Friday, November 30, 2012

Write On! "International Law Components of Peace"

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

I am happy to report that we have commenced planning the second meeting of the Creation of International Law Network in 2014. The network is intended to:
► Link women scholars from different subfields of international law, who meet and design future research and other collaborative engagements;
► Promote the participation of women in international law forums and institutions; and ► Disseminate the scholarship of women within international law.
Our first conference, in 2010, was held at my only law faculty, at the University of Oslo in Norway. Many IntLawGrrls participated. As I posted earlier this year, that conference produced a book, Non-State Actors, Soft Law and Protective Regimes: From the Margins, which is available from Cambridge.
The theme of the second conference will be Exploring the International Law Components of Peace.
Dr. Sumudu Atapattu (right), Global Legal Studies Associate Director at the University of Wisconsin Law School, has graciously offered to explore the possibility of hosting it in Madison in 2014. We plan to publish the papers in one of the university's journal thereafter.
We seek to expand the participation of scholars from the developing world. To that end, we welcome any suggestions for a keynote speaker from Asia, Africa, or the Americas.
Our concept note for this second conference is reproduced below.. Please let us know if you are interested in participating in this conference, by sending abstracts for paper proposals to me at
Look forward to your participation!

Creation of International Law: 
Exploring the International Law Components of Peace
Concept Note

We invite internationally acclaimed women scholars and PhD candidates to the second conference on the Creation of International Law, to be hosted by the University of Wisconsin in 2014. The intention is to continue and expand the network of women scholars and practitioners that was launched in 2009 in Norway to support their engagement in public international law. The theme of the second conference is: Exploring the International Law Components of Peace.
The pursuit of peace remains a global challenge and there is a need for reflection as to how the current international public law institutional and normative structure functions and what are the gaps?
Scholars from across the globe are invited to present papers addressing challenges in relation to the creation of international law from theoretical, normative, or empirical perspectives. We seek to bring together academic women to promote new research collaboration and strengthen their ability to influence the creation and elaboration of international law. The conference seeks to profile women as subjects of international public law development, both for students and researchers seeking recruitment to the law schools. We will seek publication of the papers in an academic journal of the University of Wisconsin.
The following are some suggested areas for papers, addressing issues relating to peace at the international level (state-state/international community) and at the domestic level (state-society/individual).

International Legal Materials advisors sought

The American Society of International Law welcomes applications for service on the Editorial Advisory Committee of International Legal Materials, a bimonthly publication that produces full texts – preceded by commentary –  of important treaties and agreements, judicial and arbitral decisions, national legislation, international organizations resolutions and other documents.
The ILM Editorial Advisory Committee meets every two months at Tillar House, ASIL's Washington headquarters, to select international legal documents to be published in ILM (about which more here).
Persons interested in serving on the Committee are encouraged to apply by sending a curriculum vitae and a brief expression of interest to Djurdja Lazic, ILM Managing Editor, at
Deadline is February 8, 2013.

On November 30

On this day in ...
... 1993, in Ottawa, the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies released a 1,300-page final report, Proceed with Care, the name of which, Proceed with Care signaled the caution with which it perceived its subject. The commission made hundreds of recommendations, for controlling sales of human eggs, for licensing of in vitro fertilization clinics, and for establishing a Canadian regulatory body. That agency, Assisted Human Reproduction Canada, would begin operation in 2004, but is now in a winding-down process, in the wake of a 2010 Canadian Supreme Court decision limiting governmental regulation in this area.

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Palestine news flash: 138 aye, 9 nay, 41 abstain

Cant' access the U.N. website at the moment, but the Guardian's live blog reports that the U.N. General Assembly has just upgraded Palestine's status to nonmember state, placing it on par with the Holy See, but not with the nearly 200 member states of the United Nations.
Here's the reported vote on whether Palestine should be recognized as a nonmember state:

No - 9:
Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States of America

Abstain - 41:
Albania, Andorra, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Estonia, Fiji, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, Korea, Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, United Kingdom, Vanuatu

Yes - 138:
Pretty much the rest of the General Assembly's membership.

IntLawGrrls' prior posts on what this change of status means, in the Middle East, at the United Nations, and at organizations like the International Criminal Court,  available here.

Reflections on the ICC Assembly of States Parties: Elections, gender issues & civil society relations

(Part 2 of a 2-part series; Part 1 is here)

Besides the matters I discussed in my post yesterday, additional formal events of the 11th Session of the International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties (ASP) are worth examining; specifically, the elections which were held for the position of ICC Deputy Prosecutor, as well as for committee memberships.
But as I mentioned in a post filed from The Hague last week, some of the less formal activities and discussions are among the most significant aspects of the ASP. These include two I'll discuss in today's post: the attention paid to gender issues and the deepening relations between civil society and the court.

