Monday, June 30, 2014

New Islamic State in Middle East?

The militant group ISIS has declared a caliphate, or a new state based in Islam, in the areas currently under its control in Syria and Iraq.  While an Islamic state may be a long-term goal of ISIS and related groups, they are far from meeting the necessary criteria for statehood under international law and are unlikely to receive much, if any, international recognition.

Under article 1 of the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, a state should possess the following qualifications for statehood: (1) a permanent population, (2) a defined territory, (3) a government, and (4) capacity to enter into relations with other states.  ISIS claims territory from Aleppo in northern Syria to the Diyala province in eastern Iraq. However, given the existing states' recognized political boundaries, massive refugee flows in and out of the various areas of this region, and the ongoing fighting over territory between ISIS and the Iraqi army, among other factors, it certainly cannot be said that the new caliphate has a permanent population or a defined territory. To the extent that the caliphate has a government, it appears to be the leaders of the militant group ISIS.  ISIS has announced that its new leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Its ability to function effectively as a government, rather than a militant group, and to engage in relations with other states remains to be seen.

International scholars, such as Milena Sterio in her book, The Right to Self-Determination under International Law, have posited alternative criteria based more on real politics.  Professor Sterio suggests that new states are unlikely to be successful unless the peoples seeking statehood show that: (1)  they have been severely oppressed, (2) the central government of the mother state(s) are relatively weak and ineffective at administering the region where the peoples are located, (3) international organizations have been involved in administering the region, facilitating power-sharing, institution-building, and capacity development for the struggling people, and (4) most importantly, the peoples have the support of at least one of the great powers.

ISIS and its supporters are unlikely to meet these criteria either.  They largely come from states where they have been able to freely practice their religion and culture and, thus, cannot claim severe oppression.  They likely can point to a weak central government, at least in Iraq, but that claim is more difficult to make in Syria, despite the ongoing civil war.  International organizations have been involved in Iraq; again, less so in Syria. And most importantly, it is does not appear that ISIS has the support of any major power for its current activities.  Thus, ISIS's claim to statehood is certainly premature and should not be recognized under international law.


June 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Book on "The Independence of International Courts"

Zimmerman NomosWe've been informed of a new book with the catchy title: "The Independence of International Courts: The Adherence of the International Judiciary to a Fundamental Value of the Administration of Justice" by Dr. Dominik Zimmermann. It's 597 pages and the ISBN number is 978-3-8487-1248-9. And because we don't post enough in German on this blog, here's a description in German of the book (which is in English). Don't read German? Well, go buy the book in English!

Die Studie untersucht Gehalt und Anwendungsbereich des Grundsatzes der richterlichen Unabhängigkeit im Hinblick auf internationale Gerichte. Angesichts der zunehmenden Bedeutung von Gerichten auf der internationalen Ebene ermittelt der Autor zunächst die theoretische Verankerung des Grundsatzes im Völkerrecht und entwickelt eine Arbeitsdefinition der richterlichen Unabhängigkeit für das Völkerrecht. Auf der Grundlage einer umfangreichen Auswertung von Quellen zu den gegenwärtig wichtigsten internationalen Gerichten, arbeitet der Autor sodann sowohl einen Kerngehalt richterlicher Unabhängigkeit als auch gerichtsbarkeitsspezifische Merkmale heraus.

Die Studie füllt somit nicht nur eine Lücke in der wissenschaftlichen Aufarbeitung internationaler Gerichtsbarkeit, sondern fungiert ebenfalls als wertvolle Orientierungshilfe bei der möglichen Errichtung zukünftiger internationaler Gerichte.

Das Werk ist Teil der Reihe Successful Dispute Resolution, Band 1.


June 30, 2014 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Job Posting: Texas A&M University School of Law Seeks Two Professors

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW seeks to expand its academic program and its strong commitment to scholarship by hiring two exceptional faculty candidates for tenure-track or tenured positions, with rank dependent on qualifications and experience.  While the law school welcomes applications in all subject areas, it particularly invites applications in: (1) patent law (including related intellectual property subjects); and (2) legal analysis, research, and writing.  Candidates must have a J.D. degree or its equivalent.  Preference will be given to those with demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement and strong classroom teaching skills. 

This is an especially attractive time to join Texas A&M University School of Law.  Since Texas A&M University acquired the law school from Texas Wesleyan University in August of 2013, applications for admission have increased by over 30 percent and development has grown exponentially, including multiple seven-figure endowed chairs.  The law school is poised to build on its tradition of excellence in scholarship, teaching, and public service through the extensive resources and opportunities that result from being part of a world-class public university. 

Texas A&M University School of Law is located in vibrant downtown Fort Worth.  The Fort Worth/Dallas area, with a total population in excess of six million people, offers a low cost of living and a strong economy.

