“Children and International Criminal Justice” @ Georgia Law features ICC Prosecutor, dozens of other experts

Fatou Bensouda-ICC-043-bwshPleased to announce that “Children & International Justice,” an international experts’ conference, will be held Tuesday, October 28, here at my home institution, the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens. Delivering the keynote address will be Fatou Bensouda (left), Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, whom I am honored to serve as Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict.

Joining us will be more than 2 dozen experts in children’s rights, international criminal law, and transitional justice, who will address a range of issues in a public morning session and in closed afternoon workshops. Experts will be drawn from academia and the practice; from international organizations like UNICEF and the Office of the Special Representative to the U.N. Secretary-General for Children & Armed Conflict; and from nongovernmental organizations like Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the International Committee of the Red Cross, No Peace Without Justice, Protect Education in Insecurity & Conflict, Save the Children, and The Carter Center. They will consider legal doctrines, field research, and policy options.

These discussions will assist advising in the ongoing process of development of the Office of the Prosecutor Policy Paper on Children.

The keynote address and the plenary presentations, along with student rapporteurs’ Chatham-House-Rules accounts of the breakout sessions, will be published in the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law.

Sponsors, in addition to the journal and the law school, are the law school’s Dean Rusk Center for International Law & Policy, the Georgia Law Project on Armed Conflict & Children, the African Studies Institute of the University of Georgia, for which I serve as an affiliated faculty member, the Planethood Foundation, and the American Society of International Law-Southeast.

The day’s schedule begins with a public plenary session from 9:15-11:15 a.m. in the law school’s Hatton Lovejoy Courtroom, as follows:

drumbmalone-48► 9:15 a.m. Welcomes will be followed by a panel on “Children & International Criminal Justice: An Overview,” featuring Professor Mark A. Drumbl (right), Washington & Lee University School of Law, on Children, Armed Violence and Transition: Challenges for International Law & Policy; Kerry L. Neal (middle right), Child Protection Specialist, Justice for Children, UNICEF, on Child Protection in Time of Armed Conflict; Professor Linda A. Malone (above left), College of William & Mary/Marshall-Wythe School of Law, on Interrelation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; Alec Wargo II (middle left), Program Officer, Office of the Special neal_kerrywargo_alecRepresentative to the U.N. Secretary-General for Children & Armed Conflict, on Securing Prevention and Accountability for the Six Grave Violations against Children; and Jo Becker (bottom right), Advocacy Director, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch, on Civil Society’s Role with Respect to Children in Armed Conflict. Moderating will be Jo BeckerjallohProfessor Charles C. Jalloh (left), Florida International University School of Law.

► 11:30 a.m. Following introduction by Georgia Law Dean Rebecca H. White, Prosecutor Bensouda will deliver the keynote address.

► The afternoon will feature workshops sessions open only to expert invitees and moderated by my Georgia Law colleagues Harlan G. Cohen and Andrea L. Dennis, as well as me. Topics to be discussed include:

►► Regulatory Framework (Child-specific and child-related crimes, such as recruitment and use of children, sexual violence / trafficking, education, attacks on hospitals / denial of humanitarian access; legal instruments / jurisprudence other than Rome Statute; children’s rights and human rights law; humanitarian law; law of peace / weapons control treaties; gravity: charging and sentencing)

►► Witnesses, Testimony, and Witness Protection (Identifying and preparing child witnesses, in general, and with relation to specific offenses like sexual violence, against girls and boys; living conditions of children in conflict/postconflict zones; support and witness protection issues; enhancing child witness reliability / challenging of factfinding reparations)

►► Global Child (Children’s vulnerability/victimhood/agency; developmental factors / difficulty of drawing age line; children’s convention: rights and best interests; child protection and child participation: issues of consent; children in militias / conflict zones: roles and experiences; child-friendly dissemination and education)