Elections and transparency
James K. Stewart
James Stewart of Canada was elected to the position of Deputy Prosecutor (Prosecutions) for a nine-year term, and although the election ended up being more hotly contested than anticipated, most attendees seemed pleased with the result.
Stewart has extensive domestic criminal prosecution experience, in addition to having spent eight years combined with the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the former Yugoslavia. Article 42(2) of the Rome Statute does allow for the election of more than one Deputy Prosecutor. In the past, the Court had filled the position of Deputy Prosecutor for Investigations, held by Serge Brammertz from 2003 to 2007. But that post has remained vacant since the resignation of Brammertz, now the ICTY Prosecutor; given financial constraints, will likely remain so.
States-parties also elected five members of the board of directors of the Trust Fund for Victims and, as Jing Geng posted, nine members of the newly established Advisory Committee on Nominations, a body of experts charged with providing advice on the qualifications of individuals nominated as judges for the ICC. Candidates for the Advisory Committee were put forth by a working group comprised of five members. Although the elections were by consensus, Italy and the Netherlands both made statements expressing their displeasure at the lack of transparency as to how candidates for the Advisory Committee were selected.
These complaints echo those of many state and civil society delegates regarding the product of working groups.
Working groups are established to do the necessary legwork leading up to the general sessions, since time is so constrained at the ASP and it is difficult to negotiate substantive details in a large setting. Having invested much time and effort in this preparatory work, however, there seems to be substantial pressure at the ASP not to undo it all and shatter any fragile consensus that has been forged. Thus, working group decisions are increasingly being adopted wholesale, or with only minor amendments, by the entire ASP.
While this procedure may promote efficiency, the obvious drawback is a lack of representation in the actual decision-making.
Working group members may not hold views that are representative of the other states-parties, and there is very little opportunity when the work is done in such a limited forum for genuine dialogue among states or with civil society representatives. At the same time, these groups are not as transparent about their working process or decision-making as they ideally could be, making it very hard to monitor their activities or understand their results.

Gender issues
It appears that attention to gender issues has essentially been institutionalized at the ASP.

On November 29

On this day in ...
... 1752 (260 years ago today), in what then was the British colony of Rhode Island, Jemima Wilkinson was born into a family of Quakers, a religion she too followed. In 1776, during an outbreak of disease, Wilkinson lay feverish and near death – upon recovery she claimed she was a divinely sent preacher.  She eschewed her birth name for the moniker of "Publick Universal Friend," and pursued a career as "a charismatic American evangelist who preached total sexual abstinence and the Ten Commandments to her Quaker 'Society of Universal Friends.'" Thus she became "first American-born woman to found a religious movement." (image credit) Rejected by her community, she and her followers moved to a part of New York never before settled by persons of European ancestry. There she remained until her death in 1819.

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reflections on the ICC Assembly of States Parties: Cooperation, complementarity, budget & R132bis

(Part 1 of a 2-part series; Part 1 is here)

The 11th Session of the International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties (ASP) ended last Wednesday, a day earlier than scheduled. Now that all of the delegates have returned to their home countries and regular work routines, it is worth taking a moment to sum up the major accomplishments of the seven working days of the ASP and consider what to watch for ahead of next year’s meeting.
In a post filed from The Hague last week, I outlined the work of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court at the ASP. Today, I will address the ASP's substantive discussions on cooperation and complementarity, the key resolution passed, and the budget. And in a final post tomorrow, I'll consider several additional matters: elections and transparency, attention to gender issues, and relations between the court and civil society.

Substantive discussions
This year’s ASP was the first in which substantive discussions were included in the scheduled plenary sessions.
In the past, all discussion of substantive issues took place at the side events organized by civil society or informally among states delegates; the formal meetings were devoted solely to resolutions, elections, and mostly dominated by budget discussions. Yet formal sessions at the ASP are virtually the only times during which representatives of all states parties, as well as observers from nonparty states and representatives of civil society, convene in one room with time carved out for genuine dialogue.
Mainly thanks to the advocacy of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, this year’s ASP included two rounds of substantive discussions – one on state cooperation with the court, and one on complementarity.

The cooperation discussion focused on practical solutions and innovative ideas for enhancing state efforts in support of the court, especially in terms of enabling investigations, effecting arrest warrants, and preventing the free movement of fugitives. (credit for (c) CICC/Roberta Celi photo of Serge Brammertz, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, speaking at this session)
The complementarity discussion explored the ways in which capacity-building and transitional justice efforts can have spillover effects on the affected state’s rule of law and development generally, thereby improving overall governance and welfare. In their statements and interventions, many states parties delegates also emphasized national primacy over prosecution for atrocity crimes, as well as the paramount significance of domestic legislative and legal efforts.
Such expressions are in accordance with the strategic focus of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor on “positive complementarity.” But they can also be self-serving, especially when made by states involved in situations before the court. The fear is that such emphases are meant to detract attention and support from the court and reassert state control, so as to circumvent prosecution of those responsible for atrocity crimes. It is therefore worth looking closely at the domestic activities highlighted by these states, to ensure that they are engaged in genuine accountability efforts, and not merely symbolic acts devoid of substance.
Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the ICC, delegates acknowledged that we are no longer in the court’s establishment phase, but rather we have moved into a phase of consolidation, implementation, evaluation and improvement.
Further evidence of this comes from the UN Security Council, which held its first debate on “Peace and Justice with a Special Focus on the Role of the International Criminal Court” last month.
Accordingly, we can expect much of the upcoming dialogue on cooperation and complementarity, as well as on the court’s general functioning, to be devoted to technical issues and practical recommendations. The court and the Bureau of the Assembly of States Parties are engaged in gleaning lessons learned and best practices, and civil society will continue its watchdog efforts, pushing the court toward improvements based on these findings.
One area we will almost certainly hear more about is efforts to get states to freeze the assets of non-cooperating states parties, and even to cut off all non-essential communication with them.

