Tuesday, October 6, 2020
The Harvard International Law Journal in partnership with the Women in International Law Interest Group (WILIG) of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) recently launched Women in International Law: Distinguished Voices, an audiovisual library designed to highlight the voices and celebrate the contributions of a diverse group of distinguished women in international law. The library will consist of interviews with prominent women in international law.
If you would like to nominate a person who identifies as a woman for this new initiative, you may do so here. The project seeks nominees who have utilized international law to advance women’s rights, promoted women’s perspectives in the international legal field, demonstrated leadership in international law, or advocated for women’s rights and gender justice. Nominees who reflect the wide-ranging diversity which exists among women in the field of international law and in the world are encouraged.
The nominees will be jointly selected by the Board of ILJ and the WILIG. Please be advised that self-nominations are not accepted.
Monday, October 5, 2020
On October 1, Timor-Leste formally began the process to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Timor-Leste stated its commitment to the principles, objectives, and rules of the WTO. It is also seeking to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN. In response, WTO Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff stated: “It is an important day for Timor-Leste as well as for the WTO. The WTO gain[s] strength from the accessions of new countries coming in with their commitments to the world trading system." There are currently 164 members of the WTO and there are 22 countries in addition to Timor-Leste that are seeking accession. For more information regarding Timor-Leste's bid for accession, see this WTO news release.
In other WTO news last week, the United States notified the Dispute Settlement Body of its intention to appeal the panel report in a long-running dispute between the United States and Canada: United States - Countervailing Measures on Softwood Lumber from Canada (DS533). However, due to unfilled vacancies on the WTO Appellate Body, there is no Appellate Body available to hear the dispute at the present time so what will happen with this appeal remains unclear. More information about these issues can be found here.
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Law Professors Sue Trump for Authorizing Penalties for Those Who Support the International Criminal Court
The Open Society Justice Initiative and four law professors, Diane Marie Amann, Gabor Rona, Milena Sterio, and Margaret deGuzman, have filed a complaint against the U.S. government over a Trump administration executive order authorizing draconian economic sanctions and severe civil and criminal penalties for those who support the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The lawsuit is the first to challenge Executive Order 13928, and comes one month after the U.S. imposed sanctions on senior officials at the ICC, including Fatou Bensouda, the court’s chief prosecutor.
The lawsuit—filed today in a federal court in the Southern District of New York against President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Office of Foreign Assets Control Director Andrea Gacki, Attorney General William Barr, and their respective U.S. Departments—argues that the executive order violates constitutional rights, including the plaintiffs’ freedom of speech, and prevents them from carrying out work in support of international justice.
The plaintiffs, all who speak, write, and advocate about international justice issues around the world, contend that it irreparably harms their professional work. The lawsuit also seeks to stop the U.S. government from enforcing the executive order while the court considers its constitutionality.
James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said, “By issuing this outrageous order, the Trump administration has betrayed Washington’s long-standing support for international justice, snubbed its allies, and violated the U.S. constitution. We are going to court to end this reckless assault on a judicial institution and the victims it serves.”
The ICC was created in 2002 by the Rome Statute, a treaty, and is authorized to investigate and prosecute serious crimes including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, that are committed on the territories, or by the nationals, of the 123states that are party to the treaty. The U.S., while instrumental in setting up the ICC, has never ratified the treaty. The ICC only acts when countries are unwilling or unable, upon request of the UN Security Council or a state party to the treaty, or on initiative of the prosecutor if authorized by the ICC judges.
The executive order is the latest in a series of attacks by the U.S. government on the ICC. On March 15, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the U.S. would impose visa restrictions on “individuals directly responsible for any [ICC] investigation of U.S. personnel.” On June 11, 2020, President Trump issued Executive Order 13928, targeting persons associated with or supporting the International Criminal Court.
On September 2, Secretary Pompeo announced that the U.S. was imposing asset freezes and other financial sanctions on two senior officials at the ICC, Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko the head of the ICC’s jurisdiction division. Officials from the United Nations, the European Union, other U.S. allies like Canada, and Bensouda’s home country, The Gambia, swiftly condemned the U.S.’ actions.
The plaintiffs are represented by a team of lawyers at Foley Hoag LLP, led by Andrew Loewenstein.