Experts who will participate in these workshops: Gloria Atiba Davies, Head, Gender and Children Unit, ICC Office of the Prosecutor; Véronique Aubert, Senior Conflict & Humanitarian Policy and Research Adviser, Save the Children, London, England; Hrair Balian, Director of Conflict Resolution Program, Carter Center, Atlanta; Shamila Batohi, Senior Legal Adviser and Head, Legal Advisory Section, ICC Office of the Prosecutor; Dr. Tamora A. Callands, Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, College of Public Health, University of Georgia; Rachelle Carnesale, Chief Assistant District Attorney, Cherokee County, Canton, Georgia, former head of the Georgia Division of Family & Children Picture1Services, and former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Georgia Office of the Child Advocate; Dr. Nathan B. Hansen, Associate Professor and Department Head, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, College of Public Health, University of Georgia; member of Legal Advisory staff, International Committee of the Red Cross, Washington, D.C.; Francesca Jannotti, Political Officer, Office of the Special Representative to the U.N. Secretary-General for Children & Armed Conflict, New York; Virginie Ladisch, Head, Children & Youth Program, International Center for Transitional Justice, New York; Sharanjeet Parmar, independent consultant on child-crime accountability, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Mark Richmond, Director, Protect Education in Insecurity & Conflict, Education Above All Foundation, Doha, Qatar, and formerly a Director in UNESCO’s senior education team in Paris; Karin Ryan, Senior Adviser on Human Rights, Carter Center, Atlanta; Manoj Sachdeva, Trial Attorney, ICC Office of the Prosecutor; L. Alison A. Smith, International Criminal Justice Director/Legal Counsel, No Peace Without Justice, Brussels, Belgium; Professor Jonathan Todres, Georgia State University School of Law, Atlanta; and Yayoi Yamaguchi, Associate Legal Advisor, Legal Advisory Section, ICC Office of the Prosecutor.

Details here; registration here.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Go On! Advocacy and Litigation Training Course, Leiden University, The Hague

The Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies (Leiden University) welcomes registrations for its Advocacy and Litigation training course, which will be held in The Hague from 24 November to 28 November 2014. The training is open to law students and professionals who consider a career in international criminal litigation or who simply wish to develop or improve their advocacy skills. Participants will be trained in case theory, opening statements, direct examination (examination-in-chief), cross-examination, re-examination, closing statements and legal submissions skills through role play and challenging exercises. The course will be concluded with a mock trial at the end of the week.

The training will be given by Zafar Ali QC, a highly experienced defence lawyer who is on the list of Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Court. He has also been selected as Lead Defence Counsel at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague.  Zafar Ali will be assisted by Nathan Rasiah, who has worked on a number of high profile cases involving military and political leaders charged before international criminal tribunals.

The Grotius Centre also arranges visits to the ICC and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, welcome drinks and a course dinner. Participants will be awarded a certificate of participation. For details please check the course website.


Arms Trade Treaty has 50+ ratifications; will enter into force before year’s end

The Arms Trade Treaty will take effect on December 24, 2014.

The date was set today, after a spate of treaty actions during this whirlwind week of activities at the United Nations’ New York headquarters. Earlier this morning, the Arms Trade Treaty status page in the U.N. Treaty Collection database indicated that 45 states had joined the treaty, 5 short of the 50 needed. That same page now shows 52 states parties, each of which will become bound to the treaty’s terms when it enters into force on Christmas Eve.

fireToday’s joinders by Argentina, Bahamas, Portugal, the Czech Republic, St. Lucia, Senegal, and Uruguay made the difference. They join as states parties 2 permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Britain and France, along with Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Romania, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sweden, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Many more states have signed but not ratified, the United States among them. The remaining 2 members of the P-5, Russia and China, have done neither; reasons here.

Fully half of the 20 arms-exporting countries have joined (specifically, Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway, South Korea, South Africa, Belgium); 4 have signed (the United States, Ukraine, Netherlands, and Switzerland); and 6 remain fully outside the treaty regime (Russia, China, Israel, Canada, Uzbekhistan, and Belarus).

As previously posted, the treaty – adopted on April 2, 2013,  by the U.N. General Assembly – aims to curb trafficking in “conventional arms.” The term covers not only heavy weaponry and ammunition, but also small arms and light weapons; these latter constitute a leading cause of attacks that civilians endure in today’s armed conflicts. (credit for UN photo of burning of AK-47s handed over in 2009 South Sudan disarmament process) As stated in Article 2(3) of the treaty (full text text available here), each state party has obligated itself not to

‘transfer of conventional arms …, if it has knowledge at the time of authorization that the arms or items would be used in the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva  Conventions of 1949, attacks directed against civilian objects or civilians protected as such, or other war crimes as defined by international agreements to which it is a Party.’

Here’s hoping these newly assumed treaty obligations advance that worthy goal.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)




Pledges, promises and a poem – The UN Climate Summit 2014

On 21 September 2014, the world has seen the biggest ever climate march, which drew about 400.00 people to the streets of NYC. On 23 September 2014, about 120 heads of state and government followed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s invitation to the UN climate summit 2014. Many states – as well as corporations – made pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While with these events momentum is brought back in the climate talks, the pledges amount to “too little, too late”. Much more action needs to be taken soon to keep global temperature increases somewhere close to 2 degrees Celsius.

Under the umbrella of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), states currently negotiate a new global agreement which can take the form of “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties”. This agreement is to be adopted at the 20th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Paris, December 2015, and to come into effect and be implemented from 2020.

