The United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) issued a forceful report this week on the human rights record of the United States under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The report is linked here.
The committee’s “concluding observations” included 22 numbered sections detailing areas of concern and recommendations. These included topics that have been commented on frequently (NSA surveillance and privacy rights, the death penalty, targeted killings by drones and racial profiling) and a range of other concerns (from voting rights and the “criminalization of homelessness” to non-consensual psychiatric treatment and domestic violence). The report includes recommendations in all of these areas; and calls on the United States, among other things, to report on its compliance with several of the HRCs’ recommendations within one year, and to provide information on implementation of all the recommendations in its next periodic report, five years from now.
The HRC is one of the “treaty bodies” (or panels of experts) that receives reports from member states on their obligations under international human rights conventions. After receiving the member state’s report and hearing from, e.g., human rights and other “civil society organizations” about that state’s compliance or non-compliance with the convention, the treaty body issues its “Concluding Observations,” in which it states its principal matters of concern and recommendations.
Other UN treaty bodies include, e.g., the Committee Against Torture, which monitors implementation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment; and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women).
In addition to the treaty bodies, the UN’s human rights apparatus includes the Human Rights Council, a body of 47 UN member states elected by the General Assembly and based in Geneva that coordinates human rights activities for the UN; and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights, the part of the UN’s Secretariat, or permanent bureaucracy, that works to advance human rights by, e.g., speaking out on human rights issues, coordinating activities with human rights organizations and other UN bodies and providing assistance to national governments.
It has a certain, je ne sais quoi, and is a powerful new online tool to consult when researching the laws of foreign jurisdictions….. The site allows searching across multiple countries and includes materials pulled from government websites as well as primary and secondary materials. There are even newspapers from many countries available.
Best feature? Everything can be translated out of the original source language into another language of your choosing and the translations, while not official, are enhanced by vLex to provide better legal translations than otherwise available with online translation sources.
(We do ask you to please close out of your session after using vLex to allow others to sign onto the database as our subscription is limited to a select number of open sessions. Thanks!)
Looking for material regarding the EU? Check out Europa, the EU’s official website. It’s got legal and legislative information, publications, statistics, guides for teachers, and more!
If you have an interest in practicing or studying international law, you may have heard of the American Society of International Law (ASIL).
A student membership includes access to several ASIL publications, including the American Journal of International Law and the ASIL Newsletter. In addition to its traditional publications, ASIL offers a range of electronic, video and career development resources, as well as numerous topical guides, papers and conferences.
Tomorrow, ASIL wraps up its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (The program, including a description of all the educational programs, can be viewed here.) For future reference, please note (on the Registration tab) that students get very substantial discounts to attend, with access to educational programs, receptions and exhibits at the meeting.
If you are conducting research a treaty to which the United States is (or may be) a party, free Internet resources provide some of the most useful tools available. Some tips on using these free sources follow.
One example of a treaty that was recently considered by the Senate is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“the Convention”). Late in 2012, there was much news coverage of the Senate’s failure to ratify the Convention. To check on recent treaty actions in the Senate, a good first stop is Thomas, the Congressional web site. In Thomas’ Treaties section, a simple search (“disabilties”) in the 112th Congress leads to information about the Convention, identified as Treaty no. 112-7; Senate Executive Report 112-6, which accompanies the treaty; and the Senate vote on December 4, 2012. However, Thomas does not link out to these reference documents or more details.
For the text of the treaty documents, go to the Government Printing Office web site, FDSys, which provides access to Congressional Documents; that includes Senate Treaty Documents for each recent Congress, including the 112th. Treaty Document 112-7 is available in PDF there. Likewise, Executive Report 112-6 is available; to find it, run a search (e.g., “senate executive report 112-6″) on the FDSys main page. The Senate’s web site provides information on roll-call votes, including the December 4 vote on the Convention. (Because the 61-38 vote fell 6 votes short of a two-thirds majority, ratification was rejected.) Continue Reading »
Death Penalty Worldwide is a site created by the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University School of Law. The site’s death penalty database allows you to search by country, region, or form of execution. The pages provide citations to government, UN, and NGO publications that describe a particular country’s laws regarding the death penalty. In addition, the site provides information under “International Legal Issues” on issues related to the death penalty, such as due process, foreign nationals, and juvenile offenders. An extensive death penalty bibliography detailing relevant books and articles is also provided. If you are interested in a comparative examination of the death penalty, this resource is a great place to get started.
Hat tip to Georgetown Law Library.
HeinOnline recently added the “Index to Foreign Legal Perodicals” to its substantial offerings.
“The Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals is the preeminent multilingual index to articles and book reviews appearing in more than 500 legal journals published worldwide. It provides in-depth coverage of public and private international law, comparative and foreign law, and the law of all jurisdictions other than the United States, the UK, Canada, and Australia.”
This is a great source to consider when a foreign journal article search would be helpful to your research.
The United Nations plays an important role in shaping international law, resolving conflicts between nations, and promoting worldwide efforts in such areas as human rights, anti-terrorism, sustainable development and disaster relief. This certification class will provide an introduction to the UN and its organization, how to locate documents (including General Assembly and Security Council resolutions), and to use the UN web site and related materials for research.
This session is offered twice (in Room 334): Tuesday, March 20 at 1pm, and Wednesday, March 21 at 1pm. Space is still available for the Wednesday session. To register, click here.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a landmark speech yesterday in Geneva in recognition of International Human Rights Day. Sec. Clinton put the human rights of LGBT people in the context of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the movement to secure the rights of women, indigenous people, children and other marginalized groups. Continue Reading »