Thursday, January 31, 2013


Earlier this week, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) took several actions, including establishing a single panel to examine complaints by the European Union (EU), the United States, and Japan against Argentina in connection with certain measures affecting the importation of goods which are alleged to be inconsistent with GATT 1994 and the Import Licensing Agreement. Argentina claims it repealed the offending statute but the other parties did not believe the matter was resolved.

In addition, at the request of Argentina, the DSB also established a panel to examine the dispute “US – Measures affecting the importation of animals, meat and other animal products from Argentina”. Argentina believes the subject US measures violate the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement and GATT 1994.

Finally, the DSB also acted on a request by Antigua and Barbuda and granted authorization to suspend the application to the US of concessions or other obligations consistent with the Arbitrator’s decision concerning the dispute “US — Measures affecting the cross border supply of gambling and betting services”.


January 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

CFP: International Law Weekend in New York (October 2013)

In anticipation of International Law Weekend 2013 to be held on October 24-26, 2013 in New York City, the sponsors invite proposals for panels, roundtables, and lectures.  The overall theme of ILW 2013 is Internationalization of Law and Legal Practice.

About ILW

ILW is sponsored and organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) – which welcomes new members from academia, the practicing bar, and the diplomatic world – and the International Law Students Association (ILSA). This annual conference attracts an audience of more than 1,000 practitioners, academics, diplomats, members of the governmental and nongovernmental sectors, and most importantly, foreign policy and law students who are learning about the range of practice and career opportunities.

ILW 2013

ILW 2013 will be held in conjunction with the 92nd annual meeting of the American Branch in Manhattan at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York at 42 West 44th Street on Thursday evening, October 24, and at the Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center on October 25-26, 2013.  The audience will include practitioners, professors, UN diplomats, business leaders, federal and state government officials, NGO leaders, writers, journalists, and interested citizens.


The unifying theme for this year’s meeting is to examine how and why an appreciation and knowledge of international law is an increasingly relevant and important professional tool for virtually every lawyer.  Panels may explore, for example, how international law principles and instruments are involved in such domestic areas as civil litigation, commercial transactions, trade regulation, family law, criminal prosecution, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and dispute settlement.  Others may address international legal developments in such rapidly evolving substantive areas as public health, cyber and telecommunications, human rights, the environment and outer space – especially those under consideration in international organizations.  Still others might focus on the specific mechanisms by which international law affects domestic law and legal proceedings such as treaty implementation, application of customary international law, or proof of foreign law. 

The ILW Organizing Committee invites proposals to be submitted online at on or before Friday, March 15, 2013.  

Please provide a title, brief description of the topic, and the names, titles, and affiliations of the chair and likely speakers – but also describe what you think would be the most engaging and exciting format, including ways to enhance participation by the audience.  One of the objectives of ILW 2013 is to promote new dialogues among scholars and practicing lawyers; so formats should include presenters with diverse experiences and perspectives.



January 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Law Library of Congress Totally Rocks. Totally.

You should know about the Law Library of Congress.  It's an abosolute treasure.  Their website allows you to ask obscure research questions.  And get answers.  For free.

A few weeks ago I had to find a Lagos (Nigeria) State Statute.  It was the 2007 Lagos State Law to Provide Protection Against Domestic Violence and Connected Purposes.  And most law libraries don't have Nigerian statutes -- much less the statutes of the various Nigerian states.  I sent an email to the "Ask a Librarian" link on the website for the Law Library of Congress, which found the law for me and sent me a PDF of 40 Lagos State of Nigeria Official Gazette, No. 53, A187-201 (Jul. 30, 2007).  It took a couple of weeks, but that's ok -- I got what I needed.  

If you have a sticky research question, remember to test out the stunning resources of the Law Library of Congress.  And if you're in Washington DC, be sure to pay them a visit.


January 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Arbitration Conference in Houston April 8-9, 2013

A Houston Conference on International Arbitration will be held April 8-9, 2013 at the Houston offices of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.