Adapted from a Press Release from the Open Society Justice Initiative.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
A panel of five experienced international law professors will address the very important topic of teaching International Law during challenging times on Friday, October 2 at 1:30 pm EST. International Law has occupied a less central role within American law schools' curricula. At many law schools, International Law is taught as an upper-level elective course; thus, numerous American law school students graduate without ever having had exposure to International Law. It is this panel's starting premise that International Law is a crucial course of study for every law school student; that International Law occupies a very important place in every lawyer's practice; that International Law should be taught more frequently at all law schools in the U.S.; and that during the Covid-19 pandemic - a challenging time for all - the role of International Law should be re-emphasized and the course taught to all students. This panel will thus focus on exchanging insights in teaching International Law, with a particular emphasis on best practices, resources, and challenges regarding remote, online or hybrid teaching of International Law. The panel is sponsored by the American Society of International Law, Teaching International Law Interest Group.
To register for the program, click here. We hope you will join the conversation.
Monday, September 21, 2020
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has announced her selection of Shira Perlmutter as the 14th Register of Copyrights. Click here for more information on the appointment.
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
U.S. President Trump announced sanctions today against the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda. She earned the United States' disapproval because she is investigating allegations of possible war crimes committed by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The Prosecutor has been placed on the U.S. Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list and, as a result, is subject to having any assets in the U.S. frozen among other restrictions.
Human rights groups have condemned US sanctions on ICC personnel saying it undermines respect for the international rule of law. The United Nations also has expressed concern and said it is monitoring the situation.
The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC and maintains that the Court does not have jurisdiction over the US troops. It is important to remember, however, that the matter is only at an investigative stage. If the United States believes its soldiers have not committed war crimes, it would show much more respect for the rule of law and serve as a positive example by cooperating with the ICC and providing evidence proving their innocence rather than unilaterally imposing sanctions.
Participants are invited to author an essay in English between 2000-3000 words (excluding footnotes and references) examining the impact and usefulness of UNIDROIT instruments either during the COVID-19 pandemic, or in the post COVID-19 economy.
The focus of this essay should be any relevant UNIDROIT instrument such as the UNIDROIT Principles on International Commercial Contracts, the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and its Protocols, the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects, the UNIDROIT-FAO-IFAD Legal Guides on Contract Farming, and/or Agricultural Land Investment Contracts, among others.
The top five essay received will be rewarded in the following manner:
- 1st Position: 2,500 € + Publication opportunities
- 2nd Position: 1,500 € + Publication opportunities
- 3rd Position: 500 € + Publication opportunities
- 4th and 5th Position: Publication opportunities
The deadline for submission is 7 September 2020 (CET).
Friday, August 14, 2020
The Law Library of Congress -- the world's largest law library -- will hold a Foreign and Comparative Law Webinar on August 27 on legal developments regarding the use of Artificial Intelligence in the European Union and its Member States, with an emphasis on the role of A.I. in the interactions between citizens and governments. Topics discussed will include predictive policing, facial recognition, and the use of A.I. in administering welfare benefits.
Click here for more information about this free webinar on "Hot Topics in Global AI Regulation." The webinar will be held at 2pm EDT on Thursday, August 27, 2020.
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Monday, August 10, 2020
Special Tribunal for Lebanon -- Postponement of Verdict in HARIRI ASSASSINATION CASE to 18 August 2020
In February 2005, the then-former Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in Beirut in a suicide truck bombing that also claimed the lives of 21 others and injured approximately 220 more.
For the past six-plus years, four alleged members of Hezbollah have been on trial in absentia before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon ("STL"), being prosecuted for their alleged roles in the 2005 bombing.
Originally scheduled for issuance in May 2020, the verdict was deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was to be handed down last Friday. But because of the devastation wreaked by the massive explosions at the Port of Beirut last Tuesday, the STL postponed issuance of its verdict until Tuesday, 18 August 2020.
The Special Tribunal, which sits in The Hague, was established in 2009 based on a U.N. Security Council resolution. The STL has been described as the world's "first tribunal of international character to prosecute terrorist crimes." The court has also faced criticism of its work and its cost.
Hat tip to Lisa Ridgway
Thursday, August 6, 2020
More good news in the fight against child labor: all 187 member countries of the International Labor Organization (ILO) have ratified Convention No. 182 which bans the worst forms of child labor, such as slavery, sexual exploitation, and use of children in armed conflict. The Convention achieved this milestone in less than two decades, making it the most rapidly ratified treaty in United Nations history. The UN estimates that a shameful 152 million children are involved in child labor worldwide.
