Friday, August 29, 2008

ad hoc Tribunal reports are in

Check out International Law Reporter for the reports of the ICTY and ICTR reports.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

International Arbitration Event

From the International Center for Dispute Resolution (ICDR):
ICDR Y&I is pleased to announce its first event in Brazil! ICDR Y&I, in cooperation with LCIA YIAG and ICC YAF, will join with ITA and CBAR to present this special 3-hour program on September 21, 2008, on the eve of the 4th ITA Americas Workshop and the 8th Annual Congress of the Comite Brasiliero de Arbitragem on September 22-23, 2008.

Details should be posted here shortly.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Russian Power Play

Ali Ettefagh on Russian global strategies, and the divergence in U.S. and European responses in today's Wash Post:

America has been busy with old-fashioned territory grabs and the eastward crawl of NATO towards Ukraine and Georgia, aiming for relatively modest oil reserves in the Caspian region. However, Russia has been nursing a modern global strategy that leaps over borders. Russia has cut landmark deals with former and potential American clients: weapon sales to Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Venezuela are the first of their kind. Sales of gas via a new trans-Siberia gas pipeline to northern China and talks of a "gas OPEC" with Iran, Algeria and others is another that towers over the pseudo-democratic ideas of Georgia. Border demarcation of the North Pole (with purported reserves of more than 90 billion barrels of oil-- twelve times the amount in the Caspian region), nuclear power deals with India and Iran and direct under-sea gas pipelines to Germany, Turkey and south-eastern Europe (bypassing the Ukrainian chokehold on Russian gas lines to Europe) are other moves on the multi-dimensional chess board -- all as Russia is simply keeping cool and amusing itself with the much hyped, but failed mission of Tony Blair as the chief negotiator of the Middle East Quartet, of which Russia is a member. From the Russian perspective, all options are on the table!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Update on Rwanda's Claims Against France

As follow up on my prior post on Rwanda's claims that France was complicit in genocide in Rwanda, here is a link to a an article by Stephen Kinzer in the International Herald Tribune on the same.

Kinzer, writing on the release of a 500 page report by Rwanda, notes:
The report, commissioned by the government and prepared by a panel that heard from more than 150 witnesses, is not only a devastating account of France's eager participation in mass murder.  It is also the most provocative example in modern history of a victimized nation pointing a credible finger of blame at the supposedly virtuous West.

As I noted before, it remains to be seen how or if France will answer the charges, and which jurisdictions will pass judgment, French, Rwandan, or International.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Auction Rate Securities

Via the FT, more settlements in the Auction Rate Securities blow up:
Regulators have accused banks of misrepresenting ARS as liquid, cash-like instruments. The collapse of the $330bn market in February highlighted the risk in the long-term securities, whose interest rates are periodically reset at auctions.

The gist: Investors are stuck with a product which was sold to them as a money-market with a better yield, but for which there is now no market which they can use to exit.

One story: Via Bloomberg:
"When I bought these I wanted a safe security and I was told they were redeemable at par," said Stokes. "Then when the market failed and I wanted a secondary market to trade out, I was told that Wachovia doesn't make a secondary market."

The upshot: Here is the SEC description of the settlement with Citi. Note that one of the terms prevents the bank from liquidating its own positions before its clients'.

Friday, August 8, 2008

ICC, Africa, and Europe

There was the Special Court for Sierra Leone; the ICTR for Rwanda, and now ICC indictments (or pending indictments) of a number of Africans, including the sitting head of state of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir.

A quiet critique (previously blogged) has been emerging that the ICC is using Africa as its laboratory. Another critique is that the ICC will never go after someone, let alone a sitting head of state, from a World Power.

A new twist on these ongoing critiques was in the news today with Rwanda accusing the late Francois Mitterrand and other French officials of complicity of genocide, as reported by and The Economist.

Background, via

France’s backing of the previous Rwandan regime, led by President Juvenal Habyarimana, is regarded by many analysts as the nadir of its decades-long engagement in French-speaking Africa. The regime, dominated by ethnic Hutus,
created the conditions in which Hutu extremists orchestrated the murder of
800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a 100-day killing spree that marked
the apogee of years of systematic anti-Tutsi violence.

Mr Kagame, who came to power after leading a Tutsi rebel army that drove those responsible for the genocide out of the country, has long accused France of playing an active role in the killings.

Some of the accusations include:
France was aware of preparations for the genocide; that it participated in them by training Rwandan troops; that its own soldiers allowed the genocide to continue in an area they were deployed to secure a safe zone; and that they actively participated in the genocide elsewhere. (from

So, it remains to be seen how a major Western Power responds to accusations of international crimes from an African nation. Will it co-operate in investigations? Will it operate under its own domestic law, under Rwandan law, under an ad-hoc tribunal, or what if it is referred to the ICC Prosecutor?

Lessons from Crisis

The FT has a really interesting piece on the Credit Crisis today.

The piece begins with a nice quote from the post-Black Monday days and flashes forward to the present where (some) of the same conditions (computerized trading and equity index futures) were in play. What's old is new, forgetting the lessons of history, etc...

The interesting bit is in two parts. First, it calls for more regulation--after a decade and a half of hearing about deregulation, nearly every business/economic policy publication is calling for more. A regulation market correction if you will.

Second, it points to the big harm in the current crunch as the exposure of systematic weaknesses rather than specific losses. In looking at this issue the FT calls for a new/greater role for central banks.
Out of the credit crunch, therefore, must come change at central banks. New regimes under which they will lend, at penalty rates, against illiquid securities must be institutionalised. The Fed must take over responsibility for Wall Street, while the UK must push through a new insolvency regime for banks. Financiers are ever adept at circumventing rules but regulators must keep trying. As the example of 1987 shows, however, useful financial innovations such as securitisation will make a comeback, and it is up to investors to show greater discipline – a forlorn hope.

Is this expanded Monetarism designed to regulate through market forces?