Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Darfur dilemma

An editorial in today's LeMonde raises important questions about the Darfur case unfolding at the International Criminal Court. Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has named a colleague of Sudan's President and a leader of the Janjaweed militia as suspects in atrocities that have led to the deaths of 200,000 and displacement of another 2.5 million persons. The aim is to bring the most culpable to justice, and so to bring an end to the violence. "This will not be an easy thing," LeMonde writes. "Up to now ICC investigators have not worked in Darfur, where the security of their witnesses cannot be assured." It recalls too that an ICC investigation begun at the request of Uganda now is hampered by moves toward a peace pact entailing amnesty. LeMonde ends by casting blame, asking whether the United States gives cooperation with Sudan in its campaign against terrorism a higher priority than bringing peace in Darfur.
The editorial fails to find fault everywhere it is due. No permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, which authorized the ICC investigation fully 2 years ago, puts solving Darfur at the top of its foreign policy agenda. A mix of national self-interests has the international community at an impasse, despite Darfurians dire and highly publicized suffering. Solving Darfur requires concerted use of many resources. No court should be made to take on the problem all on its own.

On February 28, ...

... 1897, French troops deposed Queen Ranavalona III, the last indigenous monarch of Madagascar, and sent her to Réunion. She would die in 1917, still an exile, in Algiers.
... 1986, Olof Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden, was assassinated, and his wife Lisbeth Palme wounded, after a gunman shot them as they left a Stockholm movie theater.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Liable to Wonder, Indeed....

I finally slogged my way through the 350-page majority opinion by Judge Higgins discussed below. Phew. I am hopeful others have had time to read the other 11 opinions/declarations from other members of the Court.

As all genocide cases seem to do, the case turns on the question of intent—the dolus specialis—that is the gravamen of the crime of genocide. And yet, I was disappointed by how little there was on the intent issue in the opinion. The Court basically trotted through a bunch of facts pled about camps and sieges and then concluded at the end of each section that there was insufficient evidence of genocidal intent with respect to the particular incident. It was only with respect to the Srebrenica massacre that the Court found that the direct perpetrators were acting with genocidal intent. (This left open the question of attribution to the Respondent state which was dealt with in the second half of the opinion). In total, the Court is entirely consistent with what the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has held with respect to these incidents. Most are not characterized as genocide writ large with Srebrenica being the notable exemption (in Krstić).

As a second approach to the question, Applicant made the argument that the events viewed as a whole, rather than seriatim, pattern of events, revealed a broader policy of genocide in Bosnia. The Court framed the question, and its answer, as follows:

373. Turning now to the Applicant’s contention that the very pattern of the atrocities committed over many communities, over a lengthy period, focused on Bosnian Muslims and also Croats, demonstrates the necessary intent, the Court cannot agree with such a broad proposition. The dolus specialis, the specific intent to destroy the group in whole or in part, has to be convincingly shown by reference to particular circumstances, unless a general plan to that end can be convincingly demonstrated to exist; and for a pattern of conduct to be accepted as evidence of its existence, it would have to be such that it could only point to the existence of such intent. ...

376. The Court has already concluded above that—save in the case of Srebrenica—the Applicant has not established that any of the widespread and serious atrocities, complained of as constituting violations of Article II, paragraphs (a) to (e), of the Genocide Convention, were accompanied by the necessary specific intent (dolus specialis) on the part of the perpetrators. It also finds that the Applicant has not established the existence of that intent on the part of the Respondent, either on the basis of a concerted plan, or on the basis that the events reviewed above reveal a consistent pattern of conduct which could only point to the existence of such intent.

