Wednesday, May 28, 2008
By a vote of 560-4, the first-ever session of Nepal's Constituent Assembly amended that country's constitution, declaring Nepal a federal democratic republic. The measure, sponsored jointly by the Nepali Congress, Unified Marxist-Leninist, and Maoist parties, has the effect of abolishing the nation's 239-year monarchic rule by the Shah dynasty.
By operation of the amendment, the Nepali monarch, Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, immediately loses his royal prerogatives; as a result of a subsequent vote, the royal family has 15 days to vacate the royal palace.
The Nepali government immediately declared a two-day national holiday to celebrate the measure.
Earlier in the day, the Constituent Assembly was shaken by two bomb blasts, which were detonated just as the Assembly's first session was called to order. Preliminary reports from Kathmandu indicate that a pro-Hindu party group, Ranabir Sena, was responsible for the blasts.
For more information, see http://www.nepalnews.com/.
The Chair of the WTO Negotiating Group issued a working document regarding negotiations on rules. The document takes the form of a cover note and three annexes relating to anti-dumping, horizontal subsidies and fisheries subsidies. It seeks to convey the full spectrum and intensity of the reactions to the Chair's first draft texts and to identify the many suggested changes put forward by delegations.
Click here for more information
David Wescott shared with me this op-ed on Judicial Reform in Malaysia. It appeared in the Wall Street Journal and was written by the Law Minister of Malaysia, recognizing the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary.
Hat tip to David Wescott
Indonesia may be dropping its membership in OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Indonesia is the only member of OPEC in Asia, but for years the country has been a net importer of oil rather than an exporter. A radio report this morning stated that part of the problem could be that the legal and investment climate in Indonesia has kept foreign oil companies from investing in Indonesia.
Benjamin Davis, a professor at the University of Toledo School of Law (in Ohio, not Spain) served with me as co-chair of the American Society of International Law Interest Group for Teaching International Law. I recently had a chance to visit with him while teaching bar review classes at his law school.
Ben has published a new essay asking why we are not celebrating the contributions of the lawyers in the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and elsewhere who put their jobs on the line to stand up for true American values. Click here to read Ben's essay in Jurist.
Hat tip to Hazel Weiser
- Louis Rothberg (Associate Counsel for International Cooperative Programs, U.S. Army);
- Joseph Dennin (a partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP);
- Stephen Canner (Vice President, Investment and Financial Services, U.S. Council for International Business);
- Nova Daly, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Investment Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury
- Moderator: Geoffrey Goodale, Foley & Lardner LLP (Moderator)
1900 K Street, NW
Government and Non-Profit Employees $25.00
Section Members and ABA Section of International Law $25.00
Non-Section Members $35.00
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Higher Education for Development (HED), a program that links higher education institutions with USAID and the Department of State, has announced that it anticipates making up to three awards of up to $250,000 each in the area of "rule of law" as part of its US-Mexico Training, Internships, Exchanges, and Scholarships (TIES) Initiative.
One award is targetted at programs focused on gender and indigenous languages and two are focused on constitutional reforms in Mexico.
The deadline for proposals is June 20, 2008.
For more information about this RFA, see http://www.hedprogram.org/tabid/66/itemid/157/TIES-US--Mexico-University-Partnerships.aspx. For more information about HED, see http://www.hedprogram.org/.
How are U.S. law schools meeting the needs of students from other countries? Click here to download an article by Julie Spanbauer, who surveyed LL.M. programs in the United States and how they handle students who speak English as a second language.
Monday, May 26, 2008
The House of Delegates of the Republic of Palau adopted a resolution expressing its disapproval of how the President and first lady of Palau were treated by Continental Micronesia Airlines and the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA). President Remengesau and First Lady Debbie Remengesau were in the Philippines in April for an official state visit. They were refused boarding on a Continental Airlines flight to return to the Republic of Palau for refusing to submit to frisking. The president and his wife returned to their hotel, and then later returned to Palau by a private jet provided by the Philippine government. According to the Marianas Variety, the resolution adopted by the Palauan legislature said that there should have been more respect shown to Palau's president.
P.S. I served as Court Counsel to the Supreme Court of the Republic of Palau in 1994-95, during the year that Palau became an independent country. It was previously a strategic trust territory of the United Nations, administered by the United States. The photo to the left, from the Palau government's official website, is of a traditional "bai" (meeting house).
