Saturday, February 28, 2009

Read On! Law and Rights: Global Perspectives on Constitutionalism and Governance

(Read On! ... occasional posts on writing we're reading) It’s nearly Spring in North America (it IS coming), so in addition to feeling the sun and hearing the birds, we’re looking forward to a bevy of new books on global issues by women in international and comparative law. Two prominent feminist legal advocates are adding to the reading list.
Leading experts Penelope Andrews (right), Professor of Law at Valparaiso School of Law, and Susan Bazilli, (pictured in photo at bottom), Director of the International Women's Rights Project (IWRP), which is based jointly at the Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria, Canada, and in Johannesburg, South Africa, have co-edited a new collection on constitutionalism, rights implementation, and the rule of law.
Law and Rights: Global Perspectives on Constitutionalism and Governance (Vandeplas 2009) engages current debates about “the context, substance and meaning of constitutionalism,” using both comparative and municipal approaches.
Among the authors are leading constitutional, human rights, anti-discrimination, and socio-economic rights scholars and advocates based in Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They include, for example, Taunya Lovell Banks (right), Jacob A. France Professor of Equality Jurisprudence and the Francis & Harriet Iglehart Research Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law.
According to the abstract, the contributors

analyze and interpret these issues from the perspectives of those who administer and implement constitutional mandates, such as legislators and judges. But they also examine constitutionalism from the perspectives of those who especially stand to benefit from constitutional provisions, particularly social and economic rights, and their enforcement.
Understanding and strengthening links among constitutional texts, judicial enforcement mechanisms, and on-the-ground realities is particularly crucial in this time of heightened competition over economic and social resources.
(The wonderful photo below is of women’s rights advocates at a Women's Legal Rights Program. It is from the IWRP Scrapbook. The women shown are (from left) Mmatshilo Motsei, Bete Mathabela, Sizakele Hlatshwayo, Doo Aphane, and Susan Bazilli.)

On February 28

On this day in ...
... 1859 (150 years ago today), the Arkansas legislature enacted a law that required free African Americans to leave the state or return to enslavement. Florida and Missouri legislators subsequently passed similar expulsion bills, and such legislation was seriously considered in 9 other states. Governors vetoed Florida's and Missouri's bills; as for Arkansas (in light green at left), legislators suspended its expulsion act in 1860, even though by that time most free blacks had already left."
... 1525, in what is now Mexico, Spanish troops acting under orders from conquistador Hernán Cortés executed the last leader of the Aztec Empire, Cuauhtémoc (right), by hanging. Some years earlier Cortés had ordered the torture of Cuauhtémoc in an unsuccessful effort to extract information regarding the whereabouts of Aztec riches.

Prior February 28 posts are here and here.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Guest Blogger: Valerie Oosterveld

It is IntLawGrrls' great pleasure to welcome Valerie Oosterveld (pictured right) as a guest blogger. Valerie is Assistant Professor and Director of the International Law Internship Program at the Faculty of Law of the University of Western Ontario, where she teaches International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law and Public International Law. Valerie received her LLB from the University of Toronto and her LLM and SJD from Columbia Law School.
Valerie's expertise in international criminal law stems from her participation as a member of the Canadian delegation to the International Criminal Court negotiations and its Assembly of States Parties. She also served in the Legal Affairs Bureau of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, where she provided legal advice on international criminal accountability for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, especially with respect to the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Sierra Leone Special Court, and other transitional justice mechanisms such as truth and reconciliation commissions. Valerie has published extensively on gender issues in international criminal law, including two articles this year, one in Human Rights Review on gender-based violence before the Special Court for Sierra Leone and one in the Canadian Yearbook of International Law on the Special Court for Sierra Leone and forced marriage, the topic of her guest blog today (related to my blog last week on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and forced marriage).

Heartfelt welcome!

Forced marriage judgment at the Special Court for Sierra Leone

(My thanks to IntLawGrrls for inviting me to contibute this guest post.)

On Wednesday, the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Trial Chamber I issued its judgment in what is referred to as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) case – Prosecutor v. Issa Sesay, Morris Kallon and Augustine Gbao. The leaders and fighters of the Revolutionary United Front were infamous for committing brutal atrocities, such as sexual mutilation and amputation. Their targets were often civilians. Girls and women were often abducted by the RUF to serve as fighters, porters, cooks and “wives” to combatants. Boys and men were also abducted in large numbers to serve as fighters, spies, bodyguards and laborers.
The first accused, Issa Sesay, (pictured right) served as the Interim Leader of the RUF. The second accused, Morris Kallon, was a former RUF commander and the third accused, Augustine Gbao, was a senior RUF officer and commander. These three were originally indicted alongside Foday Sankoh, former leader of the RUF, and Sam Bockarie, former Battlefield Commander of the RUF, but both died before being brought to trial.
The Special Court’s Trial Chamber convicted all three for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Sierra Leonean conflict [Special Court Press Release is here]. Sesay and Kallon were each found guilty on 16 out of 18 counts. Gbao (pictured left) was convicted of 14 of 18 counts. All were convicted for gender-based crimes against humanity - rape, sexual slavery and inhumane acts (forced marriage) – as well as for the war crime of outrages upon personal dignity. The forced marriage convictions represent the first of their kind within an international or internationalized criminal tribunal. [In another Special Court case – that of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council – the Appeals Chamber recognized (at paras. 175-203) that forced marriage could be considered a separate crime against humanity under the category of “other inhumane acts”, but convictions were not entered.] Here is the Prosecutor’s response to the RUF convictions:

