Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A "Must-See" Video for Jessup Competitors

This helpful video discusses legal issues in the current Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition and provides some tips on effective advocacy.  The Moderator is Lesley Benn, Executive Director, International Law Students Association.  The panelists are Dr. Eirik Bjorge (Shaw Foundation Junior Research Fellow, University of Oxford), Rumiana Yotova (Lecturer in Law and Director of Studies, University of Cambridge), and Dr. James Irving (Lecturer and Founder of the Post-Graduate Module in Self Determination, London School of Economics).

Click here to see the video.

Hat tip to the International Law Students Association.


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

Monday, October 27, 2014

40th Annual Meeting of the New York African Studies Association

A special three-college conference in the capital of New York State will mark the 40th conference of the New York African Studies Association. On 3-4 April 2015 Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Union College in Schenectady, and Albany Law School will host “Africa, Its Diaspora, and Laws.” For this conference, “laws” will be defined in the broadest sense that includes in addition to the usual definitions of statutory, common, indigenous, religious, and constitutional law, laws of science, “social Darwinism,” economic laws (Adam Smith, neoliberalism, trade laws, etc.), literary canon law, biological “laws” of health, the court of public opinion and “social laws.” NYASA 2015 welcomes proposals for presentations, panels, posters, and roundtables that address topics of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, identity, nationalism, health, religion, spirituality, politics, arts, economics, science, performance, and other pertinent topics. 

Specific topics include (but are not limited to) the following:

Social Sciences including Anthropology, Economics, Sociology, Political Science, Psychology, History, Religion and Spirituality.

Sciences including Health Sciences, Medical Apartheid, Pharmaceuticals, Environmental Sciences, Ecology, and Sciences in general.

Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies.

International Laws and Regulations including Human Rights, Land Issues, Resource Issues, Immigration, International Trade and Finance, International Relations, World Institutions, International Aid, The United Nations, NGO’s.

Recurring Annual Themes include Teaching Africana Studies, Documenting Africana World, Mass Media and Africa, Migration and Diaspora, the Future of Africana Studies.

NYASA, founded in 1967 as the SUNY African Studies Faculty Association, is a nonprofit membership association, incorporated as NYASA in 1975, dedicated to advancing the discipline of Africana Studies. NYASA is open to all with an interest in Africa and the Diaspora. As a regional organization, the New York African Studies Association promotes the visibility and advancement of the discipline in New York State and surrounding areas, offers opportunities for scholarly and professional development of educators, and provides enhanced education for community members, leaders, and activists. Other topics for papers will be considered, as will proposals to organize panels and to promote student participation. By 1 December 2014 please send abstracts of not more than 150 words to the Local Organizing Committee at


NYASA 2015 Organizing Committee, c/o Kevin Hickey, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, 106 New Scotland Ave. Albany, NY 12208.

Please suggest which sub-theme best fits your topic. Also, please specify if you will need media resources (e.g., Audio Visual Equipment) for your presentation.

If your proposal is accepted and you need additional documentation of acceptance (for obtaining a visa or travel funds), NYASA will provide this upon your request.


$120.00 includes all events and membership—2 March 2015 deadline ($150 thereafter)

$150.00 late registration (after 2 March 2015) includes membership

$85.00 one day event without membership

$60.00 students and senior citizens, includes all events both days and membership

$30.00 one day event for students and seniors without membership

NOTE: To be included in the NYASA 2015 Conference Program, NYASA must receive your payment by Monday 2 March. Payments may be made using Paypal at or by check.


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

UN Compensation Commission Pays Out Another Billion for the 1990 Invasion by Iraq; Total Amount Paid So Far is $47.8 Billion

The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), which settles the damage claims of those who suffered losses in the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, last week made $1.06 billion available to the Government of Kuwait.

With today's payment, the total amount in compensation received by the Government of Kuwait now amounts to $47.8 billion, leaving approximately $4.6 billion remaining to be paid.

