Sunday, October 31, 2010

Newest woman head of state

Brazilians have just elected their 1st woman President.
An economist and former Cabinet minister, Dilma Rousseff (right), won a runoff election by a margin of 55.2% to 44.8%.
Key to the political newcomer's victory, according to Reuters: the endorsement of outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, known as "Lula," coupled with a promise to continue Lula's
policies that have lifted millions from poverty and made Brazil one of the world's hottest economies.
Rousseff replaces Slovakian Prime Minister Iveta Radičová as the newest woman national leader; as posted, in July Radičová seized that mantle from Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

In passing: ¢ for UNICEF founder

Often completing this 'Grrl's Halloween costume was the tote at left.
Many a year we Midwestern children would knock on doors to "Trick or Treat for UNICEF," seeking donations to help the United Nations help children in need. For many of us, it was an early raising of awareness -- an early invitation to consider how we might respond in our own small ways to the plight of others throughout the world.
Of great interest, therefore, was the news that the woman who founded the campaign has died at age 93, just a few days short of the 60th anniversary of her achievement.
As detailed in The New York Times' obituary, the idea came to Mary Emma Allison, a schoolteacher long concerned about social justice, while shopping in 1949 in Philadelphia. (credit for photo of Allison and her costume-clad children) Soon she and her husband had created a global movement, called "Pennies for UNICEF" in those days of less deflated economy. Enlisted in the effort have been cultural icons ranging from Casper, the Friendly Ghost (below), to Superman, the Man of Steel. Since its founding the campaign has raised more than $160 million.
No need for a collection box to contribute in Allison's honor; anyone can click here to donate to UNICEF this Halloween.

On October 31

On this day in ...
... 1860 (150 years ago today), in Savannah, Georgia, a daughter was born to a Chicago native and her husband, an officer in the Confederate Army. They named the girl Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon, but called her "Daisy." Following schooling in Virginia and New York, she traveled in the United States and Europe, eventually marrying an Englishman and thereafter was known as Juliette Gordon Low (right). She returned to the United States to serve as a nurse during the Spanish-American War; her husband died soon after. On March 12, 1912, at age 52, she brought together 18 girls in Savannah, and thus founded the Girl Scouts, an organization now numbering 3.7 million members. Gordon Low died in her birth city in 1927.

(Prior October 31 posts are here, here, and here.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Go On! University of California Human Rights Fellows conference

(Go On! is an occasional item on symposia and other events of interest)

All day next Thursday, November 4, Berkeley's International House will host the annual University of California Human Rights Fellows Conference. Featured will be many human rights researchers and advocates -- student recipients of the universitywide summer fellowship program -- who will present their in-the-field fellowship projects.
Proud to say that 2 of the presenters received their awards through a competition sponsored by the California International Law Center at King Hall, University of California, Davis, School of Law. They are California-Davis law students Elica Vafaie and Daniel Marsh; their summer postings are described below.
Applications for 2011 fellowships, open to registered students at various University of California campus, are now being accepted; see here.
Panels planned for Thursday's conference, with names of the UC student fellows and the places where they worked this summer:
► "Shadows of Health, Justice and Citizenship," featuring: Andrew Lim (Karen Department of Health and Welfare/Global Health Access Program, Thailand); Lexa Grayner (Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia, Thailand); Katie Dingeman (Central American Resource Center, Los Angeles); Keramet Reiter (National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Oakland); and Elica Vafaie (Center for Constitutional Rights, New York).
► "Rights: Tension and Interdependence," featuring: Rochelle Terman (Women Living Under Muslim Laws, London); Ugo Edu (A Cor da Bahia, Brazil); Sandra Alvarez (Asociación de Autoridades Tradicionales y Cabildos U’wa, Colombia); and Kony Kim (Bronx Defenders, New York).
► "Identity and Interpretation," featuring: Stephen Meyers (Handicap International, Nicaragua); Candler Hallman (Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, Northern Ireland); Patience Fielding (International Federation of Women Lawyers, Cameroon); and Daniel Marsh (Timap for Justice, Sierra Leone).
► "Media Politic: ‘Visibilizing’ Human Rights," Kate Trumbull (Center for Bridging Communities, San Diego); Michelle Dizon (Focus on the Global South, Philippines); Teo Ballvé (Verdad Abierta, Colombia): and Madeleine Bair(Jamaicans for Justice, Jamaica).
► "Development and the Environment," Anonymous (SOS Habitat, Angola); Lara Cushing (Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense, Mexico); Cheryl Deutsch (National Hawkers’ Federation, India); and Henry Steinberg (Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense, Costa Rica).
Fellows' biographies are available here. Conference details here.

