Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Northwestern Law Profs Read Mean Course Evaluations

Anonymous course evaluations can be cruel. Some professors at Northwestern, following a model established by the Jimmy Kimmel show, read some of the "mean" course evaluations. Enjoy!


Hat tip to Sue Liemer.


April 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Registration Open for the Venice Academy of Human Rights

The Venice Academy of Human Rights will take place from 4-13 July 2016 on the topic "Backlash against Human Rights?" The faculty includes a distinguished opening lecture by Judge András Sajó (Vice-President of the European Court of Human Rights), a general course by Robert McCorquodale (BIICL) as well as lectures and discussion sessions with Joseph A. Cannataci (UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy), Helen Fenkwick (Durham University), Mark Goodale (University of Lausanne) and Geir Ulfstein (University of Oslo).

The Venice Academy of Human Rights 2016, in co-operation with PluriCourts – Centre of Excellence for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, discusses the expansion and restriction of human rights regimes, questions of inequality and social change, counter-terrorist laws, same sex unions, privacy and data protection issues as well as the reform of the European Court of Human Rights and UN human rights treaty bodies. The course aims at academics, practitioners, PhD/JSD and master students.

Applications are accepted until 29 May 2016.

Hat tip to Knut Traisbach.


April 25, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

SALT Teaching Conference at The John Marshall Law School

SALTThe Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) will hold its 2016 Teaching Conference in Chicago at The John Marshall Law School. The conference, "From the Community to the Classroom: Teaching and Advancing Social Justice," will be held on Friday, September 30 and Saturday, October 1, 2016.

Proposals for the SALT Teaching Conference are due by June 15, 2016. Click here for more information.

Additionally, the 10th Annual Junior Faculty Development Workshop organized by LatCrit, Inc. and SALT will be held on Thursday, September 29, 2016. The Faculty Development Workshop is intended to familiarize junior faculty with Lat Crit and SALT and to support faculty in their scholarship, teaching, and service.


April 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference in Verona, Italy

Verona Bridge David Austin PhotoThe 11th Global Legal Skills Conference will be held in Verona, Italy from May 24 to May 26, with an optional day trip to Padua (Padova) on May 2th. The conference schedule (including panels, speakers, and additional information) is available by clicking here. 

Attendees are participating from around the world, including presenters from Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, and many other countries.

Registration is still open and available for the GLS-11 conference. More information about the conference is available by clicking here.


Photo by David Austin

April 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Save the Date: Central States Law Schools Scholarship Conference in September

The Central States Law Schools Association Scholarship Conference will be held on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the University of North Dakota School of Law in Grand Forks, North Dakota. 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 working papers or finished articles on any law-related topic in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are available to comment. More mature 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. 

Registration will open in July. Hotel rooms are already available, and more information about the CSLSA conference can be found on the conference website at www.cslsa.us.
Hat tip to Christopher Odinet.

April 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dominck L. DiCarlo Memorial Lecture on the U.S. Court of International Trade

Stanceu-WojcikChief Judge Timothy C. Stanceu of the U.S. Court of International Trade is giving the Dominick L. DiCarlo Memorial Lecture today at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Four graduates from The John Marshall Law School have been law clerks at the U.S. Court of International Trade, including three graduates who clerked for former Chief Judge Dominick L. DiCarlo.

Among other issues he discussed, Judge Stanceu mentioned difficulties the U.S. Court of International Trade faces by the failure to have a full court. The President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints the nine judges who constitute the United States Court of International Trade, which is a national court established under Article III of the Constitution. Presently there are four vacancies unfilled on the U.S. Court of International Trade.

The judges, who are appointed for life, as are all judges of Article III courts, may be designated and assigned temporarily by the Chief Justice of the United States to perform judicial duties in a United States Court of Appeals or a United States District Court.

Dominick L. DiCarlo (1928-1999) was an American lawyer and politician from New York. He was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1965 to 1981. He was President Ronald Reagan's first Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics Matters from 1981 to 1984. He was a judge of the United States Court of International Trade from 1984 to 1999.

