Thoughts About Violence Against Trafficked Women on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

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November 25th is designated by the United Nations as “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.”  The date was selected to “commemorate the lives of the Mirabal sisters,” who were assassinated on November 25, 1960 during the Trujillo dictatorship, as explained in the General Assembly resolution designating the day:

Previously, 25 November was observed in Latin America and a growing number of other countries around the world as “International Day Against Violence Against Women”. With no standard title, it was also referred to as “No Violence Against Women Day” and the “Day to End Violence Against Women”. It was first declared by the first Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean held in Bogota, Colombia (18 to 21 July 1981). At that Encuentro women systematically denounced gender violence from domestic battery, to rape and sexual harassment, to state violence including torture and abuses of women political prisoners. The date was chosen to commemorate the lives of the Mirabal sisters. It originally marked the day that the three Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic were violently assassinated in 1960 during the Trujillo dictatorship (Rafael Trujillo 1930-1961). The day was used to pay tribute to the Mirabal sisters, as well as global recognition of gender violence.

The resolution “[i]nvites, as appropriate, Governments, the relevant agencies, bodies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system, and other international organizations and non-governmental organizations, to organize on that day activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem of violence against women.”   Continue reading “Thoughts About Violence Against Trafficked Women on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women”

Outlawing Amnesty?

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Lisa Laplante, in response to last month’s “question of the month,” priorities for the next president, blogged about the need provide accountability for torture.  I noticed that in her comments on a recent post on Opinio Juris, she wrote that “[t]he issue of amnesty could become one of the most contentious” in the debate about Bush Adminstration accountability for torture and other human rights violations.  She also linked to her timely article, “Outlawing Amnesty:  The Return of Criminal Justice in Transitional Justice Schemes,” which 

discusses the Barrios Altos case, a seminal decision issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2001, that declared the amnesty laws promulgated in 1995 by former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori to be contrary to international law. Recent scholarship has ignored this decision, or otherwise interpreted it overly narrowly, despite its potentially sweeping impact on the field of transitional justice. Thus, this article responds by offering a more in-depth understanding of the Barrios Altos decision in order to inform the ongoing academic debates on the evolving doctrine on amnesty in transitional justice schemes. It also shares the particular case study of Peru to show how international law directly impacts national transitional justice experiences. This article suggests that the truth v. justice dilemma may no longer exist: instead, criminal justice must be done.

The article is now on my reading list.  (The shorter one, the one with things I will probably actually get around to reading.)

Dispute Resolution and the Normalization of International Adjudication

Posted on Categories Human Rights, International Law & Diplomacy3 Comments on Dispute Resolution and the Normalization of International Adjudication

I attended a conference at NYU two weeks ago as part of NYU’s Journal of International Law & Politics symposium on the “Normalization of Adjudication in Complex International Governance Regimes.” Invited to bring a little dispute resolution to this otherwise complete adjudicatory focus, it was very interesting to think about what the “normalization” of international courts and decisions might mean for dispute resolution. I came to this conference with some background in writing on international trade dispute resolution regarding the evolution of international dispute resolution and the importance of individual representation in courts, but had left much of this behind to focus on dispute resolution more broadly. More recently, I have had the opportunity to think about a number of interesting co-existing features in the development of international law and dispute resolution. First, as I wrote about last year, it is a striking coincidence that as we worry about the “vanishing trial” in the U.S., the international scene has been exploding with new courts (WTO, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, etc.) and expanded case loads even for longer-standing courts (the ICJ, ECJ, ECHR, IACHR, etc.). This does not even include the multitude of other processes designed to deal with global conflict, including truth and reconciliations commissions like those in South Africa and in many South American countries. So, last spring at PON’s dispute system design symposium, I was able to broaden my perspective and think about the concerns and challenges faced by DSD when creating systems to deal with human rights conflicts and, what has been called, transitional justice situations. (Click here to see my draft article on this entitled Dispute System Design and Transitional Justice.)

My next step, the paper for this NYU symposium, will now look forward to where we go from here.

Continue reading “Dispute Resolution and the Normalization of International Adjudication”

Niger’s Failure to Protect Citizen from Enslavement Condemned by African Regional Court

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As reported at IntLawGrrls, the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (the ECOWASCommunity Court of Justice) on Monday, October 27th, condemned member state Niger for its failure to protect its citizen Hadijatou Mani from enslavement.  Hadijatou Mani’s story is incredible, though unfortunately, probably not unusual.  At the age of 12, she was sold, for $500, to a master who exploited not only as a physical laborer but as a sexual slave, selling her into a “marriage” with a friend of his, the very man who had put Hadijatou’s mother into slavery years earlier.  Hadijatou sought to marry a different man, but when she sought legal protection, she was instead convicted of bigamy and sentenced to six months in prison.  

When it ruled in favor of Hadijatou Mani on Monday, the ECOWAS court awarded her 15,000 euros (about $19,000, according to IntLawGrrls).  An attorney for Anti-Slavery International, one of the organizations supporting Mani in her fight, observed that the victory demonstrates “that a women of the most disfavored class can make her rights recognized.  It is also a message addressed, notably, to the countries of this region.”  An important message and one that cannot be repeated often enough, given that, as the same LeMonde article reports, approximately 43,000 of Niger’s 12 million inhabitants, and 18 percent of Mauritania’s population, are enslaved.  

Cross-posted at Feminist Law Professors.

From “Me, My, Mine” to “We, Our, Mine”

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Although Peru’s Yanachocha gold mine is one of the largest and most profitable gold mines in the world, the mine owners have been repeatedly stymied by local residents in their efforts to expand production.  In response to environmental problems associated with the mine, protesters (pictured above) have blockaded mine facilities and clashed with security forces on several occasions, costing the mine owners millions of dollars along the way.  So, how can mine owners elsewhere in the developing world avoid such costly conflicts with the communities that host their operations?  This is the question addressed by my colleague Lisa Laplante in a fascinating new article just posted on SSRN, “Out of the Conflict Zone: The Case for Community Consent Processes in the Extractive Sector.”  (The article can also be found at 11 Yale Human Rights & Development L.J. 69 (2008).)

In essence, Lisa and her co-author Suzanne Spears argue that the “extractive industries” should embrace the principle of free prior and informed consent (FPIC): before initiating new projects (and on an on-going basis thereafter) companies should obtain consent for their activities from the communities that will be most affected by them. 

Continue reading “From “Me, My, Mine” to “We, Our, Mine””

Priorities for the Next President: Accountability for Torture

Posted on Categories Human Rights, International Law & Diplomacy6 Comments on Priorities for the Next President: Accountability for Torture

The U.S. 2008 presidential campaign has been virtually silent on the issue of torture.   Yet, the very same day of the last presidential debate (Wednesday, October 15) Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick unveiled startling revelations in his article CIA Tactics Endorsed in Secret Memos.  Warrick tells us of the existence of two secret (still classified) memos from 2003 and 2004 that indicate the White House’s explicit endorsement of the CIA’s interrogation techniques against al-Qaeda suspects.  Apparently former CIA Director George J. Tenent was not satisfied with the infamous “Torture Memos” of 2003, in which White House lawyers gave the green light for our security forces to use torture.  Their outright dismissal of international treaties like the Torture Convention and the Geneva Convention, however, came under fire as even our top military leaders condemned the euphemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the redefinition of methods of torture like water boarding.  This moment signaled our slide into a new level of lawlessness that shook the very foundation of a longstanding international legal framework, stunning most seasoned practitioners, experts, and scholars.   But U.S. public opinion had yet to catch up.  Continue reading “Priorities for the Next President: Accountability for Torture”

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