Friday, December 31, 2010

Côte d’Ivoire’s Outgoing President will be Personally Accountable for Deaths and Violence

Cote_d'Ivoire United Nations Flag The United Nations has directly warned Côte d’Ivoire’s outgoing president and his entourage that they will be held personally accountable amid continuing reports of extrajudicial executions, disappearances, sexual violence and arbitrary detentions following his refusal to step down.

“No longer can heads of State, and other actors, be sure that they can commit atrocious violations and get away with it,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in Geneva today, announcing that she had written a letter “in the strongest terms” to Laurent Gbagbo, who insists that he won November’s run-off elections despite international recognition of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara as the clear victor.

Ms. Pillay said she had written individually to Mr. Gbagbo, Ivorian Republican Guard Commander General Bruno Ble Dogbo, Marines Rear Admiral Vagba Faussignaux, and Security Operations Command Centre General Georges Guiai Bi Poin, reminding them of their duty under international law to refrain from committing, ordering, inciting, instigating or standing by in tacit approval of rights violations.

She reiterated her strong concern that deteriorating security and interference with the UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire, known as UNOCI, continue to block investigation of a large number of reported violations.

“We have received reports of at least two mass graves; however, UN human rights teams have been denied access to the scenes of these atrocities in order to investigate them,” she said. “Denying access to alleged mass grave sites and places where the victims’ mortal remains are allegedly deposited constitutes a clear violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

She also voiced concern over continuous threats and assaults against UNOCI, citing calls by newly appointed Minister for Youth Blé Goudé and others for attacks against the UN and “non Ivorians,” as well as reports about the marking of homes with ethnic identities, which could be followed by attacks against civilians from certain ethnic groups.

Yesterday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned against any attempts to attack the hotel in Abidjan, the commercial capital, where Mr. Ouattara is based, guarded by peacekeepers of the 9,000-strong UNOCI, amid fears that renewed violence could plunge the West African country back into civil war, a chapter that the elections were meant to close.

In 2002 the country was split by civil war into a rebel-held north and a Government-controlled south. UNOCI, which has been on the ground since 2003 helping to monitor a ceasefire and promote reunification, has rebuffed Mr. Gbagbo’s demand that it leave following its certification of Mr. Ouattara’s victory.

Ms. Pillay’s announcement followed a joint news release by UN human rights experts decrying a litany of reported abuses in the violence that has followed Mr. Gbagbo’s refusal to leave office.

Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns cited the number of reported extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and reiterated warnings against the risks of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Special Rapporteur on violence against women Rashida Manjoo cited allegations of sexual violence committed by armed men and called on all parties to do their utmost to prevent such abuses.

The Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, stressing that victims, including relatives of the disappeared, have the rights to justice, redress, truth and reparation, vowed to see that those rights are respected.

In addition, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention noted that hundreds of people have reportedly been arbitrarily arrested and some taken to illegal centres where they are held incommunicado and without charge in what it called “heinous violations” of international human rights law.

Effective steps must be taken by the competent authorities to investigate promptly and impartially all allegations of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punish severely the perpetrators, Special Rapporteur on torture Juan Méndez declared.

Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders Margaret Sekaggya stressed the dangers they faced in denouncing violations and urged all parties to respect their legitimate work.

At the same time, UN agencies are rushing aid to nearly 20,000 Ivorian refugees who have fled to neighbouring Liberia. The UN refugee agency said it would set up camps and called on the international community to provide more funding, noting that it had pre-positioned aid in the region to assist 30,000 refugees and spent $3 million from its emergency reserves.

“Our teams in Liberia continue to distribute emergency aid across villages where refugees are sheltered,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement, listing plastic sheeting, blankets, jerry cans, sleeping mats, kerosene, lamps, buckets, soap, mosquito nets and other basic household items. “We will need donor support to keep continuing our aid efforts.”

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has already airlifted emergency supplies into Liberia as part of a rapid scale up of humanitarian operations, including five metric tons of high energy biscuits.

