Friday, July 17, 2009

Law Library of Congress Has Three Job Openings

The Law Library of Congress in Washington DC has three new job openings at the Directorate of Legal Research.  The Directorate, currently with over 20 Foreign Law Specialists, is an academy of legal research on foreign, comparative, and international law.  It primarily serves the U.S. Congress, but researchers from around the world have benefited as well from the work of these experts and access to the foreign and international collections at the Library of Congress.

The thee new positions, Foreign Law Specialists, cover (1) Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Common Law; (2) Turkey and Turkish-speaking countries; and (3) Scandinavian countries.  All three positions start at the U.S. GS-11 level with the promotional track to GS-15. Click here for more information.

Hat tip to Hongxia Liu


July 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Birthday, ICC!

International Criminal Court Logo Eleven years ago today, on July 17, 1998, a United Nations conference adopted the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Hat tip to the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA)



July 17, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Update on the Special Court for Sierra Leone

We just received the following press release from the United Nations.

Top officials from the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone today appealed to States for the necessary resources to conclude its work, including the war crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor, and deliver justice to thousands of victims.

Briefing the Security Council, Prosecutor Stephen Rapp recalled that the commission of serious crimes against the civilian population of Sierra Leone motivated the creation of the Court, which is based in Freetown.

“We ask for the cooperation and support necessary to complete its mandate, so that justice can be achieved for the victims of those crimes,” he said, noting this will send a “powerful message” that the international community strongly supports institutions established to hold to account those responsible for such atrocities, and by doing so, deter their perpetration.

“For the victims – the thousands who had been mutilated, the tens of thousands who had been murdered, the hundreds of thousands who had been subjected to sexual violence – the Special Court offers justice by holding to account those alleged to bear the greatest responsibility for these crimes,” stated Mr. Rapp.

He told the 15-member body that the Court’s immediate financial situation may be fairly characterized as “an impending crisis.

“Even if all pledged donations from donors for this year come in early, our funds will run dry before next year’s round of donations, and the Special Court will not have the resources necessary to complete its work.”

Set up jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN in 2002, the Court is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and national law committed in Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996.

Mr. Rapp noted that the Court has been ground-breaking in several respects, including the first-ever convictions on the charge of sexual slavery, both as a war crime and crime against humanity, as well as convictions on the use of child soldiers.

The Court has completed three multiple-accused trials. In addition, a fourth trial – that of Mr. Taylor, who faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity – is currently under way at The Hague.

It is expected that Mr. Taylor’s trial, which this week saw the former leader take the stand in his own defence, will be conducted to allow for a judgment by mid-2010, and for finalization on appeal by early 2011.

“We project that in February 2011, upon delivery of the appeals judgment in the Taylor case, we will have completed all of the Special Court’s judicial activities,” the Court’s President, Justice Renate Winter, told the Council.

The Court will, however, still be bound by a number of legal obligations – known as “residual issues” – that will not terminate once the trials and appeals are completed, she noted.

A small successor body will likely need to be established to manage and perform residual functions, including the enforcement of sentences, maintenance of the Court’s archives, witness protection and assistance, and the possible trial or transfer of the case of the one indictee-at-large, former Sierra Leonean military leader Johnny Paul Koroma.

Justice Winter stated that assistance to the Court will continue to be as important in the future as it has been in the past.

“To successfully complete its mandate in the coming months, the Special Court continues to rely on the indispensable support of the Security Council and all Member States. Today, more than ever before, this request is urgent.”

July 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ICTR Finds Tharcisse Renzaho Guilty of Genocide and Sentences Him to Life in Prison

ICTR Logo Tharcisse Renzaho, a former governor of the Rwandan capital, will spend the rest of his life in prison after the 

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) found him guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. He was acquitted of the charge of complicity to commit genocide. 

The ICTR found that Mr. Renzaho ordered the establishment of roadblocks and then supported the killings of Tutsis at those roadblocks. He also supervised a selection process at a refugee site where about 40 Tutsis were abducted and killed.

