Monday, August 30, 2010

Association for Conflict Resolution Conference in Chicago

The Association for Conflict Resolution holds a one-day international conference on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. Themes for the conference are “Better practice in peace building” and “Cross-cultural communication.”  Speakers include:

  • Ana-Mita Betancourt, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Ashok Panikkar, Meta-Culture (India)
  • Merrick Hoben, Consensus Building Institute
  • Sister Pauline Acayo, Catholic Relief Services in Uganda
  • Kenneth Cloke & Alan Gross, Mediators Beyond Borders
  • Charles E. Tucker, International Human Rights Law Institute
  • Michele S. Riley, Columbia University

The event will be held at the Chicago Marriott Downtown, 540 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60611 USA. The cost is $95 for ACR members; non-members $125; full-time students $50 For more information and to register, please click here


August 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2011 ILA Asia-Pacific Regional Conference (Taipei, Taiwan)

The Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law will hold the International Law Association (ILA) Asia-Pacific Regional Conference from May 29 to June 1, 2011 in Taipei, Taiwan. The theme of the conference will be Contemporary International Law Issues in the Asia Pacific: Opportunities and Challenges. Paper and panel proposals must be submitted electronically by December 20, 2010 to ila [at] A proposal of no more than 300 words should include the author’s name and full contact information.

The call for papers is available by clicking here.   Other inquiries about the conference can be directed to Professor Pasha Hsieh, Conference Co-organizer, at pashahsieh [at]

Hat tip to Pasha L. Hsieh, Assistant Professor of Law at the Singapore Management University School of Law


August 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UN CERD Releases Annual Report

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) ended its 77th session on Friday with the release of its annual report containing its concluding observations and recommendations on the country reports of Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Iran, Morocco, Slovenia, Romania and Uzbekistan.  Mr. Kemal, the Committee Chair, stated that the Committee would send out 10 letters to States parties under its early warning and urgent action procedure, aimed at preventing existing situations from escalating into conflicts and to respond to problems requiring immediate attention to prevent or limit the scale or number of serious violations of the Convention.  The Committee’s seventy-eighth session will be held from 14 February to 11 March 2011, when the Committee will review the periodic reports of Armenia, Bolivia, Cuba, Ireland, Moldova, Norway, Rwanda, Serbia, Spain, Uruguay and Yemen.  More information may be found here.


August 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Same-Sex Marriage in Mexico

Mexico The Supreme Court of Mexico ruled 9-2 that same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City had to be recognized as marriages by all 31 states of Mexico.  The following week, the Mexican Supreme Court also upheld the right of same-sex couples to adopt children.

The ruling in the same-sex marriage case prompted the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Juan Sandoval Iniguez, to allege that the Mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, had somehow bribed members of the Mexican Supreme Court to convince them to rule in favor of gay marriage.

The Mayor of Mexico City responded to the Archbishop's allegations by suing him for defamation.  The mayor also sued the Archbishop's spokesman, Hugo Valdemar. The suit requires the Archbishop to produce evidence that the Mayor bribed the country's Supreme Court or to admit that the Archbishop lied and to apologize.  Upon filing the suit, the mayor was quoted as telling the Archbishop that "You live in a secular state" and that the government "does not serve a particular religious or philosophical doctrine but has been established to serve the public interest."



August 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

ICJ: Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (Belgium v. Switzerland)

ICJ The International Court of Justice has extended the time-limits for briefing in the case brought by the Kingdom of Belgium against the Swiss Confederation on "Jurisdiction and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters."

Belgium's memorial is now due by November 23, 2010.  Switzerland's reply is due by October 24, 2011.  More information about the case can be found on the ICJ's website

Written memorials are generally confidential until the ICJ makes them accessible to the public, which generally happens at the opening of the oral proceedings.  So don't look to find these briefs until 2012!


August 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. State Department Releases Human Rights Report

Earlier this week, the United States submitted to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights a report on the U.S. human rights record. The report is part of the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. The UPR was established by the UN General Assembly in 2006 as a process through which the human rights records of the United Nations’ 192 Member States could be reviewed and assessed. This review is conducted through the UN Human Rights Council and is based upon human rights obligations and commitments expressed in various international instruments, including the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and human rights instruments to which the State is party.  Individual countries are scheduled for review every four years.  According to the U.S. State Department, this latest review involved "an unprecedented level of  consultation and engagement with civil society across the country."  The review included input from the White House, the Department of Justice, and at least ten other federal departments and offices.

