October 07, 2008
ASIL Launches i.lex
i.lex: The Legal Research System for International Law in U.S. Courts, is an online database of select U.S. court cases and related materials produced by the American Society of International Law to serve as a resource for identifing and understanding how international law is interpreted and applied by U.S. courts at both the federal and state level. Hat tip to Legal Research Plus. [JH]
August 31, 2008
Carnegie Middle East Center Think Tank Traces the Origin of Current Middle Eastern Policies
There have been many attempts by the international community to bring order to the chaos within the Middle East. To accomplish any significant and enduring change, Arab states must themselves “overcome divisive ideologies, prioritize common interests, and develop a cooperative political and security architecture if a new regional order is to come to fruition.” In The Middle East: Evolution of a Broken Regional Order, Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, examines how a number of key players in the Middle East perceived the threats and opportunities created by the aftermath of September 11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq and how they have shaped their policies in reaction to changing developments.
Salem offers analysis of:
- The emergence of the troubled Arab state system after the collapse of the Ottoman state
- The implications of political independence, the discovery of oil, and the founding of Israel
- The dynamics between Turkey, Iran, and the Arab states
- The implications of 9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Iraq for the regional state system
- Competing projects for a new regional order
August 30, 2008
2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic
From the press release: "According to new data in the UNAIDS 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic there have been significant gains in preventing new HIV infections in a number of heavily affected countries. In Rwanda and Zimbabwe, changes in sexual behavior have been followed by declines in the number of new HIV infections." 2008 Global Report | Executive summary | Multimedia [RJ]
August 24, 2008
UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
By its landmark resolution 60/288 of 8 September 2006, the General Assembly adopted the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which, for the first time, united all 192 Member States behind a common strategic framework. A new report UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy: activities of the UN system in implementing the Strategy has been issued. The report highlights the efforts of the United Nations to support implementation of the Strategy, both through its individual departments, specialized agencies, funds and programs and through the Task Force. In looking forward, it suggests some measures on how the Task Force can further contribute to Strategy implementation. [RJ]
August 23, 2008
Two New Human Rights Reports
From the UN Pulse:Two UN human rights committees' reports have been issued.
- The report of the Committee on the Rights of the Child has also been issued (A/63/41). This report also summarizes the meetings of the committee and includes the committee's "General Comments" on topics within the scope of the Convention (A/RES/44/25).
- The report of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on its 38th & 39th session has been issued (E/2008/22 - E/C.12/2007/3). This report summarizes the meetings held, including the review of states parties' reports to the committee.
August 18, 2008
Human Rights Watch Evaluates ICC Operations
In March 2003 the first 18 judges of the International Criminal Court's bench were sworn in. The ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, took office in June 2003 and the ICC got down to the business of investigating human rights violations and prosecuting war criminals. Without its own police force, the biggest challenge the Court faces in executing its mandate under the Rome Statute is primarily outside of its control, namely apprehending suspects.
Courting History: The Landmark International Criminal Court’s First Years (July 2008) sets out Human Rights Watch’s assessment of the ICC’s operations to date. Recommends include the following:
- The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) needs to improve its capacity to conduct investigations by recruiting more investigators, especially those with considerable experience.
- The ICC should embark on a more robust outreach campaign to answer questions about the Court and explain its work to increase the Court's impact.
- The ICC needs to enhance its level of field engagement by making field offices more accessible to communities most affected, increasing the involvement of field-based staff in devising and developing outreach and other strategies that implicate members of affected communities, such as victims’ participation and witness protection.
August 09, 2008
Human Rights, Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism
"This Fact Sheet has been prepared with the aim of strengthening understanding of the complex and multifaceted relationship between human rights and terrorism. It identifies some of the critical human rights issues raised in the context of terrorism and highlights the relevant human rights principles and standards which must be respected at all times and in particular in the context of counter-terrorism.
It is addressed to State authorities, national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), national human rights institutions, legal practitioners and individuals concerned with ensuring the protection and promotion of human rights in the context of terrorism and counterterrorism.
