Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Conference Summary

A summary of the academic and social events of the conference is now available on the website of the ILA headquarters :

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Justice Manohar (Retd.) on Islamic Finance and the Influence of Religion on Law

Sujata Manohar (Former Judge of the Supreme Court of India) has sent in a copy of her presentation at the panel on Islamic Finance and the Influence of Religion on Law. An issue she discusses is whether the need for ethical business practices demonstrated by the events of the recent financial crisis could - should - be addressed by incorporating religious norms into national laws :

Islamic Finance & Influence of Religion on Law
                                                                       Mrs. (Justice) Sujata Manohar (retd.).
                                                                         Former Judge, Supreme Court of India.

            Movement of people across the globe in the first decade of this century coupled with globalization of trade and finance has generated a renewed interest in spiritual or moral values that influence diverse groups of people living together. Globalization has also brought with it conflicts between differing sets of such values, and raised anew the question, “How far should religion or religious norms influence the law?” It is clear that this increased interest in the fundamentals of religion & spiritual traditions has generated a tendency to incorporate religious concepts in a new field-laws governing Finance and Banking or laws regulating business activities. At the same time, the recent financial crisis has exposed corporate malpractices, and the urgent need for value driven business practices being incorporated in laws that govern business organizations and their interaction with the public. There is an obvious need for ethical business practices which can be ensured by appropriate laws. Can this need for value driven business activities be filled by incorporating religious concepts pertaining to business in national laws?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Martijn Keeman on the Piracy Panel

In this blog post, Martijn Keeman (University of Amsterdam) looks at the panel discussions on the legal grounds for the fight against piracy as well as the argument (see link)  that Somali pirates are eco warriors/freedom fighters:

        Too high a Wave? Legal Grounds for the Fight against Piracy

The recent fight against the ‘17th century crime’ of piracy has set much in motion. It has united the United Nations P5 in operations for the first time since WWII, brought China's warships outside the Pacific for the first time in 600 years, and led to the establishment of the EU’s first naval operation, Atalanta. Next to these military operations, a string of UNSC Resolutions such as 1816 (2008) have been drafted providing Chapter VII power for combating piracy. In such a climate of co-operation and common grounds, it must be doable to reach a consensus on the legal grounds for the fight against piracy.

The ILA 2010 conference panel on the topic was composed of an interesting mix of academics and practitioners. Dr van Ginkel first set out the political and legal framework. She noted that in general, a lot of the modern Somali pirates are well-organized and well-equipped. Mr Kioko then made some interesting remarks on the view of the African Union (AU) on the problem.

On the question of where these pirates belonged in terms of prosecution, the AU had no problem with them being tried outside the continent. Although there have been memoranda of understanding signed by Western nations with countries such as Kenya and the Seychelles, for the transfer of pirates to the latter countries for prosecution, and there is interest on the part of  countries such as Tanzania in entering into such agreements, the AU takes a pragmatic stance on the actual place of prosecution.

Monday, August 30, 2010

ILA 2010 in Pictures

Chair of the conference and new president of the ILA, Prof. Nico Schrijver

                                                                          Ernst Hirsch Ballin, Minister of Justice of the Netherlands
General Opening Session of the Conference

Dr. Sarah Nouwen delivering the contribution of the Programme Chairs
Conference dinner at the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights)
Harp performance by Remy van Kesteren

Martijn Keeman Reports on the Climate Change Panel

Martijn Keeman (University of Amsterdam) has sent in the following report in which he analyses the panel debate and dwells on the complementary role of both the public and private sectors in solving the climate change dilemma. His emphasis on private sector initiatives mirrors the stress placed by some participants at the world financial crisis panel on the role of the private sector in averting another crisis.

Report by Martijn Keeman

The thread of this session was whether international law could steer a favourable outcome for the next conference in Mexico or even drive the effort to mitigate harmful climate change, as the outcome of Copenhagen is still crystallizing at best. When political leadership seems to be failing, can international law take the lead and promote or enforce policy changes?

Cancun (the next and 16th UN conference of parties to the Climate Change Convention scheduled for November and December 2010) was, of course, never intended to be the final stop on the road to tackling climate change, but the panellists shared the view that there was unfortunately little prospect of a global agreement on emission reduction emerging from the conference. Professor Murase already wished to look beyond Cancun for policy changes to come, and Professor Gupta concurred in that the momentum seemed to have halted after the Copenhagen conference.

The reality is that in states' parlance as of now, ‘E’ is for economy and not for environment.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Panel on Climate Change : Report by Prof. Lavanya Rajamani

Lavanya Rajamani (Professor at the International Law Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi and Chair of the ILA 2010 conference panel on Climate Change) has sent in this report of the panel discussions with an emphasis on the role of governments in addressing climate change:

An Afternoon Debating the Future of the Climate Change Regime and the Influence of Human Rights Approaches

An afternoon of conversations on climate change kicked off with a panel discussion featuring Professor Shinya Murase, Sophia University, Professor Joyeeta Gupta, Vrije University and Dr Margot Salomon, LSE. And, continued in the Open Working Session of the ILA Committee on the Legal Principles Relating to Climate Change.

Although climate change is at the top of the international agenda, and tremendous political capital has been expended on it in the recent past, a solution to this vexing problem is far from sight. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), 1992, and its Kyoto Protocol, 1997, contain emissions reduction commitments that are both inadequate and inadequately implemented. Negotiations scheduled to arrive at an “agreed outcome” at Copenhagen in December, 2009, are still ongoing. The non-binding Copenhagen Accord arrived at in December 2009 among heads of states of 28 Parties to the FCCC, takes but a limited step forward.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Panel on the Responsibility of the International Lawyer for Legal Advice that Leads A Government to Violate International Law

In the build up to NATO’s military intervention in the Balkans, as NATO countries sought to justify their plans for a military intervention in the Former Yugoslavia without Security Council approval, Madeleine Albright (US Secretary of State under the Clinton Administration) is famously alleged  to have replied as follows when her British counterpart complained of “problems with our lawyers”: “get new lawyers”.

Whether or not NATO’s bombing of the Former Yugoslavia was legal remains a subject of debate in academic and political circles. Regardless, the Albright anecdote aptly underscores the role of the government legal advisor in justifying governmental action which might constitute a breach of international law.

It is this role that formed the subject of the ILA 2010 panel on the responsibility of the international lawyer for advice that leads his/her government to violate international law. As the decision of a government to prosecute an illegal war, torture prisoners or act in any other manner that is in breach of international law may be based on the advice of a legal advisor, the question arises as to what responsibility should be borne by the legal advisor for such advice.