit the committee webpage on the Section website for more information.