Wednesday 30 April 2008

Arrest Warrant Unsealed at International Criminal Court

Yesterday, judges at the International Criminal Court agreed to unseal an arrest warrant that had been issued in August 2006: Bosco Ntaganda is charged with child soldier offences, similar to those now faced by Thomas Lubanga, who is scheduled to stand trial in June of this year. Ntanganda is still at large, whereas Lubanga was in custody in the Demcoratic Republic of Congo when the arrest warrant was issued, and so it was a much simpler matter to bring him to The Hague. Yesterday's ruling considers the rationale for sealing an arrest warrant, including protection of victims and witnesses and, of course, maintaining an element of surprise. According to the Prosecutor, Ntaganda may have learned that the warrant had been issued. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had a practice of sealed warrants during the 1990s, but later came round to the view that this contributed little to law enforcement, and that is was better to publicise the warrants.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Office of the Prosecutor said: 'The Office of the Prosecutor is in the process of moving on to its third case in the DRC, with other applications for arrest warrants to follow in the coming months and years. In particular, we are collecting information about crimes committed in the North and South Kivu. We are also considering the role of those who organized and financed the militia.' (See:
This brings to four the number of arrest warrants made public concerning the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The other three suspects are in custody in The Hague. There are two outstanding warrants known to the public for the situation in Darfur, Sudan, and five for northern Uganda. Two of the five suspects in northern Uganda are believed to be dead.

International Humanitarian Law Courses Offered by Red Cross

The International Committee of the Red Cross' annual Summer courses on International Humanitarian Law provide a comprehensive introduction to the subject through a combination of lectures and case studies. The next Anglophone course, organized with the Polish Red Cross, will be held in Warsaw, Poland, from 30 June to 10 July 2008. The next francophone course, organized with the Belgian Red Cross - French Community, will be held in Han-sur-Lesse, Belgium, from 1 to 10 September 2008. Both the English and the French courses are open to advanced students as well as young professors and researchers from Europe and North America. The French speaking course is also open to participants from the Middle East. Participants are expected to have a degree in law or international relations and to have studied public international law. Interested persons should contact the Headquarters of the National Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies of their country of residence from beginning May to mid-May for information on how to apply.

Saturday 26 April 2008

US Positive about International Criminal Court

A few days ago I posted an item entitled : 'U.S. Accepts International Criminal Court .' It was the title of an article in last Friday's Wall Street Journal: It was just a matter of time. Opposition to the Court has been one of the big disasters of United States foreign policy in recent years.
I have since obtained the link to the speech referred to: It was delivered at DePaul University, in Chicago, at a conference commemorating the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute. Host of the conference was Professor Cherif Bassiouni, who has an honorary doctorate from our university.
Thanks to Megan Fairlie for this.

Friday 25 April 2008

Business and Human Rights

Yesterday’s Economist has an interesting article on the increasing influence of human rights on business:

Transfer and Extradition to Stand Trial for Genocide in Rwanda

Yesterday, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda began hearing an application by the Prosecutor to transfer the case of Yussuf Munyakazi to the national courts of Rwanda. The Tribunal must determine that Munyakazi can get a fair trial if he is transferred to Rwanda. Several other applications are also pending. This is part of the completion strategy of the Tribunal.
In the meantime, somecountries are considering extraditing Rwandan genocide suspects back to Rwanda to stand trial. A case in the United Kingdom involving four Rwandans is about to conclude. Early this month, in France, the Cour d’appel de Chambery, ruled in favour of extraditing an individual to Rwanda. I have obtained a copy of the judgment:
Under the Genocide Convention, States are required to cooperate in facilitating extradition so that persons accused of genocide can be tried in the State where the crime was committed. But until very recently, there has been little practice.

Fujimori Trial

The Praxis Institute for Social Justice has set up a blog on the ongoing human rights trial of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori: Fujimori served from 1990-2000, and is suspected of committing innumerable human rights violations during his decade in office. These allegations were documented by the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in its Final Report, published in 2003. The trial against the former president marks the fulfillment of one of the TRC's most important recommendations for preventing future human rights violations by the state.

