The Record: This Week in Review

Governments and Private Sector Meet to Discuss Strategies for Combatting Transnational Organized Wildlife Crime

Over 150 governments and businesses are attending a UN-backed conference in Thailand from March 3rd to March 14th, organized under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Thus far the conference has focused on the importance of international cooperation in combating transnational organized wildlife crime.

UN and Arab League Negotiate with Syrian Rebels to Free Detained UN Peacekeepers

The UN has monitored Israeli-occupied Golan Heights since the 1974 ceasefire between Israel and Syria. UN representatives were on a “regular supply mission” in the area, when they were detained by Syrian rebels. The UN and Arab League have entered into negotiations with the rebels to free the UN representatives.

EU Fines Microsoft for Failing to Meet Previous Competition Agreement

In its settlement following a previous EU competition investigation, Microsoft agreed to promote a wider range of browsers in its operating system, rather than just Internet Explorer. While it implemented a “Browser Choice Screen” feature in accordance with the settlement in 2010, its most recent software update eliminated the feature. The UN viewed this oversight as a “serious breach” of the settlement agreement and fined Microsoft.

42,500 Nazi Ghettos and Camps from World War II Identified in Europe

The Holocaust Memorial Museum has identified and catalogued a shocking number of Nazi-run war camps, providing for deeper understanding of the magnitude of the Nazi camp network. Identifying these camps may have legal implications for survivors whose insurance claims and claims over stolen property have been denied in the past because they took place at unknown camps.

Saudi Arabia Halted Executions of Minors

Seven Saudis were convicted of armed robbery as juveniles and sentenced to death by crucifixion and firing squad. Human rights groups demanded that the executions be halted to prevent Saudi Arabia from violating the Convention of the Rights of the Child that was ratified by Saudi Arabia in 1996. On the day of the planned executions, the Saudi government announced that it would delay the executions in order to review the sentences.

Kenyatta Leading Poles in Kenyan Presidential Election

Uhuru Kenyatta, indicted by the Internation Criminal Court for crimes against humanity related to the violence that erupted in Kenya after the heavily disputed 2007 presidential elections, has a significant lead in the current elections as ballot counting is slowing down. Measures are being taken to prevent disputes over the election results from leading to violence, but controversy over 300,000 spoiled ballots may lead to questions over the legitimacy of the vote count.

Hugo Chavez Dies After Fourteen Years in Power

Chavez died after struggling with cancer for over a year. Vice President Maduro will be the acting President of Venezuela until elections are held in the next 30 days. New leadership in Venezuela may impact the political balance and economy of Latin America if the next president embodies more centrist values than the socialist, anti-imperialist Chavez.

Potential HIV Cure

A toddler in Mississippi has been “functionally cured” of HIV after antiretroviral medication was given immediately after birth. If this method proves effective after further testing, it may provide a revolutionary and cost-effective solution to managing the AIDS epidemic across the globe.

Technology and Index Tools of the International Chamber of Commerce

The International Chamber of Commerce released a new digitally interactive Model International Sale Contract, specifically adapted for transactions governed by the United Nations Convention for the International Sale of Goods, with user-friendly features such as pop-ups when parties select incompatible clauses. The International Chamber of Commerce further presented Open Markets Index findings that G20 countries still are not leading by example in their efforts to reduce trade barriers, stimulate growth, and create jobs, “achieving only average scores for openness.”

Tajikistan joins the WTO

Tajikistan joined the World Trade Organization on 2 March 2013, bringing the WTO’s total membership to 159. In negotiations, Tajikistan agreed to further liberalize its trade regime and integrate itself in the world economy.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Collaboration Initiatives

UNCTAD coordinated a United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity mission to Myanmar along with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the International Trade Centre, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank from 18-22 February. Their goals included establishing a Diagnostic Trade Integration Study and assisting Myanmar’s integration into the world trade system. In another collaboration, the UNCTAD and Eurasian Economic Commission agreed to sign a memorandum of cooperation to work together on regional integration, trade and competition policy, facilitation of customs procedures, entrepreneurship development, transport, and statistics.

Jim Yong Kim visits Brazil

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim visited Brazil for three days, where he praised Bahia Hospital for providing low-income families better access to healthcare, spoke about the impact of domestic violence on economic opportunities, and launched the “Knowledge and Innovation Initiative on the Reduction of Poverty” with the Ministry of Social Development, Institute of Applied Economics, and the United Nations International Policy Center on Inclusive Grown.

Common Interests, Closer Allies: How Democracy in Arab States Can Benefit the West

By Jamie O’Connell, Senior Fellow, Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

“Common Interests, Closer Allies” analyzes the impact of democratic change in Arab countries on the national interests of Western countries, including the United States. It synthesizes empirical social science, social science theory, and policy analysis. Its key conclusions are:

Democratic change in Arab countries would advance Western countries’ key interests in the region, as well as their ideals. Western governments should consider it an important foreign policy goal.

  • Democracy would have a stabilizing impact inside Arab countries, reducing the risk of civil war and internal terrorism, at least in the long run and quite possibly in the short run. (See Part III.A, pp. 357-365.) The stability that serves Western interests does not require citizens to be politically passive. To the contrary, democratic political activity, including non-violent protest, promotes government responsiveness and accountability. The absence of such responsiveness and accountability have been primary causes of popular discontent and instability.
  • Militarized interstate conflict – such as war or the threat of force – would likely diminish over the long run as more Arab states became democratic. (See Part III.B, pp. 366-375, including original data analysis on incidence of militarized interstate conflict involving Arab countries.)
  • Terrorist attacks that originated in Arab countries and targeted Western interests would be likely to decline if Arab countries became solid democracies. (See Part III.C, pp. 375-379.)
  • In the long run, Arab citizens are likely to be better partners with Western countries than Arab dictators have been, if Western countries treat them as such. Thus Arab democracies’ foreign policies ultimately are likely to align better with Western countries’ fundamental interests in the region than Arab dictators’ foreign policies have. There is likely to be some divergence in the short term, however, and Western policymakers will have to overcome ordinary Arabs’ understandable skepticism about their intentions. Their first step must be to transform their attitudes and adjust their policies to demonstrate greater respect for Arab citizens and their priorities. (See Part IV.D, pp. 380-386.)

Western countries should not withhold support for democratization out of concern that elected Islamists will use state power to harshly oppress women and minorities. Substantial forces may inhibit Islamists from trying to do so, or from succeeding if they try. Furthermore, the alternative to supporting democratization would be counterproductive: continued or renewed autocracy is likely to strengthen Islamists’ support over the long run. Western countries should engage major Islamist groups, before as well as after they gain power. (See Part IV, pp. 386-398.)

Democratization processes will unfold unpredictably and may take many years (even decades). Those processes, their timing, and their short-term impacts on Western interests will vary by country.

President Obama’s apparent personal instincts about U.S. policy toward Arab democratization are correct: the United States and other Western countries should support Arab democratization, but carefully and with sensitivity to context. Western countries’ power is limited and they cannot be the primary drivers of change. Their efforts to shape events must be guided by subtle analysis of local power dynamics and of how their influence functions in each national context. (See Part V, pp. 398-404.)

Stanford Journal of International Law, July 2012

Available at http://www.law.berkeley.edu/arabdemocracy

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.