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Today's Los Angeles Times contains a predictable op-ed condemning the U.S. for failing to join the Kyoto treaty to reduce global warming, which will go into effect next Wednesday. In addition to attacking Bush, the Republicans, and Michael Crichton for being the stooges of the energy industry, the writer throws in this line, which is fast congealing into...

Over at Slate, Peter Brooks (who holds a joint appointment in Law and English at UVA) has this post on the August 2002 Bybee torture memo . Brooks sees Bybee's failure to follow the "plain meaning" statutory interpretation guidelines reaffirmed by Chief Justice Rehnquist in LEOCAL v. Ashcroft, in which the Court noted that we construe statutory language "in its...

From the department of obscure court decisions, the ICJ ruled today that it has no jurisdiction over a dispute between Liechtenstein and Germany over decisions of Germany, in and after 1998, to treat certain property of Liechtenstein nationals as German assets having been ‘seized for the purposes of reparation or restitution, or as a result of the state of war’ -...

I think Julian doth protest too much about Samantha Power’s opinion piece in today’s New York Times. First, a point of logic. Saying someone doesn’t know which they dislike more, A or B, is not the same as saying that person condones A or B. At no point in the piece would it be fair to say that Power even implied...

Common sense triumphed today when Germany announced it would not investigate allegations that Donald Rumsfeld committed war crimes. The NY-based Center for Constitutional Rights had filed a petition asking Germany to investigate on the theory that the U.S. authorities were incapable of investigating such claims due to a "continuing scheme of corruption". This remarkable (and dare I say it, wild)...

Samantha Power, a tireless Pulitzer-Prize-winning advocate of more aggressive action by the United States to stop genocide and war crimes, offers her take on why the ICC would be more effective than an ad hoc tribunal (a topic we've been batting about here) in today's NYT. Count me as a skeptic of her claim that the ICC will deter war...

The increasing use of empirical research in international legal scholarship is a good thing, as Julian noted. Empiricism (or at least an attempt at empiricism) brushes away the cobwebs of musty “givens” and unpacks old assumptions that have been tucked away. By bringing in new data to test academic doctrines, empiricism can do a good job helping theory be more...

As an addendum to our previous discussion prosecutions and transitional societies (here and here), I note that the New York Times is reporting that the investigating judges of the Iraqi Special Tribunal will refer to the trial charges against Saddam and/or some of his senior aides in the coming weeks. The article gives a good overview of the process to...

Kofi Annan announced yesterday that he has suspended the two senior UN diplomats at the center of the Volcker Commission's Report on misconduct in the Iraq Oil-for-Food Program. The suspension appears to be the first step toward lifting diplomatic immunity, which Annan said he would do if facts support the bringing of criminal charges. Apart from the importance this investigation...

Julian describes the East Timorese decision to have a "Truth and Friendship Commission" as “another country's decision (like South Africa) to avoid 'justice' in favor of 'peace' (some might say 'impunity')." This characterization (at least of South Africa’s Truth Commission) is off the mark. The South African Truth and Reconciliation process did allow for prosecutions; essentially people who did bad...

East Timor announced today that it has reached a tentative agreement with Indonesia to set up a Commission of Truth and Friendship to investigate human rights abuses and crimes committed during Indonesia's occupation of East Timor. While somewhat controversial among human rights groups who sought a Rwanda or Yugoslav-style ad hoc tribunal, the East Timorese foreign minister explained that: We...

Comparing and contrasting the perils and opportunities that international lawyers see in the world with those of non-lawyer foreign policy specialists can be enlightening. At the very least, it can help keep international lawyers from entering into a cul-de-sac where they are more concerned with doctrinal paring than problem solving. In an earlier post, I mentioned a recent article ("What...