The Chair of the WTO Council for Trade in Services issued a report on May 26, 2008 on the elements needed to complete the services negotiations in the Doha Round. The report includes a draft services text for possible adoption by WTO members. Legal services are included in one of the areas in which countries will be encouraged to liberalize services. Click here for a short summary from the WTO, the text of the report, and the annex with the draft language for the resolution.
The same link also includes a sidebar with a useful breakdown that you might find useful for your teaching notes for lectures next year. The sidebar explains the four modes of providing services internationally:
- Mode 1: services supplied from one country to another, such as international telephone calls ("cross-border supply");
- Mode 2: consumers or firms making use of a service in another country, such as tourism ("consumption abroad");
- Mode 3: a foreign company setting up subsidiaries or branches to provide services in another country ("commercial presence"); and
- Mode 4: individuals traveling from their own country to provide services in another, such as fashion modeling or consulting ("presence of natural persons").
Saturday, May 24, 2008
The United Nations Association for the United States of American (UNA-USA) is reporting that both the House and Senate have adopted versions of an emergency supplemental spending bill (H.R. 2642) to provide increased funding for UN peacekeeping and membership dues to international organizations, including the United Nations.
On Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly elected 15 Member States to three-year terms on the 47-member Human Rights Council. Ten States were effectively "re-elected: Brazil, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Pakistan, the Republic of Korea, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Zambia were voted into seats vacated at the conclusion of their own three-year terms.
Meanwhile, five new States joined the Council. Argentina and Chile take the Latin American and Caribbean seats formerly occupied by Guatemala and Peru; Burkina Faso replaces Gabon in the only one of the 13 African seats to change hands; Bahrain replaces Sri Lanka as one of the 13 Asian members; and Slovakia replaces Romania in one of the six seats reserved for Eastern European States.
The African and Latin American/Caribbean slots were uncontested. In other regions, four States (Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Serbia, and Spain) failed to receive the 97-member majority required for election.
The new members will take their seats in the Council on June 20.
Before that date, the Council will conclude one more session in its current composition. The Eighth Session of the Human Rights Council will begin on June 2 and conclude on June 18. The Session will take up a number of issues, including:
(1) Follow-up and implementation of the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action on racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia;
(2) Follow-up and implementation of the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which clarified the UN's position on the relationship among the various human rights instruments and organs;
(3) Assessing the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied territories;
(4) Assessing the human rights situation in Myanmar;
(5) Hearing reports from UN Special Rapporteurs and Representatives and making recommendations on the following topics:
internally displaced persons, summary executions, judicial independence, poverty, transnational corporations, and trafficking;
(6) Discussing the current state of human rights of women; and
(7) Conducting "universal periodic review" of the human rights situation in 32 States.
On Thursday, the Council completed its Seventh Special Session, on the impact of soaring food prices on the right to food.
Established in 2006 by General Assembly Resolution 60/251, the Council replaced the UN Human Rights Commission as the principle UN body for human rights. For more information on the Eighth Session, see the UN's website on the meetings at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/8session/index.htm. For more information on the Council itself, see its homepage at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/.
Friday, May 23, 2008
The President of The Gambia, Yahyeh Jammeh, made statements ordering homosexuals to leave the country within 24 hours, and threatening to arrest hotel owners who rented rooms to gays or lesbians. Below is the text of a letter by Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), condemning the statements and analyzing them in the context of international human rights law.
President Jammeh, a former army lieutenant, overthrew the democratically-elected government of the Gambia in 1994, while the Gambian President was on a visiting U.S. warship.
Here's the text of the letter to President Jammeh:
President Yayeh Jammeh
Private Mail Bag
Banjul, The Gambia
I write on behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) to express our concern and outrage over reports that you have given gay men and lesbians twenty-four hours to leave the Gambia, or face “serious consequences”. Reports in the Daily Observer indicate that you have warned landlords, hotel owners and others who might rent dwellings to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people that they must expel gay men and lesbians from their dwellings.
President Jammeh, your statements are in direct violation of your country’s own Constitution and compromise Gambia’s adherence to several international and regional human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Gambian Constitution states that “every person shall have the right to liberty and security of the person.” The African Charter, in Article 2 states that “every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status."
