Sunday, May 24, 2009

ICJ Case on "Jurisdictional Immunities of the State" (Germany v. Italy)

Germany Italy The International Court of Justice has fixed the briefing schedule in the case brought by Germany against Italy.  Germany's initial memorial is due June 23, 2009 and Italy's counter-memorial is due December 23, 2009.  (Each country received six months for their memorials.) 

Germany instituted the ICJ case against Italy in December 2009 for failing to respect Germany's jurisdictional immunity as a sovereign state.  In its application to the ICJ, Germany argued that Italian judicial bodies have repeatedly disregarded Germany's immunity as a sovereign state.  Germany pointed specifically to the decision of the Corte di Cassazione of March 11, 2004 in the Ferrini case, where the court declared that Italy had jurisdiction over a claim brought by a persons who was deported to Germany during World War II to do forced labor in the armaments industry.  After the 2004 judgment of the Corte di Cassazione, numerous other proceedings were brought against Germany in the Italian courts.  The 2004 judgment was confirmed in later judgments issued in May and October of 2008.

Germany also complained that Italy was taking measures to enforce judgments against Germany, including a "judicial mortgage" on Villa Vigoni, the German-Italian Center for Cultural Exchange.

Greece Germany also complained that the Italian courts were entertaining attempts by Greek nationals to enforce a Greek judgment against Germany for a massacre committed by German military units during their withdrawal in 1944.

Although Germany and Italy are both member states of the European Union, Germany claimed that the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg has no jurisdiction over the case, which does not involve any of the jurisdictional clauses in the treaties on European integration.  To establish jurisdiction before the International Court of Justice, Germany invoked Article 1 of the European Convention for the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes.

More history of the case can be found in ICJ Press Release No. 2008/44 of December 23, 2008, available by clicking here.  Germany also requested preliminary measures for Italy to protect German diplomatic assets pursuant to general rules of international law. 


May 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ICJ Advisory Jurisdiction Case on the Self-Governance of Kosovo

ICJ Venezuela Better late than never?  The International Court of Justice allowed the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to submit a written statement on the question of the "Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo."  Venezuela missed the deadline by a week for submitting its written comments, but the ICJ agreed to accept the late submission. 

The Advisory Jurisdiction case arises from U.N. General Assembly Resolution 63/3 (A/63/L.2), adopted on October 8, 2008.  In that resolution, the U.N. General Assembly asked the ICJ (under article 65 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice) to answer this question:  "Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?"

Venezuela is the 36th country to file comments in this advisory jurisdiction case.  The texts of all of the written statements are confidential at this stage of the ICJ's proceedings.  Click here to read more (including a list of countries that have submitted comments).


May 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

European Commission Cancels Fiji's Sugar Allocation

Fiji EU Flag Radio New Zealand International reported that the European Commission has cancelled Fiji’s 2009 sugar allocation, which will cost Fiji more than 32 million US dollars.  The European Commission said it decided to cancel the allocation because there was no indication that a legitimate government would be in place in Fiji in 2009.

The European Commission said it would have made 32 million dollars worth of sugar reform accompanying measure available, subject to a legitimate government being in place in accordance with EU Council decision of October 2007. The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, urged the Government of Fiji to fulfil its commitments to the EU so that sugar reform payments could be reinstated in the future.  Because of a news blackout in Fiji, news of the European Commission's action does not appear to be widely known in Fiji.

Click here to read more.

Fiji’s military leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, had promised to hold elections by March of 2009 but he now says elections won’t be held before 2014. 

Hat tip to Radio New Zealand International and the East-West Center


May 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fiji President Issues Decree that the Human Rights Commission Cannot Investigate Any Abrogation of the Fiji Constitution

Fiji Fiji’s President Ratu Josefa Iloilo promulgated Human Rights Commission Decree 2009 on May 20, 2009.  Under the new decree, the Human Rights Commission cannot investigate any complaints relating to the April 10 revocation of 1997 Constitution, nor investigate any decision by a court of law. 

