Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Go On! On day of Lubanga verdict, "Atrocity Crimes Litigation 2011: Year in Review" at The Hague

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

Pleased to announce an exciting event in which yours truly has the honor of taking part:
The Atrocity Crimes Litigation Year in Review (2011) Conference, billed as a "discussion of atrocity crimes litigation of 2011 with leading practitioners and experts," will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, 2012, at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Dokter van der Stamstraat 1, in Leidschendam, adjacent to The Hague in the Netherlands. (credit for photo below of tribunal's building)
As this conference begins, we've just learned, Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court will "deliver its decision on the innocence or guilt of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo," the 1st person to stand trial at the ICC. That event promises rich discussion at our conference just up the road from the ICC.
The year-in-review conference began several year ago. Its founder, our colleague David Scheffer, held it at his home institution, Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. This year will be the 1st that the Northwestern Law conference goes to The Hague, home to the ICC, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and others among the tribunals to be reviewed.
The day will be web-linked to Northwestern students, and a recording will be available online in due course.
What's more, this year as in the past, the conference proceedings will form a forthcoming issue of the Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights (prior issues available here).
At center stage will be prosecutors and defense lawyers, who will report on, and debate, the year's developments at the various tribunals. My role is to serve as something of a backgrounder and color commentator, then to contribute a year's recap to the Journal. In this annual role, I'm honored to follow a couple IntLawGrrls, Beth Van Schaack (contribution here) and Valerie Oosterveld (contribution here), as well as our colleagues Göran Sluiter (contribution here) and William A. Schabas (contribution here).
Here's the full lineup for this year's event:
Moderator:
David Scheffer, Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law
Panelists:
Diane Marie Amann, Emily and Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law, University of Georgia School of Law
Caroline Buisman, Defence Counsel, International Criminal Court
Andrew Cayley, International Co-Prosecutor, Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
Sara Criscitelli, Prosecution Coordinator, International Criminal Court
Mark Harmon, recently retired from his post as Senior Trial Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Brenda Hollis (far left), Chief Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone (photo credit)
Hassan Jallow, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Daryl Mundis, Chief of Prosecutions, Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Preregistration is required and closes March 5, 2012; click here.

Urging Congress to heed needs of poor women in reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is up for reauthorization this year.
In this regard, I'd like to report on an initiative undertaken by several colleagues – in particular, Miami Law Professor Donna Coker, CUNY Law Professor Julie Goldscheid, Baltimore Law Professor Leigh Goodmark, Hawai'i-Manoa Sociology Professor Valli Kalei Kanuha, Suffolk Sociology Professor James Ptacek, and North Carolina Law Professor Deborah Weissman – and myself.
As academics who research, write about, and advocate on behalf of issues related to violence against women, we applaud much that is in the bill, and urge Congress to pass it.
We are concerned, however, that VAWA 2012, like its predecessors, focuses a significant amount of funding on criminal justice responses – and much less on economic and racial justice initiatives that would support efforts to stop domestic violence.
We have drafted a statement urging Congress to do more to address economic and racial inequalities that make poor women – particularly poor women of color, undocumented women, and Native American women, more vulnerable to intimate violence. We urge Congress to recognize that economic policies that result in widespread unemployment and downward mobility increase domestic violence. We further urge Congress to recognize that, as important as criminal remedies may be for some victims, a focus on criminal justice remedies will never be sufficient to empower women.(credit for photo of U.S. Capitol)
Many women who experience domestic violence do not want the current limited menu of criminal justice responses. We urge Congress, therefore, to consider and support programs that explore alternatives to the current criminal adjudication models, and that address the underlying causes of abuse.

Go On! U.N.Cambodia rapporteur

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

Dr. Surya Subedi (below right), Professor of International Law at England's Leeds University and, since 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia, will discuss his observations of the country's electoral system, as well as his previous studies of conditions in the Cambodian justice sector, tomorrow.
This American Society of International Law lunchtime briefing will take place from 12 noon-2 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, 2012, at Tillar House, the headquarters of the American Society of International Law at 2223 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Claire Duffy, Khmer Rouge Tribunal Monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative, will serve as discussant, and ASIL Executive Director Elizabeth Andersen will moderate.
Details and registration here.

On February 29

On this day in ...
... 1860, "Mrs. Kwong Lee," identified as "the wife of the owner of the Kwong Lee Company," arrived in Victoria, British Columbia. (credit for photo of Victoria's "Chinatown," circa 1860) Not further identified in sources online, she was apparently married to a man in fact named Lee Chong, yet known as "Kwong Lee." The couple had 2 children. It's believed she's the 1st woman to emigrate from China to what's now known as Canada.