The Court today for [the] first time in world history convicted each of these individuals of ‘forced marriage’ as a separate “crime against humanity.” In doing so, it recognizes the very deep and long lasting suffering inflicted upon women through conscription as ‘bush wives’ during the Sierra Leone conflict.
Two of the accused, Sesay and Kallon, were convicted of the war crime of “conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years into armed forces or groups, or using them to participate actively in hostilities”. Gbao (pictured right) was found not guilty on this charge.
Interestingly, all of the accused were found not guilty on certain charges relating to the abduction and holding of UN peacekeepers as hostages in 2000 (though all were convicted of “intentionally directing attacks against personnel involved in a humanitarian assistance or peacekeeping mission”). It was this hostage-taking by the RUF that prompted the UN Security Council to consider asking the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations Secretary-General to jointly create the Special Court.
Sentencing will take place in the coming weeks, likely in March. The only remaining trial of the Special Court is that of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, taking place in The Hague.
The RUF trial judgment is not yet posted on the Special Court’s website, but once it is available, I will blog about the treatment of gender-based crimes within that judgment.

Meanwhile, Back at the ECCC . . .

This week, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia were scheduled to hear appeals from the detention orders against Ieng Thirith, the former Khmer Rouge social affairs minister and her husband Ieng Sary, the former Khmer Rouge foreign minister. On Tuesday, the Vergès defense (prior IntLawGrrls post) was in full display by Thirith, who launched into an angry tirade, telling her accusers they would be "cursed to the seventh circle of hell." Claiming her innocence, she blamed "everything" on Nuon Chea, the Khmer Rouge second-in-command, who will also be tried before the ECCC. And yesterday, Ieng Sary's appeal hearing was postponed due to ill health -- the 83-year-old complained of dizziness, fatigue, and intermittent coughing, after having been rushed to hospital Monday night for passing blood in his urine. While it may be beyond the capacity of the tribunal to ensure that those found guilty take responsibility for their crimes, here's hoping that those in charge at the ECCC do everything in their power to move forward quickly enough to try the remaining defendants while their health permits.

On February 27

On this day in ...
... 1864 (145 years ago today), the 1st captured Union troops arrived at the Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia (left). As IntLawGrrl Beth Van Schaack has posted, atrocious conditions there led to the post-Civil War war crimes trial of the camp commander, Henry Wirz.
... 1844 (165 years ago today), on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (right), rebels seized a fortress in Santo Domingo, an event that triggered the separation of the Dominican Republic from Haiti. The date is celebrated as Dominican Independence Day.

(Prior February 27 posts are here and here.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

FAO fisheries report likely to have bad news

On March 2, the Food and Agriculture Organization will release its biennial report on the State of the World's Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA). The news is not likely to be good.
Although figures are not typically broken out by gender, it is clear that the decline in fisheries will hit the millions of women work in fisheries particularly hard. According to the FAO's 2006 SOFIA:
Women participate as entrepreneurs and by providing labour before, during and after the catch in both artisanal and commercial fisheries. Their labour often consists of making and mending nets, baskets and pots and baiting hooks. In fishing, women are rarely engaged in commercial offshore and deep-sea waters, but more commonly involved in fishing from small boats and canoes in coastal or inland waters – harvesting bivalves, molluscs and pearls, collecting seaweed and setting nets or traps. Women also play an important role in aquaculture, where they attend to fish ponds, feed and harvest fish, and collect prawn larvae and fish fingerlings. However, women’s most important role in both artisanal and industrial fisheries is at the processing and marketing stages. In some countries, women have become important entrepreneurs in fish processing; in fact, most fish processing is performed by women, either in their own cottage-level industries or as wage labourers in the large-scale processing industry.
Overfishing has already put fisheries around the world under terrible pressure. Climate change is likely to further decimate fish stocks.
Along with diminishing wetlands, mangrove swamps and other nursery areas, and pollution, climate change and overfishing make food insecurity more likely for the 2.6 billion people dependent on fish as a primary source of protein. (map credit)
The affected people tend to be clustered in many of the same countries with the highest levels of food insecurity to begin with. As a result, these countries already start off less resilient to social and environmental challenges. This is just one of the many environmental justice issues we can expect to confront as the effects of global warming multiply.
It was gratifying that President Obama called for carbon trading in his Address to Congress. But, when markets cannot manage to accurately value and trade financial instruments, it is hard to imagine how they will be able to value carbon, with all its many unquantifiable effects.

