News In Brief – Spring 2012

Former President of Liberia convicted of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
On 26 April 2012, Charles Ghankay Taylor, the former President of Liberia from 1997-2003, was convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity by Trial Chamber II of the Special Court of Sierra Leone. The sentencing of Mr. Taylor is scheduled to take place on 30 May 2012.

United States announces revised 2012 model BIT
On 20 April 2012, the United States Department of State and Office of the United States Trade Representative announced the conclusion of the review of the United States’ model bilateral investment treaty (“BIT”) and the release of the revised 2012 model BIT. The text of the new model BIT is available here.

South Sudan ratifies the ICSID Convention amidst tension in the region
On 18 April 2012, the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (the “ICSID Convention”) was signed and ratified by the Republic of South Sudan. South Sudan formally declared independence as a State on 9 July 2011 last year and is currently involved in a dispute with (North) Sudan over the Heglig oilfield. In accordance with Article 68(2), the ICSID Convention will enter into force for South Sudan on 18 May 2012.

Philippines invites China to refer Maritime Dispute to ITLOS
The Philippines and China remain in dispute over the Scarborough Shoal (known as the Panatag Shoal in the Philippines and Huangyan Island in China) located in the South China Sea. On 17 April 2012, Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Albert F. del Rosario, delivered a statement in which China was asked to join the Philippines in bringing the dispute to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (“ITLOS”) for resolution. The dispute constitutes only one of many competing claims in the South China Sea involving other countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Guatemala becomes 121st State to join the International Criminal Court
On 2 April 2012, the government of the Republic of Guatemala deposited its instrument of accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) with the United Nations. The Rome Statute will enter into force for Guatemala on 1 July 2012.

Bangladesh becomes 115th Member State of the Permanent Court of Arbitration
The People’s Republic of Bangladesh (“Bangladesh”) acceded to the 1907 Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes on 28 December 2011. On 26 February 2012, Bangladesh became the newest member state of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

New Designations made to ICSID Panels
On 8 February 2012, Contracting States to the ICSID Convention such as Albania, Bahrain and Timor-Leste announced their designations for the ICSID Panels of Conciliators and Arbitrators. Each Contracting State may provide up to four persons to serve on these Panels for renewable terms of six years. The list of designees contains regular ICSID appointees, such as Jan Paulsson and Stephen M. Schwebel, as well as less familiar names.

Peter Tomka elected new President of International Court of Justice
On 6 February 2012, Judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia was elected as the new President of the International Court of Justice. Judge Tomka replaces Judge Hisashi Owada of Japan who had held the position since 6 February 2009.

African Union Commission considers seeking Advisory Opinion from International Court of Justice
From 26th -30th January 2012, the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of States of the African Union took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At that meeting, the African Union Commission was asked to consider seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice regarding the immunity of State officials from arrest under international law. This request falls against the background of two outstanding arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court in 2009 and 2010 against President al-Bashir of Sudan.

Firm News

Volterra Fietta has been named in the 2012 Global Arbitration Review’s GAR100 as one of the 100 leading practices specialising in international arbitration. GAR identified Volterra Fietta as the first and only international arbitration boutique law firm in the UK.

The firm is delighted to announce that Dominic Afzali, Dr. Ernesto Féliz and Laura Rees-Evans joined Volterra Fietta as associates on 19 March, 9 April and 16 April 2012 respectively.