Protesting Actions by Egyptian President Morsi
In a letter from Association President Carey Dunne to Egyptian President Morsi, the Association expressed serious concerns with the Constitutional Declaration President Morsi issued on November 22nd, which granted his decrees and laws immunity from judicial review, even if they violate basic human rights, until a new constitution has been ratified and a new parliament elected. The letter, drafted by the Committee on International Human Rights, says the President’s action “abrogates an independent judiciary” and contravenes the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a State Party. The letter, which also addresses other actions taking place in Egypt which threaten judicial independence, urges President Morsi to withdraw the Declaration immediately and allow the transparent review of Executive laws and decrees.
Judicial Independence in Sri Lanka
In a letter to the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka drafted by the Council on International Affairs, the City Bar urged Sri Lanka’s government to comply with its obligations under international law and ensure the continued existence of a “competent, independent and impartial” judiciary in Sri Lanka. The letter noted growing concern over recent events including the initiation of impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, the violent assault of the Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission, and recent amendments to the laws and Constitution of Sri Lanka, all of which potentially undermine judicial independence.
Children in Armed Conflict
The Committee on African Affairs sent a letter to all nations that have not ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (Optional Protocol), urging them to do so. The Optional Protocol, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2000, has already been ratified by 147 counties. Today, the letter notes, child soldiers are fighting in at least 14 countries and are often recruited through force or deception and exposed to horrific violence. Some children are forced to commit atrocities and many girls are sexually exploited. The Optional Protocol addresses these crimes perpetrated against children by prohibiting the forced recruitment or participation in hostilities of children under the age of 18.
Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda
In a letter to the President of Uganda, the Committee on African Affairs expressed opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2012 (the “Bill”), which imposes harsh penalties--reportedly including the death penalty--for homosexual activities. The Bill, the letter notes, threatens the fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBT individuals and Ugandan organizations that support LGBT rights. The Bill also violates the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and the Government’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Passage of the Bill would undermine the rule of law in Uganda by ignoring the country’s pre-existing legal obligations, which it is duty-bound to uphold. The letter calls upon the Government to promptly oppose the passage of the Bill and, if passed, urges the President of Uganda not to sign it.
LGBT Rights in Ukraine
In a letter to the President of Ukraine, the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights urges that the Government of Ukraine oppose a Draft Law that would broadly ban using publications or the media for “promoting homosexuality." The Committee maintains that the Draft Law threatens the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) and Ukrainian individuals and organizations that support LGBT rights. The Draft Law, the letter notes, would only serve to stigmatize the Ukrainian LGBT community and hamper rather than help public health efforts with regard to HIV/AIDS. In addition, enacting the Draft Law would violate Ukraine’s obligations under international, regional, and domestic law.
The Manifest Disregard of Law Doctrine
The Committee on International Commercial Disputes issued a report entitled, The “Manifest Disregard of Law” Doctrine and International Arbitration in New York. The report considers whether, if the Second Circuit continues to apply the doctrine, the manifest disregard doctrine will set New York apart as a less favorable arbitration seat than other well-known venues such as London, Paris, Geneva, or Hong Kong. After reviewing the extent to which the manifest disregard doctrine has actually been applied in the Second Circuit to set aside international arbitration awards rendered in the U.S., and how other Circuits and key international arbitration seats approach the manifest disregard of the law doctrine, the report concludes that: 1) the manifest disregard doctrine has been applied sparingly, especially so in the context of international awards challenged in New York state and federal courts; 2) to date, no international arbitral award rendered in New York has ever been set aside in the Second Circuit on the ground of manifest disregard; 3) courts in other Circuits and leading international arbitral seats have shown a comparable willingness to provide relief from awards that represent a clear departure from basic notions of fairness; and 4) neither the existence of the manifest disregard doctrine nor the other grounds for vacatur under Chapter 1 of the Federal Arbitration Act make New York unique in this respect.