“We are mobilizing food stocks at a regional and local level to help these people, who are facing a grim start to the New Year,” WFP Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla said. “These biscuits will provide a welcome nutritional boost to refugees, many of whom have crossed the border with little in the way of food for their families.”

(UN Press Release)

December 31, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the 2010 "State of the World"

United Nations Flag In his end-of-year “state of the world” news conference, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described 2010 as “a big year for the United Nations,” with progress on issues from biodiversity to electoral support in Iraq and Afghanistan, but warned of challenges ahead in Sudan, the Middle East and other world flashpoints.  “Looking ahead, our challenge is to carry our progress forward,” he said of the agenda for 2011, which he will lay out more fully next month. “Resources are tighter. Demands on the UN are growing. This requires us to focus more on prevention, preparedness, being proactive, being persistent, all within a framework that is transparent and accountable.” 

Dealing with potential crises looming on the eve of the New Year, Mr. Ban focused on Côte d’Ivoire, where outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to step down despite opposition leader Alassane Ouattara’s clear victory in November elections has led to renewed violence in the divided country, and Sudan where the South is to hold a referendum on independence next month.  He stressed that Mr. Gbagbo’s efforts to flout the public will cannot be allowed to stand, and pledged UN assistance to help the northern and southern Sudanese address common challenges following the 9 January vote. 

Turning to the Middle East, he once again urged Israelis and Palestinians to engage seriously and be forthcoming on substance and reiterated Israel’s obligation to freeze all settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem. 

On Myanmar, he called the elections, despite serious shortcomings, and the release of democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi significant developments, and said that the Government can and should build on them, and pledged continued long-term comprehensive engagement. 

The UN will also seek progress on many of the longer-term challenges, Mr. Ban said, including peace on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, bringing a stable government to war-ravaged Somalia, and helping to reunify Cyprus in a bi-zonal, bi-communal country with a Turkish Cypriot Constituent State and a Greek Cypriot Constituent State of equal status. 

On Haiti, he voiced concern at allegations of fraud in the recent first round of elections and pledged continued UN support to ensure that they reflect the will of the Haitian people.  

Looking back on 2010, Mr. Ban cited progress made on the UN anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to slash a host of social ills by 2015, the $40 billion mobilized for the new Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health and advances in Nagoya, Japan, on conserving biodiversity and in Cancun, Mexico, on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, forest protection, climate finance, adaptation and technology.  

He also mentioned UN preventive diplomacy with support for 34 different mediation, facilitation and dialogue efforts, citing the easing of the political crisis in Kyrgyzstan and keeping the transition to democracy on track in Guinea.     The UN was also very active on the humanitarian front in the face of natural disasters, responding to the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, as well as the floods in Pakistan, Mr. Ban stressed. 

(Excerpt from a UN Press Release)

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

UN Officials Condemn Incitements to Violence in Côte d’Ivoire

Cote_d'Ivoire Two United Nations civilian protection officials today expressed concern over the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, where they said some leaders are instigating violence and hatred between communities and warned that those responsible will be held accountable under international law. 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also warned against any attempts to attack the hotel where president-elect Alassane Ouattara and his entourage are based, and where security is being provided by peacekeepers of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

The West African country plunged into a tense political crisis after the incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede electoral defeat to his challenger, Mr. Ouattara, following a presidential run-off poll held on 28 November. The international community has recognized Mr. Ouattara as the country’s president-elect.

Francis Deng, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, and Edward Luck, the Special Adviser focusing on the responsibility to protect, said that there are continuing reports, thus far unconfirmed, of serious human rights violations by supporters of Mr. Gbagbo, and by forces under his control, as well as the use of inflammatory speech to incite hatred and violence. “Given the history of internal conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, such actions are highly irresponsible,” Mr. Deng and Mr. Luck said in a joint statement.  Mr. Deng said that allegations that the homes of political opponents of Mr. Gbagbo in the city of Abidjan, the West African country’s commercial capital, have been marked to identify their ethnicity were “extremely worrying.”

