26 February 2010

CONF: Lawfare: The Use of the Law as a Weapon of War

Conference on "Lawfare: The Use of the Law as a Weapon of War", co-sponsored by The Lawfare Project, the Committee on Foreign and International Law of the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA), and the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), taking place at the NYCLA, 14 Vesey Street, New York City, 11 March 2010, 9.00 am-4.00 pm


Lawfare denotes the abuse of the law and legal systems for strategic ends, the negative manipulation of the law to achieve a purpose other than, or contrary to that for which it was originally enacted. Distinguished speakers will examine lawfare tactics as they are used to: silence and punish free speech about issues of national security and public concern; delegitimize democratic nations such as the United States and Israel; and frustrate the West's War on Terrorism.

Speakers include the current Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, former US and Israeli ambassadors to the UN, John Bolton (American Enterprise Institute) and Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs), former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Pierre Prosper, and Jeremy Rabkin (George Mason University School of Law), among others. Chairs include David Schizer (Columbia University Law School) and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Irwin Cotler.

Photo ID required at registration. Light food and refreshments will be served.

RSVP required: rsvp@thelawfareproject.org

From The Lawfare Project's website: "When full-scale military attacks on the West failed, its enemies resorted to an extensive campaign of terrorism and asymmetric warfare. At the same time, a complementary legal campaign was launched aimed at politically, morally and legally delegitimizing the war on terror as well as frustrating the actions of nation states dedicated to the eradication of terrorist methods. Just as terrorism has targeted democracies around the world, lawfare is similarly being utilized by national and transnational organizations, fighting with a new variety and combination of offensive legal actions employed in both domestic and international courts of law. Terrorists and their sympathizers understand where they can't win with brute force, they can undermine our willingness and ability to fight them using legal grounds. [...]

"Lawfare can be utilized to challenge the sovereign ability of a state and its actors to defend itself as well as exert power over its citizens and territory as it sees fit. Such challenges are more often directed at democracies even though their actions are accountable to their citizenry and most in compliance with customary international law. Nevertheless, the concept of universal jurisdiction has been methodically extended to provide for lawsuits and human rights complaints against western governments and officials in both international and national courts of law. Western democracies are being compelled to report on and alter their internal and external actions in accordance with human rights norms, resolutions and treaties, as interpreted by third parties.

"On the other hand, non-democratic countries often escape the same universal jurisdiction and liability standards. Courts and tribunals have remained largely silent or ineffective when totalitarian dictatorships exert their sovereignty by openly flaunting international law. [...] Democracies are being held to a much higher and often biased standard then [sic] their counter-parts, resulting in a system that often criticizes and punishes those who strive to be good while the rest are left to act with impunity. [...] Moreover, human rights terminology (most specifically the words 'apartheid' and 'genocide') has been systematically misapplied with the goal of diluting their real meaning and impeding the public's ability to distinguish between real instances of abuse and false strategic claims of human rights violations."

This sounds like an interesting conference even (or especially) if one does not agree with the organizers' world view.

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