'Nuff said

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

I found it odd that Welner felt the need to emphasize repeatedly alleged crimes for which family members hadn’t been convicted and ones totally unrelated to terrorism. When you have a family with an al Qaeda connection, is it really necessary to list every black mark?
-- One of many trenchant queries by our colleague Michelle McCluer (prior IntLawGrrls posts), Executive Director of the National Institute of Military Justice, in her eyewitness posts on the plea hearing and subsequent sentencing proceedings against Omar Khadr, which she's been attending at a courthouse at Guantánamo (above right).
Well worth a read.

On October 30

On this day in ...
... 2005 (5 years ago today), thousands waited in line all day to pay their respect at the coffin of Rosa Parks as it lay in state at the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. (photo credit) In the words of The New York Times:

A seamstress by trade, Mrs. Parks became the first woman ever accorded such a tribute and just the 31st person over all since 1852, a list that includes Abraham Lincoln and nine other presidents.
Parks had died at age 92 5 days earlier at her home in Detroit. In 1955, as is well known (and posted), Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man, thus beginning the Montgomery bus boycott -- and a career as a civil rights pioneer, often allied with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Prior October 30 posts are here, here, and here.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Questioning hierarchies of harm

Many IntLawGrrls have gathered this morning to honor Judge Patricia Wald at our roundtable on "Women and International Criminal Law." I'll be participating in the first panel, entitled The Limits of International Criminal Law, and look forward to receiving comments on my paper, "Questioning Hierarchies of Harm: Women, Forced Migration, and International Criminal Law." It's available in full here; here's a preview of some of the ideas therein:
From the Akayesu case to the Revolutionary United Front decision, international criminal law has made great strides in addressing harm perpetrated against women in wartime. Though these doctrinal developments are laudable, the gendered structure of international criminal law diverts attention away from other significant harms that women endure as a result of armed conflict. In particular, international criminal law’s hierarchy of harm is deeply problematic. This hierarchy elevates crimes committed as part of a plan or pattern across political groups – for example, by members of one group against members of a second group on the other side of a political conflict, whether during war or otherwise – over equally serious forms of harm perpetrated randomly, often within political groups – for example, by men against women on the same side of a conflict. This approach is problematic because female forced migrants suffer serious harms that do not fall clearly within the framework of international criminal law. These harms include rape, sexual assault, and other forms of physical violence that are not part of a master criminal plan but are rather private and opportunistic harms enabled by situations of displacement.
Refugees and internally displaced women suffer extensive violence at the hands of husbands, boyfriends, family members, neighbors, aid workers, peacekeepers, and strangers, none of whom is acting at the behest of a state or militia or fulfilling an organizational master plan. Is the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court applicable to these crimes? While the language of the statute does not provide an obvious basis for prosecuting opportunistic crimes against female forced migrants, international refugee law offers a potential avenue for interpreting international criminal law to cover such crimes. Even so, the fit is imperfect – perhaps unsurprisingly given that the law was created to address very different crimes. Beyond the limitations of international criminal law, a vacuum of accountability exists on several levels in situations of forced displacement. Female forced migrants cannot rely on their own governments, their host governments, and often even international humanitarian organizations to protect them against opportunistic violence.
Should international criminal law step into the void? One might argue that the purpose of international criminal law is to provide accountability for conflict-related harms that would not otherwise be addressed. From that perspective, redress for the myriad forms of violence suffered by female forced migrants – harms that usually fall outside of any legal accountability mechanisms – seems an important component of that goal. Similarly, if the central aim of international criminal law is to account for crimes of such severity that they can be considered to be harms against all humankind, violence against women in situations of displacement is so prevalent and destructive that its prosecution should be viewed as a significant component of this goal. Such a step would require quite serious reconstruction of international criminal law, namely expansion of its scope and restructuring of its focus.
It may be that a structure designed specifically to prevent and account for opportunistic violence against female forced migrants would be better equipped to perform that task. Criminal accountability might be better performed in national legal systems or informal justice systems created within camp environments. There are also solutions other than criminal accountability, such as human rights law, that might be more appropriate in addressing such harms. In the meantime, until a solution is found that places these “private” crimes on equal footing with “public” attacks currently prohibited by international criminal law, the serious and frequent harms suffered by forcibly displaced women will continue to be overlooked, relegated to the bottom of the hierarchy of harms.

