Tuesday, October 21, 2008

State Sovereignty versus R2P

By Mary Elizabeth Grant, VP of International Human Rights Law Society

Armenian genocide - 1.5 million people killed between 1915 and 1923; Holocaust - 6 million people killed during World War II; Cambodian genocide - 2 million people killed from 1975 to 1979; Rwandan genocide - 800,000 people killed in 90 days in 1994; Bosnian genocide - 200,000 people killed between 1992 and 1995; Darfur genocide - 200,000 to 400,000 people killed between 2003 to date.

“...If humanitarian intervention is, indeed, an unacceptable assault on sovereignty, how should we respond to a Rwanda, to a Srebrenica -- to gross and systematic violations of human rights that offend every precept of our common humanity? ...Surely no legal principle -- not even sovereignty -- can ever shield crimes against humanity ... Armed intervention must always remain the option of last resort, but in the face of mass murder, it is an option that cannot be relinquished.” We, The Peoples, 2000 Millennium Report by Kofi Annan.

After the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed, the international community appeared to vow, “Never Again”. “Never Again” would the international community allow genocide to occur. Kofi Annan, Speech at Stockholm International Forum, 11/2/2004. Despite the pledge, four genocides have been committed since World War II, resulting in approximately 3.2 million deaths. The genocide in Darfur continues despite the international community’s awareness of committed atrocities. Why hasn’t the international community taken more decisive action to prevent these genocides or to stop them once the systematic killing has begun? Tony Blair summed up the issue in a speech he gave in Chicago in 1999. He said, “The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people’s conflicts.”

In an attempt to reconcile the issues of intervention versus state sovereignty, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), a task force of a dozen experts on international law and conflict, published in December, 2001 a 91-page report entitled The Responsibility to Protect. The report proposed that while state sovereignty gives states the right to control their borders and to establish governance over their citizens without interference from the international community, it also creates the responsibility for states to protect their citizens. The report suggested that if a state fails to protect its citizens from atrocities like genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, the international community bears the responsibility to protect the state’s citizens by preventing, reacting, and ultimately rebuilding areas affected by mass suffering.

The responsibility of prevention is based on the theory that genocides and other atrocities are planned. Planning consists of implemented stages, such as classification of citizens into groups--like ethnic or religious groups, promotion of hatred of the targeted group through publicized propaganda, dehumanization of the targeted group, and round up of the targeted group. The stages that lead to these horrors are discernible, thus prevention is possible through intervention, such as the use of negotiations, political pressure, sanctions, and aid that helps a state establish economic development, political stability, and an effective judicial system.

The responsibility to react advocates military intervention when the use preventive measures and reactive techniques, such as negotiations, political pressure, and sanctions, fail. In order to determine if military intervention should be used, six thresholds must be met. (1) There must be just cause in that crimes against humanity that “shock the conscience” are being committed; (2) military intervention must be the last resort after all other nonviolent means of intervention have been exhausted; (3) the level of military intervention must be the least encroachment on state sovereignty as possible; (4) success of the military intervention must be reasonably likely and likely to do more good than harm; (5) military intervention must be used solely to protect citizens and not for the selfish interests of the interveners; (6) military intervention should occur with the authority of the United Nations Security Council or, if not granted, then authority from the General Assembly or a coalition of nations as long as the other thresholds have been met.

The responsibility to rebuild requires the international community to provide, particularly after a military intervention, the state with assistance with recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation, addressing the causes of the harm the intervention was designed to halt or avert.

The United Nations publicly adopted the concept of Responsibility to Protect in 2005 at the UN Summit of World Leaders. In 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1674, which said: “Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity... The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means... to help to protect populations... In this context, we are prepared to take collective action... should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.” They also agreed that if a state fails to do so, it is then the responsibility of the international community to protect that state’s population.