(Our only prior February 29 posts is here; today is, after all, Leap Year Day.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Introducing Lauren McIntosh

It's our great pleasure to welcome Lauren McIntosh (right) as an IntLawGrrls contributor.
Lauren expects to earn her J.D. degree this year from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, New York.
During the summer of 2010, she served as an intern in the Office of the Co-Prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. More recently, Lauren interned in Office of the Mayor in New York City at the Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps, and Protocol. Before entering law school, she earned a B.A. degree at Saint Louis University in Madrid, Spain, where she majored in Spanish Language and Literature.
As depicted in the photo above, this week Lauren is serving as an American Society of International Law observer at the current session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City. As she describes in her introductory post below, the focus of the session is the empowerment of rural women. The theme is of special interest to Lauren, who spent a summer working with rural indigenous women in Guatemala on behalf of the nongovernmental organization Alliance for International Reforestation.
Heartfelt welcome!

Day 1 at the U.N. Commission on Status of Women

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

Monday marked the beginning of the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women – CSW56 – at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. This year’s priority theme is the empowerment of rural women and women's role in the eradication of poverty and hunger, in development, and in other current challenges. This theme seems more relevant than ever, now that the world’s population has exceeded 7 billion and is expected to reach 9 billion by the year 2050.
Rural women make up one-fourth of the population.
The Honorable Marjon V. Kamara (left), Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations and the Chair of CSW56, opened the session in the General Assembly Hall with the delegates from the member states of the United Nations and representatives and observers from national, regional, and local organizations in attendance. During her opening statement, Kamara emphasized that:
► Much normative work on gender equality remains to be done in the political realm at the international level, and
► Actual implementation at the national level is also a major task.
This includes bridging the gap between the promises made at the international level and their implementation at the national level; thus, the real work begins after CSW56, when the delegates return to their home countries.
Furthermore, Kamara stated that the goal of gender equality is not a task to be undertaken only by women. Rather, it is the responsibility of society as a whole to work towards achieving this goal.
We also had the honor of hearing from Michelle Bachelet (right). As IntLawGrrls have posted, she is the first Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, as well as the former President of Chile.
Bachelet stressed that the session’s priority theme is pressing, as it includes issues relating to human rights, equality, and justice for a quarter of the world’s population; furthermore, empowering rural women is not just good for women, but advances the interests of all members of society.
Although they are often overlooked, rural women are actually on the front lines of many pressing global issues, such as climate change and its effects on agriculture. The Arab Spring and other such movements have also shown us that we must open up the political process to all members of society, especially rural women. (Prior IntLawGrrls posts.) Strides have been made, and more women now work and participate in politics at the international, national, and local level, but this is not enough, as rural women also need economic independence.
In this realm, Bachelet noted, rural women have seen less progress. For example, women farmers receive only 5 percent of agricultural extension services. Beachelet also quoted a rural woman who had expressed another challenge:
"'When the land is in my husband’s name, I’m only a worker. When it is in my name, I have some position in society.'"

Transcripts of oral arguments in Kiobel and Mohamad

Here are the transcripts of the oral arguments before the US Supreme Court this morning in:

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum
http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/10-1491.pdf

Mohamad v. Palestinian Authority
http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/11-88.pdf


h/t to SCOTUSblog

Removal in store for Salvadoran general

In an unprecedented decision, Immigration Judge James K. Grim sustained all removal charges against General Eugenio Vides Casanova.
The Florida-based judge ruled last Thursday that Vides Casanova, former Minister of Defense of El Salvador, is removable from the United States for:
► Participating in the torture of two clients of the Center for Justice and Accountability, Juan Romagoza and Daniel Alvarado, among many other civilians, and
► Assisting or otherwise participating in the 1980 extrajudicial killing of the four American churchwomen and the 1981 Sheraton Hotel killings of two Americans and a Salvadoran land reform leader, among other massacres and assassinations.
In 1999, CJA, the San Francisco-based NGO about which we've posted, filed an Alien Tort Statute/Torture Victim Protection Act case on behalf of three survivors of torture against Eugenio Vides Casanova and Guillermo Garcia, also a former Minister of Defense of El Salvador. IntLawGrrl Beth Van Schaack was trial counsel in the case. In 2002, a West Palm Beach jury returned a $54.6 million verdict against both defendants. The case later was upheld on appeal, after a surprising reversal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit of an earlier decision reversing the jury verdict. (Romagoza-Arce et. al. v. Vides and Garcia, 434 F. 3d 1254 (11th Cir. 2006).
In light of the jury verdict, CJA met with representatives of the federal immigration service to request their review of Vides Casanova's and Garcia’s immigration status as lawful permanent residents. Thereafter, similar outreach was made to Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.
In the meantime, CJA and other human rights organizations pressed for a revision of U.S. immigration law to make it easier to remove human rights abusers from the United States. They succeeded, with the enactment in 2004 of a provision in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. It allowed for the removal of persons who “ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated” in torture or extrajudicial killings. It now includes the crimes of genocide, severe violations of religious freedom, and the recruitment or use of child soldiers. The legislative history specifically mentioned the civil case against the Salvadoran generals. Over the next five years, key members of Congress continued to raise the visibility of the issue.
On October 6, 2009, DHS announced its initiation of removal proceedings against both generals. Vides Casanova’s immigration court hearing occurred in April and May of 2011. Garcia’s has not been scheduled.
In last week's ruling, the immigration judge made specific findings that Vides Casanova, as Director of the National Guard, had participated in the torture of Dr. Romagoza, which occurred during his captivity at the National Guard Headquarters.

