Ben du Toit (Donald Sutherland), a caucasian teacher in South Africa, has never had to face the atrocities of apartheid until his black gardener’s son is beaten and taken into custody by the police. When the gardener’s son disappears, Ben starts asking questions, and finds that his own society is built on prejudice and exploitation. Check out A Dry White Season from the law library.
Gandhi is the biographical film about the extraordinary Mahatma Gandhi, whose philosophy of nonviolence and peaceful protests freed India from British rule. Gandhi spent the rest of his life trying to unite India through peaceful protest until his assassination. The film won eight Academy Awards, including two for producer and director Richard Attenborough and best actor for Ben Kingsley.
In December of 2010, the Netherlands passed legislation to implement the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. This change permits the prosecution of perpetrators as a crime against humanity and removes any statute of limitations. Newly caught up in this web is Jorge Zorreguieta, former Deputy Agriculture Minister for Argentina during the Videla regime. He served during a time when forced disappearances were at their zenith. To date he has refused to say anything about what happened during this period of the Dirty War. The irony is that Mr. Zorreguieta is the father of Princess Maxima, wife of the heir apparent to the Dutch throne. Read the report from Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
The Tufts University Multilaterals Project is an ongoing project to make available the texts of international multilateral conventions and other instruments. The collection includes treaties in the fields of environmental law, human rights, commerce and trade, laws of war and arms control, and other areas. Most of the texts date from 1945 or later, but the collection also includes historical texts, from the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia to the Covenant of the League of Nations.
Stephanie Farrior recently blogged on IntLawGrrls that the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission was declared an official non-governmental organization by the Economic and Social Council’s Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations of the United Nations. This Consultative status is governed by ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 and permits NGOs to submit agenda items to the Council and its ad hoc committees and commissions. In addition, recognized NGOs can participate in international conferences and their preparatory meetings among other privileges. The vote to grant consultative status to IGLHRC was welcomed by human rights advocates the world over and championed by the U.S. delegation to ECOSOC.
As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the U.S. is required to submit a periodic report on its human rights practices. The government’s first report to the UN Human Rights Council under the new Universal Periodic Review process can be found here. It makes for some interesting reading.
Drafted in 1948, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (GA Res. 217 (III)) established the foundation for modern international human rights law. Although it is a non-binding resolution of the General Assembly, the declaration has been cited many times before different UN bodies and also served as the impetus for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. A joint digital project by the UN libraries in Geneva and New York preserves the sessional documentation that includes all of the background materials starting in 1946.
Late in October 2009, the United States Department of State’s Office of War Crimes Issues released a report that raises serious questions involving the closing days of the Sri Lankan war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Developed at the request of Congress, the report outlines conduct that “may constitute violations of international humanitarian law or crimes against humanity.” Among the incidents cited are the execution of Tamil leaders after surrender, the lack of food, medicine and clean water in the designated no-fire zone, the use of child soldiers, and the disappearance of Tamil civilians, in particular children and young men.
In recent decision from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Eritrea was ordered to pay Ethiopia over 8 million euros for damages precipitated during 1998-2000 conflict between both states. This unprecedented award included a number of important findings related to the rules of war and international humanitarian law and included monetary damages for violations of human rights. SU Law’s Prof. Won Kidane was a part of the legal team involved in this extended arbitration. See a full portfolio of documents from the Hague Justice Portal Research File.
On Thursday, July 30th, the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on behalf of the United States. The Convention adopts a rights-based approach to the disabled which emphasizes fundamental freedoms and full incorporation into society. Called “the first human rights treaty of the 21st century”, it represents a sea-change in attitude toward the disabled on the part of the developing and less developed states where over 80% of the world’s disabled population resides. When the treaty was opened for signature on 3/30/2007, it received the highest number of signatures ever recorded in one day for a U.N. convention (82). The treaty will now be sent to the Senate for its advice and consent.