The court’s annual budget was passed by consensus using a silent procedure, which meant that it was never debated in the formal sessions.
Fatou Bensouda
Much of the work went on behind the scenes by the Committee on Budget and Finance and the ASP Working Groups in The Hague and New York, as well as informally among states at the ASP. Heading in to the ASP, virtually everyone feared that the budget talks would dominate the working days and that a suitable agreement would not be reached. This would have worked to the great detriment of the court: in a September diplomatic briefing, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had already warned that further budget cuts could affect her office’s capacity to do its work. That a budget was approved without dominating the ASP, and that states did not impose a “zero-growth” policy or major arbitrary cuts, seemed to be taken as a general victory for all.
Still, not everyone was pleased with the budget that managed to garner a consensus.

On November 28

On this day in ...
... 1982 (30 years ago today), began a GATT Ministerial Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. There representatives from 88 countries party to the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Tariffs, reviewed recent failures in that GATT system and endeavored "to launch a major new negotiation." This effort failed over disagreements about agriculture. (credit for photo of U.S. Senators Robert Dole (R-Kansas) and John Danforth (R-Missouri), among others, at this meeting) In hindsight, however, the meeting proved the seed for the Uruguay Round; out of that multiyear round of trade negotiations grew the establishment in 1995 of the World Trade Organization.

(Prior November 28 are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Welcoming a very special guest, Mark Drumbl

It's IntLawGrrls' pleasure today to welcome a very special guest contributor, Dr. Mark Drumbl (right).
Mark's a longtime member of the law faculty at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he is the Class of 1975 Alumni Professor and also serves as Director of the Transnational Law Institute. He's also had appointments at a number of law schools in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, and Ireland, as well as the United States.
His teaching and many publications focus on aspects of public international law, including global environmental governance, international criminal law, post-conflict justice, and transnational legal process. He is the author of the just-published Reimagining Child Soldiers in International Law and Policy, as well as the award-winning Atrocity, Punishment, and International Law (2007).
Mark earned a bachelor's degree from McGill University, a master's from McGill and the Institut d'études politiques de Paris, an LL.B. from the University of Toronto, and his LL.M. and J.S.D. degrees from Columbia Law School. He served as a judicial clerk to Justice Frank Iacobucci of the Supreme Court of Canada, and practiced law in both the private and public sectors.
In his guest post below, Mark applies the lens of the 2011 conviction of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in order to consider the many roles of women in situations of atrocity. His post forms part 2 of IntLawGrrls' 2-part series on women accused of international crimes; here is Part 1, an analysis, by Rosemary Grey and Louise Chappell, of the 2012 International Criminal Court arrest warrant against Simone Gbagbo of Côte d'Ivoire.
Heartfelt welcome!

“She makes me ashamed to be a woman”: ICTR's genocide conviction of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko

(My thanks for the opportunity to contribute this guest post, which forms Part 2 of a 2-part IntLawGrrls series on women accused of international crimes. Part 1 is here.)

Much of the literature on gender and conflict focuses, appropriately, on women as victims of violence. Women, however, may also act as agents of violence, including mass atrocity, during conflict situations.
A paper I am writing explores this latter reality through the conviction of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Rwanda’s former Minister of Family and Women’s Development. Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda sentenced Nyiramasuhuko (above, center) to life imprisonment on June 24, 2011. (credit) At the time of her conviction, she was 65 years old.
I first prepared this paper for a fantastic conference on Gendering Conflict and Post-Conflict Terrains that IntLawGrrls contributors Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Naomi Cahn and Dina Haynes organized at the University of Minnesota Law School this past May. Drawing from wonderful feedback generated at the conference, the paper was updated. Now available at SSRN, the paper, entitled "'She makes me ashamed to be a woman': The Genocide Conviction of Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, 2011," will appear in the Michigan Journal of International Law next year.
Nyiramasuhuko was prosecuted jointly with five other defendants, including her son, Arsène Shalom Ntahobali (who also was given a life sentence). All the defendants were from Butare, a préfecture in southern Rwanda. The defendants became colloquially known as the “Butare Group” or the “Butare Six.” The other four defendants received sentences of 25 years, 30 years, 35 years, and life.
Nyiramasuhuko is the ICTR’s only female accused. She is, moreover, the only woman tried and convicted by an international criminal tribunal for genocide, and the only woman tried and convicted by an international criminal tribunal for rape as a crime against humanity.
The only other woman convicted by a post-Cold War international criminal tribunal (the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) is Biljana Plavšić (right). A leading Bosnian Serb politician with de facto control and authority over members of the Bosnian Serb armed forces, Plavšić pleaded guilty in 2002 to one count of persecution (crimes against humanity). She was sentenced in 2003 to eleven years’ imprisonment.
Each of the Butare Six defendants has appealed the convictions. Appeal proceedings are underway. It is anticipated that the ICTR will complete all its work by December 31, 2014, though no concrete time line has been established in the Butare Six case.
My article explores the intersections between gender and justice in the strategies of participants in the proceedings against Nyiramasuhuko and, more tellingly, in public portrayals thereof.
The judgment itself, 1,500 pages in length and available here, is gender-neutral in terms of its depiction of Nyiramasuhuko. She is presented as a perpetrator indifferently from her male co-perpetrators.
Public portrayals of Nyiramasuhuko, in contrast, exude problematic essentialisms, stereotypes, and imagery of women and mothers. These caricatures emerge at two distinct levels:
► First, they are invoked by the media to sensationalize and spectacularize the trial itself – in short, to titillate.
► Second, they are instrumentally invoked to favor strategic operational outcomes.