On February 26

On this day in ...
... 1957, "one the greatest athletes in American sporting history," Connie Carpenter-Phinney (left), was born in Madison, Wisconsin. The winner of many national and international cycling championships, she won gold in Los Angeles "in the 1984 Olympic road race, the first ever for women." A dozen years earlier, at age 15, she speed-skated for the U.S. team in the Olympics at Sapporo, Japan. She's the 1st woman to have competed in both Summer and Winter Olympic Games. (photo credit)
... 1984 (25 years ago today), approximately 1,000 U.S. Marines left Beirut, Lebanon, thus bringing to an end American military presence in the city. The withdrawal came several months after a bomb blast killed hundreds of U.S.and French servicemembers.

(Prior February 20 posts are here and here.)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OECD National Contact Points

In August 2008 the United Kingdom’s National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines) issued its Final Statement in Global Witness v. Afrimex Ltd. This case was the topic of a recent ASIL Insight (much of which is summarized here), describing the background on the case, the basic outlines of the NCP’s decision and its potential implications. The NCP found Afrimex had failed to abide by the OECD Guidelines and, more specifically, had failed to respect the human rights of the populations most affected by their activities, had failed to contribute to the economic, social and environmental progress of its host location, had not worked to encourage its business partners and suppliers to apply rules like the Guidelines, and had failed to exercise sufficient due diligence in its supply chain, as evidenced by Afrimex’s use of child and forced labor. The NCP made a number of recommendations, including that Afrimex adopt a corporate code of conduct, make use of the OECD’s Risk Awareness Tool and exercise it influence over contracting parties to ensure that their supply chain is free of child and forced labor.

Among the notable features of the NCPs decision is the reference it makes to the recent report of the UN SRSG on the issue of Business and Human Rights (SRSG Report), about which Naomi Norberg and I have previously blogged here and here. The decision uses the report as an indicator of the kinds of due diligence Afrimex might undertake in order to include human rights concerns in its policies and operations. This is important in two respects. First, and obviously, because it is another example of the spaces in which the Report is having an influence. Perhaps more important is the attention the combined punch of the Report and the Afrimex decision will bring to NCPs as access points for communities aggrieved by corporations that are failing to respect human rights.

NCPs have been used more than might be known. According to an October OECD document (available here), since NCPs were established by a June 2000 OECD Council Decision, well over 100 “Specific Instances” (complaints) have been considered by NCPs in 28 countries. The decisions – or Final Statements – of the NCPs are similarly under-reported and relatively unknown. The SRSG Report has identified the potential of NCPs, if they are made more robust (and, presumably, if their work is better known), to serve as non-judicial or quasi-judicial points of access to remedies. Through the Afrimex case, Global Witness (which has advised various aspects of the SRSG’s work) has demonstrated how NCP Specific Instances and Final Statements might be used as another source of light for illuminating the misdeeds of companies like Afrimex.

On February 25

On this day in ...
... 1896, the 1st edition of a bimonthly periodical entitled Le Féminisme Chrétien (Christian Feminism) , appeared in France. The journal aimed "to disseminate feminist ideas in Christian milieus and Christian ideas in feminist milieus." The publisher was Marie Maugeret (1844-1928), who founded the Société des féministes chrétiennes the same year. Soon after, claiming the mantle of patriotism, she would agitate against Alfred Dreyfus, a military officer of Jewish heritage who was condemned to solitary confinement at the Devil's Island penal colony after being wrongly convicted of espionage in a trial tainted by anti-Semitism. (credit for caricature from a different journal, depicting Dreyfus as a serpentine traitor)
... 1885, expanding its colonization efforts in East Africa, Germany "annexed" Tanganyika and Zanzibar, in the area now comprising the country at right, Tanzania. (map credit)
... 1944 (65 years ago today), U.S. Rep. Suzanna Kosmas (D-Fla.), elected to Congress last November, was born in Washington, D.C.

(Prior February 25 posts are here and here.)


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Next Best Thing

On July 23, 2002, in the courtroom of Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley, a South Florida jury returned a $ 54.6 million verdict, encompassing punitive and compensatory damages, in favor of three Salvadoran survivors of torture. The case, Romagoza v. Garcia, was brought by the Center for Justice & Accountability on behalf of three Salvadoran refugees--Dr. Juan Romagoza, Professor Carlos Mauricio, and Neris Gonzalez (Mauricio & Gonzalez are pictured at left)--against two former ministers of defense of El Salvador: Jose Guillermo Garcia (below right) and Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova.
The verdict heralded a major victory in the worldwide fight against impunity for human rights violations. Most significantly, the case was one of the first Alien Tort Statute cases in which defendant commanders, fully contesting the allegations and testifying in their own defense, were held liable for human rights violations exclusively under the doctrine of command responsibility.

