Friday, December 5, 2014
The European Court of Human Rights issued a joint decision yesterday in Ali Samatar and Others v. France and Hassan and Others v. France, holding that France must pay compensation to nine convicted Somali pirates for failing to promptly bring the pirates before a judge upon apprehension. The pirates were convicted of hijacking two French vessels in 2008 and holding the passengers and crew hostage for ransom. They were apprehended by the French army, which transferred them to France, where they were taken into police custody and placed on trial. As a result of these operations, the pirates were held by authorities for four to six days before seeing a judge. The Court determined that the delay in bringing the suspects before a judge violated their rights under Article 5 (right to security and liberty) of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The purpose of requiring that persons be brought promptly before a judicial authority is certainly laudable, in that it minimizes the possibility of ill treatment and unjustified interference with liberty. However, in the case of the Somali pirates, it would seem that the Court could have given the State a bit more leeway in light of the fact that France had to seek permission from the transitional government in Somalia to conduct the operation and there was no functioning court in Somalia that could try and convict the pirates, necessitating their transfer to French courts for trial and the consequent delays.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
The American Society of International Law will be a new co-sponsor of the Global Legal Skills Conference, which will be held in Chicago from May 20-22, 2015. That 2015 meeting will mark the 10th gathering of the Global Legal Skills Conference, which brings together law professors, law school deans, lawyers, judges, language professionals, translators, law students, and other researchers who are interested in promoting legal skills education around the world.
The conference will be held the first two days at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, where it was founded by Professor Mark E. Wojcik. It then moves for the final day at Northwestern University School of Law. The 2015 conference will also be co-sponsored by the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey (Mexico), which hosted the conference on two previous occasions.
Other sponsors and cooperating entities of the Global Legal Skills Conference will include the Teaching International Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association, the International Law Students Association, and the American Bar Association Section of International Law.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Place: Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, Coolidge Auditorium, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.
Scholars, historians and contemporary thinkers will discuss how Magna Carta's political and legal traditions have carried into our current times at a Library of Congress symposium on Dec. 9. The symposium, "Conversations on the Enduring Legacy of the Great Charter," is being held in conjunction with the Library's exhibition "Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor."
The afternoon program, "Contemporary Conversations on Magna Carta," is open to the public and starts at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 9, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground level of the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The symposium, organized by the Law Library of Congress, is free. Tickets are not needed.
A highlight of the program is an interview by David Rubenstein, co-founder and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, with Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Stephen G. Breyer. The interview, "American Law and the Great Charter," begins at 2:05 p.m.
The Library of Congress exhibition "Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor," which runs through Jan. 19, 2015, celebrates the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and illustrates the great charter's influence on laws and liberties throughout the centuries. The centerpiece of the exhibition is the 1215 Magna Carta, on loan from Lincoln Cathedral in England, one of only four surviving copies issued in 1215. The exhibition features 76 items drawn from the collections at the Library of Congress.
Featured Speakers for the Afternoon Program
Opening remarks by Deputy Librarian of Congress Robert Dizard Jr.
"American Law and the Great Charter"
David Rubenstein conducts an interview with Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer
"Drafting Modern Constitutions"
Participants: A.E. Dick Howard, White Burkett Miller Professor of Law and Public Affairs, University of Virginia School of Law; Cornelius Kerwin, president of American University; and David Fontana, Associate Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School. Moderated by Jeffrey Rosen, president and chief executive officer, National Constitution Center
"Rule of Law in the Contemporary World: Civil Liberties and Surveillance"
Participants: Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Member, Committee on the Judiciary, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations; Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Member, Committee on the Judiciary, and Member, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Moderated by Orin Kerr, Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School
"Proportionality Under the Eighth Amendment"
Participants: Vicki Jackson, Thurgood Marshall Professorship of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School; Craig Lerner, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, George Mason University Law School. Moderated by Carrie Johnson, justice correspondent, National Public Radio
"The Enduring Value of Magna Carta"
Participants: Jonathan Jacobs, director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics and chairman of the Department of Philosophy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; William C. Hubbard, president, American Bar Association, and partner with Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, LLP. Moderated by Roberta I. Shaffer, former Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress.