The two officials reminded all parties of their responsibility to protect all people in Côte d’Ivoire, irrespective of their ethnicity, nationality, or religion. Mr. Luck recalled the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, in which all heads of State and government pledged to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  “This responsibility entails the prevention of these crimes, importantly including their incitement,” he stressed. “We would like to remind all parties in Côte d’Ivoire, as the Secretary-General did in his statement of two weeks ago, of this solemn commitment and of the fact that they are accountable for their actions under international law,” Mr. Luck added.

In his statement, the Secretary-General said he was alarmed by a call by one of Mr. Gbagbo’s supporters for the youth group known as Young Patriots to attack the Golf Hotel in Abidjan on 1 January.  He stressed that UNOCI is authorized to use all necessary means to protect its personnel, as well as the Government officials and other civilians at the hotel.  “The Secretary-General therefore wishes to warn that any attack against peacekeepers constitutes a crime under international law, for which the perpetrators and those who instigate them will be held accountable,” said a statement issued by the spokesman of the Secretary-General.  Any attack on the Golf Hotel could provoke widespread violence that could reignite civil war, the statement added, urging those contemplating taking part in the attack to refrain from such “dangerous irresponsible action.”

In a related development, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) reported that its probe team has been prevented, for the second time, from conducting investigations into allegations of the existence a mass grave in the village of N’Dotré, near the town of Anyama, which is situated north of Abidjan.  “On Tuesday, 28 December, members of the security forces in N’Dotré prevented an investigation mission from reaching the site and we were forced to return to Abidjan without being able to complete our mission,” Simon Munzu, the head of UNOCI’s human rights division, told reporters in Abidjan.  The team, however, saw a building where, according to available information, between 60 and 80 bodies were found, according to Mr. Munzu. “We continue to protest the denial of access,” he added.  He said that UNOCI should be able to investigate the allegation of a mass grave to verify for the national and international community whether the claim was true or false. Mr. Gbagbo’s interior minister has repeatedly denied the existence of the mass grave on national television, according to Mr. Munzu, who also reported a decrease in incidents of human rights abuses over the week from 16 to 23 December.

This week, six deaths, three disappearances, 20 kidnappings and 11 arrests and injuries have been reported, he said. The figures related to cases that UNOCI has been able to verify and confirm. “That does not mean that during the week there were only these cases,” he added.  Mr. Munzu said that UNOCI has not recorded any cases that could be classified as gender-based violence. He also announced the creation of a “call centre,” which will be open for 24 hours to improve UNOCI’s capacity to monitor human rights violations.

Meanwhile, UNOCI denied reports by the state broadcaster Ivorian radio and television (RTI) that its soldiers on patrol fired at a crowd in the town of Abobo yesterday.  The mission said that a military patrol was confronted by angry youths in Abobo and came under small arms fire from buildings on the main road, following which the soldiers fired warning shots in the air and, with the help of Ivorian security forces, removed road blocks that had been erected on the way to its base in Sebroko.  “UNOCI expresses outrage at the attempts by the RTI to incite a section of the population to hatred against UNOCI to prevent it from focusing on its work on behalf of the Ivorian people,” the mission said in a statement.

 (From a UN Press Release)


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

Global Legal Skills Conference

The sixth Global Legal Skills Conference will take place on May 5-7, 2011 at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  Persons interested in making a presentation or organizing a panel for the conference should submit  proposals to the Planning Committee by January 31, 2011, by sending it to 7wojcik[at] 

You will be notified as to whether your proposal has been accepted by the middle of February.  There is no particular format for proposals.  Some proposals may be quite detailed, while others might have just the title of the proposal, a brief description (unless it is clear from the title), and contact information for presenters.  You might propose an entire panel, or just an individual presentation that we might combine with others.  Submissions are welcome on all aspects of international legal skills education, with a special (but not exclusive) focus on teaching students who speak English as a second language.  Previous conferences also included presentations on Legal Spanish, on teaching Trial Advocacy in Ireland, on legal translations, and on other aspects of international legal education and teaching international law.  Most presentations will focus on the special educational aspects of teaching students trained in other languages and other, frequently non-common law, legal traditions.  

