Thursday, May 31, 2007
... 1969, "[s]ometime between eight at night and three the next morning," newlyweds Yoko Ono and John Lennon, "along side a roomful of people including Timothy Leary, Toronto Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, musician Petula Clark, and members of the Canadian Radha Krishna Temple," recorded "Give Peace a Chance," an instant favorite of anti-Vietnam War protesters. The session (right) brought to an end their 8-day bed-in at Montréal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel, footage of which is available here.
... 1973, in action that bears special relevance in light of current congressional debate on constraining U.S. President George W. Bush's conduct of the Iraq War, by amendment to a defense appropriations bill, the Senate defied President Richard M. Nixon and voted to stop funding U.S. bombing of Cambodia, which had begun secretly 3 years earlier. The vote followed similar House of Representatives action earlier in the month. Nixon acceded to pressure and stopped the bombing 3 months later.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
With Mia Farrow in the lead, some celebrities advocate boycotting what they've begun to call the "Genocide Olympics" unless China urges Sudan, its trading partner, to stop the violence in Darfur and let U.N. peacekeepers in. When Steven Spielberg, artistic director for the '08 games, expressed concern, China appointed a special envoy to the region.
In any event, is Darfur the best reason to play the card? Surely it is not the only one. Last month Amnesty International asked the International Olympic Committee to pressure China on account of repression within China itself -- a concern that's particularly noteworthy today, just 5 days short of the 18th anniversary of the Tiananmen killings. Of additional concern ought to be China's newfound penchant for giving foreign aid with no human rights strings attached. To the extent that it displaces the tradition of conditional aid, China's new policy of unfettered assistance promises to undermine a key means by which donor states from regions like North America and the European Union have prodded beneficiary states to treat their children -- and their women and men -- well.
... 1847, Alice Stopford Green, an historian and supporter of Irish independence who would be elected 3 times to Ireland's Seanad, or Senate, was born Alice Sophia Amelia Stopford in Kells, County Meath, Ireland.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
One hesitates to overstate the significance of this small rapprochement. Its scope was circumscribed, and there are many points of contention between the countries, among them Iran's nuclear program and its detention of scholar Halef Esfandiari and 2 other Iranian-Americans on charges of espionage. Still, yesterday's supplanting of what at times has seemed media grandstanding with serious, civil, face-to-face dialogue can only be a good thing.
Iraq Body Count reports that as of Monday between 64,405 and 70,552 Iraqis, women, children, and men, had died in the conflict -- an increase of 795 to 894 deaths in 2 weeks. American servicemember fatalities: 3,455 persons. Total coalition fatalities: 3,731 persons. (That's 56 servicemember deaths in 2 weeks, all but 2 of them Americans.) The stated number of U.S. wounded remained, implausibly, where it has been for well over a month, at 24,314 persons. Military casualties in the conflict in Afghanistan stand at 390 Americans and 194 other coalition servicemembers, an increase of 1 and 8, respectively, in the last 2 weeks.
... 2007 (today), is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, by 2002 declaration of the U.N. General Assembly. Founded in 1948, the "Blue Helmets," as they are known, were awarded the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize for contributing, "under extremely difficult conditions, contributed to reducing tensions where an armistice has been negotiated but a peace treaty has yet to be established," and so "represent[ing] the manifest will of the community of nations to achieve peace through negotiations ...."
Monday, May 28, 2007
... 1503 Pope Alexander VI issued a bull confirming, on the occasion of the marriage of King James IV and Margaret Tudor, a Treaty of Everlasting Peace between Scotland and England. It lasted 10 years.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
... 1615, Marguerite de Valois, whose stormy life as the French Queen Margot has been the stuff of fiction and film, died in Paris at the age of 62.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
With these words, a U.N. spokesman erased from the official record -- and so from history's memory -- "a hard-hitting statement denouncing aerial bombardment in the troubled Darfur region in a clear critique of the Sudanese government," read at a session yesterday of the U.N. Security Council by Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. There shall be prohibited, inter alia, any measure of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military manoeuvres, as well as the testing of any type of weapon.