"An International Perspective"
Sir Robert Worcester, chairman of the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee
David S. Mao, Law Librarian of Congress
The Library's exhibition "Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor" is made possible by The Federalist Society and 1st Financial Bank USA. Additional support comes from the Friends of the Law Library of Congress, BP America, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Earhart Foundation, White and Case LLP, The Burton Foundation for Legal Achievement, the Office of the General Counsel of the American University, and other donors as well as contributions received from Thomson Reuters, William S. Hein and Co., Inc., and Raytheon Company through the Friends of the Law Library. The Library also acknowledges the support and assistance provided by the British Council. The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) has announced the winners of its 2015 awards for excellence in legal education. The awards are hosted by several AALS sections that are organized around various academic disciplines and topics of interest. The winners will be acknowledged at section programs during the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting, January 2-5, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
“I’d like to congratulate the 2015 AALS section award winners,” said Daniel B. Rodriguez, AALS President and Dean, Northwestern University Law School in a press release issued by the AALS. “These law professors represent the very best of our academic community and their commitment to our students and excellence in our profession is rightly celebrated by these section awards.”
The 2015 AALS section award winners are:
Section on Academic Support Award
Paula Lustbader, Seattle University School of Law
Section on Clinical Legal Education William Pincus Award
Ann C. Shalleck, American University, Washington College of Law
Section on Criminal Justice Junior Scholar Award
Saira Mohamed, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Section on Evidence Wigmore Award
Peter Tillers, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Yeshiva University
Section on Federal Courts Best Article Award
Seth Davis, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Section on Law Libraries and Legal Information Award
Billie Jo Kaufman, American University, Washington College of Law
Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research Award
Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School--Chicago
Section on Minority Groups Clyde Ferguson Award
Mario Barnes, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Angela Onwuachi-Willig, University of Iowa College of Law
Section on Minority Groups Derrick A. Bell Jr. Award
César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Capital University Law School
Section on Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities Deborah L. Rhode Award
Gerald Lopez, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
Section on Pro-Bono & Public Service Opportunities Father Robert Drinan Award
William P. Quigley, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Section on Torts and Compensation Systems William L. Prosser Award
Michael Green, Wake Forest University School of Law
Section on Women in Legal Education Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award
Herma Hill Kay, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Each year, Transparency International (TI) conducts surveys to determine which countries are perceived to have the most and least corrupt governments in the world. Today, TI has released the Corruption Perceptions Index 2014. Sadly, more than 2/3 of countries score below a 50 on a 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean) scale.
Denmark is the least corrupt country on the list, with other northern European countries such as Norway, Finland and Sweden also in the top five (along with New Zealand). At the bottom of the list are Somalia, North Korea, Sudan, South Sudan and Afghanistan. (The United States is tied for 17th place with Ireland, Barbados, and Hong Kong.) Not only does corruption divert resources from the needy public, it undermines trust in public institutions, leading to breakdowns in civil society and the inability of governments to provide security and protection for the people, as is currently seen in Afghanistan and Iraq. The international community must continue its work to prevent, investigate, and punish corruption wherever it occurs.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Benjamin Liu was the Director of the Chinese Intellectual Property Resource Center at The John Marshall Law School. He joined the John Marshall faculty in 2011. He had previously practiced intellectual property law since 2004, first with Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in New York, and then as an IP attorney in private practice in Chicago. Liu represented Asian and American clients in patent litigation, prosecutions, and consulting. His research focused on comparative patent law issues and biotech IP protection.
At The John Marshall Law School, Professor Liu taught IP specialty courses, including Administrative IP Protection at the U.S. Border and Comparative Topics in U.S.-China Patent Law.
After receiving a bachelor's degree from Harvard University in biochemistry and cellular biology, Liu conducted drug discovery research at Eli Lilly & Co. for two years. He then studied Japanese at Waseda University in Tokyo before attending UCLA School of Law, receiving a JD degree in 2004. He was the articles editor for the UCLA Law Review, and chief articles editor for the Pacific Basin Law Journal. He published a study of IP protection for traditional medicine and contributed articles in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnological News and Intellectual Property Today, in addition to presenting his research on Chinese IP protection at pharmaceutical conferences.
