Thursday, October 29, 2015
To mark the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the WTO has published an electronic version of International Trade Statistics 2015 which looks back at world trade from 1995 to the end of 2014. The publication features a variety of charts to highlight the most noteworthy trends in world trade over the past 20 years. Numerous tables provide more detailed data while a chapter on methodology explains how the data are compiled. A print version to follow in mid-November.
The WTO also released new annual editions of three other key statistical publications: Trade Profiles, World Tariff Profiles and Services Profiles. Together, the four publications provide detailed breakdowns of the latest data on world trade. More information may be found on the WTO website.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
The American Bar Association Section of International Law held its highly successful Fall Meeting in Montréal, Canada. From left to right in the Front Row: Dr. Orsolya Görgényi of Hungary (President of the Association Internationale des Jeunes Avocats); Sara P. Sandford (Chair-Elect of the ABA Section of International Law; Steven Richman (Vice Chair of the ABA Section of International Law); Janet M. Fuhrer (President of the Canadian Bar Association); Lisa J. Savitt (Chair of the ABA Section of International Law); the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin (Chief Justice of Canada); and Professor William B.T. Mock, Jr. of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago (Budget Officer of the ABA Section of International Law).
Friday, October 23, 2015
The United Nations Security Council this week expressed its deep concern about the recent upsurge of violence and instability in the Central African Republic (CAR), and reiterated its decision to apply an asset freeze and travel ban to those engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the country.
In a presidential statement adopted by the Council, members condemned the violence, including all attacks against civilians, intercommunal violence, targeted violence against women and children, lootings of humanitarian premises and attacks against United Nations peacekeepers.
“The Security Council emphasizes that some of these attacks may constitute war crimes and that those responsible for all abuses and violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable,” the statement stressed.
Meanwhile, the 15-member body reiterated its support for the Transitional Authorities, under the leadership of Catherine Samba-Panza as the Transitional Head of State, and called on all stakeholders in the CAR to commit to peace and reconciliation through the implementation of the agreements adopted at the Bangui Forum in May 2015.
The Council also took note of the “significant progress” achieved in the voters’ registration process, with an unprecedented number of citizens registered to date, highlighting the “critical importance and urgency” of holding the constitutional referendum and first rounds of presidential and legislative elections by the end of 2015, “in a free, fair, transparent manner.”
Emphasizing the continued role of the region, the Security Council encouraged countries to further use their leverage and regional meetings to encourage progress on the transition and towards these elections, and to prevent spoilers from attempting to disrupt these processes.
In addition, it called upon countries that contribute troops and police to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) to expedite the upgrading of their capabilities, and urged others to provide the necessary support to enable them to reach UN standards without any further delay.
MINUSCA, which was set up in April 2014 to help bring peace after a breakdown of governmental authority and vicious intercommunal fighting between mainly the Muslim Séléka group and the mainly Christian anti-Balaka movement, currently maintains nearly 11,000 uniformed personnel in the country.
The recent crisis was sparked in the capital, Bangui, on 26 September, when according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) violent clashes erupted between the residents of PK5 in Bangui’s 3rd district and the 5th district after the death of a young Muslim taxi motorcyclist. The violence left dozens of people dead and several injured. Houses were looted in other neighbourhoods and many burned. Thousands of people have fled the areas with heightened tension to seek refuge mostly with host families and in displacement sites.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Photo: The St Michel church and adjacent priest’s house were torched during protests in Bangui sparked by the killing of a Muslim man. UN Photo by Crispin Dembassa-Ketter IRIN
One of the afternoon panels on Friday was on the subject of medical travel, considering the legal issues that arise when patients travel across borders to seek medical care. Each year, an increasing number of individuals travel outside their home countries for a variety of healthcare treatments ranging from dental care, cosmetic surgery, sex-change operations, cancer treatments, and other procedures that are either not available in their home jurisdictions or that are available at much cheaper prices abroad.
International healthcare consumers are challenging healthcare providers, governments, and other service providers to deliver high-quality, cost-effective medical care in a safe environment. As patients travel across borders, they expose a number of legal, medical, and ethical issues. The panel discussed some of these emerging issues relating to medical travel. Speaking on the panel (pictured, from left to right) were Maureen Bennett (Jones Day, Boston), Stephen M. Weiner (Chair of the Health Law Practice Group at Mintz Levin, Boston), and Elizabeth Ziemba (President of Medical Tourism Training, Inc., Newport, Rhode Island).
Some particular points of interest from the panel:
- Some patients travel for lower-cost treatments while others travel to obtain treatments not available in their home country, including treatments not approved by licensing agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration.
- Medical malpractice is a civil action in the United States but in other countries (such as Mexico and the United Arab Emirates) it is a criminal action.
