Write On! American Society of Int’l Law

This installment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls for papers to the American Society of International Law’s International Economic Law Interest Group, as follows:

The American Society of International Law’s International Economic Law Interest Group will be holding its Biennial Conference on International Economic Law on February 14-15, 2020 at the University of Miami School of Law in Miami, Florida. The theme of the conference is Designing International Economic Law: Challenges and Opportunities.

The deadline for both unpublished paper and panel proposal submissions is Monday, June 24. Submissions should be sent to 2020IELconference@gmail.com. For more information, click here.


On the Job! Internship at The Int’l Nuremberg Principles Academy

On the Job! compiles interesting vacancy notices, as follows:

The International Nuremberg Principles Academy (Nuremberg Academy) is seeking individuals on an ongoing basis for 3-month internships to support the individual areas of event organization, press, and research. 

They offer interesting and diverse insights into the work of an internationally oriented foundation located in Nuremberg, the birthplace of modern international criminal law

The Nuremberg Academy is a foundation established to promote international criminal law and is based at the site of the Nuremberg Trials, the birthplace of modern international criminal law. It makes it a special priority to work with countries and societies that face challenges in international criminal law. For more information on the requirements to apply and the position, click here.

Go On! Regional ILA Conference in Slovenia

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

► The Slovene Branch of the International Law Association is organizing the first Regional ILA Conference in Slovenia. The conference will take place from June 27 to 30, 2019 in the seaside resort of Bernardin located between the town of Piran and the Portorož Riviera on the Adriatic coast. The general theme of the conference is “Migration / international legal regulation” and will thus provide a forum to address and discuss a plethora of challenging questions related to the issue of migration from both the public and private international law lens in a region largely affected by the topic. The program of the conference is available here.

The U.S. Supreme Court Can’t Avoid Sex-Selective, Race-Selective, and Disability-Selective Abortion Bans Forever

After considering the case in fifteen consecutive conferences, the Court in Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky gave us a rare window into its politics. In a carefully negotiated compromise, the Court denied certification on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit’s finding that laws that banned sex-selective, race-selective, and disability-selective abortion are unconstitutional. In addition, the Court summarily (without further briefing or oral argument) reversed the Seventh Circuit’s finding that Indiana’s law that fetal remains must be disposed of like human remains is unconstitutional.

On the question of disposal of fetal remains, Justice Ginsburg points out that the litigants used the weaker “rational basis” test rather than the “undue burden” standard articulated in Planned Parenthood v. Casey for “strategic” reasons. It is also for strategic reasons that pro-choice advocates have tried to keep what pro-life advocates call “anti-discrimination” provisions as far away from the Court as possible. While there were numerous amicus briefs from pro-life groups urging the Court to take certification in the case, no pro-choice group wrote an amicus brief.  Sex-selective abortion bans were adopted by Pennsylvania along with a host of other abortion restrictions in 1989. Planned Parenthood challenged a number of restrictions but didn’t challenge the one on sex-selection.

In the last decade, states started to ban sex-selective abortion on the false empirical premise that women, particularly Asian American women, abort fetuses when they learn of its sex. Proponents of those bans make reference to laws and practices in other countries to justify bans in the United States. Similarly, Justice Thomas also refers to countries where sex-selective abortions are widespread in his opinion. For example, he inappropriately quotes an article I wrote about sex-selective abortion in India. Vice President Pence who signed the Indiana laws when he was governor of Indiana released a statement urging the United States to follow the lead of other countries around the world and ban sex-selective abortion.

Pointing to the disproportionate abortion rate among African-American and Hispanic women, Justice Thomas suggests that race-selective abortion bans are necessary to prevent eugenics. Race-selective abortion bans prevent a woman from aborting her own fetus on the basis of its race. The text of the race-selective abortion ban was crafted to mirror the language of sex-selective abortion ban. However, the analogy becomes absurd when the actors with the purported racist and sexist intent are brought into the picture. It makes little sense to say that minority women obtain abortions because they object to the race of their own fetuses. The concept of “race” itself is socially constructed so it is not even possible to know the “race” of a fetus before it is born.

The reality is that among the so-called “anti-discrimination” bans, the only type of abortions that are known to occur in the United States are disability-selective abortions. Some women who may not want to raise a child with a severe disability might choose to abort a fetus in that situation. This issue deeply divides liberal communities with some advocates arguing that aborting fetuses with disabilities such as down syndrome devalues people with down syndrome.