While the negotiations on this agreement have advanced significantly over the last year, no draft text exists yet as to show how the architecture of the agreement will look like. Certainly, elements such as mitigation, adaptation, means of implementation and institutional arrangements will be a part of it. Yet, how much will be done and by whom are still open questions. The UN summit has given some indications of what states might be willing to agree to. The pledges of states – which in the climate negotiations currently take the form on “intended nationally determined contributions” – will have to stand the scrutiny of the world public before they find their way into the agreement. Other states, civil society, businesses will have the chance to see what is on the table. It can only be hoped that public pressure – and peer pressure – can and will increase these pledges to a level where they are adequate for meeting the 2 degree goal.

One voice at the UN climate summit made clear the urgency of the task: A young mother’s letter to her 7 months old daughter. In this beautiful poem, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands brought home to the delegates the fact that climate change does not respect spatial nor temporal boundaries. The poem is also a promise to her child – and all children, including those yet to be born – that the world will stand up to this immense task.

The next round of climate negotiations is set for 1-12 December in Lima, Peru. It is expected that a draft negotiation text emerges from the Lima talks. This draft will give an indication of what can be expected from the Paris summit next year. It might also give an indication of the fate of the world.

Introducing Christina Voigt

portrett 9 copy  nettIt’s our great pleasure today to introduce Christina Voigt as an IntLawGrrls contributor. Christina is Professor at the Department of Public and International Law, University of Oslo, Norway. She is the author of “Sustainable Development as a Principle of International Law” (M. Nijhoff, 2009) and edited volumes, such as “Sustainable Development in International and National Law” (with H.C. Bugge, Europa Law Publishing, 2008) and “Rule of Law for Nature” (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Her teaching and research is in international environmental law and public international law. She works in particular on legal issues of climate change, sustainability and the interface between environmental and trade law. In 2009, Christina was awarded the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Academy of Environmental Law Junior Scholarship Prize for her academic writing.

In 2009 and 2010, she worked for the Norwegian government as lead negotiator on REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) in the UN climate negotiations. In 2013, Christina was co-chair for the UNFCCC work program on results-based financing for REDD+, which successfully achieved a decision on this matter by COP 19 in Warszawa, November 2013. She works as legal consultant for the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment and several governmental and non-governmental organisations.

Christina received her legal education at the Universität Passau (Germany), holds an LL.M. in Environmental Law from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and received a doctorate in law from the University of Oslo. She has taught/is teaching guest courses in international environmental law and in climate change law at the University of Lund, Sweden (2003-2007), the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2011-12) and the University of Auckland, New Zealand (2014).

Christina has two little boys and loves hiking, skiing and sailing with her family. Her first post will discuss the UN Climate Summit. Heartfelt welcome!

Karima Bennoune book awarded 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize

YourFatwaDoesNotApplyHere2Karima Bennoune’s book Your Fatwa Does not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism  (W.W. Norton & Company) has been awarded the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction.  The award “honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding.” As noted in the press release, previous honorees include Wendell Berry, Taylor Branch, Geraldine Brooks, Barbara Kingsolver, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Tim O’Brien, Studs Terkel, and Elie Wiesel.  Of Karima’s book, the awards committee wrote:

In Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, Karima Bennoune walks a tightrope between, on the one hand, the tragic consequences of Islamist fundamentalism and, on the other, the West’s inability to imagine Muslims as anything more than terrorists or passive victims.

Her solution is to tell us the stories that disturb both of these stereotypes, vividly presenting us the experiences of individuals from a vast array of identities and social positions — as women, as journalists, as educators, as makers of and keepers of cultural tradition. . . . [T]he portraits in Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here find Muslims on the front lines against the fundamentalists.

On being notified of the award, Bennoune wrote:

KarimaBennoune author photo2Given the mission of the prize, there is no other award that would mean more to me or to so many of those in the book – victims of terror who organized against its perpetrators, women who filled bomb craters with flowers, journalists who defied machine guns armed only with pens, artists who could not be censored by death threats (or worse), feminists who demanded the right to have human rights, secularists who spoke out, mullahs who risked their lives to revive the enlightened Islam of our grandparents. I share the prize with all of them. For me, the award is ultimately a much-needed recognition that fundamentalism is a threat to peace, and that those who challenge extremism and jihadist violence in their own communities are waging a battle for true peace, and deserve global recognition and support.

Read the Dayton Literary Peace Prize webpage about her book here.  Karima’s powerful TedTalk about the book is now well past one million views; see the link to her talk here.

Heartfelt congratulations, Karima!


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