- To reduce risks in medical travel, the facilitators who arrange for medical travel must know about health care (and not just how to make travel arrangements) and clearly communicate with patients the scope of services that the facilitator will be providing. The patient should acknowledge the limits on what is being provided, that medical records are correct, and that if problems arise the patient may need to sue in the foreign jurisdiction rather than in the patient's home jurisdiction.
- Facilitators should suggest more than one health care provider to ensure that providers can provide high-quality care. Suggesting more than one provider also allows facilitators to avoid endorsing a particular health care providers.
The program is being filmed and will be available on Periscope.
Mark E. Wojcik (mew)
The Hague Choice of Court Convention entered into force in 28 States (Mexico and all Members of the European Union, except Denmark) on October 1, 2015. This results from Mexico's accession to the Convention in 2007 and the recent approval of the Convention by the European Union as a regional organization able to bind its member states.
The United States and Singapore have signed the Choice of Court Convention but have not yet ratified it. The entry into force for the Convention should encourage other States that are considering joining it.
The Convention has been designed to provide more legal certainty and predictability in relation to choice of court agreements between parties to international commercial contracts.
The Convention essentially allows three things.
- First, it allows parties to a contract to pick a court that is not necessarily the site of a buyer or a seller in a contract.
- Second, it gives exclusive jurisdiction to the court chosen; other courts must decline jurisdiction.
- And third, the judgment rendered by the chosen court must be recognized and enforced in other Contracting States.
As judges, practitioners, and other key players within the international legal community recognize, the application of the Choice of Court Convention will deliver adequate responses to the increasingly pressing need in international transactions for enforceable choice of court agreements and their resulting judgments.
And now that the Convention has entered into force, the United States should ratify the Hague Choice of Convention.
(mew)(adapted in part from a press release from the Hague Conference on Private International Law)
Speaking this morning on a panel on "The Enforceability of Form Contract Choice of Law and Jurisdiction Clauses in Cross-Border Transactions" are Andrew M. Danas (USA), Luis Augusto Roux Azevedo (Brazil), Gordon Hearn (Canada), Marco Remiorz (Germany), and Pradnya Desh (USA).
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
A passionate advocate for interdisciplinary scholarship in law, literature, and language, Penelope J. Pether was Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law and former Professor of Law and Director of Legal Rhetoric at the American University Washington College of Law. Her own scholarship focused not only on law, literature, and language, but also on constitutional and comparative constitutional law; legal theory, including constitutional theory; common law legal institutions, judging practices, and professional subject formation.
Beginning in November 2013, the Penny Pether Award for Law and Language Scholarship has been given annually to an article or essay published during the preceding year (September 1 to September 1) that exemplifies Penny’s commitment to law and language scholarship and pedagogy.
The Committee selecting award recipients from among the articles and essays nominated will look for scholarship that not only embodies Penny’s passion and spirit but also has some or all of the following characteristics:
1. “[S]cholarship concerning itself with the unique or distinctive insights that might emerge from interdisciplinary inquiries into ‘law’ grounded in the work of influential theorists of language and discourse.”
2. Scholarship that “attempts to think through the relations among subject formation, language, and law.”
3. Scholarship that provides “accounts of—and linguistic interventions in—acute and yet abiding crises in law, its institutions and discourses.”
4. Scholarship and pedagogy, including work addressing injustices in legal-academic institutions and practices, that is “[c]arefully theorized and situated, insisting on engaging politics and law, [and that] charts ways for law and its subjects to use power, do justice.”
More explanations and descriptions of these characteristics can be found in Penny’s chapter from which these quotations are drawn: Language, in Law and the Humanities: An Introduction (Austin Sarat et al. eds., Cambridge U. Press 2010).
Nominations should be sent by November 13, 2015 to Jeremy Mullem at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are free to nominate more than one work and to nominate work you’ve written. Please provide a citation for each work you nominate.
The Selection Committee includes Linda Berger, David Caudill, Amy Dillard, Bruce Hay, Ian Gallacher, Melissa Marlow, Jeremy Mullem, Nancy Modesitt, and Terry Pollman. Members of the Selection Committee are not eligible for the award.
Hat tip to Professor Jeremy Mullem of Duke University Law School in Durham, North Carolina
Friday, October 16, 2015
The John Marshall Law School in Chicago is hosting a two-day Symposium on Art Restitution, Preservation of Cultural Heritage, and the Human Right to Identity. Speakers include global and local experts on international art law. Scholarly papers will be published in the John Marshall Review of Intellectual Property Law. CLE Materials for the Symposium can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1QZeCbs.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Here's a reminder that the 5th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law 2015 will be held in Thailand next month at the Plaza Athénée Bangkok. Click here for more information about the conference.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against James Mitchell and Bruce Jesson, two psychologists who helped the Central Intelligence Agency develop interrogation methods that used torture. The suit was filed in federal district court in Spokane Washington on behalf of two former detainees held by the Central Intelligence Agency and the family of a third detainee who died in C.I.A. custody in Afghanistan in 2002.