Mr. Renzaho – who also served as a colonel in the Rwandan military at the time – participated in a particularly notorious attack at the Sainte Famille church in central Kigali, where more than 100 Tutsis were slaughtered and numerous women were raped. He made remarks encouraging the sexual abuse and was found to be criminally liable for the rape that followed.

July 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Criminal Court: Prosecution Wraps Up Its Case Against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo

International Criminal Court Logo The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) wrapped up its presentation of evidence against a Congolese warlord accused of recruiting child soldiers, the first suspect taken into custody by the International Criminal Court.  The case marks the first time in the history of international law to see the active participation of victims in the proceedings, including child combatants.

He faces two counts of war crimes: conscripting and enlisting child soldiers into the military wing of his group and then using them to participate in hostilities between September 2002 and August 2003. Over the course of 22 weeks, 28 witnesses – including three experts – testified, all of whom were cross-examined by the defence. Nearly all of the prosecution’s witnesses were granted protective measures, including voice and facial distortion and the use of pseudonyms. A psychologist sat in during the proceedings to support and monitor witnesses.

Mr. Lubanga, who surrendered to the ICC in March 2006, and his defense team were able to see all of the witnesses as they gave their testimony, but some required further special measures to avoid direct eye contact with the accused. 

Established by the Rome Statute of 1998, the ICC can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed after July 2002. The UN Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor, or a State Party to the Court can initiate any proceedings.  The ICC will act only when countries themselves are "unwilling or unable" to investigate or prosecute.

July 15, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Joyeux jour de la Bastille!


We were celebrating too much to get this posted yesterday!

July 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Special Court for Sierra Leone: Charles Taylor Takes the Stand

The former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, took the stand today in his own defense during his trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).  Mr. Taylor has already pleaded not guilty to 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment, and the recruitment of child soldiers.   The charges relate to his alleged support for two rebel groups in neighboring Sierra Leone during that country’s civil war from 1996 to 2002.

Mr. Taylor’s defense is expected to last several weeks, and a verdict is not expected until next year.

The SCSL was set up jointly by the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN in 2002. It is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and national law committed in Sierra Leone since November 30, 1996.  The SCSL sits in the Hague (sharing the building that houses the International Criminal Court).


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

Is Ban Ki-Moon the "Invisible Man" of the United Nations?

United Nations Flag Today's Wall Street Journal has a page 1 story on the Secretary General of the United Nations and his efforts to fight his low-profile image as the "invisible man" of the United Nations.  The article discusses, for example, whether his recent trip to Myanmar (Burma) helped or hurt him, given that he was denied a chance to meet with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.  Mr. Ban is halfway through his five-year term as Secretary General.


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

Monday, July 13, 2009

ICJ Decision in Costa Rica v. Nicaragua

Costa Rica Nicaragua The International Court of Justice issued a decision today in the dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua regarding navigational and related rights. The court ruled (inter alia) that Costa Rican tourist and commercial boats have the right to travel along the river that defines part of its border with Nicaragua, but that Nicaragua has the right to regulate the river traffic. Click here to read a summary of specific findings in an ICJ press release.   


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

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Update on African Cooperation with the International Criminal Court

Last week, the members of the African Union (AU) agreed not cooperate with an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Now, the African Union High Level Panel on Dafur, led by South African President, Thabo Mbeki, has come to the opposite conclusion, recommending that the AU cooperate with the ICC.  Although some African leaders have argued that the ICC investigation of Bashir will hinder the peace process, the panel urges the AU to cooperate with international courts and allow Bashir to face the charges against him.


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

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Israel Still Building the Wall Five Years After ICJ Advisory Opinion

Tomorrow marks the five-year anniversary of an Advisory Opinion issued by the International Court of Justice.  In that opinion, the ICJ ruled by a vote of 14-1 that Israel could lawfully build such a wall on its own territory as a valid security measure, but that the construction of a wall in occupied territory violated international law.  Israel claimed that its wall is only a temporary security measure.  The ICJ said that the specific route chosen was unnecessary to achieve Israel's security objective, with most of the barrier running inside the West Bank, instead of the so-called Green Line, or 1949 Armistice Line.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement to mark the fifth anniversary of the ICJ Advisory Opinion, stating that Israel “continues to disregard the views of the ICJ, and the Wall remains under construction,” being 60 per cent completed.

