U.S. Repeats Its Ridiculous Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism”

 

The U.S. designation of Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” already has been shown to be ridiculous.[1]

Now the U.S. has done it again in the State Department’s recently released Country Reports on Terrorism 2010.[2] The following is the complete text of the U.S. “rationale” for so designating Cuba:

  • “Overview: Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982, the Government of Cuba maintained a public stance against terrorism and terrorist financing in 2010, but there was no evidence that it had severed ties with elements from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and recent media reports indicate some current and former members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba. Available information suggested that the Cuban government maintained limited contact with FARC members, but there was no evidence of direct financial or ongoing material support. In March, the Cuban government allowed Spanish Police to travel to Cuba to confirm the presence of suspected ETA members.
  • Cuba continued to denounce U.S. counterterrorism efforts throughout the world, portraying them as a pretext to extend U.S. influence and power.
  • Cuba has been used as a transit point by third-country nationals looking to enter illegally into the United State. The Government of Cuba is aware of the border integrity and transnational security concerns posed by such transit and investigated third country migrant smuggling and related criminal activities. In November, the government allowed representatives of the Transportation Security Administration to conduct a series of airport security visits throughout the island.
  • Legislation and Law Enforcement: Cuba did not pass new counterterrorism legislation in 2010. The Cuban government continued to aggressively pursue persons suspected of terrorist acts in Cuba. In July, Venezuela extradited Salvadoran national Francisco Antonio Chavez Abarca to Cuba for his alleged role in a number of hotel and tourist location bombings in the mid to late 1990s. In December, a Cuban court convicted Chavez Abarca on terrorism charges and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Also in December, the Cuban Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of two Salvadorans, René Cruz León and Otto René Rodríguez Llerena, who had been convicted of terrorism, and sentenced them both to 30 years.
  • Regional and International Cooperation: Cuba did not sponsor counterterrorism initiatives or participate in regional or global operations against terrorists in 2010.”

One of the implicit factual predicates for the most recent designation of Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” is true: FARC and ETA have been designated “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” by the State Department, and such designations presumably are well founded. But what has Cuba done with respect to these two organizations? This report itself indicates that Cuba has done practically nothing with or for the FARC or ETA. The report states, “the Cuban government maintained limited contact with FARC members” and “there was no evidence of direct financial or ongoing material support.” (Emphasis added.) In addition, the report says, “the Cuban government allowed Spanish Police to travel to Cuba to confirm the presence of suspected ETA members.”

The most recent report states “some current and former members of . . . (ETA) continue to reside in Cuba.” But the report does not say how many. Nor does it state the particulars of their residence in Cuba. Moreover, in last year’s report, the State Department conceded that some of these FARC and ETA members were in Cuba to participate in peace negotiations with the governments of Columbia and Spain.

Other qualifications to this basis for the “state sponsor of terrorism” designation were made in a prior  State Department  annual antiterrorism report, which said that “on July 6, 2008, former Cuban President Fidel Castro called on the FARC to release the hostages they were holding [in Colombia] without preconditions.”  Fidel “also had condemned the FARC’s mistreatment of captives and of their abduction of civilian politicians [in Colombia] who had no role in the armed conflict.”[3]

Furthermore, former President Jimmy Carter while visiting Cuba in March 2011 had a meeting with the Spanish and Colombian Ambassadors to Cuba. The two Ambassadors said “they were not concerned about the presence of members of FARC, ETA, and ELN [another Colombian rebel group] in Cuba. Indeed, they maintained that this enhances their ability to deal more effectively with these groups. In fact, ETA members are there at the request of the Spanish government.”[4]

The second basis for the most recent designation is “Cuba continued to denounce U.S. counterterrorism efforts throughout the world, portraying them as a pretext to extend U.S. influence and power.” From my following Cuba news over the last year, this is a fair assessment, in my opinion, of the Cuban government’s public statements about U.S. foreign policy. But Cuba is a sovereign nation. It has a right to express its views of U.S. policies and actions. This does not amount to Cuba or any other country’s  being a “state sponsor of terrorism.”

The third basis for the most recent designation is Cuba’s allegedly being “used as a transit point by third-country nationals looking to enter illegally into the United States.” I do not know if this is true, but even if it is, Cuba is hardly unique in the Western Hemisphere for this phenomenon. And the U.S. report admits that this last year Cuba “allowed representatives of the [TSA] . . .  to conduct a series of airport security visits throughout the island.”

The fourth basis for the most recent designation is Cuba’s not adopting new counterterrorism legislation in 2010 and not sponsoring counterterrorism initiatives or participating in regional or global operations against terrorists in 2010. Again, I do not know if this is true, but even if it is, it does not justify the designation. Moreover, the report undermines this purported basis for the designation with its admission that the “Cuban government continued to aggressively pursue persons suspected of terrorist acts in Cuba.”

In short, the U.S. has no legitimate basis for designating Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism.”[5]


[1] See Post: The Ridiculous U.S. Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” (May 20, 2011).

[2] U.S. Dep’t of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 (Aug. 19, 2011), http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2010/index.htm; DeYoung, Terorrism report arrives with a whimper, Wash. Post (Aug. 19, 2011). The Cuban government immediately denounced this report, saying Cuba had an “unblemished” record of fighting terrorism. (Assoc. Press, Cuba Rejects Continued Inclusion on US Terror List, N.Y. Times (Aug. 20, 2011).)

[3]  U.S. Dep’t of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2008, ch. 3 (April 30, 2009), http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2008/122436.htm.

[4]  The Carter Center, Trip Report by Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Cuba, March 28-30, 2011 (April 1, 2011), http://www.cartercenter.org/news/trip_reports/cuba-march2011.html.

