By Shehzad Charania
The International Court of Justice
This week, at the Residence of the British Ambassador to the Netherlands, Ambassador Sir Geoffrey Adams opened the British Embassy Annual Lecture Series on International Law. The guest speaker for the Inaugural Lecture was Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood of the International Court of Justice.
Ambassador Adams explained that the lecture marked the occasion of the Global Law Summit, which took place this week in London, as well the year in which we commemorate 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta of 1215.
Judge Greenwood’s lecture was entitled “Can International Law Change the World?”. He began by referring back to the Magna Carta itself. He explained that Magna Carta had changed “a world”: the law of England, albeit slowly and tentatively. It established equality before the law; in particular, that even the King was subject to the law; and that justice was not to be sold or denied to anyone. These principles form the foundation of the rule of law.
So could international law change the world in a similar way, Judge Greenwood asked. He used as his point of reference the First and Second Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907. The inspiration for those conferences had been a belief that international law could indeed change the world. Specifically, the hope was that these conferences would legislate on the way war was conducted, including the reductions of certain armaments and prohibition of others, and set up an international court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which would enable States to settle their differences by law rather than war. Continue reading
The Alliance Française in The Hague is hosting a series of conferences in French on “International Law and European Questions”.
The first one will take place on 20 February at the Alliance Française and will be given by Mr. Gregory Mounier from Europol. The focus will be on the combat against organised crime and terrorism in Europe – the role of Europol.
The second will take place on 29 May and will feature Ms. Heleyn Unac, deputy head of the defence office at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The lecture will focus on the defence of accused persons before the international criminal courts.
For further information, click here.
Godin Associés law firm will be organizing a seminar on “Customs Investigations Law” on 18 December 2014 at La Maison du Barreau in Paris.
OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office
Date: 18 December 2014, 9am to 1pm
Venue: Maison du Barreau, Hôtel de Harlay, 2 rue de Harlay – Paris
Speakers: Thierry Fossier, Judge at the Cour de Cassation, will be moderating the debate.
Jean-Luc Albert, Professor of Public Law at the University of Auvergne, and author of Customs Service and Customs Law [PUF, coll. Questions judiciaires 2013], will be discussing whether Customs Law has shifted towards becoming more safety-oriented. Continue reading
By Samuel Linehan
The International Criminal Court
On 29 October 2014, Chatham House and Doughty Street Chambers hosted the Sir Richard May Memorial Lecture. The speakers were Lord Justice Adrian Fulford and Judge Howard Morrison. The chair was Elizabeth Wilmshurst. The speakers discussed the major steps made in the trial of international crimes and addressed the challenges that still remain.
Sir Richard May was the first British judge at the ICTY, and as such the first British judge on an international criminal tribunal since the IMTs. He presided in Milošević and made a significant contribution to international criminal procedure as a member of the Rules Committee. His Memorial Trust aims to raise awareness of international humanitarian law by supporting interns from developing countries. So far it has sent more than 40 interns to the international criminal tribunals.
Lord Justice Fulford
Speaking on the theme of the evening, Judge Fulford was wary of the ‘miasma of legacy’ that surrounds such discussions. He spoke frankly on the fate of his ‘brainchildren,’ the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (‘OPCV’) and the Office of Public Counsel for Defence (‘OPCD’). In this connection he noted that castles built in the air tend to go up in smoke. His intention had been that these offices would provide professional and independent specialist in-house counsel and that self-employed counsel would be the backup option. The representation of victims and the accused is central to the ICC, which is at a crossroads. The outcome of the ReVision project to restructure the Registry (which includes these offices) is critical. Continue reading
by David Tolbert*
Gaza, August 2014
The world has plunged into a period of brutality, with impunity for the perpetrators of violence. Syria is suffering untold civilian casualties as a divided United Nations Security Council sits on the sidelines. Gaza was pummeled to dust yet again with the world watching on. Iraq is in flames, with no end in sight. Atrocities are mounting in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, which are also being swept by an epidemic of sexual violence. Even Europe is not immune: a civilian aircraft was shot down over a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, and officials were prevented from investigating.
Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and more than a decade after the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), shockingly little is being done to stop these abuses, and the prospects of the victims ever getting justice, let alone bringing the perpetrators to account, seem ever more remote.
