|Message from Chair||Annual Section Meeting||UN Decade Objectives|
Both letters and e-mail messages have confirmed that this was probably
the most successful business" meeting we have conducted to
date. A rich mixture of participants appeared, or provided
agenda items which served as the core of our agenda for our annual meeting
in Washington, DC.
I have moved to a format that I will describe as mixing business with pleasure. Claire Germain and John Greco of Cornell Law School graciously accepted the invitation to address the UNDIG,
regarding their work in constructing Cornell's web site for ICJ opinions. Once again, I will take this
opportunity to thank them for placing our group's UN Decade Newsletter on the web: you can now visit our own site at: www.lawschool.cornell.edu/library/asil-undecade
They did a marvelous job in creating a page that was the envy of several people who so commented to me, at the Society's annual meeting of Interest Group Chairs. Jill Watson, the ASIL's Tiller House Librarian, has since linked our group's web page to the ASIL's own home page (www.asil.org).
The agenda published in the last (February) issue of our UNDIG Newsletter was augmented by several items raised on the floor at the time of the meeting. I encourage you to keep me informed about items that you would like to be presented and discussed, especially if you cannot attend the next annual meeting.
Let me close this brief message by referring you to the Page One listing of contents for further details about this issue--and by renewing my call for input on two matters (which you will see again, below, in my minutes of our meeting): (1) What should be our essential purpose in the next century? (2) Whom would you like to make a presentation at the 1998 Annual Meeting, if our section is designated to do a panel on the work of the UN Decade?
1. 1998 ASIL ANNUAL MEETING PANEL. Given the rotating
nature of Interest Group panel presentations at the Annual Meeting, the
UNDIG (UN Decade Interest Group) should consider and make recommendations
to the Chair about whom would be good presenters--and on what subjects--for
a possible 1998 ASIL panel on the UN Decade of International Law.
Although no suggestions were made at the meeting, all members will be solicited
for their input--both informally, and via the UNDIG Newsletter to members
who were unable to attend the UNDIG's 1997 business meeting.
2. "HAGUE"-STYLED COURSE IN NEW YORK CITY. The above UNDIG members who attended the business meeting discussed the Ambassador's letter (anonymous), and supporting letter from Roy Lee (submitted in his private capacity, rather than on behalf of the Office of UN Legal Affairs). They urged development of a course of International Law studies, similar to those conducted each summer in The Hague. As proposed, one would not have to travel to Europe for such a course, opting instead for travel to New York City. The Chair called for a volunteer(s) to lead the UNDIG on this proposed project, particularly because the Chair is already rather involved with the administrative work of the section, edits the section's Newsletter, and is not a "beltway" academic. There were no volunteers.
Judge Macdonald then suggested that we first contact the Hague Academy, to ensure that there would be no objection to this potentially competitive operation in New York. The Chair will initiate this contact, to determine course viability, with no guarantee that the Chair will become the default organizer of this project. Neither the UN nor the ASIL are staffed, or otherwise in a position to act on this "anonymous" suggestion (the identity of the proponent being known only to the UNDIG Chair).
Assuming no objections from The Hague Academy, Richard Hartzman suggested that New York area law schools be contacted for the purpose of determining their availability for the teaching of the recommended course series.
3. MEMBER SUGGESTIONS ON OTHER COURSES OF ACTION. In the event that the "Hague" concept does not materialize, the Chair sought input regarding the UNDIG's future course of action, particularly after the close of the UN Decade at the end of 1999. He proposed the following options: (1) retaining the same name and general theme for this ASIL section, as done throughout the UN Decade; or (2) changing our name or focus to the UN or ASIL "Century" or "Millennium" of International Law Section; or (3) disbanding.
All members must consider what we want to do, after the close of the Decade, before we next meet. The Chair will solicit ideas in the next Newsletter.
4. TRILATERAL RESEARCH AGENDA (TRA). The Jonathan Charney (Vanderbilt Professor) is the ASIL Co-ordinator on this Society project. His letter introducing this project was sent as an insert in the February issue of the UN Decade Newsletter. The Chair next summarized its content, essentially soliciting member participation in the ASIL's TRA. The Canadian, Japanese, and American Societies of International Law thus intend to engage in joint research to explore the subjects contained in Professor Charney's letter dated February 6, 1997-- which will be reproduced in the next issue of the UNDIG Newsletter. The Chair noted that anyone interested in participating should contact either Professor Charney (615-322-3563 & firstname.lastname@example.org) or the ASIL's Executive Director, Dr. Charlotte Ku.