As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Texas A&M University welcomes applications from a broad spectrum of qualified individuals who will enhance the rich diversity of the law school’s academic community. Applicants should email a résumé and cover letter indicating research and teaching interests to Professor Timothy Mulvaney, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at [email protected].  Alternatively, résumés can be mailed to Professor Mulvaney at Texas A&M University School of Law, 1515 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102-6509.


June 30, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Yemen Becomes 160th Member of WTO

Yemen flagThe World Trade Organization welcomed Yemen as it 160th member today, ending a 13-year-long accession process. According to WTO Director General Azevedo, with Yemen's accession, 97.1% of the global economy is now subject to the WTO rules.  For more information, visit the WTO website.


June 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Call for Papers: AALS Section on International Law

The Section on International Law of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for its program at the AALS 2015Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. on Sunday, January 4 at 10:30 am.

The topic of the program and call for papers is “The Influence of International Law on U.S. Government Decision-Making.” This panel will explore the role that international law plays in informing the policy outcomes arrived at by U.S. government decision-makers.  To what extent is international law determinative or even influential, and to what extent does the policy area, the branch of government, or the ideological orientation of the decision-maker matter? As a more practical matter, at what stage in the decision-making process is international law taken into account and who are the most influential actors?  How can academics be most influential in that process?  The presenter chosen through this call for papers will join several prominent current or former U.S. government officials in a panel discussion.  

Eligible faculty members are invited to submit manuscripts or detailed abstracts that address any of numerous issues related to the way in which international law infuses decision-making within the United States government.


Per AALS policy, only full-time faculty members of AALS member law schools are eligible to submit a paper to a call for papers. The following are ineligible: faculty at fee-paid law schools, international, visiting (without a full-time position at an AALS member law school) and adjunct faculty members, graduate students, and non-law school faculty.  Untenured faculty members are particularly encouraged to submit papers.  

Registration fee and expenses

The selected Call for Paper participant is responsible for paying his or her AALS annual meeting registration fee and travel expenses.

Form and length of submission

Eligible faculty members are invited to submit manuscripts or detailed abstracts dealing with any aspect of the foregoing topic.  Detailed abstracts should be comprehensive enough to allow the committee to meaningfully evaluate the aims and likely content of papers proposed.  Papers may be accepted for publication but must not be published prior to the Annual Meeting.

Deadline and submission method

Papers must be submitted electronically to: Ms. Carol Manis, Assistant to Professor Cindy Buys at Southern Illinois University School of Law. The subject of the email should read: “Submission for AALS Section on International Law.”

The initial review of the papers and abstracts will be blind, and will be conducted by members of the section’s executive committee.  In order to facilitate blind review, please identify yourself and your institutional affiliation only in the cover letter accompanying your manuscript, and not in the manuscript itself.  The submitting author is responsible for taking any steps necessary to redact self-identifying text or footnotes.    

The deadline for submission is September 2, 2014.

The author of the selected paper/abstract will be notified by September 28, 2014.


June 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Professor Mark Wojcik Recognized for Community Leadership

Mark awardMy amazing co-blogger, Professor Mark Wojcik of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, is pictured here receiving the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Community Leadership Award from the the Illinois State Bar Association "in recognition of significant dedication in eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and fostering understanding of legal issues of concern to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons."  Congratuations Mark!  


June 23, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

New York University Law Professor Andreas Lowenfeld Has Died

LowenfeldWe are sad to learn of the passing of Andreas Lowenfeld, an international law professor and scholar for more than 50 years.  Professor Lowenfeld was a member of the New York University School of Law faculty for 47 years and a long-time member of the American Society of International Law amoung other organizations. He was the author of 18 books and 115 law review articles and is perhaps best known for his work in international trade and economic law and international arbitration.  His obituary may be found here. Our condolences to his family friends, and colleagues.


June 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Opportunity to Observe UNCITRAL Session

The American Society of International Law (ASIL) has been granted observer status at the forty-seventh session of UNCITRAL, which will be held July 7-18, 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The session will open on Monday, July 7, at 10:30 a.m. and is expected to run until Friday, July 18.  Topics under consideration include a draft convention on transparency in investment arbitration and a possible new convention on international commercial mediation. 

ASIL is able to send several representatives to the meeting, and inquires are being coordinated by the Private International Law Interest Group (PILIG).  If you are interested in attending this session as an observer, please contact PILIG Co-Chair Professor S.I. Strong at the University of Missouri Law School no later than close of business on Tuesday, June 24, 2014.  Please include a copy of a recent c.v./resume and a brief (one-paragraph) summary describing which of the agenda issues are of interest to you and how your expertise may be relevant.  