CIT CJ Tim StanceuTimothy C. Stanceu, the current Chief Judge for the U.S. Court of International Trade, received his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center. He worked as a program analyst and environmental protection specialist for the United States Environmental Protection Agency from 1974 to 1982. He served as special assistant to the assistant secretary in the Office of Enforcement and Operations of the United States Department of the Treasury from 1982 to 1985. He served as Deputy Director of the Office of Trade and Tariff Affairs for the Treasury Department from 1986 to 1989. He worked in private practice in Washington, D.C. from 1990 to 2003, when President Bush nominated him to serve as a Judge for the United States Court of International Trade, to the seat vacated by Judge Richard W. Goldberg. He was elevated to Chief Judge on July 1, 2014 after Donald C. Pogue assumed senior status.

Click here for more information about the U.S. Court of International Trade.


April 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Compliance, Ethics, and Enforcement in International Trade

20160414_151321The John Marshall Law School in Chicago is holding an afternoon CLE program on Compliance, Ethics, and Enforcement and International Trade. Speakers include Lawrence Friedman (Barnes, Richardson & Colburn, LLP), Lindsay Edgar (Accenture), Kim Nemirow, (Ropes & Gray), Sarah DiLorenzo (Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.), Michael Hodes (Hodes, Keating and Pilon), and Jim Schultz (U.S. Customs & Border Protection). 

Among other information shared in the program is that Chicago is one of the nation's busier ports for seizures of imported merchandise that violate intellectual property rights. Some of these seized goods would also have presented health and safety violations.

The CLE program is followed by the annual Dominick L. DiCarlo Memorial Lecture on the U.S. Court of International Trade. The speaker this year for that program is Chief Judge Timothy C. Stanceu of the U.S. Court of International Trade.


April 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 1, 2016

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer Addresses ASIL Meeting

BreyerU.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer delivered remarks at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) in Washington, DC yesterday.  Justice Breyer's remarks focused on his 2015 book, The Court and the World: American Law and the New Global Realities. Justice Breyer remarked on how the Court's docket has changed since he joined the Court in 1994. They hear many more cases now raising issues of foreign and international law.  He alluded to the resistance of some judges to  refer to foreign and international law in their work, but suggested that it is almost inevitable now given the Court's changing docket, which reflects globalization generally.  He highlighted some of the most difficult decisions for the Court involving the balancing of individual liberties and national security, such as the Guantanamo Bay detainee cases.  He also talked about the internationalization of intellectual property law and family law under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.  He reviewed the history of the Court's decision-making in cases touching on foreign policy issues and argued that the Court has moved away from finding many of these questions to be nonjusticiable political questions to a place where the Court is more willing to impose some limits on the Executive branch.  However, he was also candid in admitting that he does not know the extent of those limits.  He stated that when the Court held that the Constitution does not give the President a "blank check" in Hamden, they still don't know what kind of a check the Constitution does give the President.  He urged lawyers, law professors and law students to become more familiar with international law and to share that expertise with the Court to help it resolve the increasing number of cases that involve these issues.


April 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Save the Dates! Upcoming ABA Section of International Law Meetings in New York, Rome, and Tokyo!

The American Bar Association Section of International Law will be holding various meetings around the world this year.

The not-to-be-missed 2016 Spring Meeting will be at the The Grand Hyatt New York from April 12-16, 2016.  Click here to see the preliminary brochure for that meeting in New York. 

The section's 2016 European Forum will be in Rome, Italy at the Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & SPA, Via G Frescobaldi 5 00198 Rome Italy, from May 29-31, 2016. Also in Italy, the section is also a cooperating entity of the 11th Global Legal Skills Conference, being held in Verona from May 24-26, 2016.

The section's 2016 Fall Meeting will be in Japan at the Hilton Toyko from October 18-22, 2016.

Even if you cannot attend one of these upcoming meetings, membership in the ABA Section of International Law has many benefits, including section publications, webinars, committee programs, and policy development. You owe it to yourself to find out more about the ABA Section of International Law (and if you are already a member, you owe it to yourself to find out how to get more involved in the section!).


