Thursday, April 24, 2014

Continued Violence in Eastern Ukraine

Ukraine FlagUnited Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is deeply concerned about continued violence in eastern Ukraine, which has led to loss of life, further instability, and which is contributing to a climate of fear and anxiety, his spokesperson said today. “As the stakes are now so high, the Secretary-General is seriously concerned that the situation could quickly spin out of control with consequences we cannot predict,” the spokesperson said in a statement. 

According to media reports, tensions in Ukraine escalated sharply today, with Russia embarking on new military drills near the border after Ukrainian forces said they killed five pro-Russian militants.

The United Nations Secretary-General stressed “in the strongest terms” the necessity for all parties to honour their commitments under the Geneva Statement, which was issued last week following a meeting between the United States, the European Union, Ukraine, and Russia. At that meeting, participants agreed to a series of steps to de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine that reportedly include demobilizing militias and vacating seized Government buildings. “Military action must be avoided at all costs,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said. 

“The Secretary-General calls on all sides to immediately refrain from violence, intimidation or provocative actions and find a way forward toward de-escalation.”

(Adapted from a UN press release)

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

Syria's Chemical Weapons

Syria FlagMore than 90 per cent of Syria’s chemical weapons material has been removed and destroyed in country, the head of the Joint Mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations today confirmed.

The Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission, Sigrid Kaag, welcomed in a statement “significant progress” over the last three weeks and thanked States for their “steadfast support” in pushing operations to 92.5 per cent. “I strongly encourage the Syrian authorities to conclude the removal operations as part of their efforts to achieve the 30 June 2014 deadline,” she said.

The removal of the most critical material for destruction began in early January, in line with an agreement brokered by Russia and the United States under which Syria renounced its chemical weapons material and joined 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons.

In addition to the removal operations, the Syrian authorities have destroyed buildings, equipment and empty mustard gas containers, and decontaminated other containers in a number of chemical weapons storage and production sites.  “A majority of these sites are now closed,” Ms. Kaag confirmed.

(UN press release)

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

Syria Urged to Reconsider Plans for Presidential Election in June

Syria FlagUrging Syrian authorities to reconsider plans to conduct a presidential election in early June, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Joint UN-League of Arab States Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi this week pledged to continue to seek and build on any opportunity to resolve the country’s three-year civil war.  

Addressing reporters in New York, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said holding elections in the current circumstances “will damage the political process and hamper the prospects for political solution that the country so urgently needs.” 

“Such elections are incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Geneva Communiqué,” he added in reference to the action plan adopted 2012 during the first international conference on the conflict, calling for a transitional government to lead to free and fair elections. 

Earlier this year, Mr. Brahimi mediated two rounds of talks between the Syrian Government and the main opposition group aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis based on the goals of the Communiqué, but the both sides stuck to their positions and the discussions yielded only modest cooperation on a humanitarian issue related to aid access in the long-besieged Old City of Homs.

President Bashar al-Assad’s Government announced that it would hold the poll on 3 June despite three years of fighting between his office and various opposition groups.  According to media reports, the Constitutional Court will start accepting nominations for president as early as tomorrow.
 
Well over 100,000 people have been killed and an estimated 9 million others driven from their homes. In addition, there are currently more than 2.4 million refugees registered in the region: some 932,000 in Lebanon; 574,000 in Jordan; some 613,000 in Turkey; 223,000 in Iraq; and about 134,000 in Egypt, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Mr. Dujarric said that despite the UN’s criticism, Mr. Ban and Mr. Brahimi will “continue to search and build upon any opening for a solution to the tragedy in Syria.”

(Adapted from a UN press release)

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

Member of Parliament Murdered in Somalia

Isaak Mohamed Rino, a member of the Somalian Parliament was killed earlier this week in Mogadishu when an improvised explosive device planted in his vehicle detonated, according to a statement issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). Another member of parliament, Mohamed Ali, and several civilians were reported to have been injured in the incident.