The New York Times reports that the torture techniques that the two psychologists developed were described in a Senate Intelligence Committee Report released last year, but the report used the pseudonymns Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar. Mark Mazzetti, Psychologists Are Sued Over C.I.A. Techniques, N.Y. TImes, Oct. 14, 2015, at A11.
Mitchell Jessen and Associates received a contract from the C.I.A. to develop the torture techniques used. The two psyhcologists reportedly earned $81 million for their work and their company was paid $180 million
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
The Association of American Law Schools Section on International Law has organized an impressive lineup of presenters for its one-day field trip to the United Nations on Thursday, January 7, 2016 as part of the AALS Annual Meeting. The event is open to all law professors attending the AALS Annual Meeting and you need not be a member of the AALS Section on International Law (although if you're a U.S. law professor reading this blog, why wouldn't you be a member of that section?).
The day-long program includes a briefing, a luncheon, a tour of the United Nations, and time to visit the U.N. bookstore and gift shop.
Speakers for the program have just been announced. It is an impressive lineup organized by Dean Claudio Grossman of the Washington College of Law at American University. The speakers are:
- His Excellency Cristian Barros, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations, speaking on challenges facing the U.N. Security Council.
- Andrew Gilmour (to be confirmed), Director of the Political, Peacekeeping, Humanitarian, and Human Rights Unit of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG). Topic: “Peace, Security, and the Secretary General’s Human Rights Up Front Initiative to Prevent and Respond to Serious Human Rights Violations.”
- Claudio Grossman (confirmed), Chair, United Nations Committee Against Torture and Dean of the American University Washington College of Law. Topic: “The Human Rights Treaty Bodies of the United Nations – Challenges for the Future”
- Katarina Mansson (confirmed), Human Rights Treaties Division, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Topic: “Partnering for Peace and Rights: The Evolving Relationship Between the United Nations and Regional Organizations.”
- Craig Mokhiber (confirmed), Research and Right to Development Division, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Topic: “Development and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”
- Salil Shetty (to be confirmed), Secretary-General, Amnesty International. Topic: “Amnesty International’s Efforts”
- Moderator: Prof. Mark E. Wojcik (The John Marshall Law School--Chicago)
When you register for the AALS annual meeting, you can select the field trip as a separate option. The cost for the day-long event is $90.00, which includes the luncheon and tour. The number of tickets is limited.
Monday, October 12, 2015
Guide to Research on Consular Notification and Access under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) requires that law enforcement authorities provide consular notification and access (CNA) without delay to foreign nationals who are arrested or detained in a host state. This CNA requirement has been the subject of much litigation in the United States and the United States has been sued at the International Court of Justice three times for failure to comply with this treaty obligation, the most recent case being the Avena case involving 51 nationals of Mexico.
Questions continue to arise regarding the details of the duty of consular notification and acces, including what does "without delay" mean and what remedies may be available if CNA is not provided? Now there is an updated research guide available on the consular access and notification requirements under the VCCR, which may be found here.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
The New York Times reports that John W. Ashe, a former president of the U.N. General Assembly, was one of six people identified in a criminal complaint outlining a bribery scheme that involved more than $1 million in payments from sources in China to assist in real estate deals and other business ventures. The Times states that the criminal charges represent a widening probe into Ng Lap Seng, a Macau-based developer who was arrested last month in New York and charged with transporting $4.5 million under false pretenses. UN officials have expressed shock at the allegations against the former U.N. General Assembly President. Click here to see the complaint.
Top United Nations officials expressed today that they are “shocked” and “deeply troubled” to learn about the “very serious allegations” announced this morning by United States' federal prosecutors against John Ashe, a former President of the UN General Assembly.
Prior to his appointment as leader of the 68th session of the General Assembly in September 2013, John Ashe had been Antigua and Barbuda's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. He was arrested earlier today in New York.
Speaking at the regular UN briefing to news correspondents, the spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, Stéphane Dujarric, said these allegations “go to the heart of the integrity of the United Nations.”
Asked about whether the UN was involved in the United States attorney's investigation, Mr. Dujarric said the UN was not informed of the case until it was featured in the press. “Obviously, if we're contacted by the relevant US authorities we will cooperate with them,” he added.
Meanwhile, the current President of the General Assembly's 70th session and former Speaker of the Danish Parliament, Mogens Lykketoft, held a press conference today, during which he underlined that he can only echo the UN Spokesperson. “Coming from a country which is consistently number one on the world transparency index and having served for 34 years in Danish politics without being rich, I certainly am shocked about it and I think that the United Nations and its representatives should be held to the highest standards of transparency and ethics,” Mr. Lykketoft told reporters.
