Standing Rock goes to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

image001The Indian tribes protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) took the Standing Rock movement to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on Friday, 2 December 2016. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and Yankton Sioux Tribe, with Earthjustice and the American Indian Law Clinic – UC Boulder, submitted a Request for Precautionary Measures Pursuant to Article 25 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure Concerning Serious and Urgent Risks of Irreparable Harm Arising Out of Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to the IACHR. (Petition links at Stand with Standing Rock website)

The Commission has the authority to,

on its own initiative or at the request of a party, request that a State adopt precautionary measures. Such measures, whether related to a petition or not, shall concern serious and urgent situations presenting a risk of irreparable harm to persons …

The United States is a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The petition makes three central claims:

  • the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should not grant an easement across federal lands;
  • the United States failed to adequately consult and to prepare an adequate assessment of environmental and social impacts of the pipeline, required under both U.S. and international law; and
  • the United States has failed to protect peaceful protestors.

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Eight reasons why the Safe Schools Declaration matters

Eight reasons why the Safe Schools Declaration matters

Crossposted courtesy of The Right to Education Project (November 27, 2016), summarising a mini series of four postings on the international legal protection of education.

‘I felt that humanity has ended. I mean, a place of learning, to be hit in this way, without warning… where is humanity? …It is supposed to be illegal in any war to strike such places…’ A teacher’s account of airstrikes on al Shaymeh School, Hodeidah, Yemen (25 and 27 August 2015) in ‘Schools Under Attack in Yemen’ Amnesty International Report (11 December 2015).

‘Bodies were on the ground. We didn’t know what we were stepping on. […] There was no armed presence around the schools. Had there been, we wouldn’t have been teaching on that day.’  A teacher’s account of airstrikes on schools in Haas, Syria (26 October 2016) in ‘Russia/Syria: Satellite, Video Imagery Confirm School Attack’ Human Rights Watch Report (16 November 2016).

The testimonies of these two teachers, one Yemeni, one Syrian, evoke the egregious hurt and harm of attacks on schools. These attacks, among others, illume the imperative of conducing compliance with foundational rules of international humanitarian law, in particular, as recalled recently by the Security Council in relation to the Syrian attack above, the obligation to distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives, and the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks. Undergirding this is an another imperative of respecting the civilian character of schools.  The two are deeply interconnected. The international legal protection accorded schools from attack is necessarily contingent on their civilian character. It is of these dual imperatives that the Safe Schools Declaration was born. Led by the Governments of Norway and Argentina, 56 states have thus far signed the Declaration and committed to implementing the associated Guidelines.  And this matters. Continue reading

IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference

Friday, March 3, 2017

Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law

 Athens, Georgia USA

 We can hardly believe that ten years have passed since our first birthposts on the IntLawGrrls blog.  If you had told us on our birth-day in 2007–March 3, Girls’ Day in Japan–of the incredible contributions and accomplishments of our bloggers ten years on, we would have been equally incredulous. And so we’re delighted to issue this invitation to a very special event on March 3, 2017: “IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference.”

 Created by Diane Marie Amann as a forum for “voices in international law, policy, and practice,” the blog grew beyond our wildest expectations into a forum for hundreds of women at all levels of their career, from law students to celebrated luminaries, to hold forth on contemporary questions and historical issues in our field.  We welcomed posts that offered feminist perspectives on international law and equally relished those that simply opined on matters of the day, particularly in subfields of international law from which women have historically been excluded.

 Perhaps the most bittersweet moment came in December 2012, when we closed down the blog; shielded from our readership by the impersonal wall of the internet, we were surprised and touched by the heartfelt outpouring from those of you who demanded that we keep alive this space for women’s voices in international law.  We duly responded to your requests for an encore: within 3 months—on International Women’s Day 2013—IntLawGrrls created We continue to be amazed and delighted by the quality and frequency of your posts.  We owe many thanks to the current staff that keeps the blog up and running to this day: Senior Editors Cecilia Marcela Bailliet, Andrea Ewart, Sital Kalantry, Elizabeth Ludwin King, and Milena Sterio; Submissions Editors past and present Brian Citro, Danielle DerOhanessian, and Karen Hoffmann; Technical Editor, Sarah Stephens; and Student Editors past and present  Osazenoriuwa Ebose, Sasha Filippova, Marte Ingvildsdatter Jervan, Lauren Marsh, Beverly Mbu, Claire Poppelwell-Scevak, Maggie Spicer, and Melissa Vo.