The United States reports that it does well in the areas of protecting free speech and religion and political participation.  With respect to equal protection of the laws, the report admits that while the United States has "made great strides, work remains to meet [its] goal of ensuring equality before the law for all."   While cataloguing some of the improvements the United States has made in racial equality, the report also acknowledges that unemployment rates are unacceptably higher for some minority groups, such as African Americans and Native Americans, and that there is an "education gap" between white children and African American and Hispanic children that must be addressed.  The report states that more work needs to be done to ensure better access for disabled persons.  The report also recognizes continued discrimination against certain minority groups such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons, Muslims, Arab-Americans and South Asian-Americans.  The report also discusses work int the area of gender equality and the treatment of immigrants. 

With respect to its international commitments, the United States points out that it is the largest donor of development aid.  The report further states that the United States believes there are no "law free zones" and that every person is entitled to the protection of the law.  United States law prohibits "torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons in the custody or control of the U.S. Government, regardless of their nationality or physical location."

The report’s submission is one step in the UPR process. The next step will be a formal presentation by the U.S. government to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in November. The full report is available here.


August 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fighting Pirates

In the past seven months there have been 139 piracy-related incidents off the coast of Somalia.  Thirty ships have been hijacked, and 17 ships and 450 seafarers are being held for ransom.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed that more can be done. In a report released last week, Mr. Ban identified seven options for furthering the aim of prosecuting and imprisoning persons responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, which has been a growing problem in recent years.

  • The first option presented in the report is to enhance ongoing efforts to assist regional States to prosecute and imprison those responsible for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.
  • The second would involve locating a Somali court, applying Somali law, in a third State in the region.
  • The third and fourth options would involve assisting a regional State or States to establish special chambers, embedded in the State’s national court structure, to conduct piracy trials.
  • Option five would require active engagement by the States of the region and the African Union to establish a regional tribunal to address the scourge of piracy.
  • Option six would be an international tribunal – analogous to existing “hybrid” tribunals – with national participation by a State in the region.
  • Option seven would be a full international tribunal, established by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter.

Mr. Ban emphasized that achieving substantive results in combating piracy – whether through a new or existing judicial mechanism – will require political and financial commitment from Member States.

The Secretary-General announced that he intends to appoint a Special Adviser on Legal Issues Related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

UN Legal Counsel Patricia O’Brien noted a number of challenges associated with achieving and sustaining substantive results in the fight against piracy off the Somali coast.  These include the large number of suspects, the fact that any judicial mechanism would be addressing a symptom of the situation in Somalia, not its causes, and the lack of any defined completion date for the mechanism’s work.

(adapted from a UN press release)


August 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Today's Stupid Email Trick: Ban Ki-Moon Just Gave Me $650,500 Cash!

All email users get ridiculous spam messages from time to time.  Hopefully our spam filters catch most of those messages.  But from time to time, some messages get through.  I just received this one . . . and I'm still laughing and the audacity of its author, "Mr.huffman" who sent me this message from [email protected].  Here is his message:

England Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Palais des Nations CH-1211 Geneva 10, England.

Your E-Mail ID have just been awarded, $650,500.00 usd in the
United Nations Trust Funds(UN) cash grant, for claims contact the
payment department.

Payment Officer  :  Mr.huffman
Phone Number :  :竣綴
Email     :  [email protected]

Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
United Nations Secretary General.
In one sense, I'm laughing.  I mean, I really had no idea that Geneva had magically moved from Switzerland to England.  In another sense, I'm angry at this clown for sullying the name of the United Nations in this scam email message.  Your thoughts, dear readers?

August 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reminder: AALS Poster Deadline is September 3

Aalslogo The Association of American Law Schools Section on International Law is sponsoring posters this year to be displayed at the AALS annual conference in San Francisco this coming January.  Posters provide a great opportunity for authors to present their research or innovative teaching ideas in an informal manner.

The deadline for poster proposals for the 2011 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco is September 3, 2010. By this date you must submit a short description of the poster and an actual copy of the proposed poster. The submission guidelines are available on the AALS website by clicking here.  


August 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Singapore Ratifies UN Convention on Electronic Communications in International Contracts

Singapore Last month Singapore became the second state party to the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (the Electronic Communications Convention).  The Convention will enter into effect when the next country ratifies it.  Honduras was the first country to ratify the Convention.  Click here to see the list of other countries that have signed but not yet ratified the convention, including some major players like the People's Republic of China, South Korea, Saudia Arabia, and the Russian Federation.