The conference will feature Houston as a gateway for U.S. companies doing business in Latin America and the Middle East. It will also focus on new developments in energy, infrastructure disputes, and enforcement issues in the Middle East and Latin America.  The closing session will be a roundtable of corporate counsel discussing their perspectives on international arbitration. Join scholars, practitioners, and corporate counsel from Houston, Latin America and the Middle East as they discuss and debate international arbitration practices with a focus on Houston as an arbitration gateway.

For more information, contact Josefa Sicard-Mirabal, Director of Arbitration and ADR, North America, International Court of Arbitration®, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, 21st Floor, New York, NY 10036-1689, Tel 212-703-5065 or email josefa.sicard-mirabal [at]


January 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Symposium on Guantanamo Bay: What Next?

On Friday, February 22, 2013, the Southern Illinois University School of Law is hosting a symposium entitled, "Guantanamo Bay: What Next?"  The symposium will explore some the current issues surrounding the remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay, including the constitutionality of the military commission trials as currently constituted, the role of international law and tribunals in international detention law and policy, and some of the evidentiary and ethical issues involved in representing detainees or the government in these cases. 

William Lietzau, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Rule of Law and Detainee Policy, U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), will provide the keynote address, entitled, "Detention in 21st Century Armed Conflict."

Other speakers include:

Associate Professor Christopher Behan, Southern Illinois University School of Law and former Associate Professor at the Judge Advocate General's School in Virginia

Professor Cindy Buys, Southern Illinois University School of Law

Associate Professor Benjamin Davis, University of Toledo College of Law, appointed DOD observer for Guantanamo military commission tribunals 

Associate Professor David Frakt, Visiting at University of Pittsburgh, former lead defense counsel, DOD Office of Military Commissions

Professor David Glazier, Loyola Law School, former research fellow at the Center for National Security Law and US Navy Surface Warfare Officer 

Associate Professor Eric Jenson, Brigham Young University, former US Army Cavalry Officer and Judge Advocate

Professor Michael Strauss, Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies, Paris, France

Capt. Edward White, JAGC, US Navy, Head of Motions and Appeals Sections, Office of Chief Prosecutor, DOD Office of Military Commissions

For more information, or to register for the symposium, go to the events page.  There is no fee for attendance and CLE credit is being offered.


January 31, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Guest Blog Post: The Case for an Arms Trade Treaty (and an Invitation to Sign a Letter to President Obama)

Guest Blog Post -- International Law Prof Blog

by Becky Farrar and Nate Smith

Despite the existence of multilateral agreements on cluster munitions, chemical and biological weapons, missile technology, and nuclear weapons, the world still has no multilateral standards regarding the trade in conventional arms. The results have been a slow-moving catastrophe: irresponsible arms transfers, often facilitated by profiteering weapons traffickers, fuel grave human rights violations against some of the most vulnerable populations in the world. Amnesty International estimates that there are 250,000 child soldiers in the world today, and that as of 2008, some 26 million people were internally displaced as the result of armed conflict.

Last year (July 2012), delegates from around the world convened in New York to negotiate an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The treaty text was to be adopted by consensus, and indeed, the outcome looked promising.  Although there were a few troubling loopholes, it appeared poised to become the first multilateral agreement linking the arms trade to human rights criteria—an historic achievement. At the last second, however, the U.S. delegation announced they needed more time to consider the text.  Several other countries then took advantage of this political cover to make similar statements.

The conference wasn’t a total loss, though -- the U.N. General Assembly voted to use the text as currently drafted as a starting point for a second conference in March 2013. This provides the Obama administration with a second chance to take a leadership role on human rights. The United States is the world’s biggest arms exporter, and it can bring significant political pressure to bear on reluctant states to put robust arms export laws in place.

What’s in the treaty? The ATT essentially requires all states to reform their arms export laws to meet certain minimum standards. Among other things, this includes prohibitions on transferring weapons to states subject to UN Security Council embargoes, or to entities that are likely to use them to facilitate grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law – think conflict zones. It doesn’t create any new international enforcement bodies, instead relying on national-level enforcement. 

