- Internet communications companies have reported that Syria has been cut off of “internet communication with the rest of the world.”
- The World Trade Organization has a new Director General: Roberto Azevedo.
- The ICC postponed Kenyan Vice President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang’s trial as the Prosecutor is seeking to add five witnesses and the Defense has requested to vacate the trial date.
- Suspected members of Boko Haram have attacked a prison in the town of Bama, freeing over 100 inmates and killing 55 people.
- The Obama administration explicitly accused China’s military of attacking American government computer systems and defense contractors.
- Foreign Policy features a post about the outsourcing of lethality by the US in its conflict with al-Qaeda and affiliated forces.
- Human Rights Watch has called on Saudia Arabia to allow all girls to participate in sports in the Kingdom, not just those attending private schools.
- Senegal Justice Minister Aminate Toure and Chadian Justice Minister Jean-Bernard Badare agreed to allow Senegalese judges to investigate various situations in Chad ahead of the prosecution of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre.
- Fifty countries and organisations are gathered in London for an international conference aimed at preventing Somalia from slipping back into abject lawlessness.
- North Korea has removed two missiles from launch sites on the country’s eastern coast, after weeks of concern that Pyongyang had been ready for a test-launch.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has quietly curbed new building projects in Jewish settlements, a representative from Peace Now, an Israeli watchdog group and media reports said on Tuesday, in an apparent bid to help U.S. efforts to revive peace talks with the Palestinians.
- An influx of people from crisis-hit southern European countries like Spain, Italy and Greece has led to the biggest surge in German immigration in nearly 20 years; the number of immigrants last year was up 13% from the previous year.
- South Korea has dismissed the plan from North Korea to reopen the joint industrial complex shared by the two countries, calling the demands from Pyongyang “incomprehensible” and urging North Korea to come forward for dialogue rather than making such demands.
- The Mannheim Regional Court in Germany ruled in favor of Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Google, against Microsoft in a patent dispute.
- Nawaz Sharif, seen as the front-runner in Pakistan’s election race, said the country should reconsider its support for the U.S. war on Islamist militancy and suggested that he was in favor of negotiations with the Taliban.
- Syria’s information minister has warned that Israeli air raids over the weekend against three targets on the outskirts of Damascus “open the door to all possibilities.”
- NPR has a post on the hidden cost of the US drone program.
This week on Opinio Juris, the debate on Kiobel continued. Katherine Florey pointed out how the decision will deepen the divide between state and federal approaches to extraterritoriality issues. Ken Anderson argued that the ATS should be understood as the “law of the hegemon”. Peter agreed with Samuel Moyn that more attention to corporate social responsibility regulation could potentially have a broader impact in improving human rights than high profile ATS cases. Corporate social responsibility was also central to Peter’s post on the impact of recent tragedies in the Bangladesh garment industry on voluntary corporate codes.
Eugene Kontorovich wrote a guest post on the recent decision of a French Court of Appeals rejecting claims that the contract between Alstom Transport and the State of Israel for the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail was illegal due to a violation of international law. Disagreeing with Eugene, Kevin pointed out that the Court of Appeal is silent about the possibility of a war crime under the Rome Statute.
On another controversial dispute involving a big corporation, Roger wrote about an Ontario Court’s decision to dismiss the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ efforts to enforce the Ecuadorian judgment against Chevron Canada.
In news from international courts, Julian was surprised by reports about the ICJ Registrar calling the Bolivia’s application against Colombia “impeccable“, since he thought Bolivia’s case was ridiculously weak. Should the case reach the merits and go against Colombia, chances are though that we’ll end up with Colombian complaints about biased judges after the conclusion of the case, as it did for the recent decision in its case against Nicaragua.
Turning to the ICC, Kevin was troubled by Judge van den Wyngaert’s decision to withdraw from the ICC’s Uhuru Kenyatta case, and followed up with further thoughts. He also congratulated Leiden for winning the ICC Moot Court.
