Monthly Archives: January 2014

camingOne of the last surviving Americans who prosecuted Nazi-era war criminals passed away a week ago today at his home in Summit, New Jersey. His name was H.W. William Caming. He went by “Bill.” But he was already well into his 80s when I first met him, and so to me the soft-spoken gentleman was always “Mr. Caming.”

We met at the International Humanitarian Law Dialogs in Chautauqua, New York, cosponsored by the Robert H. Jackson Center (which sent news of his passing). Caming attended that annual gathering of international prosecutors most years, always dapper in suit and tie – even when age had confined him to a wheelchair. (credit for 2011 photo at bottom of Caming, left, with fellow Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz)

He spoke with great pride of his work at Nuremberg, where he served on the prosecution team for 3 years. Top Prosecutor Telford Taylor hired Caming – who’d spent World War II trying cases with the Air Force Judge Advocate General corps in China, Burma, and India – in 1946. When I interviewed him at Chautauqua in 2010, he remembered:

‘I had just come home from China after 27 months away. I was home in Florida, on 30 days’ R&R. I received a call from General Taylor.  He was at the Pentagon.  I went down.  We had an interview.  The rest is history.’

Caming indeed made history, as a lead prosecutor in the Ministries Case, the trial of nearly a dozen men who’d served in the Foreign Office and other government departments. (credit for photo at top of Caming in trial) His was the only one of the 11 cases that followed the Trial of the Major War Criminals in which prosecutors secured convictions for crimes against peace, known today as the crime of aggression. (The case was also notable as the only one in which a woman served as lead attorney – Dr. Elisabeth Gombel, who secured a favorable plea bargain for the client who chose her, Ernst Bohle.)

Although a few of the Ministries defendants were sentenced to upwards of 20 years in prison, some sentences were much lower, and all defendants were released by 1958, on orders of the U.S. High Commissioner. As he had in “Bringing War Criminals to Justice at Nuremberg,” an essay he published in the Dialogs Proceedings, in his interview with me Caming attributed this turn of events to Cold War politics:

‘There was a changed political climate and the Cold War had erupted. There was a constant pressure to end the case just as quickly as possible. They wanted to use Germany as a bulwark against Communism sweeping over Europe.’

In this view, which some dispute, Caming echoed a book he recommended to me, Peter Maguire’s Law and War (2010).

caming_ferenczNot every day at Nuremberg was difficult, however. Among those who visited the trials was Rebecca West, the Briton who’d written a “quite good” account of the Balkans, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941). “I more or less was her tour guide, mainly through the intricacies of the trials,” but also to a castle that had not been destroyed in Allied bombing and thus served as one of the area’s very few “tourist attractions.” I will remember Mr. Caming’s evident pleasure in recalling that visit, his gentle manner in talking with me, and his unfailing support for international criminal justice.

sotu2014Despite the best efforts of pundits and D.C. PR, the State of the Union address this year seemed, well, small.

Perhaps it was because I didn’t watch the speech this year – 1st time in a long time. Just wasn’t up for TV anchors’ “this is Washington’s Oscars” spin as the government’s still-mostly-men file in. (credit for video screengrab) Nor for the up-close-and-personal vignettes that pepper SOTU no less than they soon will Sochi.

As for the text of the speech itself – except for the well-deserved celebration of an end to certain health care injustices – it paled in the gloss of my high-def tablet screen.

President Barack Obama put impressive force into his demand for higher wages for Americans at the bottom of the income rung, to a reverse in the trend of growing economic inequality, to a guarantee of a good job. Impressive, that is, absent the deflating reality revealed on one’s calculator. Obama’s centerpiece solution was a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. That would bring the annual income of a person who works full-time and gets paid vacation (both unlikely, at this wage scale) to a grand total of $21,008.00. (Note that this is higher than the current income floor.) Given the high cost of living in the United States, one could almost hear the low-wage earner mutter,

‘That and a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card will get me a cup of coffee.’

As the President noted, the mutterer well may be a woman. He said:

‘Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.’

Well, yes, it is, and the focus on this issue was inspiring. Or would have been, if Obama’s stated solutions – “equal sbapay for equal work,” “a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent” – weren’t as old as the women’s movement itself. (image credit) Consider this web account:

Susan B. Anthony‘s paper The Revolution, first published in 1868, advocated an eight-hour day and equal pay for equal work.’

In his speech Obama sounded an alarm about “the lives that gun violence steals from us each day,” as he has many times before. (Prior posts here, here, and here) His promise “to keep trying, with or without Congress,” served as a reminder of the difficulty of change.