Write On! "Transnational Judicial Dialogue"

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

The International Law through the National Prism Project at the Amsterdam Center for International Law, and the MultiRights Project at the University of Oslo Faculty of Law have issued a call for papers for a conference on "Transnational Judicial Dialogue: Concept, Method, Extent and Effects". The Conference will be held on June 21-22, 2013, in Oslo. Full details are here.
The Conference will explore the practice of transnational judicial dialogue on issues of international law by and between domestic and international courts (and tribunals). It seeks to examine whether, how, when and why courts engage in such dialogues; and what the effects are of this practice. In particular, the Conference aims to clarify the concept and extent of court-to-court dialogue, the process itself, its limits and possibilities, as well as any influence it may have on the international legal order further down the line.
The Conference seeks to address how transnational judicial dialogues occur in different regions of the world and in various fields of law, including, but not limited to, human rights.
Paper proposals (no longer than 500 words) and a CV should be sent by e-mail to: Dr. Amrei Müller ( The deadline is February 15, 2013.

On November 27

On this day in ...
... 1912 (100 years ago today), the Treaty Between France and Spain Regarding Morocco was concluded. The pact divided Morocco into two protectorates, the larger portion controlled by the French and smaller parcels controlled (ultimately, through a caliph) the Spanish. The contemporary lithograph below claims a civilizing force in North Africa as a result of this European project (along with that of the British in Egypt).
It is thus to be noted that part of the Spanish Zone is now known as the contested region of Western Sahara. As posted, for decades since an International Court of Justice decision, Western Sahara has been occupied by the state of Morocco, Morocco having secured a declaration of independence in 1956.

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

Monday, November 26, 2012

'Nuff said

(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)
'Some say that Clinton diluted her energy and failed to achieve any signature triumphs, such as an end to the Syrian crisis. Others argue that through a thousand lesser-known efforts and initiatives, she has achieved nothing less than a transformative shift toward a more effective and modern American diplomacy.'
–  Reporter Stephanie McCrummen, writing in today's Washington Post about U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. McCrummen's thoughtful survey of Clinton's approach these last 4 years to her position as the United States' top diplomat –  a position from which Clinton has said she soon will resign –  is well worth a read. (credit for State Department photo of Clinton, at right, with Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and, since this past April, a member of the Parliament of Myanmar)

Welcoming Rosemary Grey & Louise Chappell

It's our great pleasure to welcome Rosemary Grey (right) and Dr. Louise Chappell (left) as IntLawGrrls contributors.
► Rose is a doctoral researcher in the School of Social Sciences and the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She works on the topic of gender justice in international criminal law, focusing particularly on the prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence at the International Criminal Court. A few months ago, Rose, about whom we've previously posted here, took part in in the 2012 Hague Symposium Post-Conflict Transitions & International Justice; in 2011, she was a Hague-based intern for the International Bar Association.
► Louise, about whom we've previously posted here, is a Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales (she is Rose's Ph.D. supervisor), as well as an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. As reflected by her many publications, her primary research areas are women’s rights, gender and politics from a comparative and international perspective, public policy and federalism. She is working on a book on gender justice at the ICC, to be published by Oxford University Press.
Earlier this year, both Rose and Louise were involved in convening at the university an event on which we then posted: Justice for All? The International Criminal Court - A 10 year Review Conference on the ICC, as well as a workshop on Gender Justice and the ICC for delegates of women's organizations.
Their introductory post below is prompted by Thursday's announcement that the ICC has issued a warrant for the arrest of Simone Gbagbo, Vice President of the Ivorian Popular Front, a political party founded in 1982 by Laurent Gbagbo, who served as President of Côte d'Ivoire from 2000 until he – and she, his wife – were arrested. He has been in ICC custody for a year; it is not clear how the current CdI government will respond to the ICC warrant against her. In their post today, Rose and Louise consider the implications of the case against Simone Gbagbo, the 1st woman charged by the ICC; tomorrow, IntLawGrrls' 2-part series on women accused will feature a post in which guest contributor Mark Drumbl analyzes the recent conviction of the only woman prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Joining IntLawGrrls contributor Katie O'Byrne in their choice of a transnational foremother, Rosemary and Louise write:
Jessie Street at the United Nations
'We dedicate our entry to Jessie Street (1889-1970), an Australian activist, who was a prominent member of the international peace movement. Jessie founded the United Associations of Women, Australia in 1929 which was part of the International Alliance of Women, and which lobbied the League of Nations in Geneva on women's rights. As the sole woman on the Australian delegation to the 1945 founding conference of the United Nations in San Francisco, Jessie was instrumental in having a permanent Commission on the Status of Women established within the United Nations, separate from the Human Rights Commission. She was CSW’s first Vice President.
'At home Jessie was an advocate for equality of status for women, equal pay, the rights of women to retain their jobs after marriage, appointment of women to public office and their election to Parliament. She was also worked to address the plight of Jewish refugees, and campaigned for the elimination of discrimination of Australia’s indigenous people.'
Heartfelt welcome!

