Sunday, August 31, 2014

International Law Weekend in New York

The American Branch of the International Law Association and the International Law Students Association present an annual International Law Weekend conference.  It's well attended, interesting, and a good reason to spend a weekend in New York.

This year, unfortunately, the International Law Weekend is being held during the same week as the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law. It's an unfortunate conflict, but it highlights that international law is a rich field with many options for participation.

Here is a link to the call for proposals for the International Law Weekend.  It seems that although the deadline passed some time ago, there might still be an opporuntity to propose an additional panel or two. If nothing else, get this program on your radar and plan to attend ILW New York this October (unless you're in Argentina at the ABA meeting!).


August 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

International Courts and Legitimacy

The University of Baltimore School of Law will host a symposium on "Legitimacy and International Courts" on September 18-19, 2014 at the Angelos Law Center in Baltimore.

Symposium participants include Professor Andrea Bjorkland (McGill), Allen Buchanan (Duke), Harlan Cohen (Georgia), Margaret de Guzman (Temple), Andreas Follesdal (Oslo), Nienke Grossman (Baltimore), Chiara Giorgetti (Richmond), Alexandra Huneeus (Wisconsin), Matthias Kumm (New York University), Molly Land (Connecticut), Joost Pauwelyn (The Graduate Institute, Geneva), Mark Pollack (Temple), Mortimer Sellers (Baltimore), Yuval Shany (Hebrew University), Anastasia Telestsky (Idaho), Geir Ulfstein (Oslo), and Erik Voeten (Georgetown).

For more information about the program, click here.


August 31, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Call for Papers: International Human Rights Law



January 2-5, 2015, Washington, D.C.

The AALS Section on International Human Rights has issued a call for papers for its "New Voices in Human Rights" program during the 2015 AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The program will be called Global Perspectives on Human Rights. It will take place during the AALS Annual Meeting, which is scheduled for January 2-5, 2015. The section anticipates selecting three or four new voices from this call for papers to present their work during the Section’s program.

The focus on Global Perspectives on Human Rights will explore how human rights discourses, practices, and institutions have taken root (or not) in various terrains. While we are not categorically excluding papers that discuss human rights in the United States, we are interested in how human rights are experienced in other parts of the world, particularly areas that have not traditionally been a focus of international human rights research by scholars in the United States.

Deadline and Submission

The deadline to submit a paper is September 15, 2014. Please email submissions in Word or PDF format to Professor Stuart Ford of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago ( and Professor Jonathan Todres of Georgia State University ( In selecting proposals, priority will be given to new voices in international human rights (i.e., individuals who have not previously presented a paper at AALS on the topic of international human rights). Presentations at various stages of completion will be considered. Decisions will be made in late September.


Papers may have already been accepted for publication but must not have been published before the Annual Meeting. The section has no plans to publish the selected papers, and individual presenters should continue to seek their own publishers.


This call for papers is open only to full-time faculty at an AALS member school. Presenters will be expected to cover their own costs in attending the AALS annual meeting.

For any questions or inquiries please contact Professor Stuart Ford at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago at



August 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Libel Tourism Lecture at the University of Denver

Nanda-Marling-WojcikProfessor Mark E. Wojcik of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago was the guest speaker at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law on August 26, 2014. His lecture was on the "International Law and Libel Tourism: Where Can You Be Sued for What You Say on the Internet?" and was sponsored by the Ved Nanda Center for International and Comparative Law.

The premise of the lecture was that anything you publish on the Internet (including a blog post like this) can be viewed almost anywhere in the world. Whether that post is actionable as defamation depends not on where it was written but on where it was viewed or "published." This creates opportunties for "libel tourism," where plaintiffs alleging defamation can sue almost anywhere in the world for defamation on the internet. This implicates many private international law issues for authors, publishers, and those seeking to protect their personal or business reputations around the world. 

Pictured here are Professor Ved Nanda of the Unviersity of Denver, Julie Marling (President of the International Law Society at the University of Denver, and Professor Mark Wojcik.

August 29, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Article on the New Chinese Trademark Law

The Law Journal of the International Trademark Association has just published a useful article on the new Chinese Trademark Law, which entered into effect in May 2014.  The article is by Paul Kossof and is based the book that he wrote on the subject, published earlier this year by Carolina Academic Press.


August 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Thailand: Threatened Use of Lèse Majesté Laws Chills Freedom of Expression

Ravina Shamsadani UNHCHRThe United Nations rights office has expressed serious concern over the prosecution and harsh sentencing of individuals in Thailand under the country’s so called lèse majesté law and its “chilling effects” on freedom of expression. In Geneva, Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) (pictured at right), said that since the 22 May coup, at least 13 new lèse majesté cases have been opened for investigation while others where charges had previously not been laid, have been revived.

