human rights

nobloodforoilSo, I don’t march.

I stayed home when millions protested the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Stayed home for “No Blood for Oil” too (though I did have the T-shirt, at left). Avoided the streets of my Paris sabbatical home on May Day 2002, when half a million marched to the chants of “Là-Bas Le Pen.”

Pretty much avoided all public demonstrations since childhood, never having really seen the point of taking to the streets instead of concrete action – that is, instead of litigating/teaching/reasoning/writing/policymaking toward lasting solutions.

So why march today?

► Because the promise of the election of Barack Obama – hands down, the best President of my lifetime – so soon was dashed by never-believed yet oft-repeated undercuttings of his citizenship. The spurious claims and the events that ensued sunk the hope that had lifted many of us in 2007 and 2008. Fell particularly hard on those of us who are immigrants, or who count immigrants among our loved ones.

aliceroom3Because in the last years we’ve been forced to swallow bile: cruel falsehoods about the 1st woman to be nominated by a major U.S. political party; harsh slaps against everyone who has endured sexual assault; soulless insults about every disadvantaged group imaginable.

► Because Looking-Glass intrigue belongs to the fantasy world of Lewis Carroll, not to the real world in which we all must live.

Because aspirations to human dignity, equality, liberty, and justice, without borders, will not withstand anti-“globalist” attack unless those of us who hold these values dear come to their defense.

Because if we fail to object, we fail our children.

To quote other ‘Grrls:

“It seems like a day when numbers matter.”

“I couldn’t not go.”

And so even we not-marchers march, in D.C., in Philadelphia, and, at last count, in nearly 700 other places around the world.

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(Cross-posted from IntLawGrrls)

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A very special film event will open IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference, the global gathering we’re very pleased to host this spring.

On the evening of Thursday, March 2, 2017, the conference will begin with a screening of “500 Years,” a documentary about Guatemala. This Athens, Georgia, screening – taking place just weeks after the film’s premiere at the 2017 Sundance Festival – will feature a conversation with its award-winning director, Pamela Yates (below), and producer, Paco de Onís. Yates, who describes herself as “an American filmmaker and human rights defender,” has posted on her work at IntLawGrrls (see here and here), which is celebrating a decade as the pre-eminent international law blog written primarily by women.

yates_pamela“500 Years” concludes a Guatemala trilogy begun with “When the Mountains Tremble” (1983) and “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” (2011), As described at the Skylight Pictures website:

“From a historic genocide trial to the overthrow of a president, ‘500 Years’ tells a sweeping story of mounting resistance played out in Guatemala’s recent history, through the actions and perspectives of the majority indigenous Mayan population, who now stand poised to reimagine their society.”

On Friday, March 3, 2017, IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference will continue with the daylong Research Forum at the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center.  As introduced in prior posts, this Forum will feature presentations by international law academics, practitioners, and policymakers, plus a plenary panel on “strategies to promote women’s participation in shaping international law and policy amid the global emergence of antiglobalism.”

This IntLawGrrls event is part of the law school’s Georgia Women in Law Lead (Georgia WILL) initiative and of the Global Georgia Initiative of the university’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts. Additional conference cosponsors include Georgia Law’s Women Law Students Association and International Law Society, the American Society of International Law and ASIL’s Women in International Law Interest Group, and the Planethood Foundation.

Details on the conference are at the webpage containing the call for papers (deadline January 1, 2017).

(Cross-posted from IntLawGrrls. Credit for Skylight Pictures’ photo above, by Daniel Hernández-Salazar; source for photo of Yates)

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“The biggest violators of human rights are states themselves, by commission or omission.”

This quote by Navi Pillay aptly summarized her talk on “National Sovereignty vs. International Human Rights.” Pillay, whose renowned legal career has included posts as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and as a judge on the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, spoke this morning at the University of Georgia School of Law Atlanta campus.

Elaborating on the quote above, Pillay decried national legislation aimed at restricting the activities – and with it the effectiveness – of local nongovernmental organizations. Such anti-NGO laws already have passed in Russia and are pending in Pillay’s home state of South Africa, among other countries. That said, she welcomed new means of speaking law to power; in particular, social media that permit human rights advocates to reach millions. Also welcomed were accountability mechanisms that the United Nations has developed in recent decades, such as Universal Periodic Review by the Human Rights Council, reporting processes of treaty bodies, and reports by special rapporteurs.

amann_pillayI was honored to give welcoming remarks at the breakfast. Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center, which I lead, cosponsored this Georgia WILL event with the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and Georgia State University’s Global Studies Institute. (We owe special thanks to Judge Dorothy Toth Beasley for her hospitality this week.)

Conversing with Pillay was World Affairs Council President Charles Shapiro. They began by speaking of Pillay’s childhood in Durban, where she grew up the daughter of a bus driver. She spoke of how testifying as a 6-year-old in the trial of a man who’d stolen money from her helped spark her desire to become a lawyer – and how donations from her community helped make that dream a reality.

