September 2013           News | Upcoming Programs & CLE | Reports | Get Involved

PROGRAMS

Urgent Action for Climate Change
An Address by Marcin Korolec, President of COP19,
The 19th Meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Wednesday, September 25 6:00-7:30 PM

Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Minister of Environment, will discuss possible scenarios for climate mitigation, adaptation, and compensation for losses by victims of the world’s inaction on this urgent issue.


The Cost of Conflict Minerals: Human Rights and Corporate Compliance
Thursday, October 3
6:30-8:30 PM
A panel debating the effectiveness of Dodd-Frank Act's requirement for publicly traded companies to disclose when their products contain conflict minerals from the Democrtic Republic of Congo or neighboring regions.

 

The International Arms Trade Treaty
Thursday,
October 24
6:30-8:00 PM

Panelists will debate the UN's current Arms Trade Treaty from both international and national perspectives. The program serves as the opening event for International Law Weekend 2013, the renowned annual conference attended by diplomats, representatives from NGOs and government agencies, academics, and practitioners.

 

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


 


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Delegation to Guatemala's Recommendations for Genocide Trial
Earlier this year, the City Bar's Committees on Inter-American Affairs and International Human Rights wrote to the Constiutional Court of Guatemala with concerns about the independence of the judiciary in Guatemala after the trial of Efrain Rios Montt and Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez was suspended following the publication of a statement criticizing the trial, which was expressly endorsed by President Otto Perez Molina. Recently, the Vance Center for International Justice organized a delegation of business lawyers from the US and Latin America to meet with representatives of several political and judicial parties in Guatemala to discuss the importance of the judiciary's role, the trial and the potential effect of a guilty verdict on Guatemala's socioeconomic standing in the global market. Following it's visit, the delegation issued a report recommending an early resumption of the trial with the expectation that the proceeding will result in a fair and final decision on the merits.


The Delegation meets with the judges who presided over the original Rios Montt-Rodriguez Sanchez trial. From left to right, Judge Pablo Xitumuland, Chief Judge Yazmin Barrios and Judge Patricia Bustamante.

Committee Vacancies
The European Affairs Committee welcomes applications for new members who are interested in European law and policy, the EU and the UN. Committee functions this fall will feature prominent guest speakers including a high-level attorney from the UN Office of Legal Affairs and a luncheon for the Prime Minister of Moldova, co-hosted with the Council on International Affairs, to follow up on a City Bar report of a mission to Moldova. For more information about the Committee, contact Committee Chair Catherine Tinker at ctinker04@yahoo.com.

The International Business Transactions Committee is looking for experienced practioners that can further New York City’s preeminent position in both the law and practice of this area. If interested, please contact Committee Chair David Wilf at dwilf@gibsondunn.com.

Through its monthly meetings, annual forums and papers, the International Trade Committee addresses issues concerning international trade in goods and services and the legal mechanisms used to regulate trade. Among these issues are trade agreements, dispute settlement, legislative developments and inter/national enforcement power. For further information, please contact Committee Chair Louise Bohmann at louise.bohmann@us.pwc.com.

This year, the United Nations Committee will be involved in projects related to governance in the post-2015 development agenda, freedom of expression, and rule of law and judicial independence. The Committee will prepare weekly digests of significant developments within the UN system, have guest speakers at our monthly meetings, and sponsor programs featuring high level UN representatives. For more information about the Committee and its activities, please contact its Committee Chair , Ulysses Smith, at ulysses.smith@linklaters.com.

Purchase Price Adjustment Clause
In a report entitled Purchase Price Adjustment Clauses And Expert Determinations: Legal Issues, Practical Problems And Suggested Improvements, the Committee on International Commercial Disputes looks at the Purchase Price Adjustment Clause from a legal and practical point of view. The report notes that there has been a substantial increase in the number of court cases concerning the proceedings prescribed by Purchase Price Adjustment Clauses, which highlights the fact that many parties, and particularly foreign parties, may not be familiar with the legal issues relating to these clauses. In particular, the report seeks to clear up the confusion between this proceeding, which is an “expert determination” and an arbitration, and presents an extensive analysis of the case law. The report also sets forth specific recommendations to guide practitioners in this area, including model clauses.

Child Soldiers
In a joint letter to Congress, the Committees on African Affairs, International Human Rights and Immigration and Nationality Law urged that the proposed Immigration and Modernization Act (SB 744) be amended so that child soldiers are no longer barred from gaining lawful status in the United States. Notwithstanding the United States' strong condemnation of those who recruit and employ child soldiers around the world, there are, ironically, two provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act that, unforeseen by the original drafters, are now being used to bar former child soldiers themselves from gaining any status in the United States. The unexpected consequence of these provisions affects a large number of alien applicants who would otherwise be permitted to apply for admission or lawful status. Under the current provisions, child soldiers and their families come to the United States as refugees, but rather than gaining refugee status, discover that they are subject to permanent inadmissibility.

