Friday, August 31, 2007

A Hybrid Truth Commission?

In response to criticism of international ad hoc tribunals (too expensive, too distant from the societies they aim to serve) and domestic trials (too biased, insufficient infrastructure) in addressing crimes of mass violence, we've seen the rise of hybrid tribunals that combine elements of international and national structures (think the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Court for Sierra Leone). Now we may be seeing a new breed of truth commission. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, created to examine the causes of the conflict in Liberia from 1979 to 2003, is working with Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights to take statements of Liberians living here in the United States for use before the commission. Indeed, some of this statement-taking will be happening right here in Philadelphia, under the direction of Sarah Paoletti, who runs the new Transnational Clinic at Penn Law. This creative approach enables the cash-strapped Liberian TRC to marshall the resources of American NGOs and law school clinics and to reach populations that fled the country, many because they were targeted by the Doe or Taylor regimes. Liberian refugees as far away as Sweden have expressed interest in being involved in the TRC in this way, and the same organizations that take statements here in the U.S. will also travel to Ghana to assist in statement-taking there. While this approach might be culturally appropriate only for a country with such strong historical ties to the United States, it seems a promising way forward for Liberia, and the engagement of the diaspora may provide useful lessons for future truth commissions around the world. (Photo credit to Richard Franco.)

On August 31, ...

.... 1870, Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, Italy, to a civil-servant father and "a well educated, wealthy" mother "devoted to liberation and unity of Italy." An avid student, Maria found her desire to study medicine opposed by her father and impaired by Rome's educational establishment. Her persistence won out, however, and in 1896 she became the 1st woman to graduate from medical school in Italy. Her work with children in asylums for the mentally ill sowed the seeds of a career in early childhood education, and development of what is now known worldwide as "the Montessori Method." (Montessori's above at left, with an unnamed child.) Exiled from Italy during World War II because of her opposition to fascism, Montessori established an Education for Peace program in India, for which she twice was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She died in 1952 in the Netherlands.
... 1957 (50 years ago today), at midnight, the Federation of Malay became independent of British rule. The multi-ethnic, multi-religious country known today as Malaysia (flag at right) "boasts one of south-east Asia's most vibrant economies, the fruit of decades of industrial growth and political stability."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Women at Nuremberg: Press

(Part 3 of IntLawGrrls' Women at Nuremberg series)

"Approximately 250 journalists crowded the press section of Courtroom 600 -- on some days such as on opening day, November 20, 1945, or the verdict announcement on August 31, 1946, every last seat was occupied," Peter Heigl writes, in his book Nürnberger Prozesse - Nuremberg Trials, of media coverage of the 1st proceeding, known as the Trial of the Major War Criminals. Reporters hailed from a score of countries, including 80 Americans, 40 Français, 35 Soviets, 20 Poles, 12 Czechs, and 5 Germans. They were joined by broadcasters, photojournalists, and authors, all of whom came to see what was happening at Nuremberg.
This media throng included a number of women, some of whom are profiled in Nancy Caldwell Sorel's The Women Who Wrote the War. Women journalists at Nuremberg included:

Tania Long
During World War II the New York Herald Tribune's assignment of Long to its London office drew this objection from New York Times reporter F. Raymond Daniell, who'd cover the Scottsboro case, among others, before the war: "You don't want a girl. This is a man's job." Long, who'd been born in Berlin and educated in London and Paris, no doubt proved her mettle: within years the couple were married. For decades thereafter they were a dynamic journalistic duo; they're pictured above covering a press conference at the Nuremberg Palace of Justice. While posted in Ottawa in 1954, the couple delivered remarks to the Empire Club of Canada. Long's account of her own experiences and observations on the world's growing interdependence began with this subtle prod to her hosts:
I am greatly honoured to be here today. Indeed I am very flattered to be here, since I understand that it is rare that meetings of this group are open to the ladies.
Daniel seconded the sentiment in his own remarks.
The journalism career of Martha Gellhorn (right) began with a gig covering haute couture in Paris in the Thirties, but the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in the middle of that decade, and, it is said, the urging of her then-husband, Ernest Hemingway, turned her into a war correspondent. Gellhorn reported on the beach at D-Day, at the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, and at the Nuremberg trials. She covered the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama at age 81. When she died 8 years later, an admirer recalled Gellhorn's comment on her own work:
'I wrote fiction because I love to, and journalism from curiosity which has, I think, no limits and ends only with death.'

Englishwoman Cicily Isabel Fairfield (left) took "Rebecca West," the name of an Ibsen character whom she once played, to write novels and nonfiction, including 2 books inspired by the post-World War II trials, The Meaning of Treason (1947) and A Train of Powder (1955).
Victoria Ocampo (right) was an Argentine intellectual and ally of Gabriela Mistral, namesake of an IntLawGrrl. Ocampo's "admirable" dispatches, spiced with accounts of participants' "'tics,'" are part of Testimonios. Series primera y quinta, published in Buenos Aires in 2000.