Anyone seeking to attend the UNCITRAL meeting as an ASIL observer must be a member of ASIL and the PILIG. If you are already a member of ASIL, you may join the PILIG free of charge.  If you are not yet a member of ASIL, there are special rates for students, new professionals, and government/NGO/IO employees.  Students and faculty at ASIL Academic Partners get 50% off membership.  Member benefits and pricing are at here.  

In the future, the PILIG hopes to be able to extend the opportunity to attend UNCITRAL meetings as an observer to law students.  If you join the PILIG, you will be sure to receive the notifications, both for yourself and your student.

Please note that any individual selected to attend this event bears full responsibility for travel and other costs associated with participation.  PILIG and ASIL cannot provide any funding assistance.  

Furthermore, anyone who attends the UNCITRAL session on behalf of ASIL/PILIG is required to write a brief summary of their experiences.  Attendees are also required to abide by ASIL’s rules of participation.  Please note that according to ASIL’s Constitution and reflecting its diverse membership, ASIL does not normally advocate positions on matters of policy.  Accordingly, ASIL designees may not undertake any advocacy or otherwise advance substantive positions on behalf of ASIL at the conference.

A note containing the provisional agenda of the session with annotations is available here Information about UNCITRAL rules of procedures and methods of work is available here.

Although opportunities are limited for this particular meeting, the PILIG hopes to make similar offerings available in the future so as to help increase participation in and understanding of international law processes.  


June 21, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 20, 2014

U.S. Government Hearings


The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on the transition in Afghanistan. 6/25/14, 10 am, 2172 Rayburn.

The Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, House Foreign Affairs Committee, will hold a hearing on the transition in Libya. 6/25/14, 2 pm, 2172 Rayburn.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the outlook on relations between the United States and China. 6/25/14, 3 pm, 419 Dirksen.

Hat tip to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office



June 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

U.S. Legislation

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will mark up the following bills:

  • the Energize Africa Act of 2014; S 1933,
  • the Global Human Rights Accountability Act; S 1104,
  • the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act; and
  • S Res 447, recognizing the threats to freedom of the press and expression around the world and reaffirming freedom of the press as a priority in the efforts of the United States Government to promote democracy and good governance.

The markup session will be June 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm, S-116 Capitol Building.

Hat tip to ABA Governmental Affairs Office



June 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Myanmar Urged to Dump Proposed Legislation on Religious Conversion

A group of independent United Nations human rights experts today called on the Government of Myanmar to do away with a draft bill imposing restrictions on religious conversion, stressing the right of every individual to freely choose or to change their faith. The experts – on freedom of religion, minority issues and human rights in Myanmar – warned that the draft bill, made public on 27 May inviting comments from monks and the public, sets out a cumbersome application and approval process for conversion while purporting to make it easier for individuals to freely convert. It also provides for disproportionate criminal sanctions on offenders, according to a news release issued by the three experts. In addition, some provisions are “vague and subject to interpretation that may lead to discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities or the poor.”

The experts noted that seeking comments from the public on draft legislation is commendable in promoting political participation of the people. “But in this instance,” they added, “this process appears partial to the interest of one particular group and simply propagates the spread of incitement of racial and religious hatred, which the Government must do more to address.”

The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, noted that State interferences into the right to change one’s religion or belief are “illegitimate and incompatible with international human rights standards.”

“Freedom of religion or belief is a human right, irrespective of State approval, and respect for freedom of religion or belief does not depend on administrative registration procedures,” he stressed. “I am very disturbed by the attempt to regulate religious conversion.”

Rita Izsák, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, highlighted the potential for the bill to impact negatively on religious freedoms and the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. “I urge Myanmar to strengthen its protections in line with international standards not to create obstacles to the enjoyment of religious identity, minority rights, and the right of every individual to freely choose or to change their faith,” she said.

The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, noted some “worrying backtracking” on Myanmar’s progress towards a more democratic nation in the last six months, including through the arbitrary arrest and the prosecution of activists and journalists deemed anti-establishment. Ms. Lee warned the draft bill – one of four composing a legislative package on the protection of race and religion – “signals the risk of Myanmar going off-track on its path to being a responsible member of the international community that respects and protects human rights.”

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

(UN Press Release)

June 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day is commemorated every year on June 20.  It is a day to reflect on the plight of persons who are forcibly displaced from their homes and communities, to recognize their resilience, and to find ways to help refugees rebuild their lives.

The most recent statistics available from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show that more than 42 million persons were forcibly displaced from their homes in 2012, the highest number in 20 years. In 2013, asylum claims increased by 28%, indicating that the trend continues. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is conducting a "1 Campaign" meaning that one family torn apart by war is too many.  If you are a lawyer or a law student reading this blog, you can help a refugee by providing pro bono legal services.