Rule of Law in Turkey
The Committees on International Human Rights and European Affairs, in a letter to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, expressed concern regarding the maintenance of the rule of law and the targeting and detention of lawyers in Turkey. Recent targeting and unlawful detention of lawyers in response to their peaceful protest violates the most basic protections provided in the Turkish Constitution, including the right to hold peaceful meetings and marches, the right to personal liberty and security, and the right to a fair trial. The letter urges the Turkish government to investigate and end the attacks on lawyers, which have been committed through intimidation, violence and other unlawful means. Such steps, the letter argues, are required under both domestic and international law to maintain the legitimacy of Turkey's democratic institutions, and to demonstrate commitment to the rule of law.

Press Freedom in Montenegro
The City Bar, through its Committee on Communication and Media Law and the City Bar's Vance Center for International Justice along with the Swedish Bar Association, sent representatives to Montenegro to assess the state of press freedom after concerns had been raised about incidents of violence against journalists. Following the mission, a report was issued outlining the findings and providing recommendations. The report concluded that while the laws regulating the press are generally satisfactory, the functionality of the independent press is severely compromised by its antagaonistic relationship with the government and government-sanctioned media outlets and by a lack of any clear ethical standards. The report also cites a high rate of frivilous and retaliating libel litigation and incidents of violence against journalists that have not been properly investigated. The report recommends a greater transparency on how acts of violence are being investigated, close public monitoring of the court system's handling of libel cases, and the creation of a self-regulating body by the news industry along with an accepted code of ethics as key elements to ensure a trustworthy and free press in Montenegro.

Criminal Libel Laws
The Committee on Communications and Media Law, in coordination with the Association’s Vance Center for International Justice, filed an amicus brief in Emilio Palacio Urrutia et al v. The Republic of Ecuador with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The case raises important issues about the legal rules that apply when a public official sues over press coverage of, and commentary about, his or her activities. The brief urges the Commission to adopt standards, similar to those in the United States, which safeguard the press and commentators against libel suits brought by public officials over coverage of official action. The safeguards include: 1) the requirement that a public official who sues for libel show that a false statement was made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard for whether it was false; 2) limits on punitive or presumed damages in libel lawsuits under the principle that damages awards be subject to a searching review to guard against excessive damage awards in libel lawsuits; and 3) the imposition of high evidentiary and procedural burdens on the use of the criminal law to address libel matters.

Rules Governing the Use of Isolated Confinement
In a joint letter to the New York City Board of Corrections (the “Board”), the Committees on Corrections and Community Reentry and International Human Rights urge that the Board initiate rulemaking in connection with a petition submitted to the Board, which calls for the adoption of rules governing the use of isolated confinement. Specifically the petition requests that the Board add a Chapter 5 to its Minimum Standards entitled “Isolated Confinement Minimum Standards.” As the use of isolated confinement increases in New York City’s correctional facilities, the letter argues, the acute need for some standards that govern this growing proportion of the prison population is more and more evident.

Rule of Law in Zimbabwe
In a joint letter to the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs of the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Committees on African Affairs and International Human Rights expressed concern over the arrest and detention of the human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa. The letter urges that the charges against Ms. Mtetwa be withdrawn and that there be no further harassment of her. The actions that have been taken against Ms. Mtetwa harm the integrity of the Zimbabwean legal system and threaten the right to legal representation, a cornerstone principle of the Zimbabwean Constitution and of African Union and international legal pronouncements.

Independence of the Judiciary in Guatemala
In a joint letter to the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, the Committees on International Human Rights and Inter-American Affairs expressed concern about the independence of the judiciary in Guatemala after the trial of Efrain Rios Montt and Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez was suspended following the publication of a statement criticizing the trial, which was expressly endorsed by President Otto Perez Molina, and which claimed that the genocide trial was an attack on the Guatemalan state and a farce. The letter notes that there have also been numerous reports of threats to the safety of witnesses, judges, and lawyers who have participated in the trial, which violates international standards on the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. The Guatemalan courts, the letter urges, must be free to decide the cases before them without being subject to improper influences, inducements, pressures, threats or interferences, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason.

Human Rights in Northern Ireland
In a letter to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, the Committee on International Human Rights urged that the U.K. government reconsider its decision to end its investigation into the killing of Patrick Finucane, a prominent Northern Ireland civil rights lawyer. The letter noted that the review by the U.K. government followed a disappointing method of investigation and fails as an effective public investigation by an independent official body. The review, among other problems, lacked the power to compel testimony; relied on evidence presented by only 11 people, without opportunity for cross-examination; and provided no means for the family or members of the public to see the documents examined or challenge their contents.

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
Have an interest in or questions about the City Bar’s legislative work? Send an email to legislation@nycbar.org, visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.