The oldest daughter of novelist Thomas Mann and his wife, Katia Mann, Erika Mann (right) is described as a "[w]riter, actress, and intellectual refugee from the Third Reich," and "one of the twentieth century's most intriguing nonconformists." This outspoken critic of Nazism
was one of the few women journalists covering the Nuremberg trials who attained access to the defendants. Mann's experience with cabaret irony attuned her senses to the macabre spectacle of unrepentant Nazis treating their trials as a performance. She later commented, 'no spookier adventure could be imagined.'
Paris-based Janet Flanner -- she is pictured at left with Hemingway -- wrote about World War II and its aftermath for the New Yorker. The Indiana-born expat had been a feminist activist and part of the Algonquin Round Table before the war. Her coverage of the postwar trial included this food for thought:

When you look at the startling ruins of Nuremberg, you are looking at a result of the war. When you look at the prisoners on view in the courthouse, you are looking at 22 of the causes.

Still to come in this Women at Nuremberg series: Witnesses, Defendants. Already posted: Prosecutors, Staffers.

On August 30, ...

.... 2003, after "'nonstop'" negotiations, the General Council of the World Trade Organization agreed to let developing countries to import generic drugs without violating patent rights with regard to those drugs. Many lauded the accord, given the mouthful-of-a-title "Implementation of paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and public health." But others, among them Ellen 't Hoen, coordinator of a medicine-access campaign for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, said that the agreement "offers little comfort for poor patients," for the reason that "[g]lobal patent rules will continue to drive up the price of medicines."
... 1967 (40 years ago today), "[a]fter lengthy and often very heated debate the Senate confirmed the appointment" of Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court. He became the 1st African-American person to serve on the country's highest court. (Mightn't he have been the 1st person of African ancestry to serve on any supreme court outside of Africa?) Marshall (left), who'd appeared frequently before the Court to argue landmark civil rights cases and then as Solicitor General, served as an Associate Justice for 23 years. He died at age 86 in 1993. (portrait by Simmie L. Knox from the Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hot Off the Presses

Kudos to Elizabeth L. Hillman -- IntLawGrrls' own Vera Brittain -- who's just published Military Justice: Cases and Materials (LexisNexis 2007). Beth, who's a visiting professor this year at University of California, Hastings College of the Law, wrote the text along with our colleagues Eugene R. Fidell, President of the National Institute of Military Justice, and Dwight H. Sullivan, Colonel, Marine Corps Reserve, who headed defense of detainees haled before the military commissions at Guantánamo.
The publishers' description underscores the place of military justice within the larger study of systems of justice:
With prosecutions arising from the abuse at Abu Ghraib to ongoing cases alleging atrocities against civilians in Iraq, as well as courts-martial of uniformed war resisters at home, the military justice system now has a prominence unmatched since the Vietnam era. This higher profile for court-smartial, combined with the difficult and fundamental legal issues raised by the military commissions, suggests that military courses will now be in great demand. This casebook['s] coverage of the U.S. court-martial and other national and international systems of military criminal law provides a framework through which students can explore the role and operation of military justice within a democratic society.
Heartfelt congratulations!

A new Observer on the international block

Welcome to the latest addition to the international law blogroll. The newcomer is International Law Observer, a Europe-based site which describes itself as "a Blog dedicated to reports, commentary and the discussion of topical issues of Public International Law as well as EC/EU-Law." Recent items -- like this post on a Japan-Russia fishing dispute -- indicate that this's a particularly good site to keep track of international organization news.
Heartfelt thanks to blogger Dominik Zimmerman, Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, Germany, for alerting us. Happy too to see a number of women among the contributors. All 3 are based in Sweden: Matilda Arvidsson, University of Lund; Patricia Rinwigati, Uppsala University; and Katinka Svanberg, Stockholm University.

On August 29, ...

... 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, causing extensive damage, much of which has yet to be repaired 2 years later. An excellent study of the aftermath is Rebuilding After Katrina: A Population-Based Study of Labor and Human Rights in New Orleans (2006), a joint project of the University of California, Berkeley, and Tulane University.
... 1842 (165 years ago today), Queen Victoria of Britain and China's Qing Emperor concluded the Treaty of Nanking, which ended an armed conflict between the 2 countries, one that would come to be known as the First Opium War. The war had begun in 1839, after China destroyed thousands of casks of Indian opium intended for sale by the British in China, contrary to a ban that China had imposed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Al-Odah & Boumediene Petitioners

After a flurry of filing on Friday, briefing by Petitioners in the Al-Odah and Boumediene cases (consolidated on certiorari) closed. The merits briefs and a sizable number of amicus curiae briefs are available on the Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw website. An impressive array of amici filed briefs in support of Petitioners, including the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights; European and Canadian parliamentarians; constitutional, federal jurisdiction, human rights, and humanitarian law experts and scholars, including former ICRC principals; Amnesty International; retired and former federal judges, diplomats, and military officers; the ABA; and the National Institute of Military Justice.
As discussed in prior posts (here, here, here, and here), the case presents the question, among others, of whether the Military Commission Act of 2006 (MCA) unconstitutionally suspended the writ of habeas corpus in violation of the Suspension Clause, which states:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

The MCA purportedly barred the writ for pending cases wherein it states:
No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the U.S. who has been determined by the U.S. to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.