Go On! U.S. refugee law

(Go On! is an occasional item on symposia and other events of interest)

The 30th Anniversary of the Refugee Act is the topic of a symposium to be held 10:30 a.m.-2:15 p.m. on November 12, 2010, by the Center for Immigrants' Rights at the Dickinson School of Law, Pennsylvania State University, University Park. (hat tip ImmigrationProf Blog)
Moderating the program will be Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (below right), Clinical Professor and Center Director. Speakers who will consider the United States' Refugee Act of 1980 in contemporary context include:
Elizabeth Dallam, Senior Protection Officer at the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees
Regina Germain, Adjunct Professor at Sturm College of Law, University of Denver, and author of The Asylum Primer (6th ed., 2010)
Tara Magner, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and Senior Counsel to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Senator Patrick Leahy
Jeanne Smoot, Public Policy Director, Tahirih Justice Center, Washington, D.C.
Anne Sovcik, Advocacy Counsel for Human Rights First's Refugee Protection Program and Chair of the Asylum Working Group
Program here; other details and registration available here.

On October 29

On this day in ...
... 1940 (70 years ago today), even though it had not joined the conflict then raging in Europe, the United States began conscripting men into the armed forces via a lottery. Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson chose the numbers, as illustrated in this cartoon, part of a super timeline of U.S. activities in this World War II year before the Pearl Harbor attack. Quoting church leaders who supported the move, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech defending the 1st-ever peacetime draft.

(Prior October 29 posts are here, here, and here.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The memory cascade in Cambodia

When I first began working in Cambodia almost fifteen years ago, I was shocked to learn that the history of the Khmer Rouge was not taught in the schools (prior post). The Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) began pushing in 1999 to change this situation, publishing a high school textbook on the Khmer Rouge regime in 2007, the year after the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) began operating. The DC-Cam has subsequently held numerous teacher trainings to educate teachers in methods of presenting this history to their students.
Earlier this month, just two weeks after the indictments were filed in Case 002 at the ECCC, Indra Devi High School in Phnom Penh unveiled new anti-genocide slogans on their library building. The signs, pictured at left, say "Talking about experiences during the Khmer Rouge regime is to promote reconciliation and to educate children about forgiveness and tolerance," and "Learning about the history of Democratic Kampuchea is to prevent genocide."
Through these signs, the DC-Cam aims to raise awareness among teachers and students about genocide and genocide prevention, a task that is particularly important given that 70 percent of Cambodians were born after the end of the Khmer Rouge regime. By early next year, every high school in the country will display similar slogans.
The timing of these successful efforts to memorialize the crimes of the Khmer Rouge and the creation and operation of the ECCC are not coincidental. The ECCC has arguably served as a catalyst for this memory cascade, creating political space for non-governmental organizations to pursue creative transitional justice efforts. Other efforts have been more closely tied to the ECCC, such as the DC-Cam's Living Documents project through which victims of the Khmer Rouge visit to the tribunal to watch a trial and then facilitate public discussions about the proceedings in their home village.
But all of the numerous memory projects that have proliferated in recent years owe a debt to the tribunal. Though the ECCC's role in formal accountability has been limited to the senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, the tribunal has played a crucial role in enabling a much broader range of activities, all of which will work in tandem to ensure that mass crimes are never again committed on Cambodian soil.

