Monday, March 31, 2008

2007 Annual Report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission

The 2007 Annual Report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission was tabled today in the House of Commons.

Among the highlights of the past year, Chief Commissioner Jennifer Lynch points out:
  • the Commission's work for the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act – that section denies First Nations citizens full access to human rights redress under the Act;
  • significant gains for disabled people; and
  • the selection of the Commission to lead the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, a body that coordinates over 60 accredited national human rights institutions

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

Parliamentary Committee Report on the Canadian Witness Protection Program

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security recently released its report entitled Review of the witness protection program:
"Various measures to protect vulnerable and threatened witnesses are used across the country, from the simplest police and legal protection to the most complex. This report examines one of the measures implemented by the federal government to provide longterm protection to witnesses whose physical safety is in jeopardy because they are cooperating with the authorities. The federal Witness Protection Program, the focus of this report, is a last resort at the end of the protection continuum (...)"

"In April 2007, media attention surrounding an individual in the Witness Protection Program who was charged with murder while under the protection of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) prompted the Committee to undertake a review of the Program. Although the Committee endeavoured to determine whether changes should be made to the Program to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents, its study was not limited to the examination of this case. On 29 March 2007, the Committee adopted a broad mandate to 'review the RCMP’s role in the Witness Protection Program'."

"From 19 April 2007 to 4 February 2008, the Committee held seven meetings during which two lawyers involved in witness protection cases in Canada; three experts from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States; and representatives from the RCMP, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Justice Canada and the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP all shared their points of view (...)"

"This report summarizes the information gleaned from the Committee’s review of the Witness Protection Program. It covers the origins of the Program, its role in relation to the series of protective measures for vulnerable and threatened witnesses, its operation and administration, key concerns raised during the hearings, and our own comments and recommendations. Following consideration of the testimony heard, the Committee finds that it is time to renew the Witness Protection Program Act so that the Witness Protection Program is more accessible, effective and transparent."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Government of Canada's 2008-09 Reports on Plans and Priorities

Earlier today, The Honourable Vic Toews, President of the Treasury Board, tabled the 2008-09 Reports on Plans and Priorities in the House of Commons on behalf of 93 federal departments and agencies.

The 2008-09 Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPPs) are departmental expenditure plans that elaborate on the information contained in the 2008-09 Main Estimates tabled on February 28, 2008.

These RPPs set out departmental priorities, provide performance measurement indicators, and explain a department's expected results.

The 2008-2009 RPP for the Supreme Court of Canada is included in the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides

Issue no. 2 of Code4Lib Journal has just come out and it includes an article entitled Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides.

At the Supreme Court of Canada Library, I have created close to 2 dozen topical research guides in the past year or so (environmental law, constitutional law, intellectual property, etc.). Periodically, I review them, adding new, relevant material, pruning old stuff or obsolescent sources, rearranging the sections, all of this in static HTML files.

Very time-consuming.

We have discussed scrapping everything and transferring the material into a database system that would make maintenance and updates more efficient and less time-consuming. But we don't have the help of programmers right now.

This article provides a lot of suggestions:
"Productivity is enhanced primarily by improving the process of updating style and content. For example, a popular electronic resource may appear on many subject pages, meaning that updating links would involve multiple edits. In a database-driven world, where content is pulled from a central location in real time, that same update is made once. Graphical user interfaces allow librarians with little or no knowledge of HTML to add resources, thus encouraging increased staff participation. Opportunities for participation and collaboration can also be made available to students and faculty through the use of Weblogs, Wikis, and social bookmarking software (...) In addition to improved workflow and collaboration, database-driven subject guides may give us a way to provide the personalized features and customizable content that users have come to expect. Thanks to work done by libraries to create open-source subject guide applications, the availability of open-source course management systems, and the proliferation of free Web 2.0 tools, the option to create cost-effective, database-driven subject guides is available to all libraries."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:29 pm 3 comments links to this post

AALL 2008 National Legal Research Teach-In Material Available Online

The Research Instruction and Patron Services (RIPS) Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries has made available the material from its upcoming National Legal Research Teach-In.

This year's teach-in is April 13-19, 2008.