In prior proceedings, the government argued that the historic writ of habeas corpus would not have extended to alien enemy combatants held extraterritorially, so the MCA works no “suspension” within the meaning of the Constitution. This is notwithstanding that the Court in Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466, 480 (2004), clearly ruled that Guantánamo was within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States and that the writ did extend to Petitioners. Id. at 481-82. In the alternative, the Government has argued that Petitioners—as aliens outside sovereign U.S. territory—have no constitutional rights. Petitioners have responded that the Suspension Clause—situated in Article 1 of the Constitution—creates no individual rights, bur rather is a structural constraint on Congress providing

constitutional protection to a preexisting right founded in the common law: the right to obtain independent judicial review of a detention to ensure that no person is deprived of liberty by the Executive without a satisfactory basis in law and fact.

Al-Odah v. United States, Brief For Petitioners El-Banna et al.
Following the Supreme Court’s holding in Rasul v. Bush, the Department of Defense convened Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) to determine whether an individual could be detained as an “enemy combatant.” The Department also established Administrative Review Boards (ARBs) to meet annually to determine whether this designation still holds. The Al-Odah & Boumediene cases also present the question of whether the CSRTs and ARBs provide an adequate substitute for habeas corpus where they provide only limited rights of participation and confrontation, deny the right to counsel, admit evidence procured by torture and coercion, admit hearsay and other evidence that would otherwise be inadmissible, are apparently subject to command influence, and are not subject to plenary review on appeal. Testimony from former CSRT participants about these procedural flaws in the process, including Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham (upper left, photo by Chris Carlson/NPR), probably led to the Supreme Court reversing its original denial of certiorari in the cases.
Stay tuned for the government's briefs....

[by IntLawGrrl Beth Van Schaack, under her pen name Eleanor Roosevelt]

Write On! New Voices in Human Rights

(Write On! is an occasional item about notable calls for papers.)
The International Human Rights Section of the Association of American Law Schools invites abstract proposals from "faculty members and other scholars who have not previously had an opportunity to present a scholarly paper at an AALS annual meeting." Persons accepted will present at a morning session on Friday, January 4, 2008, during the annual meeting to be held in New York. Deadline's September 26, 2007; for details, contact

On August 28, ...

... 1913, the Netherlands' Queen Wilhelmina opened the Peace Palace (right) at The Hague. Administered by the Carnegie Foundation, today the building is home to a number of international institutions, including the International Court of Justice.
... 1963, in what a Washington, D.C.-based reporter called "the greatest assembly for a redress of grievances that this capital has ever seen," more than 200,000 women, children, and men marched for civil rights. Leaders met at the White House with a welcoming President John F. Kennedy. Among the speakers who followed a performance by Paris-expatriate-American Josephine Baker at the Lincoln Memorial was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. , who delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, a video of which is posted below.

"I Have a Dream"

Monday, August 27, 2007

Goodbye to "Get Out of Jail Free!" cards

There's much food for thought in the news of U.S. District Judge William M. Hoeveler's ruling that Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, due for release next week from U.S. federal prison, may be extradited to France, where he's been convicted in absentia of laundering proceeds from drug trafficking through French banks and the French real estate market.
There's the decision itself, of course:
Convicted of drug trafficking by a Miami-based jury in 1992, Noriega, de facto ruler of Panama at the time of his 1989 capture there by U.S. troops, enjoys, by judicial order, the status of a prisoner of war protected by the Third Geneva Convention. Hoeveler's decision hinged, therefore, on his conclusion that the Convention does not forbid transferring a POW to a 3d state for criminal trial. Noriega's attorney's said to be mulling "whether to challenge the ruling in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit or with the United Nations." That last reference comes as a surprise. Can't think of any U.N. body that might be able to do anything enforceable in the matter except the Security Council, where, of course, the United States and France both have power to veto any such move.
And then there's the larger picture:
As more and more states reach outside their own territory to exercise criminal jurisdiction, it seems likely that the most notorious persons who suffer conviction and less-than-a-life-sentence in 1 sovereign state will look forward not to a final release date, but rather, on release, to a move to another jail in another sovereign state. Perhaps it's the ne bis in idem (that's double jeopardy, roughly speaking) overtones in this prospect that explain France's no-comment on the still-pending U.S. case -- as Reuters' Paris bureau put it, why France has made no official statement but instead "accepted the decision with prudence and discretion."

Cambodia Tribunal Update

The Cambodian government announced Friday that You Bunleng, one of two co-investigating judges for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), will not leave his current job despite his appointment to Cambodia's Appeals Court. Apparently in response to Thursday's UN report slamming the government for transferring the judge (discussed here), this step illustrates the power of international monitoring of the Cambodian government's behavior with respect to the Khmer Rouge trials. While surely not the last of the obstacles that the government will throw in the path of the tribunal, hopefully the outrage of the international community will be as effective in dismantling future roadblocks.