In your proposal, please let us know how much time you will need.  Please choose 20 or 50 minutes.  Please also let us know where your proposal fits within the following categories:

1.      How to teach:  Tips for those who teach international students either here or abroad.
2.      How to do:  Tips by and for U.S. and foreign practitioners who have global practices.
3.      Curricular development:  Presentations on what schools offer, or should be offering, their foreign students.
4.      What it's all about: Lessons on law/culture/practice in other countries.
5.      Developing Materials:  Ideas on developing materials for class. 
6.      Other:  Anything that does not fit within the other categories.

Please send any questions to Mark Wojcik by email at mwojcik[at] or intlawprof[at] 


December 30, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Update on the Situation in Côte d’Ivoire

Cote_d'Ivoire United Nations Flag  The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire will “robustly” fulfill its mandate, breaking through roadblocks if needed, to protect civilians and the “legitimate Government” after the outgoing president’s refusal to step down in the face of his rival’s internationally recognised electoral victory, a top UN official warned today.

Decrying a campaign of lies, hatred and incitement against the mission, known by its acronym UNOCI, especially from the state broadcasting authority under the control of Laurent Gbagbo, who was defeated in November’s run-off poll by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy insisted on the peacekeepers’ right to freedom of movement.

“We will ensure firmly, if someone obstructs us, that we cross through roadblocks because it is inadmissible that anybody prevent us from protecting civilians,” he told a news conference in Abidjan, the country’s commercial capital, attributing attacks on UN personnel and the deaths of at least 173 civilians in street violence to the campaign of incitement. He said UNOCI was increasing its patrols day and night in Abidjan and reinforcing its systems of alert and liaison.

He noted, however, that defence and security forces chief of staff General Philippe Mangou had assured him that there would be no further blocking of UNOCI’s freedom of movement and that UN vehicles are now able to take the road to Abidjan’s Golf Hotel, where Mr. Ouattara has taken up residence in the face of Mr. Gbagbo’s refusal to vacate the presidential palace.

He noted, too, a reduction in attacks against civilians compared with last week. “So we see some signs of improvement, but the situation is very tense and the improvement of the past few days, nobody can promise that they will sustain it for many days or weeks, but we hope they will,” he said. “We are determined to have our freedom of movement respected.”

After the UN certified Mr. Ouattara as the victor in the electoral run-off, Mr. Gbagbo demanded the departure of UNOCI, which been supporting efforts over the past seven years to reunify the West African country, split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north. The election was meant to be a culminating point in the process.

The Security Council last week unanimously rebuffed the demand, renewed the nearly 9,000-strong force for another six months, foreshadowed a possible increase, threatened sanctions against those imperilling peace and stressed its mandate to protect civilians.

It was those points that Mr. Le Roy highlighted today, underscoring the UN’s total impartiality in certifying Mr. Ouattara’s victory in accordance with its mandate and noting that the mission is “living through difficult circumstances,” though he noted that Mr. Gbagbo has said he wants to use diplomatic, not military means to achieve UNOCI’s departure.

“To accuse us of partiality is absurd when we are fulfilling a mandate requested (in 2005) by President Gbagbo himself and the African Union and the Security Council,” he said. “There are a very great number of lying accusations against UNOCI and they are seeking to manipulate the population against UNOCI…

“These declarations that we hear worry us, more exactly appall us because they clearly incite the population to turn against UNOCI, they incite towards hatred,” he added, citing “lies” that the UN is transporting men and equipment for the rebels.

He referred to yesterday’s attack by a large crowd on a three-vehicle UN convoy in which one soldier was slashed with a machete and a vehicle set on fire. Calm was restored when Gen.  Mangou intervened and today Mr. Le Roy hailed him for preventing “a bloodbath.”

Earlier today Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held another video-conference with Mr. Le Roy and his Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire Y. J. Choi, before receiving the credentials of Mr. Ouattara’s representative, Youssoufou Bamba, as the country’s new Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, in line with a unanimous General Assembly ruling last week.

Mr. Ban also spoke by telephone with President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who briefed him on the recent Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) mission to Côte d'Ivoire by Presidents Yayi Boni of Benin, Pedro Pires of Cape Verde and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone. The two agreed to stay in close contact in the coming days, including on the outcome of the next ECOWAS visit of the three presidents on 3 January.