Here is an excerpt from an UNCITRAL Press Release issued after Singapore's ratification:

The Convention aims to enhance legal certainty and commercial predictability where electronic communications are used in relation to international contracts. It addresses, among other things, the determination of a party's location in an electronic environment; the time and place of dispatch and receipt of electronic communications; the use of automated message systems for contract formation; and the criteria to be used for establishing functional equivalence between electronic communications and paper documents - including "original" paper documents - as well as between electronic authentication methods and hand-written signatures.

The goals of the Electronic Communications Convention include: removing legal obstacles to the use of electronic communications that may arise from the terms of international agreements concluded before the widespread use of electronic media; fostering the modernization and harmonization of existing e-commerce legislation; and providing jurisdictions that have not yet adopted laws on electronic transactions with a modern set of rules for both domestic and international application.

At the ceremony that took place during the Commission session in New York on 7 July, the Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations, Vanu Gopala Menon said that Singapore recognized the importance of electronic commerce and the use of electronic communications in the development of world trade and that as such, it has been among those states which have been at the forefront of implementing laws relating to electronic commerce and ICT. Mr. Menon said: "I am pleased that Singapore is now among the first in the world to ratify the Convention. The Convention sets a new global standard for national electronic commerce legislation and will remove barriers to cross-border electronic commerce arising from disharmony in national electronic commerce legislation. We hope to see a wide adoption of the Convention so as to achieve harmonisation of electronic commerce legislation amongst countries."

The Convention is open indefinitely for ratification and accession. It will enter into force on the first day of the month following the expiration of six months after the date of deposit of the third instrument of ratification or accession. Further information on the Convention is available on the UNCITRAL website.

Upon depositing its instrument of ratification, Singapore also made the following declaration.  It seems a quite sensible one to me at first glance and I would not be surprised to see other countries later making the same or similar declarations upon ratification.

Upon ratification, Singapore declared: The Convention shall not apply to electronic communications relating to any contract for the sale or other disposition of immovable property, or any interest in such property. The Convention shall also not apply in respect of (i) the creation or execution of a will; or (ii) the creation, performance or enforcement of an indenture, declaration of trust or power of attorney, that may be contracted for in any contract governed by the Convention.

Click here to see a copy of the Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications



August 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Indigenous Law Conference Scheduled for October 8 at Tulsa

The University of Tulsa (Oklahoma) College of Law will be hosting a one-day conference on "International Law: Future Impacts on the Tribal-Federal Relationship" on Friday, October 8, 2010.  The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. The program is co-sponsored by the Native American Law Center.  Speakers include Chief J. Wilton Littlechild, the first Treaty Indian to be elected to the Canadian Parliament and a two-term member of the United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Julian Burger, former Coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Robert T. "Tim" Coulter, Founder and Executive Director of the Indian Law Resource Center.  For more information, please contact Lesley Scruggs at 918-631-3416.


August 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blackwater to Pay $42 Million for Export Violations

According to a New York Times report, the controversial private security firm formerly known as Blackwater (now Xe), has reached a settlement with the U.S. State Department pursuant to which the firm has agreed to pay $42 million in fines for violations of U.S. export control regulations.  The fines relate to charges that the firm engaged in illegal exports of weapons and other military equipment to Afghanistan and Iraq, unauthorized sniper training of Taiwanese police, and unauthorized proposals to train troops in Sudan.  Blackwater was charged with 288 violations of the U.S. export control laws between 2003 and 2009.  These laws are primarily designed to regulate the export of sensitive technology that may have military applications.  As a result of the settlement, the firm will not face criminal sanctions for these actions and will be allowed to participate in government contracts.


August 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dominican Republic Becomes 21st Party to UNCITRAL Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods

The Dominican Republic has deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods, as amended by the Protocol of 11 April 1980. The Convention, as amended, will enter into force for the Dominican Republic on 1 February 2011.

Adopted by a diplomatic conference on 12 June 1974, the Convention establishes uniform rules governing the period of time within which legal proceedings arising from an international sales contract must be commenced. The Convention was amended by a Protocol adopted in 1980 to harmonize it with the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG).

The Dominican Republic becomes the 21st State party to the Convention, as amended.