Kiobel today; then, quick response

"Responsibility" is the word of today at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Court's scheduled to spend this morning hearing argument in 2 cases that ask whether nonhuman individuals may be sued for human rights violations in U.S. courts.
► 1st up, at 10 a.m. Eastern time, is Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, which, as posted, "presents the question of whether corporations can be sued for torts 'committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States'" pursuant to the Alien Tort Statute. Arguing "yes" will be human rights lawyer Paul L. Hoffman and U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler; arguing "no," former Stanford Law Dean Kathleen L. Sullivan.
► Immediately following will be Mohamad v. Rajoub, which, as posted, "presents the related question of whether liability exists under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) for legal persons, in this case the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization." Arguing "yes" will be Stanford Law Professor Jeffrey L. Fisher; arguing "no," Washington lawyer Laura G. Ferguson and an Assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, Curtis E. Gannon.
Background on the issues at hand can be found in IntLawGrrls posts here, and on SCOTUSblog here. (credit for photo of Supreme Court's Grand Chamber)
And for Washingtonians, there's a Kiobel "Quick Response Panel" scheduled to take place at 8:30 a.m. Thursday; details and registration here.

On February 28

On this day in ...
... 1992 (20 years ago today), U.N. Security Council Resolution 745 on Cambodia was adopted, and thus established a mission – known as the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia, or UNTAC – by which elections were to be held, among other efforts to bring transitional justice to the southeast Asian country. (credit for UNTAC logo) More than 15,000 U.N. peacekeepers would be deployed in Cambodia until September of the following year.

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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Samantar Admits Liability

After fighting jurisdiction all the way up to the Supreme Court on immunity grounds, Somali General Mohamad Ali Samantar of Somalia admitted liability at the start of what was supposed to be a trial on the merit last weeks.  Judge Leonie Brinkema heard testimony from U.S. military officials, journalists, and victims in order to establish damages.  See our prior coverage of the case here.  The Center for Justice & Accountability, whose lawyers brought the case pro bono, discusses the case here.  Congratulations!

Garzón cleared in atrocity inquiry

Baltasar Garzón was acquitted today of charges stemming from his opening of an investigation into criminal violations of human rights that occurred during Spain's decades of dictatorship under General Francisco Franco.
Madrid daily El País reports that Spain's Supreme Court voted 6 to 1 to clear Garzón of the charge of prevaricación, an offense that IntLawGrrl Naomi Roht-Arriaza described in an earlier post. Though the court "considered" that Garzón had "committed an error," the majority determined that his "errors" did not rise to the level of the crime charged.
Notwithstanding this verdict, Garzón remains stripped of his post as a Spanish magistrate, having been convicted of illegal wiretapping in a separate case.

Institutionalizing human rights in Latin America

Within the construct and details of international human rights courts – and the systems that create and enforce them – there is often a disconnect between the violations committed as a matter of law and the nature of the harms suffered by the victims of these violations, their families and their communities.
It is far too easy for any judicial entity to become caught up in the trappings of law, and this is particularly so in the human rights context, where a strict discussion of the law can withhold the unpleasant realities of human rights law violations. The ability of a human rights court to institutionalize the depth of harms experienced by victims, as well as the depth of legal harms committed by the perpetrators, is an essential element for ending the disconnect.
My article, “Institutionalizing Human Rights in Latin America: The Role of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights System,” forthcoming in the Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, focuses on the phenomenon of internalizing human rights norms within the Inter-American Court of Human Rights system – collectively comprised of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights .
The process of internalization of human rights norms within the Inter-American Court of Human Rights system involves:
► Human rights activists,
► Persons who seek to remedy wrongs which they acknowledge as existing in society before them, and
► Juridical actors who use the powerful institutions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights system in order to achieve the aim of highlighting and attempting to stop these practices.
The process of internalization within this system also involves:
► Bringing the harms suffered by victims, their families and their communities into the open,
► Acknowledging the wrongs done to them, along with the myriad impacts of these wrongs, and
► Preserving the dignity and core humanity of the victims of human rights violations.
My article discusses the role that the Commission has come to play as an advocate for those who have suffered human rights violations at the hands of a state or state actors. (credit for photo above of Commission members, from left, Felipe González of Chile, 1st Vice Chair José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez of Mexico, Tracy Robinson of Jamaica, Chair Dinah Shelton of the United States, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine of Trinidad and Tobago/St. Lucia, Rosa María Ortiz of Paraguay, and 2d Vice Chair Rodrigo Escobar Gil of Colombia)
Throughout the history of the Commission’s role in relation to the Court, the Commission has become increasingly active in advocating for those who allege substantial human rights violations, and that it ensures that these victims are seen by the Court as having essential humanity as well as legal standing and rights. My article argues that the Commission is the fundamental place for the institutionalization of the voices of human rights victims and those who support them.