“Such measures are adding to the larger pattern of increasing restrictions on freedom of expression in Thailand,” she warned, adding that just last week, two university students were arrested for participating in a play in October 2013 that depicted a fictional monarch who was manipulated by his advisor.

The arrests followed a number of convictions and harsh sentences in lèse majesté cases, including that of Plutnarin Thanaboriboonsuk, who was also charged under the Computer Crime Act in relation to messages he posted on Facebook. He was sentenced on 31 July to 15 years in prison. That sentence came less than two months after charges were laid on 16 June, even though the investigation had remained pending for more than two years.

In another case, on 14 August, Yuthasak Kangwanwongsakul, a taxi driver, was sentenced to two years and six months in jail under the lèse majesté laws for a conversation he had with a passenger.

“We are concerned that more charges may be filed and that more harsh sentences may be issued in the coming weeks,” said Shamdasani.

In 2013, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay indicated her support for amendments of Thailand’s lèse majesté law under its section 112 of the Criminal Code to address concerns related to the implementation of the law.

In 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression and opinion also urged the amendment, stating that section 112 was too vague and prescribes long maximum sentences that are contrary to permissible restrictions on freedom of expression under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Thailand has ratified.

“We reiterate our call to the military administration to ensure its compliance with Thailand’s obligations under international human rights law, especially the ICCPR,” Shamdasani said.

“The threat of the use of the lèse majesté laws adds to the chilling effects on freedom of expression observed in Thailand after the coup, and risks curbing critical debate on issues of public interest.”

(adapted from a UN press release)

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

Women's Equality Day 2014

RosieToday, August 26, is Women's Equality Day in the United States.  It marks the anniversary of the passage in 1920 of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote.  It is a day to celebrate women's achievements and to focus on issues of gender equality. For more information regarding the history of this day, click here.

Although women have made great strides in achieving equality here in the U.S., as President Barak Obama has stated, "there is still more work to do."  Women still make less money than men and face barriers and discrimination in areas such as health care, education and employment.  Internationally, we also see the rise of a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and other practices that deny equality and basic human rights to women, in contradiction to the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), as well as many other human rights treaties.

If you are interested in thes issues, what can you do to commemorate the day?  Urge the United States government to ratify CEDAW, pass an Equal Rights Amendment, and support projects to empower women in development countries.



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

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lithuanian Television Broadcasters Refuse to Air This Advertisement

We've learned from the blog for the Human Rights Campaign that television broadcasters in Lithuania have refused to air a video clip that shows lesbian and gay couples and families. The video was produced by the national LGBT rights organization LGL and was meant to be a positive representation of the LGBT community, as a part of their larger campaign called "Change It." 

The video itself has nothing provocative in it, but commercial broadcasters fear that it may violate Lithuania's Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information.  This law forbids information that "expresses contempt for family values, encourages the concept of entry into a marriage and creation of a family other than stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania.”

Here is the video. Read more about this on the HRC Blog by clicking here.


h/t rw


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

Weekend Fun - Dancing around the World

Watch this tremendously fun video to see Matt Harding dance his way around the world.



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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Call for Papers: Emerging Issues in Polar Energy Law and Governance

The Oil, Gas, and Energy Law Journal invites submissions for a Special Issue on "Emerging issues in Polar Energy Law and Governance".  Here is an excerpt from the Call for Papers:

"The Polar areas provide special challenges, opportunities and restrictions regarding the development of energy resources, particularly oil and gas. The potential for enormous untapped energy reserves and the international law challenges of maritime boundaries borders and competing claims of sovereignty will make the Arctic region home to one of the most compelling sets of international legal issues in the 21st Century. The renegotiation of the Madrid Protocol in the Antarctic, which currently prevents mining in the Antarctic regions, combined with similar issues of competing claims of sovereignty, and the overarching Antarctic Treaty Framework means that potential energy resource development Antarctic region will become increasingly controversial and prominent.

OGEL encourages submission of relevant papers, studies, and comments on various aspects of this subject. The focus of this Special Polar Issue is the search for and exploitation of energy resources in the polar regions. In particular it seeks to focus on current and emerging legal frameworks within which energy resources will be developed. However, this special edition also seeks submissions of papers and studies addressing the wider topic of the international legal framework for the polar regions.

The guest editor for this special issue is Dr Tina Hunter (Director of the Centre for International Minerals and Energy Law Centre at the University of Queensland, Australia, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

A one-page proposal should be submitted by 15 November 2014. Acceptance will be communicated by 1 December 2015. Papers should be submitted by 15 March 2015 deadline to Dr Tina Hunter.


August 22, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ABA Section of International Law Committee Awards

The American Bar Association Section of International Law announced the recipients of its various committee awards. Congratulations to all. Get the ful list of award recipients by clicking here.