His untimely death comes as a great shock to his colleagues and students. He was an energetic, positive person who touched so many lives. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends on this terrible loss.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union became legally effective as part of the Lisbon Treat process in December 2009, making this month the five-year anniversary for the Charter. The EU Charter is the first formal EU document to combine and declare all the fundamental rights (economic, social, political and civil) as well as certain "third generation rights" such as a right to clean environment, in one place. Its broad inclusion of tradtional and newer rights makes it more expansive than the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It did not establish new rights, but was an attempt to bring clarity and visibility to existing rights. The EU Charter of Human Rights applies to all EU institutions, bodies and member states. It is directly enforceable in national courts and is referred to in decisions by the European Court of Justice and various national courts. For more information, click here.
Monday, December 1, 2014
On Friday, the United States filed an appeal of the World Trade Organization (WTO) compliance panel's report in “US – Certain Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) Requirements (Article 21.5 – Canada and Mexico)” (WT/DS384, WT/DS386). This dispute was originally filed against the United States by Canada and concerns a requirement in the U.S. Agricultural Marketing Act, as amended, that determines how a product's country of origin is to be determined and disclosed to consumers.
In 2011, a WTO dispute settlement panel found that the U.S. rules were inconsistent with the United States' WTO obligations in part because they do not fulfill the legitimate objective of providing consumers with information on origin. In 2012, the WTO Appellate Body upheld the panel's finding that the U.S. measure violates the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), but for different reasons.
The United States notified the WTO of its intent to comply with the ruling, but requested a reasonable period of time to implement the decision. In 2013, the United States issued a new final rule to comply with the WTO decision; however, Canada disputed whether the amended rule is compliant with WTO obligations. Accordingly, Canada requested the establishment of a compliance panel. That compliance panel agreed with Canada that the amended COOL regulation also violates the TBT Agreement. It is this decision that the United States is now appealing. The WTO Appellate Body will now consider this latest development in this long-running dispute.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Finland Gets Same-Sex Marriage Following a Citizens' Initiative to Upgrade Civil Partnerships to Marriage
The Finnish Parliament today approved (by a vote of 105-92) a citizen's initiative to legalize same-sex marriage. The law will end the distinction between same-sex registered partnerships and opposite-sex marriages and will give couples the opportunity to share a surname and to adopt children. Same-sex couples in Finland could enter into registered partnerships since 2002, but it was the only Nordic country without same-sex marriage. Finland is now the 12th European state to do so, and the first one by a citizen initiative. Click here to read more.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
In his address before the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, the President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, named homosexuality as one of the three biggest problems facing the world (along with greed and nuclear weapons).
The Gambia this year amended its Criminal Code to create a broad and vague offence of “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life imprisonment. The amendment was signed into law on October 9, 2014. There are also increasing reports of arbitrary arrests and detention of LGBT persons in The Gambia.
“This law violates fundamental human rights – among them the right to privacy, to freedom from discrimination, and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a statement issued by his office in Geneva this morning. “It adds to the stigma and abuses that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people already face in The Gambia,” he stressed.
Mr. Zeid said the new law replicates a section of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act denounced by the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General, and the African Commission Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.
“Governments have a duty to protect people from prejudice, not to add to it. Public hostility towards gay and lesbian people can never justify violating their fundamental human rights. Instead, it requires increased measures to protect them against human rights violations,” Mr. Zeid said. “This has been reaffirmed by UN human rights mechanisms and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” he added.
Since the new law was approved, representatives of The Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency have been reportedly conducting door-to-door enquiries to identify, arrest, and detain individuals believed to be homosexual. Some of those detained have allegedly also been subjected to violent attacks and mistreatment, Mr. Zeid said. In other countries, similar laws have also led to an increase in violence against members of the LGBT community, including mob attacks.
“I call on The Gambia to fulfil its international obligations to promote and protect the human rights of all persons without discrimination, to repeal all provisions of the Criminal Code that criminalize relations between consenting adults and to put in place an immediate moratorium on arrests on the basis of such laws,” the High Commissioner said.
(mew) (adapted from UN press releases)
Legislators in Uganda previously passed an Anti-Homosexuality Act that the Uganda Constitutional Court nullified in August 2014 because that bill had been passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum. Before that law was nullified, several countries had cut off or redirected financial assistance to Uganda because of that anti-gay law. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, welcomed the decision of the Constitutional Court at the time and called for efforts to decriminalize same-sex relationships and address the stigma and discrimination against LGBT persons in Uganda. He also noted that the African Commission on Human and People's Rights had adopted a resolution on protecting LGBT persons from violence on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Instead of moving on to other issues, some lawmakers in Uganda have been drafting new legislation that they reportedly want to introduce for debate before the end of the year to punish the promotion of homosexuality.
