International Law Weekend 2020

From October 22-24, 2020, the American Branch of the International Law Association will convene its annual International Law Weekend (ILW) conference, to be held online.

Registration is now open for ILW 2020! Registration is $50 for ABILA members who register by October 1, 2020 and $75 thereafter. Registration is $75 for non-ABILA members who register by October 1, 2020 and $100 thereafter. If you are an ABILA member who has not yet paid your dues for 2020 please do so from the Membership page.

If you have any questions, or need assistance, please contact the Membership Officer, Tabitha Crawford (tabitha.c@wustl.edu) Once you have paid your ABILA dues, please click here to register for ILW 2020.

For more information, visit ila-americanbranch.org/ilw.

TO BE HELD ONLINE INTERNATIONAL LAW IN CHALLENGING TIMES @ABILA_official

Introducing Mengjing Kong

It is our great pleasure to introduce our new IntLawGrrls contributor Mengjing Kong. Mengjing Kong is a JSD candidate at New York University School of Law. Her research interests focus on international trade, investment, and financial law. Prior to pursuing doctoral studies, Mengjing worked as a junior legal analyst at the WTO. She also was an intern at the UNCTAD (Division on Technology and Logistics), WTO (Trade and Environment Division),and the UN ESCAP (Trade, Investment and Innovation Division). She passed Chinese bar examination in 2013. Her first post will discuss China’s credibility dilemma and international cooperation in a post-COVID 19 era.

Heartfelt welcome!

Introducing Lara Miriam Ibrahim

It is our great pleasure to introduce our new IntLawGrrls contributor Lara Miriam Ibrahim. Lara is a recent Bachelor of Laws graduate from The University of Sheffield. She graduated at the top of her cohort, and has received a full scholarship to study her LLM specialising in International Law and Global Justice at the same institution. During her undergraduate degree, Lara spent a year at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where she furthered her knowledge on International Law, particularly from a gendered perspective. 
She is currently working with two NGOs, before the start of her LLM, as well as continuing to volunteer pro bono for destitute asylum seekers in the UK. Her interests lie in International Refugee Law, International Criminal Law and Human Rights, and her aspirations are to work within these areas in the future.

Heartfelt welcome!

Go On! Virtual Book Launch

The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies is having a virtual book launch, on October 8, at 12:00 EST. The editors and contributors of the handbook will provide introductions and share messages from their chapters. There will also be time for questions from the audience to the editors and contributors. To register for the virtual event, click here. And to access the handbook, click here.

Bully Tactics by the US Administration in an Attempt to Ensure Impunity

By press briefing on September 2, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo announced the imposition of sanctions against two International Criminal Court (ICC) officials—Prosecutor Fatou Bensounda and head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division (JCCD), Phakiso Mochochoko.  Pompeo also announced visa restrictions against unnamed ICC personnel.  Many in the US had hoped that the Administration would not take steps to implement Executive Order 13928 issued June 11, 2020 by President Trump, which permitted the imposition of asset freezes and travel bans.  (For a letter by 188 US lawyers and law professors opposed to the Executive Order, see this post.)

There are a host of problematic issues related to the implementation of sanctions; I will enumerate a few.

First, the Executive Order itself rests upon the fallacious premise that the International Criminal Court (ICC) presents “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” and the US must address this threat because it presents a “national emergency.”  (Executive Order.)  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Second, to impose sanctions against court officials of a judicial institution basically treats ICC officials as akin to terrorists and drug traffickers.  Not only is there absolutely no legal basis for the imposition of these sanctions, but these tactics place the US firmly on the side of impunity and opposed to the rule of law.  (See my prior Opinio Juris blog post.)

United States Senator Patrick Leahy is right to tweet:  “The Trump Administration’s announcement of sanctions against the ICC prosecutor exposes the fallacy of the White House’s professed commitment to the rule of law, and will further undermine U.S. leadership on international justice.”

Third, this whole sorry affair—which imposes serious consequences for the Prosecutor and Mr. Mochochoko—looks startlingly like offense against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Rome Statute.  Significantly, the European Union has called out the US for “attempt[ing] to obstruct the Court’s investigations and judicial proceedings.”  Article 70 of the Rome Statute gives the ICC jurisdiction regarding offenses “against [the] administration of justice when committed intentionally,” including:  . . .

d)  Impeding, intimidating or corruptly influencing an official of the Court for the purpose of forcing or persuading the official not to perform, or to perform improperly, his or her duties;

e) Retaliating against an official of the Court on account of duties performed by that or another official[.]

Fourth, while the asset freezes appear to target only two individuals, the Executive Order is exceedingly overbroad, covering anyone who provides “services” (Sec. 3 (a)) or “material assistance” (Sec. 1(i)(C)) to the two covered individuals or efforts by the ICC “to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any United States personnel without the consent of the United States,” or efforts by the ICC “to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any personnel of a country that is an ally of the United States without the consent of that country’s government.”  (Sec. 1(a)(i)(A)-(B).)  This stands to have a profound impact on ICC operations.  As Professor Megan Fairlie and I pointed out in a prior Opinio Juris post, much work at the ICC is not segregated by investigation, so if an IT service provider provides assistance to the ICC, who is to say whether some small measure of that assistance goes to the Afghanistan investigation, meaning the service provider could find its assets frozen.  Individual vendors, ICC personnel, and NGOs engaged in ICC advocacy should not be placed in this precarious position.  It is crucial for US allies who are States Parties to use their persuasive powers to convince the US Administration to reverse these sanctions. 