The material includes hand-outs for legal research instruction on different topics. It is a good way of seeing what law librarians in the United States are doing.

Every year, RIPS solicits contributions from the law library community to create a compilation of legal research materials. The RIPS website has a list of material from previous years. The first teach-in was organized in 1993.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, March 29, 2008

2006-2007 Annual Report on the Canadian Multiculturalism Act

Earlier this month, The Honourable Josée Verner, federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, tabled the 2006-2007 annual report on the operation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in the House of Commons.
"Multiculturalism was enshrined as a fundamental value of Canadian society and the Government of Canada with the proclamation of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in 1988. The Act requires all federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations to implement the Multiculturalism Policy and ensure their programs, policies and services respond to the needs of Canadians of all backgrounds. Under the Act, federal institutions are also expected to report annually on activities they have undertaken to preserve and advance the objectives of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act."

"This document reports to Canadians on the progress these institutions made in 2006-07. The report is divided into 2 main parts:"

"Part I highlights the main achievements of the Multiculturalism Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage and describes how the program advances the principles of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and supports federal institutions in their efforts to apply the Act."

"Part II describes achievements and challenges as federal institutions endeavour to implement the principles of the Act and provides an overview of various initiatives undertaken across federal institutions to implement the Canadian Multiculturalism Act through policies, programs and services."
For more background on Canada's multiculturalism policy:

Canadian Multiculturalism (Library of Parliament, March 2006): "The concept of Canada as a 'multicultural society' can be interpreted in different ways: descriptively (as a sociological fact), prescriptively (as ideology), from a political perspective (as policy), or as a set of intergroup dynamics (as process). As fact, 'multiculturalism' in Canada refers to the presence and persistence of diverse racial and ethnic minorities who define themselves as different and who wish to remain so. Ideologically, multiculturalism consists of a relatively coherent set of ideas and ideals pertaining to the celebration of Canada’s cultural diversity. Multiculturalism at the policy level is structured around the management of diversity through formal initiatives in the federal, provincial and municipal domains. Finally, multiculturalism is the process by which racial and ethnic minorities compete to obtain support from central authorities for the achievement of certain goals and aspirations. This study focuses on an analysis of Canadian multiculturalism both as a demographic reality and as a public policy."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

U.S. Anti-Terror Laws Deter Canadians From Using Google Services

This is a follow-up to my post of March 24, 2008 entitled Canadians Organizations Fear U.S. Spying on Web-Based Collaboration Tools.

In that post, I described how a number of Canadian institutions are having second thoughts about using Web-based collaborative tools from U.S.-based companies such as Google who keep search logs on their U.S. servers because of the wide-ranging powers granted to American security agencies under the Patriot Act.

David T.S. Fraser, a lawyer who writes the Canadian Privacy Law Blog, was interviewed for an Out-Law.com podcast on the issue. Out-Law.com is an IT and e-commerce newsletter published by the UK law firm UK firm Pinsent Masons LLP.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:43 pm 1 comments links to this post

Friday, March 28, 2008

United Nations' List of 10 Neglected Stories from 2007

The UN Department of Public Information has launched a list of ten stories from 2007 that flew under the radar of most people's attention:

"But given the global reach of news stories, people are sometimes thought to be reaching saturation point; in view of the natural human tendency to focus on a few high-visibility emergencies, the Department of Public Information (DPI) is launching a list of stories that unfolded in the course of 2007 that the world may wish to hear more about."
Many of the these neglected stories have a legal dimension. The Ten Stories page on the UN website links to background information and to web links for each topic. They are:
  • Northern Uganda: Major steps towards peace in a decades-old conflict
  • The Excluded: The hidden world of the stateless
  • Extreme weather events are part of a “new normal” trend
  • The suffering of the girl soldier
  • At a fragile crossroads: Afghanistan and the international community must pull together
  • A deadly disease no more – advances in malaria prevention and treatment
  • Promotion and protection of human rights: The role of special procedures of the Human Rights Council
  • Policing for peace: The law-and-order role played by blue berets
  • Southern Sudan: A path to ‘indivisible peace’ in the country
  • Bird flu pushed back – but threat of a human pandemic remains

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Youth Initiative Uses Virtual World to Support International Criminal Court

An organization called the Global Kids' Digital Media Initiative launched the International Justice Center last week in support of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

The official ceremony featured ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Lloyd Axworthy (former foreign affairs minister of Canada), Louise Arbour (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Supreme Court of Canada Justice), Allan Rock (former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations), and Kenneth Roth (Executive Director, Human Rights Watch).

