The Record: This Week in Review

Human Rights Watch Finds Israeli Airstrikes in Gaza Violated the Laws of War

Human Rights Watch has sent detailed information to the IDF about numerous airstrikes in Gaza that may have violated the Laws of War.  The airstrikes, at least 18 of them, were carried out during fighting in November 2012 and were the result of Human Rights investigations.  The IDF has said that it is conducting “operational debriefings” of the attacks and will have completed its investigation sometime in February.

UN Security Council Set to Approve Sending Peacekeepers to Mali

Although the Malian government has expressed concerns about the presence of UN peacekeepers in the country (it fears the strengthening of a split between northern and southern Mali) it looks as though the UN Security Council will be approving the deployment of about 6,000 peacekeepers in the coming weeks.  The move comes after French troops have already secured much of the country from Islamist rebels.  Some issues that still remain to be worked out is how this UN peacekeeping force will interact with the UN backed African military force (AFISMA) which is currently fighting alongside French troops.

ICC Orders Extradition of Libyan Spy Chief

 Abdullah al-Senussi, Gadaffi’s ex spy chief, has requested that he be tried by the International Court of Court in the Hague.  He has been denied access to his British lawyer and the ICC, along with other human rights organizations, have expressed concern about his ability to receive a fair trial in the new Libya, which suffers from a weak central government and lack of rule of law.  Libyan leaders however have a vested interest in trying Gadaffi’s family members and supporters in country in order to gain credibility among their own population.

U.N. Sanctions North Korea for Latest Nuclear Tests

Tensions mounted this week with North Korea conducting additional nuclear tests, resulting in tightened sanctions from the U.N. Security Council.  However, nuclear capability concerns are drawing attention away from human rights issues within North Korea.  Current estimations put the number of persons currently held in North Korea prison camps at 200,000, where they suffer torture, rape and slave labor.  Both the United States and Japan will support additional inquiries into human rights violations in North Korea.

Human Rights Watch Report on Yemen

The Human Rights Watch released a report titled “Unpunished Massacre – Yemen’s Failed Response to the “Friday of Dignity” Killings” calling attention to the inadequate investigation and prosecution of those responsible. The massacre resulted in the deaths of 45 protesters, including University students and children, and implicated the involvement of several government officials.

Australian’s Prisoner X

The New York Times reported further details regarding the mysterious death of Mr. Ben Zygier, an Australian citizen also known as “Prisoner X,” who was being held in an Israeli maximum security prison.  Israel’s Justice Ministry issued a statement denying any violation of Mr. Zygier’s rights during the secret imprisonment or criminal proceedings. Mr. Zygier was incarcerated in 2010 and suspected by the Australian government of spying for Israel.

Abuse of Canadian Women Exposed

Human Rights Watch has published a report exposing police abuse of indigenous women and children in Canada.  The report details police brutality, threats of arrest, and shaming.  The British Columbia legislature recently established an investigative unit to further explore “police-related incidents involving death or serious harm.”  The concern is that the majority of the abuse faced is not covered by the definition of “serious harm” and more needs to be done by the Canadian government to protect women and children.

Australia Accused of Human Rights Violations 

Australia has been accused of human rights violations involving 23 Indonesian minors.  They were incorrectly housed in adult prisons where they were sexually harassed by the prison guards.  Jailed between 2008 and 2011, they were originally smuggled into Australia and have since been returned to Indonesia.

Jamaica in Final Stages of Accepting $ 750 million IMF Loan

Jan Kees Martijn, Head of the International Monetary Fund million to Jamaica, stated it has reached a “staff-level agreement” with Jamaica on a $ 750 million loan. Jamaica, which derives most of its GDP from tourism and other services, has seen a decline in its economy over the last thirty years. This loan is intended to reduce Jamaica’s “medium-term financing needs” and to contribute to its “debt sustainability,” Martijn said, but the loan still needs to be approved by the IMF’s executive board—scheduled to be completed by the end of March.

Three International Organizations Collaborate for the First Time

The World Health Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the World Trade Organization released a book, “Promoting Access to Medical Technologies and Innovation: Intersections between Public Health, Intellectual Property and Trade,” marking the first time that these three organizations have come together to tackle some of the most pressing issues involving medicine and health. The book examines a range of issues related to these fields, uncovers powerful studies, and most notably, provides tools for future development and success of medical technologies and innovations.





BJIL Symposium: Beyond the Rankings

The Berkeley Journal of International Law is hosting its annual Stefan A. Riesenfeld symposium today at Berkeley Law. Each year the symposium focuses on an important contemporary issue in international law, and scholars and experts on the issue are invited to speak. The symposium is open to the public, and is regularly attended by some of international law’s most esteemed individuals.