The President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has said that anti-gay legislation threatens Uganda's economic ties with other nations.
Scott Lively, an American citizen living in Massachusetts, has been sued in the United States under the Alien Tort Act for his role in promoting antigay laws in Uganda.
Vitaly Cherkasov, a human rights lawyer defending an LGBT activist, said he was attacked after leaving a St. Petersburg court. He identified one of the assailants as Anatoly Artyukh, an Orthodox activist and aide to Vitaly Milonov, a local anti-gay lawmaker. During the court hearing, anti-gay activists shouted insults at attorney Cherkasov and his client.
In August 2014, the American Bar Association House of Delegates adopted a policy that in part calls upon bar associations and attorneys in jurisdictions (like Russia) where there are discriminatory LGBT laws "to defend victims of anti-LGBT discrimination or conduct, and to recognize and support their colleagues who take these cases as human rights advocates . . . ."
Germany's coalition government passed a law yesterday that will require large corporations to ensure that at least 30% of supervisory positions on the Board of Directors are held by women by 2016. The law is expected to be approved by Angela Merkel's cabinet on Dec. 11. Currently, between 80-85% of corporate board positions in Germany are held by men. The law is expected to affect approximately 100 publicly listed companies. In the future, another 3,500 companies will be required to adopt gender equity targets. Similar measures are being considered in the Netherlands, Norway and Italy.
Women also lag behind men in positions on corporate boards in the United States. According to Catalyst, women occupy approximately 16.9% of board positions in the United States. However, it may be difficult for a similar measure to pass constitutional muster in the U.S. The U.S. Supreme Court typically examines gender-based discrimination using intermediate scrutiny, which begins with a presumption that the law is invalid. To overcome the presumption, the proponent of the law must demonstrate that the gender quota is substantially related to an important government interest.
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
The decision by a Grand Jury in Missouri to absolve a police officer for the fatal shooting of an African-American teenager has spotlighted broader concerns about institutionalized discrimination across the United States, the top United Nations human rights official said today.
“I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in US prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a statement issued by his office in Geneva this morning.
“It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems,” Mr. Zeid continued. “I urge the US authorities to conduct in-depth examinations into how race-related issues are affecting law enforcement and the administration of justice, both at the federal and state levels.”
Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer in the US town of Ferguson, in Missouri on 9 August, sparking protests around the country and enflaming the debate surrounding the treatment of African-American men by US law enforcement.
The High Commissioner explained that without knowing the specific details of the evidence laid before the state of Missouri Grand Jury, he remained unable to comment on whether or not the verdict itself conformed to international law. However, he said, continuing reports of deadly encounters between police officers and members of the African-American community had repeatedly prompted concerns among respected national bodies and by UN bodies monitoring the implementation of international human rights treaties.
Mr. Zeid noted that just two weeks ago, Mr. Brown’s parents had addressed the UN Committee against Torture, which is currently reviewing the US application of its obligations under the relevant Convention.
The Grand Jury’s decision last night to not charge the officer, Darren Wilson, comes just three days after another African-American, Tamir Rice, was shot dead by police in Cleveland, in the State of Ohio, because he was holding a non-lethal replica gun. Tamir Rice was 12 years-old.
Mr. Zeid noted that Tamir Rice’s killing not only reiterated the racial disparity in deaths at the hands of US police officers but also placed the issue of gun-related deaths in the US back into focus.
“In many countries, where real guns are not so easily available, police tend to view boys playing with replica guns as precisely what they are, rather than as a danger to be neutralized,” he stated.
Pointing to Article 9 of the UN’s Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Mr. Zeid confirmed that law enforcement officials were called upon to “not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.”
“In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” the High Commissioner concluded.
(UN Press Release) Photo: Protestors gather in New York City to demonstrate against the police shooting of Michael Brown (August 2014). Photographer: Louey Felipe
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, today warned that the audit of the justice sector and the dismissal of all international judicial personnel from Timor-Leste puts at risk the independence of the judiciary in the country.
“I am troubled that the decision may have been taken in retaliation for court judgments which displeased members of the Government and the Parliament,” Ms. Knaul said, adding that she had already raised the issue with the authorities and urged them to reconsider their decision.
In two separate resolutions dated 24 October, the Timor-Leste Parliament and Government called for an audit of the courts and the immediate contract termination of all international judicial personnel and advisers working in the justice sector.