In other posts, Julian pointed out how China is now also pushing the boundary with India, and asked whether force feeding of detainees on a hunger strike is always illegal. Kevin noted with horror a quote from Ari Fleischer on the difference between Nazis and terrorists, and recommended Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists
As always, we provided news wraps and a list of events and announcements. Many thanks to all our “younger” readers for the many New Voices abstracts. It’s wonderful to see such a great response! Jessica and I are working through the submissions and plan to finalize the selection by mid-May.
Have a nice weekend!
- North Korea has sentenced US citizen Kenneth Bae to 15 years’ hard labor for “crimes against the state.”
- In a clash on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan that lasted more than two hours, one Pakistani policeman was killed and two Afghani soldiers wounded.
- The UK Supreme Court has ruled that the government has been failing to meet EU air quality standards and has solicited the European Court of Justice for guidance.
- Chad has foiled an attempted coup that officials claim has been planned for months, with the arrest of several rebels.
- The Pope has weighed in on the tragic factory accident in Bangladesh last week, calling the unjust wages “slave labor” and condemning unbridled quests for profit as going “against God.”
- Foreign Policy has posted a guide on how to close Guantanamo.
- US President Barack Obama is making a new push to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying Gitmo is damaging US interests.
- Chile will be Latin America’s only representative in the 2014-2015 UN Security Council.
- The ECHR has ruled that Ukraine violated former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s rights by detaining her for politically motivated reasons.
- The genocide trial against Guatemalan dictator Rios Montt has resumed, just short of two weeks after a judge suspended all proceedings.
- The US is still investigating use of chemical weapons in Syria, with President Obama stating that depending on how the weapons were used, the US might have to rethink its strategy in Syria.
- Foreign Policy has a post about why those wanting intervention in Syria are wrong.
- The UN International Labor Organization released a report with one major finding that the key to ending child labor is to advocate social protections.
- May Day protests, meant to demand better workers’ rights, are occurring around the world, in places such as Indonesia, The Philippines, Turkey, Cambodia and several European cities.
- The Syrian Prime Minister has survived a car bomb in Damascus, an event UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon labelled a “terrorist attack.”
- Ban Ki-Moon also urged Syria to allow international experts access in order to establish whether chemical weapons were used. Meanwhile, in a phone call to President Putin, President Obama has expressed his concern over the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
- The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) sentenced five men to prison for their roles in an organ trafficking syndicate.
- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has admitted to taking money from the US CIA in order to pay for operational and health care costs as well as rent for some of the staff’s housing. Foreign Policy cheekily asks: do bags of cash ever help the CIA get what it wants?
- British retailer Primark and Canadian brand Loblaw are two Western companies that will compensate families of the victims of last week’s tragic clothing factory accident in Bangladesh.
- As nearly two-thirds of all detainees at Guantanamo have now joined the hunger strike, the US has sent extra medical staff to monitor the situation.
- During their first summit in ten years, Japan and Russia have agreed to talks to settle their dispute over the four Pacific islands, known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles and in Japan as the Northern Territories. If successful, the negotiations will formally end WWII between the two states.
- A change of guard in the Netherlands where Queen Beatrix is abdicating today and handing over the crown to her son Willem-Alexander, who becomes the country’s first King since the late 19th century.
- According to a recent report, tens of millions of dollars from the CIA were delivered to the office of Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai over the course of decades, meant to buy US influence in Afghanistan.
- Syria’s neighbors are wary of a US-led intervention, should the US decide to take military action in the face of new evidence of chemical weapon use by the Syrian government–evidence that Syria claims is “inconsistent with reality and a barefaced lie.”
- Iraq’s media regulator has suspended licenses of ten broadcasters, including Al-Jazeera, accusing them of inciting violence after reporting on security raids on a Sunni protest camp.
- To complement Kevin’s post from the weekend, Jurist has more on the recent withdrawal of ICC Judge Christine van den Wyngaert from the Uhuru Kenyatta trial.
- Foreign Policy highlights a document uncovering the US’ plans to carry out cyber attacks since the Clinton years.