This year, the symposium is on the use of indicators as a way to measure governance and the rule of law. The symposium will begin with a key note address by Ms. Anne-Marie Leroy, General Counsel of the World Bank, followed by two panel discussions: the first on the use of indicators today and their shortcomings, and the second on improvements and solutions for the future. The symposium will conclude with an annual banquet, where the Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award will be given to individual for their distinguished service in international law.  

Travaux is proud to take part in this year’s symposium by live blogging during Ms. Leroy’s key note address, and during the first panel presentation. The first panel—on the challenges and opportunities for indicators—will be a debate between:

  • Katerina Linos, Assistant Professor of Law, Berkeley Law
  • Kevin Davis, Vice Dean, Beller Family Professor of Business Law, New York University School of Law
  • Tim Buthe, Associate Professor of Political Science, Duke University
  • Moderated by Prof. Laurel Fletcher, Faculty Director, International Human Rights Law Clinic; Clinical Professor of Law, Berkeley Law

Stay tuned at 12:45 PST today for the live updates!

The Record: This Week in Review

Latest from international organizations…

EU Addresses Online Privacy

The EU is considering regulations that would allow citizens of its member states to control how much data companies can collect from their online activities. American tech companies, with the support of the Obama administration, are lobbying against these regulations in the EU. Yet, privacy advocates hope the United States will someday adopt similar regulations.

African Union Will Create An IP Office

The African Union announced that it will set up a pan-African intellectual property office. The goal is to facilitate international investment and trade, but critics question whether subscribing to an IP system in which non-African entities own nearly all the rights is in Africa’s best interest.

EU Acts to Stop Overfishing

The EU has backed a plan to reform fishing in Atlantic and Mediterranean EU waters. The plan would require member states to stop overfishing and work to rebuild fish stocks, and it would cut off aid to states that fail to do so. Environmental groups hailed the plan as a major breakthrough after years of declining fish stocks.

Latest on international human rights…

Calling for Reversal of Rape Conviction

A Somali woman, who alleged that she was raped by government security forces, and the journalist who interviewed her have been convicted on unknown grounds. International human rights advocates are calling for a reversal of the convictions and are concerned about the impact these convictions will have on victims of rape coming forward in the future, as well as the state of freedom of the press in Somalia.

Suicide Bombings in Syria

Suicide bombings targeted at military forces in Syria killed at least 19 and injured many. Meanwhile, the main opposition alliance calls for the government’s release of all female detainees before they will begin talks with the government.

Legalizing Gay Marriage in Great Britain Cut Short

A bill legalizing gay marriage passed easily in Britain’s House of Commons, supported strongly by Prime Minister, David Cameron, but not by the majority of his Conservative Party. The vote in the House of Lords is less certain, but Cameron is committed to enacting the law in Summer 2013.

Human Rights Watch 2013 World Report

In its newly released 2013 World Report which analyzes human rights issues in over 90 countries, the Human Rights Watch stated that Russia’s restriction of political freedom is the worst it has ever been post-Soviet Union.

Latest on international finance…

IMF Reports Spain is On Track for Implementing Financial Reforms.

The IMF recently concluded its second independent monitoring mission of the Spanish financial sector, supervising European financial support used in recapitalization for the Spanish banking sector. The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) provided the Spanish banking sector with close to €39.5 billion in December 2012. Spain was the first country to be provided aid from the ESM since its establishment through the Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism was signed in February 2012. The IMF continues to act in an independent capacity, monitoring the progress of the Spanish Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring in recapitalizing the Spanish banking sector. The IMF team found that many of the efforts to restructure undercapitalized Spanish banks have reached “an advanced stage” and that many key reforms have been adopted.

World Bank President Calls for Mitigating Corruption Risks in Development Projects.

In his address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim reiterated the Bank’s “zero tolerance” policy for corruption within its own development projects, but recognized that taking “risks for development results” is a necessary trade-off. In this vein, Kim stressed the importance of the World Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency in training prosecutors and investigators in anti-corruption techniques. Last September, the Integrity Vice Presidency signed a cooperation agreement with INTERPOL providing for increased cooperation. The World Bank and INTERPOL also cooperate on the Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, working with developing countries to repatriate stolen state funds. Kim emphasized that such cooperation was key in the international context. At the same time, Kim advocated continued funding of development projects, keeping the “big picture” in mind.

Financial Stability Board Established as Swiss Association

During its meeting in Zurich last month, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) established itself as an association under Swiss law. The FSB was first proposed at the 2009 G-20 Summit to coordinate national financial authorities to develop standards for the global financial market. The FSB will continue to be housed at the Bank for International Settlements headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. In the upcoming year, the FSB will coordinate work on resolving failed financial institutions, developing clearinghouses for over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, and developing regulatory structures for the shadow banking system. The FSB will remain in continuous dialogue with the G-20 to deal with these, and other pressing issues for international financial markets.

In other news…

David B. OppenheimerSheila R. Foster, and Sora Y. Han released a new teacher’s manual on comparative equality and anti-discrimination law, which includes law from the Unites States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, India, South Africa and China.