Another case in which the plaintiffs relied solely on the doctrine of command responsibility, Ford v. Garcia, was brought in the same courtroom against the same two generals by families of the four United States churchwomen who were raped and murdered by members of the Salvadoran National Guard in 1980. In November 2000, a jury rendered a verdict in the Ford case that the generals could not be held liable for the crimes, apparently because the jury was not satisfied that the two generals had "effective control" over their subordinates. (See a prior post on the Ford case here). Both cases are the subject of a PBS film, Justice & the Generals.

The Romagoza plaintiffs managed to recover a couple hundred thousand dollars from an investment account held in Vides Casanova's name. The rest of their judgment, however, remains unexecuted as no other assets have been found. Thanks to Florida homestead laws and other legal barriers, General Garcia has never paid a penny of the judgment against him.
Garcia may not be enjoying his Florida retirement for long.

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, R. Alexander Acosta (right), and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations, Miami Field Office (ICE), recently unsealed a two-count indictment against Garcia. Unfortunately, Garcia is not being charged with torture under 18 U.S.C. § 2340, a statutory provision enacted in the wake of the United States' ratification of the Torture Convention, but well after the civil war in El Salvador. Rather, Al Capone-style, the Indictment charges Garcia with
► using a passport procured by false statement, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a), and
► making a materially false statement to a federal officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2).

According to the press release accompanying the indictment:

The defendant used an El Salvadoran passport at Miami International Airport on July 7, 2006 in an attempt to enter the United States. The defendant had obtained the passport after falsely telling the Government of El Salvador that he had lost his previously issued passport. In fact, however, his prior passport had not been lost, but had been seized by United States immigration authorities.


In addition, the Indictment alleges that on the same day, July 7, 2006, the defendant falsely stated to United States immigration authorities at Miami International Airport that he had obtained the second El Salvadoran passport after his attorney had told him that his first passport, which had been seized by U.S. immigration authorities, had been lost by those authorities. According to the defendant, his attorney had told him that because the immigration authorities had lost the passport they had seized from him, it was permissible for him to obtain a new passport to travel to El Salvador. The Indictment alleges that the defendant knew this statement was false.



The case will be heard by U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz. The charges carry maximum penalties of ten years’ imprisonment (using a passport procured by false statement) and five years’ imprisonment (making a materially false statement to a federal officer).

Go On! Future of International Criminal Justice

(Go On! is an occasional item on symposia of interest) On March 13-14, Santa Clara University School of Law will host a symposium and experts' round table to discuss "The Future of International Criminal Law." The event is free and is co-sponsored by the American Society of International Law and its ASIL-West contingent.
The symposium will featured panels on:
► The International Crimes of Terrorism;
► Complementarity and the International Criminal Court;
► Universal Jurisdiction; and
► Systemic Criminality.
It will conclude with a roundtable discussion in which panelists will explore how the international legal system may better achieve the goals of international criminal law.
Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni (right) will provide the keynote address. The symposium will feature several Int'l Law Grrls members, alumnae, and visitors, including Naomi Norberg, Luz Estella Nagle (left), and Jenny Martinez (below right). Additional participants include Linda Carter, Jordan Paust, Payam Ahkavan, Steve Vladeck, Michael Scharf, Wolfgang Kaleck, Laura Dickinson, Jamie Mayerfeld, Allison Danner, Dapo Akande, Mark Drumbl, Andre Nollkaemper, Julian Ku, Allen S. Weiner and Almudena Bernabeu along with David Sloss and me from Santa Clara. Click here for a full schedule of events.
The symposium's theme is described below:
The international criminal proceedings held in Nuremberg and Tokyo following a global war of catastrophic proportions are credited with launching the modern regime of international criminal law. After a Cold War hiatus, the international community began to build upon this revolutionary postwar legacy in significant ways. Key events are the 1994 establishment of the first ad hoc criminal tribunal, the 1998 launch of a permanent International Criminal Court in The Hague; the 1998 arrest of General Augusto Pinochet of Chile [below left] in the United Kingdom in response to an arrest warrant from Spain for him to stand trial for torture, genocide, and other international crimes over which Spain asserts universal jurisdiction; and the 1999 indictment of President Slobodan Miloševic, the first against a sitting head of state.
Notwithstanding these important developments, progress toward a more comprehensive system of international justice has not been linear or continuous.
Rather, it has featured a number of oversteps and backslides that include the failure of international troops and domestic officials to arrest key indicted war criminals from the Yugoslav war; the in absentia indictment in Belgium of high-level political figures from powerful states, which resulted in an international backlash and a contrite amendment of Belgium’s universal jurisdiction law; the failure of the East Timor Special Panels to gain jurisdiction over any defendants of real consequence as a result of Indonesian obstructionism and international neglect; and the summary execution of Saddam Hussein [below right] after a controversial trial and while important charges remained pending against him. Most important, perhaps, the tragic events of September 11, 2001, led to the creation of "legal black holes" at Guantánamo and elsewhere where pure power for a time had all but eclipsed law.
It cannot be gainsaid that international criminal law has become a regular feature of international relations and part of the repertoire of any transitional government moving from a period of repression and state terror to one in which the rule of law can take root. At the same time, international criminal law is also invoked outside of conflict zones in states with transient custody over offenders, but scant other connection to the crimes in question. Even more controversially, states have attempted to assert jurisdiction over individuals who are not in their custody and who have never stepped foot on their territories. These expansive assertions of international and extraterritorial jurisdiction are not without their detractors. In these varied contexts, international actors do not resort to international criminal law in a vacuum. Rather, choosing to implement a regime of international criminal justice
is a political choice, among other available and competing political choices. As such, it is impossible to consider international criminal law without also invoking issues of state sovereignty, national security, and the exercise of power in international relations.
Given the centrality of institutions and processes of international criminal justice to contemporary public international law and international relations, this conference brings together leading academic and practitioners to discuss cutting edge issues associated with international criminal law and its enforcement. These topics include the controversial exercise of universal jurisdiction, the principle of complementarity before the International Criminal Court, responses to collective and systemic criminal behavior, and the contested crimes of terrorism. Our perspective is expressly forward looking in an effort to anticipate where the field is going in light of its current manifestations.
We welcome your contributions to our symposium and hope to see you there! Registration is helpful, so that we have enough food.

