Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Changes to the I-9 Employment Verification Form

There's a CLE program today on changes to the I-9 Employment Verification Form used in the United States to verify eligibility for employment.  The program, from the Illinois State Bar Association, has great materials, and is being recorded in case you miss today's live presentation.  Get more details by clicking here or search the Illinois State Bar Association website for the February 13, 2013 program called "Changes to the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9: Is Your Business Client in Compliance?"  I get to serve as the moderator -- the others participating are Juliet Boyd (Boyd & Kummer LLC, Chicago), Y. Judd Azulay (Chicago), Patrick M. Kinnally (Kinnally Flaherty Krentz & Loran PC, Aurora, Illinois), and Scott D. Pollock (Chicago).


February 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Book: Transnational Legal Processes and Human Rights

Book Cover PhotoAshgate Publishing is about to release "Transnational Legal Processes and Human Rights."  The book was edited by Kryiaki Topidi and Lauren Fielder (both of the University of Lucerne Faculty of Law in Switzerland).  Dr. Topidi teaches courses and researches on religious rights and has a research background in minority protection and EU law.  Professor Fielder teaches African Law, Protection of Vulnerable Groups, and Transnational Litigation at the University of Lucerne, where she is the assistant director of the Transnational Legal Studies Program. She writes and speaks about human rights issues in Africa. 

There are twelve chapters on the topic, including these:

  • Ruth Hargrove (California Western School of Law) and Roberta Thyfault (California Western School of Law), The Impact of, and Resistance to, the Use of Foreign Law on Juvenile Punishment in the United States
  • Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School-Chicago), Legislative Attempts to Prohibit the Use of International Law and Islamic Law in U.S. Courts
  • Lauren Fielder (University of Lucerne Faculty of Law), African Courts and African Values: Harmonizing International Human RIghts and Customary Law
  • Kyriaki Topidi (University of Lucerne Faculty of Law), Exercising Religious Rights in European Classrooms: Value Conflicts between the National, the Supranational, and the Transnational
  • Ehsanul Haque, Universal Human Rights and Cultural Relativity: Conflict or Reconciliation?
  • Angelica Anatolie Tsarkiridis, Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights in the Context of an International Constitutional Legal Framework
  • Ali Abid, Combating Religious Defamation: An Exploration of Blasphemy in Islamic Thought and International Practice

Get more information about the book by clicking here.


February 12, 2013 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Expanding the Executive’s Power to Kill: The U.S. Justice Department’s Memo

Guest blogger, Professor Thomas McDonnell of Pace University School of Law, prepared the following comments on the recently released U.S. Justice Department legal memorandum authorizing drones strikes:

"The Justice Department’s legal memorandum authorizing drone strikes to kill American citizens in foreign countries establishes vague and overbroad standards and creates a dangerous precedent for unchecked executive power.  The memo impliedly approves hit lists, including targeting American citizens, whom “an informed, high level official of the U.S. government” concludes to be “a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force.” “An informed, high level official” presumably may include a senior official in the Central Intelligence Agency—which has carried out over 300 drone attacks in the Pakistan tribal areas since 2004, not to mention attacks in Yemen and Somalia.

Written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the memo implicitly adopts the questionable global-war-on-terrorism theory, contending that the exceptional law of war regime applies outside of armed conflict to any foreign state on the planet if that state is unable or unwilling to “suppress” (arrest, capture or kill) individuals whom the executive believes to be terrorists.  (The exceptional law of war regime permits deliberately killing (1) combatants, (2) civilians who directly participate in hostilities, and (3) non-combatants—civilians who fall into the expansive category of collateral damage—as long as the requirements of military necessity are met.)

Under international law, the exceptional law of war regime only applies to war zones—areas of armed conflict, like Afghanistan and possibly to a neighboring state like the Pakistan tribal areas from which attacks are launched with impunity, but the law of war regime does not by extension apply to the entire world. International human rights law (rather than the law of war) has plenary authority in areas not subject to armed conflict and permits the use of deadly force only where an individual threatens imminent serious bodily harm or death to another (like Jimmy Lee Dykes who imminently threatened to take the life of a five year old Alabama boy he had kidnapped).