Section 27(2) states that the Human Rights Commission "shall not receive, nor shall it investigate on its own motion, any complaints questioning or challenging the legality or validity of the Fiji Constitution Amendment Act 1997 Revocation Decree 2009, or such other Decrees made or as may by made by the President

“Any proceedings of any form whatsoever, as well as any application of any form whatsoever in a proceeding, seeking to challenge the validity or legality of the Fiji Constitution Amendment Act 1997 Revocation Decree 2009 (Decree No.1) or any other Decrees made by the President from 10 April 2009 or as may be made by the President, shall wholly terminate immediately upon the commencement of this
Decree, and a Certificate to that effect shall be issued by the Chief Registrar to all parties to the proceeding.”

Click here to read the Human Rights Decree.

Hat tip to Fijilive and the East-West Center


May 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fiji Detains Lawyers and Seizes Their Computers

Fiji Radio New Zealand International reported that Dorsami Naidu, the President of the Fiji Law Society, said last week that three lawyers and their computers had been taken in to a police station in Suva, the capital. Naidu said that the search warrants that the police used to seize the computers of lawyers Jon Apted, Richard Naidu and Tevita Fa (a lawyer for the ousted Prime Minister of Fiji, Laisenia Qarase).   

Mr. Naidu says he is concerned about the police having to confidential information about the lawyers’ clients. He also said that there was no guarantee that the police will not abuse their search powers.  The lawyers were taken in under the emergency regulations.  The police in Fiji did not confirm to Radio New Zealand that the lawyers and their computers had been taken into custody.

Hat tip to the East-West Center


May 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.N. Security Council Expresses Concern Over Aung San Suu Kyi

The United Nations Security Council has expressed its concern over the political impact in Myanmar of the detention of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.  In a press statement, the 15-member body reiterated “the importance of the release of all political prisoners,” repeating the need for Myanmar’s Government to “create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all concerned parties and ethnic groups in order to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation with the support of the United Nations.”

Security forces arrested Aung San Suu Kyi, who leads the National League for Democracy (NLD), and two aides on 14 May and took them to Insein Prison, where they were charged by a special court. They are said to have been charged with violating the terms of her house arrest, after an uninvited United States citizen gained access to their home, and her trial is currently under way.

Last week, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that “her continued detention, and now this latest trial, breach international standards of due process and fair trial.”

It had been hoped that she would be released when her current detention order, which has already continued for one year longer than the maximum of five years permitted under Myanmar’s laws, expires at the end of this month.

“The Myanmar authorities might claim Aung San Suu Kyi has breached the conditions of her detention, but they have broken both their own laws and their international human rights obligations,” Ms. Pillay said. “She should not be detained in the first place.”

She has spent over 12 years under house arrest. On 30 May 2003, she was re-arrested under a law which states that a person “suspected of having committed or believed to be about to commit, any act which endangers the sovereignty and security of the state” can be detained.

In May 2007, the Government extended her arrest for another year, bringing her detention to the five-year limit, and her detention was prolonged for sixth year last May.

May 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ABA Annual Meeting In Chicago

ABA Early bird registration is available until May 29, 2009 for the American Bar Association's Annual Meeting in Chicago.  The ABA Annual Meeting will be July 30 to August 4, 2009.  CLE programs will include a Panel on the Future of the International Court of Justice.

ABA Intlaw The ABA Section of International Law is also holding a leadership retreat (for current leaders and those who would like to have a leadership position in the ABA Section of International Law).  That International Leadership Retreat will be held July 28-30, 2009 at the Abbey Resort at Lake Geneva Wisconsin. 

Click here for registration information for the ABA annual meeting.

Click here to visit the Home Page for the ABA Section of International Law (which has further links to the Section Leadership Retreat and other international law resources).