The Center will use web technologies and ensure a presence in the virtual reality world of Second Life to mobilize young people around human rights issues.
"We at Global Kids have some tentative plans for the Center in the near future including the following:
  • Live Video from the ICC: As the first major trial at the ICC moves forward, we have the potential to host at the Center live viewings of trials and hearings over the next months. These might be supplemented by commentators and experts explaining why a particular procedure or hearing is important.
  • Online Chats with People in Countries of Concern to the ICC: We are developing a tool that connects SMS text messaging to Second Life that can enable people in low-bandwidth environments to connect with people in virtual worlds via text chat. Some possibilities include holding online discussions with people in Uganda and the Congo to talk about the role of the ICC in their countries.
  • Trainings of Lawyers, Journalists, Activists: The Center could host workshops, lectures and classes on ICC-related subject matter, which would be conducted by experts from legal associations, non-profits and academia. This might enable activists, journalists, lawyers and others to get in-depth knowledge of what is going on at the ICC without having to leave their offices."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:04 pm 0 comments links to this post

Pros and Cons of Apology Legislation

The most recent edition of The Lawyers Weekly features the article Saying sorry: Apology legislation makes it a lot easier by Ellen Desmond, past chair of the national section for Alternative Dispute Resolution, Canadian Bar Association, and sessional lecturer in dispute resolution at the University of New Brunswick’s faculty of law.

Apology legislation allows individuals and institutions to offer an apology as part of their dispute resolution process without fear of legal liability.

The provinces of B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan have such laws on their books, as do foreign jurisdictions like Australia and 20 U.S. states.

In the article, Desmond outlines the advantages as well as the drawbacks:
"This legislative trend is the result of the growing body of evidence that apology laws assist in a reduction in both the number of and the time required to settle lawsuits (...)"

"While the benefits of this legislation are clear, concerns exist as well. This is especially true regarding the comprehensive apology legislation that has been adopted in western Canada. In a 2006 discussion paper, the B.C. Ministry of the Attorney General identified some of the difficulties associated with this type of legislation, including the following:
  • Public confidence in the courts may be affected if a person admits fault but is subsequently found not liable in a proceeding;
  • Insincere and strategic apologies may be encouraged; and
  • Apologies might create an emotional vulnerability in some plaintiffs, who may, thereafter, accept settlements that are inappropriately low."
Earlier Library Boy posts on the issue of apology laws include:
  • Apology Acts - Saying 'Sorry' Without Incurring Liability (November 19, 2006): "The province of Saskatchewan will amend its Evidence Act to allow individuals and corporations to offer a sincere apology as part of their dispute resolution process without fear of legal liability... the provincial Justice Minister is quoted as saying: 'Within legal parameters, I think individuals are very concerned about saying anything that might cause them some legal liabilities and we want to clarify that for people(...) We believe that this will allow matters of dispute between citizens to be resolved, in many cases without a lawsuit. Because sometimes it's not the financial compensation, it's the desire for restoration, for an apology, for an acknowledgment that somebody was hurt'."
  • Analysis and Critique of Apology Laws (January 14, 2007): "Marlynn Wei of the Yale Law School has just published an article in the Journal of Health Law, 2007 entitled 'Doctors, Apologies, and the Law: An Analysis and Critique of Apology Laws' (available for download via the Social Science Research Network) ..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Do TV Shows Like CSI Really Influence Juries?

The March 2008 issue of the Journal of the National Institute of Justice in the United States features an article entitled The 'CSI Effect': Does It Really Exist?

The article describes an empirical study that tried to see what impact popular shows about police investigations such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation may have been having on the expectations and behaviour of jury members in criminal cases.

It is well worth the read.

