CASIN is planning its next delegation. Which United Nations meeting would you prefer to attend if given the opportunity- the 52nd Session of the Commission for Social Development (Feb 11-21, 2014)or 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 10-21, 2014) Give us your input by taking this one-question survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QLPSXT8.
CASIN is planning its next delegation. Which United Nations meeting would you prefer to attend if given the opportunity- the 52nd Session of the Commission for Social Development (Feb 11-21, 2014)or 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (March 10-21, 2014) Give us your input by taking this one-question survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QLPSXT8.View full post
Summer 2013 Newsletter: Celebrating International Criminal Justice Day & Summary of the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women With a video interview with AMICC, delegate summaries, and more . . . For the full newsletter: CASIN_July_2013_Newsletter_FinalView full post
From 13 November 2012 to 21 November 2012, I served as a CASIN delegate to the International Criminal Court’s (“ICC”) Eleventh Session of the Assembly of States Parties (“ASP”) in The Hague, Netherlands. This experience offered a unique look at the way in which policy and procedure underpin an international legal institution. Three observations fascinated …View full post
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2013/11/17/tell-us-which-united-nations-meeting-you-would-like-to-attend-as-a-member-of-casins-delegation/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2013/10/09/eyes-on-the-icc-volume-9-2012-2013-is-now-available/
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2013/10/08/the-interdisciplinary-journal-of-human-rights-law-volume-7-2012-2013/
Summer 2013 Newsletter: Celebrating International Criminal Justice Day &
Summary of the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
With a video interview with AMICC, delegate summaries, and more . . .
For the full newsletter:
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2013/07/17/casin-july-2013-newsletter-voices-of-the-future/
From 13 November 2012 to 21 November 2012, I served as a CASIN delegate to the International Criminal Court’s (“ICC”) Eleventh Session of the Assembly of States Parties (“ASP”) in The Hague, Netherlands. This experience offered a unique look at the way in which policy and procedure underpin an international legal institution. Three observations fascinated me throughout the formal plenary sessions and the informal side meetings. First, I developed a better understanding of how states parties advocated the views of their governments in a large, multilateral setting. Second, I noticed the collaborative tone adopted by states parties while presenting different issues over the course of the ASP. Third, I was surprised to see how actively involved the NGOs were in the formal and informal sessions. This memorandum will further discuss my observations at this year’s ASP and explain how I believe this experience has helped strengthen my understanding of international legal issues.
Many voices were heard at this year’s ASP. In addition to the 121 states parties to the Rome Statute, this year’s meeting was attended by a handful of non-party states and NGOs. With a full slate of agenda items to cover, it was incumbent on the delegates to respect the procedural constraints and ensure that each session ran smoothly and concluded in a timely manner. The only wrinkle seemed to be the five rounds of voting required to elect Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart. However, this must be viewed as a necessary consequence of the democratic and transparent nature of the ICC’s procedural mechanisms. Towards the end of the ASP, there was an amendment proposed by Belgian delegate Mr. Gérard Dive. After a few responses from other states parties, it became clear that the amendment did not have the support necessary to ensure its passage. Instead of pushing the envelope, Mr. Dive took the cooperative step of withdrawing the amendment from consideration. Multilateral institutions must possess a collective awareness of the need for cooperation, and after attending the ASP I believe that the International Criminal Court possesses this trait.
In both the formal plenary sessions and the informal side sessions, there were several examples of states parties collaborating to moderate and facilitate discussion on trending international legal issues. On 19 November 2012, Denmark and South Africa moderated the formal session on complementarity, or the idea that the ICC can only prosecute crimes once the national courts have failed to do so. The shared European and African perspectives helped legitimize the discussion on complementarity. The Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Villy Søvndal, noted that “increased international cooperation on building and further developing the ability of states to prosecute the most heinous crimes at the national level” was essential to the functioning of both the ICC and domestic criminal courts. The states parties participating in this discussion echoed the comments of Denmark and South Africa. Countries also collaborated on moderating informal side sessions over the course of the ASP. For example, on 20 November 2012, Colombia, Tunisia, and the Victims Rights Working Group co-hosted an event addressing the importance and challenges of victim participation. The commendable efforts of states parties from various parts of the world to facilitate discussion on important international legal rights issues was essential to the success of this year’s ASP.