The Geneva-based UNCC's Governing Council has identified six categories of claims: four are for individuals' claims, one for corporations and one for governments and international organizations, which also includes claims for environmental damage.

This category E claim was submitted by the Government of Kuwait on behalf of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and awarded $14.7 billion in 2000 for oil production and sales losses as a result of damages to Kuwait's oil field assets.

Successful claims are paid monies drawn from the UN Compensation Fund, which is financed by a percentage of the proceeds generated by the export sales of Iraqi petroleum and related products.

The Commission was established in 1991 as a subsidiary organ of the UN Security Council. It has received nearly three million claims, including from nearly 100 governments for themselves, their nationals or their corporations for losses and damages incurred as a direct result of Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait from 2 August 1990 to 2 March 1991.

The Government of Kuwait's claim represents the largest award by the Commission.

(Adapted from a UN press release)




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

American Society of International Law Midyear Meeting and Research Forum in Chicago

We've posted a couple of times already about the upcoming American Society of International Law Midyear Meeting and Research Forum being held November 6-8, in Chicago, Illinois.  The event will include:

  • a keynote address on "The Individualization of International Law" by former U.S. State Department Director of Policy Planning and current New America Foundation President Anne-Marie Slaughter
  • a discussion of "International Law in U.S. Courts" with U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Diane Wood
  • a plenary panel with American Branch of International Law Association President Ruth Wedgwood on the Malaysia Airlines disaster over Ukraine
  • an international law career development "speed mentoring" event at The John Marshall Law School, and
  • the annual Research Forum for the presentation and discussion of 70 cutting-edge works-in-progress

Among the Research Forum's 24 sessions:

  • International Law and the Reshaping of the American Constitution
  • The Changing Practice of Investment Arbitration
  • Evolving Practices of Prosecuting Atrocities
  • African Legal Practices and International Courts: Tensions and Prospects
  • How We Teach and Discuss International Law
  • Legitimacy and Authority of World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement
  • Unilateral Acts Affecting Respect for International Law

We hope that the ASIL meeting in Chicago is a good one and we hope that it becomes a regular event.


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

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kryrgyzstan Parliament Urged to Reject Draft Legislation Discriminating Against LGBT Persons

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called on the Kyrgyz Parliament to refrain from passing draft legislation that would discriminate against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people. “Everyone is entitled to equality before the law, without any discrimination, and it is the State’s responsibility to protect all individuals from discrimination. We thus urge the authorities not to pass this law,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the OHCHR, told reporters in Geneva.

Ms. Shamdasani said the proposed law would violate fundamental human rights, including the rights to liberty, security and physical integrity and to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. “These rights are protected by human rights treaties ratified by Kyrgyzstan,” she pointed out.

UN human rights mechanisms have previously expressed concerns about discrimination and violence against LGBT people in Kyrgyzstan and the lack of a response from the Kyrgyz authorities.

“The draft law adds to those concerns and may lead to further violations,” noted Ms. Shamdasani, adding that its adoption would also go against the commitments made by Kyrgyzstan during the 2010 review of its record by the UN Human Rights Council.

The United Nations has documented that similar laws elsewhere have had negative impacts on human rights, including increased attacks and discrimination against LGBT individuals, notably children and youth. The law would also likely have a negative impact on national public health responses, in particular among people who live with HIV and those most at risk of contracting the virus, as well as on access to information about women’s reproductive rights.

OHCHR also voiced concern about another bill currently going through Kyrgyzstan’s Parliament, which risks creating a difficult environment for the operation of civil society groups.

“We are closely following developments on this draft law and call on the authorities to take measures to ensure that Kyrgyz national legislation fully complies with international human rights standards,” Ms. Shamdasani stated.

Adapted from a UN press release.



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

Students Missing in Mexico

The United Nations human rights office has voiced concern about the continued enforced disappearance of students in the Mexican town of Iguala and urged local authorities to step up their efforts in finding them.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva last week, Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), welcomed the work done by Mexican authorities in tracking the 43 missing students but added that their “mechanisms have not yet been successful” in resolving the disappearance.