Simone Gbagbo & the International Criminal Court: The unsettling spectre of the female war criminal

(Our thanks for the opportunity to contribute this introductory post, the 1st of a 2-part IntLawGrrls series on women accused of international crimes. Part 2 is here.)

Simone Gbagbo
The International Criminal Court has unsealed a warrant for the arrest of Simone Gbagbo, whose husband, Laurent Gbagbo, President of Côte d'Ivoire from 2000 to 2011, has been in ICC custody since last November.
The warrant, unsealed Thursday, described Simone Gbagbo as the suspected indirect co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity – namely, murder, rape and other sexual violence, inhumane acts, and persecution – allegedly committed in Côte d'Ivoire from 16 December 2010 to 12 April 2011. Consistent with the most basic of fair trial rights, Gbagbo's innocence must be presumed unless she is convicted following a fair and impartial trial; however, the issuance of the warrant is noteworthy for several reasons.
► First, there is the fact that Côte d'Ivoire is not a state party to the ICC, although it has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court for a finite period.
In 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber III approved Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s request to use his propio motu powers to open an investigation into crimes committed in Côte d'Ivoire since 28 November 2010. In February 2012, the Chamber authorized an expansion of the investigation by the Court back to 2002. (The unsealed warrant, issued by the Chamber composed of Presiding Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi along with Judges Elizabeth Odio Benito and Adrian Fulford, is dated 29 February 2012.) Cases stemming from investigations into the Côte d’Ivoire situation, including the potential case against Simone Gbagbo, are therefore creating an important precedent for the Court in engaging with a non-party state, albeit one that has accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction.
► The warrant is also in itself groundbreaking.
Simone Gbagbo is the first woman to potentially face charges before the ICC. Should her case go to trial she will be one of a very few women charged in the history of international tribunals. (Prior IntLawGrrls post)
No women were tried in the first proceedings at Nuremberg and Tokyo, although, as Diane Marie Amann has posted, numerous women stood trial in subsequent post-World War II proceedings. Recent ad hoc tribunals have tried just two women: the Yugoslavia tribunal convicted Bosnian Serb politician Biljana Plavšić of persecution as a crime against humanity, while the Rwanda tribunal convicted a former Rwandan government minister, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, of genocide and crimes against humanity (including rape). An effort to prosecute a woman leader, Ieng Thirith, before the Cambodia tribunal has ended because she suffers from dementia.
► The relative novelty of the arrest warrant against Simone Gbagbo – and any future case against her – is important because it disrupts the “normal” gender archetypes in international criminal law, thereby making those archetypes suddenly visible.
Charging a woman with international crimes sparks questions about gender that we seldom ask when the subject of the proceedings is a man. It illuminates long-held assumptions embedded in law and in society about who the “normal” suspects/accused in international crimes are. It undermines the usual view of men as the agents and women as the victims of crime. It challenges the dichotomy that sets up men, masculinity and violence on one side and women, femininity and passivity on the other. It upsets the archetype of women as vulnerable, ‘rapeable’, and incapable of wielding power.
Laurent Gbagbo and Simone Gbagbo
The fact that Gbagbo is facing possible charges of crimes related to sexual violence will further challenge presumptions about power relations not only between men and women but also amongst each sex.
Should this case get to trial, the ensuing ICC case law has the potential to unsettle our assumptions about men’s and women’s roles in conflict situations.
► At the same time, any case against Simone Gbagbo could also serve to reinforce gender stereotypes.

On November 26

Dr. Ruth Patrick in the field
On this day in ...
... 1907 (105 years ago today), in Topeka, Kansas, Dr. Ruth Patrick was born into a family led by a banker-lawyer father whose training and passion were in the field of botany. The father and his young daughters frequently went on weekend nature expeditions. Patrick would be educated 1st in Kansas City, then in South Carolina, and ultimately in Virginia, earning her Ph.D. from UVA in 1934. She is known for her aquatic ecology research, centered on the algae group known as diatoms – through her research she made important discoveries respecting the history of areas such as the Virginia-North Carolina Great Dismal Swamp and the Utah Great Salt Lake. Patrick earned many awards, and was further honored by establishment of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center in Aiken, South Carolina.