The work of the NGOs at the ASP was noticeable in both formal and informal sessions. During the general debate, the floor was yielded to a variety of organizations, including the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (“CICC”), the Open Society Justice Initiative, and Amnesty International. More importantly, NGOs moderated and co-hosted side sessions with states parties, including, for example, the Europe Strategy Consultation meeting co-hosted by the CICC and Cyprus. In years past, NGOs were often marginalized in the meetings of large, multilateral institutions and relegated to strict observer status. In the last couples decades, however, there has been a dramatic shift in the role played by NGOs, so much in fact that in this year’s ASP, not only were NGOs fundamental to the meeting’s success, but they were openly lauded by states parties for their efforts. For example, the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Urmas Paet, noted that “governments, civil society and international organizations strive to strengthen domestic jurisdiction when dealing with Rome Statute crimes,” and asked attendees to remember “that civil society has significantly supported both the establishment and the work of the Court.” With the understanding that the work of NGOs has been essential to the success of the ICC, serving as a delegate for CASIN was extremely rewarding and enriching.
The International Criminal Court’s Eleventh Session of the Assembly of States Parties was beneficial to all parties involved. Among other achievements, attendees cooperated with each other to pass next year’s budget, elect a new Deputy Prosecutor, and confront pressing issues of international law. Having the chance to serve as a delegate with CASIN enriched my understanding of the bureaucratic processes underpinning the legal operations of the International Criminal Court. Going forward, I would like to continue to stay involved in the work of NGOs with respect to the ICC and other international legal bodies, and see that others get involved as well. Having this comprehensive, international exposure to an event like the ASP will surely help me as I continue my legal studies in New York City and prepare for post-graduate employment.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2012/12/30/casin-delegate-andrew-zapata-reviews-the-iccs-11th-session-of-the-asp/
The CASIN delegation participated under the umbrella of AMICC, the American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the ICC, the U.S. national network of the CICC, or Coalition to the International Criminal Court, a global coalition comprised of 2,500 civil society organizations (“CSOs”) in 150 different countries working in partnership to strengthen international cooperation with the ICC. Delegations from approximately 90 of the 121 states parties attended the Assembly, as well as numerous observer states and CICC members.
The Assembly was marked by numerous noteworthy events. A new Deputy Prosecutor, James Stewart of Canada, was elected for a nine year term. Although the contested election required five rounds of voting, an objective examination showed Mr. Stewart’s particular merit, being the only bilingual candidate and the only candidate with extensive international criminal legal experience. Election of five member the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims and the nine member Advisory Committee on Nominations proceeded by consensus.
The Assembly also adopted a new Rule of Procedure and Evidence, Rule 132bis, allowing consolidation of pre-trial work under a single judge. The measure, with great potential to improve efficiency at the pre-trial state, was a positive example of using feedback of the court itself to enhance function. The notion was proposed by the Judicial Chambers to the Working Group on Amendments, who codified it in Rule 132bis. The insertion marked the second time that amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence provided a means of altering court procedures without amending the Rome Statute itself, a complex process which would require ratification of any changes by the individual states parties.
Conflicts over passage of the 2013 Budget Resolution were anticipated to occupy large portions of the Plenary Sessions, but were avoided, thanks to behind the scenes efforts by Ambassador Hakan Emsgard of Sweden, and interventions by key states. The 2013 Budget allocation of 115.1 million Euros adopted the recommendations of the Committee on Budget and Finance. The question of who would be responsible for rent costs of the court’s current interim premises, an expense of approximately 6 million Euros annually, resulted in a compromise, with the Court absorbing half the costs and Netherlands and Mexico stepping forward to cover the balance. The budget continues to take a central role in ASP Plenary Sessions; as emphasized by Amnesty International both in their general debate intervention and their published recommendations, the prospect of a “zero growth” budget or selective defending may be the greatest single threat “undermining the Court’s work, including the ability of an independent Prosecutor to respond to impunity in all situations under the Court’s jurisdiction.”
