Thursday, 16 September 2010


The United Nations Security Council has established an Ombudsperson, who is responsible for dealing with issues that arise as a result of the blacklists and freezing orders imposed by the Security Council as part of its counter-terrorism activities. I had dinner last night in New York with the office holder, Kimberly Prost, who was recently an ad litem judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.  There, she participated in the recent Popovic decision, which by the way has some interesting bits about genocide.
The Ombudsperson is a fascinating new mechanism that certainly deserves an LLM dissertation and a law review article. It is a response to the lack of any form of judicial or quasi-judicial control over the actions of the Security Council, which may have devastating consequences for human rights. The Council can - and has - imposed travel bans and frozen bank accounts on individuals. When they learn of this - often by accident, when they arrive at an airport and try to use a credit card to buy a plane ticket - they learn that there is no real judicial recourse. The measures have shocked judges at the national and international levels. There is a recent article on this by Gráinne de Búrca in the European Journal of International Law ((2009) 20 EJIL 853) that provides all of the relevant references.
The mechanism of an Ombudsperson isn't adequate, in my opinion, but it is certainly a great improvement on what previously existed. The work of the Ombudsperson will necessarily involve a lot of confidential activity. It will be a real challenge for researchers to see how much we can learn about her activities.

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