The High Commissioner also stated that more than 600 closures block Palestinians’ movement in the West Bank, and that an increasingly segregated road system restricts travel for Palestinians while Israelis can move freely.  The Commissioner stated that these constraints curtail Palestinians’ freedom of movement and impede a host of other human rights, including the right to work, health, education, and an adequate standard of living.  “And Palestinian residents currently lack meaningful access to an effective remedy – judicial or otherwise – for their plight,” OHCHR said, calling on Israel to comply with the ICJ’s Advisory Opinion and make reparations for any damage caused.

The ICJ's advisory opinion on the Wall will be one of the ICJ decisions discussed on August 1, 2009 at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting during a CLE program on the International Court of Justice.


July 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Karadzic Gets No Immunity from Prosecution Before ICTY

ICTY The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has rejected an application by former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic that he should be granted immunity from prosecution because of a 1996 agreement he says he struck with the U.S. government to avoid prosecution if he withdrew from public life.  A three judge panel denied the application, stating that Karadžic had not been able to establish that there has been an abuse of process.  Karadžic was the president of Republika Srpska and commander of Bosnian Serb forces during part of the 1990s.  He was arrested a year ago and transferred to The Hague to stand trial on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, wilful killing, persecutions, deportations, inhumane acts and other crimes.


July 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New WTO Website Database on Tariff Information

WTO 80 percent The World Trade Organization announced a new database that provides comprehensive information on customs duties.  Researchers can use the WTO Tariff Download Facility to search for members’ customs duty rates, as actually charged as well as legally bound maximums, and in many cases imports, down to a high level of detail.  Click here for more information.


July 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ICTY Appeals Chamber Affirms 4-Month Sentence for Witness Who Refused to Testify before ICTY Trial Chamber

ICTYThe Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has upheld the conviction of a Bosnian Serb army officer who was given a four-month jail sentence earlier this year for refusing to testify in a case. 

The ICTY Appeals Chamber dismissed the appeal of Dragan Jokic against his conviction and sentence issued by the ICTY trial chamber in March.  Mr. Jokic had been subpoenaed to testify as a prosecution witness in the case of Popovic and others in late 2007, but he refused to do so, giving his reasons in a confidential submission to the ICTY.  The trial chamber ruled that his submission did not justify the refusal to testify, stressing that the duty of subpoenaed witnesses to testify was a basic principle of justice.

Mr. Jokic will serve his four-month sentence in an Austrian jail where he is also serving a separate nine-year term imposed by the ICTY in 2005 after he was convicted of aiding and abetting the notorious extermination, murder and persecution of Bosnian Muslim men in the town of Srebrenica in 1995.  Click here to read more about the ICTY appellate panel decision.

The full text of the judgment is available by clicking here

Hat tip to UN Press Office.


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

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

U.N. Security Council Extends Terms of Judges Serving in ICTY, ICTR

This news just came in from the United Nations, informing us that the U.N. Security Council has extended the terms of judges serving on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).  Here is the text of the U.N. press release:

TheICTY United Nations Security Council today extended the terms of the judges serving on the United Nations war crimes tribunals sICTR Logoet up to deal with the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, so they can complete remaining cases by the deadline set for the courts’ work.

The Council, in two separate resolutions that were adopted unanimously, urged both tribunals “to take all possible measures to complete their work expeditiously,” and expressed its determination to support their efforts in this regard.

The so-called “completion strategy” of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is based in The Hague, requires it to finish trials of first instance by 2009, and then start downsizing in 2010.

Among the decisions taken today, the Council extended the term of office of eight permanent judges at the ICTY and 10 ad litem, or temporary, judges until 31 December 2010, or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned.

In addition, the Council decided, on the request of the President of the ICTY, that the Secretary-General may appoint additional temporary judges to complete existing trials or conduct additional trials.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which is based in the Tanzanian town of Arusha, is also aiming to finish first-instance trials by the end of 2009.