In an unprecedented step, portions of the Plenary Sessions were specifically allocated to the topics of complementarity and state cooperation with the ICC, reflecting growing recognition of the centrality of these issues to the future efficacy of the Court. A plenary session specifically dedicated to complementarity marked a high note, reflecting the highly reiterated tenet that the primary responsibility in prosecuting grave crimes under the Rome Statute is with the states, with ICC involvement only if states are themselves unwilling or unable to act. The session came at a time where efforts towards complementarity by members took on a new urgency, with the increasing occurrence of grave acts potentially within the jurisdiction of the court. The keynote address by Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (“UNDP”), noted the great potential for UNDP Rule of Law and Governance programs already aimed at judicial capacity building to focus on specific capacity to prosecute atrocity crimes. National submissions underscored both the primacy of national prosecutions and the need to strengthen and enable such mechanisms through enactment of national legislation. The focus resulted in adoption, at the end of the assembly, of the first ever ASP resolution on complementarity.
State Cooperation was the second new stand-alone Plenary subject of discussion. This achievement was highly significant since the ICC, unlike national courts, has no direct powers of enforcement outside of very limited circumstances and relies upon states parties to conduct investigations, arrest suspects, protect witnesses, or compel witnesses to attend trial. The keynote speaker, ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, discussed both challenges and successes in cooperation leading to arrest of 100% of the 161 persons indicted by the ICTY. Interventions by states acknowledged the necessity of cooperation in enabling the Court to effectively function, and urged the importance of follow-through and political will in effecting compliance.
This year was the first year that dedicated Cooperation and Complementarity discussions were scheduled within the Plenary Session. During the Court’s first decade, discussion of substantive issues during the Plenary was largely limited to debate over the content of the Omnibus Resolution, with side resolutions such as the 2011 resolution on Cooperation adopted by consensus. Further consideration of issues was reserved for Working Groups, side events hosted by civil society organizations, and informal discussion. The effect of this was twofold: First, substantive issues of potentially great import to the Court’s success were sidelined from main discussions, creating perhaps unintended de-emphasis. Secondly, the non-formal setting for substantive discussion of these issues, whether through informal talks or meetings scheduled in tiny rooms at times often conflicting with the Plenary itself or other side-events, was not conducive to a forum in which all state party participants and interested CSOs could thoroughly discuss subject matter. As the Court enters its second decade, attention the Assembly must naturally extend beyond the preliminary issues characterizing the establishment of the Court to long-term challenges to Court efficacy and function implicating judicial, technical, diplomatic, and political assistance on a national and civil society level. In light of current realities, Complementarity and Cooperation are likely to remain on the Plenary Agenda in the foreseeable future.
Additionally of note were numerous side-events coordinated by the CICC involving regional governments and civil society organizations. Regional meetings, such as the 11/17 CICC Regional Meeting with Middle East and North African Governments, bringing together government representatives of the MENA region, and the 11/17 MENA Regional Strategy Meeting, open to all with an interest in or working in the region, provided intensely valuable forums for regional players to discuss concerns and issues specific to the region. The CICC MENA Government meeting, for example, allowed a forum for regional information such as status reports on ratification and implementation by MENA nations, and for discussion of issues of concern such as non-referral of Syria, the question of Palestinian non-membership to the ICC, and the compatibility of the Rome Statute with Sharia. At the MENA Regional Strategy Meeting, regional CSOs spoke to successes and challenges in addressing issues pertinent to the court in the MENA region, such as capacity building and rule of law initiatives, the need to refer the Syria situation to the ICC, the strong desire of certain Libyan NGOs to see Libya build the capacity to try Libyan indictees in Libya under the complementarity principle.
