Friday, May 13, 2011

New Treaty Aimed Specifically at Combating Violence Against Women

On Wednesday of this week, the Council of Europe (COE) opened for signature the first comprehensive international convention that is focused specifically on combatting violence against women.  The new treaty is called "The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence."  Thirteen of the COE's forty-seven members signed the Convention at a ceremony in Istanbul on Wednesday, including: Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.

While recognizing that many other international agreements such as the Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, address the subject generally, this new treaty also recognizes that violence against women is still too prevalent in society.  The Convention is intended to strengthen pan-European efforts to combat this phenomenon.

Article 5 of the Convention sets forth some of the main State obligations:

"1   Parties shall refrain from engaging in any act of violence against women and ensure that State authorities, officials, agents, institutions and other actors acting on behalf of the State act in conformity with this obligation.

2   Parties shall take the necessary legislative and other measures to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and provide reparation for acts of violence covered by the scope of this Convention that are perpetrated by non-State actors."

Subsequent articles spell out these obligations in more detail, including provisions on education, training, prevention, support for victims, stalking, telephone helplines, shelters, nonrefoulement, and much more.

Article 6 deals requires gender-sensitive policies: "Parties shall undertake to include a gender perspective in the implementation and evaluation of the impact of the provisions of this Convention and to promote and effectively implement policies of equality between women and men and the empowerment of women."

States also commit to provide adequate resources to fund these measures.


May 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Arctic Council Signs First Legally Binding International Agreement

Arctic Council logo The 15-year-old Arctic Council, composed of eight States with legal claims to territory in the Arctic region, signed its first legally binding international agreement yesterday on aeronautical and maritime search and rescue.  The signing occurred at a ministerial meeting in Nuuk Greeland yesterday, Thursday, May 12.  The eight States that comprise the Arctic Council are: Canada, Denmark [including the Faroe Islands and Greenland], Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the US. In addition, six organisations representing Arctic indigenous peoples have status as 'permanent participants'.

Sweden took over the two-year position as chair at yesterday's meeting.  Sweden's chairmanship will be assisted by the Council's decision to create a new permanent secretariat which will based in Norway.  Sweden is expected to use its position as chair to push for an agreement on the prevention and coordinated response to future oil spills in the region.  The Council also works on issues such as climate change, pollution monitoring and prevention, biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of resources. 

More information and the new Search and Rescue Agreement may be found here.


May 13, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Disability Treaty Now Has 100 Parties

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today hailed Colombia’s signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as an “important milestone,” emphasizing the treaty’s role in providing inclusion and development for persons with disabilities worldwide.
On 10 May, the South American nation became the 100th country to ratify the Convention which supports greater access for the disabled to participate in their communities. It is widely regarded as the first international human rights treaty of the twenty-first century.
“This is an important milestone for Colombia and for the global community,” Mr. Ban said, commenting on the signing. “The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a powerful tool for inclusion and development. Let us use it to make concrete improvements in the lives of persons with disabilities,” he added.
About 10 per cent of the global population, or 650 million people, live with a disability, with many excluded from fully participating in the economic, social, and political lives of their communities.
An estimated 386 million people of working age suffer from some form of disability, with unemployment rates in this category soaring as high as 80 per cent in some countries.
Mr. Ban’s remarks were echoed by Sha Zukang, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), who said he was greatly encouraged by the ratification. DESA is the UN department which serves as Secretariat for the Convention.
“This is a great achievement by the international community in working towards a just and equitable society, based on equality and equal opportunity for all, including persons with disabilities,” Mr. Sha said.
The Convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 2006 in an effort to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same human rights as everyone else. Eighty-two countries immediately ratified it – the highest number for a UN treaty in history.
(UN Press Release)

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Legislative Update

The ABA Office of Governmental Affairs advises us of the following international law developments:

Bills Introduced  
S 954 (Lugar, R-IN), to promote the strengthening of the Haitian private sector; to Foreign Relations. CR 5/11/11, S2874.
S Res 180 (Lieberman, I-CT), to express support for peaceful demonstrations and universal freedoms in Syria and condemning the human rights violations by the Assad regime; to Foreign Relations. CR 5/11/11, S2875.
HR 1856 (Wolf, R-VA), to amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to strengthen the promotion of religious freedom in United States foreign policy and to reauthorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and for other purposes; to Foreign Affairs. CR 5/11/11, H3218.
H Res 266 (Kelly, R-PA), to express the sense of the House of Representatives that the President should, without any further delay, submit the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement to Congress for its consideration and immediate approval under fast track procedures pursuant to the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority of 2002; to Ways and Means. CR 5/11/11, H3219.  
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing titled “Next Steps in Cote d’Ivore.” 5/19/11, 2:30 pm, 419 Dirksen.  
Committee Action  
The State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee, House Appropriations Committee, will mark up draft legislation that would make fiscal 2012 appropriations for State-Foreign Operations. 7/27/11, Time TBA, HT-2 Capitol.
The House Appropriations Committee will mark up draft legislation that would make fiscal 2012 appropriations for State-Foreign Operations. 8/3/11, Time TBA, 2359 Rayburn.