In another resolution dated 31 October, the Government singled out eight international staff – five judges, two prosecutors and one adviser – and ordered them to leave the country within 48 hours.
“The resolutions represent a serious interference in the independence of the judiciary,” Ms. Knaul said, stressing that the immediate dismissal of international judicial personnel could undermine the proper administration of justice in Timor-Leste, including access to justice and due process guarantees.
“It may also have a chilling effect on national members of the judiciary, affecting their independence,” she warned.
Ms. Knaul also cautioned that this situation may further result in the suspension of trials in cases of crimes against humanity and other serious crimes committed in 1999, as the law requires that the panels set up to consider these crimes comprise of two international judges.
Admittedly, Timor-Leste has made great progress in building its judicial institutions over the past decade, she said, highlighting the essential role played by international judicial personnel in the national capacity-building process.
While the reduction of the number of international judges, prosecutors and other legal professionals is a legitimate path to follow, it should be a process implemented in full conformity with international human rights law and standards, as well as national laws and procedures.
“I urge both Parliament and Government to reconsider their decisions and initiate a dialogue with the relevant partners, including the UN, to address this serious situation and map an appropriate way forward in compliance with Timor-Leste’s international human rights obligations,” she added.
Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based 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)
Monday, November 24, 2014
The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on International Law is pleased to sponsor two programs at the AALS Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. from January 3-4, 2015.
The first program is called “Adding Foreign and Comparative Law to Your Courses: Guidelines, Materials, and Practical Advice for Law Professors.” Using comparative and international materials can enrich teaching of almost any course and can better prepare law students for the transnational contexts of their future legal work. This panel will provide practical examples, materials, and advice on how to integrate foreign and international law materials in basic first-year courses, as well as some upper-level courses. It will be held on Saturday, January 3, 2015 from 5:15-6:30 pm. Audience participation in sharing ideas is strongly encouraged, but the program will be led by:
- Professor Cindy G. Buys, Southern Illinois University School of Law (constitutional law)
- Professor Matthew Charity, Western New England School of Law (contracts)
- Professor Milena Sterio, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (criminal law/civil procedure)
- Professor Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School – Chicago (torts)
The second program is titled “The Influence of International Law on U.S. Government Decision-Making” and will be held on Sunday, January 4 from 10:30 am -12:15 pm. This panel will explore the role that international law plays in informing the policy outcomes arrived at by U.S. government decision-makers. It will examine questions such as: To what extent is international law determinative or even influential, and to what extent does the policy area, the branch of government, or the ideological orientation of the decision-maker matter? As a more practical matter, at what stage in the decision-making process is international law taken into account and who are the most influential actors? How can academics be most influential in that process?
- Mary McLeod, Principal Deputy Legal Advisor, Office of the Legal Advisor, U.S. Department of State
- Sandra Hodgkinson, Vice President of Planning and Chief of Staff at Finmeccanica, North America and DRS Technologies. Ms. Hodgkinson formerly served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs and as Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues. She also worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq as Director of the Office of Human Rights and Transitional Justice from 2003-04.
- Ralph Steinhardt, Professor of Law & Arthur Selwyn Miller Research Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School. Professor Steinhardt is the winner of the Section’s Call for Papers and will present his paper, “International Law and the Administrative State.”
The panel discussion will be moderated by the Section Chair, Professor Cindy G. Buys, from Southern Illinois University School of Law.
We hope to see you there!
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
The Law Library of Congress has organized a magnificent exhibit of the Magna Carta for the 800th Anniversary of that document. If you're going to the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, plan to get over to the Jefferson Building to see that exhibit. Connected to the exhibit are many side events at the Law Library of Congress, including this conversation with David Mao (the Law Librarian of Congress), Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the recently-retired Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, The Right Honourable The Lord Judge.
Hat tip to the Law Library of Congress
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
The U.N. General Assembly and Security Council have elected Mr. Patrick Lipton Robinson of Jamaica as a member of the International Court of Justice. He will serve a nine-year term that begins on February 6, 2015.
Mr. Robinson is the former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a position he held from 2008-2011. He was first elected to the ICTY in 1998 and was re-elected twice. In 2004, he presided over the trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former Yugoslav president and the first former head of state to be tried for war crimes.