On February 27

On this day in ...
... 1917 (95 years ago today), in Canada, women in Ontario secured the right the vote in provincial elections, but still could not run for a seat in the provincial legislature. "The struggle for female suffrage in Canada had started in Ontario, and was instigated for the most part by the Dominion Women's Enfranchisement Association," whose leaders included 2 physicians about whom we've posted, Dr. Emily Howard Stowe (1831-1903) (left) and her daughter, Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen (1857-1943) (right). (photo credits here and here)

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

Lebanon Tribunal Staffing Update

We noted earlier that the current Chief Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Canadian Daniel Bellemare, was stepping down at the end of his term.  It has just been reported that Canadian Norman Farrell (left) is his likely replacement.  It has been reported that Farrell's was the choice of the late Antonio Cassese, former President of the Tribunal, who grew frustrated with the pace of indictments before the Tribunal under Bellemare's watch.  Farrell would come to the STL from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia where he is deputy prosecutor;  he also worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Committee of the Red Cross.  Ultimately, the U.N. Secretary-General will confirm the appointment.  Daniel David Ntanda Nsereko will replace Judge Cassese.  The STL's mandate has been extended for three more years and in absentia proceedings are expected to commence soon.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Introducing Jennifer Moore

It's our great pleasure to welcome Jennifer Moore (left) as an IntLawGrrls contributor.
Jenny is Regents Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law in Albuquerque. She also served as the university's Director of Peace Studies, an undergraduate curriculum, from 2004 to 2006. Her law school courses include Human Rights, Immigration Law, International Law, International Legal Problems, and Refugee and Asylum Law, fields in which she's also published.
Along with Karen Musalo and Richard A. Boswell, both professors at California-Hastings College of the Law, Jenny's a co-author of Refugee Law and Policy: A Comparative and International Approach. This 1st-ever casebook on the subject is now in its 4th edition.
Before entering academia in 1995, Jenny worked for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, as an associate protection officer in West Africa and then as a legal officer in Washington, D.C. In 2002-03, Jenny was in Tanzania on a Fulbright Scholarship, where she taught international law at the University of Dar es Salaam, and also planned and facilitated human rights workshops for Burundian in refugee camps.
These experiences formed the background for Jenny's forthcoming book, Humanitarian Law in Action within Africa, which she describes in her introductory post below.
Her interest in refugee issues began in college – she worked as a research assistant for the Refugee Policy Group after earning her bachelor's degree from Amherst. While a law student at Harvard, Jenny spent a summer conducting field research for Catholic Relief Services on the protection of Salvadoran refugees in Honduras. In summer 2000, she and her father interviewed a range of Croatians and expatriates working in Croatia for the War-Torn Societies Project International.
Jenny dedicates her post to 2 women:
► One is her paternal grandmother, Adeline Nichols Moore (1906-1992), pictured at left in the circa-1940s family photo below. Moore was an artist and 1928 alumna of Smith College who, "as a student at the Sorbonne in Paris was pressed into service to translate for Charles Lindbergh," when the aviator completed his solo transatlantic flight in May 1927. Jenny writes:
'Gran died while I was in West Africa, pregnant with my first daughter, Kyra Elizabeth. Addie Moore was a painter and a sculptress, who taught all her grandchildren about the stars. She became a Quaker in her early twenties.'
► Jenny also honors her godmother, Louise Rexford Wilson (1906-1995), pictured next to Addie Moore in the photo. In 1941 Wilson, the mother of an infant daughter, joined with her husband and directed a Civilian Public Service camp, at which conscientious objectors worked in lieu of World War II military service. She also was the author of a foreword to a collection of letters. Of Wilson, Jenny writes:
'Aunt Lou passed away shortly before I started teaching law, and just a few years before my daughter, Tessa Irene, was born. She was my grandmother’s dearest friend, and like Gran, Lou came to embrace Quaker teachings. My mother, Katherine, and I both often remind ourselves that Lou is our model for growing old with wit, wisdom, grace, and style. May it be so.'
Today both women join others honored at IntLawGrrls' foremothers page.
Heartfelt welcome!