The international community has strived to implement portions of the R2P doctrine such as peace negotiations to end the genocide in Darfur; however, the genocide continues in Darfur. The steps of military intervention and strong sanctions to end the genocide have been blocked by states who see R2P as

a threat to state sovereignty, in that advocating military intervention will in the long run lead to abuses and trumped-up reasons for invasion of countries. United States invasion of Iraq provided ammunition for states fearing that interest in protecting citizens would translate to interveners pursuing their own selfish interests at the expense of the citizens, state and mission.

The responsibility to protect will remain an ideal until the perception that intervention equals abolishment of sovereignty is changed. For this change to occur, clear guidelines must be established that define in detail the circumstances requiring international intervention. Those guidelines must be agreed upon by the international community as the universal standard for action. States must be reassured that only intervention that is backed by the majority of the international community will be advocated. Strong sanctions must be established to punish unilateral intervention. Until similar steps are taken, state sovereignty will prevail over human rights.

Article citing from original R2P report at http://www.iciss.ca/report-en.asp

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Blood Diamonds

WHEN: Wed., Oct. 15 @ 5:00 p.m.
FOOD: Yes! Snacks, at least... and drinks, too! I'll pop popcorn, and if anyone wants to bring non-raw foodstuffs, that's great, too!

Afterwards, we'll have a discussion about some of the best alternatives to diamonds, which should be great for everyone! I'll even have some informational pamphlets to give out.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October at the IPJ

Check out these great October events at the IPJ!

Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
Peace & Justice Theatre
"Uniting Communities Torn Apart by Political Violence"
A Conversation with Woman PeaceMaker Zandile Nhlengetwa from South Africa.
Zandile Nhlengetwa, youth advocate, facilitator, counselor and creator of peacebuilding strategies for communities affected by high levels of violence, will share her story.

Thursday, Oct. 7, 2008, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
Peace & Justice Theatre
"Combating Violence and Discrimination through Advocacy"
A Conversation with Woman PeaceMaker Olenka Ochoa from Peru.
Olenka Ochoa, political organizer, human rights activist, founder of the first commission of women in her municipality and creator of programs for battered women and at-risk youth, will share her story.

Thursday, Oct. 9, 2008, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
Peace & Justice Theatre
"Empowering Impoverished Women in Marginalized Communities"
A Conversation with Woman PeaceMaker Shinjita Alam from Bangladesh.
Shinjita Alam, activist, mediator, peace educator and creator of regional forums for interfaith dialogue, will share her story.

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008, 12:30 - 2 p.m.
Peace & Justice Theatre
"Fighting against Rampant Sexual Violence against Women"
A Conversation with Woman PeaceMaker Sylvie Mbanga Maunga from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Sylvie Mbanga Maunga, lawyer, counselor, radio correspondent and tireless advocate for victims of sexual violence, will share her story.

Monday, September 29, 2008

FILMS and more FILMS! =D

We are RE-SCREENING our first film (due to a marketing snafoo).

WHAT: Life & Debt in Jamaica

Quick blurb: Utilizing excerpts from the award-winning non-fiction text "A Small Place" by Jamaica Kincaid, Life & Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas. By combining traditional documentary telling with a stylized narrative framework, the complexity of international lending, structural adjustment policies, and free trade will be understood in the context of the day-to-day realities of the people whose lives they impact. POTLUCK! (Please bring something if you can, but if you can't, come anyway! =D) (Remember: no raw food.)


WHEN: Wed., Oct. 8 @ 5:00 p.m.

FOOD: Well, we'll bring some snacks. Please feel free to bring any non-raw food stuffs, and we'll make this a potluck! =) If you can't bring anything, please come anyway!