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


It is turning out to be a busy week on the corruption front this week.  Yesterday, a U.S. District Court in California allowed a case to go foward under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) against five former executives of Control Components, Inc, a valve manufacturing company.  The judge rejected the defendants' argument that an executive of a state-owned corporation is not a "foreign official"  within the meaning of the FCPA.  The judge held that whether the state-owned corporation is an instrumentality of a foreign government is an issue of fact for the jury.  The former executives are accused of paying bribes to foreign officials in China, Malaysia and the United Arab Emerates.  Three Control Components employees have already pled guilty to violations of the FCPA.

In a separate case, Lindsey Manufacturing of California and two of its executives were found guilty of violations of the FCPA in a federal trial in California yesterday in connection with the payment of bribes to an electric utility owned by the government of Mexico.  Once again, one of the main issues was what constitutes an "instrumentality" of the government within the meaning of the FCPA.  This was one of the few FCPA cases to go to trial; most settle out of court.  More information and analyses of these cases can be found at the FCPA Blog.


May 11, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Human Rights Topics

We received a message about an online list of human rights topics.  We think it might be helpful for those of you who are still looking for summer research topics but would rather hit the blogs than the books.  There is a lot of interesting stuff here -- this would also count as a legitimate grading distraction for colleagues who should otherwise be grading final exams!

Hat tip to Carl Andrews.


May 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Budget Travel Tools for Students in Summer Study Abroad Classes

I'm sure someone will find this to be helpful!  The link here has more than 50 great resources for students going on study abroad programs.  These budget travel tools are not specific to law students but they are all helpful nonetheless.


May 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Professors Doing Great Work

It was clear from the ASIL Teaching International Law Interest Group conference last Friday that there are lots of law professors out there doing important work with law students.  Pictured below and to the right are Professor ASIL TILIG 5-11 004Sital Kalantry of Cornell, who spoke about her work in Columbia with a human rights clinic, Professor Sean O'Brien of Notre Dame, who discussed his work in Peru and Guatemala and, most recently representing one of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Professor Raquel Aldana of Pacific McGeorge, who directs a summer externship program that places students with NGOs in Guatemala, and Ambassador Robert Van Lierop, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Pace Law School and places students in externships with permanent missions at the United Nations, particularly with island nations and least developed countries.  Professor Vanessa Merton of Pace moderated the panel discussion.

Pictured below and to the left are Professor Beth Simmons of Harvard University, who spoke about her quantitative empirical work in international law and her conclusion that international human rights treaties do positively influence state behavior.  More information can be found in her award-winning book, ASIL TILIG 5-11 001 "Mobilizing for Human Rights" (Cambridge Univ. Press 2010).  To her right is Professor Laura Dickinson, of Arizona State University, who spoke about her qualitative empirical research comparing compliance with international humanitarian law between the U.S. military and private contractors.  Professor Tom McDonnell of Pace Law School was the moderator and primary organizer of the conference.

Other speakers described important historical research with respect to U.S. Foreign Relations Law (Professor Julian Ku of Hofstra), the Alien Tort Statute and the Prize Cases (Professor Tom Lee of Fordham), the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the Nottebohm Case (Professor Cindy Buys of Southern Illinois) and the history and use of international law by U.S. courts (Professor Jordan Paust of Houston).  That panel was moderated by Professor Mark Shulman of Pace Law School.

Professor Peggy McGuiness of St. John's described the growing readership and influence of the Opinio Juris blog and Professor Vikki Rogers of Pace Law School similarly described the importance of the Albert H. Kritzer CISG Database (Convention on the International Sale of Goods).   Professor Anthony VanDuzer of the University of Ottawa desribed an innovative NAFTA course taught jointly by law professors in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.  Professor Sasha Greenawalt of Pace was the moderator of that panel.

Finally, the conference also featured an interesting and thoughtful debate regarding the legality of the U.S. actions in Pakistan last week, including the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  News reports of the discussion can be found here and here.

Many thanks to Professor McDonnell and the faculty and staff of Pace Law School for a well-run, interesting and informative conference!


May 9, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)