5. MEYER REPORT RE ICJ. Howard Meyer of New York was unable to attend. As requested, his letter was summarized by the Chair--wherein Howard summarized the work of the American Bar Association's International Law Section, and its recommendation that the U.S. immediately accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. Howard's letter transmitted the Letter of Transmittal of the US Commission on Improving the Effectiveness of the United Nations, and published materials about the ABA work--see 29 International Lawyer 295-334 (Issue No.2, Summer 1995). This letter will be reprinted in the next issue of the UNDIG Newsletter.
6. ANNUAL ELECTION OF THE UNDIG CHAIR. The Chair solicited nominations for the position of Chair, for the forthcoming year (between ASIL Annual Meetings). The Chair indicated his willingness to continue to serve. There being no other nominations, the members present voted in favor of retaining the current Chair "by acclamation."
7. HAGUE APPEAL FOR PEACE/1999 CONFERENCE. Peter Weiss presented the framework for this NGO-based conference in May, 1999, at The Hague. The three major issues will be (a) strengthening international humanitarian law and institutions; (b) promoting fundamental disarmament measures; and (c) reinforcing mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of international conflicts. The co-ordinating committee for this conference consists of the following organizations: International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms; International Peace Bureau; International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; and the World Federalist Movement. Peter then distributed a brochure which described this event.
For further information, write HAP-1999, c/o WFM, UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017 (fax: 212-599-1332 or IALANA, Anna Paulownastr, 103, 2518 Den Haag, The Netherlands (fax: 31- 70-3455951).
8. PRESENTATION: THE ELECTRONIC WORLD AND THE ICJ. Claire Germain and John Greco announced that they had installed the UNDIG Newsletter on the Cornell web page (as discussed in Feb. Newsletter). See www.lawschool.cornell.edu/library/asil-undecade
The Chair also announced that the ASIL had just added a link to this web site on the ASIL's web page www.asil.org [click Membership; click ASIL Interest Groups & Networks; click UN Decade of International Law]. Professor Germain and engineer/JD student Greco then captivated the audience with the valuable project that they have accomplished at Cornell: placing the ICJ (and Permanent Court of Arbitration) opinions, orders, and related matters on the Cornell web page at www.law.cornell.edu/icj as well as the UN Charter, ICJ Statute, Annual Reports, etc.
The International Court of Justice, located in the Hague,
the Netherlands, is the supreme judicial body of the United Nations.
Thanks to special arrangements made with one judge from the court in August
1996, the Cornell Law Library has made the decisions of the World Court
available over the Internet for the first time, in English and French,
the two official languages of the United Nations, together with a number
of related useful information, including pictures of the judges, a list
of all the judges and cases, a research guide, U.N. press releases, etc.
The project is unique in several ways:
The primary sources are not available anywhere else in electronic form. This is contrasted with most U.S. primary sources which are available in multiple electronic sources, such as LEXIS/WESTLAW and the internet, both through official, commercial and university sources. WESTLAW has the older International Court of Justice decisions, but not the current ones. The International Court of Justice is providing official documentary assistance and sends the decisions, annual reports and other documents as soon as they are released, directly to Cornell Law Library, currently on a disk.
Together with the texts of the decisions themselves, the library is providing a compendium of useful related information, some directly from the Court (annual reports), others from the U.N. (press releases), and from scholarly commentary (research guide). That value-added information represents the intellectual and original contribution of the library staff who have selected and organized the Web site.
Student help was instrumental in the Web design, HTML encoding and the maintenance of the Web site. This attests to the large-scale contribution made by students in the field of information technology, when students often may know more than regular staff, and can also intellectually benefit from involvement in such a project. Student involvement fits into one of the primary missions of the law school and library which is to impart a number of research and computer skills to students so that they can function in a state-of-the art law firm.
The ICJ Web site is bilingual thanks to the specialized language skills available at Cornell, with a number of French law students at Cornell as a result of the Cornell-Sorbonne summer study program, joint degree programs and other institutional ties.
The Cornell-ICJ site is currently the only Web site which comprehensively covers the ICJ and provides a unique collection of primary documents and research materials.
Claire M. Germain 4/97
At our Group's 1995 business meeting in New York, our informal steering committee suggested that our Newsletter carry a restatement of the essential goals of the United Nations Decade of International Law in each issue. Thus, new members (and seasoned ones as well) can readily recall the reason for our existence. The Decade has four essential objectives: