Monday, September 14, 2015

ABA Section of International Law 2015 Fall Meeting

The ABA Section of International Law invites you to attend its 2015 Fall Meeting in the multicultural and charming city of Montréal, Canada from October 20-24, 2015. Join over 1,100 leaders and experts, policy makers, judges academics, lawyers from non-governmental organizations, in-house counsel and law students for three days of networking and programming on the latest international legal and ethics issues.

 The 2015 Fall Meeting will offer you:
 • Over 65 cutting edge panel sessions examining this year’s theme: Globalization and the Importance of Law, Language and Culture. Plus, an entire year’s worth of U.S. CLE/Canadian CPD.

 • Interactive programming covering dispute resolution, legal and regulatory issues, business and finance, human rights, sports and entertainment, trade and the impact of culture on law and business.

 • Exclusive networking opportunities each day including twice daily networking breaks, a home hospitality night, receptions at Cirque Eloize, the Montreal Science Center- The Belvedere , a relaxed reception featuring Canadian cuisine and beer tasting, and a Friday night after-hours reception.

 Register now and save! Discounted Early Bird rates expire September 8. Rates are further discounted for young lawyers (35 years and under), full time government and NGO employees, academics, law students, corporate counsel, solo / small practice and retired attorneys.

Also, please be aware that your committee will have several opportunities to meet throughout the meeting. There will be a committee breakfast meeting, a committee luncheon on the Thursday of the conference (for $25), and the committee dinners on Wednesday. You will be getting a list of restaurant suggestions for the Wednesday dinner soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

An Interactive Look at the Global Refugee Crisis, Region by Region

Kurdish women and children from Syria at a Turkish military checkpoint near Kobani, a Syrian town badly damaged by the war last year. Bryan Denton for The New York Times

The New York Times has published an interactive look at hot spots in what the United Nations says has become the worst migration crisis since World War II.

THE BALKANS - Tens of thousands of migrants and refugees are working their way north through the Balkans. Masses of migrants and refugees, many from Syria, Afghanistan and Kosovo, have been overwhelming border authorities in several Balkan countries as they try to reach Western Europe. The migrants travel in groups of just a few to dozens, moving north by bus, train, taxi or van. Serbian news media reported that some 70 buses of migrants entered the capital, Belgrade. Migrants in Macedonia told reporters that they were especially eager to move after Hungary said it planned to complete a fence along its 109-mile border with Serbia.

THE MIDDLE EAST - Syria’s neighbors have been making it harder for migrants to cross into their territories. Years of violence in Iraq and Syria have stretched the capacities of neighboring countries to accommodate the displaced. In Jordan, unemployment has almost doubled since 2011 in areas with high concentrations of refugees, according to a recent International Labor Organization study. Lebanon began to require visas from Syrians in January. Refugees now make up about 20 percent of Lebanon’s population. In March, Turkey announced it would close the two remaining border gates with Syria.

SOUTHEAST ASIA - Thousands of Bangladeshis and Rohingya, an ethnic minority from Myanmar, have fled from poverty and persecution. Indonesia and Malaysia, countries that in the past have quietly taken in many refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar, first reacted to the new rise in migrants by vowing to send back smugglers’ boats. Facing public pressure, they reversed their stance in mid-May, saying they would provide shelter to migrants still at sea. An absence of landings and a paucity of sightings suggest that the flow has subsided.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA - The European Union wants to stop smugglers near the African coast. European governments are divided over the fates of those who reach shore. In May, European leaders said they would form a naval force based in Italy to combat people-smuggling. The European Commission also appealed to the bloc’s member states to accept quotas of migrants to relieve the burden on southern states, like Italy and Greece, which are the main landing points. Poverty and war in places like Libya, South Sudan, Eritrea and Nigeria are driving migrants to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea.

- Fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists has severely damaged Ukraine’s industrial belt. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled to Russia. But European Union countries, like Poland, Germany and Italy, which are among the top destinations for asylum seekers, have rejected most applications from Ukrainians. Less than a third of the $316 million needed in 2015 for the United Nations’ humanitarian response has been raised so far. The conflict was particularly damaging to Ukraine’s economy, which is expected to shrink 9 percent by the end of the year.

Excerpts, read full article here.

Sources: Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization for Migration

Additional work by Sarah Almukhtar, Wilson Andrews, Joe Burgess, K.K. Rebecca Lai, David Furst, Alison Smale and Derek Watkins.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

ABA International Human Rights Committee Wins Three Awards, R&R Adopted at 2015 Annual Conference

Congratulations to the entire International Human Rights Committee, which won the ABA Outstanding Committee Award. This award is given to one committee for demonstrating excellence in its commitment to its mandate and showing productivity and advancing knowledge and expertise of bar members. Great job everyone!

Congratulations to Stephanie Williams and Joseph Jacob, 2014-2015 IHRC Vice Chairs of Communication and Social Media, for winning the 2015 Best Social Media and Website Award! It is worth noting that Stephanie and Jacob received the same award last year. It is well-deserved and we appreciate all of the hard work.

Congratulations to Greg McKenzie, who was recently appointed Co-Chair of the IHRC, for winning the 2015 Best Committee Program Award. Mr. McKenzie's program at the Fall 2014 Buenos Aires Conference not only received high praise but also made the Buenos Aires Herald newspaper. Kudos Greg, you did a stellar job!

But wait, there's more good news! The ABA House of Delegates voted to adopt the International Human Rights Committee's Election Monitoring R&R. The committee's R&R is now the official position of the entire American Bar Association. The Election Monitoring R&R recommends the monitoring the of U.S. election per our OSCE participation. IHRC Vice Chair Catherine ("Cathy") Vernon lead the drafting team, but credit is due to all the IHRC members who dedicated their precious time, energy and skills to make this happen!

These awards above were present on behalf of the committees at the 2015 ABA Annual Meeting, held July 30- August 4, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

We'd like to thank the ABA Section of International Law for recognizing our committee and its dedicated members.

Additionally, we'd like to extend a special thanks to you - our fans and supporters, for promoting our committee and participating in programs, teleconference, special projects and events. We couldn't do anything without you!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nepal Earthquake 2015: How You Can Help

Nepal on Sunday was left reeling in shock a day after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake caused widespread destruction across the Himalayan nation and claimed over 3,617 thus far. More than 6,500 people have been injured, according to the National Emergency Operation Centre. Several climbers were killed when the earthquake caused a massive avalanche around Mount Everest. More than 200 climbers have been rescued. 

The earthquake reduced whole neighborhoods to rubble and sent deadly tremors throughout the region, including in Pakistan, India, Tibet and Bangladesh. Rescuers were unable to reach remote Nepali villages near the quake's epicenter, and aid agencies warned the full extent of death and destruction was just beginning to emerge. As strong aftershocks shook Nepal for a second day, the country's hospitals were overflowing with the dead and wounded. Search teams continued to scour the wreckage for survivors, and hundreds of victims were laid to rest in traditional cremation ceremonies. Grieving relatives flooded the famed Hindu Pashupatinath Temple on the outskirts of the capital Kathmandu to take part in mass funerals.

Such a powerful quake would result in destruction anywhere, but in a nation as poverty-stricken as Nepal, its citizens are particularly vulnerable. Aid groups worldwide have mobilized to help. Click here to look at humanitarian efforts underway and links that allow you to donate online.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

ISLP Teams with Avaaz and Namati to Support Communities Confronting Large-Scale Natural Resource Development

November 4, 2013 – Areng Valley (Koh Kong). A monk during a tree-blessing ceremony in a forest nearby Pra Lay Village. Monks tie orange sashes around trees to raise awareness of the environmental destruction the construction will cause to the Areng Valley. © Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom.

By Heather Eisenlord, ISLP 

Rising global demand for natural resources has made the protection of community lands an urgent priority. As we celebrate our shared planet this Earth Day, we think of the millions who live in countries with limited or no legal defenses to stop their lands and environment from being threatened or damaged by resource exploitation—and consider how lawyers are uniquely positioned to help. 

Around the world, communities are being displaced and denied access to their lands and natural resources on an industrial scale. Consider the villagers of Koh Kong province, Cambodia, where thousands of people have been—and continue to be—forcibly displaced from their ancestral lands to make way for large-scale industrial sugar plantations. Villagers protested, sent formal complaints, and attempted to negotiate with company and government officials, all without success. Two local NGOs contacted the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP), whose volunteer lawyers helped them formulate a transnational legal strategy to move their case beyond the jurisdiction of Cambodia’s corrupt and ineffective judicial system. 

But these types of injustices are not inevitable. In Kenya’s Kerio Valley, ISLP has assembled a team of legal experts to help residents achieve positive impacts and benefits from anticipated oil exploration and development on their lands. The team is working closely with local advocates and community representatives to inform them of their rights, gauge expectations, impart valuable negotiation skills, and formulate strategies for continuing engagement with the oil company. These and similar efforts demonstrate that communities, with the right legal support, can make their voices heard. 

There are thousands of communities around the world who could benefit from expert legal support to alleviate the very significant disparities of power that often accompany resource exploitation. With this support, they can also gain timely access to information about development projects that have real and sometimes devastating impacts on their lands and livelihoods. A new initiative, launching today, can help. 

Lawyers for Resource Justice (LRJ), a new collaboration between Namati, Avaaz, and ISLP, connects grassroots organizations with volunteer international lawyers to deliver high-level legal support directly to affected communities. LRJ will help communities prevent or remedy damage from large-scale resource development projects by empowering vulnerable communities to use the law to protect their interests and to amplify their voices internationally. 

Every LRJ project comes from and fully involves local partners, including local lawyers, who provide critical guidance on domestic legal issues. We bolster this expertise with foreign and international lawyers from a range of legal fields who can bring creative solutions and lend cross-jurisdictional legal firepower to efforts to protect community rights, lands, and the environment. Through this approach, we intend to highlight the economic and social value generated when communities gain a seat at the table with governments and corporate interests. Cases like the ones described on our website demonstrate how LRJ can provide communities and local advocates with the legal tools they need to effectively participate in decisions that impact local development and to hold governments and investors accountable if they fail to protect and respect human rights. 

LRJ is now accepting requests for legal assistance at There is no application deadline, but we cannot guarantee support to all applicants. We encourage applications from groups working preventatively on proposed or anticipated resource developments because this allows for a wider range of possible strategies. Lawyers for Resource Justice believes that collaboration between transnational and local experts can yield vital supports for communities to prevent or remedy damages from natural resource projects and foster a true rights-based approach to development. Please support us by sharing this initiative widely. 

Heather Eisenlord is Director of ISLP’s Human Rights Program.