Your statements tell the people of Gambia that it is acceptable to turn away its neighbors who are need. Article 12 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, of which your country is a signatory, states that, “every individual shall have the right, when persecuted, to seek and obtain asylum in other countries in accordance with laws of those countries and international conventions.” Any gay or lesbian person, be they a Gambian national or a refugee from a neighboring country, has the right to the protection of the Gambian government, not its enmity. By threatening hotel owners who rent rooms to LGBT people, you are further denying individuals the rights to housing and security and ordering business owners to discriminate based on their fear of government reprisal.
You were also quoted, President Jammeh, to have threatened “to cut off the head” of any homosexual caught in the Gambia. The ICCPR and the African Charter condemn extra-judicial executions and political killings. The Yogyakarta Principles, signed by several prominent African jurists, have made clear that “everyone has the right to life” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life, including by reference to considerations of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Your threats are creating an environment of fear and persecution in your country.
Gambia hosts the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and several key human rights non-governmental organizations. As such, you have a special responsibility to move above your personal moral or religious beliefs and recognize that while viewpoints on homosexuality may differ in the Gambia, your country is committed to a human rights regime that includes the basic human rights of all minorities. Intolerance and hatred are distinctly unspiritual values denounced by the Bible, the Koran, and all other major religious texts.
President Jammeh, we ask that you immediately retract your statements and make clear to the Gambian public that violence against any segment of the population will not be tolerated. We will be vigilantly monitoring the human rights situation in the Gambia, with particular focus on the treatment of LGBT Gambians, to ensure that your statements do not escalate levels of violence. Thousands of visitors come to your country each year from Africa, Europe and North America and experience the warm and open hospitality of the Gambian people. Our belief is that the Gambian people are accepting and tolerant of differences, be they linguistic, ethnic or sexual.
Furthermore, we ask that you begin the process of repealing Article 144 of the Criminal Code of 1965, which calls for the imprisonment of people convicted of consensual homosexual acts for up to 14 years. This law, inherited from the British penal code, is no longer acceptable in a modern society, respectful of human rights and values.
Blaming sexual minorities for the problems of the country is a strategy that has been tried in other countries. Gay and lesbian people are not your problem or your enemy. They are your sons and daughters, the teachers of your children, the pastors of your churches, the leaders of your mosques, the seller of tomatoes in the market. We are everywhere, making contributions everyday to the development of our countries.
Gambian authorities must respect and protect the human rights of all those living within the country’s borders, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
We look forward to your rapid response.
Today the Supreme Court of Canada issued a ground-breaking decision in Canada (Justice) v. Khadr. I wanted to share this with those who are interested in international criminal law, human rights law, conflict of laws, and what Canada is up to …
Before I provide the information about the decision, I want to say that I sympathize with the soldiers and families of soldiers in Iraq. I am not sending this to offend anyone or to make any sort of political commentary. I acknowledge that the topic is a difficult one for many and the facts are horrible. I only want to share this information because it may be relevant for some.
Omar Khadr is accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Iraq. He was injured in the same fire-fight. He was treated for his wounds. He was sent to Gitmo. Khadr's U.S. war-crimes trial is scheduled to begin later this year. His U.S. defence lawyers are seeking material in order to prepare his defence. Some of the information the U.S defence lawyers cannot get through the U.S. procedures have been requested from the Government of Canada.
In today's decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered the federal government of Canada to hand over information that it obtained during interrogation sessions that Canadian agents held with him in 2003. Further, the Court ordered the delivery of any information that Canadian authorities have given to their US counterparts as a direct consequence of conducting the interviews.
The reason for ordering the disclosure of the information is summarized as follows:
"The principles of international law and comity of nations, which normally require that Canadian officials operating abroad comply with local law, do not extend to participation in processes that violate Canada’s international human rights obligations. ... The process in place at the time Canadian officials interviewed Mr. Khadr and passed the fruits of the interviews on to U.S. officials has been found by the United States Supreme Court to violate U.S. domestic law and international human rights obligations to which Canada is party. In light of these decisions by the United States Supreme Court that the process at Guantanamo Bay did not comply with either U.S. domestic or international law, the comity concerns that would normally justify deference to foreign law do not apply in this case. Consequently, the Charter applies, and Canada is under a s. 7 duty of disclosure. The content of this duty is defined by the nature of Canada’s participation in the process that violated Canada’s international human rights obligations. In the present circumstances, this duty requires Canada to disclose to Mr. Khadr records of the interviews conducted by Canadian officials with him, and information given to U.S. authorities as a direct consequence of conducting the interviews, subject to claims for privilege and public interest immunity."