 We view the 10th anniversary of IntLawGrrls as a fitting opportunity to celebrate our contributors and readership by providing a live forum to discuss your scholarship and to get to know each other in person, putting faces to the many internet connections we have made.  We welcome and encourage you to submit a paper proposal and join us for this conference, which will take place on Friday, March 3, 2017, at the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens, Georgia.

 The conference organizers—the blog’s original editors, Diane Marie Amann, Kate Doty, Beth Van Schaack, and yours truly–welcome IntLawGrrls contributors and readers to submit paper proposals relating to any aspect of international law and policy.

 As detailed in the call for papers here, we expect that the conference will cover a broad range of substantive topic areas and a variety of perspectives and methods.  We encourage in particular submissions from junior scholars as well as papers in subfields of international law that have been historically dominated by male scholars.  We also encourage papers that explore the challenges that populist anti-globalization, and often anti-feminist, movements such as Brexit, the Colombian referendum, and the U.S. presidential election pose to women in international law, as well as strategies to promote women’s participation in shaping international law and policy in the wake of these events.  We expect that this will be a topic for a panel discussion at the conference.

 Please upload an abstract of up to 500 words, a bio of no more than 150 words, and a cv using the “submit now” button at The deadline for submissions is January 1, 2017.  The conference organizers will confirm speakers’ participation on a rolling basis, and at the latest by January 20, 2017.

 Should your paper be accepted, we will be in touch with additional details. For planning purposes, please expect to arrive at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta  International Airport on Thursday, March 2, to provide sufficient time to reach Athens before the conference.  Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center will host a dinner for all conference participants the evening of Friday, March 3.  We hope you will join us for the dinner, which will be a great opportunity to network, catch up with old friends, and make new ones. If you do, you should plan to fly home on Saturday, March 4.  Although we are unable to cover the costs of your airfare or hotel accommodations, we will offer some assistance with Atlanta-Athens ground transportation on the preferred dates described above.  We have reserved a block of hotel rooms in Athens, and will make information on discounted hotel rooms available to participants as papers are accepted.

Please contact Kate Doty at with any questions about submissions or logistics.

 We hope you can join us!

Read On! A Nordic Approach to Promoting Women’s Rights within International Law: Internal v. External Perspectives

Read On!  A Nordic Approach to Promoting Women’s Rights within International Law: Internal v. External Perspectives

The Nordic Journal of International Law has published a Special Edition on Nordic Approaches to International Law.  I was invited to address whether or not there is a Nordic Approach to Promoting Women’s Rights within International Law. I juxtaposed internal and external perspectives in order to identify dilemmas and remaining challenges. Recognition of the Nordic contribution to the drafting of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is contrasted with present day issues which complicate enjoyment of rights. The complexity of formulating a Nordic feminist foreign policy and the appointment of Nordic women as creators of international law is explored.  The article is available here

Crowd-Funding for the ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims

Students enrolled in my Policy Lab at Stanford Law School on Legal & Policy Tools to Prevent giving-tuesdayAtrocities were asked to undertake a project dedicated to generating new ideas for funding international justice to ensure more stable funding streams for contemporary justice efforts.

The funding of international and hybrid courts has been a perennial challenge, and almost every ad hoc tribunal to date has gone over budget. (The Extraordinary African Chambers, which tried Hissène Habré has been the most economical to date). There is no question that the costs of international justice appear high, although not necessarily when compared to the cost of other international interventions in atrocity situations, such as peacekeeping missions, humanitarian relief efforts, and military action. The most stable source of funding available has come from U.N. assessed contributions, which enables burden-sharing and forward planning. As creatures of the Security Council, the ICTY and ICTR benefited from such U.N. funding.

Most modern hybrid tribunals, however, have depended on voluntary contributions, which has proven to be unsustainable in the long-run. Ambassador David Scheffer, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Expert on United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, has done a yeoman’s job of keeping the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia in the black, but it hasn’t been easy. Over the years, the various tribunals and special chambers have been governed by different funding mechanisms and different budgetary arrangements with the host state. This is due in part to policy preferences but also to quasi-legal arguments about the availability of assessed contributions for independent entities with indirect United Nations involvement. Almost half of the funding for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, for example, comes from Lebanon itself, which often teeters on the edge of being in arrears when domestic political support for the STL wanes.

My studealinant, Alina Utrata (left), and undergraduate at Stanford, took the lead on this project and developed a new crowd-funding platform dedicated to raising funds from people around the world for the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims (TFV):  Go Fund Justice! Working with staff from the TFV, Alina built a website, created original content about the TFV, and launched a social media campaign in connection with Giving Tuesday.