- The last of the South Korean workers at the joint industrial complex will withdrawal in the face of North Korea’s escalating nuclear threats.
- Rebel fighters from Darfur have stormed the Sudanese city of Um Rawaba and have vowed to take Khartoum.
- In a sign of rising patriotism, Japan celebrated its first “Restoration of Sovereignty” Day on Sunday, to celebrate the end of allied occupation after WWII.
This week on Opinio Juris, we continued last week‘s Kiobel Insta-Symposium. Quoting from his and John Yoo’s Forbes contribution, Julian argued that the rejection of universal civil jurisdiction is common sense because it leaves the decision on foreign policy consequences of extraterritoriality to the political branches. He also drew our attention to two positive assessments of the opinion, by John Bellinger and Eugene Kontorovich. Austen Parrish offered an alternative narrative about the meaning of Kiobel, seeing it as a welcome retreat from US unilateralism towards more multilateralism.
The many unanswered questions in Kiobel continued to invite commentary. Roger listed various activities with some link to US territory that may still be subject of future ATS litigation. Beth Stephens also predicted many years of continuing litigation, and preferred the world pre-Kiobel. Examples of upcoming cases were also discussed. Roger pointed out how the Supreme Court has already granted certiorari in DaimlerChrysler AG v Bauman, a human rights case involving jurisdiction over foreign corporations, and Roger Phillips discussed two piracy cases with mixed loci delicti that will soon arrive at the Supreme Court.
Bill Dodge argued that because of the unanswered questions, Kiobel is only a Pyrrhic victory for the position on extraterritoriality first pushed by the Bush administration and urged the human rights and business communities to reach a compromise on a statute that would end the litigation. Milan Markovich argued that it could also turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for corporate defendants and could lead to more settlements to avoid discovery proceedings into whether claims “touch and concern” the US territory.
Accusations about the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, as reported in our weekday news wraps, raised the question whether Obama’s “red line” had been crossed. Julian was sceptical as to why Assad’s use of chemical weapons would justify an intervention in Syria under US and international law, and Deborah similarly explored whether there is a legal basis for intervention.
Other recent events that prompted posts were the Boston bombings, which Kevin argued fall within at least one definition of terrorism that does not require acts to be politically or ideologically motivated, and the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh, which Roger hoped would provide an incentive to sign up to agreements, such as the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement, that include a binding arbitration clause to ensure better protection of human rights.
In news from international courts, Julian updated us on the appointment of the final arbitrators for the UNCLOS arbitration lodged by the Philippines against China, and assessed China’s “talking points” on the case. He also urged the Supreme Court to follow the ICJ’s lead and release video recordings of oral hearings. On the US-ICC relationship, Julian ventured that a cultural change is required if it is to blossom into a love affair. More news from the ICC came from Kevin, who worried that a funding crisis was behind the OPCD’s request to withdraw from the Saif Gaddafi case, and the Pre-Trial Chamber’s approval of a new lawyer.
As always, we listed events and announcements that may be of interest to our readers. And remember, there is still time for grad students and recent grads out there to submit an abstract for our New Voices symposium!
Have a nice weekend!
- In the wake of a factory building collapse in Bangladesh, in which at least 273 lives have been claimed, many are calling for reform by Western high-street brands that rely on cheap labor as the accident reignited questions about the often lethal conditions in the country’s garment industry. The Atlantic offers a piece about how garment workers are pushing for better conditions and Human Rights Watch calls for unionization of the workers and an overhaul of the factory inspection process, though the LA Times cites experts who are afraid even this tragedy is unlikely to spur reform.
- North Korea has rejected the demands from South Korea to reopen the joint industrial zone and warned its neighbors to the south of “grave measures.”
- As the discussion intensifies about Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, which the US suspects has happened on a “small scale,” a few articles are of note. First, Julian points out an editorial in the LA Times about possible ramifications and Obama’s “red line,” Lawfare also opines about this red line and Foreign Policy asks what Syria is capable of doing with its sarin stockpile.