The Justice Department memo stretches “imminency” far beyond its plain meaning. Once an “informed, high level [governmental] official” determines the American citizen to be a high level member of al-Qa’ida  or an “associated force,” that American citizen is conclusively presumed always to be posing an imminent threat even if he or she is not plotting or in the process of carrying out any attacks against the United States whatsoever.  According to the memo, such an American citizen may at all times be targeted by a weaponized drone in any country anywhere in the world that an "informed, high level [U.S. governmental] official” decides is unable or unwilling to arrest, capture or kill.

Significantly, the Justice Department memo deals only with targeting American citizens. Presumably, the administration’s standard for targeting non-citizens is considerably lower.  September 11 demonstrates the danger that transnational terrorist organizations pose and the special danger
of foreign states providing safe havens for terrorists. Outside of areas of armed conflict, that threat should be met through the United Nations, or, in the event of Security Council paralysis because of a permanent Security Council Member veto, by a wide coalition of states. When acting unilaterally in such areas, the United States should strictly follow international human rights law.

Furthermore, the Justice Department should recognize that the broad executive discretion it asserts will be used not just by this administration, but by future administrations and that this broad authority to kill virtually anywhere on the globe will be exploited not just by the United States, but by other nations, possibly including Russia, China, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea.  If the United States refused to surrender to Russia a Chechen whom the Russians regarded as a terrorist leader, should Russia implicitly be authorized to send a drone (or a special operations assassination team) into the United States to kill the Chechen on the ground that the United States is unwilling to capture or arrest that individual? More commonly, the United States example might encourage other powerful countries to use such authority to carry out military operations, including drone “targeted killing” strikes, in weaker countries.  Is such a policy and practice likely to make the world safer and less violent? 

There is another dimension to this question. A drone attack can be launched two continents away by a drone “pilot” sitting in the comfort of a control room without the slightest possibility of suffering any injury whatsoever, let alone risking his or her life. It is the ultimate in unchivalrous combat.  The Reaper Drone can carry four Hellfire missiles, plus two 500 pound bombs.  A single Hellfire missile can destroy a tank (or a house). We are employing this high tech weaponry against the Taliban, al Qa’ida and their allies, religious zealots who have adopted the ultimate low tech weapon, the suicide bomber.  There is growing evidence that the drone attacks in Yemen have led to increased recruitment by extreme Islamic terror organizations and that drone attacks in Pakistan have led to a popular outcry against the United States in Pakistan and sharper criticism in the greater Muslim world.  The tactical success of drone attacks killing over 50 Taliban and al Qa’ida leaders thus runs the substantial risk of being a strategic failure.

One would have hoped that after the so-called infamous torture memos, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel would have tread more conservatively, would have erred on the side of putting limits on executive power and would have adhered to the spirit as well as to the letter of both the international law of war and international human rights law.  Given the deadly nature of al Qa’ida and its allies, one can understand the argument in favor of much more flexible legal rules on the use of force. Yet strictly applying both law of war and human rights law will better ensure the moral authority of the United States, will better promote world public order and international cooperation, and is more likely to provide a firmer path towards eliminating the threat of transnational terrorism."

Professor McDonnell is the author of "The United States, International Law, and the Struggle against Terrorism" (Rutledge 2010) as well as numerous articles, including his most recent, Sow What You Reap?  Using Predator and Reaper Drones to Carry Out Assassinations or Targeted Killings of Suspected Islamic Terrorists” which was recently published by the George Washington International Law Review (44 Geo. Int'l L. Rev. 243 (2012)). 