Mr. Robinson had been a candidate for the slot at the International Court of Justice along with Ms. Ruis Cerutti of Argentina. Ms. Cerutti withdrew her candidacy a few days ago, clearing the way for Mr. Robinson's election by the General Assembly and Security Council. Click here to read more.
Human Rights Watch Urges U.N. Security Council to Refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court
The United Nations Security Council should act on a historic General Assembly resolution by referring the situation in North Korea to the International Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch said today. On November 18, 2014, the General Assembly endorsed a recent UN Commission of Inquiry report detailing crimes against humanity in North Korea and recommended that the Security Council discuss the report and consider an ICC referral.
“Today’s General Assembly resolution affirms the need for a tribunal to address the North Korean government’s unspeakable crimes,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The Security Council should follow up by referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court to investigate the long list of crimes against humanity.”
The North Korea resolution passed by a vote of 111 to 19, with 55 abstentions. China and Russia, longtime supporters of the North Korean government, voted against the resolution. (A separate draft text tabled by Cuba, without key passages endorsing the Commission of Inquiry report and recommending debate in the Security Council, was defeated by a vote of 40 to 77, with 50 abstentions).
While the resolution passed overwhelmingly, several countries that are members of the International Criminal Court, including Senegal, Bangladesh, and Nicaragua, abstained on the vote. North Korea had made recent diplomatic overtures seemingly to try to affect the vote, such as by offering for the first time to engage with the UN human rights rapporteur on North Korea and participating in the Universal Periodic Review process at the UN Human Rights Council.
The Commission of Inquiry report, issued in February 2014, documented massive crimes against humanity in North Korea, including deliberate starvation, forced labor, executions, torture, rape, and infanticide, among other crimes – most of them committed in North Korea’s political prison camp systems. The 400-page report concluded that the bulk of the crimes against humanity were committed “pursuant to policies set at the highest levels of the state.” It recommended that the international community take action to ensure accountability, including through possible referral to the International Criminal Court. The report noted that the gravity, scale, and nature of ongoing abuses were “without parallel in the contemporary world.”
Many UN member countries have become more active on human rights violations in North Korea since the Commission of Inquiry report shed light on the human face of the government’s egregious abuses. The report contains numerous accounts from survivors and escapees of North Korea’s prison system of government atrocities.
While North Korea’s new diplomatic efforts are important, they do not begin to address the scope of the government’s human rights violations that fill the Commission of Inquiry report, Human Rights Watch said. The North Korean government continues to deny the findings of the Commission of Inquiry, and has issued its own human rights report which declared that North Koreans “feel proud of the world’s most advantageous human rights system.”
“No Security Council country, including China, can deny the horror endured by so many North Koreans,” Roth said. “Decades of impunity have only reinforced North Korea’s unparalleled repression. The time has come for justice.”
(Press release from Human Rights Watch)
Monday, November 17, 2014
In 2012, Viet Nam initated the dispute settlement process against the United States at the World Trade Organization (WTO) with respect to a number of US anti-dumping measures on certain frozen warmwater shrimp from Vietnam. Vietnam alleged that the United States violated WTO rules in two administrative reviews and the five-year “sunset review,” as well as with respect to several US laws, regulations, administrative proceedings and practices, including zeroing. The WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) established the panel in February 2013. Earlier today, the WTO panel circulated its report, in which if finds that certain of the measures challenged by Vietnam are inconsistent with the GATT 1994 and the Anti-Dumping (AD) Agreement, and recommends that the United States bring the relevant measures into conformity with its obligations under these Agreements.
More specifically, and unsurprisingly in light of earlier WTO findings on this issue, the panel found that the United States had violated its WTO obligations in its use of zeroing to calcuate dumping margins for individually examined Vietnamese producers/exporters in the three administrative reviews at issue. The panel further found that the non-market-entity or NME rate applied to the NME-wide entity was inconsistent with Article 9.4 of the AD Agreement. Likewise, the panel found that the US had improperly used the zeroing methodology in the sunset review. Finally, the panel found that the United States had improperly rejected certain requests by Vietnamese producers/exporters for revocation in contravention of article 11.2.
On the other hand, the panel rejected Vietnam's allegation that section 129(c)(1) of the Uruguary Round Agreement Act, which implements the United States' WTO obligations in domestic law, prevents the United States from implementing its WTO obligations with respect to prior unliquidated entries.