What sank Applicant was that early on in the opinion the Court considered the standard of proof it would apply. The Court rejected the balance of the probabilities standard advocated by the Applicant (this is a civil suit after all, there being no notion of state criminality). The Respondent had essentially argued for a beyond a reasonable doubt standard given the highly sensitive and stigmatizing nature of the allegations. As is its habit, the Court avoided announcing exactly the standard it would apply, but implied that the heightened standard was applicable:

209. The Court has long recognized that claims against a State involving charges of exceptional gravity must be proved by evidence that is fully conclusive. The Court requires that it be fully convinced that allegations made in the proceedings, that the crime of genocide or the other acts enumerated in Article III have been committed, have been clearly established. The same standard applies to the proof of attribution for such acts.
“Fully conclusive” and “fully convinced” sounds to me like “beyond a reasonable doubt”, although perhaps it is closer to clear & convincing? Query the fall out had the ICJ taken a radically different position on genocide in BiH than the ICTY especially under a close to equivalent standard of proof.

Introducing Amelia Earhart

With thanks to Grace O’Malley…

Amelia Earhart was an early 20th century American aviator, feminist, and pacifist whose pioneering transoceanic flights brought her international fame. Fiercely independent and moved by the beauty of flying, she set out on journeys that transcended not only international boundaries but also commonly accepted human, and particularly feminine, limits. She disappeared in 1937 while attempting an around the world flight. Though she is remembered as a record setter, she was driven by her own internal vision, writing in one of her last letters to her husband, “Please know I am quite aware of the hazards...I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail their failure must be but a challenge to others."

Liable to wonder

What to make of Monday's ruling by the International Court of Justice in Bosnia v. Serbia? President Rosalyn Higgins, the only woman ever to have served on the 62-year-old World Court, announced the Court's conclusion: Serbia is liable for having failed to prevent genocide at Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops massacred more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men in July 1995, but Serbia did not itself committed genocide. At first blush the decision might seem protective, for it endorses view that not only positive action, but also the failure to act, implicates state responsibility. (The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide makes such a finding particularly appropriate with regard to that crime, as our colleague William A. Schabas has detailed in ch. 10 of his Genocide in International Law.)
The Court's ruling on remedy, however, takes much from this conclusion. Can it be that a state's failure to prevent genocide -- long known as the crime of crimes -- incurs no duty to redress genocide's victims? That if the author of genocide is a nonstate actor, international law affords a victim state no reparations for its loss?

On February 27, ...

... 1922, in Fairchild v. Hughes, the U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Justice Louis Brandeis, unanimously rejected a challenge to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed women's right to vote.
... 1998, England's Queen Elizabeth II approved of Parliament's plan to end a millennium of male preference so that a monarch's first-born, daughter or son, would have claim to the throne.
... 2003, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia sentenced Biljana Plavsic, former co-President of Republika Srpska, the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb republic, to 11 years in prison after she had pleaded guilty to the crime against humanity of persecution.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Rabiatou Sérah, l’intrépide

Libération informed us this morning that the Guinean opposition, responsible for 3 strikes that led to a state of siege, is headed by a woman. “Hadja Rabiatou”, the only African woman in Black Africa (I translate this directly as I’m not sure of all the distinctions being drawn here) to sit at the helm of all the labor unions of one country, has called 3 general strikes since February 2006 to protest President Lansana Conté’s nomination of a puppet prime minister. The report this evening is that the six-week-old crisis should end soon, as the president accepted yesterday to choose a new prime minister from a list of 4 names proposed by the opposition. The strikes, which have crippled Guinea, the world’s largest producer of bauxite, should end Tuesday. (Unfortunately, the links to Libération only work for a week.) Meanwhile, a forum on agricultural sovereignty is being held in Sélingué, Mali.

O Canada

Global judicial dialogue is something many of us (to name just a few, Vicki Jackson, Judith Resnik, Roger Alford, and me) have studied in recent years. Offering a smorgasbord of food for thought is the Canadian Supreme Court's unanimous invalidation Friday, in Charkaoui, of certain counterterrorist detention procedures. Worth noting is the reliance of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin -- 1 of 4 women on the 9-member Court -- on her U.S. counterpart's 2004 holding in Rasul that noncitizens detained at Guantánamo may litigate in U.S. courts. It and other sources, she wrote in ¶ 90, establish that "[w]hether through habeas corpus or statutory mechanisms, foreign nationals, like others, have a right to prompt review to ensure that their detention complies with the law." McLachlin omitted mention of Tuesday's appellate ruling sustaining Congress' effort, via the Military Commissions Act, to upset Rasul. But then, the Canadian Court's attitude toward antiterrorism legislation itself invites comparison: it stressed in ¶ 39 that national security concerns cannot override the judge's constitutional duty to engage in "searching review" of asserted reasons for detention.

