Friday, January 15, 2010

Russia Approves Reforms to the European Court of Human Rights

Russia The New York Times reports today that the lower house of the Russian Parliament voted e 392-56 to approve reforms to the European Court of Human Rights.  The vote approved Protocol 14, which among other things would speed up the court's work by reducing the number of judges required to make major decisions.  The New York Times article notes that the European Court of Human Rights has "a backlog of complaints, nearly one-third of them against Russia."  Russia has been the holdout country to ratify Protocol 14, which the other 46 participating nations had all approved by 2006.

The New York Times article by Ellen Barry ("Russia Ends Opposition to Rights Court") quotes one Russian lawmaker as saying that European ministers had finally addressed Russian complaints about the proposed reforms, and that they had now guaranteed that Russian judges would be involved in reviewing complaints against Russia.  The article describes some of the important cases coming up against Russia.  If you are teaching international human rights law this semester, you might want to have your students pick up a copy of the paper today to read that story.

Click here for more information about the European Court of Human Rights.


January 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

President Obama Urges Help for Haiti

Haiti The White House Blog features President Obama's latest statements on Haiti and describes additional ways in which people can help.  Click here for more information.


January 14, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Helping Haiti

Haiti A friend who regularly visits and works in Haiti has given me a short list of organizations that he knows do reliable relief work in Haiti.  Click below for more information about any of the following organizations and what they are now doing in Haiti.

Holy Angels Hospice and Orphanage

Partners in Health

Doctors Without Borders

World Food Programme



P.S.   Here is the link for the International Response Fund of the Red Cross.

Or text HAITI to 90999 on your cell phone to make an immediate donation of $10 from your phone bill.

January 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Al-Bihani Detainee Decision Badly Misstates International Law

Yesterday, I read the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Al-Bihani v. Obama, No 09-5051 (January 5, 2010).  Rarely have I been so dismayed by a court's misstatements about the applicability of international law.  Al-Bihani is a Yemeni citizen who, by his own admission, was part of a paramilitary group known as the 55th Arab Brigade that was allied with the Taliban.  He was captured by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and turned over to U.S. forces and is now being detained at Guantanamo Bay.  He petitioned the U.S. courts for a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his detention is not authorized by statute and that the procedures followed in his habeas proceeding were unconstitutional.  The Court denied his petition, finding that the U.S. government may detain persons such as Al Bihani who were part of or supported Taliban or Al Qaeda forces or associated forces engage in hostilities against the U.S. and its coalition partners.  

In making his arguments, Al-Bihani relied in part on international law, especially the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War, to which the United States is a party.  The Court flatly rejected the applicability of international law stating: "Before considering [Al-Bihani's] arguments in detail, we note that all of them rely heavily on the premise that the war powers granted by the AUMF [Authorization for the Use of Military Force], and other statutes are limited by the international laws of war.  This premise is mistaken." 

Actually, it is the Court that is mistaken. 

As the U.S. Supreme Court found in the earlier detainee cases of Hamdi and Hamdan, the President's power to convene military commissions is most definitely limited by international law, especially the Geneva Conventions.  The Al-Bihani Court goes on to state that "the international laws of war as a whole have not been implemented domestically by Congress and are therefore not a source of authority for U.S. courts. . .therefore while the international laws of war are helpful to courts, [they] lack controlling legal force." 

This statement is also mistaken. 

The Geneva Conventions are part of the Supreme Law of the Land under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution and are equally authoritative as U.S. statutes (see Whitney v. Robinson).  Moreover, much of the international law of war has been implemented domestically by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), as the Supreme Court has also noted in its earlier detainee decisions.  The Al-Bihani Court further states that the "international laws of war are not a fixed code" and cites to section 102 of the Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States for support.  

A major problem with this part of the Court's analysis is that the portion of the Restatement relied upon by the Court describes customary international law, not treaty law such as the Geneva Conventions and is therefore inapplicable.   

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia may be correct that Al-Bihani is among those Congress authorized the President to detain given his admitted involvement with the 55th Arab Brigade.  However, the Court's misunderstanding of the role of international law is extremely discouraging to say the least.


