Monday, April 30, 2007
On why no U.S. head of state to date, the article refers not only to lingering sexism, but also to quirks in the U.S. presidential system and to the "'warrior image'" inherent in the constitutional role of Commander in Chief (of the Army and Navy, that is; not the people at large).
Other thoughts on why this is?
Patricia Viseur Sellers, who served for twelve years as advisor on gender issues in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, “discovered” me. Wondering whether any women served as a senior professional at Nuremberg, Ms. Sellers has asked Nuremberg prosecutors if they could name any. In response, Benjamin Ferencz told Ms. Sellers that, along with another woman whose name he could not recall, “Beatrice” was part of the Nuremberg Prosecution team, and recalled that I live in New York. Despite concerted efforts to find me there, Ms. Sellers has not yet been able to do so. But thanks to her determination to ensure that I remain part of the history of Nuremberg, I have not been totally erased.
If Phillis Heller Rosenthal is the other female prosecutor whose name previously eluded Mr. Ferencz, perhaps yesterday's sad news will help ensure that she, too, remains a part of our collective history.
Which was the 1st country in the world to be governed by a woman as head of state or government?
b) Sri Lanka
c) São Tomé and Príncipe
... 1993, a man plunged a knife into the back of tennis' top woman player, Monica Seles, as she played a match in Hamburg, Germany. The attacker, an unemployed man described as "disturbed," was convicted later in the year and received a suspended 2-year sentence. The 19-year-old Seles did not return to elite tennis until 1995, and she never regained 1st place on the circuit.
b) Sri Lanka. It became the 1st country in the world to be governed by a woman when, on July 20, 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike (left) was appointed Prime Minister. She had become leader of the nationalist Sri Lankan Freedom Party following the assassination a year earlier of her husband, Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike. She held office from 1960-65, 1970-77, and 1994-2000. Her daughter, Chandrika Kumaratunga, also served as the country's Prime Minister and, later, President.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
It’s been a busy week for “democracy” and human rights, and my weekend papers are unusually full of stories of interest. I thought I would offer a small collage, particularly as many of these items touch on issues discussed earlier on this site. I’ll begin with “democracy”, which, as "Grace O’Malley" [IntLawGrrl Diane Marie Amann] noted here , does not simply mean holding democratic elections: the IHT reports that “With the return of democracy, Nepal struggles with big questions”. In particular, how to set up a non-discriminatory, representative democracy. As you may recall, popular revolt in Nepal led to last year’s transfer of power from the King to Parliament and a peace agreement with Maoist rebels, who recently joined the Parliament. Since then, an interim constitution has been put in place and a coalition government, which includes the Maoists, has taken power. To clearly mark the transition, the Nepalese drafted a new national anthem and dropped “Royal” from the name of the Army and the state-owned airline. The government has even promised to start taxing the king’s property. But the major issue and source of frustration is still to be resolved: should Nepal become a federal state that grants autonomy to various ethnic groups and regions? If so, how? Meanwhile in Mali, voters go to the polls today for the first round of presidential elections, while the French study the results of yesterday’s Royal-Bayrou debate, in which Ségolène Royal tried to persuade François Bayrou's supporters to vote for her rather than Nicolas Sarkozy, in the upcoming 2nd round (see my earlier post). At the same time, the Ligue des droits de l'homme (as well as several of my neighborhood political associations) is calling for a massive turnout in favor of Ségolène Royal. Having said it would not intervene in pre-election debates unless it felt that democracy was in danger, the LDH announced that, given Sarkozy’s agenda, it considers that it is its “duty to warn the citizens”. Clearly, as "Amelia Earhart" [IntLawGrrl Elena Baylis] wrote earlier, there are many ways to run an election: having read LDH's statement, Grace O’Malley asked me if it's typical for NGOs to endorse candidates, noting that IRS nonprofit rules wouldn’t allow such a thing. My (French) husband responded, "where would we be if NGOs couldn’t speak out on such an important issue?
Putting an end, perhaps, to the 60-year saga of Japan’s “comfort women”, the Japanese Supreme Court rejected the comfort women’s claims, along with those of forced laborers, in 2 decisions handed down Friday. However, though it said these claims were barred by a 1972 statement in which Beijing renounced reparations for such crimes, the high court nonetheless acknowledged that the Japanese military or industries had forced women to be wartime sex slaves (lose 1, win 1). Continuing what "Grace O’Malley" [IntLawGrrl Diane Marie Amann] called a Janus-faced approach, Japanese prime minister Abe once again (see earlier post by Nanny of the Maroons [IntLawGrrl Karen E. Bravo]) pseudo-apologized, but refused to acknowledge Japan’s responsibility. The second loss comes from Germany, as the federal prosecutor rejected the suit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights charging Donald Rumsfeld with war crimes, alleging that Rumsfeld “personally ordered and condoned torture at U.S. detention facilities” . This is the 2nd such suit brought by CCR under the recent German law granting universal jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes. Both have been rejected by the prosecutor.