Our next film will be Blood Diamonds on Wed., Oct. 16 @ 5 p.m. in WH-133. This will be a pot luck also, so if everyone could bring a little something, that would be awesome. However, even if you can't bring anything to eat or drink, please feel free to come anyway! After the movie, we'll talk about some of the best alternatives available to diamonds.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Remembering the Holocaust

One Woman Recalls Her Experience

The story of Renee Firestone helps us see the Holocaust in a different light with facts unknown to the average population.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

This Semester at the IPJ

* Aug. 20 - Nov. 8 *
Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Galleries
"China's Olympian Human Rights Challenges"
Human Rights Watch Photography Exhibit presented by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice.
Don't miss this bold collection of recent photos from China illuminating some of the human rights issues spotlighted by the Olympic Games in Beijing.
Open free to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays 12 - 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. For related lecture, see Sept. 17 below.

* Wednesday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m. *
Peace & Justice Theatre
"Human Rights in Post Olympics China: Has Anything Changed?"
Carroll Bogert, Associate Director of Human Rights Watch, will examine how the Olympic Games impacted human rights in China. Please arrive early to view "China's Olympian Human Rights Challenges," a Human Rights Watch photography exhibit.
A reception will follow the lecture. To RSVP online, go to http://www.sandiego.edu/peacestudies/ipj/ and scroll down to find the event.

* Friday, Sept. 19, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. *
Kroc IPJ Garden of the Sky Special Event
- International Day of Peace Celebration -
Commemorating the United Nations International Day of Peace, this celebration is hosted by the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies and the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego. Enjoy live entertainment, documentary films, a photography exhibit on human rights in China, and a dove release at noon. Free and open to the public. For further details go to http://www.sandiego.edu/peacestudies/ipj/ and scroll down to find the event.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New ICC Prosecution: Opportunities and Risks for Peace in Sudan

Written by Mary Elizabeth Grant - VP

Brussels, 14 July 2008: Today’s application by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a warrant of arrest for Sudanese President Omar Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur creates both big opportunities and big risks for peace in Sudan.

These are the first charges of genocide and the first charges against a head of state to be brought before the ICC. The judges will now have to weigh the Prosecutor’s evidence and decide – a process that could take some months – whether to issue the
arrest warrant.

In seeking this warrant, the Prosecutor is acting within his mandate under the Rome Statute and from the UN Security Council, which in 2005 referred crimes committed in Darfur to him for investigation and prosecution. That mandate has been consistently frustrated by the Sudanese government – not least in its refusal to hand over the government minister, Ahmad Harun, and Janjaweed commander, Ali Kushayb, against whom warrants were issued in April 2007 – and it is important for the Prosecutor to protect the credibility of the Court by pursuing further prosecutions.

It may also prove to be the case that in initiating this process the Prosecutor will be advancing the interests of peace. That is not his official role – which is rather to act, in the interests of justice, to end impunity for those believed guilty of atrocity crimes. But it may be that the increased pressure now placed on the NCP governing regime will lead it to take long overdue steps to cease all violence, implement genuine and credible measures to resolve the Darfur crisis – including allowing the full and effective deployment of the UNAMID peacekeeping force – and fully carry out its side of the bargain to implement the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

The problem for international policymakers is that the Prosecutor’s legal strategy also poses major risks for the fragile peace and security environment in Sudan, with a real chance of greatly increasing the suffering of very large numbers of its people. Hard-liners on all sides may be reinforced, with the governing regime and other actors reacting to today’s application, and any subsequent warrant, in ways that seriously undermine the fragile North-South peace process, bring an end to any chance of political negotiations in Darfur, make impossible the effective deployment of UNAMID, put at risk the humanitarian relief operations presently keeping alive over 2 million people in Darfur, and lead to inflammation of wider regional tensions. These are significant risks, particularly given that the likelihood of actually executing any warrant issued against Bashir is remote, at least in the short term.

The best way through this dilemma may be for the UN Security Council to take advantage of the likely two to three month window before the judges’ decision on the arrest warrant, to assess whether genuine and substantial progress is in fact being made in stopping the continuing violence for which the governing regime bears responsibility, engaging in genuine peace negotiations in Darfur, expediting UNAMID deployment and advancing the CPA. If it believes such progress is being made, and that the interests of peace justify this course being taken, the Security Council could – even if the Prosecutor and the ICC wanted to proceed – exercise its power under Article 16 of the Rome Statute to suspend any prosecutions, for an initial twelve months but with such suspension able to be renewed indefinitely.

