August 2014           News | Upcoming Programs & CLE | Reports | Get Involved


Rule of Law: A Cornerstone for Peace, Development and Human Rights
July 31
7:00 PM

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson will speak about the importance of rule of law, good governance and institutions for achieving the vision set out in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in the evolving post-2015 sustainable development agenda.


The Legality Under International Law of Trageted Killings by Drones Launched by the United States
September 10
6:30 - 8:30 PM

Panelists will react to the City Bar report of the same name released in June and generally assess international legal issues related to U.S. drone strikes.



International Arbitration Institute
October 10
9:00 AM -
5:00 PM  

The Institute is a single-day program on current issues, trends and developments in the field of international arbitration. Topics will include presentation of expert evidence, selection of arbitration panels, and enforcement.
The Keynote Address will be given by the Hon. Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. 

Speakers will include lawyers and arbitrators from some of the world's leading law firms and arbitral organizations.

Missed a Program? You Can Still Benefit! CLE Programs' CDs, DVDs and other course
materials can be found on the website.



Endorsement of International Justice Day
The City Bar released a statement celebrating International Justice Day. International Justice Day, marked annually on July 17th, commemorates the enforcement of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court, a tribunal currently prosecuting genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague, Netherlands. The City Bar was an early leader in supporting the International Criminal Court, first going on record in 1997 endorsing its establishment and later in 2002 expressing support for accession by the United States to the Rome Statute.

City Bar Supports Call for UN Responsibility in Haiti
Last fall, the Bureau des Avocats Internatinaux and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti filed a class action suit in the Southern District of New York against the United Nations, alleging that UN peacekeepers' irresponsible waste disposal practices brought
a cholera outbreak to Haiti, killing 8,500 and sickening nearly 700,000 more. The Council on International Affairs wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry urging that the U.S. government call upon the United Nations to perform its obligations under the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities and provide an appropriate mode for settling claims.

International Violence Against Women Act
In a letter to Congress, the Committees on African Affairs, Domestic Violence, and Sex and Law expressed support for the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA). The I-VAWA is designed to prevent and respond to the widespread and egregious violence against girls and women that afflicts communities and countries across the globe—including domestic violence, rape, acid burnings, so-called honor killings, trafficking of young girls, forced marriage, abduction of children and other gross violations of human rights. The I-VAWA, the report argues, is an investment in a future where violence and abuse are no longer perpetrated against women and girls.

Military Justice System
Perception is critical to the proper functioning of any justice system, and for the military justice system there is a twofold scrutiny: first, the system needs to be perceived as just by servicemen and servicewomen subject to that system; and second, it must be perceived as just in the eyes of the public. Recently, public confidence has deteriorated in regard to the military justice system, which must modernize in a way that allows it to become more aligned with civilian definitions of justice. In its report, Recommendations to the Military Justice Review Group on Ways to Improve the Military Justice System, the Committee on Military Affairs and Justice offers twelve recommendations to address perceived shortcomings in the military justice system.

Sustainable Development Goals
Noting that toxic pollution is a serious public health problem and is the most serious cause of death in the developing world, the Committee on International Environmental Law and the Vance Center for International Justice drafted a letter to the United Nations urging that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) being developed by the UN incorporate ambitious targets and substantial support for the reduction of toxic pollution. Specifically, the Sustainable Development Goals should mandate reduction in all types of pollution in air, water, soil, food and household products.

Human Rights Violations in Uganda
The Vance Center for International Justice and the Committees on African Affairs and International Human Rights drafted a letter to President Museveni of Uganda, expressing grave concern regarding media reports of torture, denial of access to legal counsel and medical care, and arbitrary deprivation of life that allegedly occurred and may be ongoing in and around Kampala, Uganda, in recent weeks. The letter states that this conduct violates Uganda's obligations under international treaties to which it is a party, and also violates domestic law. It calls upon President Museveni to immediately investigate the allegations referred to above and take all such steps as may be necessary to ensure that the detainees are allowed access to their lawyers and to medical care, that the conditions of their detention conform to international standards, and that they promptly receive a fair judicial hearing.

Legality of Targeted Killings Under International Law
Anticipating that targeted killings by drones may increase in the future, both by the United States and by other countries, the International Law Committee issued a report analyzing the legality of targeted killings by drones launched by the United States, in the context of international law. The 181-page report presents an extensive analysis of current international law and draws a number of conclusions from that analysis. The report notes that the international legal issues are "complex," and the analysis "complicated" because, among other reasons, "although the analysis of the legality of a drone strike is highly fact-specific, the facts surrounding the strikes are unclear." The report does not address the legality of targeted killings under domestic U.S. law or the appropriate policy that should be followed by the U.S.

Religious Hate Speech
In its report United Nations Resolutions on Religious Hate Speech: The Impact on Freedom of Expression, the United Nations Committee examines the role of the United Nations in helping to define the scope and limits of the right of freedom of expression under international law. The report discusses evolving international law and norms that seek to define and protect freedom of expression, as impacted by different national and cultural standards regarding the interrelationship between freedom of expression, defamation, hate speech, protection of religions and recognition of other core values such as human dignity and equality. The report also examines how the evolving international law and norms regarding the balancing of protection of freedom of expression and protection of other individual and group rights comport with the notion of the primacy of freedom of expression under the First Amendment.

Same-Sex Marriage Rights in Colombia
The Committee on Inter-American Affairs and the Vance Center for International Justice submitted an amicus brief for the Association before the Constitutional Court of Colombia in Rodas v. Notaria Cuarta del Circuito de Cali, et al. This matter concerns two individuals who sought to invoke the Court's decision that same-sex couples have the equal right to constitute families in a formal and solemn contract with the same legal effects as civil marriage. The Court gave Colombia's Congress a period of time to pass the requisite legislation, which it failed to do. The government is now opposing the granting of marriage to same-sex couples. The brief, filed in Spanish, described developments in U.S. law, the trend of which is to find barriers to such marriage unconstitutional, and analyzed the major relevant cases. The brief also detailed the expanding consensus in favor of and prevalence of marriage, particularly in the Americas (North, South, and Central).

Foreign Businesses in New York
In a letter to the New York State Legislature, the Committee on Banking Law provided comments on A.9576/S.7078, which would amend several different statutes to provide that an application by a foreign business organization to conduct business in New York would constitute consent to the general jurisdiction of the courts of New York for all actions against that organization. In the letter, the Committee questioned the constitutionality of the measure and asked that amendments be made to the bill to make clear the sponsors' stated intent that the bill's proposed changes to New York law not alter existing jurisdictional rules as applied to foreign banking organizations doing business in New York. (The bill was not passed in the recently concluded legislative session.)

Committee Involvement--It's Never too Late
Committees are how the City Bar’s work gets done. Working on a committee can give you great experience while opening up a number of career doors, some you may not even anticipate.

A full list of the City Bar committees along with a brief description of each and an application form can be found on the City Bar’s website. As a number of City Bar committees have more applicants than available slots, please consider applying to more than one committee.

Legislative Affairs
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Updates include recent City Bar reports, news and upcoming programs in a particular practice area and are issued periodically to City Bar members.