Go On! ASIL midyear in Miami

(Go On! is an occasional item on symposia and other events of interest)

Next month the American Society of International Law will break from a long D.C. tradition and hold its 2010 Midyear Meeting in Miami, Florida. Of the plan to meet November 12 and 13 in that southernmost city, ASIL President David D. Caron explained:

Convening the international law community throughout the United States and the rest of the world is an important priority for the Society — to serve our far-flung members, and also to reach growing new constituencies of international law within the bar and the judiciary, among representatives of the media, and in the general public.
As they do every autumn, ASIL's Executive Council and the editors of the American Journal of International Law will gather. Additionally, those of us who are working on ASIL's Benchbook on International Law project look forward to the opportunity to vet drafts with a panel of federal judges.
Newly supplementing in camera sessions like these will be a day of events open to the public (many offering Continuing Legal Education credit). Examples of public events for Friday, November 12, at the University of Miami Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Alumni Center:
► "Stop the Hand-Wringing and Do Something: Solutions on the Table to What is Perceived to be Wrong with International Arbitration," featuring: Catherine Amirfar (Debevoise & Plimpton LLP); Edward Mullins (Astigarraga Davis LLP); and Michael Reisman (Yale Law). Chaired by IntLawGrrl Lucy Reed (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP), ASIL's Immediate Past President.
► "The Top Six Recent Arbitrations Everyone Should Know," featuring: Mahnoush Arsanjani (International Law Associates), an ASIL Vice President; David Bederman (Emory Law); Ryan Reetz (Squire Sanders LLP). Chaired by Donald Francis Donovan (Debevoise & Plimpton LLP).
► Luncheon keynote, "Florida and the Globalization of the Legal Profession: Insights from the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20," by Carolyn Lamm (White & Case LLP) (above left), Immediate Past President of the American Bar Association.
► "Career Fair/Mentoring Session for Students"
► "Revisiting the Place of International Law in Domestic Law," featuring: Judge Rosemary Barkett (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit) (right); Judge Adalberto Jordan (U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida); Curtis Bradley (Duke Law); and Eyal Benvenisti (Tel Aviv Law); chaired by Laurence Helfer (Duke Law).
► "National, Regional, and International Perspectives on International Criminal Accountability," featuring: Olivia Swaak-Goldman (Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court); and Dinah Shelton (George Washington Law) (below left), a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Chaired by yours truly, IntLawGrrl Diane Marie Amann (University of California, Davis, Law), an ASIL Vice President.
All participants also are welcome to register for the conference dinner that evening at the Biltmore Hotel; featured will be "Justice and Leadership Dilemmas in Shakespeare," the keynote by Judge Theodor Meron, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and ASIL Honorary President.
Events are free for students, ASIL members, and affiliates of the meeting's cosponsoring law firms and law schools; for others, there is a fee. Details and registration here.

On October 28

On this day in ...
... 1830 (180 years ago today), the couple at right, Nancy and Josiah Henson, and their 4 children arrived in Canada, having escaped slavery in Maryland on the Underground Railroad. He would become pastor of a church in Dresden, Ontario, and start a technical school. He is said to have been the model for the lead character in Uncle Tom's Cabin, the antislavery novel published, as we've posted, by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

(Prior October 28 posts are here, here, and here.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ICC-Kenya-Bashir continued

The International Criminal Court is stepping up pressure on Kenya.
Last month Kenya permitted Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir to attend a Constitution Day celebration in Nairobi -- notwithstanding that Bashir's been indicted by the ICC, nor that Kenya, as an ICC state party, is obliged to cooperate with the court's efforts to secure personal jurisdiction over Bashir.
The safe passage Kenya allowed Bashir in September drew rebuke from U.S. President Barack Obama, as we then posted.
The ICC had made its own complaints a number of times earlier, among them an August bid before the U.N. Security Council.
This past Monday, the ICC sent a new message, this one directly to Kenya.
In its Decision requesting observations from the Republic of Kenya, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I asked Kenya for information on

any problem which would impede or prevent the arrest and surrender of Omar Al Bashir in the event that he visits the country on 30 October, 2010.
Meanwhile, nearly 2 dozen nongovernmental organizations, representing Africa's civil society, also sent a letter urging Kenya to arrest Bashir.
Kenya's supposed to give its response to the ICC no later than this Friday, the day before the possible visit of the fugitive head of state, in connection with a summit session of IGAD (logo at left), the Djibouti-based Inter-Governmental Authority for Development. That group's expressed "dismay" regarding ICC charges against Bashir.
All this unfolds against the backdrop of Kenya's own problems with the ICC, which is investigating post-election violence in that country. Governmental resistance to inquiry (including that by the truth commission) is stiffening.
Stay tuned.

