Ukraine

Since arriving at the University of Georgia School of Law in 2011, I have had the very great honor of holding the Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law – a chair established decades ago to welcome the renowned international lawyer and academic, Louis B. Sohn (prior posts). Professor Sohn’s record of achievement as an author and teacher, and his public service as well, is an inspiration. Indeed, his oil portrait greets me whenever I step a few doors from my office and into the Louis B. Sohn Library on International Relations, both situated in our law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center.

Peter Trooboff, Senior Counsel at Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C., and former President of the American Society of International Law, speaks at the ceremony unveiling Sohn’s plaque, affixed to a building in Lviv where Sohn once lived. Thanks for this photo due to ASIL President-Elect Sean Murphy, who attended the ceremony along with Trooboff and another former ASIL President, Lori Fisler Damrosch.

I was thus very pleased to contribute, along with many others (including some of my Georgia Law colleagues), to the recent commemoration of Professor Sohn in the city of his birth: Lviv, Ukraine, known as Lwów, or Lemberg, and located in Poland, when he was born there on March 1, 1914. As detailed in Philippe Sands‘ masterful 2016 book, East West Street, the city was home not only to Sohn, but also to two other 20th C. giants of international law, Hersh Lauterpacht (1897-1960) and Raphael Lemkin (1914-2006).

The commemoration took place last November in Lviv. Featured were a workshop and conference, a multimedia art performance, and the unveiling of 3 plaques, each honoring one of these sons of Lviv.

Sohn’s plaque, depicted below, includes a photo, short bio, and 1981 quote of Sohn, in two languages/alphabets. The English version says:

Louis B. Sohn

1914-2006 Lemberg/Lwów-Washington, D.C.

graduate of law faculty and diplomatic science of Jan Kazimierz University (now Lviv University); renowned international lawer, professor at Harvard University, University of Georgia and George Washington University; President, American Society of International Law (1988-1990); participant in drafting the United Nations Charter and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea

To deny the existence of an international law of human rights at this time is no longer defensible (1981)

1932-1935 Lived in this building

This plaque has been made possible with the support of the City of Lviv, the Center for Urban History, family, friends and colleagues

ukrAt The Hague today, the International Criminal Court announced that Ukraine had declared partial acceptance of ICC jurisdiction – during the same hour that diplomats in Geneva announced an agreement in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

In a statement posted at the ICC website (video here), ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel announced receipt of a declaration stating:

‘In conformity with Article 12, paragraph 3 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, Ukraine hereby recognizes the jurisdiction of the Court for the purpose of identifying, prosecuting and judging the authors and accomplices of acts committed on the territory of Ukraine within the period 21 November 2013 – 22 February 2014.’

The initial declaration (pictured above) is dated April 9; a followup declaration dated yesterday confirmed that that the person signing had authority to do so on behalf of Ukraine.

The limitations in the declaration reflect the fact that Ukraine has signed but not ratified the ICC Statute – a situation that Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, President of the ICC Assembly of States Parties, urged Ukraine to change:

‘To ensure the full protective potential of the Rome Statute system and accountability for atrocity crimes, I hope that Ukraine will proceed with the ratification of the Rome Statute in the nearest future.’

Today’s developments mean that incidents in 2 European countries are before the court. In 2008, the Office of the Prosecutor opened a preliminary examination into incidents in the Republic of Georgia. On that, the ICC website states that prosecutors are

‘seeking clarification as to whether the respective national investigations have halted; whether any additional information remains to be provided to the Office; and whether the lack of cooperation identified as an obstacle both by the Russian and Georgian authorities may be overcome through enhanced mutual legal assistance between the two States.’

Today’s developments occurred, moreover, against the backdrop of movement in the diplomatic standoff on Ukraine; that is, the release of the following joint statement on behalf of the United States, the European Union, Russia and Ukraine:

‘The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.

‘All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-Semitism.

‘All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

‘Amnesty will be granted to protesters and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

‘It was agreed that the O.S.C.E. Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.

‘The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.

‘The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented.’