According to media reports, the students were last seen on 26 September as they arrived in Iguala to stage a protest. Upon debarking from their bus, the students were blocked by police who, by some accounts, were operating in collusion with a local criminal gang. The police then fired upon the students, killing six people, including a 15-year old child and three students, and injuring another 17 people, while the 43 students were then taken into custody.

As a result of initial investigations, 52 people have been arrested in connection with the students’ disappearance, including at least 36 local police officers, and security forces, investigators and technical resources have been deployed to Iguala and the surrounding region. In addition, the Ministry of Interior and the Attorney General have established a direct dialogue with families, students and NGOs.

Despite these efforts, the students remain missing.

Ms. Shamdasani expressed concern that nine mass graves were discovered on the outskirts of Iguala and urged Mexican authorities to conduct “effective, prompt and impartial investigations so as to identify those who were buried in the mass graves and bring those responsible to justice.”

She added that the UN Human Rights Office in Mexico was following closely these cases and was ready to provide any assistance that may be required.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

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

New Members Elected to UN Human Rights Council

UN Human RIghts Council VotingThe United Nations General Assembly last week elected 15 countries to serve on the United Nations Human Rights Council for a period of three years beginning on 1 January 2015.

In one round of secret balloting at UN Headquarters in New York, the Assembly elected the following ten countries:

  • Albania,
  • Bangladesh,
  • El Salvador,
  • Ghana,
  • Latvia,
  • The Netherlands,
  • Nigeria,
  • Paraguay,
  • Portugal and
  • Qatar.

Five countries were re-elected to continue terms that expire at the end of this year.  Those countries are:

  • Bolivia,
  • Botswana,
  • Congo,
  • India and
  • Indonesia.

Members of the Council serve for a period of three years and are not eligible for immediate re-election after serving two consecutive terms.

UN Human RIghts CouncilThe distribution of seats for the current election was as follows:

  • 4 seats allotted to the African States Group;
  • 4 for the Asia-Pacific Group;
  • 2 for the Eastern European Group;
  • 3 for the Latin American and Caribbean Group; and
  • 2 for the Western European and Other States Group.

The Councils’ outgoing members are:

  • Austria,
  • Benin,
  • Burkina Faso,
  • Chile,
  • Costa Rica,
  • Czech Republic,
  • Kuwait,
  • Peru
  • Philippines and
  • Romania.

Created by the Assembly in 2006, the 47-member Council, is an inter-governmental body within the UN system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.

All of its members are elected by the world body’s General Assembly, and it has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year. It meets at the UN Office at Geneva.

Those elected today will be joining in the following States who will remain on the Council: Algeria (2016); Argentina (2015); Brazil (2015); China (2016); Côte d’Ivoire (2015); Cuba (2016); Estonia (2015); Ethiopia (2015); France (2016); Gabon (2015); Germany (2015); Ireland (2015); Japan (2015); Kazakhstan (2015); Kenya (2015): Maldives (2016): Mexico (2016): Montenegro (2015); Morocco (2016); Namibia (2016); Pakistan (2015); Republic of Korea (2015); Russia (2016); Saud Arabia (2016); Sierra Leone (2015); South Africa (2016); the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2016); United Arab Emirates (2015); United Kingdom (2016); United States (2015); Venezuela (2015); and Viet Nam (2016).

(Adapted from a UN press release)


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

Concern as Supreme Court of the Maldives Prosecutes Members of that Country's Human Rights Commission

The United Nations human rights office has voiced deep concern about a criminal case initiated by the Supreme Court of the Maldives against members of the country’s Human Rights Commission.

In a statement released about two weeks ago, Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), noted that five members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives were now facing “serious criminal charges” following the submission of their written contribution to their country’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR), presented to the UN Human Rights Council.