For more information, visit this UN news story.
Thursday, July 30, 2020
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) today announced its intent to award up to $8 million in grant funding for up to two technical assistance projects to improve downstream tracing of goods made by child labor or forced labor. The grant will support the recipient’s development of tested supply-chain methodologies, piloted tools for supply-chain tracing, and disseminating supply-chain tracing tools and methodologies to stakeholders.
ILAB’s mission is to promote a fair global playing field for workers in the U.S. and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labor standards, and combating international child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking.
Adapted from DOL Release Number: 20-1458-NAT
Monday, July 27, 2020
Given the risks posed by COVID-19, and considering feedback gathered from faculty and deans across the United States, the Association of American Law Schools announced today that it will hold the 2021 AALS Annual Meeting in a virtual format rather than holding the in-person meeting in San Francisco.
Monday, July 20, 2020
The Singapore Convention on the enforcement of mediated settlement agreements will enter into force on December 9, 2020. As Houston Putnam Lowrey puts it, "the initial list of contracting states is modest":
The Convention will also enter into force for Belarus on January 15, 2021.
The United States is among the countries that have signed but not yet ratified the Singapore Convention. The full list of the 46 or so other signatory states can be found on the UNCITRAL website by clicking here.
The text of the convention can be found by clicking here.
Hat tip to Houston Putnam Lowry at Polivy, Lowry & Clayton, LLC in Hartford, Connecticut.
Sunday, July 12, 2020
Friday, July 10, 2020
Fight for Elephant Rights Continues in New York
The NhRP expects to argue its appeal this fall.
New York, NY, July 10, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed its appeal in its habeas corpus case on behalf of Happy, a 49-year-old wild-born Asian elephant the NhRP maintains is unlawfully imprisoned in a Bronx Zoo exhibit.
The NhRP is asking the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department to recognize Happy’s common law right to bodily liberty, reverse the Bronx Supreme Court’s dismissal of Happy’s habeas petition, and remand the case with instructions to order Happy’s release to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee: “This Court has the duty to safeguard and uphold the fundamental common law liberty interest of autonomous beings,” writes the NhRP in its appellate brief. “As Happy is an autonomous being, this Court must recognize her right to bodily liberty protected by habeas corpus and order her freed.”
In February of 2020, Bronx Supreme Court Justice Alison Y. Tuitt issued a decision in Happy’s case after over 13 hours of oral argument, writing that the Court “agrees [with the NhRP] that Happy is more than just a legal thing, or property. She is an intelligent, autonomous being who should be treated with respect and dignity, and who may be entitled to liberty … the arguments advanced by the NhRP are extremely persuasive for transferring Happy from her solitary, lonely one-acre exhibit at the Bronx Zoo to an elephant sanctuary.”
However, Justice Tuitt dismissed Happy’s habeas petition because “regrettably … this Court is bound by the legal precedent set by the Appellate Division when it held that animals are not ‘persons’ entitled to rights and protections afforded by the writ of habeas corpus.”
In 2018, as favorably cited to by Justice Tuitt, New York Court of Appeals Justice Eugene M. Fahey issued a concurring opinion in which he urged his fellow judges to treat the question of nonhuman animals’ rightlessness as “a deep dilemma of ethics and policy that demands our attention … The issue whether a nonhuman animal has a fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus is profound and far-reaching. It speaks to our relationship with all the life around us. Ultimately, we will not be able to ignore it.” Justice Fahey also criticized the Appellate Division decisions in the NhRP’s chimpanzee rights cases, making clear they were wrongly decided on the grounds that the NhRP’s clients aren’t members of the human species and cannot bear legal duties.
“The First Department has the opportunity to do the right thing by correcting these serious errors of law and giving Happy a chance to experience the freedom, peace, and dignity of a sanctuary where formerly imprisoned elephants, including those traumatized by solitary confinement in zoos and circuses, have been able to heal and thrive,” said Elizabeth Stein, an attorney with the NhRP and Happy’s local counsel.
In 2005, Happy made history as the first elephant to demonstrate self-awareness via the mirror test. In 2018, she made history again as the first elephant to have a habeas corpus hearing after the NhRP initiated her case, which draws on centuries of common law precedent and robust scientific evidence of elephants’ cognitive, emotional, and social complexity. Five of the world’s most respected elephant experts, including Dr. Joyce Poole and Dr. Cynthia Moss, have submitted unrebutted affidavits in support of Happy’s case.
