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International Justice in the News

The International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life brings you a monthly selection of news about the people involved in the work of international courts and tribunals, significant developments in international justice, and articles and publications of interest. We hope that this brief selection will help you keep abreast of the field and lead you to sites where you can inform yourself further.

April 2010
People in the News
  • robinsonPatrick Robinson, president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), recently convened a conference on the lasting impact of his tribunal’s work.  “Assessing the Legacy of the ICTY” was held on 23 and 24 February 2010 in The Hague. President Robinson declared in his opening address that “[t]he countries of the region must have the means not only to continue the Tribunal’s work in their national legal systems but also to have full access to the Tribunal’s public records and a possibility to absorb them into their national context on their own terms.” Read more in the ICTY press release and an interview with President Robinson from Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The conference also exposed the tensions that still exist between victims groups from the Balkan region, who feel that reconciliation has never been achieved, and tribunal experts. Read more from the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
  • STLThe Office of the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has announced that it has appointed Michael Taylor, formerly of the London Metropolitan Police Service, as its new Chief of Investigations. The press release is available here. The President of the STL, Antonio Cassese, has also published his Annual Report, covering the activities of the Tribunal from 1 March 2009 to 28 February 2010. In his preface to the report, President Cassese writes, “The first year of the Tribunal’s operation was pivotal in establishing the basic structure of the institution, recruiting the indispensable staff, adopting the necessary legal tools for forthcoming judicial activities, requesting deferral of the main case from Lebanese authorities, continuing and intensifying the investigations, and starting outreach activities in Lebanon.” The full text of the report is available here.
  • catherineMs. Catherine Marchi-Uhel (France) has been appointed as the new international judge to serve in the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), subsequent to her nomination by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the approval of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy. Judge Marchi-Uhel, who until this appointment was international reserve judge in the Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC, replaces Judge Kathinka Lahuis (Netherlands).
  • meronTheodor Meron, judge of the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was elected honorary president of the American Society for International Law at its recent annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Judge Meron has been a professor of international law since 1977 and holder of the Charles L. Denison Professor of International Law at New York University since 1994. He was elected to the bench of the ICTY in 2001 and served as Tribunal president between 2003 and 2005. For more biographical information, click here.

Developments in International Justice

  • flagBangladesh has now ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Statute will enter into force for Bangladesh on 1 June 2010, bringing the total number of States Parties to the Rome Statute to 111. The Asian Human Rights Commission has applauded this move, stating, “The government’s decision to ratify culminates the campaign against genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity waged by the people of Bangladesh since 1971. Today, Bangladesh has demonstrated its commitment to international justice and no impunity for international crimes.” Read the Commission’s entire press release here.
  • ICCA design by the Danish architectural firm schmidt hammer lassen has been chosen for the new premises of the International Criminal Court. shmidt hammer lassen is one of Scandinavia’s most recognized, award-winning architectural practices committed to innovative and sustainable design. Read a press release from the ICC. See images from Design Boom here.
  • yukosExecutives of the now-defunct Russian oil company Yukos have lodged a case against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), alleging violations by the Russian government of the applicants’ property rights and of the right to a fair hearing. The case concerns the company's complaint that it was targeted by the Russian authorities with tax and enforcement proceedings, which eventually led to its liquidation. Read more in an article from The Times and the ECHR press release about the case’s recent Chamber hearing.
  • juarez
    victims' families protest murders in Juárez
    An English translation is now available for an important November 2009 decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, González (“Cotton Field”) v. Mexico. The Court ruled that Mexico had violated several human rights obligations, including the rights to life, personal integrity, and personal liberty, through its failure to properly investigate and act on the murder of three women in Ciudad Juárez. The women were found dead days after their disappearance, and their autopsies showed evidence of sexual assault and torture. Mexico partially acknowledged that the initial investigations into the victims’ disappearance had been irregular, but it disputed that it had violated the victims’ rights.
  Ciudad Juárez has been the site of hundreds of violent murders of women since 1993. Read more about the case from New American Media. Download the judgment in English here
  • mapBrazil wishes to confront its past by establishing a National Truth Commission (NTC) to investigate the country’s military dictatorship of 1964-1985, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva recently told the United Nations Human Rights Council. Read more from Radio Netherlands Worldwide. There are, however, many who oppose the NTC, including the Brazilian military, as reported by Impunity Watch.

Articles and Publications of Interest

  • warAfter six years of expert discussions and research, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) has published an “Interpretive Guidance” which aims to clarify the meaning and consequences of direct participation in hostilities under international humanitarian law (IHL). IHL hinges on the principle of the distinction between combatants, whose function is to conduct hostilities during armed conflict, and civilians, who are presumed not to be directly participating in the hostilities and, therefore, entitled to full protection from attack. They lose this protection only if, and for as long as, they “directly participate in hostilities.” Read more about the development of this ICRC project and download the full publication here. A review of the Guidance, “Clearing the Fog of War,” by Dapo Akande, co-director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict, has subsequently appeared in the International and Comparative Law Quarterly (Vol. 59, January 2010 pp 180–192). Download the review article here.
  • Prof. Cesare P.R. Romano of Loyola Law School has recently published an article in the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics (Volume 41, Number 4) entitled “Deciphering the Grammar of the International Jurisprudential Dialogue.” This paper focuses on one particular aspect of how international courts interrelate: the consideration given to each other’s jurisprudence. This paper puts forward a series of hypotheses, stemming from many years of empirical study, about the jurisprudential dialogue between international courts, and suggests what consideration international courts would be expected to give to each other’s jurisprudence if the hypotheses hold true. Download the article here.
  • wclThe War Crimes Research Office (WCRO) at American University's Washington College of Law announces the most recent update to its Jurisprudence Collections.  This compilation of judgments, decisions, and other key documents from international and hybrid courts and tribunals established to try genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, is now current through 15 February 2010. Building upon the existing Collections, the WCRO and the Women and International Law Program are developing a new Gender and International Criminal Law Jurisprudence Collection.  The project will focus on jurisprudence relating to sexual- and gender-based crimes from international criminal courts and tribunals and is funded by a grant from the Open Society Institute’s International Women’s Program. For more information and to register to use the database, visit the WCRO’s website.
  • piratesThe American Society for International Law, together with the Academic Council on the United Nations System and One Earth Future Foundation, has issued a report on the October 2009 joint expert workshop “Suppressing Maritime Piracy: Exploring the Options in International Law.” The report records the discussions, which canvassed the international legal challenges posed by modern piracy and the options for holding pirates accountable through either national or international prosecutions. To view the full report, click here.

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