He added that when he took office as the President of the UN General Assembly on 15 September, he committed himself to uphold these principles during his tenure, as “corruption has no place at the United Nations or anywhere else.”
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
UN Photo of General Assembly President John Ashe by Eskinder Debebe
Yesterday, the United States and eleven Pacific Rim nations announced they have concluded negotiations and reached agreement on the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the "historic" TPP agreement will "support jobs, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development and promote innovation across the Asia-Pacific region," while also raising living standards. The White House further asserted that the TPP will eliminate "over 18,000 taxes that various countries impose on Made in America exports," and that import taxes on U.S. auto products will now be cut in member nations. The USTR also unveiled a new TPP website.
If ratified, the TPP would be the largest free trade agreement to which the United States is a party. However, ratification is not assured. Opponents have expressed concern about the agreement's effect on intellectual property protections, the cost of generic drugs, and fishing rights.
In other trade news, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that terms of accession have been negotiated and concluded for Liberia, paving the way for Liberia to become a member of the WTO at the Nairobi meeting in December.
A senior United Nations envoy has welcomed an agreement between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that includes provisions not to grant amnesties for the most serious crimes, including sexual violence.
By the agreement reached on 23 September, the parties have agreed to create a Special Jurisdiction for Peace, which prioritizes the rights of the victims, including in the areas of truth seeking, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition.
“I am particularly glad that the parties have agreed that there will be no amnesties for the most serious crimes, including sexual violence. This constitutes a crucial step forward in the fight against impunity,” Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said in a news release.
“The peace process in Colombia marks a milestone in explicitly addressing gender discrimination and sexual violence in the conflict,” added Ms. Bangura, who visited the country in March of this year.
“The establishment of a Gender Sub-Commission to ensure the integration of a gender perspective in the negotiations, and the participation of sexual violence survivors and leaders of women’s rights organisations in the peace talks are unprecedented and should be an inspiration for other peace processes around the world.”
Ms. Bangura was in Havana, Cuba, in May 2015 to discuss conflict-related sexual violence with the delegations of the Colombian Government and the FARC to the peace dialogue.
“It is essential that the protection and empowerment of women and girls remain at the centre of the peace talks in Havana,” the press release stated.
The 23 September agreement was also welcomed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who, in a statement issued by his spokesperson, commended the parties' commitment to place victims at the centre of the peace process.
“The announcements made in Havana by the parties represent significant progress towards reaching a final peace agreement and bring Colombia even closer to ending the hemisphere’s longest armed conflict,” said the statement.
(Adapted from a UN Press Release)
Photo: Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, on a visit to Bogotá, Colombia in March 2015. UNDP Colombia/Andrés Bernal
Monday, October 5, 2015
We reported earlier that the U.S. Supreme Court had granted leave to file a petition for writ of certiorari in a case called "Supressed v. Suppressed," No. 15-1171, an appeal from a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit dated February 25, 2015. The Supreme Court today denied that petition for certiorari.
The United Nations General Assembly wound up its 70th annual General Debate on October 3, 2015, attended by the highest number of Heads of State and Government ever, with Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft calling it a “historic” event crowned by the “truly seminal commitment” to achieving ambitious new development goals by 2030.
In a closing speech he summarized the multifaceted issues raised by speaker after speaker who took the podium in the Assembly hall, both at the six-day General Debate and the three-day summit on the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that preceded it.
“As we commemorate the 70th anniversary [of the founding of the UN], it was fitting and reassuring that leaders recalled and reaffirmed the spirit and the principles of the Charter and confirmed their faith in the central role of UN in international cooperation,” he declared.
He noted that the one of the matters most consistently raised over the past six days, was the plight of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants right across the world.
“It was stressed again and again that this unprecedented crisis of global dimensions calls for an unprecedented global response rooted in international law and international solidarity,” Mr. Lykketoft said.
“Indeed, the tragic humanitarian emergency in many parts of the world - not least in Syria and its neighbouring countries – was highlighted repeatedly. In relation to that particular conflict, many called for a renewed effort from global and regional powers to find a necessary and peaceful political solution.”
He underscored the emphasis many Member States laid on the need to address the particular obstacles to peace in Africa, in parts of Europe and beyond, stemming from instability, violent conflict, and the spread of extremism and terrorism, calling the actions of the so-called Islamic state group, Boko Haram, AI-Shabaab and other extremist groups an affront to common humanity.
He also noted that numerous speakers stressed the pressing need for reform of the Security Council to effectively fulfil its mandate and reflect the geopolitical realities of the world of today, and they voiced the hope for a transparent process over the coming year to identify a new Secretary-General to take over the helm of the UN in 2017.
Photo: President of the seventieth session of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft (centre), closes the annual general debate. UN Photo/Cia Pak