...1950, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) was born in Gladwin, Michigan.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
...1945, Italian partisans killed deposed fascist leader Benito Mussolini and associates, among them his mistress, Clara Petacci.
Friday, April 27, 2007
...1759, Mary Wollstonecraft (right), a feminist, author, and intellectual inspired by the ideals of the French revolutionary era, was born in London. Among her works was the 1792 landmark, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, in which she endeavored to show "that the first object of laudable ambition is to obtain a character as a human being, regardless of the distinction of sex." In 1792, Wollstonecraft died soon after giving birth to a daughter who, as Mary Shelley, would write Frankenstein.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
In Smith, Brewer, and Abdul-Kabir, the Court revisited a state system that has dogged it since Jurek, the 1976 decision to which the website alluded. There a splintered Court had ruled that Texas' method of guiding jurors to balance circumstances at a capital sentencing hearing could be applied properly. Since then, however, the Court has held a number of times that application in fact fell short of the Constitution's requirement that jurors be afforded full consideration of mitigating factors. A salient example: the reversals in Penry I and Penry II of death sentences imposed on a mentally retarded man.
...1954, a diplomatic conference began in Geneva, Switzerland, in an effort to resolve disputes in Indochina. It ended with a July 21 declaration that resulted in the north-south partition of Vietnam.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
...1945, members of 50 nation-states convened for a San Francisco Conference that would end with the June adoption of the Charter of the United Nations. Participants included Jessie Street, the only woman on the Australian delegation, a founder of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, and, according to Dr. Lenore Coltheart, 1 of a group of women responsible for Art. 8 of the Charter: "The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs." (May 1945 photo of Street addressing conference courtesy of National Library of Australia)
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Rosa Brooks has noted that Americans' estimates of their own generosity -- Americans assume that international assistance consumes 20% of the federal budget, and 64% believe that "our foreign aid budget was probably the single largest area of federal expenditures, higher than spending on the military Social Security, or Medicaid" -- are 'way off the mark. The European Union gave about $40 billion in 2005; in contrast, the FY2008 aid number for the United States is $36.5 billion, "only about 1% of total" U.S. spending, Brooks reports. As for the U.S. defense establishment, it seeks $481.4 billion "for baseline funding" in FY2008, to which must be added $141.7 billion for what the administration calls "the global war on terror," as well as the $100 billion being spent yearly on the war in Iraq.
The twice-as-much that Obama advocated pales by comparison.
In declaring Africa in "crisis," the analysis effectively equated "democracy" with elections. That is a common, and mistaken, equation. A free and fair election indeed is a marker of government by the people. But it is by no means the only one; moreover, as experience close to home has shown, election irregularities do not always mark democracy's absence.
Longterm aims of nation-building ought to be "peace and stability" and "protecting human rights," Susan S. Gibson wrote in The Misplaced Reliance on Free and Fair Elections in Nation Building: The Role of Constitutional Democracy and the Rule of Law, 21 Houston J. Int'l L. 1 (1998). Gibson, then a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, continued: "[F]ree and fair elections, by themselves, have not and can not achieve those goals." Her article called on the United Nations not only to press for such elections, but also to "develop procedures to help countries form and nurture stable, democratic forms of government ... founded on the rule of law." This complex evaluation, by which elections are a factor rather than a determinant, is necessary before a "crisis" may be declared -- let alone addressed.
... 1916, some 1,600 nationalists occupied sites in Dublin, the capital city of an Ireland then fully under British rule. After days of fighting, the rebels of this Easter Rising were defeated; Britain executed 15 leaders by firing squad. Second in command of 1 rebel group was Countess Constance Markievicz, pictured in the uniform of the auxiliary she headed, Cumann na mBan, Gaelic for "League of Women." A daughter of the Anglo-Irish Protestant ascendancy who had married a Polish count, Markievicz was the only woman court-martialed for her involvement in the rising. She received a death sentence, but it was commuted "solely and only on account of her sex"; she served just over a year in jail.
Monday, April 23, 2007
In June 1996, the Prosecutor of the ICTY brought a landmark indictment against eight defendants, charging them with crimes of sexual violence in the Bosnian town of Foca. When the ICTY Trial Chamber issued its judgment against three of those named in the original indictment in February 2001, crimes entailing sexual slavery were for the first time in history found by an international court to constitute the crime against humanity of enslavement.