[5]  Last year the Council on Foreign Relations basically came to the same conclusion. (Council on Foreign Relations, State Sponsors: Cuba (March 23, 2010), http://www.cfr.org/cuba/state-sponsors-cuba/p9359.)This July the U.S. Congressional Research Service reviewed the arguments, pro and con, for the designation of Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” It did not come to a conclusion as to whether the designation was justified, but it does not rebut my analysis. (See Congressional Research Service, Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress (July 15, 2011), http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R41617.pdf.

 

 

International Criminal Justice: Other International Criminal Tribunals

We already have seen that the imposition of criminal sanctions (imprisonment) is one way that we the People of the world seek to enforce international human rights norms.[1]

We also have explored some of the institutions that do this. The International Criminal Court is a permanent body that was created by a separate treaty (the Rome Statute for the ICC) and that encourages and gives precedence to national criminal prosecutions under the principle of complementarity.[2] The U.N. Security Council has created two ad hoc and limited-life courts: the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[3]

There also are at least four other special institutions that are authorized to impose such criminal sanctions. They are sometimes called “hybrid tribunals” because they have judges from the concerned country plus international judges.

1. East Timor Serious Crimes Panel

In 1998 the residents of East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia. In response pro-Indonesian militias launched a brutal campaign of property destruction and human rights abuses. Soon thereafter a U.N. military force entered the territory and restored order, and the U.N. set up the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor.[4]

 

East Timor Serious Crimes Panel

In 2000 this Administration established a court system that included a Serious Crime Panel, which had jurisdiction over war crimes; crimes against humanity; murder; sexual offenses; and torture. The initial Panel had two international judges and one East Timorese judge. It was located in East Timor. [5]

By the end of May 2005 the Special Panel had completed more than 55 trials. Most involved relatively low-level defendants; 84 were convicted and 3 acquitted. The work of the Special Panel was cut short by a U.N. decision to end its missions to Timor-Leste.[6]

 

 

 

2. The Special Court for Sierra Leone

 

 

The Special Court for Sierra Leone was established pursuant to an agreement, dated January 16, 2002, between the Government of that country and the United Nations and the annexed Statute for the Special Court. It has 10 judges; five appointed by the U.N. and five by the Government of Sierra Leone.[7]

The Special Court has jurisdiction over “persons who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations of international humanitarian law and Sierra Leonean law committed in the territory of Sierra Leone since 30 November 1996, including those leaders who, in committing such crimes, have threatened the establishment of and implementation of the peace process in Sierra Leone.” The Court’s Statute specifies the following crimes as within its jurisdiction: crimes against humanity; violations of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions; certain other serious violations of international humanitarian law; and certain crimes under Sierra Leonean law.[8]

 

Sierra Leone Special Court

The Special Court, sitting in Freetown, Sierra Leone, has completed trials and appeals of (a) three former leaders of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC); (b) two members of the Civil Defense Forces (CDF); and (c) three former leaders of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Two other individuals who were indicted by the Special Court have died, and their indictments, therefore, were dismissed. Another indictee is at large, and the status of one of the 13 indictees is unknown.[9]

The last of the Special Court’s cases is against former Liberian President Charles Taylor. He was indicted in March 2003 on 17 counts, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, sexual slavery and mutilation. In May 2004, before Taylor was in custody, the Special Court rejected his motion to dismiss the charges on the ground of head-of-state immunity; the court said that it was an international tribunal from which there was no immunity. [10]

In August 2003 Taylor resigned as President of Liberia and went into exile in Nigeria where he remained until March 2006 when Nigeria transferred him to Liberia. In Liberia U.N. military forces arrested him and took him to the Special Court in Freetown, Sierra Leone to stand trial. Soon thereafter because of security concerns the Special Court asked the Netherlands to accept his transfer to The Hague for trial by the Special Court; the Netherlands agreed to do so after the U.K. agreed to provide a prison for Taylor if he were convicted.[11]

The Taylor trial started in June 2007; the defense phase of the case ended in November 2010; and closing arguments were held in March 2011. The decision of the Special Court is pending.[12]

3. Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia

 

ECCC logo

In 2001 the Cambodian National Assembly passed a law to create the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea (Extraordinary Chambers or ECCC). This is a court to try serious crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime 1975-1979. In June 2003 Cambodia and the U.N. reached an agreement detailing how the U.N. will assist and participate in the Extraordinary Chambers.[13]

The ECCC has 12 judges; seven are selected by Cambodia; the other five, by the U.N. The ECCC has jurisdiction over (a) “the crime of genocide as defined in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;” (b) “crimes against humanity as defined in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;” (c) “grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions;”and (d) such other crimes as defined in Chapter II of the Cambodian Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers as promulgated on 10 August 2001.”[14]  The last category includes homicide, torture, religious persecution, destruction of cultural property during armed conflict and crimes against internationally protected persons.[15]

The ECCC has only four cases on its docket.[16]

The first case was against Kaing Guek Eav (alias Duch), the former Chairman of the Khmer Rouge Security Center in Phnom Penh. After eight months of trial, the Trial Chamber in July 2010 found him guilty of two charges. First was crimes against humanity (persecution on political grounds) (subsuming the crimes against human extermination [encompassing murder], enslavement, imprisonment, torture [including one instance of rape], and other inhumane acts). Second was grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, namely: – willful killing, – torture and inhumane treatment, – willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,                 – willfully depriving a prisoner of war or civilian of the rights of fair and regular trial, and -unlawful confinement of a civilian.[17]

The Trial Chamber sentenced Duch to 30 years of imprisonment (after reducing the initial sentence of 35 years). The judgment has been appealed to the Supreme Court of the ECCC.