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

ABA Section of International Law Fall Meeting in Buenos Aires

The American Bar Association Section of International Law will hold its first Fall Meeting in South Amreica. The event will be held from October 20-25 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. For those of you going to the meeting, and those who simply want a diversion from any useful work you might be doing at the moment, here is a musical video distraction.



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

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

UN Secretary-General Urges Missouri to Respect Right to Peaceful Assembly

As protests intensify over the killing of an American teenager in Missouri, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged all parties to exercise restraint and for authorities to respect the right to peaceful assembly. 

According to Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, the UN chief is aware that United States federal authorities have announced an investigation into the killing by police of 18-year-old Michael Brown. The Secretary-General hopes local and federal investigations will “shed full light on the killing and that justice will be done.” According to media reports, the unarmed black teen was shot by a white police officer on 9 August. The incident has sparked mass demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, reportedly drawing criticism of the way local authorities have handled the situation.

Mr. Ban called on authorities to ensure that the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are protected. He also called on all to exercise restraint and for law enforcement officials to abide by “U.S. and international standards in dealing with demonstrations.”

(adapted from a UN press release)

August 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 18, 2014

ECHR Rules that UK Violated Prisoners' Human Rights by Denying Vote

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a judgment last week in the case of Firth and others v. United Kingdom in which it held that the United Kingdom violated the human rights of prisoners by denying them the right to vote in the 2009 elections for the European Parliament.

The prisoners based their claim on Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states: "The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature."

In a 2005 case, Hirst v. UK, the ECHR held that the UK's law prohibiting convicted criminals from voting in parliamentary or local elections violated Article 3 to Protocol No. 1. The Court found that the rights guaranteed by this article are crucial to establishing and maintaining an effective democracy governed by the rule of law.  However, the right to vote is not absolute.  Any limitations on the right must be in pursuit of a legitimate aim, proportionate to that aim, and must not thwart the free expression of the will of the people in their choice of the legislature.  The Court held that the UK law failed to meet this standard because prisoner disenfranchisement was automatic, regardless of the length of sentence or nature or severity of the crime.

Last year, a UK Parliamentary Committee reccomended legislation that would modify UK law to allow prisoners serving less than 12 month sentences to vote in all elections.  However, the bill has not yet been adopted.  Even if adopted, is not certain this change would satisfy the Court's test as described above.  Accordingly, prisoners like Firth continue to sue to enforce their right to vote in various elections.

According to the ECHR, several European states reject the right of prisoners to vote under various circumstances.  The  Court noted that there is no Eurpean-wide agreement on the scope of the right of prisoners to vote or appropriate limitations on that right.  Hence, the Court will likely to continue its jurisprudence in this area on a case-by-case basis.


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

Friday, August 15, 2014

New Board of Editors Chosen for American Journal of International Law

AJILCongratulations to the new members of the American Journal of International Law (AJIL) Board of Editors!  AJIL has been published on a quarterly basis by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) since 1907.  AJIL features articles, editorials, and comments by preeminent scholars on developments in international law and international relations.  It also includes analyses of decisions by courts and tribunals and reviews of recent books on international law.  

The AJIL Board is composed of roughly 30 individuals who serve staggered four-year terms and are charged with editing the Journal and determining its content.  New members are elected by the members of the existing Board.

Those people who were newly elected to the AJIL Board are as follows.

-           Antony Anghie, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

-           James Gathii, ASIL Academic Partner Loyola University Chicago School of Law

-           Alexandra Huneeus, ASIL Academic Partner University of Wisconsin Law School

-           Karen Knop, University of Toronto Faculty of Law

-           Natalie Reid, ASIL Leadership Circle Law Firm Debevoise & Plimpton

-           Henry Richardson, ASIL Academic Partner Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law

-           Gregory Shaffer, ASIL Academic Partner University of Minnesota Law School

    The following people were re-elected to the AJIL Board.

-           Eyal Benvenisti, ASIL Academic Partner Tel Aviv University Buchmann Faculty of Law

-           Kal Raustiala, ASIL Academic Partner University of California-Los Angeles School of Law

The Nominating Committee of the AJIL Board of Editors is also inviting nominations for members of the Board of Editors to be elected in the spring of 2015.  Nominations are based primarily on scholarship and creativity, as demonstrated in books, articles, and other written work appearing over a period of years.  Suggestions, along with supporting statements and information, such as a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, and, if possible, copies of significant publications, should be sent to AJIL Co-Editors in Chief José Alvarez and Benedict Kingsbury by December 1, 2014.

ASIL is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, educational membership organization.  Its mission is to foster the study of international law and to promote the establishment and maintenance of international relations on the basis of law and justice.  The Society's nearly 4,000 members from more than 100 countries comprise attorneys, academics, corporate counsel, judges, representatives of governments and nongovernmental organizations, international civil servants, students, and others interested in international law.  For more information, visit the ASIL website.