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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Will Obama warm to Doha action?

'At Doha, negotiators will be looking for signs of how Obama plans to put his climate mission in action.'

So writes Suzanne Goldenberg, the D.C.-based U.S. environmental correspondent for Britain's Guardian newspaper, in an article speculating on what the United States might say and do at the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Goldenberg notes that climate change garnered more attention in the weeks before the re-election of President Barack Obama, not in the least because of the damage wreaked by Hurricane Sandy. Obama referred to this renewal of interest in the early-morning victory speech (photo credit & video clip) that he delivered on November 7, when he said:
'We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened up by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.'
Whether and how that aspiration translates into action are the questions of the day for the Doha 2012 Climate Change Conference, which will begin in the Qatari capital just a couple hours from now and continue through December 7.

'Nuff said

(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)
'Shark fins do not constitute a traditional ingredient of the European diet, but sharks do constitute a necessary element of the Union’s marine ecosystem; therefore, their management and conservation, as well as, in general, the promotion of a sustainably managed fishing sector for the benefit of the environment and of the people working in the sector, should be a priority.'
– One of several amendments aimed at stiffening the ban on removal of fins of sharks aboardship, which the European Parliament adopted Thursday. A 2003 ban on the practice had been riddled with loopholes, prompting Rapporteur Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (right), a European Parliament member from Portugal, to propose the amendments just adopted, the full text of which may be found at pp. 104-10 of the document available here. (photo credits here and here) As posted, efforts to restrict shark finning appear to be on the rise.

On November 25

On this day in ...
... 1867 (145 years ago today), Alfred Nobel patented dynamite. Born in Sweden 34 years earlier, Nobel had begun his career as an industrialist, a maker of bridges and other structures – the construction of which often required blasting through rock, a requirement that led Nobel to the experiments out of which dynamite was created. On this day he secured U.S. patent number 78,317 for his invention, the destructive power of which he continued to improve. ( photo credit) Used in times of war and peace alike, the invention left him with an immense fortune. In the will he signed on this same date in 1895 in Paris (28 years to the day after he'd obtained the patent), Nobel funded the establishment of annual Nobel Prizes, to be apportioned as follows:
'one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.'
This development was due in no small part to an abundance of correspondence with Bertha Sophie Felicita von Suttner (right), who worked briefly as a secretary for Nobel, and then, as detailed in this fascinating account, wrote Nobel frequently, advocating her campaign for global peace. (photo credit) In 1905, 9 years after Nobel's death, she would become the 1st woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

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

Saturday, November 24, 2012

'Nuff said

(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)
'No one has sat back to say, "What are our objectives?" ... The model has become, we will go to dangerous places and transform them, and we will do it from secure fortresses. And it doesn’t work.'

Prudence Bushnell, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Kenya on Aug. 7, 1998, the date of the bombings of U.S. embassies there and in Tanzania that killed more than 200 persons and injured more than 4,000. Bushnell was quoted in a Sunday New York Times article by veteran reporter Robert F. Worth, the online title of which is "Can American Diplomacy Ever Come Out of Its Bunker?" Occasioning these questions, of course, is the attack in Benghazi this past September 11 that left Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and 3 others dead. (prior post) More than 2 months later, officials and pundits in Washington continue to pursue blame for a perceived failure, as Worth reports. He offers an alternative account, quoting numerous U.S. diplomats who fear that exponentially stepped-up security – 150 security officers in 1985, 900 today – will prevent diplomats from engaging in the kinds of cultural exchanges long seen as the heart of their jobs. (credit for 2002 photo of Bushnell, at left, talking with a mother at a nutrition center, in her subsequent posting as U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala)

On November 24

On this day in ...
... 1859, in Britain, a scientific study called On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was published. It set forth a theory of evolution developed by its author, Charles Darwin. He drew on work of earlier scientists and on evidence he'd gathered during an 1830s voyage to sites such as the Galapagos Islands on the HMS Beagle. is published in England. The theory was controversial then and since. Indeed, as followers of the last U.S. election cycle well know, evolution continues to inspire debate – in this 'Grrl's own congressional district, Darwin garnered 4,000 write-in votes following a widely viewed anti-evolution speech by the incumbent member of Congress, who ran otherwise unopposed in November. (Big Bird got a few write-in nods, too.)