Fifth, providing “funds” that further the Afghanistan investigation could potentially also be covered (Sec. 3 (a); Sec. 1(a)(i)(A)-(C) (covering the provision of “financial” “support” for efforts by the ICC “to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any United States personnel without the consent of the United States”).  The 123 States Parties who fund the ICC need to persuade the US to reverse the Executive Order before the budget negotiations set for the December 7-17, 2020 meetings of the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties.  Their other option is to provide all requested funding to the ICC exceptfor funding to investigate US nationals—thereby assisting the US’s bid for impunity.  And, they might also defund the Israel/Palestine preliminary examination, which, while not expressly mentioned in the Executive Order, also appears to be covered (see Sec. 1(a)(i)(B)) (including “any effort by the ICC to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any personnel of a country that is an ally of the United States without the consent of that country’s government”)—meaning the provisions of funds that go towards that preliminary examination could also constitute a violation of the Executive Order (Sec. 1(a)(i)(C)).  The absurdity of encompassing 123 States Parties if they fund the ICC’s 2021 budget not only demonstrates the Executive Order’s profound overbreadth but the urgent imperative of its reversal.  

Finally a posting on Just Security is right to call out the US Administration as to those it has singled out to sanction.  Not only is there no basis to believe the Prosecutor or Mr. Mochochoko actually work on the Afghanistan investigation, the Just Security blog points out the clear optics of imposing sanctions only against ICC officials from African countries.  At a time when the US is undergoing hugely challenging issues in its own race relations, this choice seems hardly coincidental.  Or perhaps the US did not want to antagonize countries such as Canada, Belgium, or Argentina (from which other senior ICC officials hail), but was fine doing so vis-à-vis The Gambia and Lesotho (from which the Prosecutor and Mr. Mochochoko hail).

Bully tactics are the hallmarks of dictators and a profound embarrassment to US citizens who support the rule of law and the International Criminal Court.  Undermining a court designed to prosecute the gravest atrocity crimes of concern to the international community also does profound disserve to the victims of those crimes.

Jennifer Trahan, is Clinical Professor at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs and Director of their Concentration in International Law & Human Rights

Go On! International Law Association’s International Law Weekend

The American Branch of the International Law Association announced open registration for the annual International Law Weekend, which will be held virtually from October 22-24. This year’s theme is “International Law in Challenging Times.” ILW 2020 will explore this issue through a wide array of diverse panels that will touch on both public and private international law. Click here for details.

Go On! Yearbook of International Disaster Law Live Series Webinars

Yearbook of International Disaster Law announced open registration for Live Series Webinars, which will be held on September 15, September 29, and October 13. Within this series of webinars are presentations on relevant issues, such as the protection of persons in disasters, which is explored in the Yearbook’s first two issues, as well as “Covid-19: An International Disaster Law Perspective,” which will be explored in their next issue.  Click here for details.

Go On! Climate: Red Summit

Go On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures and similar events.

► International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies announced open registration for a Climate: Red Summit event, titled “Using Law and Policy to Reduce Risk, Enhance Coherence and Protect People”, which will be virtually held on September 9 at 17:00-18:30 Geneva time (11:00-13:30 Eastern). See the flyer below for more information and access the session (259) here: https://climate.red/atrium

Introducing Imogen Woods-Wilford

It is our great pleasure to introduce our new IntLawGrrls contributor, Imogen Woods-Wilford. Imogen is an undergraduate student at Stanford University. She has spent this summer as a fellow at the Stanford Existential Risk Initiative, researching how Human Rights can be applied in the prevention and mitigation of climate change. Her supervisor, Professor Beth Van Schaack, is the Leah Kaplan Visiting Professor in Human Rights at the Stanford Law School and a faculty affiliate with Stanford’s Center for Human Rights & International Justice.


Imogen first became interested in international human rights law aged 15, while lobbying the British Government to improve the UK’s air quality in order to protect children’s health. Since starting at Stanford in 2019, she has pursued this interest by taking a course at Stanford Law School under Professor Van Schaack.

Heartfelt welcome!

Read On! The Nineteenth Amendment and the U.S. “Women’s Emancipation Policy” in Post-World War II Occupied Japan: Going Beyond Suffrage

Written by Cornelia Weiss.

In 2019, the Akron Law School proactively celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment during a day-long conference. It was at a women’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio that in 1851 Sojourner Truth delivered one of the most famous speeches in U.S. history. And it was in Homer, Ohio that the first female candidate for U.S. president, Victoria Woodhull, issued speeches from the top of a mound in her childhood. 

As a result of the 2019 conference, the Akron Law Review issued a special edition on the 19th Amendment. My article, The Nineteenth Amendment and the U.S. “Women’s Emancipation Policy” in Post-World War II Occupied Japan: Going Beyond Suffrage (https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol53/iss2/4/), addresses what may be the first U.S. feminist foreign policy: emancipation of women in Post-World War II Occupied Japan. The article discussed what actions were taken and what actions were knowingly not taken during this period as well as the consequences of these actions, inactions, and failures for present day Japan (and for the greater world). 

A mere 25 years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women’s suffrage had transformed from being controversial to being an ingrained assumption of what constitutes “democracy” by a five star military general, General Douglas MacArthur (the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers to Japan). MacArthur advised Japanese leaders in Post-WWII Occupied Japan: “In the achievement of the Potsdam Declaration, the traditional social order under which the Japanese people for centuries have been subjugated will be corrected.” He continued: “In the implementation of these requirements and to accomplish the purposes thereby intended, I expect you to institute the following reforms in the social order of Japan as rapidly as they can be assimilated.” His first demand: “The emancipation of the women of Japan.” How?: “[T]hrough their enfranchisement – that, being members of the body politic, they may bring to Japan a new concept of government directly subservient to the well being of the home.” 

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