“Diplomacy” was the SOTU foreign policy buzzword. That is welcome, but did not fully settle the mind given the tense nature of most of the situations mentioned – Iran, the Middle East, Afghanistan. One was struck, too, by the geographic lumping-together of our globe. Joining Africa as an apparently single-country? “The Americas.”

Let’s hope the President’s assertions of optimism prove better founded than this take on yesterday’s address.

This year’s annual meeting of the American Society of International Law features a unique trove of speakers and events. The gathering – from April 7 to 12, at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, on Pennsylvania Avenue a few blocks from the White House – will also be the global biennial conference of the International Law Association. That combination promises multiple addresses, panels, debates, and roundtables, as donoghuewell as committee, working group, and interest group meetings, as detailed in the draft program.

sebutindeOne highlight will be the annual luncheon of ASIL’s Women in International Law Interest Group, at which I xuewas honored to speak last year. This year, at the Thursday, April 10 luncheon, WILIG’s Prominent Women in International Law will go to three especially worthy women – International Court of Justice Judges Joan Donoghue, Julia Sebutinde, and Hanqin Xue.

radhikaA notable keynote will be the Grotius Lecture on Wednesday, April 9, by Radhika Coomaraswamy, who’s served as the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General with regard both to Children and Armed Conflict and to Violence against Women.

This year’s other honorees likewise include some very special people:

bensouda► International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (whom I am honored to serve as Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict) will receive the ASIL Honorary Membership awarded each year for “distinguished contributions or service in the field of international law.”

cherifM. Cherif Bassiouni, whose many titles include Emeritus Distinguished Research Professor of Law and President Emeritus, International Human Rights Law Institute, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago – not to mention dean and mentor to all of us who work in international criminal justice – will receive the Goler T. Butcher Medal, given “for outstanding contributions to the development or effective realization of international human rights.”

pelletAlain Pellet, Professor of Public International Law at the Université de Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and a frequent advocate before the International Court of Justice, will receive the Manley O. Hudson Medal “for outstanding contributions to scholarship and achievement in international law.”

Click here for details (including the complete draft program) and registration, which is significantly discounted through February 7, 2014.

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carter_church12jan14This time 2 weeks ago, my family, neighbors, and I were in Plains, Georgia, where former President Jimmy Carter taught us Sunday school. Age 89 and still active around the world, Carter does this every Sunday that he’s home in the southern Georgia town where he was born and has lived most of his life. According to the schedule, another group of congregants sits with him at his Maranatha Baptist Church even as I write this post.

Our mid-January visit began with a 3-1/2-hour Saturday drive across a rainy state, then a lovely overnight and elegant breakfast at a majestic, circa-1892 hotel in Americus. By 8:30 Sunday we’d driven 10 miles west, to Plains, and were waiting in line as visitor-friendly Secret Service agents checked our bags and ushered us into the simple church. There Miss Jan, a retired schoolteacher, delivered a wry primer on the history of Plains and the Carter family.

Right at 10 the Carters arrived. The former First Lady, Rosalynn (“It’s pronounced Rose-lun,” Miss Jan had told us), sat in a pew.  The man who’d served as U.S. President from 1977-1981 stood at front. He wore a striped shirt and grey jacket and sported a bolo tie with a turquoise pendant. Carter asked where everyone was from. Georgia, of course. But also Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Washington, not to mention Canada, China, Ireland, and Palestine. At that last, Carter interjected,

‘We go there almost every year, and my heart goes out to all the Palestinian people.’

He talked at length about his 28th book, set to be released this March. The subject, he said, is

‘the horrible plight of women and girls around the world.’

As examples, he spoke of genital mutilation, enforced second-class status, lack of educational opportunities, child marriages, sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, and honor killings. Carter’s move to another topic was halted by one word from the audience: “Jimmy,” spoken with a distinct Plains accent. “Jimmy,” Rosalynn continued,

‘You left out what’s happening in our country.’

me_peanut12jan14The former President flashed the smile for which he’s famous – a smile once captured on campaign buttons, and the foremost feature of the statue at right, which stands along the road not far from the Maranatha church. Carter then elaborated on Western countries, citing the still-low percentages of women in positions of government and the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. He concluded his account of the global status of women with these words:

‘I think it’s the worst human rights abuse on earth right now, and I hope this book will bring attention to it.’

