Reparations for “Terrorists”?

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Should victims of human rights violations with alleged or certain ties to groups that use terrorism receive reparations? This complex and sensitive dilemma has begun to arise in countries implementing reparation programs pursuant to the recommendations of their truth and reconciliations commissions.

Reparations law has special relevance to the transitional justice paradigm, as countries seek to respond to widespread human rights abuses — situations in which the line between victim and perpetrator often blurs. New case studies reveal the serious challenges of implementing administrative plans of reparations that first require that recipients be qualified. While some issues are purely technical and logistical, others — those that hold the potential to generate new forms of harm and even new rights violations — beg further discussion and clarification. Certainly, as the recognition of the right to reparation grows, so do the legal issues pertaining to its practical application. In the realm of international human rights law, new cases offer opportunities to continue defining the parameters of this right, as noted in an ever-growing jurisprudence with respect to remedies law. Continue reading “Reparations for “Terrorists”?”

European IORP Pension Scheme Still Years Away

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Eulogo In our forthcoming case book on Global Issues in Employee Benefits Law, Sam Estreicher (NYU), Rosalind Connor (Jones Day-London), and I write about the emergence of Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provisions (IORPs) in the European Union:

A driver in Europe over recent years has been an attempt to create a single market in employee benefits, particularly pensions.  The recent Pensions Directive (the “IORPs Directive”) and the applications of the draft new insurance directive (“Solvency II”) has been part of a push to make a level playing field.  The Directive grappled with a range of different pension plan structures (UK trust-based plans, Dutch wholly insured plans, German self-funded plans and French government underwritten plans, to name a few) with a view to allowing Belgian employers to employ German employees through an Irish trust based plan, if that is what is wanted.

Apparently, according to Global Pensions, there is still much work to be done:

The European Commission consultation on possible changes to the Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) law should not lead to further harmonisation in the current climate, an industry body has warned.

Continue reading “European IORP Pension Scheme Still Years Away”

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

Posted on Categories Human Rights, Immigration Law, International Law & Diplomacy, Milwaukee2 Comments on Thoughts About Violence Against Trafficked Women on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

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”

Significant Canadian Labor Decision on Right to Bargain

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Canadianflag David Doorey (York Univ.) sends along word that there was a big decision this week from the Ontario Court of Appeal that ruled unconstitutional a statute that did not require employers to bargain collectively with unions selected by  a majority of employees, and that provided for no dispute resolution mechanism to deal with bargaining impasses.

Although the statute in question applied only to agricultural workers, David points out that it is an interesting case in the development of the constitutional right to collective bargaining that they have had in Canada since the a decision of the Supreme Court in 2007.

Here’s David’s blog entry on it, which links to the decision in Fraser v. Ontario, so that readers from other countries can keep up on these important labor developments.

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

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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”

Global Economic Crisis Having Impact on Pensions in Argentina

Posted on Categories International Law & Diplomacy, Labor & Employment Law1 Comment on Global Economic Crisis Having Impact on Pensions in Argentina

Argentinaflag We already know that the global economic crisis is having far-reaching effects in the United States on the 401(k) plans of individuals and may also mean that fewer employers are able to afford offering health plans. Now comes word from foreign countries that have national pension schemes that the economic impact of the collapse is causing governments to invade the money in those national pensions. Continue reading “Global Economic Crisis Having Impact on Pensions in Argentina”

Priorities for the Next President: International Law

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Let me note from the outset that those of us who spend time teaching international law tend to be in favor of it. So this advice for the next President comes from the perspective that there is a body of international law (much of which we have created, and the vast majority of which we follow).  I think there are three opportunities for the next President to think particularly about international law and the broader role that the United States can play in the world. Although the U.S. has lost its role as the leader of the world and of international law in several specific ways, we can regain these positions. 

First, both candidates already have stated their opposition to torture and to the maintenance of Guantanamo Bay. The next President will automatically improve our standing by officially closing Gitmo and distancing himself from the Bush policies on torture. Even better (and perhaps possible under either candidate) would be joining the International Criminal Court (ICC). Admittedly, concerns regarding the ICC are not inconsequential, but a U.S. that remains a player and works for change (rather than sticking its head in the sand while the rest of the world moves forward) does not hand leadership over to other countries.

Continue reading “Priorities for the Next President: International Law”

Priorities for the Next President: Accountability for Torture

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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”

Shut Up, I’m Talking!

Posted on Categories International Law & Diplomacy1 Comment on Shut Up, I’m Talking!

is the title of a great book by Gregory Levey that I read this summer about his surprising journey from law school to speechwriter for the Prime Minister of Israel. Levey is a Canadian who, after surviving his first year of law school at an unnamed New York law school decided that he needed a break and planned to join the Israeli army. I imagine that one of the reasons the law school remains unnamed is, as Levey puts it, when thinking about his reasons for joining the Israeli army, “Anyone who’s ever gone to law school will understand when I say that, at the time, the risk of being shot at or blown up by Islamic Jihad, or perhaps kidnapped by the Hezbollah and taken to Iran to be tortured and murdered, seemed almost preferable to the notion of continuing to suffer through another semester of classes.” Continue reading “Shut Up, I’m Talking!”