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

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bananas, Rum & the WTO

Just as the twenty-year World Trade Organization case about bananas is being wrapped up, another trade dispute with deep-lasting repercussions for Caribbean nations is emerging.
This time, the small island states are the inadvertent casualties of U.S. policies toward its Caribbean territories, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

U.S. Rum Cover-Over Program
Since 1917, the U.S. federal government has returned to these two rum-producing territories about 98% of the excise tax that it collects on domestically produced rum sold on the U.S. mainland. This is known as the rum cover-over program, and is intended to provide development assistance to the territories.
Until 2008, the islands used most of the refunded taxes for public and social welfare projects. Approximately 10% provided marketing support and production subsidies to rum companies.
 This all changed when, to induce rum-producer Diageo to relocate from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands struck a deal that gave the distiller $2.7 billion in tax incentives, all paid for out of the rum cover-over monies. Under the deal, Diageo, the world’s largest distiller, is receiving, at US taxpayers’ expense, a new plant, 30-year exemption from all property and gross receipt taxes, 90% reduction in corporate taxes, and marketing support and production incentives totaling tens of millions a year.
Not to be outdone, Puerto Rico has struck similar deals with Bacardi and Serralés.
In 2010, the cover-over amounted to approximately $450 million. It is reported that the value of the operating subsidies being provided exceeds the actual production cost per litre of bulk rum. And the more rum that the territories export to the US mainland, the more cover-over revenue they receive in return.

Export Subsidies in WTO Law
The WTO defines an “export subsidy” as a benefit, conferred on a firm or industry by the government, that is contingent on exports. The subsidies being provided via the cover-over revenue meet this definition.
Under WTO law, a member whose industry is being harmed by a subsidy can bring a challenge using the WTO dispute settlement process. If the subsidy is found to be harmful to the complaining country’s domestic market the subsidy is offset in the importing country by “countervailing duties.” Where the subsidy is found to be harmful to the complaining country’s industry or in a third market where they also compete, it must be removed.

Rum from Bermuda, USVI, Barbados
Rum Production & Export in the Caribbean
Anyone with even the remotest connection with the Caribbean probably knows something of the islands’ love affair with rum. Each island’s rum is integrated into its tourism experience.
An earlier post by fellow blogger, Marjorie Florestal, tells the Story of Rum as a
'global spirit with its beating heart in the Caribbean.'
The industry is also central to the islands’ economies. It is a major employer.

With bananas and sugar already an inadvertent casualty of earlier WTO rulings, rum is also now the region’s largest agriculture-based export industry. The islands’ small populations means that most of the rum is exported, a large portion to the United States. In the independent Caribbean countries, however, unlike the USVI and Puerto Rico, the industry is dominated by small local distillers. They are unable to compete against the subsidies being offered to the big multinational companies that all but cover their production costs.

On November 23

On this day in ...
... 2002 (10 years ago today), an attempt to bring the glitz of the Miss World beauty pageant to Nigeria's capital, Abuja, ended after extensive rioting by Muslim youths opposed to the show left more than 100 people dead and 500 injured," according to the BBC. Before demonstrations ended, more than 200 persons died. Pageant plans also had irked campaigners against the stoning sentence levied against Amina Lawal, was cancelled. A woman from Turkey would be crowned Miss World 2 weeks later, in London.

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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Top chefs

Courtesy of the Library of Congress American Memory project, which has made available a trove of midtwentieth century photos of the FSA/OWI, we remember the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, and aunts who for more than a century have brought turkey & fixings to Thanksgiving tables across the United States.
Depicted at top is "Mrs. T.M. Crouch" of Ledyard, Connecticut (credit for 1940 photo by Jack Delano); at right, "Mrs. Earle Landis" of Neffsville, Pennsylvania (credit for 1942 photo by Marjory Collins).
Today, honor, and enjoy.

On November 22

On this day in ...

... 1638, 30-something Margaret Brent arrived in America, having sailed from England with 3 siblings. She would become "the first woman in the English North American colonies to appear before a court of the Common Law," although she did so not as a lawyer but as a property manager. She also was the 1st woman to own land in the colony of Maryland, establishing a "Sisters' Freehold" with a sibling, Mary Brent; remarkable for the time, neither sister ever married. Her stint before the court occurred when her predecessor, a male, died, and she was appointed to manage affairs for a leading absentee landowner, Lord Baltimore. (credit for painting by Louis Glanzmann, depicting Brent's request for 2 votes in the Maryland Assembly, one for herself and one for Baltimore) After a falling out with that lord, she and family members moved to Virginia, where she established a plantation she named Peace.

(Prior November 22 posts are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Welcoming Christen Broecker