Top 100 'Grrl

Cheers to IntLawGrrls guest/alumna Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, honored earlier this month on the Irish Legal 100, an annual list compiled by the New York-based Irish America magazine. (Married as I am to an honoree on another of the magazine's lists -- a Top 100 Irish American -- I took special note of this award.)
As detailed in prior posts, Fionnuala's the Dorsey & Whitney Chair in Law and is Associate Dean for Planning and Research at the University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, as well as Professor of Law at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, and cofounder and Director of the university's Transitional Justice Institute. A noted scholar in areas of gender, armed conflict, and states of emergency, she contributed a post this summer on the release of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry report on the 1972 paratrooper killings of civilians in Derry. And we're delighted that she will join her coauthors, IntLawGrrls Naomi Cahn and Dina Francesca Haynes, to discuss their paper, "Criminal Justice for Gendered Violence and Beyond," at the "Women and International Criminal Law" conference that IntLawGrrls is hosting this Friday in Washington.

Heartfelt congratulations!

On October 27

On this day in ...
... 1885 (125 years ago today), Sigrid Hjertén (left) was born in Sundsvall, Sweden. Following university studies in the teaching of art, Hjertén, then in her mid-20s, met an art student (her future husband) who persuaded her that she had a future in painting. The 2 subsequently studied with Henri Matisse in Paris. Hjertén painted for 3 decades and "is considered a major figure in Swedish modernism." (credit for 1916 painting by her, at right) Her career ended when, suffering from schizophrenia, she was lobotomized. Hjertén died in Stockholm in 1948, at age 62.

(Prior October 27 posts are here, here, and here.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Women at Nuremberg redux

At the IntLawGrrls-sponsored "Women and International Criminal Law" roundtable this Friday, I'll have the privilege to hear comments on the latest of my research regarding women who played roles in the Allies' Trial of the Major War Criminals, as well as subsequent trials that the United States held after World War II at Nuremberg, Germany.
The research owes much to IntLawGrrls' alumna Diane Orentlicher, now Deputy, Office of War Crimes Issues, at the U.S. Department of State. She dedicated her work on the blog to "Beatrice," the presumed name of an unremembered woman who prosecuted defendants at Nuremberg. Eventually, Diane determined that any number of women might have been "Beatrice." The most likely candidate was "Ceil" Goetz (above right); the quest for her and her sisters at Nuremberg first was explored in my "Women at Nuremberg" series of blog posts.
My roundtable essay, Cecelia Goetz, Woman at Nuremberg, tells more about Goetz, an American woman who turned 30 at Nuremberg. Included are not only details on how and why she became a prosecutor in the Krupp trial, but also a life story marked by many “first woman” chapters -- on the law review at New York University School of Law, at the U.S. Department of Justice, and, after Nuremberg, in the federal judiciary.
This essay follows upon another overview, "Portraits of Woman at Nuremberg," published recently in Proceedings of the Third International Humanitarian Law Dialogs (Elizabeth Andersen & David M. Crane eds., 2010). "Portraits" places women at the trials within the context of social developments during the post-World War II era. Mentioned are women who were defendants, journalists, or witnesses; however, the focus is on women, mostly Americans, who served as prosecutors at Nuremberg. Among the latter was Sadie Arbuthnot, depicted at left in a photo recently discovered in Harvard Library's digital trove.
Later a judge in the United States' court system in Germany and after marriage a lawyer at NASA, Arbuthnot too was a woman at Nuremberg.
More to come.

Work On! Comparative works in progress

(Work On! is an occasional item about workshops, roundtables, and other fora that do not necessarily include publication)

Papers on comparative law once again are being sought for presentation at the annual Comparative Law Works in Progress Workshop, to be held February 11 and 12, 2010, at Yale Law School (logo below left) in New Haven, Connecticut.
Organized by IntLawGrrls guest/alumna Jacqueline Ross and our colleagues Kim Lane Scheppele (Princeton) and James Q. Whitman (Yale), the workshop, cosponsored by the American Society of Comparative Law, presents an opportunity for comparative law scholars to engage in sustained and substantive discussion, by up to 20 comparative law scholars, of up to 6 scholarly projects.
Deadline for electronic submissions, to be sent to Professor Whitman at, is next Monday, November 1, 2010.