January 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Link to U.S. State Department Briefing on the Situation in Haiti

Haiti Click here for the text and video of the U.S. State Department briefing on the terrible situation in Haiti.  The video is just over 28 minutes long and includes a great deal of information.  The U.S. Embassy building has remained in tact following the earthquake and aftershocks, and it has become a focal point for U.S. relief efforts.  There are many Americans working in Haiti.  Persons seeking information on individuals in Haiti can call a special State Department hotline at 1-888-407-4747.

The goal in the first 72 hours is on saving lives.  The State Department briefing explains some of the immediate relief efforts being undertaken.

The U.S. government has announced that it will suspend deportations of persons to Haiti.  Many persons are calling for the renewal of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States to allow them to remain here longer. 


January 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Earthquake in Haiti

Haiti Haiti has been hit by a major earthquake.  Thousands appear to have died and many thousands of buildings damaged throughout the country, including even the apparent collapse of well-constructed buildings such as the Presidential Palace.  The U.N. Headquarters in Port-au-Prince is also among the buildings destroyed -- click here to see video of rescue efforts to remove survivors from that building.

Many news sources are carrying news and videos of the recovery efforts.  Click here for updated live coverage from the BBC.  Please help if you can.


January 13, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Just received from the United Nations . . . .

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that he regrets that the Registrar of the United Nations-backed tribunal set up to try the perpetrators of political killings in Lebanon is stepping down, but congratulated him on his appointment as the head of an organization focusing on transitional justice.

David Tolbert’s resignation from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will be effective on 1 March, and he will return to the United States to assume his new position as President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).

The Tribunal, which began its operations last March, was set up following a probe by an independent international commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing that killed Rafiq Hariri and 22 others in 2005 was seriously flawed.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General expressed his deep gratitude for the work of Mr. Tolbert, who took up his duties at the Tribunal last August.

“During Mr. Tolbert’s tenure as the Registrar, the Special Tribunal has made excellent progress, and the Registry is an efficient and fully functioning office which is ready to support the judicial activities of the Special Tribunal,” the statement said.

“His achievements include ensuring that the administrative infrastructure is in place to support future judicial activities, including key measures such as for witness protection and court management,” it added.

Further, the Secretary-General noted that Mr. Tolbert has steered the Tribunal’s 2010 budget through and raised a significant amount of the needed funding, and said that he will appoint an acting Registrar to ensure the court’s continued smooth functioning.

January 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2010: International Year of Biodiversity

United Nations Flag The United Nations officially launched the International Year of Biodiversity this week.  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called the failure to protect the world’s natural resources a “wake-up call” and urged each country and each person to engage in a global alliance to protect life on Earth.  The legal treaty that provides focus for the year (and many teaching opportunities for international law professors) is the the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which entered into force at the end of 1993 and now has 193 parties.  The Biodiversity Convention is based on the premise that the world's diverse ecosystems purify the air and the water, stabilize and moderate the Earth's climate, renew soil fertility, cycle nutrients and pollinate plants.
The first major event of the International Year of Biodiversity is scheduled to be a high-profile meeting on January 21-22 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. 

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)


January 12, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 11, 2010

ASIL TILIG Discussion on Publishing International Law Books

OConnell, Mary Ellen ASIL - 80 Percent For those of you who missed the very informative program hosted by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Teaching International Law Interest Group (TILIG) this past weekend, there was an interesting discussion of the issues involved in publishing international law books.  Our very knowledgeable speakers, Mary Ellen O'Connell from Notre Dame Law School, John Berger, from Cambridge University Press, and John Bloomquist from Foundation Press/Thomson Reuters led the discussion. 

Professor O'Connell talked about her entry into publishing international law textbooks by becoming a co-author on established case books with senior colleagues.  This led to a discussion of the pros and cons of co-authorship in general, from benefits such as sharing the workload and the potential for wider adoption of a book with more than one author to the potential problem of delays caused by individual co-authors who do not complete their portions in a timely manner.  Many of the authors stated that regardless of co-authorship, their books took longer to complete than they originally anticipated - often several years.

