UNRIC Backgrounders

The United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe Backgrounders are a great resource for locating UN documents and sites covering international law topics and selected countries
These guides provide links to treaties, UN resolutions, UN press releases, UN reports and UN Web sites. Many thanks to the UNRIC Library staff for posting these useful guides online.

UNRIC Library Backgrounders

http://www.unric.org/en/unric-library-backgrounders

Backgrounders are available for the following countries:
Afghanistan
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Gaza
Iraq
Kosovo
Libya
Mali
Myanmar
Somalia
South Sudan
Sudan/Darfur
Sri Lanka
Syria
Yemen

Backgrounders are available for the following topics:
Biodiversity
Climate Change
Desertification
Disability
Disarmament
Educational Resources
Food Waste
Forests
Genocide
Global Food Crisis
Human Rights
Human Rights Council
Middle East
Migration
Millennium Development Goals
Nuclear Disarmament
Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Participation of the European Union in the work of the United Nations
Peacebuilding Commission
Peacekeeping
Poverty
Protection of civilians in armed conflict
Racism
Responsibility to Protect (R2P)
Sustainable Development
Terrorism
Youth

Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law

The University of Zurich’s Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Legal Studies has announced the launch of an open access, peer-reviewed  journal titled “Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law”

Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (EJIMEL)
http://www.ejimel.uzh.ch/index.html

From the journal’s Mission Statement

The Electronic Journal of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (EJIMEL) is a publication by the Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Legal Studies (CIMELS) at the Faculty of Law, University of Zurich, Switzerland, founded in summer 2012. EJIMEL strives to contribute to the understanding of the large geographical area composing the Middle East guided by the awareness that this region has obtained a key position on the world stage over the last decades and keeps evolving fast. Covering a region which is rich in diversity and heritage, EJIMEL individuates itself by laying a special focus on the multifaceted relations between Islam and national and international law orders over the course of time and from different points of view. Furthermore, EJIMEL aims to contribute to the on-going highly topical debates of regional and global interest in the field of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, such as, e.g., Democratization, Gender and Human Rights, and to highlight interdependencies of Middle Eastern law orders with other jurisdictions worldwide. The editors aim is to foster a vivid debate focusing on the correlation between Islam as a religion with a distinct body of legal norms and the paramount principles and guarantees of current international law, as well as to inquire into key phenomena in Middle Eastern law orders such as, e.g., “Re-Islamisation”, which have influenced both codifications and scholarly discourse in a significant way.

From the journal’s Open Access Philosophy

In line with this objective, EJIMEL follows the Open Access standard and published articles are freely available online and for download. Whereas authors retain the copyright, they grant EJIMEL the right of publication and archiving with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Report on Convictions for Human Rights Violations in Chile

On May 31st, The Human Rights Observatory (Observatorio de Derechos Humanos) of the University Diego Portales released a list of military and police officials serving prison sentences for human rights abuses in Chile committed during General Pinochet’s dictatorship.The list includes name and rank of those convicted, names of victims, length of prison sentences, and locations of the prisons.

Individuals Serving or Having Completed Prison Sentences for Human Rights Violations 1973-1990 (in Spanish)

http://www.icso.cl/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Cond_presos_mayo_2012.pdf

Branch and Armed Forces Rank of Perpetrators Currently in Prison: Chile (in English)
Descriptive statistics and graphs compiled from the list of convictions.

http://www.icso.cl/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Rangos-de-agentes-presos-a-MAY-2012_ENG.pdf

Human Rights Observatory (Observatorio de Derechos Humanos) Website

http://www.icso.cl/observatorio-derechos-humanos/

 

 

Universal Human Rights Conference: 500th Anniversary of Antonio de Montesinos

Universal Human Rights Conference: 500th Anniversary of Antonio de Montesinos
humanrights500.org

From the conference description and promotional materials:

On December 2-4, 2011, a coalition of universities and other institutions are hosting a  conference and celebration in Washington, D.C. to assess what has been achieved in 500 years of human rights advocacy.  The conference is scheduled to include Sunday, 4 December, the conventionally identified date in 1511 when Antonio de Montesinos, O.P. delivered a sermon in Santo Domingo calling for reform of Spanish policy toward the indigenous.  That sermon launched a Spanish debate about the human rights of the Indians, which in turn contributed to advocacy of the universality of human rights.  While concerned with the history of human rights, the conference will have as its focus current institutional and legal approaches to refine and enhance protections of human rights.

Working with international partners, Alma College’s Public Affairs Institute and Center for Responsible Leadership; George Mason University’s School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution; Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs; Justice for North America for the Dominican Family; Partnership for Global Justice; the Osgood Center for International Studies; the Washington Theological Consortium; the Aquinas Institute; and the Fundacja Centrum Solidarnosci are hosting a conference focused on assessing what has been achieved in 500 years of human rights advocacy. The conference will include Sunday, December 4, 2011, the conventionally identified date in 1511 when Antonio de Montesinos delivered a sermon in Santo Domingo calling for reform of Spanish policy toward the indigenous. That sermon launched a Spanish debate about the human rights of the Indians, which in turn contributed to later advocacy of the principle that human rights apply to all people, regardless of nationality.  The new Spanish film Tambien La Lluvia (Even the Rain) has as its core purpose considering the legacy of Montesinos.

The conference is really a series of coordinated events that will bring together international scholars, graduate and undergraduate students, religious leaders, attorneys, civic leaders and workers in NGOs concerned with human rights (their history, definition, protection and enforcement). We will produce a “Proceedings,” collecting as many of the presentations as would be appropriate. Either as part of the “Proceedings” or in separate printed material, we anticipate assembling consensus documents that address contemporary human rights challenges.

We events will be held over the weekend of  Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 through Sunday, December 4, 2011. The weekend will include the following parts:

  1. Conference of experts, both practitioners (attorneys, NGO leaders, public officials) and scholars, including graduate students, held at George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in Arlington, Virginia on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3, 2011;
  2. Luncheon and seminar on Religion and Human Rights, held at the Georgetown University, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and Foreign Affairs on Friday afternoon, Dec. 2;
  3. An undergraduate human rights conference held in conjunction with the Osgood Center for International Affairs in Washington on Dec. 2-3, 2011.
  4. Performance of Jean Claude Carriere’s The Controversy of Valladolid on Saturday evening, Dec. 3;
  5. A celebration of the Montesinos homily at St. Matthews Cathedral on the afternoon of Sunday Dec. 4, 2011; and
  6. Development of one or more consensus documents during small group sessions on Sunday, December 4.

Papers and panels are invited on the following topics:

The history and philosophy of universal human rights, while we anticipate special interest in the Americas and in imperial nations, we encourage wider perspectives;

The institutional structure and processes for protecting universal human rights (including the responsibility to protect), especially from Nuremberg to the ICC;

The relationship of human rights to issues such as sovereignty, migration, labor rights, gender, development, and security/terrorism;

The relationship of universal rights to different national, regional, historical, and indigenous cultures; and

Religion and human rights.

Please submit paper or panel proposals by OCTOBER 17, 2011.

 

Legacy of Emperor Justinian in Argentina: Primer Digesto Jurídico Argentino

Taking a cue from the Byzantine Emperor Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis, Argentina is in the final stages of creating a compilation of national legislation known as the “Primer Diegsto Jurídico Argentino” This is a project to analyze, systematize and harmonize all national laws since the 1850s. Redundant and obsolete laws will be identified and removed from the statute books.

Over 200 academics, judges, attorneys and legislators have been working on this monumental project since 2005. They have analyzed around 30,000 laws since 1853.

In July, the Argentine executive branch presented an initial draft to the congress. On Thursday and Friday of this week, a major conference will convene in Buenos Aires to discuss how specific areas of law will be impacted by the Digesto Jurídico Argentino.