Thursday 24 April 2008

Annual Report of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Annual Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is now available on the website of the Office:

Release on Bail at the Yugoslavia Tribunal

Yesterday, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia released an interesting decision on provision release of Berislav Pusic. He had been allowed by the Trial Chamber to return home to Croatia for three weeks. The Prosecutor appealed the decision, but it was dismissed. There is an interesting dissent by Judge Schomburg. The decision is not yet on the website of the Tribunal, but I have obtained a copy: Mercifully, it is a short decision that one can read and digest in a few minutes.

Sunday 20 April 2008

Style, Submission Manual for Law Texts

Oxford University Press have published a very useful little guide, aimed at those preparing books aimed at the legal practitioner. Now, this isn't the same as PhD writing, but there is a lot that is helpful, including detailed instructions on how to footnote legal materials. It also provides some useful guidance on preparing material for submission to publishers. Add it to your electronic bookshelf of style manuals:

Friday 18 April 2008

Human Rights Situation in North Caucusus

Dick Marty, of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, has just issued a brief report on the situation in the North Caucusus:

Death Penalty in Asia

The latest issue of Punishment & Society is devoted to the death penalty in Asia: is a subject about which little has been written, and the papers are an important contribution to the literature.
David T. Johnson, ‘The death penalty in Asia: Introduction to a Special Issue of Punishment & Society’, (2008) 10 Punishment & Society 99
Franklin E. Zimring and David T. Johnson, ‘Law, society, and capital punishment in Asia’, (2008) 10 Punishment & Society 103
Zhang Ning, ‘The political origins of death penalty exceptionalism: Mao Zedong and the practice of capital punishment in contemporary China’, (2008) 10 Punishment & Society 117
Wang Yunhai, ‘The death penalty and society in contemporary China’, (2008) 10 Punishment & Society 137
Fort Fu-Te Liao, ‘From seventy-eight to zero: Why executions declined after Taiwan's democratization’, (2008) 10 Punishment & Society 153
Byung-Sun Cho, ‘South Korea's changing capital punishment policy: The road from de facto to formal abolition’(2008) 10 Punishment & Society 171
Eric G. Lambert, Sudershan Pasupuleti, Shanhe Jiang, K. Jaishankar, and Jagadish V. Bhimarasetty, ‘Views on the death penalty among college students in India’,
(2008) 10 Punishment & Society 207
Thanks to Michael Radelet.

Thursday 17 April 2008

Supreme Court Upholds Lethal Injection

The United States Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to capital punishment based on the argument that execution by lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment incompatible with the eighth amendment to the Constitution: Baze v. Rees, 16 April 2008, available at:
The vote was 7 to 2, with Justices Ginzburg and Souter in dissent. But the real gem in the judgment is the reasons of Justice Stevens, who says the time has come for judicial abolition of capital punishment: ‘Full recognition of the diminishing force of the principal rationales for retaining the death penalty should lead this Court and legislatures to reexamine the question recently posed by Professor Salinas, a former Texas prosecutor and judge: “Is it time to Kill the Death Penalty?” See Salinas, 34 Am. J. Crim. L. 39 (2006). The time for a dispassionate, impartial comparison of the enormous costs that death penalty litigation imposes on society with the benefits that it produces has surely arrived.’ Justices Scalia and Thomas sign an opinion that attacks Justice Stevens. Justice Scalia, who is scheduled to visit Galway in July and teach on the summer programme organised by the New England School of Law, writes: ‘I take no position on the desirability of the death penalty, except to say that its value is eminently debatable and the subject of deeply, indeed passionately, held views—which means, to me, that it is preeminently not a matter to be resolved here. And especially not when it is explicitly permitted by the Constitution.’ Justice Scalia is a devout Catholic, and perhaps a chat with the Pope which he is in the United States will help him reflect upon the debate.
Thanks to Harry Rhea.