The second case before the ECCC is against four defendants on charges of crimes against humanity; grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949; genocide; homicide; torture; and religious persecution. The trial commenced in late June 2011. Almost immediately one of the defendants left the courtroom and is participating by video.[18]

In September 2009, the Prosecutors requested the investigating judges to initiate an investigation of five additional suspected persons. This request was divided into what is known as Case files 003 and 004.

  • In April 2011 Case 003 the investigating judges rejected the request; an appeal has been filed from this denial.
  • Case 004, however, is still open. In August 2011 the investigating judges issued an unusual press release saying that they had not notified the public of the crime sites in this case because there were “serious doubts whether the suspects are ‘most responsible’ according to the jurisdictional requirement” and that If the Court had no jurisdiction, it would be inappropriate to identify these sites. However, since there was an increasing amount of speculative and wrong information being published, the investigating judges identified 30 sites in different regions of the country that were involved in this case.[19]

The Cambodian government has opposed the opening of cases 3 and 4, and the ECCC’s rejection of Case 3 and anticipated rejection of Case 4 have generated a lot of controversy.[20]

4.  Special Tribunal for Lebanon

 

In December 2005, the Government of the Republic of Lebanon requested the U.N. to establish a tribunal of an international character to try all those allegedly responsible for the February 2005 attack in Beirut resulting in the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and in the death or injury of other persons. Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1664 (2006), the U.N. and the Lebanese Republic negotiated an agreement on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Pursuant to that agreement, another Security Council resolution (No. 1757(2007)) and the Statute of the Special Tribunal, the Special Tribunal entered into force in June 2007.[21]

For considerations of justice and fairness, as well as security and administrative efficiency, the seat of the Special Tribunal is located at The Hague (Netherlands).[22]

The mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is to prosecute persons responsible for the attack of 14 February 2005 attack resulting in the death of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and in the death or injury of other persons. The Tribunal’s jurisdiction could be extended beyond that attack if the Tribunal finds that other attacks in Lebanon between October 2004 and December 12, 2005, are connected in accordance with the principles of criminal justice and are of a nature and gravity similar to the attack of 14 February 2005.[23]

The Special Tribunal has 9 judges all appointed by the U.N. Secretary-General; three are Lebanese; the other six are from other countries. They are divided into Pre-Trial, Trial and Appeals Chambers.[24]

On June 30, 2011, the Special Tribunal indicted four men, all members of Hezbollah, for the assassination of Hariri. Hezbollah has contended that the Tribunal is a sham and manipulated by the U.S. and Israel. Now the challenge is to serve the warrants and arrest the four defendants.[25]

On August 19, 2011, the Tribunal announced that it would investigate three other attacks that, it said, were related to the attack that killed Hariri. They were an unsuccessful assassination attempt on a former Lebanese telecom minister (Hamadeh) in 2004; the attack and wounding of a former deputy prime minister and defense minister (al-Murr) in 2005; and the killing of a former Communist Party chief and critic of Syria (Hawi) in 2005.[26]

Conclusion

These four special tribunals along with the ICTR and ICTY demonstrate that the U.N. has reacted creatively to situations where nation states need assistance in holding accountable perpetrators of the worst crimes of concern to the international community.

In three instances (East Timor, Sierra Leone and Cambodia) the special tribunals were placed in the country where the crimes occurred, and their proceedings were conducted in the languages of those countries. This helps to bring immediacy to the trials for the affected communities.

When security is a problem for such trials in the affected countries (Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and Lebanon), on the other hand, the tribunals have been placed in a respected international center for such institutions (The Hague). The same was true for a specific trial (Charles Taylor) by the Special Court for Sierra Leone.


[1] Post: International Criminal Justice: Introduction (April 26, 2011).

[2] Post: International Criminal Court: Introduction (April 28, 2011). Other posts relating to the ICC may be found by going to the “tag cloud” in the upper right portion of the blog and double clicking on “International Criminal Court.”

[3]  See Post: International Criminal Justice: Winding Down Two Ad Hoc Criminal Tribunals (June 18, 2011). Other posts relating to the ICTR and the ICTY may be found by going to the “tag cloud” in the upper right portion of the blog and double clicking on “International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda” and “International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.” See also David Weissbrodt, Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin, Joan Fitzpatrick & Frank Newman, International Human Rights: Law, Policy and Process at 519-22, 536-40(4th ed. 2009)(ICTR)[“Weissbrodt”]; id. at 513-19, 533-36, 540-42 (ICTY).

[4]  Weissbrodt at 548-50.

[5]  Id.

[6] [Timor-Leste] Judicial System Monitoring Programme, http://www.jsmp.minihub.org; War Crimes Studies Center, East Timor Special Panels for Serious Crimes Documents, http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~warcrime/ET-special-panels-docs.htm.

[7] Agreement between the U.N. and Government of Sierra Leone on the Establishment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (Jan. 16, 2002), http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=CLk1rMQtCHg%3d&tabid=176. See also Weissbrodt at 543-47.

[8] Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=uClnd1MJeEw%3d&tabid=176.

[9] The Special Court for Sierra Leone, http://www.sc-sl.org/HOME/tabid/53/Default.aspx.

[10]  Id.; Weissbrodt at 545-46.

[11]  Id.

[12] See n.3 supra.

[13]  ECCC, Introduction to the ECCC, http://www.eccc.gov.kh/en/about-eccc/introduction; Agreement between the United Nations and the Royal Government of Cambodia concerning the prosecution under cambodian law of crimes committed during the period of democratic kampuchea, http://www.eccc.gov.kh/en/documents/legal/agreement-between-united-nations-and-royal-government-cambodia-concerning-prosecutio.  See also Weissbrodt at 476-81, 547-48. See generally Cambodia Tribunal Monitor, http://www.cambodiatribunal.org (news, information and commentaries on Extraordinary Chambers).