Humanitarian Law in Action within Africa

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

I’m happy to share news of my book Humanitarian Law in Action within Africa, soon to be released by Oxford University Press.
The book is the culmination of a four-year project that started with a panel presentation on the relationship between criminal justice and restorative justice in countries coming out of armed conflict. Slowly a book evolved. It explores the interrelationships between humanitarian law, human rights, international criminal law, and refugee law, as rules and tools for conflict resolution and social reconstruction.
The book compares the experiences of people in Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Burundi in the ongoing work of transitional justice in each of their countries.
My book has two parts:
► Part 1 is more “legal” – with individual chapters devoted to international law, and its four sister sub-fields. This part is designed to be a bit of a primer for academics who might specialize in one but not all of the various disciplines, and for practitioners who know the law in application but might want more of a conceptual framework.
Part I is global in scope and afro-centric in emphasis, with lots of examples from the region, and comparisons to other regions.
► Part II is focused on implementation, and explores five realms in which international law is tested on the ground – by courts, (peacekeeping) troops, the media, development efforts, and communities – all within countries emerging from civil war.
This section starts with a chapter that looks at each mechanism. Included are criminal trials, human rights education programs, efforts to empower women and engage youth through social programs and law reform, and grassroots dispute resolution traditions, and their incorporation into national truth commissions. Examples from each country help illustrate how these different mechanisms work – in collaboration, or at cross-purposes, or both.
Part II also has three country chapters, one each devoted to Uganda, Sierra Leone, and Burundi.
I went to each country in 2010 on short, intensive field visits, interviewing folks from academia, from non-profits, and from government. Only in Sierra Leone did I spend time in the provinces –otherwise I was in Kampala, Bujumbura, and Freetown.
My short trips to the three countries built on prior experience in Africa, including two years in the early 1990s when I worked with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Conakry, Guinea. There I worked with Sierra Leonean refugees. In addition, I spent six months in 2002-03 teaching international law at the University of Dar es Salaam, and did peace education work with Burundian refugees in western Tanzania. The trips I took in 2010 were vital – for the human connection and the chance to test ideas and listen to stories.
In a future blog post, I plan to share more coherent thoughts on the subject of women in war and peace and women’s role in transformative justice. Women’s suffering, perseverance, and agency, realized and unrealized, are themes that run through the book. At the same time, these are themes that need much more exploration, by all of us.
I close today’s post by thanking these women, of Ugandan, Sierra Leonean, Burundian, French and American and nationalities: Agnes Jattu Carew-Bah, Libby Hoffman, Binta Mansaray, Kassie McIlvaine, Zahara Nampewo, Agnes Nindorera, Rachel Odoi-Musoke, Maud Roure, and Mary Turay.
Their words contributed to Humanitarian Law in Action within Africa, and their work continues.

On February 26

On this day in ...
... 1952 (60 years ago today), at the House of Commons, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced that Britain had developed "her own atomic bomb and has the plant to insure its regular production," The New York Times reported. (credit for statue of Churchill in Parliament Square, London) The development had given Britain bargaining power vis-à-vis its chief Western ally, the report further indicated: "He suggested that, as a result, the United States was more amenable than formerly to the idea of an exchange of information about the progress of research into nuclear fission." Twelve years later, with the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Britain would become one of the few countries besides the United States authorized to continue maintaining nuclear weapons.

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

Saturday, February 25, 2012

'Nuff said

(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)
'The American Society of International Law, foundations, and other interested groups should step up their efforts to educate members of Congress and state officials about the value to their constituents of certain treaties, such as the VCCR and other more technical international agreements. These officials need to understand better that the State Department does not negotiate these treaties in order to bestow unilateral benefits on other countries but because these treaties are in the interest of everyday Americans.'
-- Arnold & Porter partner John B. Bellinger III, who was the Legal Adviser to the U.S. Department of State during the 2d administration of President George W. Bush, in an Opinio Juris commentary on a new article, International Law at Home: Enforcing Treaties in US Courts, written by our colleague, Yale Law Professor Oona A. Hathaway, along with Covington & Burling associate Sabria McElroy, and 2011 Yale Law graduate Sara Aronchick Solow. (credit for photo of U.S. Capitol) "VCCR" refers to the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a treaty on which we've frequently posted. The U.S. Supreme Court's taken up the treaty a number of times, among them in Medellín v. Texas (2008), in which a majority rejected the request both of the petitioner and President Bush to enforce an International Court of Justice ruling – a refusal the led to the petitioner's execution a few months later.

Work On! Human rights oral history

(Work On! is an occasional item about workshops, roundtables, and other fora)

Interested in human rights history? Has Columbia got a course for you.
The Columbia Center for Oral History Summer Institute: Human Rights will be held June 4 to 15, 2012, at New York's Columbia University. (hat tip Legal History Blog)
The theme will be “What is Remembered: Life Story Approaches in Human Rights Contexts.”
Matters to be examined lie at the core of transitional justice work. They include:
► Challenges of doing fieldwork in post-conflict societies
► Use of oral sources in to express emotion and facilitate constructive action
► Use life histories to addressing the tensions between individual and collective remembering
Deadline to apply is March 15, 2012. Details and application here.