Specifically, the Fact Sheet is intended to:
- Raise awareness of the impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights;
- Provide a practical tool for practitioners dealing with terrorism, counter-terrorism measures and human rights;
- Provide guidance on ensuring compliance with human rights when countering terrorism;
- Illustrate specific human rights challenges in countering terrorism." [RJ]
August 07, 2008
Beijing, China: 8/8/08 & May 2009
At last, the Beijing Olympiad opens today! It will be fascinating to see whether the numerous controversies leading up to it continue during the Games. For comprehensive coverage of this quadrennial global sporting spectacle, check out the special websites of NBC and CCTV. World-renowned Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou will direct the opening and closing ceremonies inside the "Bird's Nest" stadium. If China's history-rich capital city arouses your curiosity and you desire to visit after Olympic fever subsides, then consider attending the first-ever China-U.S. Conference on Legal Information and Law Libraries next May in Beijing. In addition to sightseeing, it "will be an opportunity for law librarians and legal information professionals from both the U.S. and China to share experiences and exchange views in regard to legal information development and law library management. The major goals of the Conference are to promote communication and cooperation in the area of legal information and law libraries between the two countries." These goals would make Pierre de Coubertin proud. [RLS]
July 26, 2008
UNICEF 2007 Annual Report
From the press release: "The Annual Report 2007 details UNICEF’s work on behalf of children and their families in 155 countries and territories. The report outlines the challenges and accomplishments of UNICEF and its vast network of partners in their quest to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals. Highlights include the historic drop in deaths of children under five, dipping below 10 million in 2006, successful ‘Go to School’ campaigns in countries emerging from crises, innovative programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and on-the-ground responses to natural and human-made cataclysms." [RJ]
July 25, 2008
New and Updated GlobaLex Research Guides
From the July 2008 GlobaLex release:
New research guides and articles:
- A Brief Overview of the Saudi Arabian Legal System By Dr. Abdullah F. Ansary
- Defining International Terrorism in Light of Liberation Movements By Innocent Maja
- A New Guide to Legal Research in Mali By Servaas Feiertag
Updated research guides and articles:
- International Sports Law by Amy Burchfield
- Doing Legal Research in Brazil by Edilenice Passo
- A Guide to the Singapore Legal System and Legal Research by Tzi Yong Sam Sim
July 23, 2008
Chinese Law Databases
Flora Sapio has compiled a list of 30 Chinese law databases (with very brief descriptions), most in Chinese, some in English such as the Asian Legal Information Institute's Laws of the People's Republic of China or bilingual e.g., iSinoLaw's fee-based resources. Hat tip to Chinese Law Prof Blog. [JH]
Bibliography of Academic Writings in the Field of Chinese Law in Western Languages, 2007
Dr. Knut Benjamin Pissler (Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law) has published the latest version of his annual bibliography on academic works concerning Chinese law in western languages (primarily in English or German). Download Pissler's very helpful bibliography (pdf). [JH]
July 15, 2008
Congratulations to Mark Wojcik
Mark Wojcik (Professor of Law and Director of the Global Legal Studies Program at John Marshall Law School (Chicago)) has been appointed the ABA's Alternate Observer to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Mark co-edits International Law Prof Blog and contributes to Legal Writing Prof Blog, both members of the Law Professor Blogs Network.
Hat tip to Coleen Barger, Legal Writing Prof Blog. [JH]
July 14, 2008
Mediterranean Union Officially Launched
Heads of state from 43 countries launched the Mediterranean Union in Paris on Sunday. [Joint Declaration of the Paris Summit for the Mediterranean (July 13, 2008)]. Officially, the new body is called the "Barcelona Process: Union of the Mediterranean" in order to counter fears that the Med Union would become a rival to the EU's existing Barcelona Process. See The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership; Twelve Questions about the Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation: The Barcelona Process Explained; and Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean (Communication from the Commission to the European Parlament and the Council).
The Union's members include all 27 EU nations, the 12 Mediterranean countries which are members of the EU's Barcelona Process and the four Balkan countries bordering the Mediterranean. The main focus of the Med Union will include the following areas:
- Improving energy supply;
- Fighting pollution in the Mediterranean;
- Strengthening the surveillance of maritime traffic and "civil security cooperation"; and
- Creating a scientific community between Europe and its southern neighbors.