[14] Id.

[15] Cambodian Law on the Establishment of the Extraordinary Chambers, http://www.eccc.gov.kh/sites/default/files/legal-documents/KR_Law_as_amended_27_Oct_2004_Eng.pdf.

[17]  Id.; Giry, Cambodia’s Perfect War Criminal, N.Y. Rev. Books (June 26, 2011); Assoc. Press, Cambodia: Khmer Rouge War Criminal Appeals Sentence, N.Y. Times (March 28, 2011).

[18]  Mydans, Ex-Khmer Rouge Leaders Go on Trial in Cambodia, N.Y. Times (June 26, 2011); Mydans, Khmer Rouge Leader Leaves Court, in Sign of Legal Wrangling to Come, N.Y. Times (June 27, 2011).

[19]  Id.; ECCC, Appeal by the International Co-Prosecutor Against the Rejection of Investigative Requests in Case File 003 (Aug. 19, 2011), http://www.cambodiatribunal.org/blog/2011/08/appeal-international-co-prosecutor-against-rejection-investigative-requests-case-file; ECCC, Press Release by the Co-Investigating Judges Regarding Civil Parties in Case 004 (Aug. 8, 2011), http://www.cambodiatribunal.org/blog/2011/08/press-release-co-investigating-judges-regarding-civil-parties-case-004.

[20]  Assoc. Press, Cambodia Rebuffs U.N. Chief on Khmer Rouge Trials, W.S.J. (Oct. 27, 2010); Miller, KRT judge talks court controversies, Phnom Penh Post (Aug. 18, 2011).

[21]  Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Mandate and Jurisdiction, http://www.stl-tsl.org/section/AbouttheSTL.

[22]  Id.

[23]  Id.

[24]  Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Chambers, http://www.stl-tsl.org/sid/26.

[25]  E.g., Bakri, Tribunal Names 4 in ’05 Killing of Lebanese Leader, N.Y. Times (June 30, 2011); Bakri, Indictment in Hariri Assassination Is Published, N.Y. Times (Aug. 17, 2011); Crane & Del Ponte, Justice for Hariri’s killers requires the world’s support, Wash. Post (Aug. 16, 2011).

[26] Reuters, U.N.’s Lebanon Court to Probe Three Hariri-Linked Attacks, N.Y. Times (Aug. 19, 2011).


International Criminal Court: Protection of Witnesses

The International Criminal Court’s Trial Chamber recently confronted two interesting issues regarding protection of witnesses in its proceedings:

What should the Court do with a witness’ request not to be returned to his home country because of alleged fear of persecution due to his testimony?

What should the Court do with that witness’ claim for asylum due to an alleged well founded fear of persecution in his home country due to his                                                          political opinions as expressed in his testimony?[1]

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo

These issues arose in the ICC prosecution of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who is charged with two war crimes. One is his allegedly enlisting and conscripting of children under the age of 15 years into a Congolese rebel group (Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC)) and using them to participate actively in hostilities in the context of an international armed conflict. The other is doing the same thing in the context of an armed conflict not of an international character.[2]

The unnamed witness (Defense Witness 19) had been in detention in the DRC pending determination of criminal charges against him. Upon the application of defense counsel, the Court requested the DRC to transfer him to the Court to testify voluntarily at the trial. The DRC agreed to this request, pursuant to Article 93(7) of the Rome Statute that requires the individual to be returned to [the DRC] after testifying.

The witness was called to testify by defense counsel, who said the witness wished to testify in public without protective measures. At the start of his testimony, however, the witness expressed concerns about his safety and that of his family in the DRC, but he did not formally request protection from the Court at that time or during the course of his testimony.

The witness testified on a broad range of subjects, including his role in the rebel group, Lubanga’s position in the group, and the group’s conduct during the conflicts. The witness seriously challenged three named individuals in the DRC government.

After his testimony was finished and after the Court’s Registry had advised the Trial Chamber that the witness needed to be returned to the DRC as soon as possible, the witness filed a formal request for protection, i.e., a stay, and eventual cancellation, of his removal to the DRC and facilitation of his asylum application to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Trial Chamber ordered the stay of his removal while his application for protection was considered.

Witness’ Request for Cancellation of Removal to DRC

Under Article 68(1) of the Rome Statute, the “Court shall take appropriate measures to protect the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity and privacy of victims and witnesses.” To assist the Court in ruling on an application for such measures, it may request its Victims and Witness Unit (VWU), pursuant to Article 68(4), to provide advice.

That was done, and the VWU told the Trial Chamber that if returned to the DRC the witness “would not be exposed to any additional risk to his security or psychological or physical well-being as a result of his testimony;” that his testimony did not provide any new information to the DRC; that the DRC had provided assurances that the witness would receive adequate protection upon return; and the VWU would monitor his treatment after return.

The Chamber concluded that the VWU was the body within the ICC with the necessary qualified staff and expertise to evaluate the risks posed to a witness, that the Court had complied with its obligations under Article 68 of the Statute to consider the application for protection, that the request for cancellation of his removal to the DRC should be denied and that the witness should be returned to the DRC. However, the Court’s Registry was instructed to contact the DRC authorities to determine what, if any, additional security measures should be implemented upon return, and the VWU was instructed to monitor the witness’ well-being.

Witness’ Application for Asylum

The ICC is not a state and is not a party to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.[3] Therefore, the Trial Chamber concluded it had no jurisdiction to address the merits of the witness’ asylum application.