March 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Edition of an International Family Law Casebook

Family Law in the World CommunityA new (third) edition of a casebook on Family Law in the World Community has been published by Carolina Academic Press, authored by D. Marianne Blair (Professor of Law and Director of Study Abroad at the University of Tulsa College of Law), Merle H. Weiner (Philip H. Knight Professor of Law at University of Oregon School of Law), Barbara Stark (Professor of Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University), and Solangel Maldonado (Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law). The book is 1058 pages long. The Document Supplement is 44 pages longer than the main text, coming in at 1,102 pages). Here's what the publisher has to say about it:

The third edition of this casebook covers a variety of private international law issues, including child abduction, international adoption, child support enforcement, and recognition of foreign marriages and divorces. The book also explores the impact of public international law on both domestic and international regulation of the family, focusing on topics such as family violence, “mail-order” marriages, the human rights of children, and same-sex couples. Finally, the book uses comparative law materials to examine traditional family law topics, such as the regulation of marriage, LGBTQ relationships, adoption, reproductive freedom, child custody, financial support of children (both public and private), and corporal punishment. 

Congratulations to the co-authors on the new edition of their book. And congratulations in particular to Professor Barbara Stark whose university sent out a special mailing to promote that book and another book she edited, "International Law and Its Discontents."

Click here for more information on how to order a copy of Family Law in the World Community.


March 21, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 18, 2016

ICJ Finds It Has Jurisdiction in Continental Shelf Dispute Between Nicaragua and Colombia

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a Press Release today announcing its Judgment in Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia). The Court determined that it has jurisdiction, on the basis of Article XXXI of the Pact of Bogotá, to entertain the First Request put forward by Nicaragua in its Application, in which it requests the Court to determine “[t]he precise course of the maritime boundary between Nicaragua and Colombia in the areas of the continental shelf which appertain to each of them beyond the boundaries determined by the Court in its Judgment of 19 November 2012”. The Court also determinated that the Request is admissible.


March 18, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Institute for Peace and Dialogue in Switzerland has announced several opportunities for research and study, including summer programs and year-long visiting positions.

International  Summer Academies & 3 Month CAS-Research Program 2016

- V Summer Academy Period: 09 - 19 August, 2016

- VI Summer Academy Period: 19 - 29 August, 2016

- 3 Month CAS - Research Program Period: 09 August - 06 November, 2016

 A) The main goal of the Summer Academy is to strengthen the skills of the representatives of state organisations, business sector, INGOs/NGOs, education institutions, religious organisations, independent mediators and politicians through institutional global academic education in peacebuilding, mediation, conflict resolution, security and intercultural dialogue.

B) The main goal of the 3 Month CAS-Research Program is to develop the research skills of the participants and to closely acquaintance them with relevant Swiss state, public and private Institutes.

Topics: Peacebuilding, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, Security and Intercultural Dialogue.

Deadline for Summer Academy Applications: 16 May, 2016

For more information, click here

1 Year Visitor Research Period, VRP

The main aim of the Visitor Research Program is to improve research skills of the researchers through academic trainings, peer to peer education, visit to Swiss Organisations and reading materials.

For more information, click here


March 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

IACHR Issues Its 2015 Annual Report

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented its 2015 Annual Report today, which offers comprehensive and relevant information concerning the Commission’s work and resources. According to the IACHR's news release, the publication of this report seeks to promote compliance with the Commission’s decisions, ensure accessibility to victims, give an accounting of the petition and case system, and report on the human rights situation in the region.

The report has an introduction and six chapters. In the introduction, the IACHR analyzes the status of ratification of inter-American instruments. Chapter I gives a general overview of the Commission’s activities during the year. Chapter II provides an accounting of how cases, petitions, and precautionary measures have been handled. Chapter III covers the activities of the Thematic Rapporteurships. Chapter IV.A provides an overview of the human rights situation in the hemisphere in 2014, derived from the Commission’s monitoring work. Chapter IV.B includes special reports the Commission considers necessary regarding the human rights situation in the Member States. In the Annual Report for 2015, the IACHR analyzes the situation in Cuba, Guatemala and Venezuela. Chapter VI deals with institutional development.  The report also includes 15 Annexes which are the country and thematic reports published in 2015. 