On February 26, ...

... 2007 (today), the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women begins a two-week session in New York. The theme: "The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child."
... 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia convicted political leader Dario Kordic and military commander Mario Cerkez, both Bosnian Croats, of war crimes for ordering the systematic murder and persecution of Muslim civilians in Bosnia.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Smart cookies

E-commerce has 'netted the Girl Scouts. You've heard this year's batch of Scout cookies will be healthy -- almost no trans fats and, in the case of Little Brownie, no sugar either -- but you may've missed the advent of cybercookies. Buyers now can check online where neighbor Scouts will be selling cookies. (The same site sports a Girls Only gamezone.)
Scouts have come a long way, from an 18-girl troop formed 95 years ago in Savannah, Ga., to a 3.6-million-strong global organization. ... Wonder how many of us 'Grrls once were Girl Scouts?
(1942 photo of Brownies at a California migrants' camp by Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration)

On February 25, ...

... 1986, Corazon Aquino was sworn in as President of the Philippines.
... 1993, a bomb exploded in the garage of New York's World Trade Center. Six persons were killed; more than a thousand others were wounded.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

... and counting ...

(Occasional sobering thought.) Americans know how many of their own have died so far in Iraq. They can recite names and hometowns of the fallen. Yet Americans haven't a clue about the war's toll on Iraqis, finds a new AP-Ipsos poll. With this occasional feature IntLawGrrls intends to put that to rights.
The Lancet, England's premier medical journal, set the number of Iraqi civilian deaths in the 1st 18 months of conflict at more than 100,000, but that number hasn't been corroborated. We'll rely on Iraq Body Count; it reports that as of Feb. 21, 2007, between 56,880 and 62,613 Iraqi women, children, and men had died. (The absence of firmer numbers speaks volumes about the state of civil society in Iraq.)
For numbers close to home, we rely on the U.S. Department of Defense. Confirmed American servicemember fatalities, through Feb. 22, 2007: 3,151 persons. Total coalition fatalities: 3,410 persons. Total U.S. wounded: 23,417 persons. Total casualties in Afghanistan conflict: 370 Americans and 164 other coalition servicemembers killed, 5,994 American servicemembers wounded.
The AP article quotes a political scientist that knowing numbers doesn't matter, because "[p]eople in democracies generally don't shy away from inflicting civilian casualties." Laying the numbers out for people to read will test that contestable assumption.

On February 24, ...

... 1983, the congressional Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians released the final installment of Personal Justice Denied, a report that condemned the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Corruption in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

In the latest bout in the struggle for justice in Cambodia, the U.N. Development Program has audited the finances of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in response to allegations of corruption at the court, which has yet to begin its investigation phase. Last week, the Open Society Justice Initiative noted:
Serious allegations that Cambodian court personnel, including judges, must kick back a significant percentage of their wages to Cambodian government officials in exchange for their positions on the court, are undermining the credibility of the ECCC.
In response, Sean Visoth, the Cambodian director of the ECCC's administrative office, has severed all dealings with OSJI. This is but one of several challenges that Michelle Lee, the UN's intelligent and capable deputy director of administration at the ECCC, has faced in getting the court off the ground. (Kevin Heller's post on Opinio Juris details previous obstacles.)