“I condemn this murder in the strongest terms. There must be a full investigation of this terrorist attack and the perpetrators brought to justice swiftly,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Nicholas Kay. Mr. Kay, who heads UNSOM, offered his sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Rino, as well as to the Federal Parliament of Somalia. He also wished a quick recovery for Mr. Ali, as well as the civilians who were injured.

(adapted from a UN press release)

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

Life in Crimea

Russia's annexation of Crimea has created myriad problems for people living there. This article summarizes some of the legal and logistical problems facing persons living in Crimea.

(mew)

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

U.S. Job Market for New Law Grads Improves (Slightly) for Third Year; Class of 2013 was the Largest in the History of U.S. Legal Education

new article in the National Jurist magazine reports that the job market in the United States for recent law graduates is slowly improving, marking the third straight year of higher employment statistics. The article reports that 57 percent of the class of 2013 found long-term, full-time positions that require bar passage within nine months of graduation. Only 56.2 percent found similar jobs in 2012 and 54.9 percent in 2011.

The article notes that the class of 2013 was the largest in the history of U.S. legal education, with 46,776 matriculants. (The class of 2014 will be 4,000 smaller than that.)

Click here to read more.

The U.S. job placement numbers, even improving for a third year, are not where they should be and U.S. law graduates who cannot find full-time employment have a difficult time repaying student loans from college and law school. Law schools across the Unted States have seen smaller numbers of applicants.

Despite the numbers of unemployed and underemployed lawyers, many clients remain in poor and underserved communities. Victims of housing discrimination, domestic violence victims, veterans seeking help obtaining benefits, and persons seeking help with political asylum applications are among the groups still looking for lawyers to help prepare their cases.

(mew)

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

Global Legal Skills Conference

Verona Photo 1The ninth Global Legal Skills Conference will be held in Italy at the University of Verona Faculty of Law from May 21-23, 2014.

It is co-sponsored by several leading international bar associations and professional organizations, including:

  • American Bar Association Section of International Law
  • International Bar Association
  • Law Society of England and Wales (International Committee)
  • Scribes--The American Society of Legal Writers
  • Teaching International Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association.

More than 150 speakers and presenters from over 30 countries are expected at the conference. Click here for more information including speakers, panel topics, hotel, and registration information.

The conference was previously held in Chicago (at The John Marshall Law School, where the conference was founded), Washington D.C. (at Georgetown University Law Center), Monterrey Mexico (at the Facultad Libre de Derecho de Monterrey), and in Costa Rica (at the University of Costa Rica Faculty of Law). This year marks the first time that the conference is being held in Europe. In addition to the conference days in Verona, there is also an optional day trip to Vicenza.

Click here for a link to the conference website. 

Mark E. Wojcik, GLS-9 Conference Co-Chair

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Reminder: ILW Proposals Due April 23

014 International Law Weekend will be held from October 23-25, 2014 in New York City.  ILW is sponsored and organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) and the International Law Students Association (ILSA). This annual conference attracts an audience of more than one thousand practitioners, academics, diplomats, and students. The theme for this year's meeting is “International Law in a Time of Chaos” and panel proposals (relating to that theme, or not) can be submitted online by April 23, 2014 by clicking here

Please provide a title, description, and the names and affiliations of the chair and proposed speakers as well as the proposal format (debate, roundtable, lecture, etc.). Formats should include presenters with diverse experiences and perspectives.

ILW 2014 will be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Branch in Manhattan at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York at 42 West 44th Street on Thursday evening, October 23, and at the Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center on October 24-25, 2014. We expect an audience that will include practitioners, professors, UN diplomats, business leaders, federal and state government officials, NGO leaders, writers, journalists, and interested citizens. This year, we plan to have a broad array of public international law topics, but will also have dedicated tracks of private international law topics in each program slot. Questions regarding ILW 2014 can be directed to [email protected] 

Members of the ILW 2014 Program Committee are:

  • Tamara Cummings-John (Legal Officer, United Nations Office of Legal Affairs);
  • Davis Robinson (Former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State);
  • Stephen Shapiro (Managing Partner, BSR Investments);
  • Vivian Shen (Programs Director, International Law Students Association);
  • David Stewart (President-Elect, American Branch of the International Law Association); and
  • Ruth Wedgwood (President, American Branch of the International Law Association).

