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.

 

Bringing Fairness to International Justice: a Handbook on the International Criminal Court for Defense Lawyers in Africa

Bringing Fairness to International Justice: a Handbook on the International Criminal Court for Defense Lawyers in Africa

Jolyon Ford

Pretoria (Tshwane),: Institute for Security Studies, 2009

http://www.iss.co.za/uploads/LAWYERSHANDBOOKICC.PDF

From the Introduction:

Consider the following six brief and related statements:

 

1. Impunity and inaction in response to the most serious crimes of concern to the

international community represent a failure to meet human rights principles,

to respect victims, and to deal with issues affecting future peace.

 

2.A global consensus exists on the need to provide an acceptable, principled

international criminal justice system as a means to deal with perpetrators of

international crimes: that consensus is reflected in the Rome Statute of the

ICC.

 

3.The ICC is only likely to be perceived as just, effective, legitimate and

sustainable to the extent that it is fair in its treatment of those brought before

it.

 

4. Representation by a competent independent legal defence counsel is, in turn,

considered indispensible to fair investigations and trials in the ICC and other

international criminal tribunals.

 

5.The role of the defence lawyer in ensuring systematic fairness in international

justice deserves more attention generally.

 

6.There is, in particular, an ongoing need for more awareness raising and

capacity building in order to enable African lawyers to engage in the work of

the ICC in general and in Africa, including by acting as defence counsel or

assistants.

 

This handbook explores some of the issues raised in these statements with a view

to increasing African lawyers’ understanding of, and engagement, with the ICC

and its processes and in particular the role of defence counsel, in order to help

bring fairness to international justice.

 

ICTY Manual on Developed Practices

The United Nations has published the “International Criminal Trinunal for the Former Yugoslavia Manual on Developed Practices.”  The manual is a synthesis of best practices for prosecuting individuals for human rights violations.  The text includes the following chapters: 

Investigation

Indictment

Arrest Warrants

Pre-Trial

Trial Managementl

Trial Judgement Drafting

Appeals

Enforcement of Sentences

Referral of Cases to Domestic Jurisdictions

Judicial Support Services

Legal Aid and Defence Counsel Issues

 

ICTY Manual on Developed Practices

http://www.icty.org/x/file/About/Reports%20and%20Publications/manual_developed_practices/icty_manual_on_developed_practices.pdf

From the Introduction to the Manual:

As the ICTY proceedings draw to a close, it has become increasingly important to emphasize the shared responsibility of international and national jurisdictions in the prosecution and prevention of war crimes, and crimes against humanity and genocide. The close cooperation between international and domestic courts is essential to maintaining the radical departure from a culture of impunity and to fostering a culture of accountability. In this perspective, one should view the completion of the ICTY’s mandate as a strategy devised to allow the continuation by domestic actors of the activities that were initiated by the ICTY. The ICTY’s pioneering role and its unprecedented body of practice and case law will be its most significant achievement, and the continuation of its work through the local prosecution of war crimes by courts in the region its real legacy.

However, criminal proceedings for violations of IHL at the domestic level will only succeed if domestic institutions have sufficient resources and adequate capacity to handle complex criminal trials of this nature. The purpose of this Manual is to contribute to this process of capacity-building by sharing the ICTY experiences and established practices in the prosecution and adjudication of complex cases. Other international and mixed jurisdictions will also benefit from this work, so that the know-how developed by the ICTY may provide some guidance on the challenges of delivering justice.