Yesterday Mr. Le Roy visited Bouaké, in the rebel-held north where he conferred with local commanders and reiterated that UNOCI’s mandate entails “ensuring the protection of civilians, personalities, including elected President Alassane Ouattara and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, as well as the Golf Hotel.”

Click here for more information.

(From a UN Press Release)

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting in Washington D.C.

ABA Intlaw Here's a reminder that the American Bar Association Section of International Law will hold its Spring Meeting in Washington D.C. from April 5-9, 2011.  This is always a great event for practicing lawyers, law professors, government workers, corporate counsel, and law students.  There will be early bird registration available until the end of February.  Click here for more information.

Here's also a tip -- make your hotel reservations early, especially if you want to take advantage of the really great rate that the ABA has negotiated with the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill. 

See you in D.C.!

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

Books We Like: A Guide to International Law Careers

The British Institute of International and Comparative Law has a new book on careers in international law, authored by Professors Christopher Waters (Associate Dean at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, Canada) and Anneke Smit (a visiting professor at Windsor, previously at the University of Reading and legal counsel of the Canadian Department of Justice).  A Guide to International Law Careers is a book that students will devour.  At 53 pages for the main text (plus some helpful appendices), the book is an easy read with clearly written, targeted advice for students who want to "do something" with the international law they've learned in the classroom. 

The format of the book is as good as its substantive content.  It is organized around common questions that students will have about entering the field of international law and it is sprinkled with additional advice from various "real world" practitioners of international law.

The informative appendices cover three areas of particular interest to students:

  • internships with international organizations, courts, and non-governmental organizations;
  • short courses in the United Kingdom, Europe, the Commonwealth, and other countries around the world; and
  • masters' courses in international law around the world.

I'm in complete agreement with Robert McCorquodale, who wrote that this book is "a wonderful resource for all those who are thinking about a career (or career change) in international law, for those who are passionate about international law and for those who want to change the world."

For more information about how to order a copy of the book, click here

Hat tip to Christopher Waters, who sent me a copy of the book.



December 28, 2010 in Books | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 27, 2010

ICJ Hearings in Costa Rica v. Nicaragua

ICJ The International Court of Justice will hold hold public hearings from Tuesday January 11, 2011 to Thursday January 13, 2011 in the case brought by Costa Rica against Nicaragua.  Click here to read more about the proceedings.  The hearings will concern a request for preliminary measures.  To attend the hearings, you must apply before January 7, 2011.


December 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS Programs on International Law

Aalslogo As reminder to all the international law professors attending the Association of American Law Schools (AALS)  annual meeting in San Francisco in January 2011 - there are a number of interesting international-law related programs being offered this year, including an all-day "International Law Year in Review" program on Thursday, January 6 from 9 am to 5 pm.  The program is shaping up quite nicely with many interesting speakers and current topics in international law.  Earlier that morning, Pacific McGeorge School of Law is hosting its annual breakfast for international law profs, along with the Teaching International Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law.  The International Law Section will hold its business meeting on Friday, January 7 at 7 pm.  On Saturday, January 8, the International Association of Law Schools will host a discussion on "Core Values in Challenging Times - Transnational Perspectives" at 8:30 am.  Later on Saturday, at 3:30 pm, the International Law Section of AALS is hosting a panel discussion on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Medellin v. Texas and post-Medellin developments with respect to U.S. treaty practice.  Hope to see many of you there!