The Assembly concluded with the passage, by consensus, of eight resolutions: The Omnibus Resolution, the Budget Resolution, Amendment of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Permanent Premises, the Independent Oversight Mechanism, Cooperation, Complementarity, Victims and Reparations, as well as one Recommendation concerning election of the Registrar of the International Criminal Court. The 12th Assembly of States Parties to the ICC will occur on November 20-28, 2013, at the Hague, Netherlands.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2012/12/29/casin-delegate-katherine-ball-reviews-the-11th-assembly-of-states-parties-to-the-icc/
Serving as a CASIN delegate to the 11th Session of the International Criminal Court’s Assembly of States-Parties (ASP) in The Hague was an invaluable experience. The ASP is the annual meeting of representatives from all states that have ratified the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute and are thereby members of the Court. Also in attendance were non-state member observers, representatives from international organizations and civil society groups. The ASP serves as the political body of the Court, and its working days are filled with questions of institutional governance, such as approving the Court’s annual budget, electing Court officials and ASP Bureau committee members, and amending the operational rules and structures of the Court. Since CASIN attends the ASP under the accreditation of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), I was also invited to partake in the CICC’s strategy sessions. In these meetings, representatives of NGOs from around the world raised issues that concerned them, and the CICC Secretariat discussed structural and substantive developments in the work of the ASP and its impact on civil society’s relations with the Court.
The ASP sessions are dynamic meetings that are typically scheduled for a period of eight working days. Although much preparation and substantive details are ironed out prior to the ASP meeting in working groups, the convening of the ASP is the only opportunity for all states-representatives to gather in one place and engage in dialogue with one another and representatives of international organizations and civil society. The schedule, which is constantly revised as states progress in their negotiations, is packed with formal, recorded, plenary sessions, as well as so-called “side-events” organized by civil society. There are also several periods scheduled for informal consultations among state representatives. It is therefore impossible to know at the outset what will transpire or be accomplished.
Budget negotiations are one example of the dynamism of the ASP. Going into this session, there was great concern that despite the austerity of the proposed budget, the plenary sessions would be dominated by wrangling among state-representatives. Many feared the difficult economic times and the incentive of some states to withhold the resources needed by the Court to handle its workload would prevail. Perhaps because of the gravity of these concerns, intensive preparatory work was conducted by the Committee on Budget and Finance and the ASP Working Groups in The Hague and New York, as well as informally among states at the ASP. Ultimately, a consensus on the budget was reached using a silent procedure, meaning that it was not even raised at the formal sessions; in fact, the ASP concluded one day ahead of schedule.
Reactions to the budget reflected the diverse concerns of the ASP attendees. While everyone seemed pleased that state-representatives had managed to pass a budget without dominating the ASP’s meetings, many remained worried that it was too lean to adequately finance the different aspects of the Court’s work. Some were concerned that the budget would impact the legal work of the Court, such as thorough investigations and the effective prosecution of cases. Others were focused on the non-legal, yet nevertheless essential, functions of the Court, such as outreach to affected communities and witness protection. Still others, especially among civil society groups, protested the budget cuts on legal aid, which finances defense and victim’s counsel, reflecting a human rights-based concern with fair trial guarantees. Some civil society representatives also continued to voice frustration over the UN Security Council practice of referring situations to the Court while expressly exempting the UN from paying for such work. Finally, several state-representatives made clear that the onus was on the Court to learn to do more with less by evaluating costs and ensuring maximum efficiency and waste-reduction.
By participating in the ASP with CASIN, I also realized just how important and effective a role civil society groups play in the functioning of the ICC. The CICC brings the various NGOs together, providing them with access and opportunities to raise the issues they care about, to inform ASP delegates and the attentive public on these issues, and to make recommendations for their resolution. The side events that round out the agenda of the ASP are all coordinated through the CICC and offer unique opportunities for conversation between representatives of states, NGOs, and international organizations. I found these sessions to be educational and well-attended, and the question periods always evoked thought-provoking discussion.