March 17, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Nine Defense Lawyers Arrested in Turkey

The Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA-International Association of Lawyers) has been informed of the arrest and detention in Istanbul of nine lawyers at around 6 am this morning. Those lawyers are İrfan Arasan, Ayşe Acinikli, Hüseyin Boğatekin, Şefik Çelik, Adem Çalışçı, Ayşe Başar, Tamer Doğan, Ramazan Demir and Mustafa Ruzgar.

According to the information collected by the UIA, the reason for these arrests has so far not been disclosed to the lawyers by Turkish security forces. These lawyers are all members of the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (Ozgurlukcu Hukukcular Dernegi - OHD). They are representing 46 lawyers prosecuted for their participation in the defense of the leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, and all have been called to appear at a hearing scheduled tomorrow, on the 17th of March.

The UIA issued a statement severely condemnng these arrests, which appear to be arbitrary and in violation of the rights of the defense as enshrined in all international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Turkey. The UIA also denounced recurrent attacks on Human rights lawyers, stemming from the abusive use of anti-terrorism legislation. It deplores the fact that once again lawyers are systematically identified with their clients or with the cause defended by them. Such assimilation violates the principles protecting the profession.

(Adapted from a UIA press release).

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Turkey is the 71st Nation to Accept the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Turkey has ratified the new Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), becoming the 71st WTO member to do so.  His Excellency Ambassador Haluk Ilicak and Hüsnü Dilerme, Deputy Under-Secretary with the Turkish Ministry of Economy, presented Turkey’s instrument of acceptance to WTO Deputy Director-General Yi Xiaozhun on March 16, 2016.

Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. The TFA also contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.

The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the Agreement.

Click here to read more about the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.


March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

UN Human Rights Expert Urges Support for the New President of the Central African Republic

The United Nations independent expert on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) today called on the international community to support that country's newly elected President Faustin Archange Touadéra, and the government he will form, as he takes measures to meet the high expectations of the population.

These include a return to security, disarming groups, strengthening the rule of law and fighting impunity, encouraging national reconciliation, and providing urgent services, such as education and health.

Speaking from Bangui during her sixth visit to CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita-Bocoum, also shared some concerns coming from civil society, which seeks greater protection of civilians, assistance for victims of sexual violence and of violence based on witchcraft accusations.

“All the actors of the civil society I met deplored the absence of the criminal justice system, the lack of access to justice and the lack of measures to protect victims and witnesses,” the expert said.

Ms. Keita-Bocoum noted also the challenges from humanitarian needs, which said remain “high”, with international aid often being the only way to meet the health, nutritional and sanitation basics for the population.

The country is emerging from nearly three years of fighting between the mainly Muslim Séléka and mainly Christian anti-Balaka groups.

The UN has played a major role in seeking to restore peace in the CAR, with military and police units from the 11,000-strong UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the country (MINUSCA) joining soldiers from the French Sangaris force and local security teams last 30 December at polling stations to ensure a peaceful presidential vote.

After nine months of improved stability in CAR, a new wave of inter-communal violence erupted in September of last year, killing at least 130 people, injuring 430 others, and triggering an 18 per cent increase in the number of internally displaced persons to 447,500.

The election of President Touadéra, who won the presidential run-off on 14 February and will be sworn in on 25 March, is being seen as a new chapter in the country's political history – despite numerous significant challenges that remain.

In her comments today, the UN expert noted some improvement in security, especially in the capital city of Bangui, but expressed concern about violence in the regions in the country's centre, east and north-east.

In addition, she cautioned against putting in power any individuals with human rights abuses. She stressed “the importance that elected officials are men and women who truly have willingness to represent the interests of the Central African people, with integrity and respect for human rights.”

The UN expert today also thanked the transitional government, led by Prime Minister Catherine Samba-Panza and her transitional government, for their cooperation and expressed her gratitude for their commitments and efforts in the initiatives for peaceful dialogue, national reconciliation and the democratic process, and in particular the holding of the Bangui Forum, the strengthening of women's leadership and the organization of free and peaceful elections.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based 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)

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ICJ Concludes Public Hearings on Jurisdictional Question in "Obligations Concerning Negotiations Relating to the Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament"

The International Court of Justice has concluded the public hearings on the question of jurisdiction in the case called Obligations concerning Negotiations relating to Cessation of the Nuclear Arms Race and to Nuclear Disarmament (Marshall Islands v. India) and (Marshall Islands v. United Kingdom). The ICJ will now begin its deliberations.

