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Alvarez on Opinio Juris

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…

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Book Review: Temkin’s The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair

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.

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Book Review: Against the Death Penalty (Yorke ed.)

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?

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Book Review: Begley’s Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters

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.”

By Hugh K. Murtagh

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.

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Cohen on Human Rights in China

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…

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Koskenniemi the scholar vs. Koskenniemi the commissioner

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.

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Book Review: Clarke’s Fictions of Justice

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.

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ICJ Rules on Kosovo Independence

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.

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