How all these developments interact remains to be seen.

eventWASHINGTON – Yesterday I had the honor of serving as Distinguished Discussant for the 16th Annual Grotius Lecture, a keynote event at the ongoing joint meeting of the American Society of International Law and the International Law Association. Delivering the lecture was NYU Global Law Professor Radhika Coomaraswamy, whose former posts include Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General on Children & Armed Conflict and U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. (event video here) Her talk was entitled “Women and Children: The Cutting Edge of International Law.”

Below is a version of my remarks in response, prepared and delivered in my personal capacity. The final, fully footnoted article is set to appear in due course, along with that of Professor Coomaraswamy, in the American University International Law Review, thanks to the lecture’s cosponsor, American University Washington College of Law.

The Post-Postcolonial Woman or Child

“‘Let the child be excused by his age, the woman by her sex,’ says Seneca in the treatise in which he vents his anger upon anger.” So wrote the namesake of this lecture, Hugo Grotius, in his masterwork entitled The Law of War and Peace. With this 60862quotation, “Let the child be excused by his age, the woman by her sex,” Grotius traced to the writings of an ancient Roman philosopher the injunction against harming women and children in time of war. Grotius’ reiteration of Seneca’s words tacitly admitted that as late as 1625, armies still were violating the injunction. Sadly, the same is true 389 years later. Today neither women nor children are excused from wartime assaults, violence, and upheaval. In Syria alone, three years of conflict have left well over 100,000 persons dead, and forced another 2.5 million persons to flee their country. Women and children are included in those statistics. Conflicts elsewhere generate similarly grim numbers, as Professor Coomaraswamy indicated by her references to the Central African Republic, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to her own homeland of Sri Lanka. Indeed, outrage at the persistent violation of laws protecting women and children undergirds the Grotius Lecture that we have just heard.

Commensurate with her distinguished career in international law academia, policy, and practice, Professor Coomaraswamy has presented a vast and intricate tapestry of global developments. It would be impossible for me to comment in full in the time allotted. Instead, I propose to pull five strands out of the fabric of her lecture and to weave them anew, as a means to invite the imagining of a possible future, that of “the post-postcolonial woman or child.”
My first strand addresses Professor Coomaraswamy’s statements of concern about postcolonial theorists prevalent in the global south. These scholars, she said,

‘reject the human rights framework as part of the ‘liberal’ ‘imperialist’ project especially when it comes to cultural practices. … [They] rejec[t] the dominance of the European Enlightenment and the sacredness of the power of reason.’

My response might raise hackles among some of those scholars, for it begins with this claim: We are all postcolonials now.

By way of example, both of my own countries of citizenship are postcolonial states. Read Full Article

PortraitAmid an agenda chockablock with briefings on global crises, there will be an open U.N. Security Council debate on children and armed conflict this Friday morning.

The debate will occur during the month that Luxembourg presides over the Security Council. (Though just 5 days old, Luxembourg’s Presidency already has been busy, with its U.N. Permanent Representative, Ambassador Sylvie Lucas (left), chairing multiple emergency Council sessions concerning Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.)

Since 2013 Luxembourg also has held the Presidency of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, the entity that administers initiatives begun in Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005) and reinforced by many subsequent resolutions. Indeed, Friday’s Security Council open debate is expected to end in the adoption of a new resolution on children and armed conflict.

According to a post at What’s in Blue, an online publication of the independent nonprofit organization Security Council Report, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, lzJean Asselborn, will chair the debate. Scheduled speakers include: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; Under-Secretary-General Leila Zerrougui (right; prior posts), the Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake; Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous, Director of Peacekeeping; and a former child soldier, Alhaji Babah Sawaneh of Sierra Leone.

The afternoon before the debate, the Luxembourg U.N. Mission and UNICEF will launch a “Children Not Soldiers” campaign.

mjidTo be held at U.N. headquarters in New York, the campaign launch and debate will occur just days before other key U.N. events. According to the schedule available here, children will be the focus of March 12 and 13 meetings of the U.N. Human Rights Council, meeting this month in Geneva, Switzerland. The schedule includes a daylong session on children’s rights, as well as presentations by: Under-Secretary-General Zerrougui; Najat Maalla M’jid (above), the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child santosPornography; and Marta Santos Pais (right), the Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Violence against Children.