Antiquities trafficking said to fuel transnational mayhem by Daesh et al.

davisetal

Alumna Tess Davis, 2d from left, met with Georgia Law 1Ls after her lecture; from left, Hannah Williams, Ava Goble & Karen Hays. Hannah will work on cultural heritage issues this summer through a Global Externship Overseas (GEO) at the Cambodia Ministry of Culture & Fine Arts, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

“As long as there have been tombs, there have been tomb raiders.”

So began the terrific talk on trafficking that Tess Davis, Executive Director of the D.C.-based Antiquities Coalition, delivered to a rapt University of Georgia audience a few days ago.

Having conceded the point quoted at top, Davis stressed that today the problem is much different and much greater. On the list of lucrative transnational organized crime, she asserted, antiquities trafficking places 3d, right behind arms trafficking and drug trafficking.

The threat is not simply one of criminal behavior, she continued. Rather, Davis stressed that profits from antiquities trafficking – profits believed to be in the millions of dollars – provide revenue vital for the nonstate actor waging armed conflict in Syria and Iraq. That entity calls itself “Islamic State” and is often labeled “ISIS” or “ISIL” in the media; taking a lead from diplomats in France and, recently, the United States, Davis preferred “Daesh,” the group’s Arabic acronym, for the simple reason that “they hate to be called that.”

Initially trained as an archeologist, Davis began to focus on legal means to combat antiquities trafficking while still a student at Georgia Law. Since earning her J.D. in 2009, she’s been a leader at the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage and in the American Society of International Law Cultural Heritage & the Arts Interest Group, a researcher at Scotland’s University of Glasgow, a member of Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, and, as the photo above demonstrates, a mentor to Georgia Law students and other young lawyers interested in working in the field. Her efforts to help repatriate antiquities stolen from Cambodia earned multiple mentions in The New York Times.

Her talk drew links between the looting of cultural heritage during and after the 1970s Khmer Rouge reign of terror and current looting in the Middle East today. In both instances, she said, “cultural cleansing” – in the contemporary case, the destruction and thievery of monuments sacred to moderate Muslims and others – precedes and parallels efforts to erase and subjugate the humans who venerate those monuments. It’s a state of affairs documented in her Coalition’s new report, “Culture Under Threat.”

“The world failed Cambodia,”

Davis said, then expressed optimism at growing political will to do something about the Middle East. She advocated enactment of S. 1887, the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act now working its way through Congress. The legislation, whose cosponsors include a Georgia U.S. Senator, David Perdue, is urgent: Davis estimated that U.S. buyers represent 43% of the current demand for looted Syrian antiquities.

(Cross-posted from Exchange of Notes blog)

Commenting on the ICRC Geneva Commentaries: 30 March in D.C.

Honored to be part of the International Committee of the Red Cross launch of its new Commentary on the First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in the Field, a volume due for release next Tuesday, March 22.

commentaryMy role begins a week later, with a panel discussion of the new Commentary at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, and will continue later in the year with an anticipated Georgia Law conference on the same subject (stay tuned).

The March 30 panel discussion will take place in the Columbia Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave N.W., Washington, D.C. That’s the same hotel hosting the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law from March 30 to April 2. This is a side event, though ASIL and its international humanitarian law interest group, the Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict,  are cosponsors of this event, hosted by the ICRC’s D.C.-based Regional Delegation for the US and Canada.

The Commentary is the 1st in a series of volumes intended to update earlier versions, some of which are pictured above: 4 circa-1952 volumes on the 4 Geneva Conventions of 1949, edited by Jean S. Pictet, plus a circa-1987 volume on Additional Protocols I & II of 1977, produced by multiple editors. In the words of the ICRC:

“Since their adoption, the Conventions and Protocols have been put to the test, and there have been significant developments in how they are applied and interpreted. The new Commentaries seek to incorporate these developments and provide an up-to-date interpretation of the law.”

This initial update carries particular significance because it contains commentary on Articles 1, 2, and 3 Common to all 4 Geneva Conventions. Common Article 2 and Common Article 3 have endured significant re-examination in the counterterrorism climate that’s prevailed since the attacks of September 11, 2001, readers of decisions such as Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and a plethora of academic literature well know (and as I’ve written here and elsewhere).

