Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Announcing: The 2010 Arthur C. Helton Fellowship Program

The American Society of International Law is pleased to announce the 6th Annual Arthur C. Helton Fellowship Program.

The Arthur C. Helton Fellowship Program, established in 2004 on the recommendation of the ASIL Honors Committee, recognizes the legacy of Arthur Helton, an ASIL member who died in the August 19, 2003, bombing of the UN mission in Baghdad along with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Viera de Mello and 20 others. 

ASIL's Helton Fellowship Program gives micro-grants for logistics, housing and living expenses, and other costs related to the Fellow's fieldwork and research.

• Law students, practicing lawyers, human rights professionals, scholars, and other individuals seeking assistance in conducting international fieldwork and law-related research are encouraged to apply.
• Applicants must be affiliated, for purposes of completing their project, in some way with an educational institution, international organization, or non-governmental organization.

The Helton application form and guidelines for a qualifying proposal, as well as general information, may be found at, or through the ASIL Service Center at +1-856-380-6810. All application materials for a 2010 fellowship must be submitted electronically to starting October 12, 2009, and no later than February 12, 2010. Only the first 50 complete applications will be considered. Fellowship awards will be announced in late March 2010.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Conflict Resolution in Africa: Success Stories and Individual Peacemakers

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies

The University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies invites you to attend a public lecture by visiting scholar John Prendergast.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

6:30 p.m. – presentation at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre
7:30 p.m. – reception in the Rotunda, Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice

John Prendergast is Co-Chair of the ENOUGH Project, an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity. During the Clinton administration, John was involved in a number of peace processes in Africa while he was Director of African Affairs at the National Security Council and Special Advisor at the Department of State. John has also worked for members of Congress, the United Nations, human rights organizations, and think tanks, as well as having been a youth counselor and basketball coach in the U.S. He has authored eight books on Africa, including Not on Our Watch, a New York Times bestseller he co-authored with Don Cheadle. John is working on a new book which focuses on his 20 years in the Big Brother program. John has helped produce two documentaries on Northern Uganda and been involved in three documentaries on Sudan. He has been part of three episodes of CBS' 60 Minutes which earned an Emmy Award for Best Continuing News Coverage and is helping to develop two additional episodes. He is helping to spearhead a campaign involving the NBA and Participant Productions to widen awareness on Darfur, as well as a campaign to end the violence against women and girls in the Congo.

Admission is free of charge.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Continent Watch

North America, United States
Brad Paladini
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, children as young as 13 working are allowed to work in agriculture for an unlimited number of hours if they have their parent’s permission to do so. Working in agriculture is four times as dangerous as any other working environment for youths. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard of California is currently working to introduce legislation to limit the number of hours children can work.

Oceania, Fiji
Ali Byler
Amnesty International released a report in September detailing the increasingly severe human rights violations that are taking place in Fiji. President Ratu Josefa Iloilo enacted the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) terminating Fiji’s Constitution in April 2009 and bestowing upon himself the ultimate power to make laws. The PER grants military personnel immunity from liability if “the use of such force cause harm or death to any person”, which has resulted in severe abuse of human rights in the forms of unfair arrests, beatings, detainments, and overall inhumane treatment of anyone expressing views inconsistent with those of the current government. The most common targets of this abuse have been political activists, clergy, lawyers, journalists, and government critics.

South America, Peru
Jessica Ponce
Peru has become the desired destination for asylum seekers, usually escaping political persecution, in Latin America,. In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez arrested two particular men who opposed his law that would bring political indoctrination into Venezuelan schools. Both men were charged with conspiring to commit and instigate crimes during a demonstration and both requested asylum in Peru to avoid going to trial in a country where the justice system does not provide fair trials and is severely controlled by the government.

Africa, Guinea
Bhavani Peesapati
Mass protests are currently taking place in Guinea to protest rumors that Junta head Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara intends to run for president in an election scheduled for next January. Guinean soldiers have responded by using tear gas, firing ammunition into crowds, and publicly raping women. Human rights groups are estimating that over 150 civilians have been killed and are working with the UN and the African Union to try and subdue the violence.

Asia, Burma
Amy Kim
Burma’s military government has more than doubled its political prisoner population in the last two years, reaching a total of more than 2,200 prisoners. These prisoners have been sentenced to long prison terms resulting from unfair trials for speaking out against military rule and from criticism of government actions or policies, specifically of the obstacles to humanitarian relief following Cyclone Nargis, which dealt a devastating blow to Burma in May 2008. The activists have been charged per Burma’s archaic penal code which criminalizes free expression, peaceful demonstration, and forming of independent organizations. There are 43 known political activist prisons with poor medical and sanitation conditions and more than 50 labor camps where prisoners are subjected to hard labor. Moreover, the government has a practice of transferring prisoners to remote areas, placing huge burdens on family members desiring to visit and bring essentials, such as medicine and food. The Human Rights Watch has a global campaign, “2100 by 2010,” asking for the release of 2,100 political prisoners by the scheduled 2010 elections.