Friday, May 25, 2007
[T]he dispossession of Aboriginals from their land '[w]as a conflagration of oppression and conflict which was, over the (19th) Century, to spread across the continent to dispossess, degrade and devastate the Aboriginal peoples and leave a national legacy of unutterable shame'[; this] represented 'the darkest aspect of the history of this nation'. There can, in our view, be little doubt that on a more directly personal level the policy of Colonial, and later State, administrations in Australia to systematically remove Aboriginal children from their parents and place them in institutions or other care and the consequences of that can be described in equally strong terms.
I have always held the view that the best way to help the Indigenous people of this nation is to give them the greatest possible access to the bounty and good fortune of this nation and that cannot happen unless they are absorbed into our mainstream.
We teach our children to say `Sorry' because it does not seem to come naturally to children. It is an adult undertaking to say `Sorry.' If the federal government, through our Prime Minister, can say `Sorry' on behalf of the Australian people, it will be a sign of our maturity. Saying `Sorry' is the place to begin the healing process, for from the expression of sorrow comes the possibility of forgiveness and, from forgiveness, reconciliation.
Promulgated around 1780 BCE (that is, "Before the Common Era," now the preferred rendering of what U.S. schoolchildren used to learn as "B.C." for "Before Christ"), the Code is said to be the most lasting contribution of Hammurabi, 6th king of the 1st Babylonia dynasty that ruled Mesopotamia, now Iraq. The Code was "the earliest-known example of a ruler proclaiming publicly to his people an entire body of laws, arranged in orderly groups, so that all men might read and know what was required of them," according to a 1915 treatise. It continued:
The code was carved upon a black stone monument, eight feet high, and clearly intended to be read in public view. This noted stone was found in the year 1901, not in Babylon, but in a city of the Persian mountains, to which some later conqueror must have carried it in triumph. It begins and ends with addresses to the gods. Even a law code was in those days regarded as a subject for prayer, though the prayers here are chiefly cursings of whoever shall neglect or destroy the law.
The code then regulates in clear and definite strokes the organization of society. The judge who blunders in a law case is to be expelled from his judgeship forever, and heavily fined. The witness who testifies falsely is to be slain. Indeed, all the heavier crimes are made punishable with death.
Even if a man builds a house badly, and it falls and kills the owner, the builder is to be slain. If the owner's son was killed, then the builder's son is slain. We can see where the Hebrews learned their law of "an eye for an eye." These grim retaliatory punishments take no note of excuses or explanations, but only of the fact -- with one striking exception. An accused person was allowed to cast himself into "the river," the Euphrates. Apparently the art of swimming was unknown; for if the current bore him to the shore alive he was declared innocent, if he drowned he was guilty. So we learn that faith in the justice of the ruling gods was already firmly, though somewhat childishly, established in the minds of men.
Yet even with this earliest set of laws, as with most things Babylonian, ... Hammurabi's code was not really the earliest. The preceding sets of laws have disappeared, but we have found several traces of them, and Hammurabi's own code clearly implies their existence. He is but reorganizing a legal system long established.
What city, divided by a river of the same name, was the imperial capital of Vietnam?
Check your answer here.
If you got it right, you may be ready to go head to head against a genuine IntLawGirl: Caitlin Snaring, 14, of Redmond, Washington, newly crowned winner of the National Geographic Bee. Of being the Bee's 1st girl champion since before she was born, Caitlin said simply, "I don't know why more girls aren't interested in geography."
Her other passion is Greek and Minoan pottery. An IntLawGrrl, indeed.