Unfortunately ILW conflicts this year with the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, which will meet in Buenos Aires. But if you're not planning on going to Argentina, the ILW in New York will be well worth the investment of your time.

(mew)

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Syria: Reopen Discussion on Persons Trapped in Homs, "A Theatre of Death and Destruction"

Regretting the abrupt halt in talks between the Syrian authorities and the negotiating committee representing civilians and fighters trapped in the Old City of Homs, United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi today urged all the parties to return to the negotiating table and complete the deal that had been on the verge of being signed.  “It is a matter of deep regret that negotiations were brutally stopped and violence is now rife again when a comprehensive agreement seemed close at hand,” Mr. Brahimi, Joint Special representative of the UN and the League of Arab States, said in a statement to journalists.

Recent discussions between the authorities and a Negotiating Committee representing those in the city, as well as inhabitants of the Al-Waer neighbourhood, “were followed with keen interest and great hope by people all over Syria,” Mr. Brahimi noted. The Government Media of Damascus wrote “very positively” about the process, he added. However, the negotiations stalled and violence has since resumed and escalated to what Mr. Brahimi described as “a theatre of death and destruction.” 

In February, some 1,350 men, women and children – more than half of the estimated 2,500 who have suffered the years-long siege – were evacuated from the Old City of Homs, and food moved in as part of a “humanitarian pause,” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Under that agreement, women, children and the elderly were allowed out but not men over 15 and under 54 years of age.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other top UN officials have repeatedly called for a political solution to the conflict, now in its fourth year. They also warned that the conflict is acutely felt by neighbouring countries and could push the entire region into region. 

Mr. Ban recently appealed to Arab League members – working with Russia, the United States and the UN – to re-energize “Geneva II,” as the most recent Swiss-hosted discussions between the Syrian Government and main opposition group are known. Two rounds of talks earlier this year, the first in January followed by a second round in February, saw both sides sticking to their positions and yielded only modest cooperation on a humanitarian issue related to aid access in the Old City of Homs.

(adapted from  a UN press release)

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

Remembering the Rwandan Genocide, and Learning from the Failure to Recognize It at the Time

The United Nations Security Council marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide by calling on all countries to recommit to prevent and fight such serious crimes, as a senior United Nations official warned that many of today’s conflicts reveal that protection of populations from atrocities remains “lagging and elusive.” Unanimously adopting a new resolution during a special meeting devoted to commemorating what UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson referred to as “one of the darkest chapters in human history,” the Council underscored the importance of taking into account the lessons learned from those tragic 100 days in 1994, when genocide was committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda, during which Hutu and others who opposed the genocide were also killed. 

“As we mark the passage of 20 years since the genocide, we also pay special tribute to the impressive work of the Rwandan people for their own recovery and reconciliation,” said Mr. Eliasson in opening remarks, emphasizing that in the years since the tragedy, “Rwanda has come a long way” and is one of the few countries that have established a national institution dedicated to the prevention of genocide.
  
Yet, from Syria to South Sudan to the Central African Republic ¬and beyond, today’s conflicts sadly show that efforts to protect populations from atrocities remain elusive. “These and other crises have different roots, yet there is a commonality. Across the landscape of conflict, we see similar fault lines – divisions based on religion, ethnicity, even language,” he said. 
 
“And we see the rise of separatism, of extreme nationalism and demonization of ‘the Others;’ ‘Us versus Them;’ and ‘Our way or no way,’” Mr. Eliasson warned, stressing that no country is immune from the threat and all of humanity is diminished by it. All societies must therefore assess their vulnerability and work at every level to build resilience, tolerance and vigilance in detecting early warning signals of this nature of crises to come.

Calling on all States to live up to their responsibility to prevent genocide and other atrocities, to protect and promote human rights, and to support diversity and civil society, he declared: “Let us, in these days of so many horrible acts of blind and brutalizing violence…be guided and inspired by the Preamble of the UN Charter, which reaffirms ‘the dignity and worth of the human person’ and [which] urges us to ‘live together as good neighbours’ in this world.” 