Additionally, the CICC organized private session for its NGO members to meet as a group with the ICC President Sang-Hyun Song, Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and Special Gender Advisor Brigid Inder for one hour each. Not only did these sessions enable the court officials to update civil society representatives on their work, priorities and upcoming plans, but it provided the civil society representatives with an opportunity to convey their thoughts, concerns, and impressions of the Court’s work to these officials. I was impressed with the genuine reciprocity involved in these discussions and the attentiveness the court officials displayed. In particular, the Prosecutor emphasized several times throughout the week her commitment to working closely with civil society and made clear that she would welcome any information on cases they could provide on situations that were or should be before the Court.
The CICC’s advocacy can also have a structural impact on the work of the ASP, which was particularly apparent this year. Largely thanks to the CICC, this was the first session to include substantive discussions in the formal plenary meetings. Two meetings were devoted to the topic of cooperation with the court, and the principle of complementarity, or national primary in prosecution for atrocity crimes, respectively. The inclusion of formal substantive discussions at the ASP is an important development, as the formal sessions are virtually the only times during which representatives of all states-parties, as well as non-state-parties observers and civil society representatives, convene in one room with time and space for genuine dialogue.
The formal sessions of the ASP revealed states’ positions and preferences for the Court, as well as practical and innovative solutions to the questions of cooperation and complementarity. In virtually all of their statements, state representatives recognized that, as the ASP commemorated the 10th year since the Rome Statute entered into force, the Court was here to stay and had accomplished much in its first decade, but also that there would be challenges ahead. Speakers implored the Court to conduct lessons-learned evaluations and to make improvements based on their findings. The cooperation discussion considered how states could help enable investigations, effect arrest warrants, and prevent the free movement of fugitives. The complementarity discussion explored the ways in which domestic capacity-building and transitional justice efforts can have spillover effects on the affected state’s rule of law and development generally, thereby improving overall governance and welfare.
Understanding statements made by states-parties representatives can be an exercise in diplomacy and requires contextual knowledge and reading between the lines. For example, in their statements and interventions, many state-parties representatives emphasized national primacy over prosecution for atrocity crimes and detailed their domestic legislative and legal efforts to that end. These moves can be seen in a positive light since the ICC was meant to take jurisdiction only in cases where domestic governments are unwilling or unable to effectively prosecute international crimes. These statements, however, can also be intended to detract attention and resources from the Court, and even to reassert state control in order to circumvent prosecution of a state’s nationals. It is therefore worth looking closely at the domestic activities highlighted by these states to ensure that they are engaged in genuine accountability efforts, and not merely symbolic acts devoid of substance.
Participating in the ASP meeting as a CASIN delegate was a unique experience that provided me with rich detail and knowledge of the event beyond what I could have gleaned from second-hand reporting. I left with a more nuanced understanding of the political machinations at work and the different state interests at play when negotiating state obligations and support of this legal institution. I also have much deeper insight into the crucial role played by civil society, the concrete changes they have achieved, and the responsiveness of the Court to their concerns. Beyond this invaluable learning experience, I truly enjoyed meeting my co-delegates, each of whom brought a unique background and perspective on the ASP. I look forward to further involvement with CASIN and helping to expand and deepen the network of students involved in international negotiations.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2012/12/29/shannon-powers-casin-delegate-reports-on-the-11th-session-of-the-icc-assembly-of-states-parties/
The Council for American Students in International Negotiations Seeks Delegates to the
57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in
New York City, New York
Session Dates: March 4-15, 2013
Application deadline: January 11, 2013
Would you like to observe diplomacy in action?
Are you passionate about international affairs?
Do you have knowledge of the United Nations and an interest in the status of women?
Here is your chance to gain unprecedented access to the international policymaking process!
The Council for American Students in International Negotiations (CASIN) is seeking American students and/or young professionals to serve as delegates to the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations (CSW57). The 2013 priority theme is elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. The Commission will also consider the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS.