Hué, situated in Thua Thien province at the midpoint of Vietnam. The Hué, or Perfume, River bisects the city, which is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, among them the Hué Monuments pictured at right.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
"The politics of fear" as practiced by states and armed nonstate actors "is fuelling a downward spiral of human rights abuse in which no right is sacrosant and no person safe," Irene Kahn (left), Secretary General of the 46-year-old, London-headquartered Amnesty International, declared in announcing the release yesterday of the organization's annual report. Country-by-country, the report documents abuses from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, placing special emphasis on excesses of antiterrorism and repression of persons who use the internet as their medium for freedom of expression.
Another NGO zeroed in on its keystone concern: "Justice with a price tag is no justice at all," stated Huguette Labelle (right), chair of Transparency International, a 14-year-old group headquartered in Berlin. Her comments marked today's release of the 2007 Global Corruption Report. It traces the infiltration of bribery and political interference in all corners of the planet and at all points in the legal process -- from 1st encounters with police, to prosecutorial investigation, to adjudication itself. The report then sets forth ways to reduce corruption, among them greater transparency in selection and removal of court officials, stronger enforcement of anticorruption measures, unfettered media coverage of proceedings, and vigorous scrutiny by bar associations, private persons, and other sectors of civil society.
Of the Edicts of Aśoka, blog reader Patrick S. O'Donnell writes:
[T]he Indian emperor Aśoka (304-232 BCE) ... ruled the Mauryan Empire on the Indian subcontinent from c. 270-232 BCE. His edicts gave shape to his understanding of the Dharma of Buddhism, meaning for him ‘a moral polity of active social concern, religious tolerance, ecological awareness, the observance of common ethical precepts, and the renunciation of war [the sound of drums is now the sound of principle—dharma—not war]:’ ...
Patrick gives examples of the Edicts (a stone pillar fragment, now at the British Museum, pictured at right): orders for "banyan trees and mango groves to be planted, resthouses to be built, and wells to be dug every half-mile along the roads"; "an end to the killing and consumption of most animals in the royal kitchens"; "provision of medical facilities for men and beasts"; "generosity toward priests and ascetics, and frugality in spending"; commissioning "officers to work for the welfare and happiness of the poor and aged"; declaration of "his intention constantly to promote the welfare of all beings so as to pay off his debt to living creatures and to work for their happiness in this world and the next"; and honoring "men of all faiths."
He concludes that the Edicts of Aśoka (the emperor's pictured left) "were in stark contrast to the largely amoral maxims of power found in Kautilya’s Arthaśāstra (‘Science of Wealth,’ i.e., politics and economics), the latter’s reflections on power and conceptions of raison d’état not dissimilar to those of Machiavelli and Hobbes in Western political philosophy."
Aśoka's Edicts constitute our 4th nominee -- joining (1) the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, (2) the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and (3) the Law Merchant -- and another entry will arrive tomorrow (stay tuned).
What's your nominee? It can be a human artifact or a human being, a positive or a negative influence on the law. Tell us, with a brief description of your reasons, by posting a comment or by e-mailing us at email@example.com.
... 1918, Canadian women secured the right to vote in federal elections.
... 1819, H.R.H. Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent was born to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, and Princess Victoria Mary Louisa of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, in Kensington Palace, London. Shortly after her 18th birthday she would become Queen Victoria (right), ruling England and its empire for nearly 64 years, the longest reign in British history.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Every war challenges our understanding of the law, but this war has put law in its cross-hairs. Its rationale, its interrogations, its detentions, its re-shaping of the relative powers of our branches of government have profound consequences for our legal present and future.
We no longer have the gifts of the young Andy Bacevich to help us recover from the errors of this war. But we do have you. You are his contemporaries – some of you will even be fellow military officers – and we need your insight and passion to move beyond this conflict.Hers was a message for all.
Yesterday the legislation, SB 999, was read on the floor of the Senate, where a 2/3 majority is needed. Organizers are urging all to lobby for an "aye" vote; details here.