The publishers stated that they are very open to "cold calls" for new book proposals by authors.  For authors ready to "pitch" a book proposal, the publishers recommended submission of a complete table of contents and one chapter.  They suggested not writing more than one chapter in case the publishers' board of editors recommends changes.  Further, they stressed the importance of finding an editor who is really excited about the book and who can be an advocate for the author.  Finally, both publishers and authors emphasized the need to identify the intended audience for the book and to write for that audience.  The co-editor of this blog and former Publications Officer for the ABA Section of International Law, Professor Mark Wojcik, pointed out that the ABA Section of International Law has a Publications Manual on its website for authors interested in publishing with the ABA Section of International Law.  The Publications Manual will also help help prospective authors think through some of the issues that arise in putting together a book proposal.

Copyright issues were also a hot topic.  Policies and fees for permission to use material from a book in other books and articles vary substantially from publisher to publisher.  Some authors suggested that the publishers reconsider some of the more restrictive policies.

On behalf of the ASIL TILIG, many thanks to the speakers and to the audience participants for a great program!


January 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Papers - Journal of International Law and International Relations

The Journal of International Law and International Relations (JILIR) is now inviting submissions from scholars of both International Law and International Relations for its Summer 2010 issue. The deadline for submissions is January 23, 2010.

A joint venture of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and the Munk Centre for International Studies, the JILIR is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal that publishes articles on the wide variety of topics located in the intellectual space jointly occupied by International Law and International Relations.

Submissions should be in Microsoft Word or Rich Text format, preferably with footnoted citations and include the author's full contact information (name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, telephone number(s), and e-mail address.  For more information and the address for submissions, click here.


January 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Landmark European Judgment on Sex Trafficking

In a landmark judgment issued in a case involving Cyprus, the European Court of Human Rights noted that, like slavery, trafficking in human beings, by its very nature and aim of exploitation, was based on the exercise of powers attaching to the right of ownership; it treated human beings as commodities to be bought and sold and put to forced labour; it implied close surveillance of the activities of victims, whose movements were often circumscribed; and it involved the use of violence and threats against victims. Accordingly the European Court of Human Rights held that trafficking itself was prohibited by Article 4 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which prohibits slavery and forced labor. For more analysis, see the ECHR Blog.

January 8, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Call for Papers: Women and International Criminal Law

Beth Van Schaack, Associate Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, announced the following call for papers:


The International Criminal Law Review invites submissions for its 2010 special issue entitled "Women and International Criminal Law," to be guest-edited by Diane Marie Amann, University of California, Davis, School of Law; Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Temple University Beasley School of Law; and Beth Van Schaack, University of Santa Clara School of Law. The Special Issue is dedicated to Judge Patricia M. Wald, a pathbreaker in international criminal law who has served as Chief Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a Judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a member of the Iraq Intelligence Commission, Co-Chair of the American Society of International Law Task Force on the International Criminal Court, and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

This special issue is devoted to the topic of women and international criminal law. The majority of the articles have been solicited from prominent academics and practitioners in the field of international criminal law and feminist jurisprudence, such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Prof. Jenny Martinez, Dean Martha Minow, Prof. David Luban, Prof. Leila Nadya Sadat, Prof. Naomi Cahn, and Lucy Reed. The editors have also reserved several slots for submissions in response to this call to papers. Submissions should be inspired by this theme statement: "Women & International Criminal Law."

 The law, it has been noted, "has not always served women well." The critique extends readily to international law. Until very recently, women were absent from the processes of international law formation and enforcement, and invisible within substantive law reflective of the male experience.  Mirroring the public/private divide running through much of law and society, the law, and those with the power to use it, tended to treat all forms of gender violence as opportunistic, peripheral, or private crimes reflecting personal motives and desires unconnected to issues of international importance. Thanks to the tireless work of committed advocates, jurists, and diplomats, international criminal law now treats many forms of gender violence as prosecutable offences against the physical and mental integrity of the victim. With the promulgation of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and the voluminous jurisprudence of the ad hoc criminal tribunals, the law now sanctions the prosecution of gender crimes as war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture, and the predicate acts of genocide.