On February 25

On this day in ...
... 1912 (100 years ago), upon the death of her father, Marie-Adélaïde (right), then 17 and the eldest of six sisters, became the 1st female leader of Luxembourg. (photo credit) Her mother served as regent till Marie-Adélaïde turned 18; thereafter, she was fully the 1st reigning Grand Duchess of Luxembourg (as well as "the first sovereign of Luxembourg since 1296 to have actually been born within the country"). Unpopular in part because of her cordial relations with Germany during World War I, she would be forced to abdicate in 1919. Her sister Charlotte then took the throne, while Marie-Adélaïde became a Roman Catholic nun and died from influenza, in Bavaria, in 1924.

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

Friday, February 24, 2012

WILIG Seeking Nominations for Officers and Interest in Steering Committee Membership

With sadness, I report that next month Janie Chuang – friend, long-time IntLawGrrl and professor of international law at American University Washington College of Law – is completing her temporary term as Co-Chair of WILIG, the Women in International Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law. Thus we're looking for a new Co-Chair, who will join current Co-Chair, yours truly, and the WILIG Steering Committee in leading WILIG's activities and endeavors.Additionally, WILIG has decided to create a new officer position of Secretary, who will be responsible for preparing, submitting, and maintaining all official WILIG documents, including the annual budget and report.
WILIG is therefore soliciting nominations and self-nominations for a new Co-Chair and a Secretary. The Co-Chair position is non-renewable for a term of 3 years, and the Secretary position is for a term of 2 years, renewable for a total of up to 6 years. In order to be eligible for either position, the candidate must be a member of WILIG. If you are a member of ASIL, you can easily join WILIG here. And you can join ASIL, signing on with WILIG at the same time, here.
If you are interested in running for either position, please send a brief statement of interest and a resume to WILIG Co-Chairs Janie Chuang (jchuang@wcl.american.edu) and me, Kristine Huskey (khuskey@phrusa.org).
The deadline for submitting nominating statements and resumes is Thursday, March 1, 2012.
At the close of nominations, ASIL will develop a webpage with all statements and resumes, and we will send out an e-mail to all WILIG members with the links to the candidate information page and the voting webpage. Voting will take place online and, for those who have not voted online,
 at the WILIG Luncheon on Thursday, March 29, 2012, during the ASIL Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
The WILIG Steering Committee is WILIG’s advisory body and plans WILIG activities and endeavors. This year, some members of the WILIG Steering Committee are stepping down after many years of dedicated service. Additionally, WILIG is adding a new "Law Student Steering Committee Member" position, to be filled by a law student who serves during the time s/he is in law school.
WILIG is seeking statements of interest from WILIG members interested in joining the WILIG Steering Committee, including from any WILIG law student. If you are interested in WILIG Steering Committee membership, please send a brief statement of interest and resume to WILIG Co-Chairs, Janie and me, at the e-mail addresses listed above. Membership decisions will be made by the WILIG Steering Committee.

Many thanks and we hope to see you at the annual meeting WILIG Luncheon on March 29 – when we will be presenting the Prominent Woman in International Law award to Mireille Delmas-Marty (right) (photo credit), our guest speaker, who is Collège de France Professor and an IntLawGrrls contributor!


On February 24

On this day in ...
... 1812 (200 years ago today), Chief Justice John Marshall delivered the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in The Schooner Exchange v McFaddon, involving a dispute over a French warship in a U.S. port. (credit for image of "Nancy," another schooner of the time) Heeding a suggestion from the Executive Branch, and citing the “perfect equality and absolute independence of sovereigns," as well as the "common interest impelling them to mutual intercourse," the Court declined on ground of sovereign immunity to exercise jurisdiction. Although the decision led to an era in which foreign sovereigns enjoyed absolute immunity from suits in U.S. courts, one hears echo of Marshall's indication that foreign warships might be treated differently from foreign commercial ships in the doctrine of "restrictive" sovereign immunity, by which states may be sued in specified exceptional circumstances. Congress codified the latter doctrine in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976, coincidentally a statute about which we posted yesterday.

