CHR Celebrates International Criminal Justice Day
This month the world celebrates International Criminal Justice Day (July 17) to commemorate the adoption of the Rome Statute, which was adopted fourteen years ago and later established the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002. The ABA Center for Human Rights joins the international community in acknowledging the ICC and other international criminal tribunals for their efforts to end impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. In support of these efforts, the Center’s ICC Project embodies the ABA’s long-standing and steadfast support of the ICC and of increased cooperation between the United States and the Court. More information about the Center’s ICC Project is available on the ABA-ICC Project website. The Center invites your participation in and support of the ICC Project.
ABA AIDS Committee to Host National Conference
The ABA AIDS Coordinating Committee will host a conference on HIV/AIDS Law and Practice: Rights Protection through Representation, on July 21, 2012, in Washington, DC, immediately preceding the International AIDS Conference there. For more information and to register for the conference, visit the conference website.
CHR Chair Addresses Chinese Law Students
CHR Chair Michael Greco visited Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL) from June 5 to 9 to discuss international human rights law. Greco plans to teach a course on that subject at STL in fall 2012.
Chancellor and Founding Dean, Jeffrey Lehman, Associate Dean Stephen Yandle, and Assistant Dean XU Hua met with Greco and introduced him to STL. During his visit, Greco attended classes, communicated with students, attended the annual moot court competition, and had meals with faculty and staff to a get deeper understanding of the school’s curricula and culture. He also gave a lecture titled, “Are Lawyers Really Necessary?”, which also attracted students from Tsinghua University Graduate School in Shenzhen and Harbin Institute of Technology Shenzhen Graduate School as well. During the question-and-answer period after the lecture, Greco shared his views regarding a career in human rights law.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Statement On Violence In Syria
WASHINGTON, DC—The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum today expressed its grave concern for the safety and security of civilians in Syria, and warned of the potential for genocidal acts if nations do not take prompt actions to uphold their responsibility to protect groups and individuals targeted by the Syrian regime.
There is abundant evidence that crimes against humanity are being committed by the Syrian government and allied militias. The United Nations has estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed, though unofficial estimates put the number at more than 14,000. Tens of thousands of additional civilians have been arbitrarily and illegally detained, and many of them are feared dead. Some 100,000 people have fled the country, and as many as 300,000 may be displaced within Syria. A new report this week accuses the government of using young children as human shields.
The reported massacres of civilians in the past two weeks have made clear the increasing sectarian nature of the violence. Neighborhoods and villages are being targeted solely on the basis of religious affiliation. Some, including a senior UN official, have characterized the situation as civil war, and the deteriorating situation raises the risk of genocidal acts.
Unless the international community steps up its efforts to alter the trajectory of the violence, tens of thousands or more civilians are at risk of group targeted violence, including members of Syria’s ethnic and religious populations—Sunni Muslims, Druze, Christians, Kurds, and Alawites, among others.
“We have learned from the Holocaust and other cases the warning signs of genocide, and we see some of those signs in Syria today,” said Tom Bernstein, chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. “While there is not an easy or obvious route to end the conflict, it is vital that the international community act before it is too late to avoid a greater humanitarian and moral catastrophe. Once again we must not fail to act because the task seemed too great and the results unsure.”
A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. Federal support guarantees the Museum’s permanent place on the National Mall, and its far-reaching educational programs and global impact are made possible by generous donors. For more information, visit ushmm.org.
Also, see ABA’s June 8 statement regarding Syria.
ABA Files Amicus Brief in Kiobel Case
The ABA has filed a Center-sponsored amicus brief in Kiobel, et al. v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, in support of petitioners, addressing “whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States?” The ABA argues that restricting the ATS to violations that occur within the territory of the United States (or on the high seas) would be inconsistent with this nation’s historic commitment to promoting accountability for human rights violations and encouraging all nations to develop effective remedies for violations. Read brief.
CHR Addresses Lawyers’ Role in Human Rights Defense
On May 18, CHR Chair Michael S. Greco addressed “The Role of Lawyers in Defending Human Rights,” at a conference on “The International Human Rights Framework: Opportunities for Attorneys and Advocates,” hosted by the International Justice Resource Center in Boston, Mass. “All too often,” Greco emphasized, “lawyers who take up the cause of human rights are themselves subject to harassment and persecution by governments and non-state actors.” Read full text of remarks here.