Such a decision would have to be made in light of the regime’s history of repeatedly flouting agreements it has entered into. But the need for any Article 16 deferral to be renewed on an annual basis would provide an incentive, hitherto lacking, for the regime to abide by commitments made under threat of ICC prosecution.

This is not the time to be relieving pressure on the Bashir regime – or the rebel groups who are making their own major contribution to conflict in Darfur. But the most critical of all needs is to end the horrific suffering of the Sudanese people and to ensure there is no new explosion of mass violence.

Crisis Group President Gareth Evans said that the international community now faced a hard policy choice in balancing risk and opportunity: “The Sudanese governing regime has until now utterly failed in its responsibility to protect its own people. The judgement call the Security Council now has to make is whether Khartoum can be most effectively pressured to stop the violence and build a new Sudan by simply letting the Court process proceed, or – after assessing the regime’s initial response, and continuing to monitor it thereafter – by suspending that process in the larger interests of peace”.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Great Speaker this Wednesday







Abderahman Salaheldin


“Egypt and the U.S.: A Model of Dialogue and Cooperation on Peace, Economic Development and Human Rights in the Middle East”

When: Wednesday, April 16; 12:00-1:00 pm

Where: Grace Court Room in Warren Hall

FOOD and Drinks will be provided!

Synopsis on Ambassador Salaheldin

Ambassador Salaheldin has been a career Diplomat for more than 27 years. Since September 2004, Ambassador Salaheldin has served as the Consul General of Egypt in San Francisco, covering the states of Arizona, Alaska, California, Idaho, Washington, Utah, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, Hawaii and Wyoming. Previously, he occupied the following positions:

  • Deputy Assistant Minister Of Foreign Affairs for North America (02-04)
  • Minister for Political and Congressional Affairs, Embassy of Egypt, Washington, D.C. (98-02)
  • Director, UN Affairs, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (96-97)
  • Political Counselor, The Permanent Mission of Egypt at the UN in New York, dealing with Middle East and Peace keeping issues and served as the Rapporteur of the UN Peace Keeping Committee. (92-96)
  • Member of the Cabinet of the Foreign Minister and member of Egypt’s delegation to the “Madrid Middle East Peace Conference” and “Moscow’s Conference on Regional Cooperation in the Middle East”. (90-92)
  • First Secretary, Embassy of Egypt, Washington, D.C. (86-91)

*Ambassador Salaheldin has recently written an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on the Palestine Israeli Conflict. Students may review the article by looking up this website: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/10/EDL2UUI5J.DTL

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Last Film Event of the Semester!

Join us on Thurs., April 10th for a film that will also be co-sponsored by La Raza and Women's Law Caucus!

Film: Senoritas Extraviadas
Place: WH-131
Time: 5 - 7ish

Food: YES!!! =)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Bake Sale Feb. 13 and 14

Remember the success of last semester's IHRLS bake sale? We do! So we are having another one to support this semester's speakers and activities.
It is going to be held Wed., Feb. 13 and Thurs., Feb. 14 in the Writs from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. each day.

Here's what we need:

* Volunteers to sit at our table in 1-hour (or more) shifts.
* Volunteer bakers ... maybe with a Valentine's theme???

