Asia and International Law

Human Rights – Cambodia: UN-backed report reveals scope of violence against children (UN News, 22 October 2014)
The first assessment of its kind in East Asia and the Pacific region, Cambodia’s Violence against Children Survey (CVACS) asked 2,376 children and young people aged 13 to 24 from across the country about their experiences of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18. The report – coordinated by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and conducted by the Government of Cambodia – discovered that, along with the vast scope of the violence, those children who were physically abused were harmed by people they knew and trusted while those who were sexually abused were often victimized by friends and neighbours, as opposed to strangers. The report also highlighted that mothers and male teachers were most likely to be the perpetrators of physical violence against children.
International Economic Law – Permanent solution on food security in WTO rules is must: India (Times of India, 24 October 2014)
In a stern message, India has told the UN General Assembly that developing countries must have the freedom to use food reserves to feed the poor "without the threat of sanctions" and a permanent solution on security with necessary changes in WTO rules is a must. "The issue of food security is central to the pursuit of poverty eradication and sustainable development in developing countries and must be treated with the same urgency as other issues, if not more," counsellor in the Indian mission to the UN Amit Narang said in a UN General Assembly session on 'Macroeconomic Policy Questions: International Trade and Development'.
International Humanitarian Law & the Use of Force – Amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan, UN’s Ban urges calm, dialogue (UN News, 9 October 2014)

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern today about the escalation of violence along the border dividing India and Pakistan, which has seen both countries exchange gun and mortar fire since the end of September. The hostilities between India and Pakistan have steadily intensified with media reporting an estimated 20 casualties and thousands displaced by the fighting. In his statement, Mr. Ban encouraged the Governments of India and Pakistan to resolve all differences through dialogue and “to engage constructively to find a long-term solution for peace and stability in Kashmir.”

International Humanitarian Law & the Use of Force – Growing use of drones in law enforcement may violate human rights, warns UN expert (UN News, 22 October 2014)

The increasing use of armed drones within domestic law enforcement risks depersonalizing the use of force and infringing upon the rights of individual citizens, a United Nations independent human rights expert warned. In presenting his report on the use of armed drones within law enforcement to the General Assembly body that deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues (Third Committee), Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, stressed that such mechanized systems, controlled by a human from a distance, “can hardly do what police officers are supposed to do” such as using the minimum force required by the circumstances and assisting those who need help. In his report, the Special Rapporteur reminded Member States that the protection of rights such as the right to life and personal security and of human dignity outweigh the advantages gains from outsourcing police work to machines.

Other Areas of International Law – Mass internet surveillance threatens international law, UN report claims (The Guardian, 15 October 2014)

Mass surveillance of the internet by intelligence agencies is “corrosive of online privacy” and threatens to undermine international law, according to a report to the United Nations General Assembly. The critical study by Ben Emmerson QC, the UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism, is a response to revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden about the extent of monitoring carried out by GCHQ in the UK and the National Security Agency (NSA) in the US. Emmerson’s study poses a direct challenge to the claims of both governments that their bulk surveillance programs, which the barrister finds endanger the privacy of “literally every internet user,” are proportionate to the terrorist threat and robustly constrained by law. To combat the danger, Emmerson endorses the ability of Internet users to mount legal challenges to bulk surveillance.

Other Areas of International Law – A Bigger World of International Law (NYT, 5 October 2014)

Though the field of international public law is gradually spreading globally, a handful of universities in the United States and in Europe hold disproportionate sway when it comes to training the international-law elite. But as courts and nongovernmental organizations look for wider geographical representation among their lawyers, smaller and newer law schools in Asia and Australia and law schools that offer specialized postgraduate degrees are moving to catch up.

Law of Armed Conflict (IHL) – ISIS fighters from Malaysia, Indonesia form military unit (The Star, 26 September 2014)

Militants from Indonesia and Malaysia fighting in Syria have formed a military unit for Malay-speaking ISIS fighters, and analysts fear this could expand their reach in South-east Asia. The unit is called Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiyyah, or Malay archipelago unit for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (Ipac) estimates in a report that the new unit has at least 22 members. Ipac said it was clear from Facebook pages that ISIS supporters in Indonesia and Malaysia were befriending one another. It added that members of the Katibah "could become the vanguard for a fighting force that would reach into Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines". So far, there are no indications of Filipino fighters in the unit yet. Ipac's Sidney Jones said that unlike the JI's South-east Asian Al-Ghuraba cell in the 1990s, which was based in Karachi, Pakistan, and made occasional trips to Afghanistan to train, the ISIS fighters have direct battle experience. "The cross-regional bonds established could also be the strongest we've seen in a long time," Jones added.

Law of the Sea – China-Indonesia Territorial Dispute: Chinese South China Sea Occupation is a "Real Threat" (International Business Times, 22 September 2014)

Indonesia has labeled Chinese claims to the hotly disputed South China Sea waters as a "real threat." Vice Admiral Desi Albert Mamahit, who heads Indonesia's Sea Security Coordinating Agency, told a maritime security focus group that the waters surrounding several of the country’s islands were in jeopardy from an encroaching Chinese presence. “This is clearly a real threat for Indonesia,” said Desi, who is also a dean at the Defense University. Desi said Indonesia would need to prepare for moves China may make to further expand its claims in the area. The forum aimed to establish Bakamla, a sea security organization, in the area to help support a warning system and military coordination in the event of confrontation.

International Economic Law – Deadlock at WTO continues as India stays firm on trade facilitation, food security deal (Economic Times, 25 September 2014)

The deadlock at the WTO continues as India sticks to its stand of a simultaneous deal on trade facilitation and food security at the Agriculture Committee meeting at the end of September in Geneva. India first blocked the trade facilitation deal adoption on July 31, seeking a permanent solution on public procurement for food security. India reiterated its position that adopting the trade facilitation text should be delayed until the end of the year and a permanent solution on public stockholding issue should be agreed by then. Several members said that the hold up on trade facilitation amounted to a betrayal of trust, which made it impossible to engage in further work in good faith. India countered the charge of bad faith by arguing that its accusers were also showing bad faith by questioning the feasibility of the December 2008 draft deal in agriculture, which is the only one currently on the table.

Law of Development – As development goals near deadline, UN chief urges global leaders to ‘finish the job’ (UN News, 25 September 2014)

Great gains have been made in the global effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, known worldwide as the “MDGs,” but with the deadline fast approaching more must be done to fully meet the targets set for 2015 and beyond, Secretary Ban Ki-moon said on 25 September. The meeting, organized by the MDG Advocacy Group, a body of global leaders and eminent personalities assembled by the Secretary-General to promote the implementation of the Goals, also marked the release of the Group’s latest report – Accelerating Action: Global Leaders on Challenges and Opportunities for MDG Achievement – which confirms the strides made so far. With 462 days remaining until the MDG deadline, the report strikes an optimistic note, adding that with many of the Goals already met – including the reduction of poverty, increasing access to clean drinking water, improving the lives of slum dwellers, and achieving gender parity in schools – many more targets are also within reach by the end of 2015. But Mr. Ban warned much more remained to be done in order to “finish the job.” “We need a strong successor framework in place,” affirmed Mr. Ban. “Building mechanisms for effective partnerships and multi-stakeholder accountability will be critical to the success of the post-2015 development agenda.”

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