Carter then donned glasses and read the Bible passage for the week, an Old Testament account of the gratitude that Hannah, despite hard losses, showed to God. Carter mentioned his own loss that week, of “the best friend I had on earth, Robert Pastor.” Pastor, who died at age 66 from colon cancer, had, among other achievements, helped to secure the Senate’s 2/3 approval of the Panama Canal Treaty – “my hardest political battle,” Carter said. Just weeks earlier, the two had co-authored an op-ed suggesting how peace might be brought to Syria. Pastor, Carter told us, was

‘the wisest person on how to bring peace, on how to solve a complicated problem.’

Pastor’s legacy still in mind, Carter returned to Hannah’s story, urging us to give thanks, as Hannah did, for “another day of life,” for the “blessings of freedom,” for being “able to spread to people around us health and safety.”

The uplift and inspiration of his message lingered long after our journey home.

?????Looking forward to the start of the 9th Annual International Law Colloquium at the University of Georgia School of Law, my home institution. It begins tomorrow, when Penn Law’s William Burke-White is set to present his paper entitled “Power Shifts in International Law: Structural Realignment and Substantive Pluralism” (SSRN).

Coordinating the colloquium this year is my Georgia Law colleague, Professor Timothy L. Meyer (last year it was my turn, as I blogged then in this post). Tim’s assembled an outstanding group of scholars who will present works in progress to a group of Georgia Law students. Faculty including Harlan Cohen, Bo Rutledge, and I will serve as discussants. Here’s this year’s full lineup for the colloquium, a tradition that’s brought a hundred or more international law experts here to Athens, Georgia, over the years:

burkeJanuary 24: Dr. William Burke-White (left), Deputy Dean and Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia

chiaraJanuary 31: Dr. Chiara Giorgetti (right), Assistant Professor of Law, University of Richmond School of Law, Virginia

??????????????February 21: Hannah Buxbaum (left), John E. Schiller Chair in Legal Ethics and former Interim Dean, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Bloomington

daugMarch 21: Kristina Daguirdas (right), Assistant Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor

whytockMarch 28: Dr. Christopher A. Whytock (left), Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine

jeanApril 4: Jean Galbraith (right), Assistant Professor of Law, Rutgers University School of Law-Camden

carlarne_cinnamonApril 18: Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne (left), Ohio State University Moritz College of the Law, Columbus

207Recent law school graduates are encouraged to apply for the 14th Specialization Course in International Criminal Law for Young Penalists, sponsored by the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Science. I had the honor of teaching last year in this program – held in a lovely villa in the ancient Sicilian city of Siracusa (prior post here) – and highly recommend it for persons planning to focus their careers on issues of international or transnational criminal law.

The theme for this year’s session, to be held May 18-28, is “Assessing the Effectiveness of International Criminal Law in the Prevention and Control of Transnational and International Crimes.”Among those scheduled to teach this year, according to the draft program, are M. Cherif Bassiouni, head of the Institute, as well as Jean Paul Laborde, Louise I. Shelley, Gioacchino Polimeni, Tom Obokata Dimitri Vlassis, Joseph Jones, Ulrich Sieber, Mohamed Y. Mattar, Robert Cryer, and Saul Takahashi.

The course is open to persons who hold a degree in law, graduated between 2006 and 2014, and are 35 years of age or younger. Sixty participants will be selected from among the applicant pool, and 10 scholarships will be awarded to applicants from developing and less developed countries.

Deadline for applications is March 20, 2014. Details and application form available here.

panzaToday Catherine Samba-Panza, a businesswoman turned politician, became President of the Central African Republic. The 1st woman head of state in that country, Samba-Panza joins 2 others in Africa: President Joyce Banda of Malawi and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.

The 135-member National Transitional Council chose Samba-Panza in a runoff held because none of 8 original candidates obtained a majority in the 1st round of voting. The Council voted in the wake of the January 10 resignation of Michel Djotodia, who had seized power in March 2013 and ruled as President for just under a year. In that same time frame, Samba-Panza has served as mayor of Bangui, the capital. (credit for photo by Eric Feferberg/AFP)

The new President faces immense challenges. The Séléka rebellion that brought her predecessor to power eventually morphed into protracted armed violence, between former rebels in that Muslim-led faction and Christian, “anti-Balaka” militias. These armed groups are said to have recruited upwards of 6,000 child soldiers, notwithstanding the international ban on child-soldiering. A fifth of the population – nearly a million persons – has been displaced.

The new President, described as a politically neutral Christian, addressed these troubles in her election speech:

‘I call on my children, especially the anti-balaka, to put down their arms and stop all the fighting. The same goes for the ex-Seleka – they should not have fear. I don’t want to hear any more talk of murders and killings.’

Whether violence will abate in the Central African Republic – a situation-country of the International Criminal Court, to which thousands of U.N. Security Council-authorized international troops are now being deployed – remains to be seen.