See also: Lee Hudson Teslik's A Mediterranean Rendezvous (Council on Foreign Relations). [JH]
July 12, 2008
OHCHR Report of Activities 2007
From the UN Pluse: "The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has released the report for its activites for 2007 (full-text, pdf ). The report reviews the work of the Commission in 2007, documenting the many activities and initiatives underataken throughout the year, and presenting an assessment of the results achieved and challenges encountered." See also: Human Rights Handbook for NGOs, OHCHR. [RJ]
July 08, 2008
China's Perspective on Tibet
China and envoys of the Dalai Lama met last week in Beijing to discuss possibly having more discussions about Tibet later this year after the Olympics. Most Americans who know anything about Tibet know only one side of the story: the Tibetan government in exile's side, whose high-profile backers include politician Nancy Pelosi, actor Richard Gere, and musician Adam Yauch (aka MCA) of the Beastie Boys. Although not well known and lacking such backers, the Chinese side is still worth learning about to get a nuanced understanding of this half-century old international controversy. "Tibet touches a raw nerve for many Chinese, including those living overseas, because of the legacy of foreign intervention in China during the 19th century and early 20th century. British troops invaded Tibet in 1903 and 1904 as the Qing Dynasty was nearing collapse. Today, many Chinese recall the role of the Central Intelligence Agency in Tibet during the 1950s and interpret Western sympathy for the current protests as another foreign effort to destabilize and divide China." –-- Jim Yardley, New Museum Offers the Official Line on Tibet, New York Times (April 17, 2008). For more nuance, check out the following English-language websites: China Central Television (CCTV) documentary: The Past of Tibet; China Tibet Information Center; Chinese Government White Papers (six are specifically on Tibet); and People's Daily: Tell You a True Tibet. [RLS]
Editor's Note: With this post, I'm delighted to announce that Roy Sturgeon has joined LLB as a contributing editor. Roy is Touro's Foreign & International Law Librarian and an Adjunct Professor. He also serves as the library liaison to the Public Advocacy Center. He earned his JD from Valparaiso, MLS from St. John's, and LLM in Chinese Law, with distinction, from Tsinghua University Law School (Beijing). Roy is a member of AALL, IALL and ASIL, and has served as a Jessup Moot Court Competition Judge.
Roy hopes to publish his Tsinghua thesis, The Past, Present, & Future of Free Speech in China, next year. Additional works-in-progress include an article for GlobaLex, One Country, Two Systems’ of Legal Research: A Guide to Finding the Law of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (with Sergio Stone) and a book, From Lord Shang to Democracy Wall: A Select Annotated Bibliography Exploring 3,000 Years of Chinese Legal History—in English. His published works include Preserving the Past, Preparing for the Future: Modern Chinese Libraries & Librarianship, 1898-2000s, World Libraries 14.1, (Spring 2004) as well as articles in American Libraries (Nov. 2007) and the Texas Hispanic Journal of Law & Policy (Spring 2001).
In addition to attending the Tsinghua University Law School in Beijing during 2005-06, Roy lived in Shanghai while serving as an English Instructor at the Peijia International School (2003-04). He plans on visiting China later this year. The quotation from a famous Tang dynasty poet Roy has on his email sig line reflects both his interest in China and his profession. It reads:
Pagoda tree flowers bright with rain, new autumn in the land; paulownia leaves wind-tossed, sky verging on evening: all day in the back office, nothing to do, the senior librarian, white-haired, sleeps with his head on a book.
From a rapidly greying-haired librarian sleeping on his keyboard, JH
July 05, 2008
Commission on the Status of Women Report
From the UN Pulse: "The report of the 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is now available (E/2008/27-E/CN.6/2008/11). The report includes the agreed conclusions on financing gender equality and the empowerment of women and draft resolutions and decisions for adoption by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)."
May 29, 2008
Amnesty International's Report 2008: State of the World's Human Rights
From the press release:
“Injustice, inequality and impunity are the hallmarks of our world today. Governments must act now to close the yawning gap between promise and performance.” [Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, launching AI Report 2008: State of the World’s Human Rights.]
Amnesty International’s Report 2008, shows that sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, people are still tortured or ill-treated in at least 81 countries, face unfair trials in at least 54 countries and are not allowed to speak freely in at least 77 countries.
“2007 was characterised by the impotence of Western governments and the ambivalence or reluctance of emerging powers to tackle some of the world’s worst human rights crises, ranging from entrenched conflicts to growing inequalities which are leaving millions of people behind,” said Ms Khan.
Amnesty International cautioned that the biggest threat to the future of human rights is the absence of a shared vision and collective leadership.