One of the defendants named in the initial indictment, Radovan Stankovic, escaped trial in the ICTY case Prosecutor v. Kunarac et al. but was finally arrested in July 2002. (As Lakshmi Bai [IntLawGrrl Jaya Ramji-Nogales] reported yesterday, another defendant included in the original ICTY indictment, Dragan Zelenovic, was found in Siberia and sent to The Hague, where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison earlier this month.)
In 2005, the case against Stankovic became another first when the ICTY transferred his case to the War Crimes Chamber of Bosnia’s state court, which had begun operating earlier that year. Announcing the transfer, the ICTY described this action “as a landmark event, being the first transfer of an ICTY accused to be tried in a national jurisdiction.”
The charge of enslavement as a crime against humanity followed Stankovic to the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber, where the three-judge panel that heard his trial included an international judge who had previously served in the ICTY. (Parenthetically, in the view of some observers, the Bosnian court went too far in its efforts to protect witnesses through a decision to hold the entire main trial in closed session.) In November 2006, Stankovic was convicted on most of the counts against him, including enslavement, and was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment. On March 28, 2007, the Chamber’s appellate panel raised Stankovic’s sentence to 20 years.
... 1928, the Hollywood child star of the Depression era who later served as U.S. Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, Shirley Temple Black, was born in Santa Monica, California.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Nowhere to hide
Dragan Zelenovic, a member of the group of
former Bosnian Serb paramilitary commanders first indicted for rape as a crime against humanity in June 1996, was deported from Russia last June after being discovered in Siberia, where he was living under a false name. Earlier this month, the ICTY sentenced Zelenovic to 15 years in prison. In Canadian court, Desire Munyaneza was tried this month in the first application of Canada's Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act of 2000 for, among other acts, his involvement in raping Tutsi women during the Rwandan genocide. Munyaneza, who was denied refugee status in Canada, was arrested in 2005 by the Canadian police after a 5 year investigation. While many fish slip through the nets, it's increasingly clear that violators of international criminal law prohibiting rape can be caught anywhere, at any time. At the very least, this development will make perpetrators' lives unstable and uncomfortable.
The trauma of testifying
Zelenovic, who pled guilty to raping Muslim women, including a 15-year old girl, during the Serb seizure of the town of Foca in 1992, stated that the motivation for his plea was to spare his victims the trauma of testifying (possible subtext: three others indicted with Zelenovic had previously been convicted and sentenced to 12 to 28 years). In the Canadian trial, Witness
C-17 testified last week that Munyaneza raped her repeatedly. She had difficulty recalling details under cross-examination, explaining that "When I talk about the genocide, I try to erase everything from my mind." Earlier, Witness C-15, who was held as a sex slave at age 17 and now suffers from AIDS, faced questions on cross-examination such as, "When was the first time after the death of Habyarimana that you were raped?" Her testimony was interrupted when she fainted and had to be taken to the hospital.
Finally, earlier this month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour called for investigations of widespread sexual violence during attacks by Sudanese government forces in Darfur in December 2006. The UN reported at least 15 sexual assaults including rapes of 2 pregnant women and a 13-year old girl. Arbour specifically pointed out that systematic rape is a war crime. While this label gives force to the request for an investigation, does it make perpetrators think twice before acting? Perhaps that's too much to ask of international criminal law at this point in its evolution, but we march onwards in pursuit of internalization of the norm.
