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Home Archive for category "International Tribunals" (Page 87)

Domestic Enforcement of Decisions of International Tribunals

Published on March 27, 2009        Author: 

I am at the American Society of International Law’s Annual Meeting and attended a panel on the domestic enforcement of decisions of international tribunals.  The panelists, which included distinguished presenters Professors Lori Fisler Damrosch of Columbia University and Andreas Paulus of Gottingen, spoke about the Medellin case of the US Supreme court, about the Kadi decision of the European Court of Justice and comparative perspectives from Canada and elsewhere. Listening to the presentations – which were very good – two questions occurred to me:

1) There must be more practice regarding the domestic implementation of decisions of the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals than is commonly assumed. In Medellin, Chief Justice Roberts stated that:

Our conclusion that Avena does not by itself constitute binding federal law is confirmed by the “postratification understanding” of signatory nations.  . . . [N]either Medelln nor his amici have identified a single nation that treats ICJ judgments as binding in domestic courts. … [T]he lack of any basis for supposing that any other country would treat ICJ judgments as directly enforceable as a matter of their domestic law strongly suggests that the treaty should not be so viewed in our courts.

It may well be that Chief Justice Roberts is right that no nation treats ICJ judgments as binding in domestic courts. But I wonder whether that is actually so. In particular, it seems to me that looking at the practice of those States that have been involved in territorial and boundary disputes before the ICJ (or international arbitration) would tell us much about whether States regard ICJ decisions as automatically binding in their domestic legal systems. Whenever the ICJ or a tribunal rules that a territory which was previously under the administration of one State actually belongs to another (eg Cameroon v. Nigeria or Temple of Preah Vihear), the decision will need to be implemented in domestic law. In general, there has been good compliance with ICJ decisions on territorial/boundary disputes. So, the question is how have these decisions been implemented?Have the losing States passed domestic legislation or have they  just taken the necessary steps for implementation without passing such legislation. In order to have full compliance, the courts of these states will need to consider that the territory in question is no longer within the jurisdiction of their State.

2) I wonder whether there are any international law impediments to the enforcement in national courts of monetary compensation awarded by international tribunals against a State. Read the rest of this entry…

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Would the addition of a Genocide Charge to the Bashir Arrest Warrant Change the Position on Immunity?

Published on March 24, 2009        Author: 

The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Bashir only with respect to war crimes and crimes against humanity and rejected the Prosecutor’s request for a charge of genocide. Marko (and Kevin Jon Heller at Opinio Juris) have (rightly, in my view) criticized the reasoning by which the majority of the Chamber held that the materials provided by the prosecution failed to provide reasonable grounds to believe that Bashir and the Government of Sudan acted with the special intent to destroy the groups being targeted in Darfur. The Prosecutor has now appealed the decision of the PTC to reject the genocide charge. If the Appeals Chamber were to add the genocide charge to the arrest warrant, the decision would have an impact on whether other States may arrest Bashir. This is because it could then be argued that the genocide charge creates an obligation arising under the Genocide Convention 1948 for parties to that treaty to cooperate with the ICC, including an obligation of arrest.

 In the 2007 merits judgment in the Bosnian Genocide Convention Case, the International Court of Justice held (paras. 439-450) that the obligation to punish genocide contained in the Genocide Convention also includes an obligation to cooperate with competent international courts including an obligation to arrest persons suspected of genocide. In that case, the ICJ found that Serbia had violated this obligation by failing to arrest and surrender, to the ICTY, persons wanted by that tribunal in connection with the genocide in Srebrenica. The ICJ relied on Article VI of the Convention which provides that

 Persons charged with genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction.

 The court implied an obligation on States to cooperate with such competent international tribunals and to arrest persons wanted by the tribunal when the State on whose territory the person is found has accepted the jurisdiction of that tribunal. Read the rest of this entry…

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Distinctions between the Legal Position of ICC Parties and Non-Parties Regarding Aggression

Published on March 21, 2009        Author: 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently released the latest report of the Special Working Group (of the Assembly of States Parties) on the Crime of Aggression.  Art. 5 of the ICC Statute includes the crime of aggression as one of the crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. However, the Court may only exercise jurisdiction over it once a provision has been adopted defining the crime and setting out the conditions under which the Court shall exercise over it. In anticipation of the ICC Review Conference to be held in 2010, the Special Working Group has been developing proposals on aggression.  The latest report reveals that the members of the Group are largely agreed on the definition of the crime of aggression which is based on General Assembly Resolution 3314 (1974) on the “Definition of Aggression.” According to the definition proposed by the Group:

For the purpose of this Statute, “crime of aggression” means the planning, preparation, initiation or execution, by a person in a position effectively to exercise control over or to direct the political or military action of a State, of an act of aggression which, by its character, gravity and scale, constitutes a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations.