On August 27, ...

... 1875, Katharine Dexter McCormick (right) was born in Dexter, Michigan. In 1904 she earned a bachelor of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the 1st woman ever to be graduated from that institution. After marriage to an heir of the International Harvester Co. fortune foundered when he developed schizophrenia, she devoted herself to women's issues, becoming a leader in the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the League of Women Voters. She campaigned for better and more widely available methods of contraception, and smuggled diaphragms from Britain to be used in the clinic of fellow campaigner Margaret Sanger. "[O]nce described as 'rich as Croesus,'" McCormick funded research that led to development of The Pill. Of McCormick and Sanger the Global Campaign for Microbicides writes:
No less than five men have been heralded by historians as the "father" of the modern birth control pill. In reality, it was two women who had both the foresight and the determination to transform women's sexual lives.
... 1991, the European Community recognized Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as independent nation-states.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

French diplomacy in Iraq?

"It's time to stop lecturing the Americans about their errors and start contributing to a solution," declares a LeMonde editorial in approval of the new interest in Iraq displayed by new French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.
France’s intervention will definitely not be military. But playing on the 30-year relationship between Kouchner and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who has close ties to Kurdish and Shiite leaders, may help speed a political solution. France’s involvement in Iraq since 2003 has been limited to writing off about $5.5 billion in debt and pushing for greater UN role. British and German leaders welcome the move as much as the United States does. But the “prevailing view” in the French diplomatic corps is that negotiating is futile; “the civil war needs to run its course”. Some also fear that getting involved will ruin France’s diplomatic standing in the rest of the Arab world and open it up to more terrorist attacks. But both conservative and left newspapers agree that it’s time to stop gloating about being right and get back to playing on the international scene. Does this mean we can get back to eating "French" fries?

On August 26, ...

... 1996, 2 years after her appointment as a special expert by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Graça Machel (right), dubbed "children's champion" by the BBC, issued a comprehensive report on child soldiers and other impact of conflict on children throughout the world. The report issued a "call to action" for greater protection for children, in keeping with the promise of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Machel's report provided essential data for my article Calling Children to Account: The Proposal for a Juvenile Chamber in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, 29 Pepperdine Law Review 167 (2002).
... 2002 (5 years ago today), the World Summit on Sustainable Development, known colloquially as Earth Summit 2002, opened in Johannesburg, South Africa. The U.N.-sponsored meeting closed 10 days later with adoption of a Political Declaration. A Guardian (London) recap is here.
... 2007 (today), Americans celebrate Women's Equality Day on this 87th anniversary of U.S. women's suffrage. Not a Hallmark holiday yet, but 1 that politicians're eager to honor (see here and here and here).

Death in the heart of Texas redux

We've posted before about the fondness for the death penalty in Texas, which this week executed its 400th inmate since 1982, when it reinstated capital punishment following a brief, U.S. Supreme Court-imposed moratorium. (That's 21 so far this year, with another 3 persons set for execution this week.) Today our Opinio Juris colleague, Roger Alford, reports on a colloquy on the subject between Texas and the European Union. The EU called for a halt to executions in the state. Here's the response of Texas Gov. Rick Perry:

230 years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination. Texans long ago decided that the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens. While we respect our friends in Europe, welcome their investment in our state and appreciate their interest in our laws, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.

Roger remarks:

This is cute, but regrettable. Governor Perry doesn't seem to take the EU's statement seriously. Of course, the EU is not suggesting that it wishes to 'govern Texas.' It is simply engaging in public diplomacy about an issue of global concern. Recognizing Texas's sovereignty over this issue, it is issuing a diplomatic request for Texas to consider a moratorium.
Rather than mock the European Union's respectful diplomatic overture, I wish Governor Perry would take it seriously and address the EU's concerns on the merits.

Agree, Roger, with one caveat: Isn't it possible that Texas' response was meant neither to be cute nor mocking, but rather dead serious?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

An Agora that'd make the men of ancient Athens proud (but not in a good way)

The latest edition of the American Journal of International Law just found its way here. Among its excellent contents is part 2 of an Agora -- AJIL's term for an on-paper-only symposium about a topical topic -- on military commissions in our post-9/11 world.
"Agora," of course, is the Greek word for the marketplaces, like the one at right, where Socrates, Plato, and other men of intellect conducted public discourse. It's perhaps too apt a term here:
Couldn't help noticing that out of all the articles AJIL published -- 7 total in part 1 and part 2 -- not 1 was written by a woman.
That couldn't have been for lack of 1 able to take on the task. The notion that women do not think and work and write on issues critical to national security is, as posted before, simply wrong. At least 8 IntLawGrrls've published in the area, on military and postconflict justice, the Geneva Conventions, counterterrorism, humanitarian law: Elena Baylis (Amelia Earhart), Mary Coombs (Charming Betsy), Elizabeth Lutes Hillman (Vera Brittain), Naomi Norberg (Anna Koransky) Diane Orentlicher (Beatrice), Naomi Roht-Arriaza (Gabriela Mistral), Beth Van Schaack (Eleanor Roosevelt), and I. So too have many of our colleagues; just a few of the names that jump to mind are Rosa Brooks, Laura A. Dickinson, Jenny Martinez, Mary Ellen O'Connell, Leila Nadya Sadat, Jane Stromseth, and Ruth Wedgwood.
The absence of any such voices in this Agora makes for an unfortunate reinforcement of an outdated misapprehension about who is expert on matters of international law and national security.