December 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Casebook on French Constitutional Law

France Carolina Academic Press, one of our favorite publishers (because of the high quality and still affordable prices for their books) has just released French Constitutional Law: Cases and Materials by Martin A. Rogoff.  Here's a blurb about the book from their website:  

French Constitutional Lawincludes extracts from decisions of the Constitutional Council and Council of State, significant laws, important reports, and a variety of French legal writings (many translated into English for the first time). These materials are accompanied by commentary, notes, and readings from secondary sources, including a generous sampling of extracts from historical and philosophical texts, to permit an understanding of the French constitutional system in context. The aim of the book is to present French constitutional law from a French perspective—to understand how the French think about constitutional law and its practice. Dynamics of constitutional evolution in France are stressed, and special attention is devoted to the extensive and significant constitutional amendments of July 2008. The book deals in depth with the following matters: separation of powers and the structure and functioning of government, the evolution and practice of judicial review by the Constitutional Council, the role of the Council of State in the French constitutional system, sources of French constitutional law and their interpretation, the Republican tradition (liberty and human rights, democracy and national sovereignty, secularism, equality, social solidarity, and the indivisibility of the Republic), and the application of supranational law (international law, European Union law, and European human rights law) in the French constitutional system. This book is well suited for use in law school, as the materials are structured to provide the basis for class discussion of legal issues. It is also well suited for use in undergraduate and graduate courses in French, European, or comparative politics or history.

Hat tip to Malick Ghachem (University of Maine School of Law)

And hey, if you're still reading this post you must be interested in France.  Click here for information about an interdisciplinary conference next year (and an upcoming deadline for the call for proposals)


December 27, 2010 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Foreign Trade Zone Regulations Expected to be Revised

The regulations governing Foreign Trade Zones in the United States haven't been revised in a long time.  We hear that new regulations are on the way, and that there are also public hearings scheduled for February on Foreign Trade Zones.  Click here for more information.

Hat tips to Laura Fraedrich and Geoff Goodale at Cortney O'Toole Morgan and the Customs Law Committee of the American Bar Association Section of International Law.


December 26, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasons Greetings

Best wishes to all our readers for a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

More Information on the "New START" Treaty

US Senate The final vote was 71-26 in the U.S. Senate on December 22, 2010 71-26 to approve ratification of the accord known as "New START" between the United States of America and the Russian Federation.  The treaty involves measures to reduce and limit strategic offensive arms.  It was signed in Prague on April 8, 2010.  The Treaty Document Number is 111-5. 

Click here to see the list of the Senate's conditions and for more legislative history information about the New Start Treaty.


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

New York Times Front Page Story on OFAC

The Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury rarely makes it into the newspapers.  So it's quite a surprise to see a front page story in the December 24, 2010 print edition of the New York Times.  The story reported there concerns U.S. companies that have gotten permission to conduct business with Iran and other countries that have been designated as state sponsors of terrorism.

You can visit the online New York Times to read the full story(or buy a copy from the newsstand).  The New York Times story is the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and apparent lawsuit.  It's good to see that investigative journalism is not yet dead.


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

ICC Prosecutor Investigating Post-Election Crimes in Kenya

International Criminal Court Logo The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has requested that the tribunal issue summons against six Kenyan citizens for alleged crimes committed during the violence that erupted following the country’s general elections in December 2007. 

“The post election period of 2007-2008 was one of the most violent periods of the nation’s history,” the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said at a press conference at the ICC headquarters in The Hague.  The prosecutor said that more than 1,100 people were killed, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced during 30 days of violence. There were hundreds of rapes, possibly more, and over 100,000 properties were destroyed in six of Kenya’s eight provinces.

“These were not just crimes against innocent Kenyans,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said. “They were crimes against humanity as a whole. By breaking the cycle of impunity for massive crimes, victims and their families can have justice. And Kenyans can pave the way to peaceful elections in 2012.”

Those named by Mr. Moreno-Ocampo are:

  • William Samoei Ruto, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology;
  • Henry Kiprono Kosgey, the Minister of Industrialization;
  • Joshua Arap Sang, the Head of Operations for KASS FM radio station;
  • Francis Kirimi Muthaura, the Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet;
  • Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance; and
  • Mohamed Hussein Ali, the Police Commissioner at the time of the violence.

The judges of the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II will now review the evidence. If they determine that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the six persons named committed the alleged crimes, they will decide on the most appropriate way to ensure their appearance in Court. The prosecution has requested “Summonses to Appear.”