Middle East, Turkey
Arine Harapeti
For years, the Turkish lobby has been pressuring world governments and media, especially in the U.S., to exclude the Armenian Genocide from history, and recent events have shown exactly how far they are willing to go. David Krikorian, a candidate for the Ohio 2nd congressional district elections for 2010, exposed the current Congresswoman holding that seat, Jean Schmidt, along with many other Congressman of taking bribes from the Turkish lobby to further the campaign of denial. Former FBI linguist, S. Edmonds, testified as to these facts during the Ohio Elections Commission hearings which are still in progress. These hearings are expected to expose the corrupt, illegal and immoral actions, not only of the Turkish still in progress. These hearings are expected to expose the corrupt, illegal and immoral actions, not only of the Turkish campaign, but also of U.S. elected officials working to hide the truth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nick Vujicic - A Life Without Limbs

Join IHRLS on Thursday, April 16 at 12:00 in 3A for an event not to be missed!

Meet Nick Vujicic!

Imagine being born without arms. No arms to wrap around a friend, no hands to hold the ones you love, no fingers to experience touch. No way to lift and carry things. How much more difficult would life be if you were living without arms and hands? Or what about legs? Imagine if instead of no arms, you had no legs. No ability to dance, walk, run, or even stand. Now put both of those scenarios together… no arms and no legs. What would you do? How would that affect your everyday life?

Meet Nick Vujicic. Born in 1982 in Brisbane, Australia, without any medical explanation or warning, Nicholas Vujicic came into the world with neither arms nor legs. Imagine the shock his parents felt when they saw their first born, brand new baby boy for the first time only to find he was what the world would consider imperfect and abnormal. A limbless son was not what nurse Dushka Vujicic, and her husband Pastor Boris Vujicic had been expecting. How would their son live a normal happy life? What could he ever do or become when living with such a massive disability? Little did they or anyone else know that this beautiful limbless baby would one day be someone who would inspire and motivate people from all walks of life. God uses Nick to touch lives and bring the hope of Jesus Christ to people across the globe.

Throughout his childhood Nick dealt not only with the typical challenges of school and adolescence such as bullying and self-esteem issues; he also struggled with depression and loneliness. He constantly questioned why he was different to all the other kids surrounding him; why he was the one born without arms and legs. He wondered what the purpose behind his life was, or if he even had a purpose. According to Nick the victory over his struggles throughout his journey, as well as the strength and passion he has for life can be credited to his faith in God. His family, his friends and the many people he has encountered during his life have also encouraged him along the way.

After school Nick went on with further study and obtained a double bachelor degree majoring in accounting and financial planning. By the age of 19 Nick started to fulfill his dream of being able to encourage other people and bring them the gospel of Jesus, through motivational speaking and sharing his testimony about how God changed his life and gave him a future and a hope. “I found the purpose of my existence, and also the purpose of my circumstance… There’s a purpose for why you’re in the fire.” Nick wholeheartedly believes that there is a purpose in each of the struggles we encounter in our lives and that our attitude towards those struggles, along with our faith and trust in the Lord can be the keys to overcoming the challenges we face.

Now at 25 years old this limbless young man has accomplished more than most people even twice his age. Nick recently made the massive move from Brisbane, Australia to California, USA, where he is the president of an international non-profit organization; Life Without Limbs, and also has his own motivational speaking company; Attitude Is Altitude. Since his first speaking engagement back when he was 19, Nick has traveled around the world, sharing his story with millions of people, speaking to a range of different groups such as students, teachers, youth, business men and women, entrepreneurs, and church congregations of all sizes. He has also told his story and been interviewed on various televised programs worldwide.

“If God can use a man without arms and legs to be His hands and feet, then He will certainly use any willing heart!”

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New IHRLS Board!

Welcome 2009-10 Board!

Here are our new leaders:

President : Camille Lucidi
Vice President : Vienna Munro
Esteemed Secretary : Shelly Caterino
Esteemed Treasurer : Jennifer Cullimore
Web Dude Extraordinaire : Justin Trauben

We love you! You will carry the torch far and bright!