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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Immunities & (inter)national customs

'The ICJ’s decision reinforces the observation that, just as successful revolutions vindicate themselves with hindsight, international law-breakers only become international law-makers when their legal “transgressions” attract a sufficient following to establish a new rule of customary international law.'
So writes California-Hastings Law Professor Chimène Keitner (below right), an IntLawGrrls contributor, in a superb new ASIL Insight. It analyzes the February 3 judgment in Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy), in which the International Court of Justice ruled by overwhelming majority that Germany enjoyed sovereign immunity against Italian lawsuits seeking compensation for forced labor endured under the Nazis more than half a century ago. (Prior IntLawGrrls posts on the case here and here.) (map credit)
In passages that will no doubt interest students competing in this year's Jessup International Moot Court competition, Chimène notes that the ICJ's ruling, grounded in an understanding of customary international law obligations, seems at odds with:
► 1st, a U.S. Supreme Court position, evident in Republic of Austria v. Altmann (2004) (prior post), that one state grants another sovereign immunity as a matter of comity; and
► 2d, the state-sponsors-of-terrorism exception contained in Section 1605A of the pertinent U.S. statute, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
Hence the reference to "international law-breakers" in the quote at top.
A different and also well-worth-reading analysis of the Immunities judgment is that of our colleague William A. Schabas. Focusing on implications for human rights law, Bill's post is available here.

On February 23

On this day in ...
... 2002 (10 years ago today), an author-activist who was running to become the President of Colombia, Ingrid Betancourt, was kidnapped along with her Vice Presidential candidate, Clara Rojas, while they were campaigning in the southern part of the country. Thus began what would be years in captivity at the hands of the rebel group FARC, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – neither woman would be freed till 2008. A 2008 Le Monde story on the ordeal endured by the family of Betancourt, who holds dual Colombian and French citizenship, is here. Subsequently, they published separate, and at times conflicting, books about the hostage years: Rojas' memoir is at left; Betancourt's memoir is at right.

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

'Nuff said

(Taking context-optional note of thought-provoking quotes)
'Prosecuting dead people has only happened a few other times in history. Such dead defendants included Joan of Arc, Thomas Becket, John Wycliffe, and Martin Bormann. The Catholic Church banned the practice centuries ago. In modern jurisprudence prosecution of the dead is unheard of, particularly by civilized nations who respect the rule of law. We simply do not try the dead. This Russian example of justice brings shame to the rule of law and discredit upon its judicial system.'
-- Our colleague, Syracuse Law Professor David M. Crane, in a Jurist commentary that criticizes a plan "to put on trial a dead man, Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer, who died in prison from the effects of his imprisonment and torture by the Russian Government in November 2009." (credit for card depicting Joan of Arc/Jeanne d'Arc -- including her death in 1431, at age 19, by burning at the stake)

GPS surveillance: US v European jurisdictions

The United Kingdom and Ireland do not require a court order before agents of the state attach a GPS monitor to anyone’s vehicle. That stance is at odds with the US Supreme Court decision in United States v Jones (January 23, 2012), about which I posted yesterday. In today's post, I will develop the comparison among these jurisdictions, as well as jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.
GPS refers to global positioning surveillance, which uses satellite technology to facilitate the remote monitoring or tracking of persons at a particular moment or over a period of time. (credit for US Air Force image of global positioning satellite)
► In the United Kingdom, GPS is not regarded as “intrusive” surveillance (which must be authorized by the Secretary of State or any senior authorizing officer, and, except in urgent cases, must be approved by a Surveillance Commissioner, that is, a High Court judge). The relevant provision in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 states explicitly that surveillance is not intrusive if carried out by a device which provides information about a vehicle’s location.
► Similarly, the explanatory memo to the Ireland's Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009 claims that such tracking is “a less intrusive form of surveillance”.
► Indeed, the one case in which the European Court of Human Rights has considered GPS, Uzun v Germany (2010), reiterated this view, stating at paragraph 52 that
'GPS surveillance is by its very nature to be distinguished from other methods of visual or acoustical surveillance which are, as a rule, more susceptible of interfering with a person’s right to respect for private life, because they disclose more information on a person’s conduct, opinions or feelings.'
This is debatable. As Maryland Law Professor Renée Hutchins (left) noted in a 2007 article, GPS can generate vast quantities of detailed and precise information about a targeted subject for an extended time frame.
In the UK, pursuant to Section 43 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, GPS need not be approved by a Surveillance Commissioner, and the authorizing officer is a senior police officer, or senior officer in an entity like the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Tracking may last for three months, after which an application for renewal of authorization may be made.
In Ireland, pursuant to Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act, a member of the Garda Síochána (the police force), of the Defence Forces, or of the Revenue Commissioners may monitor the movements of persons, vehicles or things, using a tracking device, for no more than four months – if this has been approved by a superior officer on the usual grounds of necessity and proportionality. Such an approval includes the placing and removing of the device. Thus, no judicial approval or warrant is required in either the UK or Ireland, in contrast to the use of other types of surveillance.

On February 22

On this day in ...
... 1952 (60 years ago today), Zhou Xiaoqaio (left) was born in Jiangsu Province, China. In 1975, she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and went on to earn diplomas in history, politics, and literature, in sociology and women's studies, and in methodology, data collection, and data analysis, from, respectively, the University of Canberra in Australia, the University of Chicago in the United States, and the University of Los Andes in Colombia. She has long been active in international matters, and now serves as the Director General, International Liaison Department, All-China Women’s Federation, an NGO, and as a member of the United Nations' Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

GPS monitoring of suspects: Lessons from the US?