“We call on the Government to firmly defend the independence of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, in line with the commitments made during the first UPR of the Maldives in 2011,” said Ms. Shamdasani. “The Government has a responsibility to ensure a safe operating space for the Commission and for civil society actors in the country, so that they are able to cooperate with UN human rights mechanisms without fear of reprisals.”

It is not the first time the Supreme Court of the Maldives has come under rebuke from OHCHR. In 2013, former High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for reforms to the judiciary to safeguard the rule of law following the Supreme Court’s repeated interventions in the presidential election process in the Maldives which, she said, were undermining the country’s democracy. In that specific case, the Court had nullified the first round of the election on the basis of irregularities in the process, despite conclusions by national and international observers that the election was free and fair.

Ms. Shamdasani observed in her statement that despite the Supreme Court’s allegations, the Commission had operated in line with international principles governing national institutions adding that the Human Rights Council “specifically encourages the participation of national human rights institutions in the UPR process.” She further noted that High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein had also written directly to the Government of the Maldives to express his concerns.

According to OHCHR, the Review is “a unique process” involving a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. It is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, and provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.

The UPR of the Maldives is scheduled to be held between April and May 2015.

Adapted from a UN press release


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

More Respect, Less Criminalization Urged for Migrant Workers

Migrant Workers Cook a MealThe lack of political will to stand up for migrant workers’ rights remains the greatest challenge to the protection of this “very vulnerable” group of human beings, an independent United Nations expert affirmed last Friday.

Speaking before the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which reviews the work accomplished by the UN’s independent human rights experts, Francisco Carrion Mena, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families (CMW), warned that some Member States “mistakenly consider border areas as exempt from human rights obligations.”

“States’ legitimate interests in securing their borders and exercising immigration control cannot override their obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of all persons in all areas under their jurisdiction, regardless of their migration status,” Mr. Carrion Mena said as he presented his annual report to the Committee.

The CMW Chairperson lamented the growing number of lives lost at sea and on land as a result of insufficient channels of migration, suggesting that States could better their efforts in ensuring migrants a safer avenue of passage.

In particular, he cited the 300 immigrants who died when their boat sank off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, last year while also recalling that “just last month 500 migrants, including 100 children, drowned in the middle of the Mediterranean when smugglers rammed their boat.”

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Mediterranean has become an extremely perilous crossing point for the thousands of migrants who seek a better life in Europe. IOM figures, in fact, have documented more than 3,000 deaths in the Mediterranean from January to September 2014 while reporting 230 deaths along the US-Mexican border for the same period.

On that note, Mr. Carrion Mena underlined the contributions the world’s estimated 230 million migrants make to the economic, social and cultural development of their host nations and their communities back home, adding that “too often these contributions go unrecognized.” More often than not, he continued, the migrants suffer for their irregular status at the hands of those who employ them.

“Migrants continue to suffer exploitation, xenophobic violence and abuse, especially those in an irregular situation,” he stated. “For example, Qatar has acknowledged that almost 1000 migrants died over the past two years in work-related incidents and illnesses.”

The CMW Chairperson told the Committee that his report made a number of “concrete recommendations” to States parties, including enacting legislation and other reforms to eliminate all forms of discrimination against migrants; strengthening law enforcement and criminal justice responses to xenophobia and violence and enable migrants to access justice; creating campaigns to end negative and inaccurate public messages and promote tolerance and respect for migrants; and collecting and disseminating accurate data on discrimination and on the positive contributions that migrants make to the development of both their host countries and home communities.

After being adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1990, it took 13 years for the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families (ICRMW) to come into force – the longest of any of the 10 core international human rights instruments – due to its very slow ratification rate. As he concluded, Mr. Carrion Mena urged Member States to ratify the ICRMW.

Only 47 States have done so since the Convention was adopted almost 25 years ago.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

Click here to view the text of the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families.

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

An Event for Our Blog Readers in Europe

Professor Campbell McLachlan QC, Professor of International Law at the Victoria University of Wellington, will give a lecture on "The Principle of Legality in Foreign Relations" on Monday, November 17, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. at  the Faculty of Law, LG17, Sidgwick Site, West Road, Cambridge, England.