We need people to RESPOND by emailing Jessie at jzaylia@gmail.com regarding whether you are volunteering to 1) sit at our table, 2) bake, or 3) BOTH!!! We had some awesome baked goods and even t-shirts (not baked, but still good) for sale last semester and we are hoping to blow that bake sale out of the water.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Events at the IPJ

Tuesday, March 4, 7 p.m.
IPJ Theatre
Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series
"War, Peace and Climate Change: A Billion Lives in the Balance"
Jan Egeland, former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator for the United Nations, will discuss the humanitarian challenges of environmental catastrophes caused by both human conflict and natural disasters. Egeland, who currently serves as Special Advisor to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on conflict prevention and resolution and as director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, is the author of "A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report from the Frontlines of Humanity". A reception and book signing will follow the lecture. RSVP by Tuesday, Feb. 26 at http://peace.sandiego.edu or call (619) 260-4236. Seating is limited and events fill up quickly, so early replies are recommended.


Wednesday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m.
IPJ Theatre
IPJ Speaker Series
"Iranian-Saudi Relations and Prospects for Gulf Peace"
Banafsheh Keynoush, Ph.D., specializes in Middle East foreign relations, security issues and international law. A native of the region, she will examine the prospects for peace in the Persian Gulf. RSVP by Tuesday, Feb. 5 at http://peace.sandiego.edu.

Monday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.
IPJ Theatre
IPJ Film Series
"The Peacekeepers"
With unprecedented access to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping, "The Peacekeepers" provides an intimate and dramatic portrait of the struggle to save a "failed state." The film follows the determined and often desperate maneuvers to avert another disaster like Rwanda, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. John Prendergast, noted human rights activist and scholar-in-residence at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, will provide commentary and answer questions. RSVP by Friday, Feb. 8 at http://peace.sandiego.edu.

Monday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m.
Shiley Theatre (USD)
Special Event
"Three Cups of Tea: An Evening with Greg Mortenson"
The "New York Times" bestselling book, "Three Cups of Tea - One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, describes Mortenson's dangerous mission to build schools in Taliban-ruled parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. After 13 years spent bringing 58 schools to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mortenson believes that terrorism should be fought with books, not bombs. Co-sponsored by USD's Department of Public Relations, KPBS and the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice. A book signing will follow the lecture. Due to overwhelming interest, we have moved the event to USD's Shiley Theatre. The event is free and seating will be first-come, first-served. Please note that there will be two other opportunities the following day to hear Greg Mortenson. For more information, go to www.kpbs.org/onebook.

Tuesday, Feb. 26, 7 p.m.
IPJ Theatre
IPJ Film Series
"Beyond the Gates"
Approximately 800,000 people were killed during the 1994 genocide that took place in a mere 100 days during April to July in Rwanda. This film is based on the true story of a secondary school in Kigali, the Ecole Technique Officielle, where over 2,500 people took refuge under the protection of UN troops. On the fifth day of violence, the U.N. troops left, taking with them only the European nationals. The film, shot on location in Rwanda, was directed by Michael Caton-Jones and stars John Hurt, Hugh Dancy and Clare-Hope Ashitey. A panel discussion featuring actors and crew from the film, including survivors of the genocide, will follow the screening. This event is co-sponsored by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice and Colleges.com/U. Magazine. For more information on the film or to participate in the discussion, go to www.beyondthegates-movie.com or contact nkennedy@colleges.com. RSVP by Friday, Feb. 22 at http://peace.sandiego.edu.

Friday, March 7
Save the Date
"Fourth Annual International Women's Day Celebration Breakfast"
Further details on how to register and pay will follow.

For event additions, changes and directions go to http://peace.sandiego.edu or call (619) 260-7509. Students are encouraged to attend all IPJ events. Events fill up quickly, so professors are encouraged to make reservations in advance for any classes that will be attending as a group.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union

I pulled this letter to President Bush off the Amnesty International Website. I think it's worth a few minutes of your time.

January 28, 2008

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write in advance of your State of the Union address to urge you to speak to the most pressing human rights issues faced by people around the world and here in the United States. It is essential that all who listen to your State of the Union Address hear that the United States stands for the highest human rights standards and that our nation is committed morally, politically and financially to improving human rights in the world.