Ms Neeru Chadha, Former Additional Secretary and Legal Adviser, Ministry of External Affairs, as Agent, led the delegation of the Republic of India.

In a separate action, the delegation of the United Kingdom was led by Mr. Iain Macleod, as Agent.

H.E. Mr. Tony deBrum and Mr. Phon van den Biesen, Attorney at Law, Van den Biesen Kloostra Advocaten, Amsterdam, led the delegation of the Republic of the Marshall Islands as Co-Agents.

The Marshall Islands is asking the ICJ to reject objections to jurisdiction over claims that it brought against India and to declare that the ICJ has jurisdiction over claims submitted in its Application filed in April 2014.  The Republic of India and the United Kingdom urged the ICJ to find that it lacks jurisdiction and that the claims brought by the Marshall Islands are inadmissible.

The ICJ will deliver its judgment at a public session to be announced “in due course.” Further information about the case is available on the ICJ website.

As we reported in 2014, the Marshall Islands sued nine states for their alleged failure to comply with their obligations with respect to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament. The nine states named as respondents are: China, Korea, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Three of the states have accepted the ICJ's compulsory jurisdiction: India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. For the remaining six states, the Marshall Islands has requested that they consent to ICJ jurisdiciton over this dispute pursuant to Article 38(5) of the ICJ's Rules of Court, which reads:

"When the applicant State proposes to found the jurisdiction of the Court upon a consent thereto yet to be given or manifested by the State against which such application is made, the application shall be transmitted to that State. It shall not however be entered in the General List, nor any action be taken in the proceedings, unless and until the State against which such application is made consents to the Court’s jurisdiction for the purposes of the case."

The United Kingdom is the only State over which the ICJ currently has jurisdiction that is also a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). (China, France, Russia, and the United States are also parties to the NPT.)

The Marshall Islands alleges that the United Kingdom and the other States have violated Article VI of the NPT, which provides that: "

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

With respect to India and Pakistan, the Marshall Islands claims that the principles set out in Article VI of the NPT reflect customary international law and are binding as such on non-treaty parties as well. By way of relief, the Marshall Islands requests the ICJ to order the Respondents to take all steps necessary to comply with their obligations under international law with respect to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and nuclear disarmament within one year of the Judgment, including the pursuit, by initiation if necessary, of negotiations in good faith aimed at the conclusion of a convention on nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

(mew and cgb)

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

ICRC Combines Ability to Search International Humanitarian Law Databases

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has recently made available a combined search interface for their three International Humanitarian Law Databases:

  • Customary International Humanitarian Law
  • Treaties
  • National Implementation

Click here to have a look.
Hat tip to the American Society of International Law's International Legal Research Interest Group.(mew)

March 16, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

LGBT Detainees Suffer More Acts of Violence in Custody

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) detainees suffer more acts of violence than the general population in custody, according to a new United Nations human rights report that explored the link between gender and torture.

“Gender stereotypes still cause us to downplay the suffering of women, girls, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and sometimes even acquiesce in it,” Juan E. Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, said last week.

The report to the United Nations Human Rights Council looks at gender-based violence through the prism of the Convention against Torture, and highlights a tendency to regard violations against these groups as “ill-treatment” even where they would more appropriately be defined as “torture.”

The human rights expert pointed to the clear link between the criminalization of LGBT people and the violence and stigma these groups face. At least 76 countries have laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships between adults, he said.

“States are complicit in the violence women and LGBT groups face if they implement discriminatory laws that trap these people in a spiral of abuse,” Mr. Méndez stressed.

Focusing on detention conditions, the report quotes studies that say women make up between 2 per cent and 9 per cent of the prison population in most of the world’s prisons. Of those, up to 80 per cent are mothers and yet most jails are typically designed for men.

The expert recommends that non-custodial sanctions be given to help protect women, in particular mother and child, since the majority of crimes committed by women tend to be non-violent in nature.