Will it be effective? That clearly remains to be seen. The idea is that it will “move the needle” by making it incrementally more difficult for those who would make irresponsible arms trades to do so. While no multilateral agreement can be 100% effective, any opportunity to make irresponsible transfers more difficult, to protect those most vulnerable from protracted armed conflict, and to stem the flow of weapons to conflict zones and into the hands of child soldiers, is an opportunity the international community is morally obliged to pursue.

Members of the international legal community are invited to join in signing a letter to President Obama that encourages U.S. support of a robust and comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty.  The deadline for signing the letter is Monday February 25, 2013. For more information, please contact Becky Farrar at rfarrar88 [at]


January 30, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Call for Submissions: Irish Law Journal

Irish Law JournalThe Irish Law Journal, a hybrid peer-reviewed student-edited journal, is now accepting submissions for its second edition. The deadline for submissions is the 1st of March. Submissions should be no more then 25,000 words in length. They are accepting submissions on Irish and international law.  Please see the website for more details.


January 30, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

Jessup 2013This year's Philip C. Jessup Competition is underway with a record of 632 teams registered from 92 countries, including the first team from Iran.  The 2013 Jessup problem addresses the consequences of global climate change on statehood, migration, and sovereign debt. The fact pattern follows a debt-ridden island nation that sinks into the ocean, forcing its people to relocate and causing its remaining funds to be seized.

The law firm White & Case LLP is sponsoring eleven of the national competitions as part of the 54th annual Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.  Its sponsorship includes national qualifying competitions in:

  • Brazil, 
  • Canada, 
  • China, 
  • Georgia, 
  • Hong Kong, 
  • Poland, 
  • Russia, 
  • Slovakia, 
  • South Africa and 
  • the United Kingdom.
It is also sponsoring the White & Case International Rounds that will be held in Washington, D.C. The law firm is also supporting several individual teams from Hungary, the United Arab Emirates, and the first participating team from Iran.  This is the sixth consecutive year White & Case has sponsored multiple competitions as a Global Partner of the International Law Students Association, which administers the Jessup. It is the fourth year the firm is sponsoring the White & Case International Rounds.

Highlights for the 54th season include:

  • Teams from Bahrain, Iran, Macau, Sierra Leone, and Trinidad and Tobago participating in the Jessup for the first time
  • Iranian team being sponsored by White & Case
  • 632 teams registered from 92 countries
  • 90 new teams competing this year
  • First-ever qualifying competitions in Palestine and Nepal
  • Record number of registered Jessup teams in Iraq, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, and Germany

Jessup is the world's largest moot court competition. More than 2,000 law students participate each year, from more than 80 countries. Students are required to present oral and written arguments on a hypothetical international law case to a simulated International Court of Justice. Most teams will compete first in the national and regional competitions to earn the right to advance to the 2013 White & Case International Rounds, which will be held March 31 through April 6 in Washington, DC. The winning team will take home the White & Case Jessup Cup.

Photos and up-to-the-minute results will be posted throughout the White & Case International Rounds at You can also join the Jessup Facebook group ( and Twitter (

Mark E. Wojcik, a Board Member of the International Law Students Association

Hat tip to White & Case (and a big thank you for its support of ILSA and the Jessup Competition).

January 29, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Kimberly Prost on UN Security Council Al Qaida Sanctions Committee

These past two days, my home institution, the Southern Illinois University School of Law, had the pleasure of hosting a visit by Judge Kimberly Prost, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Ombudsperson for the Al Qaida Sanctions Committee.  Judge Prost is a former prosecutor from Canada, and has served as the Chief of the Legal Advisory Section in the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, as well as serving for four years as a judge ad litem at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.  In 2010, the UN Secretary General appointed her as the first Ombudsperson for the UNSC Al Qaida Sanctions Committee.  In that role, she is responsible for hearing and making recommendations on petitions from persons who have been listed as associating with Al Qaida and who believe they should be delisted. 

Judge Prost described the history of the creation of her office and her current role and authority. The UNSC, pursuant to its Chapter VII powers, along with individual states, use "smart" sanctions to target persons who associate with Al Qaida to avoid the suffering of the general population that often accompanies broad-based sanctions programs.  Persons placed on the list usually have their assets frozen and are subject to bans on travel and weapons purchases.  When the sanctions programs were originally created, there was no procedure for delisting someone once the person had been placed on the targeted list.  Persons who thought they were wrongfully targeted began bringing legal challenges seeking a procedure to be removed from the list.  In response, the Office of the Ombudsperson was established by Security Council resolution 1904 (2009) and amended by resolution 1989 (2011). 