A small soldier's fight for humanity

News that an indicted recruiter of child soldiers has died brings to mind Jon Stewart's interview last week with one such recruit, Ishmael Beah, author of the memoir A Long Way Gone. After Sierra Leonean rebels killed his family Beah, then 12, became ensnared in fighting for government forces who drugged him with "brown-brown" -- cocaine and gunpowder. He killed for years before ending up at a U.N. center and, eventually, his "second life" in Brooklyn. Beah told Stewart that it's easy to turn a person, particularly a child, into a killer, but it's a long, hard journey to bring the child back to humanity.
Beah had just returned from Paris, where he took part in a two-day conference at which states pledged to redouble efforts on behalf of "small soldiers," as they are called in Ahmadou Kourouma's 2000 novel, Allah n’est pas obligé (translated passages in Diane Marie Amann, Calling Children to Account: The Proposal for a Juvenile Chamber in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, 29 Pepperdine L.Rev. 167 (2002)). Fifty-eight states signed the Paris Commitments to Protect Children from Unlawful Recruitment. The Associated Press reported:

The U.S. government did not participate .... The State Department said the administration objected to some of the wording of the documents but added that the United States remained committed to its treaty obligations to prevent the use of children in combat.

Introducing Anna Koransky

I would like to join the chorus thanking "Grace O’Malley" [IntLawGrrl Diane Marie Amann] for creating this space. Not a famous (or infamous!) foremother, Anna Koransky was my grandmother. Born at the turn of the twentieth century in Lithuania, she emigrated to the US at age 4 with her family to escape the pogroms devastating the Jewish communities of Eastern and Central Europe. In the early 1950s, like so many other women and men exercising their cherished First Amendment rights in an attempt to ban the bomb, she was blacklisted. She continued the struggle more discreetly, always wearing a pendant that proclaimed: “war is unhealthy for children and other living things”. As the post-9/11 terrorist scare has paralleled the Red Scare, not only have First Amendment (as well as other) rights come under severe attack (academics especially should see here, they have become taken for granted, even thought unworthy of protection, in the eyes of our youth (see here). Aux barricades, citoyennes du monde!

On February 23, ...

... 1903, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt signed an agreement to lease land, over which "the United States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control," at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for use as naval and coaling stations. The arrangement proved central to the Supreme Court’s 2004 holding in Rasul v. Bush that post-9/11 noncitizen detainees could seek redress in U.S. courts.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Equal Pay for Equal Work at Wimbledon

In 2007, at long last, men and women will receive the same prizes at the Wimbledon tennis competition. Tim Phillips, Chairman of the All England Club, announced the decision by stating in part: “Tennis is one of the few sports in which women and men compete in the same event at the same time. We believe our decision to offer equal prize money provides a boost for the game as a whole and recognises the enormous contribution that women players make to the game and to Wimbledon. We hope it will also encourage girls who want a career in sport to choose tennis as their best option. In short, good for tennis, good for women players and good for Wimbledon.”

Justice Delayed . . .

Sam Hinga Norman, indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes and crimes against humanity, died today in Dakar, Senegal, where he was seeking medical treatment. Norman, who was the National Coordinator of the Civil Defense Forces, was charged with enlisting child soldiers, among other crimes, but is still seen by some in Sierra Leone as a hero for opposing rebel forces that sought to overthrow an elected government. His case, which went to trial in June 2004, is pending before the Trial Chamber.
Norman follows a growing number of individuals accused of perpetrating international crimes who have died before facing justice -- Pol Pot, Slobodan Milosevic, Ta Mok, Augusto Pinochet. What do these deaths mean for the international justice project? Norman's case had gone to trial before he died, and the others lived under the spectre of efforts to hold them accountable for these crimes. While we mourn the lost opportunity to punish those who have violated international law, we should also celebrate the ignominy that the international justice movement brought upon these men prior to their deaths.

On February 22, ...