Also addressing the meeting was the former Permanent Representative of New Zealand, Colin Keating, who, in April 1994, held the presidency of the Security Council, “which refused to recognize that genocide was being perpetrated against the Tutsi in Rwanda and failed in its responsibilities to reinforce the UN peacekeeping mission [there] in order to protect as many innocent civilians as possible.” 

“My first responsibility today is to remember the victims, the almost 1 million who died, and the survivors…this briefing also provides a fitting opportunity, for me in my capacity as former President of the Council, to apologize for what we failed to do in 1994 and for that to be formally recorded in the official records of the Security Council,” he said.

Mr. Keating went on to describe the series of now well-known events of March and April 1994, during which the Council failed to recognize – or acknowledge – the signals that genocide could be sparked in Rwanda. “Even after the genocide had begun, events were being described for several weeks as simply a resurgence of the civil war. The wholesale slaughter of civilians was not being conveyed to the Council.”

He said it was only when the Force Commander, General Romeo Dallaire, found ways to bypass the UNAMIR [UN Mission in Rwanda] political staff that Headquarters in New York started briefing the Council properly. “Moreover, the Secretariat had concealed from the Council a critical piece of advice – a cable from the Force Commander in January 1994, which gave graphic early warning of a probable genocide.”

Further, another vital piece of evidence also existed in the UN system in Geneva – a report by a Special Rapporteur to the then-Human Rights Commission warning of the likelihood of genocide. “It was never drawn to the Council’s attention,” said Mr. Keating. In early May 1994, New Zealand and Nigeria each introduced draft resolutions to boost the number of troops and give the UN operation a formal civilian protection mandate. But it took until 8 June before a new resolution was agreed. 

“For the first time, the Council specifically used the word ‘genocide’,” he said.

While noting that important lessons had been learned from the genocide and some Council procedures had been adjusted in its wake, he urged all present to be keenly aware of “the cascade of tragedy that can occur when there is a failure of political will such as in 1994.”  Indeed, a toxic accumulation of events unfolded and eventually embroiled the whole Great Lakes region, he said.

“Twenty years later, you are still dealing with the consequences in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The failure in Rwanda in 1994 caused not only genocide, but it also led to an appalling humanitarian catastrophe in eastern DRC in 1995. And this led directly to the civil wars in the DRC and to human tragedy on an even more massive scale. Some estimates suggest that up to 5 million died. Major instability afflicted the region.”

“If we truly want prevention to work, then we need better political and operational and financial mechanisms for the Council and the wider UN system to achieve better outcomes,” declared Mr. Keating, appealing for new mechanisms for improved early warning, better systems for briefing and presenting options to the Council at early stages of potential crises, enhanced preventive diplomacy, quick preventive deployment, and, if all else fails, robust deterrence. 

(Adapted from a UN press release)

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

UN Committee on Disabilities Rules Against Argentina on Complaint Over Prison Conditions

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has determined that Argentine authorities have failed to ensure that a prisoner with disabilities can use prison facilities and services on an equal basis with other detainees.  The Committee urged Argentina to take steps to rectify the situation and prevent future violations, including making sufficient and reasonable adjustments when requested, to ensure persons with disabilities can access prison facilities and health care. 

The 18-member body monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  

The decision todocay came after considering a complaint by a prisoner serving a life term, according to a news release. While in pre-trial detention, he suffered a stroke which resulted in a cognitive disorder, partial loss of vision and mobility problems requiring him to use a wheelchair. The petitioner argued that prison conditions were affecting his physical and mental health. He said he could not maintain personal hygiene because he could not get to the bathroom on his own.  He also said that he had not received the rehabilitation recommended by his doctors, as it required a 32-kilometre journey by ambulance to a specialist centre that risked aggravating his spinal problems. 

“The Argentine authorities said that the allegations were generic and groundless, while his application to be held under house arrest was illogical as he would still need to travel to and from the rehabilitation centre,” the news release stated.