June 20, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Anniversary of the Adoption of the International Declaration of Human Rights

On this day, June 18, in 1948, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted its International Declaration of Human Rights, creating "a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations."  The vote was 12-0 in favor, with an abstention from the Soviet bloc. A New York Times article describing the action and containing the text of the Declaration may be found here.  This act led to the subsequent adoption of the UN Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948.  That Declaration has now largely made its way into customary international law and inspired many subsequent international human rights treaties.


June 18, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Libel Tourism

Professor Mark Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School will give a lecture on "Libel Tourism" at the University of Denver on Tuesday, August 26, 2014.

June 18, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

IBA and ILSA Conference in London (September 2014)

Save the date! The International Law Students Association (ILSA) and the International Bar Association (IBA) will hold a conference in London (United Kingdom) on September 5-6, 2014.

The conference will offer student participants:

  • A chance to meet fellow law students from around the world 
  • A range of educational and vocational panels
  • A Jessup Compromis Panel Discussion with experts considering the issues raised by the newly released 2015 Jessup Compromis 
  • A complementary drinks and canapé reception, as well as catered lunches and breaks for all delegates.
  • A chance to explore one of the world’s most iconic cities

Registration for the conference is available by clicking here.


June 17, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 16, 2014

AALS Annual Meeting in Washington DC

Join the Association of American Law Schools Section on Graduate Programs for Non-U.S. Lawyers at its business meeting on Friday, January 2, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. That's the first night of the conference when the Registration Area opens. 

Professor George Edwards of Indiana University is the current chair. Professor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago is the Chair-Elect and will become Section Chair at the end of that AALS Annual meeting. 

When you book your flight or train to DC, please plan to arrive in time to attend the 6:30 p.m. business meeting and to share your ideas on graduate legal education for international lawyers.


June 16, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Uganda's Foreign Minister Elected as Next U.N. General Assembly President

Sam Kutesa, the foreign minister of Uganda, was unanimously elected to be President of the U.N. General Assembly at the start of the 69th Session of the General Assembly.  Kutesa will follow current Assembly President John Ashe of Antigua at the start of the 69th session of the U.N. General Assembly in September.

Kutesa's election is controversial because Uganda recently passed extreme anti-gay legislation.  There are also allegations that he abused his office and accepted bribes from foreign companies.


June 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council

The U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council was created in 2004 to provide a forum for member governments to discuss issues of common interest and improve opportunties for mutual trade and investment. A press release from the U.S. Trade Representative describes the U.S.-Central Asia TIFA as "the key vehicle for trade and investment discussions between the United States and the countries of Central Asia."
Members of the U.S.-Central Asia TIFA include Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the United States. Afghanistan has observer status at the moment, but its membership in TIFA was discussed during a TIFA Meeting this week in Washington D.C. The next meeting of the U.S.-Central Asia TIFA Council will be held somewhere in central Asia at a date to be determined.

June 12, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Book on the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

I am pleased to share that my colleague at Southern Illinois University School of Law, Michael Koehler (aka the FCPA Professor) has published a new book, “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a New Era" (Edward Elgar Publishing).  The book dissects the FCPA’s new era and places the FCPA’s new era in context, providing a practical and provocative analysis of the FCPA, its enforcement, and related topics.

The book contains excerpts from the FCPA’s statutory text, legislative history, judicial decisions and enforcement agency guidance.  In addition, over seventy FCPA enforcement actions are discussed and useful tables and charts concerning a variety of FCPA enforcement topics are included.  The book places an emphasis on learning FCPA issues incrementally in the belief that foundational knowledge introduced early will best enhance understanding and comprehension of specific FCPA topics.

The book contains compliance pointers and risk-assessment strategies that can lessen the likelihood of FCPA violations from occurring when doing business in the global marketplace.  In this way, the book provides a toolkit that readers can use to better understand the FCPA, its enforcement, and the many legal and policy issues present in this new era.

For more information about the book, or to order a hard copy, click here.  Professors interested in receiving a review copy can e-mail [email protected] (with details of the class the book will be used for).  Professor Koehler uses the book as a foundation his Foreign Corrupt Practices Act class at Southern Illinois University School of Law.


June 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

German International Law Professor and President of Bucerius Law School Elected to German Constitutional Court

The Judges Election Committee of the German Federal Parliament has elected Prof. Dr. Doris König, President of the Bucerius Law School and holder of the ‘Clausen-Simon-Foundation Chair for International Law,’ as a judge of the German Federal Constitutional Court. Judges to that court are elected for a 12-year term and cannot be re-elected.


June 10, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)