Shapiro then asked about capital punishment, noting a scheduled execution. Pillay acknowledged the absence of any universal treaty outlawing the death penalty, but found evidence of U.N. opposition both in the decision not to permit the penalty in U.N. ad hoc international criminal tribunals and in the growing support for the oft-repeated U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on capital punishment.

“It started with just 14 states against the death penalty, and is now more than 160,” said Pillay, who currently serves on the International Commission against the Death Penalty.

img_0335On this and other issues, she said, advocates endeavor to encourage states first to obligate themselves to respect and ensure human rights, and then to implement the undertakings they have made in this regard:

“The United Nations was formed by states. It is a club of governments. Look how steadily they have adopted treaties and agreed to be bound by them. That doesn’t mean we are transgressing sovereignty.”

(Cross-posted from Exchange of Notes)

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Very pleased to announce that papers from a Georgia Law conference “Children & International Criminal Justice” have just been published by our Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law.

The conference was cosponsored by Dean Rusk International Law Center and the Georgia Law Project on Armed Conflict & Children, as well as the university’s African Studies Institute, the Planethood Foundation, and the American Society of International Law-Southeast.

About 2 dozen experts came to Athens, Georgia, from as far as Doha and Kinshasa, to discuss the topic at hand. In so doing, they assisted in the preparation of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor Policy on Children. As detailed in recent posts, available here and here, the public comment period for the draft of that Policy continues through August 5, 2016, with launch of the final document set for mid-November.

bensouda_me2_28oct14cropA keynote speech by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (at right) highlighted our conference, and the text of her speech headlines the edition. Other writings link the work of the ICC to the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child, examine the experiences of children in armed conflict and similar situations. Student rapporteurs’ accounts of expert breakout sessions additionally treat a range of issues. All these papers contributed significantly to the Policy process.

The edition concludes with students’ notes apart from the conference; one of these, for which I was honored to serve as faculty adviser, examines the issue of child marriage.

Here, in full, is the table of contents for Volume 43, issue 3, with PDF links to each article:

Children and International Criminal Justice Conference

“Convening Experts on Children and International Criminal Justice,” by yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (above, at left), Associate Dean for International Programs & Strategic Initiatives and Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law, and also Prosecutor Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict

“Children and International Criminal Justice,” by Fatou Bensouda (above, at right), Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

malone“Maturing Justice: Integrating the Convention on the Rights of the Child into the Judgments and Processes of the International Criminal Court,” by Linda A. Malone (right), Marshall-Wythe Foundation Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Human Security Law Center, William & Mary Law School

drumblm“Children, Armed Violence and Transition: Challenges for International Law & Policy,” by Mark Drumbl (left), Class of 1975 Alumni Professor of Law and Director of the Transnational Law Institute at Washington & Lee University School of Law

“Child Protection in Times of Conflict and Children and International Criminal Justice,” by Kerry L. Neal neal(right), Child Protection Specialist, Justice for Children, UNICEF, New York

“Expert Workshop Session: Regulatory Framework,” by Ashley Ferrelli, Eric Heath, Eulen Jang, and Cory Takeuchi (all Georgia Law graduates, who were members of GJICL)

“Expert Workshop Session: Child Witnesses: Testimony, Evidence, and Witness Protection,” by Chelsea Swanson, Elizabeth DeVos, Chloe Ricke, and Andy Shin (now Georgia Law graduates, all then were members of GJICL)

“Expert Workshop Session: The Global Child,” by Haley Chafin, Jena Emory, Meredith Head, and Elizabeth Verner (all Georgia Law graduates, who were members of GJICL)

Student Notes

“Changing the Game: The Effects of the 2012 Revision of the ICC Arbitration Rules on the ICC Model Arbitration Clause for Trust Disputes,” by Colin Connor

“Water, Water Everywhere, But Just How Much is Clean?: Examining Water Quality Restoration Efforts Under the United States Clean Water Act and the United States-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement,” by Jill T. Hauserman

“REACHing for Environmental and Economic Harmony: Can TTIP Negotiations Bridge the U.S.-EU Chemical Regulatory Gap?,” by Ashley Henson

“Child Marriage in Yemen: A Violation of International Law,” by Elizabeth Verner

eleanorToday is Human Rights Day. On this day 67 years ago, at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted what has become the touchstone articulation of humans’ place in our world.

We – “All human beings” – proclaims the 1st article of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” All of us “are endowed with reason and conscience,” it continues. It follows, then, that each of us “should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” In the French version adopted at the same time, that last word is “fraternité,” and hearkens to the French Déclaration, the American Declaration and Bill of Rights, and many others.

Indeed, the document itself benefits from views of sages throughout the world. Gandhi was one who weighed in, thanks to a survey sponsored by UNESCO. The American Law Institute contributed a Statement of Essential Rights. That statement, like the Universal Declaration as a whole, owes much to the Four Freedoms that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt identified in a 1941 speech before Congress.