May 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

United Nations Struggling with Sexual Harrassment Claims

According to a troubling report in the Wall Street Journal today, the United Nations (UN) is struggling to figure out how to better deal with sexual harrassment claims filed by employees against other employees. UN workers have complained that the current process for investigating and resolving such cases is arbitrary, unfair, and mired in bureaucracy, which means cases can take years to be adjudicated.  Complicating matters is the fact that many UN managers have diplomatic immunity and cannot be held liable for their actions in court.  Thus, UN workers may only seek help through the internal UN processes. And when the accused resign before those processes can be completed, no action can be taken against them even if violations are found.  Equality Now, a women's rights group, has complained to Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, about the problem. Partly as a result, the UN intends to change the way it handles all employees' complaints as of July 1.  The new system will replace the current administrative panels and rulings by the UN Secretary General with a new UN Dispute Tribunal and UN Appeals Tribunal, which will be staffed with professional judges.  Unfortunately, this new report will add fuel to the fire of those who believe the UN is ineffective and corrupt.  The UN must demonstrate that it can change its ways and become more effective if it is to lead, especially in the area of international human rights.


May 21, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Calls Increase for Independent War Crimes Investigation in Sri Lanka

On Monday, the President of Sri Lanka officially declared victory in the country's 26-year civil war upon the death of the leader of the Tamil Tigers liberation movement.  Sri Lanka may have experienced an historic end to active fighting in its long and boody civil war this week which has claimed an estimated 70,000 lives, but the fallout from those hostilities will continue to be felt for decades to come.  Both Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights have accused the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger liberation movement of violating international humanitarian law during the conflict.  Earlier this week, the Council for the European Union joined in the call for an independent investigation into the possible commission of war crimes by both sides to the conflict.  A summary of the Council's May 18 report and recommendations can be found here.  It is certainly hoped that the Sri Lankan government will take all necessary and appropriate steps to bring an end to the loss of life, to ensure respect for human rights, and to bring those to justice who may have committed violations of law.  However, the Sri Lankan government's response thus far has been to deny all allegations and to resist international pressure.


May 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference IV

The Fourth Global Legal Skills Conference will be held at Georgetown University Law Center from June 4-6, 2009.  Click here for the program and information on registration.


May 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Toward Better Implementation of U.S. International Obligations

Buys, Cindy The Connecticut Journal of International Law has published an article by my co-editor, Professor Cindy Buys, on improving how the United States implements its international obligations.  Here's the description from SSRN (from which you can also download the entire article for free):

The United States is a party to hundreds of treaties that create a vast array of international obligations for the country. Many of these treaty obligations require some action by the government to become effective in the U.S. legal system. Domestic implementation of these international obligations has created structural tensions, both between the branches of the federal government and between the states and the federal government. This article uses President Bush's efforts to implement the recent judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Avena) to illustrate some of the problems presented by this issue.

In Avena, the ICJ found that that the United States had breached its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to inform certain Mexican nationals who had been arrested in the United States of their consular notification rights. The ICJ further found that the appropriate reparation would consist of providing, by means of the United States' own choosing, review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the Mexican nationals that were the subject of the case. In the domestic implementation stage of that decision, President Bush asserted the power to order state courts to provide review and reconsideration of the Mexican nationals' judgments in state criminal proceedings. The President's claim to such authority is troubling because it appears to violate structural principles of separation of powers and federalism.

The article begins by providing some background regarding the Avena judgment and post-Avena litigation, with a particular focus on Medellin v. Texas. Medellin was one of the Mexican nationals involved in Avena and his case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in March 2008. The article analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of arguments that have been made in that case regarding the proper method of implementation of the ICJ judgment by the United States. The article then places that litigation in the larger context of the debate regarding the proper role of each branch of the federal government with respect to the implementation of the United States' international obligations more generally. The article also examines the issue from a federalism perspective and the interplay between the state and federal governments with respect to implementation of the United States' international obligations. Finally, the article provides some suggestions as to how the United States can better handle implementation of these obligations in the future.

Click here to download the article.


