Greetings from Jocy and Maria-Elena in New York City, New York, United States. This steel and brick jungle is keeping us quite busy during what reportedly will likely be the warmest year on record: http://climateprogress.org/
We are legal interns at the Global Justice Center (GJC), a non-profit legal group that works towards legal and effective enforcement of international equality guarantees.
We mainly work on GJC's project on U.S. engagement with international law. In March 2010, the GJC submitted a report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in preparation for the Council's first Universal Periodic Review of the United States, which will take place on November 5, 2010. (To read the submission, go to http://www.
The GJC is urging the Human Rights Council to find that the U.S. policy of deliberately denying critical abortion care to civilian women who are raped during armed conflict violates erga omnes international humanitarian law mandates, including Common Article 3 and Common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions. The principle of non-discrimination is central to the GJC's argument: Men who are targeted for rape during armed conflict presumably may receive all medical care necessary for their injury. Women victims of rape do not. This violates the non-discrimination principles of the Geneva Conventions.
Moreover, the UPR submission is a first step towards a bigger strategy: seeking an Executive Order by President Obama to immediately lift the censorship on humanitarian aid and end the discriminatory treatment now provided to women and girls in conflict areas.
As the U.S. project interns, we have been building the legal arguments supporting this strategy. We drafted a memorandum outlining domestic implementation of international humanitarian law, specifically the Geneva Conventions, via national legislation, agency directives, executive orders, and court decisions. We also outlined the basis for the president's authority in matters of humanitarian law. Another aspect of building the legal arguments is defining the standard by which third party states must provide humanitarian assistance. To this end, we have collected and summarized medical care standards established by the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations.
We are also assisting GJC lawyers on several other projects. The GJC is a member of the United Nations NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (NGOWG). NGOWG is working to achieve full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 (SCR 1325), the Beijing Platform on Women, and CEDAW. SCR 1325, passed in 2000, calls for states to address the different impacts of conflict on women and men, and to engage women fully in conflict resolution and peace-building. The GJC, with the NGOWG, has worked on creating specific indicators to guide SCR 1325 implementation. Presently, the GJC's task is to develop a model Security Council "mechanism" of accountability for these indicators.
We drafted a memorandum discussing if and how sanctions might apply for each indicator. It is interesting to think that this research may inform the final shape of an accountability mechanism within the United Nations. We'll keep you updated.
Jocy & Maria-Elena