The Record: This Week in Review

Uganda Calls off Search for Kony

Uganda has suspended the search for warlord Joseph Kony in the Central African Republic (CAR), blaming “hostility” from its new government. Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes. The Ugandan forces are in the CAR under an African Union mandate, assisted by soldiers from other African nations, as well as US special forces.

Sudan frees political prisoners

Seven political prisoners have been freed in Sudan a day after President Omar al-Bashir ordered the release of all political detainees. Last month, Bashir said he would step down at the next election in 2015 because Sudan needed “fresh blood.” Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) related to the decade-long conflict in Darfur. Correspondents say it is unclear who was covered by the declaration and whether it included all the several hundred opposition and rebel detainees believed to be in jail.

Russian authorities raid Human Rights Watch Offices

Russian authorities searched Moscow offices of Human Rights Watch as part of a wave of hundreds of inspections that activists say is a campaign to silence criticism of President Vladimir Putin. Since returning to the Kremlin in May, Putin has tightened controls on NGOs, requiring those with foreign funding to register as “foreign agents” – a term echoing, for some, Stalin-era political repressions and Cold War spying. The Kremlin says it is working to prevent foreign governments meddling in Russian politics.

World Bank President Commits to Ending Extreme Poverty

The new goal presented to the international community by Jim Yong Kim is to end extreme poverty by 2030. The World Bank’s poverty fighting mission is guided by this new goal, as development programs will now be prioritized to help improve the lives of vulnerable people in developing countries.

EU On Track to Reach Its 2020 Emissions Reduction Target

The European Union’s carbon market has managed to achieve a 1.4 % reduction in emissions during 2012. This is the second consecutive year in which the EU’s emissions have decreased.

BRICS Nations Form the “Big Five” 

A recent two-day summit in South Africa saw Britain, Russia, India, China and South Africa come together to discuss a development bank plan. A decision was made to enter into formal negotiations to establish a BRICS led new development bank, which is based on nations own infrastructure needs.

IMF Says Euro Zone Still Has Weaknesses to Address

In a 60-page report, the International Monetary Fund said that the Euro Zone needs to do more to address the Euro’s vulnerabilities.  In particular, Europe needs determine how it can wind down failed banks and how it can guarantee depositor investments.

American Banks in Europe Consider Options in Face of EU Bonus Caps

American banks in London are considering their options after the EU voted to impose a cap on the bonuses earned by bankers.  The cap applies to senior management and traders.  While some have grumbled that this could be another reason to consider moving operations to Dubai or South Africa, JPMorgan is considering granting its employees “allowances” to cover living and housing expenses.  However, such payments might still be treated as bonuses under the law.

Cypriot Finance Minister Resigns

Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris resigned on Tuesday, after concluding talks with foreign lenders on a bailout agreement that led to losses for bank depositors in exchange for aid.  Mr. Sarris stated that he resigned because he had accomplished his goal of securing the bailout and because he faces scrutiny for the collapse of the Cypriot banking system.  Harris Georgiades, who previously served as Labor Minister and Deputy-Finance Minister, has been appointed to succeed Mr. Sarris.

China Unhappy with US Rule on IT Imports and Cyber-espionage

The US recently announced new cyber-security rules that will limit imports of Chinese-made IT products.  China objected to the rule, calling it a “discriminatory” action against Chinese companies.  The rule requires NASA, the US Department of Justice, and the US Department of Commerce to seek approval from national law enforcement authorities before purchasing IT systems from Chinese firms.

The Record: This Week in Review

SCOTUS’ first sale doctrine ruling and its impact on foreign relations

Last week the United States Supreme Court held in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. that The “first sale” doctrine, which allows the owner of a copyrighted work to sell or otherwise dispose of that copy as he wishes, applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad. Supap Kirtsaeng, a Thai national, and U.S. student, arranged for family and friends to buy Wiley’s far reduced, differentially priced textbooks in Thailand and ship them to him in the US, where he resold them for a profit. The Supreme Court upheld Kirtsaeng’s right to sell over Wiley’s desire to limit exportation without its authorization. Commentators have since occupied themselves with unpacked the ruling’s ramifications for foreign trade, extraterritoriality, and TRIPS.

The 20th Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot

The 20th Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, one of the most prestigious international moot court competitions for law students in the world, is taking place this week in Vienna, Austria. Aside from various law firms and universities, pre-moot hosts have included the Bahrain Chamber for Dispute Resolution, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution, The New York City Bar Association, the Brazilian Bar Association, The Chinese European Arbitration Centre, The Florida Bar International Law Section, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Best wishes to our Berkeley team who is competing in Vienna this week, including lead blog editor Brittney Lovato and Amy Belsher, Holly Hoch, and Aditi Fruitwala.

Technology and Economic Development

Last week, WIPO reported a showing that international filings for patents, trademarks, and industrial designs under WIPO-administered intellectual property systems continuing to grow in 2012, which they find correlated with development. The World Bank held a “Big Data Exploration” in D.C., aiming to improve their use of technology, big data, and data collaboration to evaluate poverty measurement and anti-corruption projects. The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network presented in Berlin called for tapping into “worldwide technological know-how in the private sector and civil society, in order to develop and implement practical solutions,” which “[c]ompanies contribute through innovative business models, technologies and services to the long-term success of sustainable development.” This week, UNCTAD, The Nambian Ports Authority, and Port of Cork, Ireland facilitated a course on “Technical Management and Human Resources Development” to improve infrastructure maintenance, purchasing tasks, and human resource development policies and needs analyses.