Information about the national conference, including a list of speakers is available at:
Primer Congreso Nacional del Digesto Jurídico Argentino
September 1 and September 2, 2011
http://www.mpf.gov.ar/ics-wpd/DocumentosWeb/LinksNoticias/Primer_Congreso_Nac_Digesto_Jur_Arg.pdf

Tahrir Documents Project (Egypt)

Tahrir Documents

http://www.tahrirdocuments.org/

The Project as described by the editors and staff of Tahrir Documents:

We are pleased to announce the launch of Tahrir Documents, an ongoing project to archive and translate printed discourse from the 2011Egyptian revolution and its aftermath. The website presents a diverse collection of materials — among them activist newspapers, personal essays, advertisements, missives, and party communications —- incomplete English translation alongside reproductions of the Arabic-language originals. The site will be updated regularly, frequently, and indefinitely as new writings appear in response to post-revolution developments, and as we locate earlier materials. The assembled documents address a variety of contemporary concerns including Muslim-Christian relations, constitutional amendments, moral conduct, revolutionary strategy, and the women’s rights movement. Some of the highlights of the collection:

 

* A defense of protestors’ continued sit-in at Tahrir Squarereleased on March 9th, the same day on which their encampment wasdestroyed by thugs

* Guidelines for personal behavior after the revolution

* Numerous denunciations of sectarian violence

* The announcement of new political parties and presidential candidates.

* Numerous articles debating the constitutional amendments passedlast week

* Selections from Gurnal and Revolutionary Egypt, activistnewspapers founded after the revolution

 

We invite you to examine the website, and to return regularly as we post communications and commentaries from the post-Mubarak era. We believe the archive indicative of the diversity of political thought and action in contemporary Egypt, and hope that this diversity is ofinterest to anyone following the country’s transforming situation. The archive is searchable. Tahrir Documents is the work of volunteer translators in Egypt and abroad. It is not affiliated with any of those authors or groups whose works appear in translation on the website, nor with any organization foreign or domestic.

 

For more information please write to the editorial board at

tahrirdocuments@gmail.com.

 

We invite the submission of materials for translation and publication on the website.

 

 

Diplomat’s Handbook for Democracy Development Support

Diplomat’s Handbook for Democracy Development Support 2nd ed.

http://diplomatshandbook.org/_resource.html

http://diplomatshandbook.org/pdf/Diplomats_Handbook.pdf

Table of Contents

Preface by President Vaclav Havel

Ministers’ ForewordChapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: The International Context

Chapter 3: The Diplomat’s Toolbox

Chapter 4: Conclusions

CASE STUDIES:

Cuban Exceptionalism

Egypt: Will Democracy Succeed the Pharaoh

China’s Fifth Modernization: the Enduring Hope for Democratic Governance

South Africa: “The Long Road to Freedom”

From Independence to Real Democracy – Ukraine’s Orange Revolution

The Fall and Rise of Chilean Democracy: 1973-1989

Belarus: Europe’s Last Dictator?

The Suffering of Burma/Myanmar

Zimbabwe: From Hope to Crisis

Tanzania’s Road to Multi-Party Democracy: Focus on a Single Mission’s Efforts

Found online at http://www.diplomatshandbook.org/Tanzania

Sierra Leone: Belated International Engagement Ends a War, Helps Consolidate a Fragile Democracy. Found online at http://www.diplomatshandbook.org/SierraLeone

Resource List: Donor Organizations, Other Democracy Support Organizations and Election Assistance and Observation Organizations

Annex: International Human Rights Law

From the description:

The Diplomat’s Handbook is a project commissioned by the Community of Democracies, and produced by the Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD). The First Edition was produced with the financial support of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, Freedom House, the Princeton Project on National Security, the US Department of State, the Governments of Chile, India, and Morocco, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Government of Canada.

The Handbook project was conceived by Ambassador Mark Palmer. Preparation of the Handbook has been a partnership between Project Head, Ambassador Jeremy Kinsman (jeremykinsman@diplomatshandbook.org), who has been principally responsible for the text of the Handbook itself, and the Director of Research, Kurt Bassuener (kurtbassuener@diplomatshandbook.org), who has been principally responsible for producing the Handbook’s case studies

The text which follows and the case studies benefit from the generous contributions and advice of many former and current diplomatic practitioners, scholars, members of policy centers and nongovernmental organizations, and development experts. The case study on China was drafted by Chantal Meagher, the case study on Cuba by Jeremy Kinsman, and the case study on Egypt by a variety of experts, including Stephen McInerney, Moataz El Fegiery, Michele Dunne and Issandr El Amrani. The Belarus and Ukraine case study updates were undertaken with the assistance of Iryna Chupryna of the Democratization Policy Council.