Instead, it was exclusively for the Kingdom of the Netherlands to consider and make a determination on that application. However, the Trial Chamber instructed the ICC’s Registry to afford the witness reasonable access to his lawyers on the asylum application and to work out procedures for the witness’ asylum application to be determined by the Netherlands before his return to the DRC.


[1] Redacted Decision on the request of [Defense Witness 19] for special protective measurs relating to his asylum application, Prosecutor v. Lubanga Dyilo(ICC Trial Chamber Aug. 5, 2011), http://www2.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/doc/doc1189724.pdf; Ramji-Nogales, International criminal law meets non-refoulement (July 8, 2011), http://intlawgrrls.blogspot.com/2011/07/international-criminal-law-meets-non.html.

[2]  ICC, Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, http://www2.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/Situations+and+Cases/Situations.

[3] See Post: Refugee and Asylum Law: Modern Era (July 9, 2011).

Silver Bullion and Underground Homes

Girard Henderson was an interesting client of the New York City law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore (CS&M), where I was an associate attorney, 1966-70.[1]

His grandfather was a Sandy Hook ship pilot who piloted ships into the City’s harbor and who managed to save a significant amount of money. Henderson’s father invested the inheritance from the grandfather in a New York City warehouse that burned to the ground, and there was a long delay in obtaining payment by an insurance company. As a result, the father went to work as a bookkeeper for the California Perfume Company (CPC) in Suffern, New York and became one of its substantial shareholders.

After Henderson’s father’s death, his mother inherited the CPC stock, and in 1935 she contributed those shares to a newly formed personal holding company, Alexander Dawson, Inc. (ADI) in exchange for all of ADI’s stock. Later, presumably after his mother’s death and after a buyout of his brother, Henderson became the sole owner of ADI.

Prior to 1955, however, he gave 27% of the ADI common stock (and some ADI preferred stock) to his then wife, Theodora Henderson, while Mr. Henderson maintained his personal control of ADI. In 1955 Girard and Theodora separated and later were divorced.

In 1967 Theodora formed her own holding company, Theodora Holding Corporation (THC), and she contributed her ADI common stock to THC in exchange for all of its stock.

In the meantime, in 1939, CPC changed its name to Avon Products, and in 1964 Avon’s stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and became a very successful stock with rising prices.

As of September 1968, ADI’s net worth was $150 million with Avon stock comprising 75% of its assets. The other 25%, pursuant to a diversification policy, was invested in other stocks and several small companies.

World's Fair, New York City

One such company was the Underground World Home Corporation that promoted such homes as safe places in the event of a nuclear attack by the USSR. It  had a demonstration home at the 1964 New York City’s World Fair. Henderson also had his own underground home in the Rocky Mountains near Denver; its underground swimming pool had a mural of the New York City skyline on the east wall and one of the San Francisco skyline on the opposite wall. As of September 1968, ADI also had invested $14 million in silver bullion and Swiss francs that were stored in a vault under the airport in Zurich, Switzerland.

 

Court of Chancery, Wilmington, DE

In or about September 1968 THC commenced a stockholders derivative lawsuit against ADI, Henderson and another corporate officer. The complaint alleged mismanagement regarding these non-Avon investments and corporate contributions to the Alexander Dawson, Inc. Foundation. As ADI was a Delaware corporation, the case was filed in the Court of Chancery in Wilmington.

The case went to trial in 1969. It was the first trial in which I participated. I was “second chair” to Cravath partner, Jack Hupper. I handled the exhibits and other papers and did not say one word on the record. But at least I was in court observing the trial and seeing how it was done.

In September 1969 the court issued its decision. It noted that after trial the plaintiff had withdrawn its claims regarding silver bullion and other ADI investments made at Henderson’s direction, including the Underground World Home Corporation. Instead the plaintiff after trial had limited itself to claims regarding ADI’s purchase and sale of a seat on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the ADI charitable contributions to the Foundation. The court upheld the validity of the charitable contributions, but concluded that Henderson had used corporate funds for his personal benefit with respect to the NYSE seat and, therefore, had to account to ADI for any profit on the sale of the seat and on brokerage commissions.

I do not remember any of the substantive or procedural details of the trial, but I do remember that just before trial Henderson broke a leg in a New York City taxi accident. When he testified at trial, the broken leg in a cast had to be elevated on a makeshift pedestal.

I also recall that before trial Henderson had to delay a trip from the West Coast to New York City to meet with Mr. Hupper and me because he was hosting a special dinner with Rudy Vallée, a famous crooner in the 1920s through the 1940s.

Silver bullion

Nor can I forget that Henderson and ADI kept some of their records in an informal office in a small house in a New York City suburb on the west side of the Hudson River. One day I drove there over the George Washington Bridge to find relevant documents. I was surprised to find a  bar of silver bullion at the back of one  of the file drawers.


[1] This account is based on memory and Theodora Holding Corp. v. Henderson, 257 A.2d 398 (Del Ct. Ch. 1969). See also Post: Lawyering on Wall Street (April 14, 2011).

Honorary Degree

 At its May 1999 Commencement Exercises, Grinnell College, my alma mater, granted me the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.