On February 24

On this day in ...
... 1959, educator Ivy Lawrence Maynier (left) gave the 1st lecture in a series of 11 lectures. Born in 1921 in Montreal, Canada, of Trinidadian parents, she'd become, in 1945, the 1st woman of color to graduate from the University of Toronto law school -- and the 1st graduate ever to earn honors in international law. She practiced law in England and Trinidad, and then worked with the United States Information Service in Paris. Back in the West Indies, "she pursued her lifelong passion for adult education and developing courses, programs and lectures that would make university more accessible to dispossessed groups and communities...." She died in 1999. (photo credit)
... 1971, the Home Secretary announced Britain's new Immigration Bill, which would strip Commonwealth citizens of their automatic right to remain in the United Kingdom. As of the naxt New Year's Day, "Commonwealth immigrants will face the same restrictions as any other person applying to live and work in Britain"; that is," to be allowed to stay, they will have to produce a work permit relating to a specific job in a specific place." According to the BBC, "Representatives of immigrants in the UK say the new bill, designed to stem racial tensions, will serve only to increase them."


(Prior February 24 posts here and here.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Guest Blogger: Myriam Denov

It's IntLawGrrls' great pleasure to welcome as a guest blogger Dr. Myriam Denov (right).
An Associate Professor of Social Work at McGill University in Montreal, she received her doctorate in Criminology from the University of Cambridge.
At McGill Myriam researches and teaches on children and youth at risk, with an emphasis on war and political violence, children and armed conflict, and gender-based violence. She has worked with vulnerable populations internationally including former child soldiers, victims of sexual violence, and people living with HIV/AIDS. Her current research explores the militarization and reintegration experiences of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka. Myriam has presented expert evidence on child soldiers and has served as an advisor to government and NGOs on children and armed conflict, and on girls in fighting forces. She is currently writing a book on child soldiers that will be published by Cambridge University Press.
Myriam's guest post below, which draws from her experience in Sierra Leone to focus on girl soldiers, an issue on which another IntLawGrrls guest, Dr. Noëlle Quénivet, also has posted.
Myriam's transnational foremother was herself a girl soldier:
I would like to dedicate this guest post to Mamusu, who I was privileged to meet during my time in Sierra Leone. Mamusu was a former girl soldier who was abducted at the age of 9 by the rebel Revolutionary UnitedFront, forced to fight in battle, and to become the “wife” of a rebel commander. She remained with the rebel group for more than five years and bore two children, as a result of sexual violence. In the aftermath of the war, impoverished and with few systems of support, Mamusu courageously and inspirationally attempted to carve out a life and livelihood for her and her two young children. Mamusu died at the age of 17.
Mamusu joins other IntLawGrrls transnational foremothers in the list below the "visiting from..." map at right.
Heartfelt welcome!

Girl Soldiers in Sierra Leone

(Many thanks to IntLawGrrls for inviting me to contribute this guest post on the issue of girl soldiers, on which another guest also has posted.)