There has been an assumption that shows like CSI had been causing jurors to wrongfully acquit objectively guilty defendants when no fancy, flashy TV-style forensic evidence was presented at trial.

The article summarizes the findings of a survey of just over 1,000 randomly selected jurors in a Michigan city in the summer of 2006. They were asked what kind of evidence they expected to see in different cases, and whether they would demand to see scientific evidence before they would find a defendant guilty.

The findings showed that CSI-type shows do not appear to have spoiled juries:
"Interestingly, in most of the scenarios presented, potential jurors' increased expectations of scientific evidence did not translate into a demand for this type of evidence as a prerequisite for finding someone guilty. Based on our findings, jurors were more likely to find a defendant guilty than not guilty even without scientific evidence if the victim or other witnesses testified, except in the case of rape. On the other hand, if the prosecutor relied on circumstantial evidence, the prospective jurors said they would demand some kind of scientific evidence before they would return a guilty verdict."

"There was scant evidence in our survey results that CSI viewers were either more or less likely to acquit defendants without scientific evidence. Only 4 of 13 scenarios showed somewhat significant differences between viewers and non-viewers on this issue, and they were inconsistent."

(...)

"Although CSI viewers had higher expectations for scientific evidence than non-CSI viewers, these expectations had little, if any, bearing on the respondents' propensity to convict. This, we believe, is an important finding and seemingly very good news for our Nation's criminal justice system: that is, differences in expectations about evidence did not translate into important differences in the willingness to convict."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Crime Stats - How Does Your Region Compare?

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has reworked the 1995-2005 data from Statistics Canada's Uniform Crime Reporting Survey into an online application people can use to find crime data for the country as a whole or by province, broken down by types of crime.

The CBC has created a whole series of web pages on issues related to crime.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 24, 2008

Canadians Organizations Fear U.S. Spying on Web-Based Collaboration Tools

Today's edition of the Globe and Mail newspaper features an article entitled Patriot Act haunts Google service that describes how the U.S. Patriot Act gives American security officials wide-ranging powers to snoop on personal data contained on servers held by U.S.-based organizations.

Like Google.

And that has been worrying many Canadian institutions such as universities that are having second thoughts about using Web-based collaborative tools offered by companies headquartered in that Great Republic south of the border:
"Security experts say many firms are only just starting to realize the risks they assume by embracing Web-based collaborative tools hosted by a U.S. company, a problem even more acute in Canada where federal privacy rules are at odds with U.S. security measures."

" 'You have to decide which law you are going to break,' said Darren Meister, associate professor of information systems at the Richard Ivey School of Business, who specializes in how technology enhances organizational effectiveness. 'If I were a business manager, I would want to be very careful about what kind of data I made accessible to U.S. law enforcement'. "

"Using their new powers under the Patriot Act, U.S. intelligence officials can scan documents, pick out certain words and create profiles of the authors - a frightening challenge to academic freedom..."

(...)

"The privacy issue goes far beyond academia. In Toronto, at SickKids Foundation, which has the largest endowment of any Canadian hospital, employees have been keen to use Google tools. But the foundation's IT department blocked access for two reasons."

" 'Wherever possible, we keep our donor and patient records in Canada, as trying to enforce privacy laws in other jurisdictions is complex and expensive,' said Chris Woodill, director of IT and new media at SickKids Foundation. Second, free hosted software offers limited support and no formal legal contract, limiting an organization's ability to demand additional privacy or security measures, he said."
Related Library Boy posts include:

  • Canadian Libraries Abandoning U.S.-Based Servers Because of Patriot Act (November 5, 2006): "It appears that Canadian academic libraries are worried that the American government will be able to snoop on the type of research Canadian professors and students conduct on databases stored on U.S. servers. So they are transferring to Canadian servers."
  • Canadian Libraries Hiding From U.S. Patriot Act (November 12, 2006): "Many Canadian university libraries are worried that U.S. authorities will be able to snoop on the type of research Canadian professors and students conduct through Refworks. Refworks is an online research management tool that allows people with a password - students and researchers - to gather, manage, store and share information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies. That information is normally kept on U.S. servers, which has led to fears that the Patriot Act could allow U.S. authorities to gain access to potentially sensitive information or even to benign information that could be misunterpreted by overzealous U.S. snoops (...) The institutions that have made the switch can still subscribe to Refworks, the only difference being that all personal information about the research patterns of their professors and students will now be stored on Canadian servers at the University of Toronto."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:05 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, March 22, 2008

World Water Day - Water Law Resources

World Water Day, an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, is being marked today.

