International LL.M. Program Held at the City Bar
On Thursday, October 11th, the City Bar hosted its Annual Program and Reception for International LL.M. Candidates, with over 300 students from East Coast law schools in attendance. The panel consisted of the Hon. Delissa Ridgway of the US Court of International Trade; Mark Shulman, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs and International Affairs, Pace Law School; and Eduardo Zilberberg, Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, LLP with Betsy Plevan, Chair of the Council on International Affairs, as moderator. The panelists discussed their career experiences and gave advice on how to pursue a legal career. A lively reception followed, which provided attendees an opportunity to network with panelists and other City Bar leaders.
International Law Weekend 2012
International Law Weekend 2012 is a three-day event on foreign policy from October 25-27th, sponsored by multiple legal, academic, publishing, and NGO institutions including the New York City Bar Associaiton. The theme of this year's event is "Ideas, Institutions and Interests--Dynamics of Change in International Law" and will feature discussions focusing on the contributing factors and infrastructures implementing the current changes of international law, both in the private and public spheres, in matters such as tariffs and trade, human rights and humanitarian intervention, immigration, labor, public health, environmental law, and sustainable development. The opening program will take place at the City Bar on October 25th and focus on the rise of China; the remaining weekend events will be at Fordham Law School. To register, click here.
Committees Seeking Members
The European Affairs Committee is currently accepting new applications for membership for the 2012-13 term. The group is comprised of a diverse range of practitioners from both private and public practice that examines timely issues relating to European law. It does so through a variety of formats including monthly meetings, large public events, and committee working papers. For the upcoming term, the Committee expects to examine numerous and diverse issues such as the Euro zone debt crisis, the legal consequences of global warming in the Arctic, the possibility of a treaty on the rights of the elderly, and the practice of rendition by the United States to European countries. For further information or to apply, please contact Harold Rodriguez at email@example.com.
The Foreign and Comparative Law Committee is accepting applications for membership for the 2012-2013 year, beginning in September. Its membership consists of New York lawyers from the public, private, and academic spheres who are interested in how different legal systems and jurisdictions approach common legal issues. The Committee is divided into several working groups, each of which focuses on a particular issue and works toward preparing either a written piece or event related to this topic. Current working groups include the Global Regulation of Financial Markets; Sovereign Debt; Foreign Sovereign Immunity; and Comparative Civil and Common Law. In past years, the Committee has hosted several speakers, including a sitting judge of the International Court of Justice and a senior member of the Austrian Foreign Service. In the coming year, the Committee will host a presentation by Hans-Jochem Lueer, a dean of the German bankruptcy bar, titled “Recurring Conflicts between U.S.-American and German Legal Systems.” To apply, please contact the Committee’s chair, David Lindley at firstname.lastname@example.org, or secretary, Anne Lefever, at email@example.com.
The International Trade Committee is currently accepting membership applications. Through its monthly meetings, annual forums and papers, the Committee addresses issues concerning the 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
International Violence Against Women Act
In a letter to New York congressional representatives, the Committees on African Affairs, Domestic Violence, and Sex and Law urged them to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) pending in the House. The legislation 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, forced marriage, and other gross violations of human rights. Among its provisions, the bill would create a new office in the State Department to address these issues, including an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, and would provide mechanisms to target funding and otherwise take into account the efforts of nations receiving U.S. aid to stem gender violence.
Human Rights in Cameroon
The Committee on African Affairs, in a letter to the President of the Republic of Cameroon, expressed concern over the arrest, detention, and reported torture of Enoh Meyomesse. Mr. Meyomesse is a writer and former presidential candidate, who is being detained without charge in a maximum-security prison that has been internationally criticized for its poor conditions. The letter calls upon the government to comply with its legal obligations to respect Mr. Meyomesse’s human rights and to free Mr. Meyomesse if all the charges have been dropped, and if the charges have not been dropped, to ensure that he is given a speedy hearing with full due process protections, including the right to counsel, and that he receive the medical care to which he is entitled. (Since sending the letter, we understand that Mr. Meyomesse was given permission to visit a hospital to seek medical treatment for his eyes.)
Human Rights in Syria
In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, the Committee on International Human Rights urged the Council to refer promptly the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The escalating violence continues to be well documented by independent human right monitors and only threatens to worsen, and because Syria has not ratified the Rome Statute, any crimes committed by the Syrian government against its citizens threaten to go unpunished. Referral to the ICC, the letter notes, would lead to an investigation of alleged crimes covered by the Statute, a determination whether prosecutions against Syrian officials or rebel leaders are warranted and, if so, trial before the ICC.
In a joint statement, the Committees on International Environmental Law, Environmental Law, International Human Rights, and United Nations, and the Council on International Affairs commented on the United Nations Outcome Document entitled “The Future We Want.” Though the Outcome Document lays out important steps for promoting and implementing sustainable development and environmental protection, the committees note that it inadequately addresses a number of important issues including: displacement of populations due to climate change and development of a reliable funding mechanism to finance adaptation to climate change.
In a letter to President Obama, the Committee on African Affairs urged that that the Administration reverse its position of routinely granting national interest waivers and other exemptions to the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA) penalties or, in the alternative, to condition aid on countries’ taking measurable steps to eradicate the practice. The penalties set forth in the CSPA are intended to help end the illegal use of children in armed forces and these waivers, the Committee argues, undermines the spirit of the CSPA as well as the United States’ legal obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.
Alien Tort Statute
The Committee on International Human Rights submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. The case involves the question of whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States. The ATS, the brief notes, serves an important function in providing redress to victims and civil accountability for serious human rights abuses, and federal court jurisdiction of ATS claims for gross misconduct abroad furthers the development of fair and consistent standards for liability for conduct that violates the law of nations. The brief concludes that the ATS does grant federal courts jurisdiction over civil claims for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States, and that the decision of the Second Circuit to the contrary should be reversed, or vacated, and the case remanded. The case was argued before the Supreme Court in October.
Rights Defenders in Colombia
The Committee on International Human Rights sent a letter to the President of the Republic of Colombia expressing concern regarding the case of Monica Roa, a prominent women’s rights advocate in Colombia who currently faces a criminal complaint for slander filed by a senior official in the national Inspector General’s Office. This action, the letter notes, could have a chilling effect on rights defenders in Colombia, particularly those advocating for women’s rights. The letter urges the appropriate authorities to: 1) take the necessary measures to ensure that human rights defenders like Ms. Roa are able to seek judicial protection of fundamental rights without facing the possibility of criminal prosecution; and 2) take steps necessary to ensure Ms. Roa’s safety.
Legal Issues Involved in the Western Sahara Dispute
Western Sahara is a territory roughly the size of Colorado situated between Morocco to the north, Mauritania to the south, and Algeria to the east. For more than thirty years, sovereignty over this territory has been in dispute and the process of its decolonization has raised serious implications for the application of principles of international law and United States policy. The United Nations Committee drafted a report entitled, The Legal Issues Involved in the Western Sahara Dispute: The Principle of Self-Determination, which addresses the issue of sovereignty; and examines the claims to self-determination of the peoples of Western Sahara and the territorial claims of Morocco under principles of international law. After analyzing the various legal theories supporting the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara and the countervailing right of the state of Morocco to territorial integrity, the report concludes that the people of Western Sahara have a right under international law principles to self-determination that is undiminished by any legitimate territorial or other legal claim of Morocco. The report also makes a number of recommendations on how best to move forward to assure that this dispute is resolved in the near future.
The report was presented recently to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee of the UN General Assembly in testimony by immediate past Chair Katlyn Thomas.