Report 08 mini-documentary for a snapshot of the state of the world's human rights in 2007:
Launch page for AI YouTube Channel
May 14, 2008
Israel at 60, a Brief Documentary History
The State of Israel was proclaimed on May 14 1948, making today its 60th anniversary. Depending on your choice of timelines, it was the successful completion of the Zionist objective expressed in the Basel Program adopted on August 30, 1897 by the First Zionist Congress or the culmination of nearly 2,000 years of hopes by Jewish people to return one day to Eretz Yisrael after being exiled to the Diaspora by the Romans following the Bar Kochba revolt in 135. See Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Timeline.
Political zionists base the territorial legitimacy of Israel under international law as a Jewish state on the British government's Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 which was re-affirmed in the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine in 1922. The Mandate for Palestine gave international sanction to the historic connection between the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael, and to the right of the Jewish people to recreate a "homeland" in one fourth of the Transjordan territory controlled by Britain. The historic connection to the Land of Israel in general and to Jerusalem in particular can be traced back in Jewish national and religious consciousness to the 10th century BCE, culminating in King David forging a unified nation from Jerusalem by uniting the twelve tribes.
On November 29 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem under an international regime (UN Resolution 181) despite oppositon from the Arab community which have called the declaration of the State of Israel "al-Nakba", the catastrophe. What follows is a selection from the documentary history leading up to the the proclamation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948.
The Basel Program. The First Zionist Congress at Basel, Switzerland, adopted the "Basel Program" resolutions August 30, 1897, which proclaimed Zionism's aim "to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael to be guaranteed by public (ie international) law":
Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael secured under public law. The Congress contemplates the following means to the attainment of this end:
- The promotion by appropriate means of the settlement in Eretz-Israel of Jewish farmers, artisans, and manufacturers.
- The organization and uniting of the whole of Jewry by means of appropriate institutions, both local and international, in accordance with the laws of each country.
- The strengthening and fostering of Jewish national sentiment and national consciousness.
- Preparatory steps toward obtaining the consent of governments, where necessary, in order to reach the goals of Zionism.
Some would call the Basel Program, the first expression of Political Zionism because of its reliance on diplomatic activity as the main method for getting the Jewish homeland. The Conference itself is clearly significant because it was the first international gathering of Jews on a national and secular basis; the delegates were largely assimilated Jews seeking to craft a secular manifesto based on the rule of law. The Basel Program was clearly influenced by Vienna journalist Theodore Herzl's political pamphlet Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State, English translation available at Project Gutenberg) which had been published in 1896, the year before the the First Zionist Congress. Herzl, who chaired the Congress, opposed unlawful efforts already made by other Zionist groups to settle Jews in Ottoman-controlled Palestine, arguing that "important experiments in colonization have been made, though on the mistaken principle of a gradual infiltration of Jews. An infiltration is bound to end badly. It continues till the inevitable moment when the native population feels itself threatened, and forces the government to stop a further influx of Jews. Immigration is consequently futile unless we have the sovereign right to continue such immigration.” Quoted from The Jewish State.
The Balfour Declaration. Issued by the British Government in 1917 as the so- to-be victors of WW I contemplated how Western powers would administer territories of the vanquished, in this instance the territories of the Ottoman Empire, the Balfour Declaration promised that a "national home for the Jewish people" would be founded in Palestine, while preserving the "civil and religious" rights of non-Jewish communities there. From the Balfour Declaration:
His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
The British could not reconcile the conflicting principles, perhaps because while the phrase "national home" was intentionally used instead of "state" it was undeniable that the creation of a Jewish state would be the eventual outcome under the Balfour Declaration and that Arab cooperation was uncertain at best. See, for example, Theodore Herzl's utopian novel, Altneuland (The Old New Land, 1902) for an illustration of how Arabs and Jews were to live together in harmony but note the arrogance of the supremacy of Western European culture and industry expressed therein).
Faisal-Weizmann Agreement. One attempt at Arab-Jewish cooperation was the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement, a short-lived secret agreement signed on January 3, 1919, by Amir Faisal I ibn Hussein (acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz) and Chaim Weizmann (acting on behalf of the "Zionist Organization"). The Agreement, brokered by T. E. Lawrence, sought to harmonize the positions of all three parties -- Jews, Arabs and Britain -- before the Paris Peace Conference. The Agreement stipulated Arab-Jewish cooperation on the development of a Jewish homeland in Palestine and an Arab nation in a large part of the Middle East. However, the Paris Peace Conference refused to recognize an independent Arab state in the region. Ultimately, the principles expressed in the the Balfour Declaration were recognized under international law by the League of Nations in the Mandate for Palestine (July 24, 1922) which carved out one-quarter of the territory of Palestine for a Jewish home and provided for immigration to that homeland.