The object is to make access to water a universal human right. In 2002 a UN Committee recognized that water is a public good and that everyone is "entitled to sufficient, safe, acceptable and physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use."

Here is a compendium of water law resources, both Canadian and international, to mark the day.

1) Canada

  • Environment Canada Freshwater Website: under "Water Policy and Legislation" one can find federal, provincial as well as international laws and regulations dealing with water quality, pollution control, and flow regulation; under "The Management of Water", one can find resources on water exports and conservation.
  • Bulk Water Removals: Canadian Legislation (Library of Parliament, May 2007): "On 10 February 1999, the then Foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, and the then Environment Minister, the Hon. Christine Stewart, announced a strategy to prohibit the bulk removal of water, including removal for export, from major Canadian water basins (...) The strategy recognized that the provinces have primary responsibility for water management and that the federal government has jurisdiction over boundary waters to the extent specified in the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty. The strategy also noted that actions by territorial governments will be important as they assume greater responsibility over water resource management. The federal government stated that joint participation was essential to develop and implement a permanent Canada-wide solution to bulk water removal (...) The purpose of this paper is to outline, in chart form, the initiatives thus far taken by the federal government, each of the provinces, and the Yukon within their respective jurisdictions with regard to bulk water removals. In each case, references are made to the relevant sections of the appropriate statute and/or regulations."
  • Freshwater Management in Canada I. Jurisdiction (Library of Parliament, September 2004): "Recent water contamination events such as that in Walkerton, and the national debate in recent years about bulk exports of water to the United States, are Canadian symptoms of a worldwide water crisis. Is Canada ready to deal with the problems associated with this crisis, and how do policy makers foresee the future management of this resource? This first paper in a series ... examines issues of responsibilities and jurisdiction pertaining to water. Canada's unique situation in terms of the distribution of responsibilities among the various levels of government, and the fact that responsibilities for some water issues are shared between the federal and provincial governments, have a major effect on water management across the country..."
  • Freshwater Management in Canada II. Resources, Use and Treatment (Library of Parliament, September 2004): "Canada has more renewable freshwater than other countries. But how much of it is available for use? How well is Canada managing its water resources? ... This second paper ... provides facts about our freshwater resources and their use, examines the threats to water quality and availability, and describes the various wastewater and drinking water treatments in use across the country."
  • Freshwater Management in Canada III. Issues and Challenges (Library of Parliament, January 2005): "This third paper ... examines current issues and challenges pertaining to water. For Canadians, the most prominent water issues in the coming century will be: drinking water quality; water pollution; water use and conservation; bulk water exports; renewal of infrastructure and; privatization of water."
  • Freshwater Management in Canada IV. Groundwater (Library of Parliament, February 2006): "For most Canadians, 'freshwater' means expanses of surface water such as lakes and rivers. But groundwater is just as essential a link in the hydrological cycle as surface water. The two cannot in fact be dissociated. Groundwater is just as essential to life. For almost 9 million Canadians, it is the main source of drinking water, and according to UNESCO more than half the world’s population depends on this source of supply. This paper, the fourth of a series on freshwater management in Canada, focuses on groundwater. Despite being hidden away, groundwater is vulnerable to a number of threats, including climate change and pollution. Protecting it from these threats is vital. But the challenge is complicated by inadequate data about our groundwater. Canadians take access to groundwater resources for granted but this attitude is misguided, largely because of our imperfect knowledge in a number of areas."
  • West Coast Environmental Law - Issues - Water: "Over the past 25 years West Coast has led the way with campaigns to clean up contamination and pollution threatening our water. Our pulp pollution campaign led to regulations on AOX credited with eliminating dioxins and furans from pulp effluent. In the nineties we worked with groups across BC to protect urban streams from development with new streamside regulations. West Coast is focusing on two growing problems in BC: Clean drinking water and cruise ship industry pollution."
  • Canadian Environmental Law Association - Water Sustainability: "The United Nations Environment Program has identified the provision of water as the most important global challenge of the new millennium. As global economic pressures transform the way governments manage water resources, planning is essential to ensure drinking water source protection and equitable public access. Adequate water resources are crucial to population health, food security, biodiversity and ecosystem health. With one-fifth of the earth’s freshwater resources, Ontario must play a key role in planning for world water sustainability and protecting water resources from pollution. The following collections provide CELA’s detailed and summary materials on diverse issues of water quality, quantity, management and protection. "