It's our great pleasure today to welcome Christen Broecker (left)  as an IntLawGrrls contributor.
Christen is the Associate Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI) in New York, where her work focuses on strengthening international human rights institutions, the prohibition against torture, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and genocide prevention. She also provides research assistance to another IntLawGrrls contributor, JBI Director Felice Gaer. Specifically, Christen conducts research relating to Felice's work as Vice Chair of the United Nations Committee against Torture, a committee on which Felice has served since 1999.
In her introductory post below, Christen details a milestone achievement of the Committee against Torture; specifically, its adoption, on Friday, while meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, of General Comment No. 3, on the matter of right to redress.
Before joining JBI, Christen was the 2009-2010 New York University Law Fellow at Human Rights Watch, with responsibility for researching and reporting on human rights abuses in Indonesia. She holds a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as J.D. cum laude and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from NYU, where she was an Institute for International Law and Justice Scholar. She also has provided volunteer support to attorneys litigating Alien Tort Statute claims against corporate defendants and to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia.
Christen's publications include two reports on Indonesia for Human Rights Watch and several academic articles on corporate accountability for international human rights violations.
Christen dedicates her post as follows:
'To human rights attorney and professor Rhonda Copelon, whose pathbreaking work on Alien Tort Statute litigation opened the door for victims of torture perpetrated overseas to seek redress in U.S. courts, and whose scholarship and advocacy on sexual and gender-based violence led international bodies including the Committee against Torture to recognize that gender crimes including rape and domestic violence can constitute torture.'
In this she joins many who, in prior posts, have thus honored Rhonda, an IntLawGrrls foremother. (credit for above right photo by Jim Block, made in 2005 at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law) As we then posted, Rhonda passed away on May 6, 2010.
Heartfelt welcome!

United Nations Committee against Torture Adopts New General Comment on Right to Redress

(My thanks to IntLawGrrls for the opportunity to contribute this introductory post)

The expert committee tasked by 153 states parties to interpret and monitor the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture has adopted an authoritative interpretation of the content and scope of the right to redress for victims of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
General Comment No. 3, issued last Friday by the UN Committee against Torture (logo at left), is the first interpretive statement by a UN human rights treaty body aimed at clarifying this relatively ambiguous area of international law. It draws from and consolidates decades of the Committee’s jurisprudence on the right to redress, including views that the Committee has articulated in its periodic reviews of states parties and in decisions rendered on individual complaints.
General Comments are considered subsidiary evidence of the content of international law, and they have been conferred considerable weight by some national courts. General Comment No. 3 thus represents a historic codification of the Committee’s understanding of the nature of the right to redress, one that makes a significant contribution to the international understanding of states’ obligations in this area.
While an exhaustive review of the significance of the Committee’s General Comment No. 3 is beyond the scope of this post, this review of some of its key provisions should demonstrate that the pronouncement represents a significant victory for victims of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (to which this post refers as "ill-treatment"). Indeed, the point of departure for the Committee, as reflected early on in the General Comment, is that
'the restoration of the dignity of the victim is the ultimate objective in the provision of redress.'
General Comment No. 3 reminds states of the wide-ranging legislative, institutional, and policy measures they must undertake in order to genuinely ensure that redress for victims of torture and ill-treatment is available, adequate, and effective. In doing so, it represents a significant addition to the body of international legal opinion on victims’ rights more broadly.
Article 14 of the 1948 Convention against Torture, which articulates the right to redress, reads:
'1. Each State party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the event of the death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his dependents shall be entitled to compensation.
'2. Nothing in this article shall affect any right of the victim or other person to compensation which may exist under national law.'
General Comment No. 3 elaborates the Committee’s understanding of this article of the Convention over the course of more than 10 pages of text. The following points are of particular importance:

Definition of “victim” (¶ 3)
The Committee stresses that it understands the term “victim” as constituting all individuals who suffer harm as a result of conduct that constitutes a violation of the Convention, including immediate family members and dependents of victims of torture and ill-treatment. This articulation of family members of victims as victims in their own right is significant, and reflects past Committee practice.

Scope of conduct giving rise to victim status (¶ 1)
The Committee explains that the right to redress under the Convention extends not only to victims of torture but also to victims of ill-treatment. While the text of article 14 only refers to victims of “torture,” as the Committee stated in 2007 in its General Comment No. 2 on prevention of torture, the Committee understands the obligations to prevent torture and to prevent ill-treatment to be

On November 21

On this day in ...
... 1967 (45 years ago today), the head of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, Gen. William Westmoreland, assured the U.S. news media:
'I am absolutely certain that whereas in 1965 the enemy was winning, today he is certainly losing.'
His declaration came just 2 months before the massive Tet Offensive on Saigon and cities. The United States-Vietnam War would go on for another 8 years and end without U.S. victory.

(Prior November 21  posts are here, here, and here, here, and here.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gotovina forum

Stirring debate these last several days is the acquittal-on-appeal of 2 Croatian generals convicted a year and a half ago of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1990s conflict in the Balkans.
Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač had been convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and sentenced to 24 and 18 years, respectively, for conduct occurring during Operation Storm in 1995. The ICTY Appeals Chamber ruled Friday, however, that the Trial Chamber's April 2011 judgment erred on numerous points, and so ordered the 2 released. The men were welcomed in Zagreb that day. But in nearby Belgrade, the decision was met with outrage.
IntLawGrrls joins the scholarly debate about the case today, publishing differing views in posts below:
Laurie Blank (left), in her post, sees in the Appeals Chamber's decision a careful balancing of humanitarian norms and military doctrine, while
Milena Sterio (right), in her post, faults the reasoning of the appellate majority and underscores concern that the result feeds into Serb perceptions of victors' justice.
Read both posts for a rich account of what transpired, and what this means for international law and politics.