February 12, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Globe Law and Business

The British publisher Globe Law and Business has just come out with its 2013 catalogue of titles.  I'm impressed:  they have some nice titles of interest to internatioanl practitioners (and international law professors), including these titles:

  • World Trade Law in Practice
  • International Franchising
  • International Copyright Law
  • International Design Protection
  • International Patent Litigation
  • International Advertising Law
  • Internatioanl Public Procurement
  • Cross-Border Involency: A Commentary on the UNCITRAL Model Law
  • Doing Business in the BRICs

There are many other titles, as you might expect.  If you would like more information on any of these titles (or if you would like a copy of their catalogue), contact publisher Sian O'Neill at soneill [at] or go all Twitter and reach her at @GlobeLaw.  Or click on the link above, which is probably the easiest thing to do.  Globe Law and Business offers a money-back guarantee within 14 days, something not done by other publishers.


February 11, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Torture in Afghanistan

The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today welcomed the announcement of recommendations by the Government to stem torture, ill-treatment and prolonged illegal detention in the country.  “UNAMA welcomes the Government’s attention and increased efforts to address this serious problem in Afghan detention facilities,” the Mission stated in a press release, noting the announcement of the main findings of a fact-finding delegation on the issue tasked by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, pending release of the full report.  Click here to read more.

The delegation’s work followed the release last month of a UNAMA report that found that more than half of detainees that were interviewed between October 2011 and October 2012 experienced torture or other ill-treatment. The report expressed particular concern over facilities run by the national police and the National Directorate of Security, or NDS. “UNAMA looks forward to receiving and reviewing the delegation’s report and providing follow-up suggestions to improve detention policies and practices,” the Mission stated, noting that the delegation’s findings, as reported, recognized the prevalence of torture in Afghan facilities.

In October 2012, following new reports of torture at several NDS and police facilities, including locations where the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had transferred detainees, the Force suspended transfers for a second time. ISAF subsequently stopped transferring detainees to several Afghan facilities and implemented a process limiting transfer to a reduced number of Afghan facilities and increasing monitoring and accountability. 

In its January report, UNAMA stated that its findings reinforce the urgent and long-term need for reforms in the judiciary, prosecution and law enforcement sectors and offered 64 recommendations to the Government and international partners. UNAMA also recommended the creation of an independent national preventive mechanism on torture described in the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

(adapted from a UN Press Release)

February 11, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Careers in Admiralty and International Law

SMU TIPS PanelThe American Bar Association Tort, Trial, and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) is meeting this weekend in Dallas during the ABA Midyear Meeting.  Leaders from two of that section's committees held a program yesterday at the SMU Dedman School of Law to tell students about careers in international law and in the practice of admiralty and maritime law. The students who attended learned a lot about those areas and about how (and why) they can become active in the organized bar.

Pictured here are the speakers on the SMU Career Panel in Admiralty and International Law:

  • Prof. Mark E. Wojcik, The John Marshall Law School (Chicago), Chair of the ABA TIPS International Committee
  • Laurie J. Sands (New Jersey), Chair of the TIPS Admiralty and Maritime Committee
  • Kathryn Blythe Daly (New York), Membership Vice Chair of the TIPS Admiralty and Maritime Committee
  • Raymond Timothy Ward (New Orleans), Vice Chair of the TIPS Admiralty and Maritime Committee
  • Christopher Nolan (New York), Immediate Past Chair of the TIPS Admiralty and Maritime Committee and Vice Chair of the TIPS International Committee
  • Christopher Hamilton (Florida), Newsletter Vice Chair of the TIPS Admiralty and Maritime Committee

The ABA Midyear Meeting continues through Tuesday at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.


February 9, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Extraordinary African Chambers to Start Trial Against the Former Dictator of Chad

On February 8, 2013, the Extraordinary African Chambers will start a process to try the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré.  