... 1451, Queen Isabella I, responsible both for the voyages to America of Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Inquisition, was born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Spain.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
... 1944, Article 17 of the Ordonnance portant organisation des pouvoirs publics en France après la Libération, declared French women eligible to vote "under the same conditions as men." It was the culmination of a suffrage movement that dated not just to the early 1900s (see photo), but all the way back to the late 1700s, when its leaders included Olympe de Gouges, namesake of IntLawGrrl Hélène Ruiz Fabri. Tomorrow, as "Anna Koransky" [IntLawGrrl Naomi Norberg] explained here, women and men in France will go to the polls for the 1st round of this year's Presidential election, in which, for the 1st time, a woman is among the leading candidates.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Confessions of my work this week….Just last month California State Senator, Leland Yee, introduced a bill (SB 999) that will finally remedy the unjust practice of sentencing children under the age of 18 to life in prison without the possibility of parole ("LWOP"). After submitting a letter endorsed by 75 law professors, I joined colleagues this week in meeting with Senate offices to urge their support for this bill. I am working on this issue because in
The bill is important for a number of reasons. It incorporates modern findings on child development. Regardless of the crime, young people are still capable of responding to rehabilitation. The reform also brings us in line with international human rights standards. Not only is LWOP for juveniles prohibited by international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the U.S. is a party, but the few countries that have the option in their laws do not use it. We know of only three countries in which at most 12 youth offenders are serving this sentence while there are an estimated 2, 270 in the United States (227 in California). In meeting with government delegates recently at the U.N. Council on Human Rights, the lawyer representing the
The bill has now passed out of the Public Safety Committee but it still needs two-thirds of our state legislature’s vote to pass. In 1990, after a wave of crime fears, the public approved the sentence as part of a larger ballot initiative. We now must garner a super majority of legislators to change it---for our children’s sake, I hope this is possible. I know I’ll be working on this in the weeks to come.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
... 1692, Bridget Bishop (left) was indicted on charges of witchcraft. The 1st to stand trial in the Salem, Massachusetts, witch hunt, she remained silent through 2 days of accusatory testimony and was convicted. On June 10 Bishop was hanged from an oak tree on what would come to be called Witches' Hill.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The New Yorker's Jane Mayer and others have written of late about the exponential increase in scenes of torture, on film and on TV, since the attacks of September 11, 2001. It's easy to criticize justificatory depictions in shows like "24." But is De Niro's critical usage that much different? And what about the countless iterations of Abu Ghraib's hooded man that have appeared not only on the news pages and in editorial cartoons, but also on untold university symposium posters? The propriety of one such poster provoked an impassioned discussion in my Human Rights class last week. Most students thought use of the image an appropriate means to draw attention to an event at which speakers would argue against torture. But a few voiced concern that even this usage helped to make something once was reflexively disturbing seem more familiar, more normal -- to inure even the most caring to scenes of torture.
The discussion took on new significance as eyes turned to scenes of horror at Virginia Tech. Of particular note is Alessandra Stanley's New York Times commentary on the sadly rote reportage that such tragedies have produced. Her column again spurred the question whether routinization of violence -- whether graphic depiction of violence for the cold consumption of all -- increases society's tolerance of violence to a degree that ought not to be tolerated.
(Many thanks to my superb Human Rights students for raising and exploring this important question.)
... 1951, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) was born in Racine, Wis.
... 1980, Zimbabwe gained independence following the ouster of the minority government that had called the country Rhodesia. Its 1st prime minister: Robert Mugabe, who eventually became president and continues to control the country. His critics may be found in the West, among African bishops, and in Zimbabwe itself.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
The humanitarian dimension of the problem can no longer be overlooked. Almost 4 million Iraqis are watching us today. Their needs are as obvious as the moral imperative to help. All of us – representatives of governments, international organizations and civil society – are now compelled to act.
(Occasional sobering thoughts.) As the American Civil Liberties Union released details on civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as an Afghan human rights group charged U.S. servicemembers with an "excessive reaction" to a March ambush, casualties continued.
According to Iraq Body Count, as of today between 61,728 and 67,703 Iraqi women, children, and men have died in the Iraqi conflict -- an increase of 1,317 to 1,817 deaths in 2 weeks.
American servicemember fatalities, through yesterday: 3,309 persons. Total coalition fatalities: 3,575 persons. (That's 78 servicemember deaths since April 2, 26 of them Americans.) The stated number of U.S. wounded remained at 24,314 persons.
Still no source for Afghan civilian casualties. Military casualties in the conflict in Afghanistan stand at 380 Americans and 180 other coalition servicemembers, an increase of 4 and 10 persons, respectively, in the last 2 weeks.
... 1969, Bernadette Devlin, a 21-year-old psychology student at Queen's University, Belfast, opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland, became the youngest woman ever elected a Member of Parliament at Westminster, and the 3d youngest MP ever.
Monday, April 16, 2007
... 2005, Marla Ruzicka, a 28-year-old aid worker from California who had founded the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, or CIVIC, died in a car bombing near Baghdad Airport. Ruzicka had spent the day on bereavement visits to survivors of Iraqi civilians who had been killed in what was by then a 2-years-on conflict in Iraq.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Come on, baby don't you want to go
To the same old place, sweet home Chicago
The traditional conception of family is not the only conception. The multiplicity of definitions and approaches illustrates clearly that there is no consensus as to the boundaries of family, and that “family status” may have varied meanings depending on the context or purpose for which the definition is desired. ... The family is not merely a creation of law, and while law may affect the ways in which families behave or structure themselves, the changing nature of family relationships also has an impact on the law.