The citation said that I had “discovered a way to integrate his professional life as an attorney with his spiritual life and his desire to ‘do good.’ In the midst of a prestigious legal career, [he] found ‘a reawakening of [his] spiritual life’ through tireless pro bono work on behalf of clients in need of political asylum in the United States. . . . A 1989 trip to El Salvador to learn more about conditions there was, for him, a ‘spiritual journey.’ Despite the horrendous suffering he witnessed, [he] found himself uplifted and transformed by the faith and hope of the Salvadoran people. . . . Of this work, he says, ‘it provides a deeper sense of satisfaction of really helping someone.'”[1]

I responded with these words to the new graduates:

  •  Listen to your life. To your successes and joys. To your disappointments and pain. To the strangers you encounter on the road to your Jericho.
  • As you listen and reflect, hopefully with the support of a community of faith, attempt to discern how God is present and active in your life. Then allow yourself to be nudged down paths that are consonant with God’s will for your life.
  • Thirty-eight years ago when I was at my Grinnell commencement, I was convinced that all that mattered were intellect, rationality, logic, knowledge and hard work, all of which were challenged and enhanced by my being a member of this academic community. I had persuaded myself that religion and spirituality were antiquated superstitions of no use to a liberally educated, intelligent person.
  • I eventually learned otherwise, but it took a long time.
  • I pray that you are faster learners.[2]

[1] See Post: My Christian Faith (April 6, 2011); Post: Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church (April 6, 2011); Post: The Parable of the Prodigal Son and His Older Brother (April 20, 2011); Post: The Sanctuary Movement Case (May 22, 2011); Post: Becoming a Pro Bono Asylum Lawyer (May 24, 2011); Post: My Pilgrimage to El Salvador, April 1989 (May 25, 2011).

[2] These comments were inspired by my own life and by the words of Frederick Buechner, an author and Presbyterian pastor, in Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation (1990): “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, small your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” (See also George Connor, Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner (1992).) Recently I have encountered another book with the same theme by Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (1999). (See Post: Westminster Town Hall Forum: Krista Tippett (July 26, 2011).)

Battling Australian and Wisconsin Courts

In the mid-1980’s Sentry Insurance A Mutual Company (Sentry) of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and the parent of The Sentry Corporation, sold its Australian operations to an Australian insurance company. Thereafter the Australian buyer alleged that the financial statements for the purchased operations were materially overstated.

Federal Courthouse, Sydney, Australia
Courthouse, Stevens Point, WI

This set the stage for a conflict and battle between the Federal Court of Australia and the state courts of Wisconsin. It is an illustration of the unnecessary disputes that can be generated by litigation over international commercial disputes and that would not exist in an agreed-to international arbitration.[1]

In 1987 the Australian insurance company (the buyer) commenced a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Australia against The Sentry Corporation (the seller) and Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co. (PMM), an Australian accounting firm, for money damages caused by those alleged material financial misstatements. The Sentry Corporation made a cross claim against PMM in that case, and the case was scheduled to commence trial in Australia in October 1990.

In October 1988 Sentry commenced a lawsuit in Wisconsin state court in its home town of Stevens Point against KPMG Peat Marwick, the U.S. affiliate of PMM, relating to these issues.  In January 1990 Sentry amended its complaint to add PMM (the Australian accounting firm) as a defendant, and I was retained as PMM’s attorney.

My first maneuver was a motion to dismiss the Wisconsin complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction over the Australian accounting firm[2] and alternatively to stay or postpone the Wisconsin case until the prior Australian litigation was resolved.

Before the Wisconsin dismissal and stay motion was decided, however, the plaintiff (Sentry) noticed the oral depositions of nine PMM auditors to be taken for the Wisconsin case in Sydney, Australia. While such depositions are common practice in U.S. civil litigation, they are not in Australia and most other countries, and PMM and I believed that such depositions were a tactical move by Sentry to gain an unfair advantage in the Australian litigation. Therefore, we moved the Wisconsin court to prohibit the depositions, but the Wisconsin court denied the motion.[3]

I, therefore, went to Sydney to prepare the Australian auditors for their depositions and to defend those depositions, but after I was there, PMM requested the Australian court to issue an injunction against the depositions taking place on Australian soil. The Australian court granted that injunction. Thus, the depositions did not take place in Sydney.

Later, after my return to the U.S., the Wisconsin court denied PMM’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and granted Sentry’s motion to strike that defense to the Wisconsin plaintiff’s claims.[4]

PMM then sought and obtained permission to take interlocutory appeals (immediate appeals before final judgment) to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals from the denial of PMM’s motion to bar the depositions and from the denial of its personal jurisdiction motion and defense.

Before the Wisconsin appeals were argued and decided, however, trial of the Australian case commenced. Contrary to Australian and U.S. general practice, the Australian insurance company’s expert witness was called as the first witness (instead of waiting until all the fact witnesses had testified) and was demonstrated not to have expertise on at least some of the subjects of his proposed testimony. As a result, the plaintiff’s barrister had a nervous breakdown. This triggered the collapse of  the Australian plaintiff’s case and a truly global settlement that ended all of the litigation.

I should add that as I did not have much to do in Australia for the Wisconsin case after the Australian court enjoined the depositions. I thus had some time for personal pleasure.

Sydney Opera House

I attended a production of “Aida” at the spectacular Sydney Opera House and saw many interesting sights in that great city.

Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef

 

I also went scuba diving near Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. I flew from Brisbane, Australia to Heron Island by helicopter and saw large triangular manta rays in the water from the air. In the hotel on the Island a male nurse from Melbourne, Australia and I formed an unbeatable team in an international game of Trivial Pursuit.

Qantas 747

My return 14-hour flight to Los Angeles on Qantas Airlines was rescheduled, and much to my consternation the only available seat was in the smoking section. I was told not to worry because I probably could be re-seated on the plane itself. That happened. I got a very comfortable and quiet seat in the upper deck of the 747.

My Australian adventure was over. Thereafter I often referred to this Australian jaunt as the best business trip I ever took.


[1] See Post: Resolving Disputes between Manufacturers and Distributors/Dealers (Aug. 9, 2011); Post; International Commercial Dispute Resolution (Aug. 11, 2011).

[2] See Post: The Personal Jurisdiction Requirement in Civil Litigation in U.S. Courts (Aug. 8, 2011).