A drinks reception will follow.

Hat tip to the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law



October 25, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 24, 2014

See you at the ASIL Midyear Meeting and Reseach Forum

The American Society of International Law (ASIL) is pleased to announce that its 2014 Midyear Meeting and Research Forum will be held in Chicago, Illinois, November 6-8, 2014. 


The meeting will feature remarks by such leading figures in the field as Anne-Marie Slaughter, former U.S. State Department director of policy planning and current New America Foundation president and CEO, on "State Realism versus Human Realism: The Individualization of International Law," and Diane Wood, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, on "International Law in U.S. Courts." 


The conference will also include a plenary panel on the question of legal responsibility for this summer's Malaysia Airlines disaster over Ukraine.  Additionally there will be a "speed mentoring" event for students interested in pursuing a career in international law. 


The Research Forum portion of the program will consist of 24 sessions in which 70 cutting edge works-in-progress on topics ranging from "International Law and the Reshaping of the American Constitution" to "Unilateral Acts Affecting Respect for International Law" will be discussed.


For full program details including registration, click here.  The conference opens with an event on careers in international law, hosted at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  For live updates from the Meeting, follow ASIL on Twitter (@asilorg) and use the hashtag #ASILMYM.  Guest blog posts about particular sessions are also invited -- contact one of the blog editors if you would like to write up a summary of a session that you are attending.



October 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy United Nations Day!

Friday, October 24 is United Nations Day in commemoration of the entry into force of the U.N. Charter in 1945.  This year marks the 69th anniversary of the Charter.  

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon recently observed:                                            Un_symbol_sm[1]

"The United Nations is needed more than ever at this time of multiple crises. [...] At this critical moment, let us reaffirm our commitment to empowering the marginalized and vulnerable. On United Nations Day, I call on Governments and individuals to work in common cause for the common good. "

For more information about U.N. Day events, click here.


October 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Job Posting: University of Detroit Mercy School of Law -- U.S. and Canada

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

Dual Degree Comparative Legal Writing & Research

Tenure or Tenure-Track Faculty Member

The University of Detroit Mercy School of Law seeks applicants for a tenure or tenure-track faculty position to teach Comparative Legal Writing and Research in itsCanadian & American Dual JD Program, commencing July 2015.

About the Position

The successful candidate will play a key part in the students’ introduction to the Dual JD Degree Program and will teach one section of the year-long, nine-credit hour Comparative Legal Research and Writing course.  Typically, each section consists of approximately 30 students and is supported by at least one Teaching Assistant.

About UDM Law

The School of Law is located at the Riverfront Campus in Downtown Detroit and is within  walking distance of federal, state, and municipal courts, the region’s largest law firms, and  major corporations, including General Motors, Quicken Loans, and Comerica Bank.  The School is also uniquely situated two blocks from the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, an international border crossing that links Detroit, Michigan with Windsor, Ontario, Canada. 

About the Dual JD Program 

The close proximity to Canada has allowed UDM Law to partner with the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor (Canada) to create a Dual JD Program that is the only program of its kind in the country.  Students are concurrently enrolled at both UDM and University of Windsor and attend classes that are fully integrated and wholly comparative, and taught by faculty at both institutions.  (Typically, the commute between the Detroit and Windsor law school campuses is about 20 minutes.)  Upon successful completion of the three-year program, students earn both an ABA-accredited JD and an accredited Canadian JD, and are eligible to sit for the bar examinations in both jurisdictions.  (Completing the two degrees would require either six years of study if done independently or four years if attending other dual programs.)

About the Comparative Legal Research & Writing Course

The course is a comprehensive comparative research, writing, and analysis course that is specifically designed for the Dual JD Program.  Students learn the similarities and differences between the American and Canadian legal systems, including governmental structure, court structure, jurisdiction, procedure, and ethics. Students also learn fundamental lawyering skills and explore the research, writing, and citation protocols in each country.  The course is structured so that for every major American assignment, there is a comparative Canadian assignment. The highlight of the course involves student participation in both an American and Canadian moot court experience.