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Another UN Tribunal Proposed, for the Bhutto Assassination in Pakistan

Pakistan’s new Parliament passed a unanimous resolution yesterday asking the United Nations to investigate the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. According to the New York Times, the government will soon request that the United Nations establish a tribunal in order to investigate the case:
Previous UN tribunals have been established to deal with widespread atrocities involving perpetration of the core international crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone). But in 2005, the Security Council opened the floodgates when it took steps to set up a tribunal to deal with the assassination of Rafik Hariri, in Lebanon. Preparations for the creation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon are nearly complete, and the appointment of the Prosecutor and the judges should take place very soon.
But the Lebanon Tribunal only has jurisdiction over ‘ordinary’ crimes, as defined by Lebanese law. In any event, fitting a single terrorist assassination within the legal framework of crimes against humanity involves considerable judicial acrobatics.
Of course, the Security Council is hardly driven by questions of pure principle, and will not set up a tribunal for Pakistan simply because it did the same for Lebanon. Rather, it is obedient to the political priorities of its permanent members. In the case of the Lebanese assassination, it seems that the French were particularly interested in seeing the establishment of a tribunal. It will be interesting to see if any of the permanent members takes up the cause of Pakistan.
And where will it all end? Maybe we should call for a UN international tribunal to finally determine whether there was a gunman on the grassy knoll when Kennedy was shot?

First annual report on the execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights

This first annual report on thesupervision of the execution of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights presents an overview of the issues and statistical information in the execution of the main cases before the Committee of Ministers in 2007. It contains a thematic overview of issues examined in 2007 (Appendix 1) and a statistical analysis (Appendix 2). It lists the final Resolutions (Appendix 3), the interim Resolutions (Appendix 4) as well as Memoranda and other relevant public documents (Appendix 5). information on the development of execution supervision:

Research, Writing and Networking

At our annual doctoral seminars, I have prepared power-point presentations as part of sessions on various practical aspects of PhD studies. Last year, I did two presentations, on how to prepare a research paper or dissertation and on academic writing: They are really a series of ‘tips’ with some of my own pet peeves (such as the misuse and nonuse of the apostrophe), drawn from personal experience. This year, I did one that I entitled ‘networking’,, although my Irish students chided me about the term. So call it ‘developing professional contacts’ if that makes you feel better! The same seminar on research was delievered to doctoral students at the School of Law of Beijing Normal University last June, where it was received enthusiastically. It is my own way of working, of course, and may not suit everyone. Feel free to use these powerpoint presentations as you see fit. And finally, a picture I took this morning from my office at All Souls College, in Oxford, where I am spending the final three months of my sabbatical. I am trying not to let my writing and research projects get in the way of all of the wonderful eating and drinking that goes on here.
Thanks to Mary McKeown for reminding me to post this material.

Monday 14 April 2008

Second LRA Leader Killed Before Being Brought to Justice

Back in 2005, the International Criminal Court issued five arrest warrants against leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army, which is based in northern Uganda. None of these has been actually enforced, however. President Museveni of Uganda could never catch the rebel leaders, and it doesn't seem that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who is dependent upon Ugandan authorities to make arrests, hasn't faredany better.
Seeral months ago, one of the five indictees, Vincent Otti, was apparently murdered by the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony. Today we have reports that a second leader, Okot Odhiambo, against whom there is also an arrest warrant, has been executed by his boss.

Was It Like This for the Irish?

Gareth Pierce, the British lawyer who has acted on behalf of wrongfully-accused Irish living in the UK, is the author of a wonderful article in the latest London Review of Books, issue of 10 April 2008, p. 3. The article has been reproduced at:
She talks about all of the anti-Muslim measures and the general mood in Britain, and asks whether this is what the Irish experienced in the 1970s and 1980s.

Carla Del Ponte Tells All (?) in Book about Yugoslavia Tribunal

Carla Del Ponte stepped down in December after serving as prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for eight years (and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for four years). She is now Switzerland's ambassador to Argentina.
Last week, she published memoirs of her years in the Tribunal. The book is only available in Italian, for the time being. It was reviewed in Saturday's Guardian:
The most sensational allegation, according to media reports, concerns a camp in Albania where hundreds of Serbs were slaughtered for their organs, which were then sold. Some journalists are asking why she didn't investigate further, but I think the answer is perhaps rather straightforward: no jurisdiction. The Tribunal had jurisdiction over the territory over the former Yugoslavia, and that excludes Albania.
Late last year, Del Ponte's press officer, Florence Hartmann, published her account of years at the Tribunal: Paix et Châtiment ( It too makes rather spectacular charges, although I found it to be a bit of a rant. Moreover, it is hard to know how much is true because those in a position to contest what is stated respect their oath of confidentiality, which is more than one can say about Hartmann (or Del Ponte, for that matter).
I'm going to Italy in a few weeks, and will try and pick up a copy of the Del Ponte book.

