The Record: This Week in Review

Whistleblower Asks U.S. to Withhold Funds from the UN

James Wasserstrom, a former UN employee who reported misconduct among UN officials in Kosovo in 2007, has sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to withhold fifteen percent of the United States’ funding for the UN. There is a U.S. law that requires such withholding if the Secretary of State finds the UN has failed to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. The United States is the largest single contributor to the UN budget.

UN Approves Arms Sale Treaty

The UN overwhelmingly approved the Arms Sale Treaty, a groundbreaking treaty that would require arms dealers to consider the human rights records of their customers. Although the United States voted in favor of the treaty in the UN, ratification in the current Senate appears unlikely. More than 50 senators, as well as the NRA, oppose the treaty because they believe it violates the right to self-defense. Nonetheless, the treaty has the potential to create a new international norm for arms sales.

UN Secretary-General Seeks to Eliminate Chemical Weapons

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wants to eliminate chemical weapons by adding eight hold-out nations to the Chemical Weapons Convention. Ban asked world leaders to put pressure on the eight nations to join. The recent allegations that chemical weapons have been sued in the Syrian conflict underscore the continuing relevance and importance of chemical weapons controls.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde Calls for Policies to End Global Economic Slump

Speaking at the Economic Club of New York on April 10, Lagarde noted that while the global economy has shown signs of recent strength, growth in many countries remains suppressed. Lagarde called for policies to address the “three-speed global economy.” Specifically, Lagarde called on both developing and emerging countries to develop fiscal policies that reduce global inflationary risks, while the euro zone should focus on the establishment of a banking union and recapitalization of bank balance sheets.

International Chamber of Commerce Publishes Guide to Letters of Credit in China

The ICC’s publication provides an interpretation and synthesis of over 500 Chinese court cases dealing with letters of credit. Given that the current body of Chinese law dealing with letters of credit is based solely on principles set forth by the Chinese Supreme Court, this document will likely provide international practitioners with a valuable resource.

Luxembourg Announces International Exchange of Tax Data to Start in 2015

Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker announced that his country will coordinate with EU provisions to align international tax data transfers. The Luxembourg Finance Ministry reported that tax information discussions took on a new emphasis following the recent bailout of the Cypriot financial sector. Austria remains the last country within the 27 member-state European Union not to participate in the transfer regime.

Uruguay Legalizes Gay Marriage

A bill to legalize gay marriage was approved by over two-thirds of the lower chamber of Congress, after receiving substantial support in the Senate, despite protest from the Catholic Church. Uruguay is the second country in Latin America to legalize gay marriage, Argentina being the first. The bill also allows gay couples to choose the last names of their adopted children and increased the age of consent for sexual relations.

Prosecution of Former Auschwitz Guards

Germany’s Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes has identified fifty former Auschwitz guards who are still alive. The office will determine if any of these fifty individuals can be prosecuted, which depends on whether they have been tried for their participation in the Holocaust previously. In 2011, it became possible to convict former concentration camp guards for acting as accessories to murder without requiring proof of direct involvement in a specific crime.