[3] Order, Sentry Ins. v. KPMG Peat Marwick, No. 88-CV-481 (Wis. Cir. Ct. Portage Cty, May 24, 1990).

[4] Decision and Order, Sentry Ins. v. KPMG Peat Marwick, No. 88-CV-481 (Wis. Cir. Ct. Portage Cty, June 28, 1990).

International Commercial Dispute Resolution

As previously noted, I have a strong professional preference for mediation and arbitration as methods for resolving disputes between manufacturers and distributors or dealers.[1] This assumes that the parties have tried and failed to resolve their disputes through direct negotiation, which is the least expensive and least time-consuming method and which enhances the possibility of amiable future relationships.

The reasons for preferring negotiation, mediation and arbitration hold as well for commercial disputes between entities in different countries.

  • Mediation (or conciliation as it is called in the international arena) where a neutral third-party assists the disputants in trying to settle their disputes is the first option after negotiation. This was my preferred dispute resolution method because it empowered the parties themselves to settle their disputes, because it opened the way for creative solutions that were not possible in court or in arbitration and because it was the least expensive option.[2]
  • Only if mediation (or conciliation) failed, would such a contractual provision call for submitting the dispute to arbitration under one of several general sets of arbitration rules where the arbitrator resolves the dispute. Arbitration was preferred to court litigation because the former eliminated the expensive pre-trial discovery and other processes of the court and because the parties participated in selecting the arbitrator who was seen as a safer decider than an unknown judge or jury. On the other hand, the costs of international arbitration are significant, especially with three arbitrators from different countries and international travel.[3]

Moreover, there are additional reasons why arbitration is a preferred method for international commercial dispute resolution. First, there is fear of prejudice against the foreigner by a court or jury of another country.  But such fear is less with an arbitrator or arbitrators that the sides help to choose. Second, there is a multilateral treaty that makes arbitration awards (the final decision in an arbitration) easier to enforce in other countries.[4] In contrast, it is more difficult to enforce one country’s courts’ final judgments in other countries. This is very important. For example, an arbitration award or a court judgment might hold the defending corporation (the respondent or defendant) liable to the complaining corporation (claimant or plaintiff) for $1 million for breach of contract, and most of the respondent or defendant’s assets might be in a different country than where the arbitration or litigation took place.

At Faegre & Benson, I frequently drafted dispute resolution provisions for international contracts prepared by other lawyers in the firm. In addition, I was counsel for two foreign companies in international arbitration proceedings under the Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).[5] Each of these cases illustrated interesting facets of such proceedings.

Turkish distributor vs. U.S. (Minnesota) manufacturer.

In the first case, I represented the Turkish terminated distributor of medical devices that were manufactured by a Minnesota company. Their written agreement, written by Minnesota lawyers, called for Minnesota law as the governing law and arbitration in Minnesota under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules with three arbitrators and with English as the language of the arbitration.

Under Article 5 of the UNCITRAL Rules there are three arbitrators unless the parties agree to have only one arbitrator. When there are three arbitrators, the claimant (here, the Turkish company) selects the first arbitrator; the respondent (here, the Minnesota company) picks the second; and then these two arbitrators select the third and presiding arbitrator. Although the first two arbitrators are selected by the two parties, the arbitrators are to be independent, not representatives or advocates for the parties that selected them.

My Turkish client and I thus had to go first in selecting an arbitrator. My ideal candidate was a Minnesota lawyer from Turkey who was bilingual in English and Turkish and who knew Turkish business customs and circumstances, but not surprisingly I could not find such a person. I then called the Turkish consulate in Chicago and Embassy in Washington, D.C. for recommendations for such an arbitrator. I eventually found a U.S. (and Turkish) lawyer in New York City who was born in Turkey, who was bilingual and who knew its business customs and circumstances, and the Turkish company appointed him as arbitrator. The Minnesota company then appointed a professor from a Minnesota law school as the second arbitrator. The two of them then appointed a retired chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court as the third and presiding arbitrator.

IDS Center, Minneapolis

The hearings were held in a conference room of the Minneapolis office of the presiding arbitrator in the IDS Tower and lasted several days. The Minnesota company was represented by its in-house lawyer and two lawyers from its outside law firm while I was by myself for the Turkish company. (This was a role reversal for me.) The atmosphere was tense in the conference room. The husband of the couple who owned the Turkish company had been an arbitrator in his own country where things were handled much differently, and yet he enjoyed the battle in the Minneapolis conference room. His wife who was also involved in the business and was a witness, however, was appalled by the hostile questioning of the other side’s lawyer.

Several weeks after the hearing, I received in the mail the two-page award of the arbitrators requiring the manufacturer to pay a sum of money to the Turkish company. Thereafter the money was paid, and the case was over. My client and I were very pleased.

Under Article 32(3) of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, the arbitrators are required to provide a statement of the reasons for their award unless the parties waive this requirement. In this case, the requirement was waived because a relatively small amount money was claimed and because both sides wanted to avoid the expense of paying for the time of the arbitrators to prepare such a statement of reasons.

U.S. (Minnesota) Buyer vs. Asian manufacturer

In the second case, I was counsel for an Asian manufacturer responding to an arbitration claim for over $26 million for breach of contract and other alleged wrongs. The contract at issue had been prepared by a non-lawyer employee of a Minneapolis foreign-trade consulting firm. It had what I regarded as a very inartful arbitration provision. It called for arbitration under the rules of “the United Nations Uniform Commercial Codes,” which do not exist. Nor did it specify where the arbitration should be held or the number of arbitrators or the language of the arbitration.