2) International
  • International Water Law Project: "Created and directed by Gabriel Eckstein [Director, Center for Water Law and Policy, Texas Tech University], the mission of the International Water Law Project (IWLP) is to serve as the premier resource on the Internet for international water law and policy issues. Its purpose is to educate and provide relevant resources to the public and to facilitate cooperation over the world’s fresh water resources." The site includes treaty and convention documents, case law, bibliographies, and links to treaty websites, water law organizations, journals, and discussion lists.
  • WATERLEX: carries the full text of treaties and agreements, bi-lateral and multi-lateral, concluded by sovereign countries in regard to the development and management of rivers and lakes, and/or of groundwater resources, which form an international boundary line or which are bisected by such boundary line (1909 to-date).
  • Water Law and Standards: a joint project of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. "The legislative section of the database contains an analysis of the legal frameworks governing water resources in selected countries of the world. We have plans to progressively increase the number of countries covered, and to regularly update the analyses stored in the database. The information is broken down into answers to a detailed list of questions about national legal frameworks. FAO developed the list of questions to capture the main features of a country's legal framework on water that a researcher might want to know. The questions include, for example, whether there is a basic water law in the country; what kinds of water it covers; who owns water; who is authorized to use water and how; whether and how pollution is controlled; and the nature of the government's administrative structure for water resources management. The legislative part of the database can be used to examine one country's national legal framework for water, or to compare one or more countries with regard to all or part of their national legislation on water."
  • EISIL International Rivers, Lakes, Groundwater & Wetlands: "This section [of the Electronic Information System for International Law] includes materials providing for regulation of international watercourses, lakes, groundwater and wetlands."
  • UNESCO Water Portal: entry point to UNESCO-led programmes on freshwater. It also provides links to websites of other water-related organizations, government bodies and NGOs through the Water Links and Water Events databases. One of the links is to a series of water law organizations.
  • Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law (Peace Palace Library, The Hague): covers international and regional organizations; topics such as boundary waters or lakes, international waterways and canals, groundwater, wetlands, pollution, settlement of disputes, water as a human right etc.
  • Georgetown University Law Library Water Resources: broken down into general resources, organizations, water resources management, conflict management, geographical regions, and legal instruments.
  • Transboundary Freshwater Treaties and Other Resources: A research guide on the GlobaLex website at the Hauser Global Law School Program at the New York University School of Law. It provides information about major global and regional treaties, databases of international, regional and bilateral agreements, non-treaty instruments, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, international water commissions such as the Canada-US International Joint Commission as well as sources of caselaw. "Approximately 260 of the world's river basins, with a majority of the world's freshwater flow, cross or create international political boundaries. 145 countries, with close to half of the world's population, are located in international river basins. Although conflicts over water resources date back thousands of years, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the essential role water plays in sustaining human civilization, the nations have found a way to cooperate in sharing and managing water resources. In addition to global conventions and rules governing the use of water resources, hundreds of regional treaties and agreements exist between and among nations, covering a wide range of issues, from border security and navigation to hydro-electric power and water quality and water quantity. Many treaties contain mechanisms for conflict resolution and many establish international commissions for water resource management. In addition to surface water contained in lakes and rivers, the vast majority of the earth's freshwater consists of groundwater held in underground aquifers. Although a 'hidden resource', groundwater serves the basic needs of more than half the world's population and may be the only source of water in arid and semi-arid countries. A far smaller number of international agreements that address the use and sharing of groundwater resources are in place; international principles are still being developed."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

HeinOnline Law Review Articles Now in Google Scholar

I picked this up in WisBlawg (University of Wisconsin Law School): "Google Scholar now searches HeinOnline, which has one of the largest online collection of law review articles."