The issue of child soldiers has become an issue of global concern and has moved to the forefront of political, humanitarian and academic agendas. An estimated 250,000 soldiers under the age of 18 are fighting in conflicts in over 40 countries around the world. While there is ample descriptive evidence of the conditions and factors underlying the rise of child soldiery in the developing world, most of the literature has portrayed this as a uniquely male phenomenon, ultimately neglecting the experiences and perspectives of girls within fighting forces.

In this posting, I’d like to highlight a few of the findings from my work on girl soldiers in Sierra Leone. My work has aimed to trace girls’ perspectives and the experiences of girls as victims, participants, and resisters of violence and armed conflict. These findings have been published (many with my colleague and co-author, Dr. Richard Maclure) in several journals, including International Journal of Human Rights, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Journal of Youth Studies, Anthropologica, and Security Dialogue.
Findings:
► First, whether in the heat of conflict or within postwar programming, girls are, for the most part, rendered invisible and marginalized. During conflict, the roles that they play are frequently deemed peripheral and insignificant by governments, national and international NGOs, policy-makers, and program developers. In the aftermath of war, girls continue to be marginalized within the realms of education, economics, and are frequently discriminated against within formal disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) processes, as well as within the context of their families and communities.
► Second, in spite of this profound invisibility and marginalization, girls are fundamental to the war machine – their operational contributions are integral and critical to the overall functioning of armed groups.
► Third, girls in fighting forces contend with overwhelming experiences of victimization, perpetration, and insecurity. During conflict, girls are subjected to grave violations of their human rights through forced recruitment, killing, maiming, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, abduction, forced marriage, and increased exposure to HIV/AIDS. Many are also forced to participate in brutal acts of violence. In the aftermath of conflict, girls arguably bear a form of secondary victimization through socio-economic marginalization and exclusion, as well as the ongoing threats to their health and personal security.
► Finally, girls in fighting forces are not simply silent victims, but active agents and resisters during armed conflict. Girls’ made remarkable attempts to defend and protect themselves during situations of severe violence and insecurity, as well as efforts to bring about change for themselves and by themselves. Challenging the predominant portrayals of girls as emblematic victims, girls attempted to avoid, minimize, or resist wartime abuses, patriarchal power structures, and the culture of violence that surrounded them.
In light of these research findings, an alternative approach is essential -- one that gives due regard to the ways in which girls in fighting forces are perceived, represented, and conceptualized.
Rather than focusing solely on girls’ vulnerability and victimization, it is essential also to direct our attention to their self-efficacy, resilience, and skills. Moreover, given their significant presence and multiple roles within fighting forces, girls’ experiences and perspectives should be considered as central and indispensable to understandings and analyses of war and political violence, and not regarded as peripheral or, unwittingly or wittingly, rendered invisible.

On February 23

On this day in ...

... 1947, the International Organization for Standardization was formed. Known as the ISO, the Geneva, Switzerland-based nongovernmental organization is a network of the national standards institutes of 160 countries, through which standards are set on matters as wide-ranging as eco-labeling and equipment for fire protection.

... 1954 (55 years ago today), in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, schoolchildren became the 1st to take part in a mass testing of the polio vaccination developed by Dr. Jonas Salk (right). Eventually 5,000 children between 6 and 9 in the city were administered the vaccine. (credit for AP/University of Pittsburgh photo)

(Prior February 23 posts are here and here.)

'Nuff said

(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)

209. Most people in Britain, I suspect, would be astonished at the amount of care, time and trouble that has been devoted to the question whether it will be safe for the aliens to be returned to their own countries. In each case the Secretary of State has issued a certificate under section 33 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Immigration Act 2001 that the aliens' removal from the United Kingdom would be conducive to the public good. The measured language of the statute scarcely matches the harm that they would wish to inflict upon our way of life, if they were at liberty to do so. Why hesitate, people may ask. Surely the sooner they are got rid of the better. On their own heads be it if their extremist views expose them to the risk of ill-treatment when they get home.
210. That however is not the way the rule of law works. The lesson of history is that depriving people of its protection because of their beliefs or behaviour, however obnoxious, leads to the disintegration of society. A democracy cannot survive in such an atmosphere, as events in Europe in the 1930s so powerfully demonstrated. It was to eradicate this evil that the European Convention on Human Rights, following the example of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1948, was prepared for the Governments of European countries to enter into. The most important word in this document appears in article 1, and it is repeated time and time again in the following articles. It is the word "everyone". The rights and fundamental freedoms that the Convention guarantees are not just for some people. They are for everyone. No one, however dangerous, however disgusting, however despicable, is excluded. Those who have no respect for the rule of law -- even those who would seek to destroy it -- are in the same position as everyone else.
211. The paradox that this system produces is that, from time to time, much time and effort has to be given to the protection of those who may seem to be the least deserving. Indeed it is just because their cases are so unattractive that the law must be especially vigilant to ensure that the standards to which everyone is entitled are adhered to. The rights that the aliens invoke in this case were designed to enshrine values that are essential components of any modern democratic society: the right not to be tortured or subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to liberty and the right to a fair trial. There is no room for discrimination here. Their protection must be given to everyone. It would be so easy, if it were otherwise, for minority groups of all kinds to be persecuted by the majority. We must not allow this to happen. Feelings of the kind that the aliens' beliefs and conduct give rise to must be resisted for however long it takes to ensure that they have this protection.