On October 26

On this day in ...
... 1986, the government of South Africa threw out of the country Swiss nationals who were working for the International Committee of the Red Cross. The move came a day after South African delegates had been expelled from an ICRC conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The New York Times commented that South African had been kicked out of the ICRC meeting in an effort "to protest apartheid." But it speculated that the vote "could have the unintended effect of hurting opponents of apartheid," given that the workers ordered to leave had been visiting anti-apartheid campaigners "jailed for such crimes as treason and terrorism," among them "the black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela." (credit for photo of Mandela's cell at the prison on Robben Island, where the future South African President was incarcerated from 1964 to 1982.) The following month, South Africa reversed the expulsion order.

(Prior October 26 posts are here, here, and here.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Update: Khadr pleads guilty

Omar Khadr has pleaded guilty to 5 terrorism charges.
According to a report by the Washington Post's Peter Finn, the plea entered this morning by a military commissions judge at Guantánamo provides for an additional year of detention at that U.S. naval base, followed by 7 years more in prison in Canada, Khadr's birthplace.
Below are my thoughts posted in anticipation of this latest development in this case of a captured child soldier.

Khadr to settle?

Emanating from Guantánamo yesterday:
News stories reporting rumors that the military commissions case of United States of America v. Omar Ahmed Khadr is about to end with a plea bargain.
If not, trial is set to begin later this morning in a GTMO courtroom.
Confirming rumors reported by the Los Angeles Times' Carol J. Williams on Saturday, Reuters' Jane Sutton speculated on a reputed agreement by which Khadr, now 24 (above right), would serve "one more year at Guantanamo, followed by seven years in his native Canada." (image credit) Sutton added that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had talked Sunday with her counterpart in Canada, which would have to approve any such deal.
Later on Sunday, Michelle Shepard of the Toronto Star, author of a book on the case, acknowledged such speculation, but stressed the statement by "Khadr’s Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney" that "there was no deal, 'as of this moment.'" Shepard thus continued with a preview of the trial, should it occur.
The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg, meanwhile, led with concern that any Khadr deal might remain secret (as has that of another detainee). Such secrecy would challenge "[t]he Obama administration's quest to show that military commissions can be as transparent and fair as other U.S. courts," Rosenberg reported.
(Indeed, as posted in the update above, this morning Khadr did plead. The agreement was not released, but is believed to provide for the sentence described in this post.)
As blogreaders well know from our prior posts, Khadr was 15 (above, middle) when seized by U.S. military personnel during a firefight in Afghanistan. He has spent 1/3 of his life in American custody. As detailed in his Department of Defense case file, Khadr now faces trial on charges of, inter alia, throwing a grenade that killed a member of the U.S. special forces during the firefight.
At the preliminary hearing that I attended in December 2008, defense lawyers indicated that proof of the charges at trial may prove difficult. From the beginning, however, proceedings have focused on 2 other aspects of the case:
1st, what Khadr suffered, including treatment as a "human mop."
2d, that if the acts alleged in fact occurred, Khadr was a child soldier. That fact alone ought to preclude prosecution and punishment, many have argued -- among them our colleague David M. Crane, former Chief Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
The plea agreement bruited in yesterday's media would seem to take neither aspect into account.
Assuming speculation is correct, Khadr would not see release until after having served 16 years in custody -- a sentence scarcely seeming to incorporate much mitigation on account of detention conditions or any other reason.
The reputed deal departs markedly from international law with regard to child soldiers.
Consider the 2000 Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. In Article 6(3) states parties agree to

take all feasible measures to ensure that persons within their jurisdiction recruited or used in hostilities contrary to the present Protocol are demobilized or otherwise released from service. States Parties shall, when necessary, accord to such persons all appropriate assistance for their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration.
Article 7(1) continues in like vein:

States Parties shall cooperate in the implementation of the present Protocol, including in the prevention of any activity contrary thereto and in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons who are victims of acts contrary thereto, including through technical cooperation and financial assistance. Such assistance and cooperation will be undertaken in consultation with the States Parties concerned and the relevant international organizations.
The treaty's view that the children are "victims" and deserving of "rehabilitation and social reintegration," as well as "physical and psychological recovery," is obviously at odds with a prosecution and punishment strategy with regard to these same children.
It is at odds, then, with the reported disposition of Khadr.
Canada became a full state party to the protocol in July 2000; the United States, in December 2002. The countries' statements at ratification said nothing to undercut the force of the articles quoted -- which, as indicated in this report of the International Committee of the Red Cross, jibe with other treaties.
Wonder whether either state will address this discrepancy.