... 1960, Israel's Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced the capture of the mastermind of the deportation of 3 million Jews to concentration camps during the Nazi era, Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann had been seized in Argentina, where he was living under an assumed name. As depicted at left and reported in "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" by Hannah Arendt, Israel eventually put Eichmann on trial for crimes against the Jewish people; he was convicted and hanged. His kidnapping by Israeli agents prompted diplomatic protest from Argentina; the U.N. Security Council settled the dispute by resolution. A California-based member of Congress now is citing Eichmann to justify extraordinary renditions, the Bush Administration's post-September 11 policy of extralegal seizures of terrorism suspects.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
"My nomination is the Law Merchant for its contribution to the development of law, courts, equity, arbitration, and the speed with which disputes were administered.
"The Law Merchant saw the widespread use of agency principles, executory contracts, oral contracts, and a PEACEFUL transnational enforcement regime."
A worthy nominee, indeed, law merchant (also known as lex mercatoria). It joins 2 already-named candidates: (1) 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; and (2) the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
What's your nominee? Tell us by posting a comment or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
... 1947 (60 years ago today), U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed into law Congress' Act to provide for assistance to Greece and Turkey. The Act formed "the keystone of the Truman Doctrine to protect free peoples of the world in their right to select their own governments free of compulsion from within or without," and put into effect the United States' Cold War policy of containment; that is, of preventing expansion of the Soviet bloc. (March 1947 photo of Truman announcing Doctrine to Congress courtesy of the Truman Presidential Library.)
... 1957, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was born in Ketchikan, Alaska.
... 1969, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) was born in Salem, Oregon.
Monday, May 21, 2007
U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, 2005 TV appearance:
This has become the greatest propaganda tool that exists for recruiting of terrorists around the world. And it is unnecessary to be in that position. ... I think we should end up shutting it down, moving those prisoners. ... Those that we have reason to keep, keep. And those we don't, let go.
U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Senate committee hearing:
Rather than keeping us more secure, keeping Guantanamo open is harming our national interests. It compromises our long term military and strategic interests, and it impairs our standing overseas. I have certainly concluded that we should address any security issues on what to do with the remaining detainees, and then close it once and for all.
U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut:
Dodd has sponsored the Restoring the Constitution Act 0f 2007, a bill that would not close Guantánamo, but would allow detainees to petition federal courts for writs of habeas corpus, and also would address some due process concerns related to the military commissions set to try some Gitmo detainees.
On my first day in office, you have my word that Guantanamo will be closed.
I will withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq within 60 days and raze Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo. We must tell the world that the United States does not stand for
torture. It is unacceptable human behavior.
You could close Guantanamo; that’s a good move — but until the United States ends the occupation (of Iraq), we will still have this war.
He also called for the closing of Guantanamo -- the American military base in Cuba where putative al-Qaida terrorists are imprisoned: 'Why don't we say we don't do torture, we don't do rendition, that's not who we are as a people.'
... Richardson told an Arab-American group that, as president, he would close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorists ... Richardson said the prisons at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib had made Americans 'very, very ashamed.'
Last Term a divided U.S. Supreme Court assumed in Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon that defendants could invoke such a failure in their criminal cases, yet ruled that proof of failure would not warrant suppression of evidence gathered as a result of that failure. The Court will revisit the question next Term in Medellín v. Texas, in which the defendant's claim is bolstered by a 2004 judgment of the International Court of Justice.
In Jogi the Seventh Circuit turned aside a claim that plaintiff's civil lawsuit could be based on the 1789 Alien Tort Statute, instead looking to ordinary federal question jurisdiction.
The authors of this Insight -- Chimène Keitner, new to the faculty at University of California-Hastings, and Alabama Law Dean Kenneth C. Randall -- warn that "federal question jurisdiction will not necessarily encompass a wider set of potential claims," and add that "as federal case law progressively circumscribes the available causes of action under the" Alien Tort Statute,
plaintiffs may seek to file international law claims in state courts as claims for municipal torts—the very “torts” that the First Congress sought to bring within federal jurisdiction because of their potential implications for international affairs.