“Act of aggression” is then said to mean:

the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations. Any of the following acts, regardless of a declaration of war, shall, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974, qualify as an act of aggression: . . .

However, deep divisions remain over the role of the Security Council when attempts are made to invoke the jurisdiction of the ICC over aggression. In particular there is no agreement on whether the approval of the Security Council is required for the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation regarding aggression and on whether a determination of aggression by the General Assembly or the International Court of Justice should suffice for the Prosecutor to proceed.  Questions also remain as to how the amendments regarding aggression are to become operatonal and as to whether the Security Council may refer a situation concerning aggression to the ICC before the entry into force of the amendments but after the Review Conference adopts a definition. The latter issue raises questions about the interpretation of Art. 121(5) of the Statute and whether there is a difference between the position of State parties and non-parties under the Statute. Read the rest of this entry…

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Who is Obliged to Arrest Bashir?

Published on March 13, 2009        Author: 

Last week, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese President, Omar Al Bashir. The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC directed the ICC Registry to transmit a request for arrest and surrender of Bashir to (i) all States Parties to the ICC Statute and (ii) all United Nations Security Council members that are not States Parties to the Statute. Does this mean that these States are under an obligation to arrest Bashir were him to travel to their territory? Are these States even permitted by international law to arrest Bashir? It remains to be seen whether Bashir would be bold enough to leave Sudan. For example would he attend the Heads of States meeting of the African Union or perhaps wish to attend the annual session of United Nations General Assembly in New York. Were Bashir to travel abroad, States, particularly non-parties to the ICC Statute (like Ethiopia and the United States) would be faced with these tricky questions

 The answer to these questions depend on the extent to which international law accords immunity to Heads of States and on the legal nature of Security Council referrals of situations to the ICC. Many have noted the significance of an international tribunal issuing an arrest warrant for a serving Head of State. Of course, this is not the first time that this has happened. The ICTY issued a warrant for Milosevic while he was head of the State of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Special Court for Sierra Leone indicted Charles Taylor while he was President of Liberia. Christine Chung notes in her post below that there has been no hand-wringing by other States about Bashir’s immunity and suggest that this is a matter of interest only to academics. States may not have commented on this issue but this is only because States have not as yet been faced with the question. States will only be faced with the question if Bashir travels abroad and they are called upon to arrest him. In that scenario, States will have to consider not only this particular case but also the precedents that they wish to set. They will also have to consider what obligations they may have under the ICC Statute, under other treaties (including the UN Charter) and under customary international law.

While, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber implicitly answered one part of the immunity question in its decision, it has not disposed of the entire question. The Pre-Trial Chamber in para 41considered that

the current position of Omar Al Bashir as Head of a state which is not a party  to the Statute, has no effect on the Court’s jurisdiction over the present case.

The PTC reached this decision based on four considerations the most important of which are that: (i) Art. 27 of the ICC provides that the Statute applies equally to all persons without distinction based on official capacity and that immunities which may attach to official capacity under national or international law shall not bar the Court from exercising jurisdiction; and (ii) the Security Council by referring the Darfur situation to the Court has accepted that the investigation and prosecution shall take place in accordance with the framework set out in the Statute.

Implied in the Court’s statement is the view, that the Security Council has implicitly adopted Art. 27 and thus implicitly sanctioned the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court over a serving head of State who would otherwise be immune from jurisdiction. I do not disagree with this. Any other view would leave Article 27 without effect.

However, the Court does not have power of arrests. Unless Bashir surrenders voluntarily, it will have to depend on a State to arrest Bashir. The question that then arises is whether Bashir is immune from arrest by national authorities. Read the rest of this entry…

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Justice for Bashir: What’s Different Today?

Published on March 5, 2009        Author: 

Christine Chung is a Senior Fellow at the Schell Center for International Human Rights, Yale Law School where she teaches “The International Criminal Court: Prospects for Global Justice.” Ms. Chung was the first senior trial attorney appointed at the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and worked in The Hague from 2004 to 2007.