One of the most famous, and so far, successful, challenges has been by a Saudi Arabian businessman named Kadi.  He convinced the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that the program violates fundamental due process rights.  As a result, the European courts have essentially instructed the European Union countries not to comply with the UN Al Qaida sanctions program unless due process rights are respected.  (The Kadi decision may be found here.)  Largely as a result of those legal proceedings, the UN Ombudsperson now has the power to investigate individual petitions and to make recommendations to delist a person and those recommendations are binding unless the entire UNSC votes in opposition (a reverse consensus procedure).

In carrying out her job, Judge Prost often travels to various countries to visit the petitioners and interview them in person.  She also consults with governments to determine whether there is sufficient and credible information today to believe the person should remain on the sanctions list.  So far, she has recommended delisting 20 persons and the UNSC has not overturned any of her recommendations.

The UNSC is to be commended for creating a more robust procedure for allowing the delisting of persons where there has been a mistake or where circumstances have significantly changed since the person was listed.  The procedure still is not perfect, of course.  In November 2012, Mr. Ben Emmerson, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, issued a report recommending some additional procedures, such as increased access to confidential information by the Ombudsperson and creation of a fund to pay for counsel for petitioners who cannot afford their own lawyers.  In addition, due process procedures need to be extended to other international and national sanctions programs.


January 29, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Global Legal Skills Conference in Costa Rica Will Include a Visit to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

2012-03-13_13-14-42_862The 8th Global Legal Skills Conference is being held in San Jose, Costa Rica, from March 11-13, 2013.  Speakers and attendees are coming in from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the United States.  The conference focuses on teaching and learning "Global Legal Skills" -- a concept broadly defined over the life of the conference to bring together a large number of people working together on international skills education.

The 2013 Conference includes these sessions:

  • Lurene Contento (The John Marshall Law School) and Alissa Hartig (Department of Applied Linguistics at Pennsylvania State University) on "The Importance of Teaching International Students to Read Before Teaching Them How to Write."
  • Mireille Butler (Pepperdine University School of Law) in a bilingual session (in English and Spanish) on "Academic Legal Writing."
  • Sammy Mansour and Daphne O'Regan (both of the Michigan State University College of Law) on the "Benefits and Challenges of Using the Socratic Method to Teach Foreign-Trained Attorneys."
  • Iselin Gambert (The George Washington University Law School) on "Connecting the Law School Writing Cetner to the International Human Rights Clinic"
  • Michael Murray (Valparaiso University School of Law) on "Comparative Synthesis" and "Visual Rhetoric"
  • Laurel Currie Oates and Mimi Samuel (both of Seattle University School of Law) and Ann Nowak (of Touro Law School) on "Teaching Skills Online"
  • Deborah B. McGregor and Cynthia Adams (both of Indiana University) on "Using Contrastive Rhetoric to Balance LL.M.Students' Past Legal Experiences with their U.S. Legal Education."
  • Ruth Thompson (University ofSaskatchewan) on "Implementing Human Rights in Law School"
  • Robert Somers (Whittier Law School) and Maureen Collins (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago) on "Technology in the Classroom" 
  • Diane Kaplan (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago) and others in a Roundtable on Teaching Materials
  • Leo Ciano (Kansai University of Foreign Studies, Japan)
  • A roundtable on Teaching International Law with Cindy Buys (Southern Illinois University), Gregory Gordon (University of North Dakota School of Law), and William B.T. Mock, Jr. (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago)
  • Kathryn Mercer (Case Western Reserve University School of Law), David Austin (California Western School of Law), and Ruth Hargrove (California Western School of Law) in sessions diversity and on "How Gender and Cross-Cultural Communication Can Enhance or Interfere with Global Legal Skills"
  • Attorney Matthew Rooney, Senior Counsel at Meyer Brown, Chicago, on "Teaching Legal Writing and Advocacy in Iraq and South Africa"
  • Jennifer Davis (University of New Hampshire) on incorporating field trips to teach the U.S. legal system.