... 1993, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 808 authorizing creation of an international war crimes tribunal to punish those responsible for atrocities in the former Yugoslavia.
... 2001, Trial Chamber I of the resulting International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia convicted three Bosnian Serbs on charges of rape and torture related to sexual slavery.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Iran and the Law of Force

Amid the rattling of sabers between the United States and Iran -- the latest a BBC claim that the former has chosen targets against the latter -- we would do well to read our colleague Mary Ellen O'Connell's exposition in Jurist of The Legal Case Against War with Iran. "International law provides only two bases for the lawful use of force: self-defense and Security Council authorization," O'Connell writes. The Council is unlikely to give its OK, and alleged Iranian actions do not constitute an "armed attack ... on a significant scale," as defined by the International Court of Justice; therefore, there's no basis for self-defense. O'Connell contends that in any event the right at issue doesn't belong to the United States:
... the U.S. is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi leadership, namely Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Attacks in Iraq, even on Americans, are still attacks against Iraq. ... Iraq is the state with the legal authority to respond to such wrongs. ... If the U.S. does not like how Maliki is responding to American deaths, its option is to pull Americans out of Iraq and sue Iraq for failing to make efforts within its capacity to protect Americans.

Detainees, Internment, and Outsider Voices

Yesterday, a divided panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals began its opinion in Boumediene v. Bush with the question: “Do federal courts have jurisdiction over petitions for writs of habeas corpus filed by aliens captured abroad and detained as enemy combatants at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba?” Their answer many pages later was: “Federal courts have no jurisdiction in these cases.”
Although the law on which this opinion was based may well be changed by Congress, the issuing of this ruling is worth reflection in this week that marks the 65th anniversary of Japanese internment.

On February 21, ...

... 1947, U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was born in Augusta, Maine.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Introducing Lakshmi Bai

Let me start by seconding Mata Hari's warm thank you to Grace O'Malley for creating a forum for us Grrrls to debate the compelling international law issues of the day.
This is also an opportunity for me to introduce Lakshmi Bai, the Rani (queen) of Jhansi, a princely state in Northern India. After her husband's death in 1853, the British moved to annex the territory she governed. When her negotiations with Lord Dalhousie, the Governor General of British India, failed, Lakshmi Bai filed a lawsuit in London challenging the annexation. The British court denied her claim and ordered her to leave Jhansi fort, but Lakshmi Bai instead assembled a volunteer army, including women in her military training program. She and her army put up a strong defense, but the British eventually captured Jhansi. Lakshmi Bai continued to fight colonial rule, and was killed in battle defending the fortress city of Gwalior on June 17, 1858.
Lakshmi Bai is popularly viewed in India as an icon of anti-colonial resistance and female empowerment. But a recent book suggests that Bai may have been a reluctant objector to the British Raj whose initial opposition to colonial power came only at the behest of her angry subjects. This new historical perspective raises interesting questions of voice, inclusion, and elitism in international law. As international law scholars, our conceptual frameworks have been shaped by a system that may not represent a diverse range of gender, race, or sexual orientation identities. Can we, as insiders and elites, reconceive the field of international law to embrace a multiplicity of perspectives – crafting a truly international venture? Or will our position of relative advantage distance us from outsider voices? Perhaps Lakshmi Bai can inspire us to represent subjugated viewpoints against new forms of colonialism, and in the process, empower marginalized groups to take up new roles in international lawmaking. I look forward to hearing your perspective on these questions.

An IntLawGrrl Meets Senator Obama

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama lived up to his best press clippings while visiting with San Franciscans yesterday. In answer to a question the Senator from Illinois (pictured here with Democratic colleague Dick Durbin, who also made the trip) listed 3 1st-steps to restore U.S. global standing: (1) recall combat brigades from Iraq by next March; (2) reinforce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and (3) reform international institutions like the United Nations. Obama reminded that he is the only candidate to have lived in a 3d World country for 3 years and to have close family overseas -- experiences that, he said, make him better appreciate America.
The comments lend force to the 2/12/07 dubbing of Obama, by our colleague Peter Spiro at Opinio Juris, as Democrats' "pro-IL candidate."

On February 20, ...

... 2004, Canadian Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour, a former Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations’ ad hoc international criminal tribunals, was appointed U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Monday, February 19, 2007

About Grace O'Malley

Thanks to the 1996 children's book by Emily Arnold McCully, my namesake foremother Grace O'Malley (in the original Irish, Gráinne Ni Mháille) is best known as The Pirate Queen. O'Malley (1530-1603) overcame male prejudice and, from her castle on Clare Island, controlled a swath of the West of Ireland. Legend has it that O'Malley fought off an attack at sea while nursing her day-old son, and wrested from England's Queen Elizabeth I a concession to ply her trade along Ireland's coast. She was an early, powerful nonstate actor.