The discussion at the March 30 launch in D.C. will feature:

henckaerts► Dr. Jean-Marie Henckaerts (left), Head of the Commentaries Update Unit at ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland – and, I’m proud to add, a 1990 LLM alumnus of Georgia Law

► Yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (right), Associate Dean and Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law at Georgia Law, and the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict

jackson► Colonel (ret.) Dick Jackson, Special Assistant to the Army Judge Advocate General for Law of War Matters, and Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law

mathesonMichael Matheson, Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University Law School, and former member of the U.N. International Law Commission

RSVPs for March 30 welcome; for that and any other information on that event, contact Tracey Begley, trbegley@icrc.org.

In US and across globe, 105th anniversary of International Women’s Day

about-iwdToday’s the 105th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

Inspired by speeches at an International Conference of Working Women the year before, in 1911 Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland set aside a day in March to honor women’s demands for equality. Each year more countries joined in. The arrest of suffragist Sylvia Pankhurst during a London demonstration on March 8, 1914, fixed the 8th as IWD-Day. (credit for IWD image at top)

Further globalizing the Day was U.N. General Assembly Resolution 32/142. Adopted on Dec. 16, 1977 (the same day the Assembly also considered a Draft Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, a version of which it would adopt 2 years later), Resolution 32/142:

Invites all States to proclaim, in accordance with their historical and national traditions and customs, any day of the year as United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace …”

Most countries followed tradition and chose March 8, and paid note to annual U.N. themes (this year’s is #PledgeforParity).

The United States was a bit late to the party. Yet American observances increase every year, and last week, President Barack Obama proclaimed:

“I call upon all Americans to observe this month and to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2016, with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. I also invite all Americans to visit http://www.WomensHistoryMonth.gov to learn more about the generations of women who have left enduring imprints on our history.”

And so we will.

loc

ICC Prosecutor seeks public comment on case selection and prioritisation policy

paperToday Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, released a draft Policy Paper on Case Selection & Prioritisation, and welcomed public comment. The paper’s aimed at “clarifying how the Office of the Prosecutor selects and prioritises cases after a decision has been made to open an investigation into a situation.”

The 16-page draft is available, in English and French, here; comments may be e-mailed to otp_spi@icc-cpi.int through Friday, March 18, 2016.

Day of child-justice reform, at Court & White House, leaves much yet to be done

barsMonday was quite a day for child rights in the United States.

It began in the morning, when the Supreme Court made clear in Montgomery v. Louisiana that its 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which had outlawed sentences of life without parole for persons who were under eighteen when they committed the crime of conviction, applied retroactively.

Writing for the 6-member majority in Montgomery, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy  stated that the 2012 decision in Miller

did more than require a sentencer to con­sider a juvenile offender’s youth before imposing life with­ out parole; it established that the penological justifications for life without parole collapse in light of ‘the distinctive attributes of youth.’ (p. 16)

As a result, he wrote, it established a “substantive rule of constitutional law,” the kind of rule that must apply even to persons whose cases otherwise would have been deemed final before the issuance of the 2012 decision.

according to Wall Street Journal reporter Jess Bravin, the decision granted “the possibility of freedom to as many as 2,500 inmates who otherwise would die in prison.”

Then, just 4 hours from midnight, the Washington Post published an op-ed in which President Barack Obama announced he had accepted recommendations in a new Department of Justice report; thus, inter alia, “banning solitary confinement for juveniles” in the federal prison system. The op-ed concluded on notes of promise:

In America, we believe in redemption. We believe, in the words of Pope Francis, that ‘every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.’

In that last sentence, notably, Obama quoted the September 2015 address to Congress in which Pope Francis called for abolition of the death penalty. The President’s op-ed continued:

We believe that when people make mistakes, they deserve the opportunity to remake their lives. And if we can give them the hope of a better future, and a way to get back on their feet, then we will leave our children with a country that is safer, stronger and worthy of our highest ideals.

A children’s day indeed.

Still, it must be noted that the solitary confinement ban applies only to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. The DOJ report wrote at page 66:

The Department of Justice prosecutes very few juveniles, and so the Bureau is only responsible for the custody of a very small number of juveniles. As of December 5, 2015, the Bureau was responsible for 71 juvenile inmates, of which 45 were serving a term of incarceration, and 26 were under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office.

Many thousands are in state correctional systems, and thus not affected by Obama’s decision.

And there is much yet to be done of a preventive nature, to help children from entering the juvenile justice system at all.