For many years, the world seemed to be progressing toward greater recognition of human rights and demands for justice. As democracies emerged in Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, these issues assumed increasing importance. Although wars, conflicts, and atrocities continued, the global powers tried, and occasionally managed – albeit chaotically and usually late – to stop the killing. Continue reading
Last week, the Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri issued a Decision on a Motion Challenging the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s jurisdiction. The motion was submitted by the Defence for NEW TV S.A.L and Karma Hohamed Tahsin Al Khayat and questioned whether the Tribunal could hear cases of contempt and obstructions against the proper administration of justice by legal persons (i.e. corporate entities).
The Contempt Judge ruled that although the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) does not have jurisdiction to hear cases dealing with obstructions of justice against legal persons, it does retain jurisdiction to hear cases dealing with offences against the administration of justice against natural persons. This was held to be consistent not only with international case law, but also with Rule 60bis of the STL’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
Last year, information relating to confidential witnesses has been broadcasted in certain medias.
Following these events, the Registrar of the Tribunal appointed an amicus curiae. Based on reports by the amicus, the Contempt Judge concluded that there was prima facie evidence that justified proceedings for contempt.
Two journalists and two media organisations have been subsequently charged with contempt before the Tribunal.
Northwestern University School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights (CIHR) will award its second annual Global Jurist of the Year Award to Justice Shireen Avis Fisher, president of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
The awards ceremony and an address by Justice Fisher will take place on Monday, Oct. 20. She will deliver an address to the student body at noon in the Rubloff Building, 375 E. Chicago Ave., on the Law School’s Chicago campus. The event will be open to the media.
Justice Fisher was sworn in as a Justice of the Special Court for Sierra Leone on May 4, 2009. She played a key role in the Appeals Chamber judgment delivered in 2013 regarding the conviction and 50-year sentence of former Liberian President Charles Taylor for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity committed by rebels during Sierra Leone’s civil war. Continue reading
Date: 19 June 2014, 12:30
Venue: The Graduate Institute, Auditorium Ivan Pictet, Maison de la Paix, Geneva, Switzerland.
Truth commissions created after armed conflicts have tended towards uniformity in their mandates
even though awareness of the complex challenges facing such commissions has become increasingly evident. Despite increased awareness of these issues, several truth-seeking processes have gone through near-paralyzing crises.
In the light of experience and practice, this conference re-examines assumptions about how truth commissions are established and what makes them operate effectively.
> Päivi Kairamo, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, Geneva
> Ruth McCoy, Executive Director, Kofi Annan Foundation
> David Tolbert, President, International Center for Transitional Justice
> Frank Halderman, Professor of Law, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
If you wish to register, click here.
Date: 18 June 2014, 7 p.m.
Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut, R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22, The Hague, The Netherlands
Speaker: Michael Y. Liu, Secretary-General of the Chinese Initiative on International Criminal Justice
Michael Liu is a Civil Party Lawyer in the ECCC and teaches international law at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Cambodia. After working with the ICRC, ICC and ECCC, he created the Chinese Initiative on International Criminal Justice, an independent NGO mandated to promote a better understanding of international law, in particular international criminal law and its judicial process, in the Greater China Region. In this lecture, Mr. Liu will share perceptions of the ICC and international law in China and examine future prospects.
This lecture is public and free of charge. Registration is not necessary, but as space is limited, seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
From 27-28 June 2014, Bangor Law School and the Bangor Centre for International Law will host a conference on Proof in International Criminal Trials.
There is now an impressive body of literature on the precise scope, context and application of rules of evidence in international criminal trials. However, issues surrounding proof and reasoning on evidence in international criminal law have remained relatively under-examined to date.
By bringing together judges, practitioners and leading scholars on evidence, international criminal procedure and analytical methods, this conference will comprehensively address issues related to proof in international criminal proceedings.
These issues include, inter alia, the means by which inferences are drawn, how reasoning on findings of fact is articulated in judgments, and how witness credibility is assessed. Participants will analyse some of the challenges of fact-finding in the complex context of international criminal trials, which often involve large masses of evidence and hundreds of witnesses.
In order to register, please click here.