However, the Supreme Court of Canada did not order the delivery of a U.S. military report of the battle that took place on the day Khadr was arrested, which had been shared with the Canadian authorities.
"The U.S. government claims to have somehow misplaced it," the U.S Defence lawyer said in an interview. "The only way to get that report was to get it from Canada. We requested everything, but unfortunately, the Supreme Court has not gone far enough today."
However with respect to the ordered disclosure and in an attempt to acknowledge the unique nature of the materials at issue, the Court states:
"....This disclosure is subject to the balancing of national security and other considerations as required by ss. 38 ff. of the Canada Evidence Act.
 ... it is not possible on the record before this Court to determine what specific records should be disclosed to Mr. Khadr. In order to assess what specific documents must be disclosed as falling within the group of documents described in para. 37, a designated judge of the Federal Court must review the documents. The designated judge will also consider any privilege or public interest immunity claim that is raised, including any claim under ss. 38 ff. of the Canada Evidence Act.
 The designated judge will review the material and receive submissions from the parties, and decide which documents fall within the categories set out in para. 37 above. In particular, the designated judge will determine which records fall within the scope of the disclosure obligation as being (i) records of the interviews conducted by Canadian officials with Mr. Khadr, or (ii) records of information given to U.S. authorities as a direct consequence of Canada’s having interviewed Mr. Khadr.
 Pursuant to s. 38.06 of the Canada Evidence Act, the designated judge will then consider whether disclosure of the records described in (i) and (ii) to Mr. Khadr would be injurious to international relations or national defence or national security, and whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance the public interest in non-disclosure. The designated judge will decide whether to authorize the disclosure of all the information, a part or summary of the information, or a written admission of facts relating to the information, subject to any conditions that the judge considers appropriate. We note that this review is currently ongoing pursuant to this Court’s order of January 23, 2008."
To read a copy of the decision, please click http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2008/2008scc28/2008scc28.html
Cyndee Todgham Cherniak
Several European officials have raised the possibility that the government of Myanmar has violated international humanitarian law by hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid to its people after Cyclone Nargis. Some European officials have suggested that the international community should invoke the "responsibility to protect" or "R2P" principle to justify intervention in Myanmar even in the absence of governmental permission. Yesterday (May 22), the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating that if the the Myanmar government does not change its position, it should be held accountable for committing a crime against humanity. The EU Parliament urged the EU to seek a United Nations Security Council resolution referring the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) if the Myanmar government continues to prevent aid from reaching survivors in disaster areas. In contrast, other European leaders have suggested that these types of actions will provoke the Myanmar government and make the sitution worse.
The International Court of Justice ruled today in a territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore. The court found that Singapore has sovereignty over Pedra Branca/Pulau Batu Puteh; that Malaysia has sovereignty over Middle Rocks; and that sovereignty over South Ledge belongs to the State in the territorial waters o f which it is located. Click here for the press release from the International Court of Justice. The press release includes a summary of the reasoning of the court. Click here for the text of the decision.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Here's a link to a comprehensive list of foreign law sources. It was compiled by Lyonette Louis-Jacques at the University of Chicago Law School.
Hat tip to Danice Kern.
With North American law schools shutting down for the summer, the international associations and learned societies have kicked their conference season into high gear. The following list is necessarily incomplete; I welcome all submissions and will update this calendar as the summer progresses.