... 1932 (75 years ago today), inclement weather forced Amelia Earhart, aviator, feminist, pacifist, and namesake of IntLawGrrl Elena Baylis, to end her solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean -- 1st ever by a woman -- in Gallagher's field, County Derry, Ireland (pictured). Earhart landed 5 years to the day that Charles Lindbergh had completed his own solo trans-Atlantic flight.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The use of torture -- we could never gain as much we would gain from that torture as we lose in world opinion. We do not torture people. When I was in Vietnam, one of the things that sustained us, as we went -- underwent torture ourselves, is the knowledge that if we had our positions reversed and we were the captors, we would not impose that kind of treatment on them.
It's not about the terrorists, it's about us. It's about what kind of country we are. And a fact: The more physical pain you inflict on someone, the more they're going to tell you what they think you want to know.
It's about us as a nation. We have procedures for interrogation in the Army Field Manual. Those, I think, would be adequate in 999,999 of cases, and I think that if we agree to torture people, we will do ourselves great harm in the world.
... I would tell the people who had to do the interrogation to use every method they could think of. It shouldn't be torture, but every method they can think of -- ... well, I'd say every method they could think of, and I would support them in doing that because I've seen what -- I've seen what can happen when you make a mistake about this, and I don't want to see another 3,000 people dead in New York or any place else.
I'm glad they're at Guantanamo. I don't want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don't get the access to lawyers they get when they're on our soil. I don't want them in our prisons. I want them there.
Some people have said, we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo. We ought to make sure that the terrorists -- and there's no question but that in a setting like that where you have a ticking bomb that the president of the United States -- not the CIA interrogator, the president of the United States -- has to make the call. And enhanced interrogation techniques have to be used -- not torture but enhanced interrogation techniques, yes.
Is your primary concern U.S. lives or is it how you're going to be perceived in the world? And my standard is U.S. lives, and I'm going to do everything within my power to protect U.S. lives, period.
I will do it. I'll move aggressively forward on it. If we have to later ask and say, "Well, it shouldn't quite have been done this way or that way," that's the way it is. But the standard must be protection of U.S. lives.
I would say to SECDEF, in terms of getting information that would save American lives, even if it involves very high-pressure techniques, one sentence: Get the information. Have it back within an hour, and let's act on it. Let's execute with Special Operations or whoever else is necessary, and I will take full responsibility. Get the information.
... I think it's interesting talking about torture here in that it's become
enhanced interrogation technique. It sounds like Newspeak.
Nobody's for the torture, and I think that's important. But as far as taking care of a problem like this, the president has the authority to do that. If we're under imminent attack, the president can take that upon himself to do it.
Well, let me just say that it's almost unbelievable to listen to this in a way. We're talking about -- we're talking about it in such a theoretical fashion. You say that -- that nuclear devices have gone off in the United States, more are planned, and we're wondering about whether waterboarding would be a -- a bad thing to do? I'm looking for "Jack Bauer" at that time, let me tell you.
... I mean, we are the last best hope of Western civilization. And so all of the theories that go behind our activities subsequent to these nuclear attacks going off in the United States, they go out the window because when -- when we go under, Western civilization goes under.
...1902 (105 years ago today), the Republic of Cuba was established, bringing an end to U.S. occupation that had persisted since the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898.
... 1989, in the face of pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square (right), Chinese leaders declared martial law. Protests would continue throughout the month.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
The public session capped a 2-day private roundtable meeting of Delmas-Marty's brainchild -- Réseau ID, the Franco-American Network on the Internationalization of Law, which 1st met in Paris last year. Participants included a French ambassador and other French judges (from not only the Conseil constitutionnel but also the Conseil d'État); U.S. Court of Appeals Judge William A. Fletcher; former Solicitor General Charles Fried; Emmanuelle Jouannet, Vivian Grosswald Curran, George Bermann, Harold Hongju Koh, and Jonathan Wiener; IntLawGrrls Diane Marie Amann (aka Grace O'Malley), Hélène Ruiz Fabri (aka Olympe de Gouges), Naomi Norberg (aka Anna Koransky, 2d from right as translator extraordinaire for the public event).
