Regarding Rights

Academic and activist perspectives on human rights

Leave a comment

The Long Way from Rome to Jakarta: Prospects of Ending Impunity for International Crimes in Southeast Asia

Main Courtroom of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Source: Public Affairs Section / ECCC.

Main Courtroom of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).
Source: Public Affairs Section / ECCC.

By Christoph Sperfeldt

More than ten years after its entry into force, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is enjoying wide-spread global support. Despite this progress, states in Asia generally remain reluctant to join the Rome Statute. Nevertheless, the global dynamic of the past years has also left its mark on the attitudes among states in the region. In Southeast Asia in particular, the promotion of human rights norms and principles at the regional level is gaining momentum, most visibly manifested in the creation of an ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and the adoption of an ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights. Although this development has not yet advanced the issue of accountability for breaches of norms of international human rights and humanitarian law, individual states have taken steps that indicate an increased recognition of the need to prosecute those responsible for mass atrocities. Continue Reading →

Leave a comment

Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum Co – implications for international human rights litigation in the US

By Cynthia Banham

The US Supreme Court; Source: wiki commons

The US Supreme Court
Source: wiki commons

Until recently, the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) (28 USC § 1350) was regarded by human rights activists as a critical tool in global efforts to hold human rights violators to account.

This curious American  statute, dating back to 1789, gives US district courts jurisdiction over civil actions by aliens for wrongs committed in violation of “the law of nations”. After being largely ignored for two centuries, it was rediscovered by human rights activists after the landmark 1980 case of Filártiga v. Peña-Irala. In that case, two Paraguayans successfully sued a former Paraguayan official (all three were resident in the US at the time of the lawsuit) over the torture and death of their family member in Paraguay.

But this April, the US Supreme Court in Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum Co severely curtailed the application of the ATS in such cases, unanimously holding that the statute generally does not apply beyond America’s borders. Continue Reading →

Leave a comment

Centre for International Governance and Justice: News and Events

Image from the Law and Society Association

Image from the Law and Society Association


A number of RegNet researchers attended the Law and Society Association’s annual conference in early June in Boston. The conference’s overarching theme was ‘Power, privilege, and the pursuit of justice – Legal challenges in precarious times’. Many of panels addressed the potential as well as the limitations of human rights, including a panel on ‘The Extralegal Affairs of Rights’ convened by RegNet’s Kate Henne. Continue Reading →