Surveillance is of critical importance in the investigation of serious and organized crime, in determining the extent and patterns of criminal behavior, and in the gathering of evidence to construct a case against a suspect; thus has it been described as one of the most important legal weapons deployed by the United States against Mafia groups and families. (p. 8).
As the relevant United Kingdom legislation – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 – provides, ‘surveillance’ includes monitoring, observing or listening to persons, their movements, conversations or their other activities or communications whether with a device or otherwise, and the recording of anything so monitored or observed.
While observation of suspects has long been a standard practice of law enforcement, technological advances facilitate more systematic and more invasive approaches. These are now are regulated more strictly (though not prohibited), largely because of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. According to Article 8, everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence, and any interference must be ‘in accordance with the law’ and ‘necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others’.
So, though a person’s private life is deemed to be interfered with when security services systematically collect and retain data on him, this may be permissible and compliant with the European Convention if it is necessary for the prevention of disorder or crime.
The January 23 decision of the US Supreme Court in United States v Jones (2012) has brought one particular form of surveillance of suspected individuals to the fore in public debate – namely, the use of global positioning surveillance, or GPS.
GPS uses satellite technology to facilitate the remote monitoring or tracking of persons: this may be at one particular moment, or for a prolonged period of time. (credit for NASA drawing above of GPS satellite)
In the case under review, Antoine Jones, a nightclub owner in Washington DC, had been convicted of drugs offences. Much of the evidence had been gathered by a tracking device placed on his wife’s car and monitored for 28 days. The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that tracking a criminal suspect by GPS requires a warrant, and to do otherwise would be unconstitutional. This is due to the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution which guarantees “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures”.
Though all the Supreme Court justices agreed that the evidence was inadmissible, the Court diverged in terms of the appropriate mode of analysis:

On February 21

On this day in ...
... 1972 (40 years ago today), Richard M. Nixon (far right), then the President of the United States, began a weeklong state visit to China that was, in the words of the BBC, "aimed at ending 20 years of frosty relations between the two countries." An "unexpected audience" with Mao Zedong (near right), the Chinese premier, occurred. (photo credit) The Cold War-era trip, which included banquets and a walk on the Great Wall, and ended with the landmark Shanghai Communiqué, would garner much publicity and open the door to trade and other Sino-American exchanges.

(Prior February 21 posts here, here, here, here, and here.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Progress in Sri Lanka?

Further to a prior post, it has been reported that the chief of the Sri Lankan Army, Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya (right, Wikipedia photo), has agreed to investigate potential war crimes committed during the final stages of the civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.  The plan appears to be for the appointment of a 5-member "Court of Inquiry" to conduct an initial investigation to be followed, if warranted, by a courts martial to hear war crimes charges.  Authority comes from the powers vested under Regulation 4 of the Courts of Inquiry Regulations and the Regulation 2 of the Army Disciplinary Regulations
The announcement comes days after a U.S. delegation visited the country and weeks before Sri Lanka faced potential censure before the Human Rights Council for its failures of accountability.  The army, however, claims that it is merely responding to the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), an investigative panel formed by the government in response to international pressure. 
Human Rights Watch's Brad Adams, who directs the group's Asia bureau, is skeptical. Of obvious concern is that the announcement is a mere ploy to ward off action at the Council.  Moreover, the Court of Inquiry will be appointed by Jayasuriya, who commanded the security forces in the highly contested Wanni region toward the end of the war.  It will be headed by Major General Chrishantha De Silva, who commands the Security Forces in Killinochchi.

Also contributing to the government's volte face is no doubt the existence of harrowing cellphone video footage showing what appear to be government soldiers executing bound and naked prisoners.  The footage was obtained by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka and was broadcast on Channel 4 in Britain.

In other Sri Lankan news, Shavendra Silva, who commanded the 58th Division of the Sri Lankan Army and is Sri Lanka's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, had recently been nominated to serve on the U.N. Secretary-General's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations chaired by Canadian Louise Fréchette (right).  Human Rights Watch; the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay (above left), who is of Tamil descent; and others indicated "concern" over Silva's appointment to the Advisory Group.  Two plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against Silva under the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act, alleging that loved ones had been the victims of torture and summary execution at the hands of troops under Silva's command during the civil war.  The case was dismissed last week on diplomatic immunity grounds (per 22 U.S.C. § 254d).  See Vathsala Devi and Seetharam Sivam v. Shavendra Silva, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15840 (S.D.N.Y. February 8, 2012).  Attorneys in the case filed a motion for reconsideration with the court this past Wednesday.  On that day, Fréchette announced that Silva would not be joining the group

The High Commission on Human Rights materials on Sri Lanka are available here.

[Hat tip to Elena Landriscina for the update!]