Also planned are sessions for bilingual contract negotiations (in Spanish and English) where law students and lawyers can improve their legal Spanish--and legal English--in simulated contract negotiations.

There will also be sessions on law and legal education in Costa Rica and Central America, and other panels as well.  

2013-01-25_15-55-33_395There is also a "Legal Field Trip" that will visit the Supreme Court of Costa Rica and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. 

There are special GLS8 rates at these hotels:

  • Holiday Inn Aurola Downtown, San Jose
  • Hotel Presidente, San Jose
  • Gran Hotel Costa Rica
  • Hotel Balmoral, San Jose

Registration information is available by clicking here.

For more information about attending the conference, contact Mark Wojcik (hey, that's me) at mwojcik [at]  


January 27, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference in Costa Rica

2013-01-26_11-23-02_921The next Global Legal Skills Conference is March 11-13, 2013 in San Jose, Costa Rica.  

The roundtable discussion panels will include one on teaching international law.  Panelists will include Professor Cindy Buys (of this blog, and Southern Illinois University School of Law), Gregory Gordon (North Dakota), and William Mock (The John Marshall Law School).

2013-01-26_11-36-22_427Part of the conference includes a "Legal Field Trip" that will visit the Supreme Court of Costa Rica and the Inter-American Court of Human RIghts.

Conference attendees and presenters are coming from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the United States.  Some slots are still open for panel moderators if you are able to attend. 


January 27, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Costa Rica v. Honduras

It's not a court case.  It's soccer (football).  Costa Rica, having beat El Salvador two days ago, just defeated Honduras a few minutes ago to win the championship for the Central American Cup (Copa Centroamericana).  Viva los ticos!  

Mark E. Wojcik, in Costa Rica

January 27, 2013 in Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Things We Forgot to Tell You Last Week: Burning Goat Cheese Shuts Down a Tunnel in Norway for Four Days

We can't make this stuff up.  A truck trailer full of sweet goat cheese caught fire late last week in Norway, blocking a road tunnel. it took four days for firefighters to put out the flames.  Click here to read more or one of the article links below.  If you dare.  


January 27, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Law Student Writing Competition (International Humanitarian Law)

Here's a reminder that the American University Washington College of Law Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Center) and the American Society of International Law’s Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict (ASIL) have announced their Third Annual International Humanitarian Law Student Writing Competition. 

The Competition seeks submissions of academic papers on the topic of international humanitarian law (IHL) from students currently enrolled in a law degree program in the United States or abroad. The purpose of the Competition is to enhance scholarship and deepen understanding among students in this important area of international law. The winning authors will be flown to Washington, DC to present their papers at a conference at American University Washington College of Law focused on emerging issues in IHL with a panel of expert professors and practitioners. In addition, winners will receive a complimentary registration to the ASIL 2013 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on April 3-6, 2013, and a one-year student membership in the American Society of International Law. Last year, the Competition received over 50 submissions from 13 different countries.

This Competition is part of a multi-pronged initiative to expand and support the teaching and study of IHL among both students and professors in which both the Center and ASIL have been deeply involved.  In 2007, the Center published a study with the International Committee of the Red Cross on Teaching International Humanitarian Law in US Law Schools(available at center/ihl_report.cfm). The study identified a growing need for resources to support and expand the teaching of IHL among law faculty, but also a desire to support the interest of students in learning about IHL. The IHL Student Writing Competition promotes and supports student interest and deepening scholarship in IHL by providing students with a tangible way to become more directly involved in the global discourse around IHL.

The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm (noon) EST. Send any questions to [email protected] or call them at 202-274-4180.

Hat tip to the Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law


January 24, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 21, 2013

New UN Treaty on Mercury-Emissions

Over the weekend, over 140 nations met in Geneva to conclude four years of work on a new treaty to reduce exposure to mercury, which is known to have negative health and environmental effects. Their work has resulted in a new international convention called the Minamata Convention on Mercury, named after a city in Japan that has suffered negative health consequences as a result of mercury pollution. The treaty imposes controls and restrictions on industries and products that use, emit or release mercury. Some affected products include certain kinds of batteries and medical devices.