On October 25

On this day in ...
... 1962, at the U.N. Security Council in New York, the U.S. Ambassador to the United States, Adlai E.Stevenson, challenged his Soviet counterpart to explain the presence of nuclear missiles in Cuba. When the Soviet ambassador declined to give an immediate answer (possibly because he lacked instructions from Moscow), Stevenson -- formerly an Illinois Governor (and before that, an attaché at the U.N. Charter conference in San Francisco) who'd become known for his wit in 2 unsuccessful bids for the U.S. Presidency -- went on the offensive. He told the Soviet envoy he could wait "till hell freezes over"; in the interim, he set up easels and displayed enlarged photographs (above left), evidence of the installations. High points in this video clip; more here and here on Stevenson and others who played a role in the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 (prior InLawGrrls posts here, here, here, and here).

(Prior October 25 posts are here, here, and here.)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

... and counting ....

(Occasional sobering thoughts.) This weekend's big news regarding U.S. involvement in armed conflicts is, of course, the release by WikiLeaks of 400,000 pages of Iraq War documents. News outlets such as The New York Times (here) and Le Monde (here) have devoted considerable space to this disclosure, even as other reporters, groups, and private individuals sift through the documents available here.
One disclosure bears particular relevance to this "...and counting..." feature, which we've posted periodically since our founding. An Associated Press story reports that the documents reveal far more U.S. military attention to civilian cases a few years back than was admitted at the time.
Revealed, according to the AP:
[A] higher death toll than previously believed.
Iraq Body Count, a private British-based group that has tracked the number of Iraqi civilians killed since the war started in March 2003, said it had analyzed the information and found 15,000 previously unreported deaths. That would raise its total from as many as 107,369 civilians to more than 122,000 civilians.
The article then quotes Jameel Jaffer (prior post) of the American Civil Liberties Union:

'The American public has a right to know the full human cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A lot of this information should have been released to the public a long time ago.'
With these developments in mind, here's our count since our last such post 5 weeks ago:
► The U.S. Department of Defense reports that coalition military casualties in Afghanistan stand at 1,348 Americans, 341 Britons, and 479 other coalition servicemembers. That's an increase of 68, 6, and 16 casualties, respectively, in the last 5 weeks. The total coalition casualty count in the Afghanistan conflict is 2,168 service women and men.
► Respecting the conflict in Iraq, Iraq Body Count reports that between 98,585 and 107,594 Iraqi women, children, and men have died in the conflict in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. (But see story quoted above.) That represents an increase of between 591 and 640 persons since 5 weeks ago. According to the U.S. Defense Department, 4,426 American servicemembers have been killed in Iraq, representing 5 servicemember deaths in the last 5 weeks. (As posted, U.S. troops are the only foreign forces remaining in Iraq.)

On October 24

On this day in ...
... 2005 (5 years ago today), a day that was the 60th anniversary of the entry into force of the U.N. Charter (today is the 65th anniversary), the U.N. General Assembly approved Resolution 60/1, World Summit Outcome. Its nearly 200 paragraphs reaffirmed many aspects of the United Nation's mission, including the U.N. Millennium Development Goals adopted a few years earlier. Paragraph 138 of the World Summit Outcome resolution stated:
Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.
As we've posted, the meaning and consequences of this "responsibility to protect" paragraph remain a subject of global debate.

(Prior October 24 posts are here, here, and here.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

'Nuff said

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

Imagine the events that led to those and similarly-grounded judgments as they actually took place in real life. Picture the school where women were held with unrestrained soldiers, the prison camp guarded by drunken, ill-disciplined troops; the compound surrounded by Hutus, where terrified Tutsi women had sought refuge and protection. Place these situations in their very real context of ethnic cleansing and genocide and then ask yourselves if consent could have anything to do, or have any meaning at all, in such circumstances.

-- Navanethem Pillay (above right), U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Judge of the International Criminal Court, and former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (prior posts), in "Sexual Violence: Standing by the Victim." Her 2009 lecture appears in a 2010 edition of the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, which also includes papers (one by IntLawGrrls' guest/alumna Laura M. Olson) from an "After Guantánamo" symposium.