 

 

2 Television Documentaries on the UK Supreme Court

Britain’s Supreme Court

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/britains-supreme-court/episode-guide/series-1/episode-1

Description from the Channel 4 /More4 Web site:

This gripping, feature-length documentary charts the first year in the life of Britain’s new Supreme Court – the highest court in the land. With unprecedented access the film meets the judges, lawyers and ordinary people whose cases will have a far-reaching effect on the everyday lives of others across the UK.

For those bringing these high-profile cases to court there is a lot at stake, and the programme reveals their hopes and fears as they and their legal teams come face-to-face with the most powerful judges in the UK.

The judges have allowed proceedings to be filmed and, uniquely, justice is seen unfolding as judges and lawyers – the finest legal minds in the country – debate key contemporary issues. See David and Goliath battles of individuals challenging the state, the outcomes of which help to define the nature of society today.

 

The Highest Court in the Land: Justice Makers (clips only)

BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xz0s5

Description from the BBC  Web site:

They are the UK’s most powerful arbiters of justice and now, for the first time, four of the Justices of the Supreme Court talk frankly and openly about the nature of justice and how they make their decisions. The film offers a revealing glimpse of the human characters behind the judgments and explores why the Supreme Court and its members are fundamental to our democracy.

The 11 men and one woman who make up the UK Supreme Court have the last say on the most controversial and difficult cases in the land. What they decide binds every citizen. But are their rulings always fair, do their feelings ever get in the way of their judgments and are they always right?

In the first 14 months of the court they have ruled on MPs’ expenses, which led to David Chaytor’s prosecution, changed the status of pre-nuptial agreements and battled with the government over control orders and the Human Rights Act.

They explain what happens when they cannot agree and there is a divided judgment, and how they avoid letting their personal feelings effect their interpretation of the law. And they face up to the difficult issue of diversity; there is only one woman on the court, and she is the only Justice who went to a non-fee-paying school.

 

Other BBC shows on justice and legal issue sare available at:

Justice a Citizen’s Guide

http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/seasons/justiceseason/

 

 

 

 

UK Judicial Views on Human Rights and Judicial Accountability

The UK Human Rights Blog wrote about two recent speeches by British senior judges, the President of the UK Supreme Court and Master of the Rolls, reflecting on judicial review and the role of the Human Rights Act.  Egypt’s new rulers and opposition leaders may wish to consult these documents as they create new mechanisms for Egyptian courts to check executive and legislative power and protect human rights.

Judicial Independence & Accountability: A View from the Supreme Court

Lord Phillips, President of the UK Supreme Court

8 Feb. 2011

http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/docs/speech_110208.pdf

 

Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Insecurity

Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Master of the Rolls

7 Feb. 2011

http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Speeches/mr-speech-cla-07022011.pdf

Description of the speeches from the blog posting

http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2011/02/09/justice-in-the-age-of-insecurity/#more-6838

Two of the UK’s top judges have given fascinating speeches this week on justice in the age of insecurity. One by the head of the supreme court warns that budget cuts will imperil the independence of the judiciary. The other by the head of the court of appeal, argues that despite not being able to tell the government what to do, UK courts can provide effective protection of fundamental rights.

The speeches offer fascinating and sometimes controversial perspectives on our odd but in many ways admirable constitutional system, as well as warnings that strained budgets and political meddling could do it damage.

Hat tip to Adam Wagner of UK Human Rights Blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Draft Palestinian Legislation found in Al Jazeera’s Leaked Documents

I have located two draft pieces of Palestinian legislation in  Al Jazeera’s Palestinian Papers Web site.  There may be others, but I have not found an efficient way to search the corpus of documents. Al Jazeera has not named their source, so authenticity cannot be verified.

http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/

1. Draft of Palestinian Police Law (2005)

Text is in Arabic.

http://transparency.aljazeera.net/en/document/287

Summary from Al Jazeera

This is a draft regarding guidelines that govern the Palestinian police which was sent from office of Mahmoud Abbas to the head of the security committee.

2. Draft of National Intelligence Law (2005)

http://transparency.aljazeera.net/en/document/286

Summary from Al Jazeera:

Draft law regulating the General Intelligence body; the document is addressed to the head of the security and internal affairs committees, and the head of the legal committee, asking them to get the draft ready as soon as possible and put it to the legislative council.