About Detroit

Downtown Detroit offers a dynamic variety of cultural, entertainment, and sporting attractions that are easily accessible from the Law School, including the Detroit Institute of Arts (housing a world-class art collection), the Detroit Symphony, the Detroit Opera House, the Detroit Zoo, the Henry Ford Museum, Eastern Market (historic farmer’s market), and major league sports teams.

About University of Detroit Mercy

The University of Detroit Mercy is an independent Catholic institution of higher education sponsored by the Religious Sisters of Mercy and Society of Jesus.  The university seeks qualified candidates who will contribute to the University's urban mission, commitment to diversity, and tradition of scholarly excellence.  The University of Detroit Mercy is an Equal Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer with a diverse faculty and student body and welcomes persons of all backgrounds.


Candidates must have a law degree from an accredited U.S. or Canadian law school, strong academic background, superior writing and communication skills, and a record or the promise of excellence and high scholarly achievement.  Preference will be given to candidates with law degrees, practice experience or significant exposure in both jurisdictions.

Applicants should send a curriculum vitae, a cover letter describing the applicant’s qualifications for the position, and details of at least three references to Professor Gary Maveal, Chair of Faculty Recruitment, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, 651 E. Jefferson, Detroit, MI 48226.  Email applications may be sent to Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

Hat tip to Julie St John


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

"International Business With Russian Nexus: Why Not New York Law?"

On November 12, 2014 - from 6-8 PM -the International Centre for Dispute Resolution ("ICDR"), in cooperation with the Russian Arbitration Association ("RAA") and with support of the American Bar Association Section of International Law ("ABA SIL"), the US-Russia Business Council ("USRBC"), and the New York State Bar Association, International Section ("NYSBA IS") will host a discussion on the topic of "International Business With Russian Nexus: Why Not New York Law?" The event will take place on November 12, 2014 at the ICDR office located at 150 East 42nd Street, 17th Floor from 6 to 8 PM. Reception to follow.  

The focus is to explore whether New York law may be an attractive option to international businesses with Russian nexus. Registration is on a first come, first served basis as space is limited.  Please be sure to RSVP early. Thanks to the generosity of the sponsor, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, this event is free of charge. To get a registration form, email Mandy Sawier at 


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

New Database to Research Decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Loyola Law School Los Angeles has a new, student-run project on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.  The website includes a database and journal to assist practitioners, journalists, students, and other scholars in understanding the Inter-American system of justice.  The website includes 74 summaries of decisions rendered by the Inter-American Court of Human RIghts and a searchable database.  Click here to visit the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Project.

Hat tip to Bob Brain.


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

My Name is Bond. Argentina Bond.

There seem to be a total of 461 judgments around the world against Argentina following its default on government bonds that Argentina issued in 2002.  Among other things, there have been lawsuits in New York, Washington DC, France, Ghana, and Italy.  Of particular note for U.S. lawyers in the litigation against Argentina is the U.S. case of NML Capital Ltd v. Republic of Argentina.

Argentina settled with most of the bondholders but a group of holdouts (known as the "vulture funds") refused to settle for anything less than the full value of the bonds (even though the vulture funds purchased the funds at less than full value). In addition to judicial actions, a public relations war has been waged to win over public opinion.

On August 7, 2014, the Republic of Argentina submitted a request to the International Court of Justice seeking leave to sue the United States, on the basis that U.S. court judgments against Argentina's sovereignty violated international law.  To sue the United States in this case, however, Argentina needed to obtain the consent of the United States to be sued. On August 9, the United States refused to recognize jurisdiction before the International Court of Justice.