The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law. Its mandate is to remove legal obstacles to international trade by progressively modernizing and harmonizing trade law. It prepares legal texts in a number of key areas such as international commercial dispute settlement, electronic commerce, insolvency, international payments, sale of goods, transport law, procurement and infrastructure development. UNCITRAL also provides technical assistance to law reform activities, including assisting Member States to review and assess their law reform needs and to draft the legislation required to implement UNCITRAL texts. The UNCITRAL Secretariat is located in Vienna.  Click here to visit its website

August 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 20, 2010

US Judge Dismisses Piracy Claims Against Six Somalis

The U.S. government tried to stretch the definition of piracy a bit too far, according to a U.S. District Court Judge in Virginia.  The judge dismissed piracy counts against six Somali men who were arrested in the Gulf of Aden after an attack on the U.S.S. Ashland in April.  The Somali men fired upon the U.S. ship, but never attempted to board the ship.  The Ashland fired back, setting the smaller vessel on fire.  The crew of the Ashland then rescued the Somali men and placed them under arrest.  The judge held that piracy as defined by the law of nations traditionally means robbery at sea.  See U.S. v. Smith, 18 U.S. 153 (1820). Because the Somalis never left their ship and never attempted to steal anything from the Ashland, the judge rejected the government's attempts to charge them with piracy.  The defendants still face several charges under other federal statutes including attack to plunder a vessel, acts of violence against persons on a vessel, and assault with deadly weapons. The case is United States v. Mohamed Ali Said, (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virgina, Aug. 17, 2010).


August 20, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Three Grounds of Appeal for the Duch Verdict from the Cambodia Tribunal

Cambodia Tribunal As reported earlier, the Co-Prosecutors for the Extraordinary Courts of the Chambers of Cambodia (ECCC) have filed an appeal of the Trial Chamber's judgment against Kaing Guek Eav (also known as "Duch").  This post sets out the three grounds of appeal in the co-prosecutors' notice of appeal.

The ECCC Trial Chamber issued its judgment on July 26, 2010, sentencing Kaing Guek Eav to 35 years imprisonment, but giving him credit for 11 years already served and a further reduction of five years because he had been illegally held without charges for nine of the 11 years served.  The co-prosecutors now appeal on three grounds.

First, the Co-Prosecutors claim that the Trial Chamber gave insufficient weight to the gravity of the crimes, his role and willing participation in those crimes, and other aggravating circumstances.  The Co-Prosecutors also said that the Trial Chamber gave undue weight to mitigating circumstances.  The Co-Prosecutors also stated that the sentence failed to consider the relevant international sentencing law and that the sentence imposed fell outside the range of sentences available.

Second, the Co-Prosecutors claim that the Trial Chamber erred in not issuing cumulative sentences for the crimes against humanity of enslavement, imprisonment, torture, rape, extermination, and other inhumane acts, and by subsuming those crimes in the crime against humanity of persecution on political grounds.  The Co-Prosecutors also stated that the Trial Chamber erred by characterizing the crime against humanity of rape as torture, and by failing to convict him cumulatively for the distinct crimes against humanity of rape and torture.

Third, the Co-Prosecutors claim that the Trial Chamber erred in using a definition of the crime against humanity of enslavement that required forced labor as an essential element.  They claim that the Trial Court erred in not sentencing Duch for the enslavement of persons who were not subjected to forced labor in the S-21 prison.

Click here to read the notice of appeal.


August 20, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cambodia Tribunal is Distributing Copies and Summaries of the "Duch" Verdict

Cambodia Tribunal On August 5, 2010 the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) started to produce 5,000 printed copies of the entire Duch verdict and 17,000 copies of the judgment summary in Khmer language. The publications are to be distributed to the public free of charge.

The ECCC Trial Chamber issued its verdict on July 26, 2010. It found that Kaing Guek Eav—also known as “Duch”—was responsible for the torture and murders of more than 12,000 men, women, and children during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Duch had been the commandant of the S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, from which only a handful of persons survived. The ECCC Trial Chamber found him guilty of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The Trial Chamber sentenced him to 35 years’ imprisonment but granted him credit for approximately 11 years already spent in custody. It also granted a further reduction of five years because the Cambodian Military Court had held him in detention without trial for nine of the years he had spent in custody.

Mr. REACH Sambath, the Head of the Public Affairs Section of the ECCC, told reporters that the ECCC would be distributing these printed versions of the judgment to 24 provinces/municipalities, 188 districts, 1,621 communes, ministries, institutions, universities, high schools, libraries, NGOs, Civil Parties, and the general public for the purpose of additional studies and better understanding of Case File 001 in which charges have been brought against KAING Guek Eav, alias Duch. 