A friend to women

Today's San Francisco Chronicle carries news of the passing of Leo Kanowitz (right), emeritus professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and author of "the first extensive study of women's legal status in the civil rights era," which "became a reference work for feminist scholars and activists."
Born in Brooklyn to immigrant parents, Kanowitz was a feisty organizer for the feisty International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union before he began his law studies. As a postgrad in the early '60s he took part -- as the lone man -- in a women-and-the-law group put together by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then a law professor at Columbia and now, of course, the lone woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ginsburg's casebook coauthor, Herma Hill Kay, law professor and former dean at the University of California, Berkeley, told Chronicle reporter Bob Egelko that through his book Women and the Law: The Unfinished Revolution (1969), Kanowitz
called people's attention to the fact that the way the law was treating women could be viewed as a civil right, a human right, and not just a woman's right.

On August 25, ...

... 1927 (80 years ago today), Althea Gibson (left) was born in Silver, South Carolina. She grew up in Harlem, where she began to play tennis, and in the early 1950s "had a scintillating amateur career in spite of segregated offerings" for African-American athletes. Later in the decade she won 11 major international titles, including the French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon. Associated Press named her Female Athlete of the Year in 1957, making her the 1st African-American winner. Gibson died in 2003.
... 1989, Mayumi Moriyama (right) became the 1st woman to hold the influential post of Chief Cabinet Secretary in Japan. She had been Japan's delegate to a U.N. conference on women in 1985 and served on the legislature's foreign affairs committee. Moriyama remains in government, and has served as Minister of Justice since 2001.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Executive meddling in the ECCC

Just as the Co-Investigating Judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) are getting into the meat of their work, with the prosecutors' introductory submissions filed last month, the executive has transferred Co-Investigating Judge You Bunleng to the position of President of the Cambodian Court of Appeal. Yesterday, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Human Rights in Cambodia Yash Ghai and the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Leandro Despouy slammed the executive branch for this move, stating that "the replacement of the Appeal Court President was done at the request of the executive branch of the government in contravention of the separation of executive and judicial powers specified in the Constitution." (The Constitution empowers only the Supreme Council of Magistracy to transfer judges.) This move sends several concerning messages. First, it says to the other Cambodian judges in the ECCC that they are under the control of the executive, and can be transferred at the whim of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Second, it tells the tribunal staff, national and international, that the executive can delay the process whenever it pleases -- a real concern for the ECCC, whose three-year mandate is ticking past. Perhaps most importantly, this move signals to the rest of the Cambodian judiciary and the world that the Cambodian government is all too willing to deny the "essential protections provided to judges, including guarantees of tenure, that enable judges to administer, and be seen to administer justice efficiently, impartially and fairly, free of political interference."

Kudos to Lan Cao

A favored feature at ImmigrationProf blog, "Immigrant of the Day," provides glimpses of individuals who've come to and enriched life in the United States. A recent worthy honoree is Lan Cao (right). International law professor at Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, she came to the United States as a teenager, having grown up in wartorn Vietnam. Cao's the author of a host of law review articles in her specialization, economic globalization, ethnicity, and Asia; co-author with Himilce Novas of Everything You Need to Know About Asian American History (rev. ed. 2004); and author of a semi-autobiographical novel, Monkey Bridge (1997).
Am honored to have Professor Cao as a colleague on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.
Heartfelt congratulations!

On August 24, ...

... 1950, Edith Sampson (right), 49, became the 1st African-American delegate to the United Nations to hold the position, having been appointed an alternate delegate by President Harry S. Truman. This was among many 1sts in her career: she was the 1st woman to graduate from Chicago's Loyola University School of Law; the 1st African-American woman elected a judge in the United States; and the 1st African-American to be named a member at large of NATO.
... 2006, in a move that rendered longstanding notions of the solar system obsolete, the nongovernmental organization International Astronomical Union determined that Pluto is not a planet, as schoolchildren'd been told for decades. That celestial body -- named in 1930 on a suggestion from 11-year-old English schoolgirl Venetia Burney (above) -- is now classified as a "dwarf planet," along with other bits and pieces orbiting the sun.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Women at Nuremberg: Staffers

(Part 2 of IntLawGrrls' Women at Nuremberg series)