For the moment, Justice Thomas agreed with his liberal colleagues to punt this complicated question to a different day, but he is right to say that the Court can’t avoid it forever. Rarely does the Supreme Court explain why it refuses to hear cases on appeal, but in Box v. Indiana, they stated that they refused to hear a challenge to the Indiana bans because the Seventh Circuit was the only appeals court that had ruled on the issue. Recently, a Federal judge granted a temporary injunction against Kentucky’s bans. That case will likely be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and their opinion might diverge from the judgment of the Federal Court for the Seventh Circuit. If that happens, it would create the circuit-split that would make granting certification more compelling. Bans on specific reasons for abortion could appeal to members of the Court that do not want to drive a truck through Roe v. Wade, but are willing to kill it with a thousand cuts.

[cross-posted on the Human Rights at Home Law Professor Blog]

Mexico Supreme Court: Abortion denied to rape victims violates international human rights and constitution

by Jennifer Paine, GIRE

In April 2018, the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación unanimously voted in favor of two separate cases (“Marimar” and ”Fernanda” ) where a woman or girl who became pregnant due to rape was denied access to a legal abortion. Both victims received legal support from GIRE, a Mexican organization that provides information on reproductive choice.

Both rulings recognized that denial of a legal abortion after rape constitutes a violation of reproductive rights. This is important because abortion after rape is legal in all 32 Mexican states. The federal “Victim’s Law” allows a raped woman or girl to access abortion at any public health center. Modified in 2016, the law’s content is now taken directly from international treaties. For example, the law does not require court authorization, filing of a police report nor parental consent for minors over age 12. Abortion care under these circumstances is defined as “emergency medical services.”

The Court used constitutional and international law to support its rulings. The first article of the Mexican Constitution states:

. . . all individuals shall be entitled to the human rights granted by this Constitution and the international treaties signed by the Mexican State, as well as to the guarantees for the protection of these rights. Said human rights shall not be restricted or suspended, except for the cases and under the conditions established by this Constitution itself.

The provisions relating to human rights shall be interpreted according to this Constitution and the international treaties on the subject, working always in favor of the broader protection of people.

The second ruling discussed the important role of the Federal Executive Committee:

…The Committee should place sufficient emphasis so that the corresponding comprehensive reparations establish guarantees of non-repetition that eradicate the serious human rights violations such as those in the present case, in that all types and levels of authorities should treat requests for the termination of pregnancy after sexual assault effectively, immediately and without objection, privileging the rights of all women who have been victims of cruel and inhuman acts such as sexual assault; these authorities should be aware their action of carrying out the legal termination of pregnancy is derived not only from secondary law, but from the compulsory observance of constitutional mandate. ( “Fernanda” ruling, pp 32-33)

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Introducing Jennifer Paine

Jennifer Paine has a Master’s Degree (1998) in International Affairs from Colombia University, with a specialization in human rights. She has been living and working in Mexico since 2000, and she is currently the Director of Institutional Development at the Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida (GIRE, Information Group on Reproductive Choice) online here.

Work On! ELGS Summer Intensive on Comparative Law and Global Governance

Work On! is an occasional item about workshops, roundtables, and other fora that do not necessarily include publication:

The European Law & Governance School (www.elgs.eu) a University operated by the EPLO, an International Organization based in Athens Greece, organizes this week-long program (July 22-26, 2019) to discuss the latest developments on Global and European governance covering both constitutional and institutional issues, global administrative law, and issues of soft governance.

It is designed for Master’s level students from all fields of social sciences as well as political scientists, civil servants, lawyers and officials of international organizations and domestic administrations who seek ways to continue their education.

The Aim of the Summer School is to foster leadership qualities among mature students and young professionals by opening a cross-border dialogue on current questions of global relevance. Participants will be inspired by – and learn from – high profile speakers who are eminent public figures in politics and academia. At the end of this course, participants will have a profound understanding of the state of play of international (regional and global) politics and law today and will have established a network of contacts with academics and practitioners working in the field.

The program takes place at the EPLO facilities in Sounion Greece, one hour away from Athens by car, very close to the Poseidon temple, overlooking the Aegean Sea. All of the courses will be seminar-like classes and colloquia, and the active class-participation will be encouraged. Applicants should submit an updated CV and letter of motivation in English at summerschools@elgs.eu T: +30 211 311 0 671. More information can be found here.

Applications will remain open until June 21, 2019.