Lose Weight through Genocide

Most readers of this blog know that I am not an advocate of large and liberal approaches to the definition of genocide. But the exaggerated, indeed hyperbolic, use of the term seems to have hit a new low with a recently published book: Genocide: How Your Doctor's Dietary Ignorance Will Kill You!!!! by Dr. James E. Carlson. According to the blurb on, the book 'breaks the chains of ignorance when it comes to dieting and staying healthy. Concern for his patients led this medical doctor to unveil common misconceptions regarding carbohydrates, fat, proteins, sugars and cholesterol that are perpetrated and perpetuated by the medical community. Regrettably, with the advice of doctors millions of Americans are eating themselves into an early grave. Now, avoiding a priori reasoning, readers are able to draw their own conclusions on what lifestyle is best for them and how to initiate the most sensible diet possible.' Raphael Lemkin, the great international criminal lawyer who invented the term 'genocide' described how starvation diets imposed by the Nazis on Jews and other minorities was part of a plan of extermination. But I don't think that when he coined the word he every dreamed it would come to this.

Sunday 13 April 2008

Universal Periodic Review begins with UK in the hotseat

The Human Rights Council launched the Universal Periodic Review mechanism for monitoring of human rights last week. On Thursday, it was the turn of the United Kingdom. The event got coverage on Reuters, with the headline ‘UN forum faults Britain over terror suspect rules’ ( According to the account:

‘Britain was criticised by its allies and detractors at the U.N.'s main human rights forum on Thursday, over its treatment of terrorism suspects, prison inmates and racial minorities. In a three-hour debate at the United Nations Human Rights Council, countries also raised questions over the conduct of British troops deployed overseas and rising rates of suicide among prison inmates in overcrowded domestic jails. Britain, the closest U.S. ally in the "war on terror", is among the first 16 countries whose records are being examined by the 47-member forum at a two-week meeting. In response to concerns voiced by Cuba, India and Syria, Michael Wills, Britain's minister of state for justice, said his government was constantly reviewing counter-terrorism legislation to deal with an unprecedented threat. Switzerland said it hoped Britain would reduce rather than extend the maximum period during which suspects may be detained without charge. Currently 28 days, it is already the longest in the European Union, the Swiss delegation said. Iran voiced concern at "increasing racial prejudice against ethnic minorities, asylum seekers and immigrants" in Britain and a "disproportionately high number of stops and searches carried out by police against members of ethnic or racial minorities". The U.S. expressed concern at what it said was a rise in suicides among inmates in prisons throughout Britain and Ireland.’

I would describe this as being off to a good beginning. The criticisms seem frank and quite well-placed. It is appropriate that a Western country be treated this way in order to ensure balance, fairness and universality. Britain sent a relatively high ranking official, which is also a good sign of the importance of the event. No doubt the critics of Britain, including Iran, India, Syria, Cuba, the United States and even Switzerland will get their turn to be challenged. Hopefully, the UK will be as hard on them as they were on it. And they won't be able to complain the way they have in the past when their human rights abuses were denounced in United Nations fora. Their behaviour last week will make it hard for them to argue that they are being abused, or that their sovereignty is threatened. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I couldn’t find accounts of this on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The supporting documents are all there, of course: But there is no report on the session itself, which is unfortunate. Here is the programme for the next four years: As you can see, Ireland will be one of the last to present.