5,000 copies of the 450-page judgment and 17,000 copies of a 36-page summary version have been printed. This summary judgment was read out by His Excellency NIL Non, the President of the Trial Chamber, on 26 July 2010, subsequent to the 77 days of trial proceedings which were conducted on 30 March through 27 November 2009.

Mr. REACH Sambath stated, “We do this to answer to the emergent needs of the students and civil servants who have called the court and requested that the documents be printed out for public use and for the interests of their future educational research references.”

“We wish to make sure that they clearly understand the genuine importance of Duch’s trials and that they should not get carried away because of their thinking too much to merely the number of years Duch shall be imprisoned,” continued Mr. Sambath, “instead, they should envisage the long-term benefit of this judgment.”   He noted that a number of countries including the United States of America, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the European Community had expressed their support for the Duch verdict.  “This support is actually of vital importance due to the fact that now Cambodia is in the process of a speedy integration into the international community,” added Mr. Sambath.

These publications will become the historic documents of great value for lawyers, law students and professors to further their appreciation of the judicial proceedings, of this court in particular. Mr. REACH Sambath also pointed out that these books are the proof of the ECCC’s first Cambodia and the world historic achievement. It is an historic judgment for the younger generation to study the history of Cambodia. Above all else, the printed copies of the judgment will be of great interests to a wide range of young readers who are born after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime. Among other existing reference documents, these documents can be referred to as additionally important resources with regard to the history of the Khmer Rouge.

Mr. ING Vanthorn, the Director of the Areyathor Printing House, who was very busy with the work of producing the printed copies of Duch’s verdict so that they would be done in a timely fashion, said that he was pleased to be offered the task of producing the printed copies of Duch’s judgment. “As a victim of the Khmer Rouge regime, I feel happy to be part of this process,” said Mr. Vanthorn, “my Printing House offers a lower price for producing these printed copies for I am convinced that the distribution of these documents to Cambodians is of vital importance.”

The  ECCC is distributing these copies to targeted areas all across Cambodia. Members of the public can get a printed copy of the judgment they can contact the ECCC’s Public Affairs Section officers: Mr. DIM Sovannarom  or Mr. CHIN Hem Vicheth, or by sending an email to pas [at]  The verdict can also be downloaded from the ECCC website under “Court Documents”.   You can also click here to download a copy of the verdict.

The Co-Prosecutors have filed an appeal of the judgment.  Click here to read more about the grounds of that appeal.

(Adapted from ECCC Press Releases)


August 20, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

St. Lucia Ratifies Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

Fresh on the heals of a ratification by the island nation of Seychelles, the Caribbean island nation ofSt. Lucia Saint Lucia has become the 113th nation to ratify the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. 

The Court welcomed Saint Lucia’s decision, calling it “a new sign of the international community’s commitment to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes that deeply shock the conscience of humanity.”  The Statute will enter into force on 1 November for Saint Lucia, whose move comes just over a week after Seychelles ratified the pact.  

Click here for more information on St. Lucia.


August 19, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Job Openings in Thailand

Country Director – Asylum Access Thailand

Asylum Access, a US-based international refugee rights organization, is seeking a dynamic leader to serve as Country Director of Asylum Access-Thailand, operated by Asylum Access in collaboration with the Human Rights Development Foundation (HRDF).

Asylum Access-Thailand uses legal aid and policy advocacy to promote refugee rights in Thailand in accordance with international law. The Country Director will be the lead representative of Asylum Access in Thailand, and will be responsible for managing programs and operations, setting overall strategic direction in accordance with Asylum Access’s global policies, and developing new initiatives to promote refugee rights. In carrying out these leadership functions, the Country Director will work in conjunction with a leadership team of program managers, and will report to Asylum Access headquarters.

The ideal applicant will be an experienced human rights professional with strong professional and political connections in Thailand, fluent in both Thai and English and able to represent the organization’s work in both Thai and international contexts. The applicant should have experience managing projects and staff, and should be able to work in a diverse and cross-cultural organization. While experience with refugee issues is desirable, a strong applicant may have other types of experience in the human rights field and should be a fast learner, interested and committed to leading a refugee rights program.