(From a UN Press Release)

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

Animated Lecture on Learning

Sir Ken Robinson received the Benjamin Franklin Medal last year from the Royal Society of Arts in London.  In his acceptance speech, he spoke on "Changing Paradigms in Education."  RSA produced an animated version of highlights of his talk.  It's 11 minutes long but you will enjoy every minute of it.  This is great.  Really.


Click here for more information.

Hat tip to Ruth Hargrove


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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wrapping Up the Work of the ICTY and ICTR

The U.N. Security Council yesterday set up a new body to finish the remaining tasks of the United Nations war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda,.  The Security Council also called on both courts to conclude their work by the end of 2014.  By a vote of 14 in favour, with one abstention (Russia), the Security Council established the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals with two branches.  The Mechanism’s branch for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will begin functioning on 1 July 2012, while the branch for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will commence on 1 July 2013.

To ensure a smooth transition to the Mechanism, the Council requested both tribunals to take “all possible measures” to expeditiously complete all their remaining work no later than 31 December 2014.  Under the so-called “completion strategy,” the tribunals were supposed to complete investigations by the end of 2004, all trial activities at first instance by the end of 2008, and all work in 2010.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Russia abstained during the vote because it believed the tribunals had “every opportunity” to complete their work by the dates that had been previously agreed. “We firmly believe that today’s resolution is the last on the issue of the duration of activity of the tribunals and that they will be fully wound up by the end of 2014,” he added. 

Several Council members welcomed the action, saying it sent a strong message against impunity and that it will help to preserve the legacy of the two tribunals.  By the resolution, the Council decided that all States “shall cooperate fully” with the Mechanism, and urged countries in which fugitives are suspected to be at large to further intensify their cooperation with the tribunals and the Mechanism.  It also urged the tribunals and the Mechanism to make every effort to refer cases not involving those most responsible for crimes to competent national jurisdictions.

The location of the two branches of the Mechanism will be subject to the conclusion of appropriate arrangements between the UN and host countries, and acceptance by the Security Council.

Since its inception 17 years ago, the ICTY, which is based in The Hague, has indicted 161 persons for war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. The proceedings against 125 individuals have been completed, with only two indictees remaining at large – Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic.  Meanwhile, 10 fugitives wanted by the ICTR, which was created in 1994 in the wake of the Rwandan genocide and located in Arusha, Tanzania, still remain at large.

(From a UN Press Release)

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

Comparative International Law Conference in December 2011 in Egypt

ASIL - 80 Percent Egypt The American Society of International Law and the American University Cairo are co-sponsoring a Comparative International Law Conference in Cairo, Egypt in December 2011.  The conference planners hope to attract scholars and jurists from all over the world, including in particular participants from the Middle East and North Africa.  Plenary sessions will be planned on public international law, international human rights, international criminal law and transitional justice, and international economic law.  The call for papers will be issued in March.  In the meantime, save the dates:  December 16-17, 2011.  

Contact Professor Adrien K. Wing (University of Iowa College of Law) for more information about the conference.

Hat tip to conference organizers Andrien Wing and Chantal Thomas


UPDATE:  This conference was announced before the change of government in Egypt.  We don not know whether the conference is being held or postponed. 

December 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

US Senate Gives Its Advice and Consent to US-Russia Arms Control Treaty

US Senate In a foreign policy victory for the Obama Administration, the U.S. Senate voted 71 to 26 today to give its advice and consent to the new START treaty between the U.S. and Russia.  Under the U.S. Constitution, the treaty requires a 2/3 vote of the Senate before it may be ratified.  The treaty is being described as the broadest nuclear arms reduction pact in two decades.  U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty back in April, pledging to slash their nuclear arsenals by a third.


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

UNGA Adds Sexual Orientation to Resolution Condemning Extrajudicial and Summary Executions

The United Nations General Asembly has added sexual orientation to a resolution condemning extrajudicial and summary executions. According to a Press Statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the United States introduced this language to send an unequivocal message that no one should be killed for who they are.  Secretary Clinton states:

"Sadly, many people around the world continue to be targeted and killed because of their sexual orientation. These heinous crimes must be condemned and investigated wherever they occur. We look forward to continuing our work with others around the world to protect the human rights of those facing threats or discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."


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