British White Paper of 1939. In the spring of 1920, spring of 1921 and summer of 1929, civil unrest broke out between Zionist settlers and Arab nationalists who opposed the Jewish homeland and immigration policies expressed in the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate. This unrest culminated in 1936 with widespread rioting, now known as the Arab Revolt or Great Uprising. During this period, the British government pursued a number of policies to restrict Jewish immigration that culminated in the British White Paper of 1939 which effectively closed Jewish immigration to Palestine and restrict land purchases. Specifically, the 1939 White Paper decreed that 15,000 Jews would be allowed to enter Palestine each year for five years. Thereafter, immigration would be subject to Arab approval. Effectively, it had rescinded the Balfour Declaration and reneged on the British commitment to a Jewish national home in Palestine. The League Mandates Commission declared the White Paper to be unlawful, stating "The policy set out in the White Paper is not in accordance with the interpretation which, in agreement with the Mandatory Power and the Council, the Commission has placed upon the Palestine Mandate."
Readers are well aware of the historical context. While many people may not have known about the Nazi atrocities, the increasingly frequent and vivid reports of the Holocaust were common knowledge in government circles in Britain and the US. Despite the desperate need to find a haven for refugees, the doors of Palestine remained shut to Jewish immigration as the British tried to maintain internal peace in Palestine.
The Biltmore Program. In Nazi-occupied Europe, there were still millions of Jews trapped in the Nazi occupation, and the Zionist were looking desperately for a way to get them out. Though the World Zionist Congress had been cancelled owing to the war, a small group of leaders met in the Biltmore Hotel in New York on May 6-11 of 1942. Towards that end, the Conference removed any doubt over the diplomatic fiction of a "homeland" by calling for the creation of sovereign Jewish state. The Conference adopted the following resolutions, now known as the Biltmore Program::
- the fulfillment of the original purpose of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate
- to found there a Jewish Commonwealth"
- unalterable rejection of the White Paper of May 1939
- that Palestine be established as a Jewish Commonwealth integrated in the structure of the new democratic world.
In reality what followed the British White Paper of 1939 until the British Mandate expired on May 14, 1948, was the a gradual infiltration of Jews into Palestine.
UN Resolution 181. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted on the Partition Plan for Palestine, UN Resolution 181. Passing by a vole of 33 in favor, 13 against, with 10 countries abstaining, UN Resolution 181 specified that the Mandate for Palestine would expire no later than August 1, 1948 and did expire on May 14, 1948. Pursuant to the Resolution, the territory covered by the Mandate would be divided into two sovereign states, one Jewish and one Arab. Under Sec. III of the Resolution, the City of Jerusalem would be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime administered by the United Nations for no less than 10 years.
On May 14, 1948, The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, oftentimes referred to as the "Israeli Declaration of Independence," was released as the official announcement that the new Jewish state, named the State of Israel, had been formally established. We all know the rest. The inter-communal fighting between Palestinian Arabs and Jews that had preceded the Declaration while Palestine was controlled by the British after WWII escalated into all out war as armies from five Arab states invaded the territory of the new State of Israel. By the time of the 1949 armistice, the Israelis had extended their territory, leaving Jordan with the West Bank, Egypt with Gaza and Jerusalem divided. [BBC's Changing Map of Israel] Thousands of Palestinian Arabs fled or were driven out of Israeli-controlled territory. See Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2007). The refugee count now numbers some 4 million. [BBC's Facts and Figures] For a chronology of war and peace in Palestine since the Declaration, see the BBC's Timeline. See generally BBC's Special Report: Israel at 60]. [JH]
May 08, 2008
UN Convention on Disabilities Ratified
From the UN Pulse: "The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities entered into force on 3 May 2008. The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly on 13 December 2006 (A/RES/61/106), and was opened for signature and ratification on 30 March 2007. The Convention had to be ratified by 20 states before it came into force – a process that can sometimes take several years. In this case, it took only a little over one year." [RJ]