Interested applicants can view the full job description and application instructions at


Legal Services Manager  – Asylum Access Thailand

Asylum Access, a US-based international refugee rights organization, is seeking an experienced legal advocate to serve as Legal Services Manager of Asylum Access-Thailand, operated by Asylum Access in collaboration with the Human Rights Development Foundation (HRDF).

Asylum Access-Thailand (AAT) uses legal aid and policy advocacy to promote refugee rights in Thailand in accordance with international law. The Legal Services Manager (LSM) will be responsible for developing, organizing and supervising the provision of legal information, advice and representation to refugees and asylum seekers in cases adjudicated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Thailand, especially in the field of refugee status determination.

The LSM will also be a part of the general leadership team of AAT, under the overall leadership of the Country Director, and should contribute to the development of new legal aid initiatives for refugees in Thailand. Under the leadership of the Country Director or Headquarters, the LSM may assist in fundraising efforts for AA and in developing new institutional relationships or networks to benefit AA programs.

The ideal applicant will be a lawyer with substantive knowledge of international human rights and refugee law, including client counseling and advocacy, who is able to build relationships and adapt legal strategies to fit new and/or challenging circumstances. The ideal applicant will have experience training and managing staff and volunteers and managing client services, and will be able to work in a diverse and cross-cultural organization. Experience providing legal aid in the context of UNHCR RSD is especially desirable. Fluent professional English is essential.

Interested applicants can view the full job description and application instructions at

August 19, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kenyan Diplomat Appointed Head of UN Office to the African Union

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed an experienced Kenyan diplomat as the first Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (AU), established earlier this year to strengthen links between the two organizations.

Zachary Muburi-Muita, who has served as Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York since 2006, has worked in diplomatic, political, civil-military and managerial roles for his country since 1982.

He is tasked with building stronger UN ties with the AU and sub-regional organizations as well, according to information released by the UN spokesperson.

Mr. Muburi-Muita’s diplomatic resume includes involvement in various initiatives related to the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)..

In January he was also elected President of the UN High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation, which is charged with helping to boost economic development among the world’s poorest nations.

The new UN Office to the AU, set up by the General Assembly on 1 July, will be based in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, where the AU has its headquarters.

(from a UN Press Release)

August 19, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ECCC Prosecutor Appeals Sentence in Duch Verdict

Duch on Trial Cambodia Tribunal Prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers for the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) have appealed against the 35-year jail term handed out to Kaing Guek Eav ("Duch"), who was found guilty last month of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced by judges in the ECCC trial chamber.

In a statement issued after they filed the appeal, the prosecutors said the sentence “gives insufficient weight to the gravity of Duch’s crimes and his role and his willing participation in those crimes.”  The prosecutors also said that the judges placed “undue weight” to mitigating circumstances when they determined the length of the prison sentence.

The first person to stand trial before the court, Mr. Kaing headed the S-21 camp, also known as Tuol Sleng, where numerous Cambodians were unlawfully detained, subjected to inhumane conditions and forced labour, tortured and executed in the late 1970s.  The trial chamber found that Mr. Kaing not only implemented, but also actively contributed to the development of the policies of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) at S-21.

In deciding on a sentence, the ECCC said that it took note of several factors, including the gravity of the offences. Although prisoner lists from S-21 show that at least 12,272 people were detained and executed, the trial chamber believes the number of victims is considerably larger. The chamber also decided on a finite sentence instead of life imprisonment due to the defendant’s cooperation with the ECCC, his admission of responsibility and the potential for rehabilitation, among other factors.

Mr. Kaing’s sentence was reduced by five years due to his illegal detention by the Cambodian Military Court between 1999 and 2007, and he is already entitled to credit for time already served. This means he may serve only 19 more years. The prosecutors said that Mr. Kaing should be separately convicted of the crimes against humanity of enslavement, imprisonment, torture, rape, extermination and other inhumane acts. 

In a separate development, the prosecutors today formally requested that the ECCC’s investigating judgement that four people – Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Thirith – are indicted and sent for trial for the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the 1956 Cambodian penal code. All four were senior figures under the Khmer Rouge.  The prosecutors said “the evidence collected in the investigation demonstrates that the charged persons committed these crimes through a joint criminal enterprise, the purpose of which was to enforce a political revolution in Cambodia and systematically destroy any opposition to the CPK’s rule.”

Estimates vary but as many as 2 million people are thought to have died during the rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979, which was then followed by a protracted period of civil war in the impoverished South-East Asian country.

(from a UN Press Release)

August 19, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)