Images of the many women who played administrative roles during the Trial of the Major War Criminals and subsequent proceedings jump out at readers of Peter Heigl's book Nürnberger Prozesse - Nuremberg Trials (2001). Women helped direct renovation of the courtroom. They translated documents, transcribed testimony, kept papers in order, and took dictation during witness interviews. Today we'll mention just 2 of those women.
A major-domo, if you will, seems to have been Captain Virginia Gill, Administrative Officer in the Office of Chief Counsel for war crimes. (Heigl also identifies her as the Executive to the Prosecution, in a photo of her greeting 4 visiting U.S. Senators.) Gill, her hand at her cheek, is depicted above during an April 1947 courtroom session. To her left are Brig. Gen. Telford Taylor, a leading prosecutor and later author of a superb memoir of the trials; Gen. Lucius D. Clay; and another prosecutor, Joseph W. Kaufman, deputy Chief of Counsel. To Gill's right, a hatted woman identified only as "Mrs. Clay" and Brig. Gen. Leroy Watson.
Another remarkable staffer at Nuremberg was Edith Simon Coliver (left, in 1940). After receiving a bachelor's degree at the University of California, Berkeley, she signed on with the U.S. Office of War Information, and helped as a translator at the San Francisco Conference that concluded with adoption of the U.N. Charter. Soon after she returned to her birthplace, Germany, to work at Nuremberg. As 1 article put it:

As a 23-year-old, Coliver translated the pretrial testimony of high-ranking Nazi officer Hermann Goering for American interrogators.
'He was not particularly thrilled to see a woman, a Jewish woman, as his interpreter,' she told the Bulletin in 1995.
Coliver surprised herself by later asking Goering to sign a program. 'Then, I was ashamed of myself,' she told the Bulletin. 'Why would I be getting an autograph from Nuremberg?' So she asked her boss to sign as well. He did, next to Goering's signature, and wrote 'To Edith Simon, who helped hang the same.'

(The incident no doubt took place during the trial. Goering indeed received the death penalty, but cheated the hangman by committing suicide in his cell.)
In her later years Coliver was an executive at the Asia Foundation, serving in the Philippines and Taiwan. The Bay Area-based "'woman of the world,'" who spoke not only German and English, but also French, Spanish, Tagalog, Portuguese, and Mandarin, died in 2002 at age 79. Among her survivors is her daughter and our colleague, Sandra Coliver, Senior Legal Officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative. (photo at right courtesy of Telford Taylor Papers, Columbia University Law School; at left, Berkeley's International House).

Coming next week in this Women at Nuremberg series: Press, Witnesses, Defendants.

Micro-loan migration

Check out this article about Katrin Fakiri (right), not long ago "a single woman climbing the corporate ladder in the Silicon Valley," California's high-tech region, who returned to her birthplace, Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2002. There Fakiri directs Parwaz Microfinance Institution, which gives women micro-loans to set up small businesses. The number of beneficiaries is not small at all: Named for the Dari word meaning "to rise" or "to fly," Parwaz "offers an estimated 9,000 poor women small loans at 2 percent interest," Fariba Nawa (left), herself an Afghan-American freelance journalist, writes in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Today Fakiri's married and the mother of a young son. She's stayed on even after stepped-up violence drove other expats out of Afghanistan, and she'd rather not leave:
'In the beginning, I didn't think women would be able to open businesses and be able to pay back the loan,' Fakiri said. 'But about 98 percent are paying off their loans. If the security is good, I could stay here forever.'

On August 23, ...

... 1847 (160 years ago today), Sarah Frances Whiting (left) was born in Wyoming, New York. Daughter of a physics teacher, she developed a passion for science early in life. In 1876 she became the 1st Professor of Physics at Wellesley College, a new institution of higher education for women in Massachusetts. Based on what she learned by auditing classes at Harvard that otherwise were closed to women, Whiting assembled a top-rate laboratory at Wellesley; she also built the astronomy observatory at the college, from which she retired in 1912. Whiting was a "foremother of American women physicists," as 1 article put it.
... 1927 (80 years ago today), following years of litigation challenging their convictions for a 1920 double murder, Nicola Sacco, Bartolomeo Vanzetti, and Celestino Madeiros died by execution in Massachusetts' electric chair. The case of Sacco and Vanzetti, anarchists of Italian origin, had become an international cause célèbre, and their execution sparked protests as near as Boston and New York, as far away as Buenos Aires and beyond.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Climate Change and Urban Growth

In a very interesting intersection of the international with the local, California and San Bernardino County reached settlement yesterday in a suit challenging the county’s growth plan on climate change grounds. Under the settlement, the disputed general plan will remain in effect, but “[t]he County agrees to use best efforts to prepare and adopt the General Plan amendment, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan, and the environmental review of those documents… within 30 months” of the settlement’s execution. A parallel suit by environmental groups was not part of the settlement, and so may continue to put pressure on the county.
This suit and its resolution reflect the complexities of law structured around fixed levels of governance attempting to address a problem like climate change. Localities are often at the front-end of forwarding more progressive climate policy, such as in their joining international coalitions of cities, developing greenhouse gas emissions plans, and pledging to meet Kyoto standards. But this dispute serves as an important reminder that localities also are important sites in the dialogue about whether economic development and emissions reductions can be reconciled. For example, Warming Law Blog has reported on the massive political tensions surrounding this suit. As our carbon economy faces up to the crisis of climate change, these kinds of conversations will only become more critical.