Calling for the Release of Five Jordanian Students Who Were Detained Based on Accusations of “Devil Worship”

On March 26, 2013, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) released an article calling for the release of five Al al-Bayt university students in Jordan who have been detained since March 12, 2013. The students were viciously attacked by a student mob based on disputed allegations that the accused students engaged in “devil worship” and desecrated manuscripts of the Quran by flushing them down the toilet. The accused students deny all allegations, and the Jordanian authorities have not brought formal charges. Moreover, a newspaper report indicated that a special investigative unit found no evidence that supports the allegations. The HRW pointed out that Jordan is bound by international law to protect individuals who express their beliefs through peaceful means and prevent arbitrary detention. Additionally, the HRW called on Jordanian authorities to investigate and prosecute the attackers who injured the accused students.

Tensions in Xinjiang, China Continue as 20 Accused of Separatism are Sentenced

The New York Times reported that 20 accused of religious extremism and separatist activity in the Chinese province of Xinjiang faced sentences ranging from five years to life in prison. While the Chinese language report did not mention the ethnic background of the accused, the article claimed that their distinctive names strongly indicated that they were part of the Uighur minority, which is a Muslim ethnic group. Tensions in the Xinjiang region previously led to riots in 2009 after members of the Uighur community suffered attacks and arrest after their protest killed nearly 200 Han Chinese. Representatives of the Human Rights Watch questioned the sentences issued for the accused because the Chinese government frequently makes accusations of terrorist activity and separatist movements to “discredit legitimate Uighur grievances.”

UN Conference Ends Without Agreement on Arms Trade Treaty

The 193 UN Member States failed to reach an agreement at the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which ended on March 28, 2013. The proposed treaty would have established common standards, facilitating better regulation on the international conventional arms trade. Secretary-General Ban is hopeful that the Member States will continue to work towards a more unified regulation of conventional arms.

Obama Nominates General Breedlove for NATO Supreme Allied Commander

Obama announced Air Force General Philip Breedlove as his nomination for NATO Supreme Allied Commander. General Breedlove has served on assignments in Germany, Italy, Spain and South Korea, and, according to President Obama, “has established ‘trust and deep relations’ with NATO allies.” The North Atlantic Council has approved of the nomination, so Breedlove’s appointment will become official once it is confirmed by the Senate.

A Law Student’s Arbitration Clerkship in Singapore

By: Ariana Green, Guest Contributor

I lived in Singapore during the fall of my third year of Berkeley Law, spending part of my time clerking at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. Having spent almost four of my six pre-law school years living abroad (working as a journalist and on a Fulbright and a Gates Scholarship), I missed the adventure and discovery that comes with moving to a foreign country.

Life in Singapore as a lawyer-in-training exposed me to international law practice and also gave me a chance to travel the region and meet people from all over. Though I plan to join Cooley LLP as a corporate associate—doing transactional work for tech companies and startups—I want to be the kind of corporate attorney who understands dispute resolution. Many of the contracts I reviewed as a summer associate contained an arbitration clause, meaning that should a disagreement arise, the parties go to arbitration instead of seeking relief by way of the courts.

Arbitration is particularly suitable in situations where parties to the contract come from different countries, since arbitral awards have the potential to be enforced globally. Because arbitrations need not follow the same rules of procedure and evidence as trials, the process can be quicker. While court decisions are published and hold precedential value, arbitral awards are kept confidential. Arbitrations can therefore be a good choice for companies who do not want their dirty dispute laundry aired.

For disputes involving international parties, arbitration offers additional advantages. Courts in a given country employ local judges and apply local laws, but an international arbitration usually consists of one or more arbitrators appointed by each party, and the choice of applicable law should be indicated in the contract; it is frequently based on the law of the pre-selected location for the arbitration (for example, Singapore, London, New York etc.). Deciding on a jurisdiction and choice of law at the time the contract is signed provides clarity (ideally).

For law students who want to work abroad, I would highly recommend the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). As a law clerk at SIAC, and separately, as a clerk for a senior arbitrator whose office was down the hall, I had an opportunity to get involved with high-stakes cases involving many millions of dollars, not to mention professional reputations.

At SIAC, I assisted in the scrutiny of arbitral awards—a process much like fact checking in journalism. I edited the awards for content and style. My colleagues included one other law clerk, from China, and the full-time attorneys at SIAC, who hailed from Singapore, Korea, India, London, Belgium, and Canada. Some of them had been law firm attorneys and judges. Each of them had had fascinating life and work experiences to share.

These lawyers, the so-called secretariat, provide support to parties and arbitrators, making the process smoother for everyone. The secretariat gets very involved in the details of each arbitration and makes sure parties comply with rules, meet deadlines, and receive cogent awards.

SIAC organizes events as a way to keep its presence in the community and further dialogue about arbitration. I went to several of their half-day conferences, on issues of enforcement and other topics. I met attorneys working in international arbitration and hailing from even more countries.

As part of my Singapore experience, I clerked for a very in-demand senior arbitrator. I followed a case, start to finish, on jurisdictional issues and had the opportunity to prepare a memo before the hearing, then to attend the hearing and conduct research for the award. This process resembles clerking for a judge, but with an international bent.

Throughout my time in Asia, I also made an effort to connect with people working on startups and in the tech scene, per my post-law school career plans. Free lunches at Google Singapore, hearing entrepreneurs’ pitches, and sitting in on mentoring sessions with new businesses made my semester varied and always stimulating.

In choosing to work at SIAC, I wanted exposure to dispute resolution so that I can be a better transactional attorney—one who understands what can happen if disagreements arise over the documents we transactional lawyers draft. My time in Singapore gave me that, and so much more.

 

Ariana Green is a 2013 J.D. candidate at Berkeley Law School. Her journalistic writing has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, Popular Science, and elsewhere. Her law-related writing appears in The Berkeley Technology Law Journal (2012). Starting in the fall of 2013, Ariana plans to represent emerging companies as a corporate associate at Cooley LLP in New York.