Amicus Curiae Brief for Appellant - The Republic of Marshall Islands vs. The United States of America in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

This brief of amicus curiaethe Global Justice Center (GJC) is submitted pursuant to Rule 29(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and Ninth Circuit Rule 29-2 with the consent of all parties to the case. GJC is a non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting the enforcement of international law in a progressive, non-discriminatory manner. Thus, GJC has a direct and vital interest in the issues before this Court, which will impact the ability of future litigants to vindicate their rights under international treaties. No part of this brief was authored by a party or party’s counsel, nor did any party, party’s counsel, or other person outside of GJC contribute money intended to fund the preparation of this brief. 

The District Court dismissed Plaintiff’s case below both because it found that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring its claims, and because it found the issues in this case to be non-justiciable political questions. Order Granting Mot. to Dismiss at 5-7. This amicusbrief will address the latter of these issues, arguing that the District Court erred in applying the political question doctrine to Plaintiff’s claims. 

In Baker v. Carr, the Supreme Court outlined six factors any of which may justify abstention from a case as a political question. 369 U.S. 186, 217 (1962). The District Court found two of these factors to be implicated by the case at bar: textual commitment to one of the political branches, and a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards. Order Granting Mot. to Dismiss at 5-7. This brief will argue that the meaning of Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the question of whether or not the United States (U.S.) is in compliance with it are not political questions, and in particular, that the District Court was wrong to hold that no judicially manageable standards are available to guide its analysis of these questions. This brief will identify a rich array of judicial and non-judicial sources that could inform the court’s development of new standards. This brief will also contest the outdated and overbroad statement of Executive authority over foreign affairs that led the District Court to find that resolution of this issue was textually committed to the Executive. 

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US Abortion Restrictions of Foreign Aid Perpetuate Torture and Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 21, 2014 

[NEW YORK, NY & GENEVA] - Today marks the 20th anniversary of U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Yet to this day, the U.S. repeatedly fails to meet its commitments under the treaty with its abortion restrictions on foreign assistance to girls and women raped in armed conflict.

Executive Summary: The International Legal Framework of Peace Negotiations: Requirements and Recommendations for Enforcing Women’s Rights

Peace negotiations regularly exclude women participants and neglect to sufficiently address issues pertaining to women and girls. These omissions violate international law, including the Security Council Resolutions on women, peace, and security, which require that peace negotiations involve equal participation by women and ensure women’s rights. Getting women to the table is a critical first step, but it can only be the starting point to meaningful women’s participation in peace negotiations. Women must not only be present but also be equipped with knowledge of the international legal framework that governs how peace negotiations ensure the rights of women and girls. Their fellow negotiators must likewise be made aware of this body of binding international law, so that they are more likely to cooperate to advance, rather than obstruct, equal rights for women and girls. The Global Justice Center has developed a compilation of relevant provisions from international legal instruments that govern which rights must be ensured in the course of peace negotiations. While the compilation is not an exhaustive list of all relevant provisions, it provides a representative sample of important gender equality requirements. Following is a table identifying these provisions.

While some of these instruments are legally binding, either on all parties due to their incorporation into customary international law or on certain parties that have agreed to be bound, others are persuasive in that they represent the growing consensus of States.

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Updating State National Action Plans to Ensure the International Humanitarian Rights of Women and Girls Raped in Armed Conflict

On the occasion of the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Global Justice Center encourages States to exercise global leadership on the protection of women and girls raped in armed conflict by updating their National Action Plans (NAPs) to include explicit language accepting their international humanitarian law obligations to provide non-discriminatory medical care, justice, and reparations to war rape victims.

Women and girls raped in war are among the “war wounded,” therefore protected under international humanitarian law (IHL) by the absolute prohibition on adverse distinction, including on the basis of sex. In reality, however, women and girls raped in war are regularly subjected to discrimination in the medical care they receive and in the justice, accountability, and reparations measures available to them. The prohibition against adverse distinction applies to how all IHL rules are implemented, and it is so fundamental that it constitutes customary international law. Adverse distinction is interchangeable with the term “non-discrimination:” in all cases IHL cannot be implemented in ways that are “less favorable” for women than men.

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Women Empowerment, Sustainable Development, and the Rio+20 Summit

With the debate of the effectiveness of the Rio+20 Summit still lingering, it is important to assess where the dialogues of the Summit could and should have gone. This discussion is inspired by the article, “The elephant in the room at Rio Summit,” by Jenny Shipley, which is an opinion piece on CNN addressing the role of empowering women and family planning in sustainable development.

The Rio Summit was designed as a milestone in the renewed discussions focused on the environment and moving towards a more sustainable and equal world. The Summit was described as trying to shape, “how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want.” In order for the Summit to have effectively discussed how to advance towards these objectives there were seven priority areas which had been identified to further guide discussions in a positive manner. These priority areas include: “decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.” However, there are a few things missing from the above “priority areas” which remain essential to the progression of our planet towards a global reduction in poverty while improving our social equity and global environmental protection clauses: the empowerment of women and family-planning.

In our world today one of the major problems we face is controlling our rapid population growth. Many environmentalists and experts have expressed their concerns that we have indeed passed the world’s carrying capacity, and this fact has become continuously more apparent in the last ten years with the increasing concern for environmental issues such as: global warming, resource depletion, deforestation, degradation of water resources, etc. The Rio Summit was theoretically responsible for addressing all of the above issues; however the real problem was without including the discussion on the role of women we were and continue to ignore the solution to our problems.

It has been proven that literate women who have access to education, not only in general but specifically related to reproductive health, put a higher emphasis on the importance of education for their children. In addition, literacy and education level are negatively correlated to the number of children a woman is likely to reproduce. Meaning, with an increase in literacy levels we are likely to see a decrease in child-bearing rates. Education, as deemed by many countries as the key to success, should have been discussed and encompassed as a key player in the fight for future successful implementation of sustainable development. This education factor, if directed specifically at women, can change the way our population is growing allowing for the strain on our Earth’s carrying capacity to be eased. Instead, some of the most influential leaders of international relations left Rio without a real plan or any solid progress towards a sustainable future.  If as a part of the Rio Summit, we strove towards implementing globally-focused education plans for women we could in the future make enormous strides for not only the environment, but also in reducing poverty, world hunger, infant and mother mortality while increasing quality of life and changing the way we view education as a whole. The Rio Summit instead of aiming high, lead us disappointingly to yet another conventional plateau of recycled ideas and promises.