The Minnesota company first suggested there be only one arbitrator and that a specified retired Minnesota state trial court judge be that sole arbitrator. Although I had experience before that individual when he was a judge and had full confidence in his ability to be a fair arbitrator in this case, my Asian client did not want to have the case decided by one person from Minnesota. Therefore, I told opposing counsel that we did not agree to only one arbitrator.

Nothing more was heard from opposing counsel, and I thought the case had died on the vine. I was greatly surprised, therefore, when I received a letter from the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, Netherlands. The letter said that under Article 7 (2)(b) of the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, it was the designating authority for appointment of arbitrators when a party defaults in so doing and that the Asian company had defaulted in appointing the second arbitrator. In response, I recited the above history and stated that the Minnesota company had never appointed the first arbitrator and that, therefore, the Asian company had not defaulted. An official at the Permanent Court said I should tell that to the person it was designating as the appointing authority, a barrister in Melbourne, Australia. I reiterated my argument to the barrister to no avail when he appointed the head of an Asian international arbitration center and a former attorney general of that country as the second arbitrator.

Thereafter, these two arbitrators appointed a Danish lawyer from Copenhagen with extensive experience in international commercial arbitration as the third and presiding arbitrator.

On behalf of the Asian company, I filed a motion to dismiss the arbitration as it had never agreed to arbitration under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, and the panel set a hearing in Minneapolis on this motion. Several weeks before the hearing, I was startled to receive a letter announcing the resignation of the second arbitrator (the Asian lawyer). My Asian co-counsel and I then immediately appointed a Queen’s Counsel barrister from London as the second arbitrator. (Later I found out that the Asian arbitrator had resigned because his fellow arbitrators refused to authorize him to fly first class (at substantial expense) to Minneapolis for the hearing.)

The hearing on the dismissal motion was held in Minneapolis, and the panel denied the motion. They did so even though their decision recognized that the “United Nations Uniform Commercial Codes” did not exist and under a strict interpretation, the arbitration clause had no effect. Nevertheless, the order concluded that the clause must be understood as referring to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.

At the same time we also had a dispute as to the venue (or “seat”) of the arbitration due to the inartful arbitration clause’s not specifying such; my side argued for Hong Kong; the other side, London; and the arbitrators decided on London. The arbitrators also decided that the language of the arbitration would be English, which was not specified in the clause, but all agreed to English.)

In U.S. trials and arbitrations, witnesses are cross-examined on inconsistencies, real or apparent, between their testimony at the trial or hearing and prior testimony or statements. However, in this arbitration, the panel told the attorneys it was “not necessary during examination or cross-examination of witnesses for them to examine the witnesses on matters already in the written materials.” This was a surprise for me and a problem in preparing good cross-examination questions.

In the Fall of 1997, the hearings on the merits (or the trial) were held in three different cities. Minneapolis was first for the testimony of certain witnesses. I then flew to the Asian city where my client was located for hearings for the testimony of other witnesses. I then returned to Minneapolis for a brief stay, and then it was on to London.

Law Courts, London
St. Paul's Cathedral, London

London was the city for closing arguments. They were held in a conference room of an arbitration center in “legal London,” on the Strand near the Law Courts and the Inns of Court. The attorneys for the Minnesota company went first. Then my Asian co-counsel and I made our arguments.

I prepared for the closing arguments in Faegre & Benson’s London office, which is just several blocks from St. Paul’s Cathedral. Working on a Sunday morning, I could hear the pealing of the Cathedral’s bells and wished that I were in the church, rather than in the office.

Approximately four months later I received the 27-page Award that dismissed all of Claimant’s claims and all of my client’s counterclaims.  One of the key points was the conclusion that the Claimant’s predecessor-in-interest and assignor had waived all claims for breach of contract and that its conduct did not fall within the wording of a non-waiver clause in the contract.

Thereafter Claimant submitted a motion for correction and interpretation of that key point, which my client resisted. On the basis of the papers the panel decided, 2 to 1, that there was no need for any interpretation or correction of the Award. At last, the case was over.

Not surprisingly this was not an inexpensive arbitration. In addition to the fees and expenses of each side’s attorneys, the bill of the three arbitrators for their fees and expenses was $302,000 to be split equally by the two parties.


[1] Post: Resolving Disputes between Manufacturers and Distributors/Dealers (Aug. 9, 2011).

[2] One example of rules for this method of dispute resolution is the UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules, which cover all aspects of the conciliation process, providing a model conciliation clause, defining when conciliation is deemed to have commenced and terminated and addressing procedural aspects relating to the appointment and role of conciliators and the general conduct of proceedings. The Rules also address issues such as confidentiality, admissibility of evidence in other proceedings and limits to the right of parties to undertake judicial or arbitral proceedings while the conciliation is in progress. (UNCITRAL, 1980–UNCITRAL Conciliation Rules, http://www.uncitral.org.)

[3] Post: Resolving Disputes between Manufacturers and Distributors/Dealers (Aug. 9, 2011).

[4] The Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (also called “the New York Convention” or treaty) now has 146 of the 192 U.N. member states as parties, including China, Korea, Japan, India, Indonesia and other major trading partners of the U.S. The treaty requires courts of contracting States to give effect to an agreement to arbitrate when seized of an action in a matter covered by an arbitration agreement and also to recognize and enforce arbitration awards made in other States, subject to specific limited exceptions. (UNCITRAL, 1958–Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, http://www.uncitral.org.)

[5] The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules cover all aspects of the arbitral process, providing a model arbitration clause, setting out procedural rules regarding the appointment of arbitrators and the conduct of arbitral proceedings and establishing rules in relation to the form, effect and interpretation of the award. (UNCITRAL, 1976–UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, http://www.uncitral.org.)