This idea has great appeal; she has already reached 30% of her goal of raising $10,000.  Her explanation of this initiative is below:

Dear friends, family, and community members,

This year, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, Go Fund Justice is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving. Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday.

Go Fund Justice is a crowd-funding initiative for the Trust Fund for Victims. The Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court is responsible for giving assistance and reparations to communities who have suffered from mass atrocities under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

That means they do things like things like providing prosthetic limbs and plastic surgery; trauma and counseling services; or vocational and financial training. Their work empowers victims to return to a dignified and contributory life within their communities. By focusing on healing the wounds caused by atrocities, the TFV hopes to foster a sustainable and long-lasting peace.

We hope that this Giving Tuesday you consider supporting Go Fund Justice. Even ten dollars can go a long way towards providing someone with a prosthetic limb or trauma counseling. You can also click here to hear about the experience of people who the Trust Fund for Victims has supported.

We also ask that you forward this information to just five members of your community. Spreading the word can help us make a difference! Click here to donate now to Go Fund Justice!

ECCC Rejects Joint Criminal Enterprise III


On the 23rd November 2016, the Supreme Court Chamber (SCC) of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) released its appeals judgment in Case 002/01, upholding the life sentences given to Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, two former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime. The judgment is an important development in the ECCC’s life for a number of reasons. First, although the SCC rejected the two accused’s allegations of fair trial breaches, and upheld convictions for crimes against humanity of murder, persecution on political grounds and other inhumane acts, the SCC was did not uniformly support the conclusions of the Trial Chamber (TC). Highlighting several incidences in which the TC failed to demonstrate sufficient evidence to justify its conclusions, the SCC reversed convictions in relation to the execution of Khmer Republic officials, extermination during the evacuation of Phnom Penh, and the persecution during the forced movement of the population. As I have noted elsewhere, these findings are an important contribution to the legacy of the ECCC. The TC’s initial judgment had been strongly criticized for its failure to engage sufficiently with the evidence, and the SCC’s decision to overturn its findings, while maintaining the life sentences due to the gravity of the crimes, has hopefully improved the reputation of the ECCC’s jurisprudence and enhanced its contribution to international criminal law more broadly.

Another particularly noteworthy element of the judgment, is the SCC’s handling of the mode of liability, Joint Criminal Enterprise III (JCE III). Although the SCC rejected the Co-Prosecutors’ appeal in this regard on procedural grounds, the Chamber found that the appeal gave the SCC the opportunity to analyze the concept of JCE III. In a decision that has the potential to seriously impact the legitimacy of this already controversial mode of liability, the SCC found that JCE III was not customary international law at the time the crimes were committed, and excluded it from all future proceedings at the ECCC.

JCE was first defined as a distinct form of criminal liability by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s Appeal Chamber, in their very first case, against Duško Tadić. The ICTY found that participation in a common plan could be a form of ‘committing’ a crime, and outlined three forms of JCE:

  1. JCE I, or the ‘basic’ mode, provides for liability where an individual intentionally acts collectively with others to commit international crimes pursuant to a common plan.
  2. JCE II, or the ‘systematic’ form, allows for liability when individuals contribute to the maintenance or essential functions of a criminal institution or system, for example in concentration or detention camps.
  3. JCE III, the most controversial form, provides for liability for crimes that were the natural and foreseeable consequence of implementing the common design.

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Introducing Rachel Killean


It is our great pleasure to welcome our new IntLawGrrls contributor Rachel Killean! Rachel is a lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast, where she teaches Public Law and International Human Rights Law. Her research interests centre around two key topics: first, the ways in which states and other actors respond to international crimes and mass human rights violations, and second, the various factors and contexts which influence the invisibility or visibility of certain crimes and harms.

Rachel completed her PhD in 2016, which examined the extent to which international criminal courts can respond to the needs and interests of victims. In particular, it focused on the role of victims within the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Drawing from critical victimology, socio-legal theory and procedural justice theory, it considered how the rights victims were given, and the ‘justice’ which they received from the Court, was shaped by the various political, legal and civil society actors involved in the Court’s work. She is in the process of turning her thesis into a book which will be published by Routledge in 2018.

Rachel is currently working on a AHRC funded project which examines responses to the destruction of cultural property, with a particular focus on the treatment of the minority Cham group during the Khmer Rogue.

Both Rachel and the cultural property project, can be found on twitter: @rkillean and @RestoringCP

Rachel’s first post will examine the most recent Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) judgment. Heartfelt welcome!