-- James Arthur David Hope (above right), the member of the British House of Lords who goes by the nom de juge of Lord Hope of Craighead, writing last Wednesday in RB (Algeria) (FC) v Sec’y of State for the Home Dep’t.
In the end, the Law Lords ruled in favor of the British government in this "case involving the proposed deportation of two Algerians, identified only as 'RB' and 'U', who the Home Secretary considers are a threat to national security." According to London's Independent, "Home Secretary Jacqui Smith [right] said she was delighted with the decision"; various human rights activists said they were not.

(hat tip for alerting us to this passage to our colleague Eugene R. Fidell)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Honor if not yet justice for women journalists

“Words can save lives,” said Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya (left, © UNESCO), about whom we've posted, along with other women journalists killed in the line of duty. Politkovskaya was assassinated in October 2006; on Thursday, a Moscow jury acquitted the three "low-level" suspects. Amnesty International researcher Friederike Behr monitored portions of the trial and indicated it was fair. After over 2 years of investigation, the authorities were unable to produce clear evidence of guilt, perhaps because they were not looking in the right place. Politkovskaya criticized Kremlin policy with respect to Chechnya and met the fate that is becoming all too familiar: just a month before the trial, a human rights lawyer and a 25-year-old reporter were killed in broad daylight, and the Committee to Protect Journalists has said that 16 journalists have been killed in Russia because of their work since 2000. Indeed, Miklos Haraszti, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's representative for media freedom claims that "Russia is a country where for years and years now, journalists who cover human rights issues and corruption are being murdered and assaulted." On Friday, however, the presiding judge offered a bit of hope that Politkovskaya's killers may be found and brought to justice by ordering the case reopened.
In bright contrast to this sombre saga, the annual Journées Olympe de Gouges in Montauban, France, are dedicated this year to women journalists. As readers may recall, Olympe de Gouges, an IntLawGrrl foremother, was an 18th-century humanist who wrote a Declaration of the Rights of Women and was guillotined during the French Reign of Terror. Each year, the city of her birth honors her with days filled with documentaries, theater, art exhibits, discussions of research, conferences etc. on topics related to the rights of women and citzens. The Journées will be held March 5, 6 and 7 this year; this year's "godmother" is Lebanese television journalist May Chidiac (right, © UNESCO) Chidiac survived, minus an arm and a leg, a car bomb in 2005, continues her work as a journalist and, in 2006, was awarded one of the three Courage in Journalism Awards presented by the International Women's Media Foundation, as well as the the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. Write on, grrls!

On February 22

On this day in ...
... 1680, or perhaps 2 days earlier, Catherine Deshayes was burned at the stake on charges of witchcraft on the Place de Grève in Paris. A "sorceress" about 40 years old, the woman known as La Voisin (left) "practised medicine, especially midwifery, procured abortion, and provided love powders and poisons." She was among many persons prosecuted in L'Affaire des poisons, or Poison Affair, a fatally hysteric phase during the reign of Louis XIV.
... 1940, in Lhasa, Tibet, a 4-year-old boy named Tenzin Gyatso (below right) was enthroned as the 14th Dalai Lama. (photo credit) In 1950 he "was called upon to assume full political power as Head of State and Government when Tibet was threatened by the might of China." Four years later he was forced into exile in India, and has not been able to return to his country since. He received the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of

the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.

(Prior February 22 posts here and here.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Go On! Modern-Day Piracy Off Somalia

(Go On! is an occasional item on symposia of interest) An evening of discussion of international legal issues on the current situation of modern-day piracy -- entitled "Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia: Challenges to Deterrence, Pursuit, and Prosecution" -- is on hand from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 2, at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento, California. Cosponsors of are Pacific McGeorge's Global Center for Business & Development and ASIL-West, a regional project of the American Society of International Law.
Opening the discussion moderated by Linda Carter (Pacific McGeorge) will be Fausto Pocar (left), the University of Milan international law professor who serves as a Judge on the Appeals Chamber for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and who is the former President of the ICTY and a past member of the Human Rights Committee, the U.N. body that monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Leading the ensuing open discussion will be ASIL-West Co-Chair David D. Caron (California-Berkeley), John Cary Sims (Pacific McGeorge), and IntLawGrrl Beth Van Schaack (Santa Clara).
Details and registration here.