The Extraordinary African Chambers was created by agreement with the African Union (AU). The pretrial investigation, by four Senegalese magistrates, is expected to last 15 months. The investigation will potentially be followed by a trial in 2014, at which a non-Senegalese judge appointed by the AU will preside. Habré’s trial would mark the first time that the courts of one country tried the leader of another country for alleged human rights crimes.  Habré is accused of thousands of political killings and systematic torture during his presidency, from 1982 to 1990. He has been living in exile in Senegal for more than 22 years.

(mew) Hat tip to Human Rights Watch

February 7, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ILW West 2013

The American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) will hold an "International Law Weekend West" on March 2, 2013 at the University of Denver.  Get more information by clicking here.


February 7, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New U.S. Federal Legislation Introduced

The following bills relating to international issues have been introduced in the U.S. Congress.  

  • HR 479 (Grijalva, D-AZ), to prohibit the transfer of defense articles and defense services to the governments of foreign countries that are engaging in gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights; to Foreign Affairs. CR 2/4/13, H342.
  • HR 491 (Smith, R-NJ), to prevent United States businesses from cooperating with repressive governments in transforming the Internet into a tool of censorship and surveillance, to fulfill the responsibility of the United States Government to promote freedom of expression on the Internet, and to restore public confidence in the integrity of United States businesses; to Foreign Affairs. CR 2/4/13, H342.
  • HR 528 (Bucshon, R-IN), to prohibit foreign assistance to countries with a gross domestic product of $1,500,000,000,000 or more; to Foreign Affairs. CR 2/6/13, H410.
  • HR 571 (Ryan, D-OH), to suspend United States assistance to Brazil until such time as Brazil amends its laws to remove the prohibition on extradition of nationals of Brazil to other countries; to Foreign Affairs. CR 2/6/13, H412.
  • HR 572 (Ryan, D-OH), to suspend the issuance of visas to nationals of Brazil until such time as Brazil amends its laws to remove the prohibition on extradition of nationals of Brazil to other countries; to Judiciary. CR 2/6/13, H412.
  • HR 575 (Stockman, R-TX), to express the sense of the Congress that the United States should not adopt any treaty that poses a threat to national sovereignty or abridges any rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, such as the right to keep and bear arms, and to withhold funding from the United Nations unless the president certifies that the United Nations has not taken action to restrict, attempt to restrict, or otherwise adversely infringe upon the rights of individuals in the United States to keep and bear arms, or abridge any of the other constitutionally protected rights of citizens of the United States; to Foreign Affairs. CR 2/6/13, H412.
  • H Res 61 (Wilson, D-FL), expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should work with the government of Haiti to address gender-based violence against women and children; to Foreign Affairs. CR 2/6/13, H413.

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office.


February 7, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Arab Spring: Doing Business and the Rule of Law

SMU MENA ConferenceThe American Bar Association Section of International Law held a one-day program on "The Arab Spring: Doing Business and the Rule of Law" on February 7, 2013 at the SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas.

The morning keynote speaker was the Honorable Adel Omar Sherif, Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, who is pictured here with me and with Conference Co-Chair John B. Attansio, Dean of the SMU Dedman School of Law.  The luncheon speaker was former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, whose comments focused on the importance of educating women and young girls as a critical factor in building democratic society.

Panels today include:

  • Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law
  • Energy and the Middle East/North Africa
  • The Political System and Constitutional Reform
  • Doing Business in MENA and the Rule of Law
  • Dispute Resolution and the Rule of Law 

The program is at capacity and the presentations highly interesting.  Attendees are from all around the world, including Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and even New Jersey.  And of course there's a lot of Texans here too.

Congratulations to SMU Dean John Attanasio and Steve Richman (Duane Morris LLP) who are the co-chairs of today's conference.


February 7, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Public International Law Quiz

Just for fun:  Oxford University Press has created a public international law quiz for students and scholars of the subject.  Be warned, it may stump you!


February 6, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

JMLS Jeesup TeamThe Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the world's largest compeition for international law.  Actually it's probably one of the world's largest competitions for anything, right after the Olympics!  