Write On! AsianSIL in Beijing

(Write On! is an occasional item about notable calls for papers.)

The Asian Society of International Law is seeking papers, on the theme of Asia and International Law: A New Era, to be presented at the Society's 3d Biennial Conference on August 27 and 28, 2011, in Beijing, China.
As stated in an excerpt from the call for papers:

The international community is now entering a new era, one in which a discernible shift has taken place in the distribution of global power. Asia, once more, is emerging as an extremely dynamic, prosperous, and innovative region. At the same time, it must be noted that Asia is an extraordinarily diverse continent; it contains many distinctive civilizations, and it includes states that are among the wealthiest and poorest in the world. Tensions exist between Asian states, and an overwhelming number of people in Asia continue to be vulnerable to oppression, poverty, environmental disasters, and the ravages of conflict.
Papers are welcome, from scholars, practitioners, NGO representatives, and others, on topics such as:
► Law of the Sea
► Climate Change and Development
► Disaster Management and International Law
► Human Rights, Sovereignty, and Asia
► Peace and Justice, the International Criminal Court, Issues of Universal Jurisdiction
► Migration and Dislocation
► Armed Conflict, International Law, and Human Rights
► Asia, Regional Arrangements and Free Trade Agreements
► Transnational Litigation and Arbitration in Asia
► Intellectual Property and International Law
► Treaties and Foreign Law in Domestic Courts in Asia
► Contribution of Asian Judges and Jurists to International Law
► Asia and Third World Approaches to International Law
► International Law Education and Research in Asia
Submit online via this application form no later than 11 p.m. Beijing time on December 1, 2010. For information about the selection process, e-mail; for questions about the conference, e-mail
Authors whose papers (of 6,000 to 8,000 words) are accepted for the conference will be encouraged to submit them for possible publication in the Society’s new, peer-reviewed Asian Journal of International Law.

On October 23

On this day in ...
... 1915 (95 years ago), "armies of suffrage from all the five boroughs" marched down New York's 5th Avenue in support of granting U.S. women the right to vote. (photo credit) The tens of thousands of demonstrators at the hours-long parade, The New York Times reported, "included men and women of all ages, from veterans in their seventies to babies pushed along in gocarts." Another 8,000 women and men marched in Philadelphia. It would be another 5 years before the marchers' wishes were granted by dint of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

(Prior October 23 posts are here, here, and here.)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Read On! Zeitoun

(Read On! ... occasional posts on writing we're reading)

Feel a bit late to the table commenting on Zeitoun, the 2009 book by Dave Eggers. Blurbs on and in the paperback edition indicate that a host of reviews named it a best book of last year. Yet it's new to me, and worth a word or 2.
In Zeitoun Eggers writes at the overlap of fiction and nonfiction, novelizing the "true story" of persons whom he's interviewed extensively. It's a technique he also employed in What Is the What (2007), an epic biographical novel/autobiography of a man who'd been a Lost Boy during the war in Southern Sudan. Zeitoun is slimmer and makes no claim to autobiography; in this author's humble opinion, the newer book works less well, and perhaps that is one reason why.
(Eggers deserves much credit for his Voice of Witness efforts to publish stories of victims of human rights violations, and for his establishment of charities, like The Zeitoun Foundation, to continue his books' good works.)
The new book's principal characters are the Zeitouns, a Syrian-born husband of Arab heritage and his Louisiana-born wife of European heritage. Their home is New Orleans. Both are Muslims --he by birth, she by conversion shortly before meeting him -- and both suffered during and after Hurricana Katrina.
Eggers tries to present the story through the eyes of this couple, but the narrational voice remains his own. Thus at times certain passages, like that which attributes to the wife a reference to Islam, Judaism, and Christianity as "not-so-distantly related branches of the same monotheistic Abrahamic faith" (p. 66), lack an authentic ring.
Perhaps it's because of the Eggers' apparent outrage at how the couple were treated. That outrage is entirely appropriate, but his desire to explain the couple and their family, to contextualize their experience, occasionally gets in the way of their story. To name another example: even if it had been made far less overtly, caring contemporary readers would get the Guantánamo comparison that underlay the husband's travails and his wife's traumatic response to them.
That said, any caring reader will profit from pondering the story of the Zeitouns. It is, as Eggers recognizes, inevitably a story of contemporary policy and practice regarding human and national security.