The treaty will be opened for signature at a special ceremony in Japan in October.  It will enter into force once 50 nationas ratify it.  


January 21, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case Involving Chemical Weapons Convention

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Bond. v. United States, which raises issues regarding federalism and proper treaty implementation in the United States. The United States is a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which it implemented through a federal statute, the Chemical Weapons Convention Implemenation Act, 18 USC sec. 229.  The Act certain criminalizes activities that may lead to the spread of chemical weapons.

Carol Anne Bond was arrested and charged with violating the Act for attempting to poison her husband's lover by applying certain highly toxic chemicals to the other woman's mailbox, car door handles and house doornob. She was convicted under the Act of acquiring, transferring, receiving, retaining, or possessing a chemical weapon. Ms. Bond challenged the constitutionality of the Act claiming that Congress does not have the authority under the U.S. Constitution to implement the CWC because the criminal activity at issue must be regulated by states and local governments pursuant to federalism principles.  

The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld Ms. Bond's conviction stating that, "because the
Convention is an international agreement with a subject matter that lies at the core of the Treaty Power and because Holland [v. Missouri] instructs that 'there can be no dispute about the validity of [a] statute' that implements a valid treaty, we will affirm Bond's conviction."  The U.S. Supreme Court must now determine whether the federal government does have the power to regulate criminal behavior pursuant to its treaty power that it might not be able to reach under its commerce clause or other expressly enumerated powers.

The petition for writ of certiorari may be found here.


January 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

War Crimes in Mali

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today formally opened an investigation into alleged crimes committed in Mali since January 2012 – including murder, torture and rape – with a focus on the northern part of the country. 

Fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels broke out in the country’s north last January, following which radical Islamists seized control of the area. The renewed clashes in the north, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region, drought and political instability in the wake of a military coup d’état in March have uprooted hundreds of thousands of civilians over the course of 2012.  “Since the beginning of the armed conflict in January 2012, the people of Northern Mali have been living in profound turmoil,” said the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.  “At each stage during the conflict, different armed groups have caused havoc and human suffering through a range of alleged acts of extreme violence. I have determined that some of these deeds of brutality and destruction may constitute war crimes as defined by the Rome Statute,” she stated, referring to the treaty that set up the Court. 

Ms. Bensouda said that there is “a reasonable basis” to believe that the following crimes were committed: murder; mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; intentionally directing attacks against protected objects; the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court; pillaging; and rape. “My Office will ensure a thorough and impartial investigation and will bring justice to Malian victims by investigating who are the most responsible for these alleged crimes,” she stated in a news release issued by the Court.

Located in The Hague, in the Netherlands, the ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern – namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

(UN Press Release)

January 16, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Domestic Workers Around the World

Millions of domestic workers around the world are not  protected under general labour laws and are highly vulnerable to exploitation, says a United Nations report released last week, which calls on countries to extend  social protection to them. “Domestic workers are frequently expected to work longer  hours than other workers and in many countries do not have the same rights to  weekly rest that are enjoyed by other workers,” said the Deputy  Director-General of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), Sandra  Polaski. “Combined with the lack of rights, the extreme dependency on  an employer and the isolated and unprotected nature of domestic work can render  them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” she added.

According to the ILO report, Domestic workers across the world, more than 52 million people  worldwide are employed as domestic workers. While a substantial number are men  working as gardeners, drivers or butlers, 80 per cent of them are women. Of the 52 million domestic workers, only 10 per cent are  covered by labour laws to the same extent as other workers, and more than one  quarter are completely excluded from national labour legislation. This disparity in conditions translates in longer, more  unpredictable working hours with no appropriate remuneration for domestic  workers, rendering them highly vulnerable economically, as well as affecting  their health. 