CASIN is an educational non-profit, non-governmental 501(c)(3) organization with UN ECOSOC consultative status providing young Americans unprecedented access to the international policymaking process. CASIN organizes student delegations to various international conventions, conferences, meetings, and proceedings. Following training from CASIN staff and affiliates, delegates to CSW57 will observe proceedings, receive briefings from key stakeholders, including diplomats or NGO experts, and catalogue their observations. In the past, notes taken by student delegates have been used to support official NGO reports, journalistic accounts of the proceedings, and students’ own academic research and coursework.
To learn more and apply, see the full information and application packet. For an editable application form in Microsoft Word format only, click here. Please note that applications must be received by January 11, 2013.
For more on CSW57, visit: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/57sess.htm.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2012/12/19/call-for-delegates-apply-to-attend-the-57th-session-of-the-commission-on-the-status-of-women/
EICC Editor in Chief: Juliet Sorensen
CASIN is excited to announce Juliet Sorensen as the new Editor in Chief of our journal Eyes on the ICC. Juliet is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law at Northeastern Law school’s Center for International Human Rights, where her teaching and research interests include international criminal law, corruption, and health and human rights. Professor Sorensen is a founder of the Northwestern Access to Health Project, an interdisciplinary partnership that analyzes access to health in resource limited settings. From 2003-2010, Professor Sorensen was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, focusing on fraud and public corruption. Professor Sorensen has taught trial advocacy on behalf of the Department of Justice to prosecutors in South America and West Africa.
Prior to her work at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Professor Sorensen worked as a litigation associate and a federal judicial clerk in Boston. She was also a maternal and child health volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps in Morocco from 1995 to 1997. She received her B.A. in politics from Princeton University and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. Sorensen is a member of the New York and Massachusetts Bars and the Federal Bar Association, and is admitted to practice in the Northern District of Illinois, the District of Massachusetts, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Sorensen was a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations (2000-2005), and was a Chicago Council on Global Affairs “Emerging Leader” (2008-2010). In 2010, Professor Sorensen was appointed to the American Bar Association’s Global Anti-Corruption Task Force.
CASIN is happy to welcome Megan Matthews as the Managing Editor of Eyes on the ICC. Megan is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. She teaches International Practice and Procedure and coaches the school’s Jessup International Moot Court Team. Currently, she is a Social Security Disability lawyer for the McDivitt Law Firm in Colorado. Prior to that, she worked as a consultant for the Assistant Defense Counsel team for Prosper Mugiraneza at the United Nation’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. During law school, she worked as a legal intern for various government entities, including, the Colorado Attorney General, the Denver District Court, and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. Additionally, she worked as a legal intern for the Office of the Prosecutor on the Gotovina case at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. She majored in French while earning her Bachelor of Arts.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2012/07/24/eicc-welcomes-a-new-editor-in-chief-and-managing-editor/
As a student delegate for the Council for American Students in Negotiations (CASIN), I was afforded the opportunity to observe the 104th Session of the Human Rights Committee (HRC) in New York. The HRC is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). On this occasion, the HRC convened to scrutinize State Parties’ reports regarding its human rights practices in light of accounts of human rights violations submitted by local and international NGOs. While I was in attendance, the Dominican Republic, Yemen and Turkmenistan were under review regarding their compliance with the ICCPR.
Of particular interest to me were the issues regarding the treatment of those of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic. Instances of discrimination against Haitians in the Dominican Republic have been documented by various NGOs. It became the focus of a very heated debate during the State Party’s Fifth Report review involving contentious issues such as a person’s right to a nationality, the role of racial discrimination in denying that right and a state’s sovereign right to establish its own immigration policy.