Denial of safe abortion services can also amount to torture or ill treatment in some cases, where the life of the mother is endangered, or the pregnancy is the result of rape and incest, he said, urging States to reform their laws in this respect.

Domestic violence is far more prevalent than most people realise, said the rapporteur, citing an estimate that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced domestic violence of various kinds. Societal indifference, discriminatory laws and attitudes and a culture of impunity exacerbate problems like this, he said.

“States must finally implement their heightened obligation to prevent and combat gender-based violence and discrimination perpetrated by both State and private actors against women, girls and persons who transgress sexual and gender norms,” he stressed.

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based 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.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

March 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cooperation Among Judges Vital to Combatting Terrorism

Formal cooperation among judges is essential in bringing individuals charged with terrorism-related crimes to justice and ensuring that the rule of law is upheld throughout the process, according to officials at a United Nations event that for the first time brought together Supreme Court justices to discuss how terrorism cases are handled in their respective countries.

“Judges play a crucial role in interpreting counter-terrorism measures and promoting counter-terrorism measures within the human rights and legal frameworks,” UN Chef de Cabinet Edmond Mulet said in his opening statement to last week's event, entitled “The Effective Adjudication of Terrorism Cases.”

“Member States must ensure that they provide access to justice for all and work to strengthen institutions, including the judicial,” he told the event, organized by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED).

He stressed the importance of “effective, accountable and inclusive” justice not only for the victims and the perpetrators, but also for ensuring public confidence in the judicial process.

He pledged the UN's commitment to strengthening support to these efforts, telling the judges that “ultimately it is your work at the local, national and regional levels that will have the most impact.”

United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer provided an overview framing the issues that would be discussed in an interactive panel, namely the role of the country's top judiciary during times of conflict.

Echoing the idea that greater cooperation is useful between judicial representatives, he characterized being a judge as “not a gregarious job; it is a rather lonely job.”

He began by quoting the Roman philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero, who said: “In times of war, the law falls silent.” He then noted some key judicial moments from US history, including political and social challenges when the Supreme Court's decisions were ignored, such as immediately after the 1954 landmark case on racial segregation, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

In the context of war and anti-terrorism measures, the top court cannot write the government a blank check, the Justice said, before asking – then what colour is the check? How is this done in different Supreme Courts? And how do you create a rule of law where people agree to do it?

Speaking of his experience in Afghanistan, Supreme Court Justice Abdul Rasheed Rashid discussed the physical security threats facing judges in his country, and praised the people of Afghanistan for being “really courageous even if the kind of terrorism we have here is one of the worst.”

Justices from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan also participated. From Pakistan, Justice Asif Khosa, stressed that the main principle of a judge is to be fair, irrespective if the perpetrator is alleged to be a terrorist or a more common criminal.

“In the name of terrorism, I cannot brutalize justice,” he said.

The discussion was held under the umbrella of CTED's cooperation with the Global Center on Cooperative Security and the South Asia Judges Project, which consists of a series of workshops for judges, attended by representatives of all member States of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) [Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka], as well as by prosecutors and police officers from all the SAARC countries.

In the second half of the event, judicial representatives discussed the cooperation and support necessary to support senior judges in leading a criminal justice response to terrorism.

One of the main issues that evolved was that terrorists should not be able to take advantage of legal loopholes or differences between jurisdictions in a country or between countries, in order to absolve themselves of wrongdoing.

The speakers included Chief Justice Jean Fahed, Court of Cassation of Lebanon, and Chief Justice Khaled Ayari, Court of Cassation of Tunisia.

In his closing remarks, Jean-Paul Laborde, the Executive Director of CTED, said today's event would be a first step in giving Supreme Court justices access to the global institution so that they can continue to become familiar with the international challenges and debates.

“These connections between the diplomatic and judicial world are essential for the future of our fight against terrorism and for our fight against all forms of international crime,” Mr. Laborde said.

He noted that judges need to be able to stay abreast of the flexibility and the speed of action of these terrorist organizations, to be fully aware of the type of response that needs to be provided at the judiciary level.

“We in the Security Council and the CTC [Counter-Terrorism Committee] need to raise our voice and give judges this ability to administer justice, to be able to speak with States, to be able to take action against these situations,” he added.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

March 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)