A 2008 meeting of the Réseau, in Paris, is contemplated. We'll always have New York.
... 2002 (five years ago today), East Timor, which had been under the supervision of the United Nations since acquiring independence in 1999 from Indonesia, which had ruled it with an iron hand for the prior quarter-century. In an election last Sunday, the tiny country (fewer than 1 million people, occupying 1/2 of the island of Timor, itself about the size of Netherlands) put Nobel Peace Prizewinner José Ramos-Horta on track to become its new President.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Double-edged invocation of a term whose Latin root torquēre means "to twist," whether the object of the action be a body of law or that of a human being, merits careful consideration for scholars like Colin Dayan (right), Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt. But the focus of her newest book are 2 other words essential to those memos: Dayan's "The Story of Cruel & Unusual" argues that centuries of U.S. Supreme Court torturing (if I may) of these latter adjectives laid a legal foundation upon which lawyers could, with relative ease, construct what are now known as the "Torture Papers." After establishing a disturbing link between slavery and the Constitution's 8th Amendment, she stresses a memo that relied on interpretations of "cruel and unusual punishments" to excuse abuse absent evidence of "deliberate indifference" and "wantonness." Given the constraints of prison litigation, complainants seldom can prove that level of intent, Dayan points out. As a result, inhumanity occurred with impunity in prisons in America, Dayan states, and, in recent years, in America's offshore prisons as well.
As Jeremy Waldron, who's also analyzed the memos, writes in the book's foreword, "Dayan comes perilously close to depriving us of ... meager crumbs of moral discomfort" in arguing that abuse at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo was in no sense aberration but was, rather, "business as usual for Eighth Amendment jurisprudence."
[Aside: Dayan and Waldron both will provide critiques of international law scholarship at next month's ASIL/AALS conference in Vancouver. Details here.]
Take a look at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, better known as CITES, which entered into force in 1975 and now has 171 states parties (including the United States). Have a read of "Restoring Endangered Species: The Importance of Being Wild" by our colleague Holly Doremus. Then ponder how to improve efforts to prevent habitat loss, trafficking, and other threats to our world's precious living resources.
... 1953, pilot Jackie Cochran, who'd organized the 1st U.S. women's military flight support unit during World War II, flew at a speed of 447.47 mph to become the 1st woman to break the sound barrier.
... 1991, having responded to a Help Wanted ad, cosmonaut Helen Sharman became the 1st Briton in outer space when she and 2 men were launched in a Soyuz craft. Sharman's feat took place 8 years after Sally Ride became the 1st American woman in space -- and more than 30 years after American women 1st trained for that job. As detailed in Martha Ackmann's "The Mercury 13: The Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight," Jerrie Cobb (below) and her 12 comrades matched their male counterparts in fitness and performance. Yet in 1962 -- just 1 year before the 1st woman cosmonaut, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova of the Soviet Union, entered space -- the 13 were rejected by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The physician who tested them distilled to 1 word the reason NASA deemed the women unsuitable:
"Ovaries. The world just wasn't ready at that time."
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Rather than substituting one propaganda for another, education about genocide and mass violence should help young people think critically and independently, . . . "to know the past as fact and to confront its implications in ways that make us all seek to change the future for better. If there are no simple answers to the hatred and violence from the past or in the present, there are the countering forces of intellectual honesty, integrity, justice and empathy."
...2005, U.S. Army Spc. Sabrina Harman, who appeared on some of the photographs taken of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, was sentenced to 6 months in prison the day after a she was found guilty on 6 of 7 charges. She apologized at her sentencing hearing: "'My actions potentially caused an increased hatred and insurgency towards the United States, putting soldiers and civilians at greater risk. ... I take full responsibility for my actions.' "