On February 21

On this day in ...
... 2009 (today), by declaration of UNESCO, the United Nations marks the 10th annual International Mother Language Day to "promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism." The chosen date coincides with the day in 1952 when, in Dhaka, in what was then Pakistan but now is Bangladesh, police opened fire on university students who were demonstrating for the right to speak their native Bengali language. That event is commemorated in this pamphlet from Bangladesh's Dutch embassy. (credit for 2009 poster)
... 1971, in conclusion of a 6-week, 71-country U.N. conference in Vienna, Austria, diplomats adopted the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, a treaty aimed at a global law enforcement response to drug trafficking. The convention would enter into force on August 16, 1976. Monitored by the International Narcotics Control Board, it now has 175 states parties.

(Prior February 21 posts are here and here.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

International Justice Overload

Greetings from The Hague. I am here with a team of Santa Clara Law students who are competing in the International Criminal Court Trial Competition, sponsored by the International Criminal Law Network and others. (The team was invited to compete in the international rounds by virtue of winning the North American Regional Rounds last month).
As part of our program, we had the opportunity to visit several of the international tribunals based here in The Hague. At the ICC, we witnessed part of the trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (left), the first defendant to be tried before the fledgling Court. The witness on the stand was under protective measures, his identity hidden from those of us in the public gallery by blinds and a pixelated image on screen. The testimony culminated in the showing of a video in which very young children sang and chanted about the glory of "Papa Tom," as he watched on. Children carrying weapons on their shoulders weaved throughout the crowd, and a jeep with two additional child soldiers patrolled behind everyone.

Lubanga has been charged with the offense set forth in Articles 8(2)(b)(xxvi) and 8(2)(e)(vii):
Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities.
Sub-sections (b) and (e) of Article 8 relate to international and non-international armed conflicts, respectively. Interestingly, the prosecutor had originally charged Lubanga only with respect to the crime within a non-international armed conflict. At the time the indictment was confirmed, the pre-trial chamber insisted on adding the charge with respect to an international armed conflict. The Prosecutor sought leave to appeal this change in the indictment, but such leave was denied. Accordingly, the Court will directly address the question of whether the conflict in the relevant region of the DRC amounted to an international armed conflict within the meaning of international humanitarian law.

It was a judge--Judge Adrian Fulford (United Kingdom) (right)--who asked the most pointed questions, specifically calling the attention of the witness to the child soldiers depicted in the video. (We entered the gallery mid-examination, so it is not clear if the witness was also depicted in the video).


The video was introduced by the prosecution, who according to the guiding Elements of Crimes much show:
  1. The perpetrator conscripted or enlisted one or more persons into the national armed forces or used one or more persons to participate actively in hostilities.

  2. Such person or persons were under the age of 15 years.

  3. The perpetrator knew or should have known that such person or persons were under the age of 15 years.

  4. The conduct took place in the context of and was associated with an international or non-international armed conflict.

  5. The perpetrator was aware of factual circumstances that established the existence of an armed conflict.
Unlike other international crimes that require a showing of intent or actual knowledge, the crime of conscripting, enlisting, or using child soldiers applies more of a negligence mens rea ("knew or should have know" that such persons were under 15). In addition, it is not necessary to use child soldiers in combat; it is enough that the defendant conscripted or enlisted them. The video certainly suggested that Lubanga was aware of the existence of child soldiers in his ranks.

Next, we visited the chambers of Judge A. A. Cançado Trindade (left), a member of Santa Clara's overseas faculty until he was recently elected to the International Court of Justice (winning the most votes of any judge to that court (163)).
Finally, we attended two trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The first was of Momcilo Perisic (below left), former Chief of the General Staff of the Yugoslav Army (VJ). After the death of former President Milosevic, this defendant is crucial to linking crimes committed in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina back to Belgrade. He is charged with various war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, inhumane acts, persecutions, and extermination. Perisic's case was one of the ones subject to Rule 73bis, whereby the Trial Chamber may invite the prosecutor to reduce the scope of the indictment in an effort to streamline the case. While the judges of the ICTY adopted this rule to help implement the tribunal's Completion Strategy, the judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda have determined that it interferes with prosecutorial discretion and have not followed suit.
When Perisic's trial went into closed session, we sat in on the trial of Popovic (right) et al., another Srebrenica case. All 7 defendants are former members of the Bosnian Serb Army (the VRS). They are charged with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, and murder. So far, the Srebrenica massacre has yielded convictions for complicity to commit genocide, but not straight genocide. Today's testimony contained a somewhat numbing presentation of evidence (including transcripts of intercepted conversations) concerning fuel requisition. The trial has been ongoing since 2006.
They don't call The Hague the International Law Capital of the World for nothing.