In May of this year, the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court in Pakistan described Happy as an “inmate” at the Bronx Zoo. Relying in part on Justice Tuitt’s decision and Justice Fahey’s opinion, Chief Justice Athar Minallah affirmed “without any hesitation” the rights of nonhuman animals and ordered the release of an elephant from a zoo to a sanctuary.
The Wildlife Conservation Society continues to claim Happy doesn’t get along with other elephants despite abundant evidence to the contrary, including her relationship with an elephant named Grumpy who was euthanized after two other elephants held in the exhibit fatally attacked her.
Alongside the NhRP’s litigation, its grassroots advocacy campaign on behalf of Happy has gained significant momentum and drawn the support of such influential public figures as Queen guitarist Brian May, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and animal advocates in New York and around the world. Meanwhile, a Change.org petition calling for Happy’s release from solitary confinement has over a million signatures and continues to grow.
The NhRP expects to argue its appeal this fall. The Wildlife Conservation Society has until August 12th to file its reply brief.
CASE NO./NAME: THE NONHUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT, INC. on behalf of HAPPY, Petitioner, v. JAMES J. BREHENY, in his official capacity as Executive Vice President and General Director of Zoos and Aquariums of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Director of the Bronx Zoo, and WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY (Appellate Case No. 2020-02581)
Hat tip to Lauren Choplin of the Nonhuman Rights Project. The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organization in the United States working through litigation, legislation, and education to secure fundamental rights for nonhuman animals.
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Position: Westerfield Fellow, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law; start date: August 2020
Description: This position is designed for individuals pursuing a career in law teaching and seeking to gain law teaching experience, while being afforded time to devote to scholarly writing and publication. Applicants should have strong academic credentials, writing experience in a judicial clerkship, law practice, or both, and excellent written and oral communication skills. The Fellow will be responsible for teaching legal reasoning, legal research, legal writing, and oral advocacy skills to two sections of first-year law students in a three-credit hour class each semester. The Fellow will teach his or her own classes, but will have the benefit of working under the guidance of an experienced director and with experienced professors in a program in which the director and the professors teaching the courses coordinate the content and pace of the courses. The Fellow will also have student teaching assistants to aid with courses. The Fellow will have a faculty mentor in addition to the other professors teaching in the program. One-year contracts may be renewed. Salary is competitive with fellowships of a similar nature. Westerfield Fellows have been successful in obtaining tenure track positions at a number of ABA accredited law schools.
About the School: The College of Law is located in a largely residential area of New Orleans, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the United States, with unique cuisine, numerous museums and historical sites, and a flourishing arts community. New Orleans is also the seat of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the Louisiana Supreme Court, and the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as other lower courts. The College of Law has a student population of approximately 500 students, over forty faculty members, active clinics that have spearheaded numerous social justice reform efforts, and summer programs in Europe and Central America. Its location in Louisiana, one of the world’s best known “mixed jurisdictions,” provides unique opportunities for comparative and international law scholarship.
Loyola University New Orleans is an educational institution dedicated to fostering intellectual achievement, personal development, and social responsibility, and it is committed to the human dignity and worth of every person. Loyola University New Orleans strives to create and maintain a working and learning environment in which individuals are treated with dignity, decency, and respect. The University acknowledges and values individual differences, including, but not limited to, the dimensions of race; color; sex; national origin; age; religion; gender identity; transgender status; sexual orientation; ethnicity; disability status; and marital status and citizenship status. We recognize that diversity enriches our social interactions and intellectual lives, and we strongly encourage applications from individuals who will bring diversity to the College of Law.
Dean Louis Westerfield was the first African American dean of the College of Law. He is remembered for promoting diversity and excellence in legal education.
Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. Applications should be emailed to email@example.com.
Hat tip to Mary Garvey Algero.
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Thursday, June 18, 2020
June 20 is World Refugee Day. Sadly, the number of persons who are forcibly displaced from their homes and who seek refuge in another country continues to grow to record levels. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates the number of forcibly displaced persons to be almost 8o million - twice the number just a decade ago. New regional and international solutions are desperately needed for this growing crisis. For more information, go to the UNCHR website.
Photo of Rohingya refugees from NYT.