On February 19, ...

... 1861, Russia abolished serfdom.
... 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the order for relocation of persons of Japanese heritage to internment camps.
... 1986, the U.S. Senate approved the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hier, un criminel contre l'humanité est mort.

(Apologies to Camus) Maurice Papon, 96, died yesterday, nearly a decade after a French court convicted the former Vichy official for aiding crimes against humanity; that is, transportation of hundreds of French Jews to Nazi death camps. (The European Court of Human Rights reviewed the case in 2002.) Papon held top positions in France after World War II, aiding France's repression of the Algerian independence movement in the 1950s. His 1990s trial was one of a number of proceedings by which France began to account for decades-old international crimes committed on its soil. Our colleague Leila Nadya Sadat provided an excellent study of such efforts in The Interpretation of the Nuremberg Principles by the French Court of Cassation: From Touvier to Barbie and Back Again, 32 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 289 (1994).

On February 18, ...

... 4705 (aka 2007 - today!), celebrate the 1st day of the Year of the Pig on the lunar calendar.
... 1516, Mary Tudor, the only child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was born. She came to be known as "Bloody Mary" during the five years that she ruled England.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Iraq resolution: text & context

Caught up in praise of hometown heroine Speaker Nancy Pelosi, my local paper neglected to publish the anti-Iraq-surge resolution that the House passed 246-182 yesterday and that the Senate just blocked 56-34. Text counts as well as context, so here's H. Con. Res. 63:

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That--
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

First Missive from Mata Hari

I want to begin with a heartfelt thank you to Grace O’Malley for opening up this space. It challenges us to ask how women’s voices fit into the international legal dialogue, but through a form that allows us to be playful, expressive, and irreverent. Rather than essentializing either our foremothers or the current generation of intlawgrrls, the blog simply includes us. By limiting how long each post can be, it forces us to communicate with clarity.
On a personal level, this blog allows me to formalize my long and seemingly accidental acquaintance with Mata Hari. Whenever I’ve moved beyond her value as a mnemonic device, I’ve puzzled over this famous exotic dancer and spy. What is it about her that has inspired fusion restaurants in Canada and Thailand, as well as a Boston-based band? In 2001, when efforts were made to clear her name, historian Leon Schirmann said: “Mata Hari was not made to be a spy….She was nothing but a woman who loved enjoying her life and who didn't realize that, at a time of war, nothing was as it was before.” His statement makes me ask: Who was I made to be?

On February 17, ...

... 1848, Louisa Lawson, an Australian writer, publisher, suffragist, and feminist, was born in New South Wales.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Accountability abroad

News from Italy: indictment of 26 "agents of the CIA, including Robert Seldon Lady, ex-head of the CIA in Milan, and Jeff Castelli, responsible for the American secret service in Italy," on charges of kidnapping Abu Omar, a Milano imam also known as Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, and taking him to Egypt, where he is reported to have endured torture and imprisonment. (Egypt released Nasr earlier this week.) Trial is set for April 8. Whether to seek extradition of the indictees remains a sticky business.
Taken just a day short of the 4th anniversary of Nasr's removal from a street in Milan, the decision of the udienza preliminare Caterina Interlandi marks the latest effort to bring to transnational account the post-9/11 practice of extraordinary rendition. On Wednesday Switzerland OK'd criminal investigation of the flight that took Nasr over its air space. Two weeks ago Munich prosecutors issued warrants to arrest 13 persons said to have rendered German citizen Khaled el-Masri to Afghanistan. And a European Parliament committee just renewed its call for a continental stance against renditions – a call so far stonewalled by some member states, some suspected of helping to make renditions happen.

On February 16, ...

... 2005, the Kyoto Protocol to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force. So far 168 of our world’s countries have joined; the United States is not one of them.
... 1959, Fidel Castro, age 32, is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba.