A half-decade later, that president’s widow, Eleanor Roosevelt, would chair the U.N. committee tasked with drafting the Universal Declaration. Among those joining her in the work were John Humphrey of Canada, Peng Chun Chang of China, Charles Malik of Lebanon, and René Cassin of France. At the time the document was adopted, she declared:

“This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta of all men everywhere.”

It would be easy to look wistfully to that statement, to assume that the world once was better than it seems today. Yet even then, fissures were apparent:

► No state voted against the Universal Declaration, but not every state voted for it, either. Eight of 56 countries abstained: the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Yugoslavia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa.

► Since 1948, the United Nations has grown to nearly 200 member states. Many of the newcomers once were colonies of states that endorsed the Universal Declaration. Even some of the charter members have undergone profound changes – the China that sent diplomat Chang in 1948 is quite different from the China that now holds the U.N. seat.

► The challenges of sovereign-state diversity and the aims of universal equality – for women as well as men, sisters as well as brothers – change with globalization. The United Nations’ 2015 Sustainable Development Goals represents the body’s latest effort to respond.

► Even the chief proponents hedged their support. By way of example, Roosevelt’s ringing endorsement quoted above occurred in a statement that took pains to stress what the United States did not mean to endorse. In a line that bears echo with later U.S. Supreme Court decisions in DeShaney and Gonzales, she said:

“[M]y government has made it clear in the course of the development of the declaration that it does not consider that the economic and social and cultural rights stated in the declaration imply an obligation on governments to assure the enjoyment of these rights by direct governmental action.”

► Other states turned a colder shoulder toward civil and political rights, signaling that even at its birth, the notion of the indivisibility of rights would prove difficult to sustain and enforce.

Thus today, even as we celebrate another Human Rights Day, we must redouble our efforts to make the promise of the Universal Declaration a reality for everyone who has been born, free and equal, in dignity and rights.

(Photo: IntLawGrrls’ Eleanor, in her new home at our Dean Rusk International Law Center)

mdmAmid this weekend’s reminiscences of the birth of the United States, I found much to ponder in one reading – not in English, but rather in French.

Entitled La démocratie dan les bras de Big Brother – that is, Democracy in the Arms of Big Brother – it’s the transcript of Le Monde journalist Franck Johannès‘ recent interview with a longtime colleague of mine, Mireille-Delmas Marty, emerita professor of the Collège de France de Paris. (photo credit; prior posts)

Delmas-Marty sounds a warning about the “downward spiral” that, in her view, has created an unwelcome “metamorphosis in criminal justice” in the years since terrorists attacked New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. 1st in the vortex was the United States, she says, and she fears that her own homeland, France – and, indeed, the planet – are following suit.

Contributing to this analysis, in her view:

► Characterization of terrorist acts as “exceptional” offenses, related to more to war than to ordinary crimes, coupled with the redefinition of unlawful association so that it may apply to “only one person,” without proof of actual association with another.

► Globalization of surveillance and “social control,” in an effort to predict offenses before they happen. Post-9/11, the United States moved from notions of preemption to notions of prevention, she notes. She argues that today the United States, and others, have moved further, to “prediction” – a shift that lends justification to confinement of persons deemed harmful, not only before they have been proved to commit an offense, but also after they have served postconviction sentences. She contends (all translations mine):

‘To lock up a human being, not to punish harm but rather to prevent harm, as if he were a dangerous animal, is in truth an act of dehumanization…’

► Persistence of nonstate actors that once would have been deemed exclusively “criminal organizations,” but now are seen as parties waging armed conflict. Not long ago, Al Qaeda dominated this discourse; today, it is “the so-called ‘Islamic State.'” Delmas-Marty continues:

‘With whom is a treaty of peace to be concluded? We now have all the ingredients for a global, and permanent, civil war.’

liberteAmong Delmas-Marty’s recent books is Libertés et sûreté dans un monde dangereux (2010). In the Le Monde interview, as in that book, she calls for restoring a balance between desires for security and the value of liberty. (It’s a balance that I’ve explored in my own writings, including “Punish or Surveil” (2007).)

“To dream of perfect security,” Delmas-Marty maintains, is an “illusion.” She allows that “[i]n the name of the struggle against terrorism, there can be restrictions on the right to respect for privacy,” yet she would require that such restrictions themselves be constrained in accordance with the principles “of legality, proportionality, and democratic control.”

Much to ponder as the United States begins its 240th year of democracy.

mendezAll who care about children and international law will want to register for “Torture of Children Deprived of Liberty: Avenues for Advocacy,” “a global online briefing” to be hosted at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time next Tuesday, May 5, by the Anti-Torture Initiative of the D.C.-based Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law.

Panelists will include:

Juan E. Méndez, American University law professor, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, and author of the 2015 thematic report on children deprive of liberty, which will form the core of the discussion (credit for photo of Méndez delivering this report to the U.N. Human Rights Council last month)

Jo Becker, Advocacy Director, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch

Ian M. Kysel, Dash/Muse Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute

► Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Vice Chairperson of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child and of the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, as well as  a law professor at the University of Western Cape in South Africa, and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia

Registration and further information here.