NYU Law Professor Jose Enrique Alvarez will be guest blogging this week over at Opinio Juris. He uses his first post to outline the broad challenges facing the international investment regime. From the post: When two of the leading capital…
This installment in our ongoing series of book reviews features J. Benton Heath’s assessment of Moshik Temkin’s The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial. In his review, Heath finds that Temkin’s book brings a unique international dimension to the analysis of the Sacco-Vanzetti affair, and reveals how events surrounding Sacco and Vanzetti informed ongoing dialogue on U.S. global dominance and domestic policy.
By J. Benton Heath
Two years after the 1927 execution of Italian-American anarchists Nicolai Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, H.L.Mencken wrote that their case “refuses to yield.… The victims continue to walk, haunting the conscience of America, of the civilized world.” Eight decades have passed since Mencken’s writing, yet Sacco and Vanzetti continue to stalk the public imagination, attracting renewed interest from scholars, journalists, commentators, and novelists. Temkin’s engaging and insightful work attempts to establish the historical place of Sacco and Vanzetti by focusing on the nationwide and transatlantic dimensions of their case. By focusing on the international reactions to the convictions and executions, and on the effects of foreign criticism, Temkin finds his own unique niche among the extensive scholarship on the case.
Continuing our ongoing series of book reviews, Alexanda McCown assesses Against the Death Penalty: International Initiatives and Implications, edited by Jon Yorke. The book focuses on what empirically have been successful challenges to the death penalty and explores the relationship between public opinion and death penalty policy. However, given that the book discusses how life without parole might be an alternative to the death penalty that still violates human rights, this reviewer laments the book’s omission of other viable alternative sentences to the death penalty.
By Alexandra McCown
In November 2003, a jury delivered the death sentence to John Allen Muhammad, one of the two men behind the Washington, D.C.-area sniper attacks in 2002. The execution took place in 2009, almost six years to the day after his sentencing. If Muhammad had carried out the same crimes in Europe, he would not have been subject to capital punishment. In still other parts of the world, like the Caribbean, he may have received the death penalty, but ultimately his sentence would have been commuted since he remained on death row longer than five years. What accounts for regional differences in issuing (or not issuing) capital sanctions for heinous crimes such as the sniper attacks? Further, if Muhammad had received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP) in the United States or any other country, would that really have been preferable to a death sentence? Can shorter sentences effectively punish the perpetrator and protect society from future crime while simultaneously respecting criminals’ human rights?
Eric Posner (U. Chicago) will present a paper titled Human Rights, the Laws of War, and Reciprocity at NYU Law's Hauser Colloquium this Wednesday at 2 p.m. The paper focuses on U.S. counterterrorism policy. It argues that the relative successes…
On Oct. 22, Peter Taksoe-Jensen, Danish Ambassador to the United States (right), will deliver a keynote address at a JILP symposium on the promises and challenges of a melting arctic. Until recently, Mr. Taksoe-Jensen was the UN assistant secretary-general for…
This installment in our ongoing series of book reviews takes on Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters by lawyer/novelist Louis Begley. Hugh Murtaugh’s complimentary review of Begley’s work intertwines the Dreyfus and the Guantanamo narratives. Both Begley and this reviewer conclude with the same lament from Proust: “As for asking oneself about its value, not one thought of it now .… It was no longer shocking. That was all that was required.”
The story of Guantanamo Bay is not over. President Obama will not be able to shutter the island prison until at least 2011, and then only by moving the remaining detainees to a stateside facility. Time passes, details emerge: the “Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures” find their way onto the internet; a military judge will not allow the prosecution of a terrorist leader because he has been so badly abused; Sami al-Hajj, the al-Jazeera journalist held for years on changing unsubstantiated charges, is finally released to Sudan, with his diaries.
On Saturday, the New York Times published an interview with NYU Professor Jerome A. Cohen regarding legal developments in China and the country's human rights record. From the interview: “There are now some 200,000 judges, close to 180,000 prosecutors, roughly…
Sahib Singh of the University of Vienna has posted a paper on SSRN titled The Ethics of Fragmentation: Formalism’s Fallacies and the Potential of International Law. The paper is interesting not least because it takes a serious and critical work at the fragmentation report of 2006, prepared for the International Law Commission by Martti Koskenniemi. Singh’s paper investigates the work of a first-rate scholar closely affiliated with NYU Law’s Hauser Global Law School program, and for that alone it would be worth reading for NYU international law students. But Singh’s paper is fascinating because it investigates the tension between Koskenniemi’s personal work and the report. Abstract after the jump.
This edition of our ongoing series of book reviews offers a critical but ultimately positive take on Kamari Maxine Clarke’s Fictions of Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Challenge of Legal Pluralism in Sub-Saharan Africa. This book review is particularly timely, as the recent ECCC verdict in the “Duch” trial reminds us of that court’s landmark decision earlier this summer, which rejected one controversial form of “joint criminal enterprise” liability. Kelly Geoghegan’s review, published in issue no. 42:3 of JILP, takes the opportunity to level her own criticism, or skepticism, at JCE theory.
By Kelly Geoghegan
Fictions of Justice is Kamari Maxine Clarke’s searching anthropological critique of both the international rule of law movement and its flagship tribunal, the International Criminal Court (ICC). Clarke explores the unspoken assumptions, or “fictions,” that underlie this movement, showing that these assumptions privilege Western ideas of justice over African ones and obscure the post-colonial economic forces behind Africa’s turmoil. Ultimately, Fictions of Justice is an anthropological work, not a legal text. Still, the book has potent insights to offer legal practitioners, particularly activists working “on behalf of victims” to achieve “universal” ideals of justice.
The International Court of Justice today held that international law did not prohibit Kosovo’s declaration of independence, while sidestepping the larger issue of Kosovo’s statehood. All of the opinions can be found here, but we are happy to host the opinion of the court on this JILP Forum, since the ICJ’s site has been difficult to access as of late.
In a way, as Chris Borgen notes at Opinio Juris, this result should not come as a surprise, since international law generally does not seem to have much to say about declarations of independence. The Court sidesteps the trickier problem of the lex specialis created by S.C. Res. 1244 (and the subsequent Constitutional Framework adopted by UNMIK) by holding that the declaration did not constitute an act of one of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government. This lays the groundwork for the Court to conclude that the declaration essentially took place outside the scope of S.C. Res. 1244 and the framework. Preliminary thoughts after the jump.