19th Annual Conference on the Globalisation of Investment Funds
International Bar Association and National Investment Company Service Association
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/19th_Globalisation_Investment_Funds/
"Complementing IHL: Exploring the Need for Additional Norms to Govern Contemporary Conflict Situations"
Hebrew University Jerusalem
For more information: http://law.mscc.huji.ac.il/law1/minerva/docs/ComplIHL.pdf
2nd Annual Asia Pacific Mergers and Acquisitions Summit
Asia Law and Practice
Hong Kong, PRC
For more information: http://international.lawsociety.org.uk/node/2305
2008 Pathways to Justice Conference
California State Bar
Los Angeles, California (USA)
For more information: http://calbar.ca.gov/calbar/pdfs/comcom/SCDLS_Pathways-2008_Save-Date.pdf
International Council for Commercial Arbitration 2008 Conference
For more information: http://www.iccadublin2008.org/
36th National Spring Conference on the Environment, "Climate Change II: How the Law Can Best Address Climate Change"
ABA Standing Committee on Environmental Law
Baltimore, Maryland (USA)
For more information: http://www.abanet.org/environ/calendar/pdf/36thNatSprConf060608_brochure.pdf
International Maritime Law Conference
International Bar Association
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/Maritime_Law/
U.S.-Latin American Tax Planning Strategies Conference
American Bar Association
Miami, Florida (USA)
For more information: http://meetings.abanet.org/meeting/tax/miami08/
11th Transnational Crime Conference
International Bar Association Criminal Law Committee
London, United Kingdom
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/11th_Transnational_Crime/
7th International Mergers and Acquisitions Conference
International Bar Association Business Organisations Committee
New York, NY (USA)
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/7th_Mergers_Acquisitions/
"Capital Markets Conference"
International Bar Association
Sao Paulo, Brazil
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/capitalmarkets/
World Jurist Association 2008 Jerusalem Conference
"The Pursuit of Peace Through the Rule of Law at Times of Violence"
For more information: http://www.worldjurist.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=41
4th Global Administrative Law Seminar: "GAL: From Fragmentation to Unity?"
Istituto di Ricerche sulla Pubblica Amministrazione
For more information: http://www.irpa.eu/index.asp?idA=167
"Justice Sector Reform: Applying Human Rights Based Approaches"
International Human Rights Network training programme
National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland
For more information: http://www.ihrnetwork.org/justice-sector-reform_202.htm
Fordham Law School's Third Annual Conference on International Arbitration and Mediation
New York, New York (USA)
For more information: http://law.fordham.edu/ihtml/eventitemPP.ihtml?id=37&idc=9070&template=cle
"Crisis Litigation: The Role of the Lawyer"
International Bar Association Litigation Committee
Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/Litigation/
44th Conference of the Inter-American Bar Association
For more information: http://www.iaba.org/XLIV_Conf_Lima_main.htm
2008 International Law Enforcement IP Crime Conference
Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada)
For more information: http://www.interpol.int/public/financialcrime/intellectualproperty/meeting/CanadaJune2008/Default.asp
"The Aarhus Conference at Ten: Interactions and Tensions between Conventional International Law and EU Environmental Law"
University of Amsterdam Centre for Environmental Law
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
For more information: http://www.jur.uva.nl/cvm/actueel.cfm/F58D5861-1321-B0BE-A4F8DAF20303D4F3#p2
5th Annual Convention of the North American South Asian Bar Association
Chicago, Illinois (USA)
For more information: http://www.nasabaconvention.org/
2008 Annual Conference
Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law
For more information: http://law.anu.edu.au/anzsil/
June 30-July 1
"Europe and the Globalisation of Antitrust"
International Bar Association Antitrust and Trade Law Section
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/Europe_Golbalisation_Antitrust/
July 7-August 8
60th Session of the International Law Commission
For more information: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/sessions/60/60sess.htm
Resources Law Conference South East Asia
International Bar Association and Australian Resources and Energy Law Association
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
For more information: http://www.ibanet.org/conferences/Mining_Oil_Gas_Law/
"The Function of Law in the International Community"
25th Anniversary Celebration of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law
Cambridge, United Kingdom
For more information: http://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/news/article.php?section=25&article=673
Inaugural Conference of the Society of International Economic Law
For more information: http://www.sielnet.org/Default.aspx?pageId=108611
Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law
New York, NY (USA)
For more information: http://www.abanet.org/intlaw/annual08/annual_home.html
International Law Association, 73rd Annual Biennial Conference
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For more information: http://www.ilabrasil.org.br/hotsite/?lang=en
2nd International Humanitarian Law Dialogues
For more information: http://law.wustl.edu/higls/documents/IHLDialogsSavetheDate08.pdf
Chautauqua, New York (USA)