Women at Nuremberg: Prosecutors

As promised, the 1st in a series about women at the Nuremberg trials:
Readers may recall that for months we at IntLawGrrls have stayed on the trail of women who served on the team that prosecuted defendants before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. The quest was launched by Diane Orentlicher, who's assumed the IntLawGrrl nom de plume of "Beatrice" in recognition of a conversation that our colleague Patricia Viseur-Sellers had with IMT prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz; he said

that, along with another woman whose name he could not recall, 'Beatrice' was part of the Nuremberg Prosecution team.

Later, another source relayed a story that 1 of the women at Nuremberg was married to a male prosecutor, a fact the couple tried to keep quiet.
Sleuthing's led us to believe that Ferencz might've had in mind Cecelia H. Goetz, a New Yorker who appeared before the bench during the "industrialists" trial of Alfred Krupp. Other names of women prosecutors at Nuremberg also have surfaced: Phillis Heller Rosenthal, Belle Mayer Zeck, and Mary Kaufman.
Questions remain:
Were those 4 all the women who prosecuted at Nuremberg? These are Americans -- did women work with the Russian, English, or French teams? And what of "Beatrice"?
According to a slim but excellent volume I picked up this summer at Nuremberg, the answer to the 1st question quite clearly is "no."
In his German-English book Nürnberger Prozesse - Nuremberg Trials (2001), Peter Heigl writes:

[I]t is interesting to point out that staffs were comprised about equally of both genders, with the exception of the all-male judges and the prosecutors and defense lawyers; at the follow-up trials there were three female prosecutors and a few female defendants. (pp. 52-53)

The only 1 of those "3" prosecutors whom Heigl gives a name is altogether new: Dorothea G. Minskoff, pictured above next to a defense attorney at a Ministries case hearing. No other names're mentioned, nor any more information given.
A 1948 directory of IMT personnel, however, provides additional clues. Goetz is listed, as is to be expected, and Mary Kaufman, too. But the only Mayer was named Hilde, and neither Heller nor Rosenthal is there. An interesting find: the listing for Dorothea G. Minskoff reveals her at the same address as Emanuel Minskoff, a prosecutor in the I.G. Farben case. Is this the couple mentioned in the story above?
Even more intriguing, 2 women named Beatrice served at IMT in 1948, Beatrice E. Benford and Beatrice O. Bushnell. Might 1 be our "Beatrice"?

Still to come in this Women at Nuremberg series: Staffers, Press, Witnesses, and, alas, those Defendants.

A 21st C. prosecutor calls fair terror trials

While mulling the role of women as prosecutors at Nuremberg, check out this op-ed on what to do with persons detained at Guantánamo and other post-9/11 terrorism suspects.
The answer:
Take 'em to court. A federal criminal court, that is, not a newfangled court offering at best due process lite (as I too argued here).
The author:
Former federal prosecutor Kelly Anne Moore (right), a partner at Morgan Lewis in Manhattan.
Moore, who was "recognized by President George W. Bush for her contributions to the war on terrorism" while serving from 2002 to 2006 as chief of the Violent Crimes and Terrorism Section in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, writes:
The United States does not need a new and untested detention system for terrorists. The existing federal system has a proven track record of dealing with complex prosecutions.
... I have had firsthand experience doing just what proponents of a national-security court say is impossible.
Where are the persons she pursued today? The federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
'Nuff said.

On August 22, ...

... 1902, Leni Riefenstahl was born in Berlin, Germany. After working as a dancer and actress, she turned to film-making in the early 1930s. She is (in)famous for producing 2 films, "Triumph of the Will" and "Olympia," that, though award-winning, nonetheless were condemned as pro-Nazi propaganda. After World War II she continued to work as a photographer and cinematographer. Her efforts continued to stir controversy; indeed, examination of just 2 items (here and here) demonstrates the differences of opinion about her. Riefenstahl died at age 101. (cover photo at left from Leni Riefenstahl-Five Lives, Angelika Taschen ed. (2000))
... 1910, by Treaty, Japan annexed Korea, which had been a protectorate. The move effectively colonized Korea. As recently as 1995, a claim by Japan's Prime Minister that the annexation had been "legal" aroused anger in both North and South Korea.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Go On! International prosecutors' chautauqua

(Go On! is an occasional item on symposia of interest.) The meaty topic to be addressed at an August 29 discussion at New York's Chatauqua Institution is "The Laws of War: Past, Present, and Future". Featured is a stellar panel of men who've served as prosecutors in international criminal tribunals; in order of tribunal seniority, they are:
►International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg: Whitney Harris, Henry King
►International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia: David Tolbert
►International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda: Hassan Jallow
►International Criminal Court: Luis Moreno-Ocampo
►Special Court for Sierra Leone: David M. Crane, Desmond DeSilva, Stephen Rapp
►Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia: Robert Petit
Moderating the event, whose cosponsors include the American Society of International Law, will be a number of international criminal law experts. Among them is our colleague Leila Nadya Sadat. She's the only woman on the program, though women've worked on the prosecution in all these jurisdictions. One is Cecilia Goetz (above), among a number of women prosecutors at Nuremberg. Learning more about them is, thanks to our own Beatrice, an ongoing IntLawGrrls quest. (More on Goetz' colleagues -- IntLawGrrls Women at Nuremberg series --begins tomorrow.)
Understood that U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, once Chief Prosecutor at the ad hoc tribunals, and her successor, Carla del Ponte, might be tad busy these days. But perhaps future sessions -- with luck, this "International Humanitarian Law Dialog" will become an annual event -- will feature them or others who might add insights to what promises to be a powerful dialogue.