On the basis of a directive issued in 2007, Circular 017, the Dominican Electoral Board charged officers of the civil registry with inspecting identity documents to determine whether the documents had been previously issued to persons without proof of their parents’ legal status in the country. As a result, many Dominican citizens have been found to have fraudulent documents and are thus stripped of their citizenship despite the fact the Dominican Republic Constitution of the time granted the right of citizenship to those born within its borders so long as their parents were not “in transit.” Amnesty International reported that although they have relied on this status for many years prior, Circular 017 disproportionately affects those of Haitian descent. The Dominican Republic then went further, enacting a law in 2004 requiring the legal residence of parents for a child’s citizenship and have applied it retroactively. In 2010, a new Constitution was adopted that enshrined this exemption for citizenship. Thus, those that were once legitimate Dominican citizens suddenly found themselves without identity documents, foreclosing them from obtaining social services, employment and education. This has left many of Haitian descent essentially stateless despite having spent most of or their whole lives in the Dominican Republic.
This issue was of particular concern to Mr. Fabian Omar Savioli, Committee Member from Argentina. In an informal briefing with the Committee which CASIN delegates were able to attend, Mr. Savioli expressed his desire to press the Dominican Republic for answers to how such a policy was in compliance with the ICCPR. Committee Member Mr. Gerald Neuman from the United States was the first to ask the delegation about racial discrimination against Haitians in the Dominican Republic, noting that migration officials are quick to treat those with darker skin and French sounding names as presumptive Haitians without legal presence.
The delegation had Dr. Taveras answer to Mr. Neuman’s remarks. Dr. Taveras began by stating Pope Benedict drew the World’s attention to the dictatorship of the media. Dr. Taveras then said that the laws of the Dominican Republic were not discriminatory. He justified the migration laws on economic terms, stating that 20% of the Dominican Republic’s population are migrants thus having a huge impact on the labor market and health sector as 15% of the healthcare budget of the Dominican Republic is used for healthcare for Haitians. Dr. Taveras remarked, “The Dominican Republic cannot accept talk that our authorities practice racial discrimination.”
An official of the Dominican Electoral Board also explained that the citizenship requirements of the Dominican Republic are essentially the same as they were in the past in that it does not extends citizenship to those who are foreigners or tourists or children of temporary workers. He also noted that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visited the Dominican Republic, took note of the in-transient exemption and found it to be a normal requirement.
Mr. Savioli focused on the issue of racism again in asking about anti-Haitian sentiment and reports that deportation and expulsion of Haitians are seen as arbitrary and discriminatory. The Director of Immigration stated that the Dominican Republic did not intend to put up smoke screens regarding issues of racism and that racial discrimination was never the policy of the Dominican Republic. Instead, it felt that these issues had to be viewed in light of the economic struggles of the people of the Dominican Republic. It again reminded the Committee that international law holds immigration policy to be a domestic issue. It then likened its situation to the deportations that occur in the United States.
Mr. Savioli then questioned the Dominican Republic on the impact of Circular 017 on Haitian immigrants. The delegation responded by stating that these were simply measures to prevent illegal migration as many countries do. It stated that the Dominican Republic had a national plan that sought to regularize the status of migrants. In conclusion, the delegation reminded the Committee that there is no formal discrimination against Blacks in the Dominican Republic. Still, Chairperson Ms. Zonke Zanele Majodina noted that the nationality law was an area of concern for the Committee.
In this session, the Dominican Republic took a very defensive stance to a law that is very obviously contrary to the spirit of the ICCPR. It often responded to questions regarding racial discrimination with a recitation of its law but refused to acknowledge that a facially neutral law could be discriminatory in practice. Although immigration policy is generally a domestic matter, it must be in line with a State’s international obligations. Rather than take a rights-based approach in its immigration policy, the Dominican Republic has hoped to strengthen its economy with the use of a scapegoat – the economic migrant. However, the Dominican Republic cannot underestimate the role of other issues such as high rates of adolescent pregnancy and widespread violence, amongst others in its economic woes.
This experience helped me learn more of the nuances about immigration policy in the Dominican Republic. As a third-year law student who hopes to embark on a career in international human rights with a focus on migration policy, I found this experience to be informative and memorable. I know this will help me build an even stronger foundation international human rights law.
Permanent link to this article: http://www.americanstudents.us/2012/05/04/casin-delegate-stephanie-duque-reviews-the-104th-session-of-the-human-rights-committee/