With love,

Outgoing President IHRLS

Friday, February 13, 2009


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

Several challenges currently facing International Criminal Court (ICC) could undermine its credibility and efficiency for years to come. The court’s first trial opened under a wave of controversy. Issues of disclosure almost led to the release of the court’s first suspect. Concern over protection of witnesses and informants compromised the veracity of the testimony given by the first witness. Political pressure emphasizing a need for peace over justice is undermining the court’s authority as they relate to current proceedings. How the court overcomes the challenges could greatly impact the ICC’s international authority.

In March 2004, The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) asked the ICC to investigate war crimes committed in the country since the enactment of the Rome Statute. The court issued warrants against Thomas Lubanga and three other warlords in March 2006. Lubanga was the first suspect charged by the ICC to be apprehended and held in custody at the Hague. Lubanga is charged with recruiting and using children under the age of 15 to fight. Lubanga headed the miltia group, UPC, who raged war against an ethnic group, the Lendu, over gold and mining rights in the Ituri region of DRC. During the five year conflict, 30,000 children were used by all sides in the conflict to pillage, rape, mutilate, and kill civilians. 60,000 people lost their lives during the conflict.

The trial against Lubanga was due to start in June 2008 but was almost derailed when the court ordered Lubanga released because his right to a fair trial had been violated. The prosecutor had obtained evidence from the United Nations and other sources on condition of confidentiality. The court ruled that the prosecutor misapplied Article 54(3)(e) of the Rome Statute regarding disclosure. The court ruled that the error rendered a fair trial impossible. On appeal, the prosecutor agreed to supply the court with the confidential information. (ICC-01/04-01/06-T-94) The prosecutor has been widely criticized for acquiescing. Any promises, whether of confidentiality or protection, to potential sources of information will be viewed with skepticism about the prosecution’s ability to keep its word.

Protection of witnesses and informants is an important issue in determining the effectiveness of the trial. The prosecution plans to call thirty four witnesses. Nineteen of those witnesses will testify behind a screen with their voices distorted in order to protect their anonymity. The first of the witnesses, a former child soldier, testified on January 28. While he testified behind a screen and was hidden from the public gallery, he was visible to the defendant. Witnesses stated that the defendant glared at the witness while he testified. When the witness returned from a break, the witness retracted his testimony. Prosecutors immediately requested a delay in the trial in order to investigate security for witnesses who fear reprisal when they return to DRC. (

The recent sentence of an ICC informant to seventeen years in jail in Sudan emphasizes the need for protection of witnesses and informants if the ICC does not want its evidence gathering ability compromised. Mohammed Ibrahim was convicted of spying, criminal conspiracy, and passing on confidential military documents to the ICC about Ahmed Haroun, the state minister for humanitarian affairs. ( The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Haroun in April 2007. He is charged with fifty one counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. President Bashir, refuses to turn Haroun over to the ICC. In September 2007, he assigned Haroun to lead an investigation in to human rights violations in Darfur.

Lack of political pressure on Sudan has lent force to Bashir’s flagrant disregard for the authority of the ICC. Many African and Arab nations, along with four of five permanent members of the UN Security Council, support suspending the case against Sudan officials in the hope that Bashir will change his policies regarding Darfur. Despite the pressure though, on February 12, 2009, a panel of judges at the ICC decided for the first time to seek detention of a sitting head of state by issuing an arrest warrant for President Bashir. The nature of the charges has not been revealed although the chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, requested the warrant based on evidence that Bashir masterminded crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes committed in Darfur. The decision to issue a warrant against Bashir has been conveyed to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and is expected to be formally announced. The question though is whether the Security Council will decide to exercise its power to suspend the case against Bashir for a year in order to further the peace negotiations. ( The dilemma though is that such action could send a message to war criminals and perpetrators of egregious crimes against humanity that justice is negotiable and that they can commit atrocities with impunity. The danger is that such a precedent could send a message that heads of state can completely disregard the ICC as long as they can convince the rest of the world that they have an ‘interest in furthering the peace process.’

The outcome of the current trial will greatly impact the ICC’s role in and its authority for implementing international justice. Internationally there are 250,000 child soldiers, primarily in Chad, DRC, Sudan, Uganda, Burma and Philippines. International attention has been directed towards the increased use of children in armed conflicts. 58 countries recently signed the Paris Principles, promising to prevent the use of child soldiers and to work towards disarming underage fighters. The trial against Lubanga is the first trial in history to focus exclusively on the use of child soldiers as a war crime and it is the first time that victims are being allowed to participate fully in an international trial. In DRC, the trial is being given wide media coverage. 400 people gathered around a giant screen in the Ituri region capital, Bunia, to observe the trial proceedings. Whether the global perception is that justice was served, proceedings were fairly conducted, and witnesses and informants protected will affect the perception of war criminals as to the impunity they can attain from their crimes.