After its default, the Republic of Argentina enacted legistaion to pay exchange bondholders and deposited $161 million in a local Argentina bank to pay the exchange bondholders.  But the holdouts moved for sanctions for Argentina's attempt to pay other bondholders. In September 2014, the federal district court judge in New York held Argentina in contempt. It should be noted that Argentina had waived its sovereign immunity.  The court's ruling holding Argentina in contempt appears to be the first time that a sovereign country was found to be in contempt of a U.S. court.

On September 9, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a legal framework to regulate restructuring of foreign debt. 124 countries voted in favor, but the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and Canada opposed it.

On September 26, 2014, the U.N. Human Rights Council approved an Argentine-sponsored resolution that essentially condemned vulture funds as a violation of human rights. The arguments before the Human Rights Council were that when governments were forced to pay on its bonds it would then have no money for other things such as education or hospitals or roads.  The text of the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution can be viewed at A/HRC/27/L.26 (Sept. 23, 2014).

On October 8, 2014, the International Monetary Fund recommended that modifications should be able to be made to the "pari pasu" clause to exclude the duty to make ratable payments. And Argentina has also gotten support from the World Bank as well as banks in Brazil and China. But the litigation continues.

Argentina BondThis brief timeline presents only some of the background to the Argentine financial crisis, a topic being explored in several panels at the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law.

Pictured here is one of those panels, one entitled "Cross-Border Enforcement of Court Judgments and Arbitral Awards: Opportunities, Pitfalls, Flaws, and Remedies."  Seated is Hagit M. Elul (Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, New York).  Standing (from left to right) are Patrick Goudreau (DS Welch Bussieres, Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Malcolm McNeil (Arent Fox LLP, Los Angeles, California), and former ABA President Stephen N. Zack (Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP).  The panel at the ABA Section of International Law was presented in conjunction with the Association Internationale des Jeunes Avocats.

Hat tip to James Bond Fan Malcolm McNeil for the title of this Blog Post

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)


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

Buenos Aires Hospitality Evening

20141021_222419-1Attendees of the ABA Section of International Law Fall Meeting in Argentina were treated to a special evening of hospitality hosted by the local Buenos Aires legal community. Many law firms hosted visiting attendees in their homes.

I was part of the group hosted by the Buenos Aires law firm of Maciel Norman & Asociados, a firm known for its specialized work in areas such as energy, natural resources, aviation finance, and transport law. The firm also serves other industries including banking, finance, electricity, international trade and customs, utilities, real estate, retail business, mergers and acquisitions, trusts, project finance, agribusiness, tax planning, labor law, industrial relations, social security, renewable energy, intellectual property, litigation, and arbitration.

Tango TrioIn addition to hosting an amazing dinner, the Maciel Norman law firm also organized live tango music to complete a highly enjoyable evening.  Other attendees were hosted at homes around Buenos Aires and all of the attendees participating in the hospitality evening were overwhelmed by the generous and genuinely warm welcome to Argentina.

The ABA Section of International Law meeting continues through October 25, 2014 at the Hilton Buenos Aires.

Mark E. Wojcik (mew)


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

ABA Section of International Law Meeting in Argentina

Buenos Aires HiltonThe American Bar Association Section of International Law ("ABA-SIL") is holding its Fall Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Hundreds of lawyers are attending this first ABA-SIL seasonal meeting being held in South America.

Section Chair Marcelo Bombau, a lawyer from Argentina, is the first non-U.S. lawyer to chair the ABA Section of International Law.  He and his team have done a fantastic job organizing this conference. Members of the 2014 Fall Meeting Steering Committee are Manuela Cavalo, Fabian A. Pal, Marcos Rios, Sara Sandford, and Carlos Velazques de Leon.  ABA-SIL staff members have also worked many long hours to make this conference an outstanding success.

The photo here is of the lobby of the Buenos Aires Hilton, site of the Fall Meeting in Buenos Aires.  This meeting is also unique in that it is the first Fall Meeting being held in the Spring (because it's Spring here in Argentina, and the weather is lovely!).