The Tribunal was created in November 1994 to prosecute people responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda that year. Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered, mostly by machete, in just 100 days.

The Council decided, among other matters, to extend the term of office of five permanent judges at the ICTR and 11 temporary judges until 31 December 2010, or until the completion of the cases to which they are assigned if sooner.

Reporting to the Council last month on their activities, officials from both tribunals stressed that the cooperation and assistance of Member States remains crucial if the courts are to successfully fulfil their mandates to bring those responsible for the most serious crimes to justice.



July 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

A Gender Perspective in Peacebuilding

Guinea-Bissau United Nations Flag Last year the U.N. Security Council adopted an important resolution on women, peace, and security (Click here to read Security Council Resolution 1820). 

That resolution was referenced in the latest U.N. Security Council Resolution on the situation in Guinea-Bissau.  (Click here to read U.N. Security Council Resolution 1876).  That resolution recommends establishing a United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) that will focus on several key tasks, including strengthening national institutions to maintain "the full respect for the rule of law," supporting the insitutionalizaion of respect for the rule of law, and "mainstreaming a gender perspective into peacebuilding."  Click here to read more.


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

Monday, July 6, 2009

Congratulations to the Legal Writing Prof Blog

The Legal Writing Prof Blog celebrated 250,000 visitors a few minutes ago.   Congratulations!


July 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

AU Members agree not to cooperate with ICC indictment of Bashir

On Friday, African leaders at the 13th annual African Union (AU) Summit in Libya agreed by consensus that AU members shall not cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague in the arrest and transfer of the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, to the ICC.  Omar al-Bashir has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC prosecutors, who also want to try him for genocide. About two-thirds of the members of the AU are parties to the Statute of the ICC, which obligates them to cooperate with the Court and to arrest and extradite Bashir to the Hague if found in their country.  This decision will create conflicting international obligations for these States. 

The ICC has launched investigations into four cases since its inception - all of them in Africa.  Some Africans, including Rwanda's Prime Minister Makuza, were quoted as stating that the decision is a signal to the West that it shouldn't impose its solutions on Africa. Other African leaders have suggested that the indictment of Bashir jeopardized the peace process in Sudan.


July 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

United Kingdom, Australia are Big Winners in the Jessup International Law Moot Court Written Memorial Competition

The International Law Students Association (ILSA), the group that organizes the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, announced the winners of the Hardy C. Dillard and Richard R. Baxter memorial contests.

  • The winner of the Dillard award for best memorials from the National and Regional Rounds is King’s College London (United Kingdom).

  • The winner of the Baxter award for Best Overall Applicant Memorial is King’s College London (United Kingdom).

  • The winner of the Baxter award for Best Overall Respondent Memorial is the University of Sydney (Australia).

To read the winning Baxter memorials, and to view a complete list of finalists in both competitions, click here.

ILSA also posted on its website a short clip of the oral arguments in the Jessup final round.  The full DVD (and DVDs of competitions from earlier years) can be ordered from the ILSA website.  (Any law school teams planning to compete in next year's Jessup should order a copy of these DVDs).


July 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New ABA Book on Customs Law

Customs Book The American Bar Association Section of International Law is about to publish a new book on customs law.

     Customs: A Practitioner's Guide to Principles, Processes, and Procedures

Michael D. Sherman, J. Steven Jarreau, John B. Brew - Editors

Coming soon - pre order your copy today! This practical book clearly explains importers' legal obligations, rights, and responsibilities. It also assists practitioners in spotting customs issues that are likely to arise in particular contexts and to provide practical insights into implications and how issues should be addressed. The book covers:

  • Fundamental elements of a lawful importation, i.e., the importation process itself, classification, valuation, marking, and duty savings opportunities
  • Importer's recordkeeping obligations
  • Administrative and judicial review of CBP's decisions
  • CBP's auditing of importers' operations to determine the extent of compliance
  • Liquidated damages, penalties, and seizures
  • Government efforts to assure cargo security in the aftermath of September 11

Click here for more information.

July 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)