As this nation recovered from the shock of the attacks on September 11, 2001, you provided a vision in your State of the Union address in January 2002 for an America that stands firmly in support of human dignity and human rights of all.

"America will lead by defending liberty and justice because they are right and true and unchanging for all people everywhere. No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. . . But America will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance."

And yet just days ago, January 11, 2008, marked the 6th anniversary of the first transfer of detainees to Guantánamo Bay. On this anniversary, thousands of people across this nation and in more than thirty countries staged protests calling for this facility to be closed, for the basic right of habeas corpus to be restored to all, and for the United States to make clear once and for all that it upholds unequivocally the absolute ban on torture and ill-treatment. The totality of the detention regime in Guantánamo - harsh, indefinite and isolating - amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and is in violation of international law. If America is to be true to the ideals and vision you articulated in January 2002, all those who remain in detention in Guantánamo must either be charged with a crime and given a fair trial or released unconditionally. If America is to represent the ideals you stated so clearly, all secret and clandestine prisons must be closed, extraordinary renditions ended, and the absolute ban on torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment must be understood to apply to everyone, wherever they are held. America must stand firmly for the rule of law and equal justice for all.

As we look at conditions around the world, the horrific crisis in Darfur, Sudan, continues to demand immediate attention and action. U.S. leadership has been instrumental in achieving progress, but it is more essential than ever now to ensure the full deployment of UN-African Union peacekeepers to bring about greater security. We urge the United States to support UN efforts to secure ground and air transport equipment, including twenty four helicopters, and we urge you to press more strongly to end Khartoum?s obstruction of the deployment. We urge you to use your influence on European and other donor countries to ensure that much-needed equipment is provided and that you offer to provide U.S. funds for the helicopters. We also ask you to reach out to allies that can effectively press the Government of Sudan to end its obstruction and facilitate the deployment of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

Around the world, women and girls continue to face epidemic levels of violence that cuts across all countries, social groups, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic classes. Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation that includes rape, domestic violence, acid burning, dowry deaths, so-called honor killings, human trafficking, female genital cutting and other harmful practices. The United States has a historic opportunity to ensure a systematic approach for ending the suffering of millions of women and girls. The International Violence Against Women Act is groundbreaking legislation that lays out a powerful international agenda to combat violence against women and girls and help achieve prosperity and stability around the world. The bill allocates more than $175 million in U.S. assistance per year to fund international programs that prevent violence, encourage legal reform and changes in public attitudes, promote access to economic opportunity projects and education, and support health programs; it also directs the U.S. government to create a comprehensive, five-year international strategy to reduce violence against women and girls in ten to twenty low and middle income countries. We urge you to support this bipartisan legislation wholeheartedly and to ensure it is fully funded and implemented.

Within the United States, violence against women affects Native American and Alaska Native women disproportionately. Native women are two and one half times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women in the United States. It is shocking that a complex maze of tribal, state and federal jurisdiction enables perpetrators to rape with impunity and makes it nearly impossible for survivors to achieve justice. Correcting this shameful situation is long overdue. Among the necessary changes are: amending the Indian Civil Rights Act to recognize the authority of tribal courts to impose penalties proportionate to the offences they try, consistent with international human rights standards; recognizing the concurrent jurisdiction of tribal authorities over all crimes committed on tribal land regardless of the Indigenous identity of the accused; providing more funding for law enforcement - including to process forensic evidence, and maintaining relevant databases - and for tribal courts and legal systems, in compliance with international standards of justice; and instructing the Indian Health Service (IHS) to create standardized protocols for treatment of rape victims, make available sexual assault nurse examiners, and provide increased funding to the IHS including for rape kits. We urge to take these urgent steps to end the current maze of injustice and ensure perpetrators of rape and other violent crimes against Native women are better able to be prosecuted. We urge you to make this part of your legacy.