If you’re looking for the justification for the front-page media headlines about the ICC warrant naming Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, there are two, to my mind. First, the world’s permanent international criminal court has charged a sitting head of State, and sister States aren’t close to hand-wringing over immunity. (My academic colleagues are a different matter – read, for example, Marko and Dapo). Yesterday’s decision might be the nail in the coffin of the era in which heads of State escaped being called to account for perpetrating atrocities.

Second, the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber I to decline to include the charge of genocide requested by Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo (by a 2-1 vote) reinforced that pursuing a genocide charge is, for an international prosecutor, fraught with peril. The old legal issues of how to define an “ethnic” group and where to find the specific intent to destroy a group (in the usual case, where there is no direct evidence) were very much in evidence in the Chamber’s split opinions. On top of those, the Judges wrestled with questions about the degree to which the ICC should adopt or follow genocide jurisprudence from the ICJ and the ad hoc tribunals, the proper interpretation of the “reasonable grounds” standard applicable at the stage of evaluating a request for an ICC arrest warrant, and how to reconcile the Rome Statute provisions with the ICC Elements of Crimes. Bottom line: the need to settle the law of this new Court, if anything, further complicates the already extremely difficult business of proving genocide.

As fascinated as we lawyers are by judicial decision-making, though, it’s more important in Bashir’s case to identify what did not change yesterday. Read the rest of this entry…

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ICC Issues Arrest Warrant for Bashir, but Rejects the Genocide Charge

Published on March 4, 2009        Author: 

(Updated)

Today the International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Omar al Bashir, the serving President of Sudan, for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. (The decision is now available here). The news were expected after a leak a few weeks ago. What came as a pretty big surprise, however, is that the Pre-Trial Chamber rejected the genocide charges against Bashir. Though many commentators, including myself, have expressed skepticism that the prosecution would be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of genocide in Darfur at trial, the test for the issuance of an arrest warrant is much lower. Under Article 58(1) of the Rome Statute, all the prosecution had to prove to obtain an arrest warrant was that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the person in question committed the crimes charged.

It is a bit strange that the prosecution was unable to furnish such proof at this stage of the proceedings in respect of the genocide charge. Either that, or the judges themselves implicitly employed a higher standard. As a matter of policy, I certainly agree with the judges – it is better that the genocide charge is dropped now, than for a probable acquittal on the genocide charge to overshadow Bashir’s guilt on other charges after an eventual trial. Legally, however, the decision to reject the genocide charges could be somewhat suspect. (Similar thoughts from Kevin Heller, who rightly points out that the prosecution can appeal the PTC’s rejection of the genocide charge.)

Read the rest of this entry…

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ICTY Trial Chamber decides Milutinovic et al

Published on February 26, 2009        Author: 

Today a Trial Chamber of the ICTY delivered its judgment in Milutinovic et al, a case against a number of high-ranking political, military and police officials of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia regarding crimes committed by FRY/Serbian forces in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999. This is the first judgment delivered by the ICTY on Kosovo, since the Kosovo indictment against Slobodan Milosevic was never adjudicated on because of the death of the accused. Because of the scope of the case and the status of the accused, this is beyond any doubt one of the most important trial judgments to be delivered by the ICTY.

In its judgment, the Trial Chamber confirmed the existence of a broad campaign of violence against the Kosovo Albanian civilian population, causing the departure of at least 700.000 Albanians from Kosovo. The campaign was legally qualified as deportation, murder and persecution as crimes against humanity.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Kadi and Al Barakaat: Luxembourg is not Texas – or Washington DC

Published on February 25, 2009        Author: 

Piet Eeckhout is Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for European Law at King’s College London. He was a member of the legal team for the applicant Yassin Kadi.

The European Court of Justice’s approach in the Kadi decision has already been described as sharply dualist (see,Professor Joseph Weiler’s EJIL editorial, posted here on this blog and Gráinne de Búrca, “The European Court of Justice and the International Legal Order after Kadi“, Jean Monnet Working Paper No. 01/09).  The Court emphasises the autonomy of the Community legal order. Judicial review in the light of fundamental rights is the expression of a constitutional guarantee stemming from the EC Treaty as an autonomous legal system, a guarantee which is not to be prejudiced by an international agreement. Not even the UN Charter is capable of interfering with that guarantee, notwithstanding the Charter’s primacy under international law, a primacy which the Court accepts.