Irish Yearbook of International Law

Congratulations to Sioban Mullaly and Jean Allain, for the first edition of the Irish Yearbook of International Law. It is an impressive volume, nicely produced and rich in content, published by Hart: Articles in the first edition include:

David. M Ong, International Environmental Law’s "Customary" Dilemma: Betwixt General
Principles and Treaty Rules
Alexander Orakhelashvili, The Power of the UN Security Council to Determine the Existence of a "Threat to the Peace"
J. Paul McCutcheon & Gerard Coffey, Life Sentences in Ireland and the European
Convention on Human Rights Maria Walls & Agustina Palacios, Changing the Paradigm - The Potential Impact of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Peter Hulsroj, To the Rescue, All Hands: The Good Neighbour Principle in International Law
Getahun Seifu, The Interplay of the ACP-EU Economic Partnership Agreements and the Rules of the World Trade Organization: "Double Jeopardy" on Africa
Leopold von Carlowitz, The Right of Property for Refugees and Displaced Persons?: On the Progressive Development of Customary Law by the International Administrations in the Balkans

I think that the second edition is almost ready for publication, and should be out later this year or early next year.

Friday 11 April 2008

Videoclips of international law specialists

Check out, a library of videotaped interviews prepared by Jean Allain, of Queen's University Belfast. Jean has tracked down many specialists in human rights law (Thomas Buergenthal, David Weissbrodt), international criminal law (Navy Pillay, Philippe Kirsch), state responsibility (James Crawford) and others for these very useful and informative sessions.

Wednesday 9 April 2008


A very useful guide to preparing footnotes and similar details is on the website of Oxford University Press:

Travaux préparatoires of the Rome Statute

I was recently asked about where to find the travaux préparatoires of the Rome Statute on line: The United Nations has published the 'Official Records' of the Rome Conference, in three volumes, and these are the core of the travaux. They can be found on the website and downloaded, so that you can search them by keyword. Also available are the reports of the International Law Commission from 1993 and 1994, the report of the Ad Hoc Committee from 1995, and the reports of the Preparatory Committee in 1996 and 1998. If you want further detail, the individual documents including many that are not strictly speaking official (and therefore there is some question as to whether they are, strictly speaking, travaux) can also be found. The ICC legal tools website is quite thorough, but it is not very user friendly because of the volume of documents. For the core documents of the travaux, it is actually much simpler to look on the UN website:

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Rule of Law and the Security Council

A few weeks ago, I reported on a meeting in Athens sponsored by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe dealing with counterterrorism measures and human rights. One of the issues there concerned the fact that the Security Council seems to place itself outside of any form of judicial oversight. This becomes especially troublesome as it moves increasingly into the area of criminal law. Hundreds of years ago, modern democracies insisted that political authorities could not be above the law. That's where the whole idea of habeas corpus comes from. And it also drove much of the thinking in the French and American revolutions. Yet with globalisation, we find that the embryo of our world government is still resistant to any form of judicial review or oversight of its actions. A thoughful discussion of some of these issues, entitled The UN Security Council and the Rule of Law, appears on the website of the Austrian mission to the UN: Simon Chesterman, of NYU, has written an article on the subject, entitled 'An International Rule of Law', in the latst American Journal of Comparative Law:
Thanks to Simon Chesterman for this.

Thursday 3 April 2008

Katarina Månsson's Viva

This afternoon, Katarina Månsson successfully defended her doctoral thesis at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, entitled 'A Communicative Act: Integrating Human Rights in UN Peace Operations'. The jury was made up of Prof. Michael Pugh, of the University of Bradford and myself. Katerina's research supervisor was Dr Ray Murphy. Katarina recently began work as Human Rights Officer in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and she is currently based in the Kampala Office. Congratulations, Katerina.

The photo shows, from left, myself, Ray Murphy, Katarina Månsson and Michael Pugh.

Doctoral seminar, 2008

For the past six years, we have held a one-week intensive seminar for PhD students in human rights, generally in early April. We are in the midst of the seminar this week. Distinguished academics from around the world are invited to attend. Each presents a seminar of his or her own work. The students also make presentations, which are discussed and commented upon by all present. This year, the distinguished visitors were: Prof. Semih Gemilmaz, Istanbul University; Dr Alfred de Zayas, formerly of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Prof. Anita Ramasastry, of the University of Washington. We always take one afternoon for an outdoor social event. Yesterday, we all went to County Clare, where we visited the Doolin Cave. It boasts the world's biggest stalagtite (they are the ones that hang from the ceiling).