Two years ago, you launched an initiative to lend support to brave defenders of human rights around the world. The plight of individuals at risk, especially those at risk for defending fundamental human rights for themselves and others, is at the core of Amnesty International's mission. There are innumerable individuals who inspire us with their courage and commitment and who deserve our intervention, such as Ma Khin Khin Leh, a teacher in Burma; Shi Tao, an internet dissident in China; Zmitser Dashkevich, a youth leader in Belarus; Fathi el-Jahmi a free speech advocate in Libya; and Yusak Pakage and Filep Karma who are imprisoned in Indonesia for simply raising a flag. As you travel and meet with leaders from around the world, we urge you to make it a priority to raise these cases. We know that when this has happened in the past, some human rights defenders have been released, such as was the case with Rebiya Kadeer, Haleh Esfandiari, Father Ly, and Bulgarian nurses who were being held by the Libyan government. We urge you to make this a consistent priority with the leaders of countries that are friend or foe, standing with those who put their lives on the line for the principles of freedom and human rights.

Mr. President, as you deliver the State of the Union address, we call on you to recommit this nation to stand firmly for the rights of all people, wherever they are, and to be a voice for those who are unable to be heard because of repression they endure. As you address the nation, we urge you to announce your intent to close Guantanamo, to end renditions, and secure a universal ban on torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. We encourage you to persevere in your advocacy and funding to end the violence in Darfur. We ask you to stand for women everywhere by supporting the International Violence Against Women Act and by taking concrete action to end the maze of injustice that has allowed countless Native women to be raped and suffer other forms of violent assault. We urge you to be a voice for human rights defenders around the world and a consistent advocate for human dignity and human rights of all, both in word and deed.

We look forward to your address,

Larry Cox Executive Director

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Human Rights Violations in Chechnya

Once again thank you to Mary Elizabeth Grant for keeping us up to date on Human Rights situations around the world.

Author: Mary Elizabeth Grant

Editor: Jessie Zaylía

On Behalf of USD School of Law’s International Human Rights Law Society

For the last nine years, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Doctors without Borders, and many other human rights organizations have reported wide spread human rights violations in Chechnya. Russian and Chechen security forces, along with Chechen rebel forces are accused of widespread torture, rape, executions, kidnapping, and forced “disappearances” in Chechnya.

The source of conflict derives from Chechens who want Chechnya to be an independent country while Russia attempts to maintain its control over the territory. The Russians conquered the Chechen territory located in the Caucasus mountain range in 1859. Though Chechens achieved brief independence in the 1920, Russia quickly regained control in 1922. When the Nazis marched into the Chechen region during World War II, the Chechens again attempted to establish independence from Russia. However, when the war ended, Stalin deported Chechens to Siberia for allegedly collaborating with the Nazis. Tens of thousands of Chechens are estimated to have died as a result of deportations.

When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, Chechnya once again declared its independence. Responding swiftly and expecting a quick victory, Russia sent troops to Chechnya to force the territory to join the Russian Federation in 1994. While a signed peace agreement between Russia and Chechnya (two years later) gave Chechnya autonomy, it did not grant Chechnya independence. Since then, Russia has attempted to quash rebels by conducting a reign of terror over civilians.

The Chechen government was weak and unable to control the rebel warlords that took over the region. The rebels kidnapped civilians and held them for ransom and also frequently beheaded their captives. Further, the rebels conducted terrorist attacks in other territories; they are accused of exploding two civilian airlines and of bombing a Moscow train.

In an attempt to gain control and to prevent the rebellion from spreading to other territories, the Russian government sponsored a new constitution that provided Chechnya with even greater autonomy. Elections in 2005, suspected of being rigged, resulted in a primarily pro-Moscow parliament. In April, 2007, Vladimir Putin’s protégé, Ramzan Kadyrov, was elected president of Chechnya. Now, Kadyrov’s security forces, in conjunction with Russian armed forces, are accused of widespread human rights violations.