Women have stood front and center to push these developments. Other international institutions often are dominated by men.  Yet women have served in top posts in all of the modern tribunals, as Presidents (Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, Navanethem Pillay, and Renate Winter), Registrar (Dorothée de Sampayo Garrido-Nijgh), Chief Prosecutors (Louise Arbour and Carla Del Ponte), Deputy Prosecutors (Fatou Bensouda), Gender Advisors (Patricia Viseur Sellers and Catharine MacKinnon), and in many other judicial, prosecution, defense, and administrative capacities.  The tribunals are approaching gender parity in staffing, although women remain concentrated in the lower professional grades.  International criminal law is thus one area of international law in which women have made headway in terms of substantive law and institutional access; still, significant obstacles remain to ensure a robust system of gender justice in the face of continued violations.

The field of international criminal law nears a watershed moment, as ad hoc tribunals wind down and the International Criminal Court becomes fully operational. This opportune time invites reflection on whether international criminal law should be considered a feminist project. Accordingly, this volume offers sustained study of how international criminal law affects women and how women have affected international criminal law. We welcome submissions on the following topics:


. Can, and has, international criminal law improved the material conditions of women's lives and promoted the dignity of women?

. Is participation in international criminal justice liberating and transformative, or alienating and regressive?

. What legal reforms, procedural devices, advocacy strategies, and institutional arrangements can be employed to ensure that women experience the former and not the latter?

. Does fixation on criminal penalties constrain imagination and implementation of other ways to respond to the needs, demands, and aspirations of women in situations of armed conflict, mass violence, abuse, and repression?

. How have women - as activists, victims, lawyers, and perpetrators - changed the field?

. How has the gender jurisprudence advanced, or impeded, the development of international criminal law?

. Has international criminal law changed the way we think about violence against women?


This volume looks beyond sex crimes to consider multiple ways that women experience war and repression, as agents of change, as victims, and as perpetrators.  The study adopts critical perspectives to challenge conceptual boundaries - between and within public international law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights - that tend to eclipse the intersectionalities of women's identities and to fragment women's experiences with violence, based upon whether violence occurs in a time of war or peace, whether it occurs at home or in a detention center, or whether the perpetrator is a state actor or a private person. Our hope is that the new perspectives presented in this collection will advance our thinking about gender and international law across a number of disciplines.  We welcome your participation in this historic effort to examine the impact of international criminal law on women, and vice versa.

The volume will be published in spring 2011. Judge Wald and other contributors will present their works at a roundtable hosted at the American Society of International Law's Tillar House in Washington, D.C., on October 29, 2010 - days before the tenth anniversary of the first U.N. Security Council resolution on Women, Peace and Security. 

To ensure anonymity in the selection phase, please submit a solid draft essay or article, in the range of 5,000 to 10,000 words, with all identifying information redacted, to Kathleen A. Doty (U.C. Davis), by way of an e-mail attachment in Word format, by April 15, 2010.  Please note the paper's title (which should match exactly the title of the redacted paper) and your name and contact information in the body of the e-mail.  

Once papers have been selected, they will be subject to a full edit and peer review in advance of the October roundtable. The final draft of the paper will be due no later than March 1, 2011, and should adhere to the International Criminal Law Review style sheet, which is available at



January 7, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

15th Anniversary of International Conference on Population and Development

Logo-icpd15[1] The year 2009 marked the 15th Anniversary of the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.  As the name implies, the conference was designed to address the relationship between population growth and development.  At that conference, 179 nations agreed on a 20-year action plan, sometimes called the Cairo Consensus, to achieve universal education, especially for girls, reductions in infant, child and maternal mortality, and access to reproductive health care.  The Cairo Consensus posited that if needs for family planning and reproductive healthcare are met, then population stabilization will occur naturally and not as a result of coercion or control.  

To commemorate the anniversary, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, will deliver a speech on Friday, January 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm in the Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Reception Room at the Department of State.  In her speech, Secretary Clinton is expected to announce renewed U.S. commitment to reaching the ICPD goals and the other United Nations Millennium Development goals by 2015. 