On August 21, ...

... 1968, a growth in liberal democratic practice that had come to be known as "Prague Spring" was halted by Soviet tanks rumbling through the capital city of Czechoslovakia. Placed under arrest were leaders of the movement, among them Prime Minister Alexander Dubcek. The West complained but did not act, and it was not until 1989 that the Soviet-backed regime was toppled.
... 1944, delegates from 4 Allied countries, the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China, opened the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. Held at a mansion (left) in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the meeting, which ended with October 7 proposals, led to establishment the following year of the United Nations.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Thai voters approve new constitution

Thai voters gave themselves a new constitution Sunday, bringing military rule closer to an end. Almost a year ago, a military junta ousted the popularly elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. In exile in London, Thaksin has been charged with corruption in Thailand and many leaders of his party, Thai Rak Thai, were judged guilty of election fraud and have been banned from politics for 5 years. Called “the first step in moving forward to full democracy” by the junta-appointed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, the new constitution, approved by perhaps as many as 70% of voters, provides for democracy but gives bureaucracy and the military greater influence than electoral politics. Some voters are simply relieved to be moving on, while others, primarily among rural voters who supported Thaksin, oppose the constitution as a “vote to endorse the coup” that won’t do anything for the poor. Social and political divisions subsist, of course, and election battles are likely to be fierce. Former senator Kraisak Choonhavan predicts aggressive, even nondemocratic campaigning, saying Thailand is "not in for a pretty time". Let's hope this doesn't forbode election violence like that seen in Guatemala, where the body count of 26 I reported here is now up to 40, with Rigoberta Menchú's party losing several people last week.

On August 20, ...

...1998, in the Quebec Secession Case, the Canadian Supreme Court applied international norms relating to self-determination of peoples to hold unanimously that people with in the predominantly French-speaking province of Québec (flag at right) had no right under either international or domestic law to secede; rather, they were expected to achieve self-determination within the framework of the state of Canada (flag at left). The decision has become a landmark judicial examination of secession and self-determination.
...1966, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) was born in Miami.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Oil boom, oil curse

As companies and even states across the US and a few European countries divest from Sudan, as President Bush tightens decade-old sanctions against Sudan, Sudan’s Interior Minister Zubair Bashir Taha says Sudan is “not afraid of sanctions”. Indeed, Sudan’s already booming economy is expected to grow another 13% this year, thanks to over $4 billion in oil exports and heavy investments from China and other Asian nations. Such investments have quadrupled since 1996, amounting to almost $2.3 billion in 2006. For example, two-thirds of Sudan’s oil goes to China, which has invested $7 billion in oil and infrastructure projects. For the elite in Khartoum, the boom means fancy hotels with swimming pools and weekend brunches, and outdoor cafes with water misters à la Palm Springs to make the 100-degree heat more bearable. Meanwhile, 15 minutes away, both electricity and the paved road stop at the outer edge of a poor district, where people like Bakri Habi, a government employee, live 12 persons to a 1-room house. “We can’t help but suffer psychologically” he says, noticing daily the difference between home and Khartoum. Economist Abda Yahia El Mahdi says Sudan is “heading directly into the oil curse”: spending and becoming a consuming society, but not investing in its own development. Many want to see American investors return, for reasons of “credibility, honesty, science and technology”. Perhaps if the Dream for Darfur campaign succeeds, China will use its investor status to convince Khartoum to put an end to the violence ravaging Darfur and, thus, to the sanctions. And how could it not, with Mia Farrow participating in the Kigali (Rwanda) leg of the torch relay that began in Chad August 9?

On August 19, ...

... 2003, explosion of a truck bomb just outside the United Nations' headquarters in Baghdad resulted in the deaths of nearly 2 dozen persons, among them Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N.'s top envoy there and formerly the High Commissioner for Human Rights; American human rights lawyer Arthur Helton. The blast prompted the withdrawal of U.N. workers from Iraq, where a U.S.-coalition had invaded in March. The United Nations did not return until 2004. (photo of bombed headquarters courtesy of U.N. archive)
... 1883, Coco Chanel, as the woman given the birthname Gabrielle "was known the world over," was born. By the time of her death 87 years later at the Ritz hotel in Paris, she'd become "one of the greatest couturiers of the 20th century" and purveyor of the still-bestselling fragrance, No. 5. Describing her as "shrewd, chic and on the cutting edge," a Time profile contended that although Chanel did not consider herself a feminist, she aided "the liberation of women" by promoting easier-to-wear attire.