Currently, Kadyrov’s security forces abduct people from their homes without providing any explanations to family members or information regarding where the abductees are being taken. The few who have been released from the security forces’ control report torture and recall deplorable conditions of secret detention centers. Those who have been released or escaped claim they were tortured in order to elicit confessions of providing food and shelter to rebels when they were innocent of those charges.

Overall, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 people have “disappeared” from Chechnya since 1999. Because many people don’t report the disappearance of relatives for fear of reprisals, arriving at solid figures is difficult because Chechens fear that other family members will be taken. Indeed, many who have sought justice frequently experienced retaliation and, in some cases, have been murdered. The Russian government has been uncooperative in providing resources to help families find the missing.

The Commissioner of Human Rights visited Chechnya in March of 2007. He publicly stated, “The disappearance of a human being is a tragedy, a gross violation of his/her rights. It is also a crime against humanity. This problem must be addressed by the authorities, in order to find the truth, punish the guilty, and preserve the health of society.” [Council of Europe, Initial Conclusions of the visit to the Chechen Republic, March 6, 2007.]

In the last twelve months, the European Court of Human Rights has issued eight rulings in which they found Russia to be responsible for executions, torture, disappearances, and failure to investigate reported crimes in Chechnya. The Court ruled that Russia has violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically Article 2 (right to life), Article 3, (prohibition of torture), Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), and Article 38 (furnish necessary facilities for the examination of the case). The Court has awarded plaintiffs with pecuniary and non pecuniary damages, as well as reimbursement of costs and expenses.

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CPT) issued its third statement on March 13, 2007, calling on Russia to take action to stop the human rights violations in Chechnya. As the CPT works confidentially with governments of countries to stop violations, the three public statements regarding one country are unprecedented and representative of Russia’s lack of compliance.

The European Court of Human Rights has no authority to force Russia to comply with its rulings. Rather, Russia has sole discretion to follow through with awarding damages to the victims, investigating crimes, and informing families as to the fate of “disappeared” persons. Despite the positive move of the European Court to attempt to provide the victims of crimes in Chechnya with justice, the perpetrators are held unaccountable to date. Such impunity provides a forum for the abuses to continue, which ultimately undermines the social and political fabric of Chechnya and will continue to do so unless the international community applies significant pressure on Russia to take action and end the crimes against humanity.

For cases on this topic, please see: Chitayev and Chiteyev v. Russia. App. No. 59334/00; Baysayeva v. Russia. App. No. 74237/01; Musayev and others v. Russia. App. No. 57941/00, 58699/00, 60403/00; Magomadov and Magomadov v. Russia. App. No. 68004/01; Bitiyeva and X v. Russia. App. No. 57953/00 and 37392/03; Estamirov and Others v. Russia. App. No 60272/00; Imakayeva v. Russia. App. No. 7615/01; Luluyev and Others v. Russia. App. No 69480/01; Khashiyev and Akayeva v. Russia. Nos. 57942/00 and 57945/00; Isayeva v. Russia. App. No. 57950/00; Isayeva, Yusupova, and Bazayeva v. Russia. App. No. 57947/00, 57948/00, 57949/00; Bazorkina v. Russia. App. No 69481/01

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Califonia Innocence Project Event

Please join us for the first ever

Community Mixer, Silent Auction and Raffle to benefit the California Innocence Project

hosted by the CWSL Jewish Student Union, USD Jewish Law Student Association, and CWSL National Lawyers Guild.

Sunday, January 27 th


Wine Steals, Point Loma

2970 Truxton Road, San Diego, CA 92106

please see winestealssd.com for an accurate map

Hosted bar and appetizers from 6-7pm
California Innocence Project Director Justin Brooks will speak at 7pm
Bidding will be from 7-8pm, and item pick up from 8:30-9pm.

We will also be raffling prizes throughout the night!

Casual Attire suggested (no suites please)

$5 for students, $10 for general public.
All proceeds will go to benefit the California Innocence Project

Please contact cwsljsu@gmail.com to RSVP or with any questions