The report states that more than half of all domestic  workers have no limitation on their weekly normal hours of work and about 45  per cent have no entitlement to weekly rest periods or paid annual leave. In  countries such as Qatar, Namibia, Tanzania  and Saudi Arabia,  the average hours of domestic workers range from 60 to 65 per week, largely  surpassing the statutory limits set by virtually all countries of 40 to 48  hours per week.  “Long working hours, night working and patterns of shift  work that involve an irregular distribution of working hours are among the  factors that have the greatest negative effects on workers’ health,” said an ILO  domestic work specialist, Amelita King-Dejardin. “They carry especially  important risks for women during and after pregnancy and for young workers.”

Long working hours are especially common among live-in  workers – many of whom are migrants – who are expected to be available at all  times of the night, the report notes. Many migrant workers also lack knowledge  of the local language and laws, which makes them especially vulnerable to  abusive practices, such as physical and sexual violence, psychological abuse,  non-payment of wages, debt bondage and abusive living and working  conditions.

“The large disparities between wages and working conditions  of domestic workers compared to other workers in the same country underline the  need for action at the national level by governments, employers and workers to  improve the working lives of these vulnerable but hard-working individuals,” said  Ms. Polaski.

The report’s findings are intended to act as a benchmark  against which progress in extending legal protection for domestic workers will  be measured. It also calls for joint actions taken at a national level by  governments, trade unions, employers and domestic workers’ organizations to  bring about reform in legislation as well as in practice.

Domestic workers  across the world follows the adoption in June 2011 of a new ILO Convention  and Recommendation on domestic work which sets a standard for equal treatment  between domestic and general workers in relation to working hours, rest periods  and annual leave.  The Convention will come into force in September this year.  So far, it has been ratified only by three countries: Mauritius, Uruguay  and the Philippines.

(Adapted from a UN Press Release)

January 16, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hague Service Convention to Enter Into Force for Armenia and Moldova on February 1, 2013

The Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters will enter into effect for Armenia and Moldova on February 1, 2013. Visit the website of the Hague Conference on Private International Law for more information. (mew)

January 15, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 14, 2013


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the response of “bilateral partners” to the plea for assistance from the Government of Mali to counter the troubling push southward by armed rebels, some of which are associated with terrorists groups.  “The Secretary-General hopes these actions will help to arrest the latest offensive while efforts continue to fully implement Security Council Resolution 2085 (2012) aimed at the full restoration of Mali’s constitutional order and territorial integrity,” according to a statement released by his spokesperson

Northern Mali was occupied by radical Islamists after fighting broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, after which the country underwent a military coup d'état, in March.

According to media reports, a French air operation began on Friday and continued over the weekend after the armed groups overran the town of Konna, which had been on the de facto dividing line between those areas under Government control and those already occupied by the rebels.

Mr. Ban stressed that the latest events underscore the urgency of implementing all aspects of resolution 2085, including support for Malian defence forces and the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali, or AFISMA, the Council authorized through that text, according to the statement.

Also urgent were the success of mediation efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the development of a consensual roadmap for a political transition and provision of support, Mr. Ban said.

According to the statement, preparations are also continuing for the deployment soon of a UN multidisciplinary team to the capital, Bamako, to carry forward support requested for both the political and security process.  

Mr. Ban spoke on Saturday with the President of Côte d'Ivoire and Chair of ECOWAS, Alassane Ouattara, who briefed him on the ECOWAS summit planned for 19 January in Abuja and the plans of several of its member States to deploy military forces, the spokesperson said. 

The Secretary-General was briefed on the French operation yesterday by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Meanwhile, Mr. Ban’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, continues his consultations in the sub-region as part of efforts to speed up implementation of resolution 2085, the spokesman added. Mr. Djinnit met today in Abuja with the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Kadré Desiré Ouédraogo, and with Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassolé of Burkina Faso.  He is expected to travel to Bamako in the coming days, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said.

Also this afternoon, the delegation of France briefed the Security Council in a closed-door session on the military action conducted by the country after which its Permanent Representative told correspondents that Council members had expressed their support and understanding of the operation in the context of resolution 2085. 

The renewed clashes in the north, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region, drought and political instability have uprooted hundreds of thousands of civilians in Mali. Over 412,000 people have been forced to flee the north, and an estimated five million people have been affected by the conflict.

(UN Press Release)

January 14, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)