August 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Argentina Files Suit Against US at ICJ

Earlier today, Argentina filed an Application Instituting Proceedings against the United States at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding a dispute concerning judicial decisions of the United States relating to the restructuring of Argentine sovereign debt.  Unfortunately for Argentina, there is no treaty or other agreement giving the ICJ jurisdiction over the dispute.  Hence, Argentina must rely on Article 38(5) of the ICJ's statute which states that Argentina's application must be transmitted to the United States and the United States will be requested to give its consent to jurisdiciton. The ICJ is not to place the Application on its General List or take any other actions with respect to the dispute unless and until the United States gives its consent to jurisdiction.

Although unlikely, it is not unheard of for states to consent to jurisdiction on this special basis, also known as prorogated jurisdiction.  For example, France consented to jurisdiction in a suit brought by the Republic of Congo in 2003 relating to France's alleged breach of Congo's sovereignty through the French investigation of Congolese officials and issuance of warrants.


August 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

WTO Appellate Body Rejects China's Appeal in Rare Earths Dispute

WTOThe World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body (AB) issued its decision today in China-Measures Related to the Exportation of Rare Earths, Tungsten and Molybenum, DS431.  The United States initiated this matter against China in 2012 alleging that China maintains export restrictions on these products that violate the rules of the WTO and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).  

In March 2014, the WTO dispute resolution panel issued its findings that China had violated its obligations under the WTO through its export duties and quotas, which were not justified under Article XX of GATT.  Both China and the United States appealled certain aspects of that ruling to the WTO AB.  The AB consolidated the dispute with similar disputes filed by Japan and the European Union.

China did not appeal the final conclusions of the panel, but instead disagreed with the panel's interpretation and application of the exceptions contained in GATT Article XX.  The United States filed a limited appeal challenging the panel's rejection of certain exhibits.

Earlier today, the WTO AB issued its decision upholding the interpretation and application by the panel of GATT Article XX.  It found it unnecessary to rule on the United States' appeal.  The WTO AB's ruling should provide guidance for future claims of exemption under Article XX.

China now must bring its export restrictions on rare earths into compliance with its WTO obligations. For more information, visit the WTO website here.


August 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Trade, Law, and Development (Call for Papers)

The Editors of Trade, Law and Development invite original, unpublished manuscripts in the form of articles, notes, comments, and book reviews. Manuscripts received by September 17, 2014 pertaining to any area of international economic law will be reviewed for possible publication in the Winter 2014 issue (volume 6, number 2).

Trade, Law and Development aims to generate and sustain a democratic debate on emerging issues in international economic law, with a special focus on the developing world. For more information, see the submission guidelines at or contact the editors by email at: editors[at]






E-mail: editors[at]



August 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Growing Circuit Split Over ATS Suits Against Corporations Following Kiobel

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently issued a decision in Cardona v. Chiquita Brands Int'l, Inc., holding that the U.S. corporation, Chiquita, cannot be sued in U.S. federal courts over allegations that it supported Colombian paramilitary forces who tortured and killed banana-plantation workers, union members and social activists.  The Court found that it did not have jurisdiction over the claims of the 4,000 plaintiffs under either the Torture Victim Protection Act (TPVA) or the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), both found at 28 U.S.C. sec. 1350.

This decision deepens a circuit court split over the scope of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., where the Supreme Court held that U.S. federal courts may not entertain claims under the ATS for alleged violations of the law of nations where the underlying activity occurred on foreign territory and there is not a sufficient connection to the United States. 
Plaintiffs in Cardona attempted to distinguish Kiobel by arguing that there is a sufficient connection to the United States because Chiquita is a U.S. corporation, unlike Royal Dutch Petroleum.  The majority of the Eleventh Circuit found that distinction unconvincing because the Supreme Court stated in Kiobel that "corporate presence" was not enough (although it did not directly address corporate citizenship).  The Second Circuit reached a similar conclusion in Balintulo v. Daimler AG, but the Fourth Circuit reached an opposite conclusion in Shimari v. CACI Int'l, Inc.  The dissenting judge in Cardona lamented the fact that the decision "disarm[s] innocents against American corporations that enage in human rights violations abroad."
The Eleventh Circuit also dismissed Plaintiffs' claim under the TPVA because the TPVA only authorizes liability against natural persons, relying on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 decision in Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority.
The growing circuit split suggests the issue is likely to return to the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future.

August 5, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights . . . in Tahitian!

Things we're happy to see . . . .

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is now available in Tahitian! It's published in Volume 13, number 2 of the Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law (2012). Tahitian, a Polynesian language, is spoken by more than 125,000 persons.


August 4, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)