Flashback to pre-Iowa 2008: “Why this IntLawGrrl’s for Obama for President”

With the President delivering his final State of the Union address as I write these lines, I couldn’t help but have a look at my own very early endorsement of and pledge to work for (as a member of his campaign’s Human Rights Policy Committee) then-Senator Barack Obama. It holds up pretty well 8 years later, even if not everything turned out as, well, hoped. Here, once again, is my Jan. 3, 2008, IntLawGrrls post:

(An Iowa Caucus Day item) Soon after the 2d inauguration of George W. Bush, whose Presidency already had been marked by abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, by the folly of the Iraq invasion, and by the failure to incapacitate Osama bin Laden, I began to prepare for the next election cycle. 
My road to 2008 began on the freeway, listening to politicians read aloud the books in which they endeavored to tell their own stories in their own words. My Life, the memoir by Bush’s immediate predecessor, Bill Clinton, filled in some details about a man who in the 1990s had dominated current events. In Living History his wife, Hillary Clinton, read her precise account of those same times. The works left me appreciative yet disengaged.
Then, on a colleague’s recommendation, I listened to Barack Obama read Dreams from My Father, the “story of race and inheritance” he’d written a decade earlier. The last thing I expected to discover were things in common. And yet here was someone who’d also moved about as a child, been raised at times by grandparents. Who’d also witnessed Harold Washington’s milestone mayoral election while working in Chicago — who’d worked a few years before moving on to law school, then to law teaching. Whose family ties put him in close contact with newcomers to America and with relatives overseas. (Yesterday, in the Voice of America interview here, Obama urged political rivals in Kenya, his father’s homeland, to “address peacefully the controversies that divide them.”) A progressive Illinoisan who preferred consensus to conflict.
His campaign’s followed lines sketched in Dreams and detailed in his 2d book, The Audacity of Hope. The operative word remains “hope” — discussed by means not of doe-eyed promises of the impossible, but of substantive policy prescriptions. There’s a focus on building a movement, one that underscores the significance of a fact seldom studied despite the reams of copy written about Obama: This is someone whose sensibilities were shaped by years of organizing poor people in job-starved communities, a real world experience that all politicians could use but few have. The campaign’s unabashed reaching across the aisle, moreover, comes as a relief to all exhausted by the pitched political battles of the recent past.
And then there’s Obama’s foreign policy.
This is a candidate who fears not to speak with favor of the United Nations and other international bodies. Who speaks of the essential need for the United States not simply to demand from its allies, but rather to earn from them, respect and assistance. Who understands “security” to mean more than military might. A candidate who persists in a plan to meet personally with world leaders of all political persuasion, to cut in on diplomatic dances of avoidance that sometimes extend distance between cultures.
Not least is Obama’s denunciation of Guantánamo and all it stands for: indefinitedetention for purposes of interrogation, abandonment of habeas corpus, cruelty and torture. It’s unequivocal and delivered to all audiences.
Aiding Obama are scores of foreign policy experts and international lawyers. They include many noted and respected women, among them: Pulitzer Prizewinning Harvard ProfessorSamantha Power; Patricia Wald, former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District ofColumbia Circuit and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; and Dr. Susan E. Rice, formerly assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs.
It may seem odd that someone who’s spent nearly a year blogging the achievements of the world’s women leaders is working for this candidate. Would I welcome as President a woman who’s made her own way, who stands on her own feet, who promises to bring the best to the job? Certainly. I’ll embrace that candidate, when she emerges.
Now, though, this IntLawGrrl’s honored to be doing her wee bit for Barack Obama, the human who pushes people to “Change the World.”

Call: “Gendered Imaginaries of Crisis”

logo2“The Gendered Imaginaries of Crisis in International Law” is the provocative title of a panel for which the Feminism and International Law Interest Group of the European Society of International Law is seeking papers. Papers selected will form part of the Interest Group’s proposal for a panel at the next ESIL annual meeting, set for Sept. 8-10, 2016, in Riga, Latvia. Organizers Loveday Hodson (Leicester Law), Troy Lavers (Surrey Law), Gina Heathcote (SOAS), Emily Jones, and Bérénice K. Schramm (SOAS) describe the panel as follows:

Set up as a roundtable rather than a traditional panel, the agora aims at providing an interactive platform for feminist and/or gender-related engagement with the past, present and future of international law within and without its recurrent crises.

Full call for papers here. Deadline for submissions is Jan. 31, 2016.