Here is an example of a search for "Cost of Canadian Legal Subscriptions".

Google Scholar searches across multiple databases that contain scholarly content. Access to the full-text depends on a particular institution's subscriptions but it is a useful finding tool.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:08 pm 1 comments links to this post

National Law Day 2008 – Thursday, April 17

On April 17, 2008, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) will mark Law Day. The date corresponds to the signing of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
"The CBA – through Law Day – offers the public an opportunity to learn about the law and the legal system. Law Day activities in most areas focus on high school students."

"Law Day – Law Week in many jurisdictions - is marked by projects and activities taking place across the country. Activities include lectures on the law, mock trials, courthouse tours, fun runs, open citizenship courts, and poster, photography and website design contests aimed at elementary and high school students."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, March 20, 2008

International Investment Agreements and Human Rights

The International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Canadian-based NGO, recently prepared a study for the UN entitled International Investment Agreements, Business and Human Rights: Key Issues and Opportunities.

Currently, over 2500 such agreements exist. They typically provide for national treatment of foreign investors (granting them the same rights to invest as domestic investors, liberalizing access to most business sectors), guarantees against expropriation without compensation, and special dispute settlement mechanisms.

These investor-state dispute rules let investors sue states for interfering with various business practices while frequently allowing for little external review or scrutiny:

"To date, the range of issues raised by foreign investors under this process has included taxation measures, environmental measures, changes in banking and radio and television laws, alterations of royalties in the resource sectors, and many others."

"(...) In addition, the dispute settlement process remains completely ad hoc, with no coordinating body, no appellate or political oversight mechanisms as exist in the WTO, limited transparency at best, and no legal processes available to correct incorrect decisions."

"Perhaps the most salient conclusion to be drawn here is that the existing IIAs have become extremely important legal documents, both for their impact in supporting the movement of capital and for the ability of foreign investors to directly enter the realm of international law and enforce their treaty rights. From less than 10 known investor-state arbitrations in the mid-1990s, we now have some 300 known cases. These cover all areas of investment and all types of government actions and measures. Thus, even while diffuse in origin and while lacking any international institutional structure, the existing international investment law regime is extremely important in today’s globalization context, and it continues to expand (...)"

"In the context of the state duty to protect and promote human rights, the most critical issue that arises are the duties to legislate in order to implement international human rights obligations into domestic law and to enforce such legislation. In investment law terms, this relates to what has been described in some texts as the right of host states to regulate. At the same time, however, IIAs limit the right of states to regulate, and these limits may extend to the state duty to protect and promote human rights."

"These limits arise from the application of the investor rights provisions common to almost all IIAs, and the ability of investors to unilaterally enforce these rights in investor-state arbitrations. This paper will give some examples of how these limits have been applied in practice, and raise the issue of the impact of these investor protections before measures are taken."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of March 1st to 15th, 2008 is available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loan to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New UNESCO Publication on Freedom of Information

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has made available a new book offering a comparative analysis of freedom of information laws around the world.

The book is called Freedom of information: a comparative legal survey and is authored by Toby Mendel, Law Programme Director with ARTICLE 19, Global Campaign for Free Expression, an international human rights NGO based in London. It is an update of the original version first published in 2003:

"There has been a veritable revolution in recent years in terms of the right to information, commonly understood as the right to access information held by public bodies. Whereas in 1990 only 13 countries had adopted national right to information laws, upwards of 70 such laws have now been adopted globally, and they are under active consideration in another 20-30 countries. In 1990, no inter-governmental organisation had recognised the right to information, now all of the multilateral development banks and a number of other international financial institutions have adopted information disclosure policies. In 1990, the right to information was seen predominantly as an administrative governance reform whereas today it is increasingly being seen as a fundamental human right."

"Even the terminology is starting to change. The term ‘freedom of information’ has historically been common usage and this is reflected in the title of this book, retained from the first edition. However, the term ‘right to information’ is now increasingly being used not only by activists, but also by officials. It is, for example, reflected the title of title of the 2005 India law granting access to information held by public bodies. This version of the book, while retaining the original title, consistently refers to the right to information rather than freedom of information."