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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Climate Talks this Week in Bonn, Germany

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) is holding meetings this week from 20-25 October 2014 in Bonn, Germany.  Below is a guest blog post from Ian Leslie, a third-year law student at Southern Illinois University School of Law regarding the prospects for progress on global climate change. (cgb)

Mankind has a remarkable way of changing its environment to better suit its needs. However, since the 1950s we have altered the environment in a way that is detrimental to our wellbeing. I am of course talking about global warming. Global emissions have declined over the last two decades; nonetheless, there is a growing sentiment among leading environmental scientists that it may be "too late" to save the Earth from Global Warming catastrophe. If we are to continue on our current course a Chicago summer, within the next 100 years, could feel like Mobile, Alabama, with an average Heat Index of more than 105 degrees. Chicago currently sees around 2 days per year of over 100 degrees, but if the trend continues Chicago would likely see around 31 days per year of over 100 degrees. Just from an observation through news and talking with individuals there seems to be a growing trend within America for isolationism; however, this is an issue even greater than all the powers the United States can muster and requires a global effort in fixing a problem that the world has created.

In 1995, the United Nations entered into an agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, to reduce carbon emissions, a contributing factor to Global Warming. The Kyoto Protocol has exhausted its powers as it ran its course at the end of 2012. However, the Durban Conference on Climate Change in 2011 picked up the proverbial torch and looks to champion the cause of saving humanity from earthly catastrophes into the 2020s. The Durban Protocol implements a “road map” in re-committing to the Kyoto Protocol by increasing and strengthening its legal abilities; launching a new platform of negotiations; concluding the 2012 broad-based stream of negotiations (finished); and increasing global review based on new science and data.

On October 20, 2014 the United Nations is set to begin a one week discussion in Bonn, Germany, to iron out details not yet agreed to by the 195 nations on aspects like how to fund the global initiative to fight Global Warming and implementing a plan to limit the global temperature to only a 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit increase by 2020. Some issues surrounding these talks are: What are the possible legal options for governance arrangements for the 2015 agreement, i.e., how should future arrangements take place and what will the authority body consist of? What should the “final clause” consist of,  i.e., how to ratify, entry into force, economic integration organizations, amendment procedures, settlement of disputes?

However, the most important or rather controversial issue is what amount of funds rich/developed countries are required to contribute to combating Global Warming. Current trends provide evidence that rich/developed countries' percentage of carbon emissions has declined by 26% from 62% in 1990 to 36% in 2013. While developing countries' carbon emissions have increased from 34% in 1990 to 58% in 2013, an increase of 24%. Smaller states want developed/rich states to contribute more money to climate aid since they have caused more environmental damage through their carbon emissions than smaller states and developing states. Developed states will likely be reproachful towards these accusations on the basis that they are no longer the number one cause of carbon emissions. Additionally, any effort to pledge a good faith effort in combating carbon emissions will likely be fought by lobbyists and other political movements aimed at discrediting Global Warming statistics.  

From an international law point of view, these current talks could bring potential binding authority through the ratification by all U.N. member nations. Any binding agreement towards legal authority would likely be found in the declaration of the protocol itself. However, if a state were likely to argue that there is no express legal effect in the protocol, the ratification of the declaration would also establish a customary international law. This customary international law is found in the general acceptance of all member states of a right to make a legal claim against any other state that fails to meet its global emissions pledge. One major flaw in this entire protocol is whether a State will really have legal authority to impose on other states that do not comply with their pledge. First, because each State is only making a pledge and a pledge does not have binding authority. Second, who is to say that the State that failed to meet its pledge on emissions was the sole State to pollute the aggrieved State’s border?

The Bonn talks are crucial to the stabilization of Earth, it is imperative that each State act as a global citizen in achieving the means of saving the planet. Putting our own national interests aside and pledging funds to climate aid will be seen as an act of good faith in reducing and controlling carbon emissions. There are certainly steps that need to be hashed out, but they must be done sooner rather than latter as this is a constant battle between humanity and Mother Nature. 


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

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