The U.S. midwest regionals were held this weekend in Chicago.  The rounds were great and the competition was extremely well run.

Congratulations to the staff at the International Law Students Association (ILSA), which organizes the Jessup Competition.  Working this weekend at the Chicago-Kent College of Law were ILSA Executive Director Lesley A. Benn, Jessup Competition Coordinator Joe Terrenzio, and External Relations Coordinator Matt Szuminski.  The teams competiting had high praise for the smooth quality of the round and the high quality of the judges.  In fact the only complaint I heard was that one of the bailiffs was unfamiliar with how to fill out the scoring form.  That's a problem easily fixed, and it was, and if that's the worst complaint you can have in a Jessup Round you know it was good.

Twenty-one teams competed in the Midwest Regional Rounds of the Jessup Competition.  Pictured here is the Jessup Team from The John Marshall Law School: Jolene Kaminski, Bonnie Swanson, Ray Chung, Robert Erickson, and Blythe Milby.

Here's a link to the 2013 Jessup Compromis and other competition materials if you would like to have a look at this year's problem.  ILSA provides not only the problem but some international law materials to help law students around the world.

ILSA is soliciting proposals for the 2014 Jessup Problem (the Jessup Compromis). Proposals must be submitted to ILSA’s Executive Director, Lesley Benn, by March 9, 2013.

The 2013 White & Case International Rounds of the Jessup Competition will take place from March 31 to April 6, 2013 at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Volunteer opportunities are available.  Visit the ILSA website for more information.


February 4, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jessup Results from Afghanistan, Chile, India, Indonesia, and Iraq

Jessup 2013The 2013 Jessup National and Regional Rounds are underway.  Here are some preliminary results.


Herat University won the 2013 Afghan Round.


Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile won the 2013 Chilean Round.

India (North India Rounds)

National Law University in Delhi won the 2013 Indian North Round.  Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University in Lucknow was the runner-up.


Universitas Indonesia won the 2013 Indonesian Round.


Baghdad University and Anbar University were the first and second place winners of the 2013 Iraqi Round.

Get more Jessup Results on an ongoing basis from the Jessup Facebook Page.

February 4, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Human Rights Watch Releases World Report 2013

Human Rights Watch has released its World Report 2013 detailing human rights concerns and success stories in 90 countries around the world during 2012. The report highlights the ongoing challenges posed by the developments connected with the Arab Spring such as respect for the rule of law and women's rights.  It also contains country-by-country summaries of human rights issues.


February 4, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Special Court to Try Hissene Habre to Commence Later this Week

On February 8, 2013, Senegal will inaugurate a special court to try the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré, marking a significant step forward in the long campaign to bring Habré to justice.  The court is known as the Extraordinary African Chambers and was created within the Senegalese judicial system pursuant to an agreement with the African Union (AU) following many years of litigation and negotiation. The pretrial investigation will be conducted by four Senegalese magistrates and is expected to last 15 months. It is anticipated that the investigation will be followed by a trial in 2014, at which a non-Senegalese judge appointed by the AU will preside.

Habré’s trial will be the first time that the courts of one country tried the leader of another country for alleged human rights crimes.  Habré is accused of thousands of political killings and systematic torture during his presidency, from 1982 to 1990. At the end of his regime, he fled to Senegal where he has been living for the past 22 years.


February 4, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

French National Assembly Takes a Step Toward Approving Same-Sex Marriage

French National Assembly 1Agence France-Presse reports that the French National Assembly on Saturday overwhelmingly approved the first and most important article of a law to allow same-sex couples to adopt children and to marry.  The French Deputies voted 249-97 to approve article one of the draft legislation, which redefines marriage as being an agreement between two people (instead of between a man and a woman). The proposed law still has another week of parliamentary scrutiny before a final vote scheduled for February 12, but the large margin approving the first part of the law indicates that the bill will be passed.  Click here to read more.

Hat tip (and thanks for the photo) to Rex Wockner.


February 3, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)