Committee members said that the petitioner had not established that his rights were violated regarding health care and rehabilitation, nor could they conclude that travel to and from the rehabilitation centre posed a risk to his life. 

They recognized that authorities had removed a step that hindered access to the bathroom and shower, that lifts were working in the prison and that there was a call button to summon round-the-clock assistance. 

“However, the Argentine authorities had not shown that these measures were sufficient, as they did not ensure that the prisoner could access a bathroom able to accommodate a wheelchair, nor could he get to the prison courtyard on his own,” they added.

The Committee found that this situation amounted to a breach of the State party’s obligations to guarantee access and to ensure that a person with disabilities who is deprived of his/her liberty is held in reasonable conditions, as set forth in the Convention. Also, the petitioner was being held in precarious detention conditions that were incompatible with the treaty.

(mew)(adapted from a UN press release)

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ITLOS Finds Guinea-Bissau Liable to Panama for Arrest of M/V Virginia G

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) issued its decision today in the case of the M/V Virginia G, an oil tanker flying the flag of Panama, which was arrested by officials from Guinea-Bissau because the vessel was refueling in Guinea-Bissau's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) without proper authorization.  

The ITLOS Tribunal first established its jurisdiction over the matter by rejecting Guinea-Bissau's argument that the M/V Virgina G lacked a genuine connection to Panama.

On the merits,  the Tribunal held that a coastal state such as Guinea-Bissau has a right under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to regulate activities in its EEZ including bunkering and that the M/V Virginia G had not fully complied with Guinea-Bissau's regulations.  However, the Tribunal further found that Guinea-Bissau's arrest and confiscation of the M/V Virginia G were not necessary to sanction the noncompliance or to deter others from committing the same errors.  Finally, the Tribunal found that Guinea-Bissau also violated UNCLOS by failing to promptly notify Panama of the arrest.  Accordingly, the Tribunal ordered Guinea-Bissau to pay reparations to Panama.

For more information about this case, visit the ITLOS website.

(cgb)

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

20th Anniversary of the Signing of the WTO Agreements

Twenty years ago today (April 15, 2014), the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its Annexes were signed in Marrakesh, Morocco.  The agreements concluded the 1986-94 Uruguay Round of negotiations and were signed by 123 States.  The WTO now boasts 159 members. The WTO Agreements created a truly global regime of trade rules and a binding method of settling trade disputes.

(cgb)

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

U.N. Security Council Condemns Abduction of Jordan's Ambassador in Libya

The United Nations Security Council strongly condemned today’s attack in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, which resulted in the abduction of the Jordanian ambassador and injuries to his driver.

According to media reports, assailants opened fire on Fawaz al-Itan’s vehicle as he and his driver left his house in the morning. They then drove away with the diplomat. “The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern at this attack and called for the immediate release of the Jordanian ambassador,” the 15-member body said in a statement issued to the press. “The members of the Security Council reaffirmed that such acts are unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever and by whomsoever committed. They underlined the need to bring the perpetrators of such acts to justice.”

The Council called on the Libyan authorities to protect diplomatic and consular property and personnel, to respect fully their international obligations in this regard, and to work towards the safe release of the ambassador.

Libya, which has been undergoing a democratic transition since the toppling of the regime of former leader Muammar al-Qadhafi three years ago, has been grappling with a dramatic increase in violence in recent month, including a campaign of targeted assassinations, bombings and abductions.

(UN Press Release)

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

New CRC Optional Protocol Enters Into Effect -- But Dear Blog Readers, Can We Find a Good Name For It?

A new treaty will allow children to complain directly to the United Nations about alleged violations of their rights. The treaty, known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure, entered into force today – three months after Costa Rica became the 10th country to deposit its instrument of ratification.  

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for children’s rights,” said Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Marta Santos Pais, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children; Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict; and Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.  “Children are now further empowered as this Optional Protocol recognises their capacity to exercise and claim their own rights,” they said in a joint statement.