- The PKK has set a date of May 8 to start a withdrawal of its thousands of troops from Turkey into Northern Iraq after three decades of fighting against the Turkish government in a conflict that has cost more than 40,000 lives.
- After a second round of voting, the race to become the next WTO Director-General has narrowed down to Herminio Blanco from Mexico and Roberto Azevedo of Brazil.
- The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a plan to send a peacekeeping force to Mali.
- The ECHR Blog has posted an analysis of the recent Grand Chamber decision upholding the ban on political advertising in Animal Defenders International v. UK.
- Human Rights Watch reports that even more prisoners have joined a hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay bringing the total to 93 of the 166 prisoners there, though lawyers of the detained claim this number may be higher.
- Another reminder about our New Voices feature: remember, if you’d like to participate, your 200-word summary and CV are due to opiniojurisblog [at] gmail [dot] com before May 1st!
- And finally, perhaps some weekend reading for (soon-to-be) newly minted grads: a collection of articles, two from international law/international relations experts, offering advice to those weighing options about going to law school, going to grad school and whether to get a Ph.D.
- French President Hollande is receiving a warm welcome during his visit to Beijing, which according to the Financial Times is a snub to the UK government which has not been high on China’s welcome list after David Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama last year.
- US Treasury officials appeared before the House Appropriations subcommittee to push for a different allocation in US contributions to the IMF that would make good on a 2.5 year old promise to rearrange quota at the IMF.
- Bolivia has filed a claim at the International Court of Justice against Chile to regain access to the Pacific Coast it lost in a 1904 Treaty concluded after the War of the Pacific of the 1880s.
- Eric Posner has a column on Kiobel over at Slate.
- Eager not to be left at a competitive disadvantage after the EU lifted economic sanctions earlier this week, the acting USTR is travelling to Myanmar to discuss a framework agreement on trade and investment.
- The UK has signed a mutual legal assistance agreement with Jordan, which, according to the Home Secretary, includes fair trial guarantees, and should pave the way for the extradition of Abu Qatada to Jordan later this year.
- More than 100 have been killed in two days of clashes in northern Iraq between the Shia-led government troops and Sunni Muslim protesters.
- Syrian rebels and government forces blame one another for the destruction of a minaret of the more than 1,000-year-old Umayyad mosque in Aleppo, in an area of the city classified as a UNESCO heritage site.
- South Korea seeks talks with North Korea on the reopening of the joint industrial zone.
- Lawfare highlights a snippet of testimony given at yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on drones that alleges that the Obama Administration is targeting and killing low-level insurgents, the detainment of whom caused much criticism during the Bush Administration years.
- In addition to British, French and Israeli allegations, Qatar is now saying that Syria has been using chemical weapons against its own people.
- Under pressure from the political far-right, Switzerland has now restricted immigration from all EU countries, placing an annual restriction on the number of resident permits it allots.
- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has “apologized” for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, asking for forgiveness but stopping short of calling it a genocide.
- Clashes have escalated on the Syria-Lebanon border, causing worries that Lebanon will be pulled further into the Syrian conflict.
- The French Parliament passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and extended the right to adopt children to same-sex couples as well, making France the 14th country in the world to do so.
- India is alleging that a Chinese platoon has entered its Ladakh region, but China contends its troops remain on its side of their contested border.
- Israel’s top intelligence official has alleged that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons, but the US is still waiting for independent confirmation before taking further steps.
- In talks with the emir of Qatar, President Obama has repeated his goal of a political transition in Syria and called on President Assad to resign.
- 21 people have been killed in Western China in what the authorities say were clashes between officials and suspected terrorists.
- The United States has refused North Korea’s demand that it be recognized as a nuclear state.
- Yesterday the US Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on accountability for drone strikes by the US, and though compelling testimony (video here) was given, and both Republican and Democratic Senators pushed for answers, no official from the Obama Administration was present to answer any of the questions posed.