The strong confirmation of the autonomy of Community law is undeniable. But there is of course nothing new in that autonomy: since Van Gend en Loos this is the very premise of the Community legal order. However, I find the notion of dualism much less helpful for the purpose of characterising the Court’s reasoning. The interactions between international law and municipal law in today’s world have too many different dimensions for blunt concepts such as monism and dualism to be helpful. This means that Kadi needs to be put in perspective. It is very tempting to argue that the judgment is ground-breaking, perhaps even revolutionary, the most important judgment handed down by the Court in decades. Alas, my academic assessment is that this is exaggerated. Read the rest of this entry…

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The Obligation to “Extradite or Prosecute” is not an Obligation to “Prosecute or Extradite”

Published on February 23, 2009        Author: 

Joanna Harrington is Associate Professor of Law, University of Alberta, Canada. Her Phd obtained from the University of Cambridge dealt with extradition and human rights. From 2006-2008, she was on secondment to the Legal Affairs Bureau of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. In that capacity, she, among other things, was a member of the Canadian delegation to the UN General Assembly for meetings of the Sixth (Legal) Committee dealing with the work of the International Law Commission.

Dapo’s post on the case in the ICJ between Belgium and Senegal highlights the real issue in the case, which is this question of whether international law “obliges” prosecution.

One aspect of the ILC’s recent work on “Extradite or prosecute” that has attracted my own interest is the Special Rapporteur’s description of this obligation as a choice, an “either/or” option for States, thus equating “extradite or prosecute” with “prosecute or extradite” (the latter being the “obligation” now invoked by Belgium).

In the very treaties that the Special Rapporteur has cited in his reports, the actual wording of the treaty provisions imposes an obligation to extradite, and IF that does not occur, THEN an obligation arises to submit the case for prosecution. In other words, there is a condition within the treaty-based provision, which the shorthand reference to “extradite or prosecute” does not convey, and which does not mean that we can look to these treaty obligations on “extradite or prosecute” to substantiate a customary obligation to “prosecute or extradite”. We can’t just flip the phrase. This is especially so where the obligation to extradite or prosecute applies to crimes for which one of the state parties to the extradition treaty would not have jurisdiction to prosecute. This happens in extradition treaties between common law and civil law countries, when the latter may invoke the nationality exception to extradition, and in return, is subject to an obligation to submit the case for consideration for national prosecution. The common law country would not be in the same position if it refused to extradite all nationals for all crimes given the territorial nature of much of common law criminal law.

Read the rest of this entry…

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Belgium brings case against Senegal in the ICJ over Failure to Prosecute Hissene Habre

Published on February 20, 2009        Author: 

Belgium has filed a case in the ICJ against Senegal (see press release) with regard to Senegal’s failure to prosecute former Chadian Head of State, Hissene Habre. This is the latest episode in the long running saga regarding the possible prosecution of Habre. Habre is accused of torture and crimes against humanity committed in the 1980s against dissidents and political opponents during his period in office in Chad. Habre has been resident in Senegal since he was overthrown in 1990. Following the Pinochet precedent, attempts were first made in 2000 to institute criminal proceedings in Senegal against Habre. These attempts failed when the Senegalese courts held that Senegal lacked extraterritorial jurisdiction over the crimes because it had not passed the necessary legislation. Thereafter, proceedings against Habre were commenced in Belgium and, in 2005, a Beglian magistrate issued an international arrest warrant for Habre. After the African Union recommended prosecution in Senegal, that country amended its domestic law in order to provide jurisdiction for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. However, no proceedings against Habre have been commenced in Senegal though he is said to be under house arrest.

 In its Application to the ICJ Belgium, requests the Court to adjudge and declare that:

” –  the Republic of Senegal is obliged to bring criminal proceedings against Mr. H. Habré for acts including crimes of torture and crimes against humanity which are alleged against him as author, co-author or accomplice;
– failing the prosecution of Mr. H. Habré, the Republic of Senegal is obliged to extradite him to the Kingdom of Belgium so that he can answer for his crimes before the Belgian courts”.

Belgium has also requested provisional measures as the Senegalese President has suggested that Habre may be released from house arrest. Read the rest of this entry…

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