The new Optional Protocol will enable children and their representatives to submit complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child about specific violations of their rights under the Convention, as well as under its other two Optional Protocols (on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution). 

But children can only complain if their government has ratified the new Optional Protocol, and if they have exhausted all legal avenues in their own country. 

“We hope that this new treaty will give voice to children’s testimonies and help them to obtain the necessary remedy and reparation. We applaud those States which, by ratifying this Protocol, have confirmed their determination to improve children’s access to justice,” said the experts. 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely and rapidly ratified human rights treaty in history. Only two countries – Somalia and the United States – have yet to ratify. 

The experts hoped the new Optional Protocol will soon reach universal ratification, saying this will signify that States take their obligations seriously and are ready for any scrutiny concerning individual allegations of child rights violations. “In order to reach out to the most vulnerable and marginalised children, the Optional Protocol should be widely publicised and countries should inform the public and raise awareness amongst children of their right to complain and seek redress,” they added.

Adapted from a UN press release.

And this part now.  What, dear blog readers, are we going to call this new Protocol?  The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure?

The CRC Protocol on Communications?

The Optional Protocol on Complaints Under the CRC?

Good gosh, we've just GOT to come up with something!!!  Leave us your suggestions in the comments.

(mew)

 

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

Next Year's Jessup Problem

At the 2014 White & Case World Championship Round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, the International Law Students Association (ILSA) announced that the 2015 Compromis will present questions of:

  • treaty interpretation and applicability in the face of changed circumstances;
  • the propriety of counter-measures; and
  • procedural and substantive issues raised by the secession of a province from one country and its annexation by another.

The problem itself for the 2015 competition will be released in September 2014, a little earlier than usual because of an ILSA-sponsored conference being held in London.  The Jessup Competition is the world's largest moot court competition, with more than 600 teams competiting from over 120 countries. Click here for more information.

(mew)

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

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reminder: Call for Proposals for International Law Weekend (New York, October 2014)

The 2014 International Law Weekend will be held from October 23-25, 2014 in New York City.  ILW is sponsored and organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) and the International Law Students Association (ILSA). This annual conference attracts an audience of more than one thousand practitioners, academics, diplomats, and students. The theme for this year's meeting is “International Law in a Time of Chaos” and panel proposals (relating to that theme, or not) can be submitted online by April 23, 2014 by clicking here

Please provide a title, description, and the names and affiliations of the chair and proposed speakers as well as the proposal format (debate, roundtable, lecture, etc.). Formats should include presenters with diverse experiences and perspectives.

ILW 2014 will be held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Branch in Manhattan at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York at 42 West 44th Street on Thursday evening, October 23, and at the Fordham Law School at Lincoln Center on October 24-25, 2014. We expect an audience that will include practitioners, professors, UN diplomats, business leaders, federal and state government officials, NGO leaders, writers, journalists, and interested citizens. This year, we plan to have a broad array of public international law topics, but will also have dedicated tracks of private international law topics in each program slot. Questions regarding ILW 2014 can be directed to [email protected] 

Members of the ILW 2014 Program Committee are:

  • Tamara Cummings-John (Legal Officer, United Nations Office of Legal Affairs);
  • Davis Robinson (Former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State);
  • Stephen Shapiro (Managing Partner, BSR Investments);
  • Vivian Shen (Programs Director, International Law Students Association);
  • David Stewart (President-Elect, American Branch of the International Law Association); and
  • Ruth Wedgwood (President, American Branch of the International Law Association).

Unfortunately ILW conflicts this year with the Fall Meeting of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, which will meet in Buenos Aires. But if you're not planning on going to Argentina, the ILW in New York will be well worth the investment of your time.

(mew)

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

Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families

The expert members of the United Nations panel dealing with the rights of migrant workers and their families have renewed their appeal to all countries to sign the international treaty on the rights of those workers, which went into effect almost 11 years ago.

“Forty-seven countries have ratified the treaty but that number is far too low given the abuse and exploitation that migrant workers continue to suffer,” said Francisco Carrion Mena, Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families (CMW), adding that it is especially low considering “the contribution migrant workers make to both their home and host countries.” 