The child's best interests

The Lowlands scored highest in a new UNICEF report, "Child poverty in perspective: an overview of child well-being in rich countries." At the bottom was the United Kingdom, followed closely by the United States.
The report measured children's lives on 6 "dimensions." On 3, the United States placed last or 2d to last: "health and safety," "family and peer relationships," and "behaviours and risks." It was 17th out of 21 for "material well-being." Its top placement was 12th, for "educational well-being."
Why the poor showing for the United States and its special relation, Britain? A U.N. researcher reasoned, "They don't invest as much in children as continental European countries do"; but an official of the United States, said to be the only nonmember (save Somalia) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, pointed to statistical quirks in how poverty is measured.
The rankings, from top to bottom: Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Greece, Poland, Czech Republic, France, Portugal, Austria, Hungary, United States, United Kingdom.

On February 15, ...

... 1820, suffragist Susan Brownell Anthony born in Massachusetts.
... 1898, explosion of U.S.S. Maine in Havana’s harbor kills hundreds and sets the stage for war between the United States and Spain.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Whales Against War?

A panelist at last week's enemy combatant symposium at UCLA put forward what he believed a ridiculous scenario as proof that congressional statutes can't trump the war powers of the President. The National Environmental Policy Act requires the government to get an environmental impact statement before it takes any action, he noted. Would anyone seriously argue that the President needs an EIS before troops go to battle? The vision of environmentalist legions litigating the war to an end bemused.
But his was no silly-season story. Just this January, the California Coastal Commission ruled 8-1 that the U.S. Navy could not go forward with sonar-testing in the Pacific unless it took certain measures to cut the sonar's harm to whales and other living, swimming creatures. Though the Navy reportedly rebuffed the Commission this week, last summer it settled a sonar challenge involving Hawaiian marine mammals.
Perhaps holding the President to Congress' ban on cruelty in time of crisis isn't crazy after all.

Grrrr...on habeas

( our occasional attempt to tame pet peeves.)
You’ve heard it before (here and here and here): Post-9/11 detainees don’t deserve a day in U.S. court because WWII captives didn’t get one, either. Like much of what passes for informed comment these days, the premise is wrong, and so the conclusion can’t be right. Let’s put to one side cases like Quirin, in which the Supreme Court examined the merits while professing not to have jurisdiction to do so. (Put aside too the fact that the case involved convictions after trial, not detention without charge.) Foursquare retort to the claim comes from cases like In re Territo, 156 F. 2d 142 (9th Cir. 1946) . There the court did refuse to hear the habeas challenge of an American held after he’d served in Mussolini’s army – for the reason that he was a prisoner of war fully protected by the 1929 Geneva Convention. By no means did it relegate him to a no-law zone where conditions of detention and release lay solely in the hands of the Executive. Ours would be a far different world if post-9/11 captives were given their Geneva rights. Because they were not, habeas review is essential.

On February 14, ...

... 1847, Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, American suffragist, League of Nations proponent, and peace activist, was born in England.
... 1945, British and American forces carpet-bombed Dresden.
... 2004, San Francisco officials continued the marriages of same-sex couples that had begun, on orders of Mayor Gavin Newsom, earlier in the week. Although more than 4,000-plus marriages eventually were annulled by court order, same-sex marriages since have been approved in Canada, South Africa, and Spain.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

IntLawGrrls' Heartfelt Hello

Our world is a jumble of peoples, a mix of culture and custom, a marketplace of markets as well as ideas. We come together in amazing ways, yet clash in ways that bring destruction and dismay. Women now have a hand in our world’s affairs: think Albright and Arbour, del Ponte and Higgins, Ginsburg and Rice. Yet our voices remain faint, in backrooms and in the blogosphere. IntLawGrrls – women who teach and work in international law, policy and practice – hope to change all that. We embrace foremothers' names to encourage crisp commentary, delivered at times with a dash of sass. We welcome replies, and we look forward to fresh dialogue on the matters of the day.

It's our world, after all.

In gestation beginning February 14, 2007
Due date March 3, 2007 – Grrls’ Day in Japan