May 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Irish may be ready to approve EU Constitution

Ireland A recent poll indicates that a slight majority of the Irish population (52%) now support the Constitution for the European Union (EU).  Ireland is a rarity among EU member states in requiring that a popular referendum be held before the treaty may be ratified.  The Irish rejected the treaty last June by a vote of 53% opposed to 49% in favor.  Irish ratification is dependent on certain legal guarantees from the EU regarding taxation, defense, and abortion.  Assuming those guarantees are approved by the EU at its summit in June, it is anticipated that a referendum will be held in Ireland in October.  All the other 26 member states of the EU have completed parliamentary ratification of the treaty, although the Polish and Czech Presidents have not signed pending Ireland's ratification.  Thus, a favorable referendum in Ireland in October will allow the EU Constitution to enter into force.


May 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

WTO Appellate Body Issues Compliance Report on the US EC Zeroing Dispute

The World Trade Organization Appellate Body has just issued its report regarding compliance in the complaint by the European Communities against “United States — Laws, Regulations and Methodology for Calculating Dumping Margins (“Zeroing”)” (DS294).  Click here for more information

May 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WTO Considers Extension of Trade Preferences for Poorest Countries

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Council for Trade in Goods voted earlier this week to extend by 10 years the waiver which allows developing countries such as India and Brazil to provide preferential tariff treatment to products from the least developed countries without being required to extend the same treatment to goods from other WTO members.  The existing waiver was set to expire on June 30, 2009. The decision of the Council for Trade in Goods now goes to the WTO General Council for adoption.


May 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

United States Is Elected to UN Human Rights Council

The United States was successful in its bid for a seat on the United Nations' Human Rights Council this week.  When asked in a press conference yesterday what the United States wants to do as a member of the Council, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, stated that she would like to see the Council hue more closely to the goals for which it was created and focus on the most egregious violations of human rights.  She expressed both disappointment that the Council had not lived up to its potential and optimism that the United States could help change that. 


May 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for International Trade Law Papers

The peer-reviewed Journal for International Trade Law and Policy has issued a call for papers. Of particular interest are contributions in:


·             International trade

·             Global markets

·             Competition law

·             Governance and regulation

·             Foreign investment

·             Internet law

·             Jurisdiction

·             Environmental law

·             Business ethics

·             Globalisation


Papers can be between 6,000 and 10,000 words in length and will undergo a double blind peer review. The journal also publishes book reviews and case notes which should be around 1,500 words in total.  All articles should be submitted, preferably in Microsoft Word format, and via e-mail to the Editor, Moe Alramahi.  More details and author guidelines can be found on the journal homepage at:




May 13, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Ambassador Thomas J. Miller takes over leadership today of the United Nations Association for the United States of America (UNA-USA).  He seems to be off to a good start, having done a survey of the issues important to members and former members.  One of the main results of that survey is that UNA-USA needs to pay more attention to its grassroots membership.  

The UNA-USA can play an important part in helping the United Nations fulfill its mission and in helping the United States to understand better its obligations and opportunities at the United Nations. 

Click here for more information about Ambassador Miller.

Click here for more information about UNA-USA.

Click here for information about UNA-USA's upcoming Biennial Conference, which will be held June 12-14, 2009 in Washington, D.C.  There is an early bird registration rate available until May 18th.


May 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Future of Transnational Litigation

The American Bar Association Section of International Law and the International Bar Association Litigation Committee will present a joint program in Vienna Austria on June 4-5, 2009 on the future of Transnational Litigation.  Click here for more information.


May 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN Convention Against Corruption

Chief executives from some of the world's leading companies have thrown their support behind the UN Convention against Corruption -- a treaty signed by 140 countries and ratified by 136 to date.  The letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called the Convention as "an essential instrument in the fight against corruption," which is crucial in the current period of financial and economic turmoil to prevent an "erosion of ethical standards that will be hard to reverse."  They also underscored the importance for the Conference of States Parties to the Convention, held in Doha in November, to establish an effective implementation review mechanism.

May 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Global Legal Skills Conference IV (GLS-IV) at Georgetown University

Here's a reminder about the upcoming Global Legal Skills Conference to be held next month in Washington DC at the Georgetown University Law Center.  Click here for program and registration information.


May 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)