After being adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1990, it took 23 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. 

The Committee – composed of 14 independent human rights experts whose task is to oversee the implementation of the Convention by States parties – notes that many of the 47 States parties to the Convention are not only nations of origin of migrant workers but now also transit and destination countries, because of the changing patterns of migration.

The experts regretted that, to this day, “no major developed countries that are destinations for migrant workers, including the United States, European Union member States and Gulf countries, have ratified it, even though it reflects rights set out in the other core human rights treaties.”

“The treaty doesn’t create new rights or establish additional ones for migrant workers. What it does do is give specific form to standards that protect all human beings so that they are meaningful within the context of migration,” emphasized Mr. Carrion Mena. 

The Committee estimates that more than 200 million people worldwide are international migrants, 30 million of whom are estimated to be irregular migrants. According to the UN International Labour Organization (ILO), almost 21 million people are trapped in forced labour.   

“The Convention is the best strategy to prevent abuses and to address the vulnerability that migrant workers face. That’s why we urge all States to consider signing and ratifying the [treaty] Convention,” Mr Carrion Mena said.

(Adapted from a UN press release)

Click here for more information about the Convention.

(mew)

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

United States Executes Another National of Mexico; Violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations

The United Nations human rights office has voiced deep regret at the execution of Mexican national Ramiro Hernandez Llanas in Texas on Wednesday, noting that the United States is in breach of international law since Mr. Llanas was not allowed access to consular services. Hernandez Llanas was reportedly executed for the 1997 killing of a former U.S. university professor. He is the 16th person to have been executed in the US this year and the 6th in Texas. 

“The UN opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of policy and principle; but, in addition, this case once again places the US in breach of international law, as Mr. Hernandez was not granted consular access pursuant to Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Mr. Colville recalled that in 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled in the Avena case that the United States must review and reconsider the cases of 51 Mexican nationals sentenced to death, including Mr. Hernandez, as they had not received consular services.  He said that under international law, the violation of the right to consular notification affects the due process, and the execution of a foreign national deprived of his rights to consular services constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of life, in contravention of articles 6 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the US ratified in 1992. 

“It is important to recall that the execution by the state of Texas of Mr. Hernandez Llanas engages the United States’ international responsibility,” said Mr. Colville. “We are once again disappointed that neither the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles nor the Governor took steps open to them to prevent this breach of US obligations under international law from occurring.”

(adapted from a UN press release) (mew)

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

New Penal Code of Brunei Darussalam Provides Death by Stoning for Gays

The United Nations human rights office has voiced deep concern about the revised penal code in Brunei Darussalam which stipulates the death penalty for numerous offences, including robbery, adultery, and insult or defamation of the Prophet Mohammed, and introduces stoning to death as the specific method of execution for crimes of a sexual nature.

Rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, insulting any verses of the Quran and Hadith, blasphemy, declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, and murder are the other offences for which the death penalty could be applied under the revised code, which is due to come into force on 22 April.

“Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offences contravenes international law,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).  “We urge the Government to delay the entry into force of the revised penal code and to conduct a comprehensive review ensuring its compliance with international human rights standards,” he told a news conference in Geneva.

Noting that Brunei has maintained an effective moratorium on the use of the death penalty since 1957, OHCHR urged the Government to establish a formal moratorium and to work towards abolishing the practice altogether.

Among other measures, the revised code introduces stoning to death as the specific method of execution for rape, adultery, sodomy and extramarital sexual relations. 

“Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited,” stated Mr. Colville.  He added that a number of UN studies have also revealed that women are more likely to be sentenced to death by stoning, due to deeply entrenched discrimination and stereotyping against them, including among law enforcement and judicial officers. 

The criminalization and application of the death penalty for consensual relations between adults in private also violates a whole host of rights, including the rights to privacy, to equality before the law, the right to health and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, Mr. Colville noted. “The provisions of the revised penal code may encourage further violence and discrimination against women and also against people on the basis of sexual orientation,” he warned.

(adapted from a UN press release)

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