With just five years of the 20-year action plan left, the 15th anniversary is a good reminder that it is time to refocus on how these goals will be achieved.


January 6, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

RIP Professor Sir Ian Brownlie

Ian-Brownlie Our condolences to the family and friends around the world of Professor Sir Ian Brownlie, CBE, QC, FBA, who was killed on Sunday in a car crash in Egypt.

Professor Brownlie was a widely-published expert on public international law, and a respected barrister, teacher, author, and advocate.

During his distinguished academic career, Brownlie taught at several top universities in the United Kingdom.  He argued numerous cases before the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.  He was a member of the UN International Law Commission and served for ten years as a member of the ICSID Panel of Arbitrators and Panel of Conciliators.

We cannot do justice to his long career in this short note.  Sir Ian's full professional biography is available on the Blackstone Chambers website by clicking here.


January 5, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Teaching International Law Resources

ASIL - 80 Percent For members of the American Society of International Law (ASIL), the Teaching International Law Interest Group has a webpage where you can find syllabi and other course materials for a variety of international law courses (click here).  The resource bank includes materials for courses on public international law, international business, trade, and economic law, international human rights, and international environmental law.  And while you are preparing for your spring semester courses, please consider sharing your syllabi and innovative teaching materials with other international law professors.  To submit teaching materials, click here.


January 4, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans

Aalslogo The Association of American Law Schools meets this week in New Orleans from January 6-10, 2010.  Click here for a pdf of the annual meeting brochure, which lists the programs and speakers you can hear this week, including programs sponsored by the AALS Section of International Law and other sectoins that focus on international law issues.

In addition to programs published in the meeting brochure, there are other international law events of interest, including a free breakfast program on "How to Publish International Law Books and Other Materials" that will be held on Saturday morning, January 9 at the Hilton Riverside Hotel from 7-8:30 am.  Authors and publishers will be part of the program, which is sponsored by the Teaching International Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law. There is no cost for the breakfast, but the organizers do appreciate advance reservations.


January 4, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

International Law Page on the U.N. Website

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Immigration Case Filings Increase by 21% in U.S. in 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts filed a year-end report on the U.S. judiciary.  Among the developments noted for 2009 is that immigration filings climbed to record levels, as the number of defendants increased by 19% (to 26,961) and the number of cases increased by 21% (to 25,804). 

The increase in cases was "mostly from filing addressing either improper reentry by aliens or fraud or misuse of a visa or entry permit.  The charge of improper reentry by an alien accounted for 80% of all immigration cases and 77% of all immigration defendants.  The vast majority of immigration cases--88%--were filed in the five southwestern border districts."

The statistics were compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.  Click here to read more. 


January 2, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 1, 2010

United States Imposes CVD Duties on Chinese Steel Pipes

United States China The U.S. International Trade Commission voted this week to impose countervailing duties of 10.36% to 15.78% on Chinese-made steel pipes, which are used mostly in the oil and gas industries.  The decision will affect $2.8 billion of Chinese exports and is reported to be the largest steel-trade dispute in U.S. history.

China criticized the vote and called on the United States to "correct its mistake."  The AD duty calculation (by the U.S. Department of Commerce) and material injury determination (by the U.S. International Trade Commission) can be appealed to the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Click here to read more about the U.S. International Trade Commisssion's vote on Oil Country Tubular Goods from the People's Republic of China.  That link includes a short description of factual highlights from the investigation.  The International Trade Commission's public report Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods from China Investigation No. 701-TA-463 (Final), USITC Publication 4124, January 2010) will contain the views of the Commission and information developed during the investigation.


January 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thanking Obama and Clinton for Support of the United Nations

United Nations Flag The United Natiions Association for the United States of America (UNA-USA) has created a website (for those living in the United States) that allows you to compose a message of thanks to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for re-engaging the United States in the United Nations (by payment of our U.N. dues, for example) and other international institutions.   Click here for more information.  The UNA-USA hopes that messages thanking the President and Secretary of State will keep the U.S. involved in these international institutions.


January 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)