"Since the first edition of this book was published in 2003, these changes, which were already well underway, have become more profound and widespread. The adoption of the first right to information law by a country in the Middle East, namely by Jordan in 2007, so that the trend now extends to every commonly referenced geographic region of the world, is emblematic of this. Very significant developments in terms of recognition of access to information as a fundamental human right have also occurred since the first edition was published. These include the first decision by an international court recognising the right to information as an aspect of the general right to freedom of expression, along with decisions by superior courts along the same lines, and more and more emphatic statements by authoritative international bodies and officials
about the status of this right."

"The chapters on International Standards and Trends, Features of a Right to Information Regime and Comparative Analysis have all been updated in the second edition to reflect these developments. The second edition also surveys the laws of 14 countries in all regions of the world, up from the 10 surveyed
in 2003 and covering more regions of the world. The country analyses are more detailed and based on a standardised template."

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

2008 Annual Google Intelligence Report on the Exploding Digital Universe

This is an update to yesterday's Library Boy post entitled New Report on the Exploding Digital Universe.

The Law Librarian Blog pointed yesterday to a Google White Paper called the 2008 Annual Google Communications Intelligence Report:


"At the end of 2007, Google conducted an annual online survey of messaging professionals. Providing insight into the major communications trends in the past year as well as the pressing issues and concerns for the coming one, this survey is the result of 575 global interviews with CEOs, CIOs, and CTOs in large, multinational enterprises as well as small organizations."

"This report summarizes the key findings of the survey, including detailed statistical analysis of the key trends in business communications in 2007 and how these trends translate into priorities for business communications
professionals in the year ahead (...)"

"Key findings:

  1. The number of electronic messages increased in 2007, with spam still a huge issue for most organization
  2. Executives look to IT personnel - not end-users - to ensure security and compliance
  3. IT professionals face serious challenges in reaching security and compliance goals
  4. Security and compliance challenges negatively impact IT productivity
  5. Communications security and compliance solutions based on the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model can address these productivity issues
  6. In the year ahead, Google expects the number of threats to stabilize but the complexity of these threats to increase dramatically"
Coverage of the report includes:
  • Google Report Highlights Spam As Top Security Issue (Information Week, March 7, 2008): "Having recently acquired messaging security company Postini, Google now finds itself in the threat-prediction business. And as is the case with just about every other computer security company, Google has research to show everyone how dangerous the online world has become (...) Google's security forecast calls for continued spam-blended virus attacks with an increasing focus on identity theft. The attacks will rely on social engineering, the report says, and will rely on messages that reference current events, like the upcoming Olympic Games and natural disasters. Further, virus attacks will target executives at specific companies whose intellectual property is deemed valuable on the black market by the hackers... These attacks will appear to come from legitimate business agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Better Business Bureau, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Google said it expects such incidents will prompt organizations to eliminate live links in customer e-mail communications. Google also anticipates an increase in the deployment of outbound message monitoring systems, in the adoption of encryption, and in the use of archiving technology."
  • Google says spam is huge corporate headache (CNET News.com, March 6, 2008): "Stopping spam and other malware is the top priority for the government, legal, manufacturing and, for the most part the tech industry, while healthcare, financial and retail companies are more concerned with complying with government regulations, according to online surveys of 575 CEOs, CIOs, and CTOs."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Animal Law Courses Spreading Across Canada

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly features an article entitled Animal law: from the classroom to the real world? that describes the emergence of animal law as a serious field of study and perhaps legal practice:

"If the law schools are any indication, animal law is a growth area. University of Toronto has just become the seventh law school to offer animal law on its curriculum, after McGill, Dalhousie, University of Alberta, University of Ottawa, University of Victoria and Université du Québec à Montréal(...)"

"Just as actually practising environmental law was seen as a pipe dream of law students in the ’60s and ’70s, but then became a reality for thousands of lawyers, animal law may become more than just law school courses and philosophical debates. As views change about the rights and realities of animal lives, so too may the laws and case law that cause lawyers to catch onto to societal trends. Just look at the students in [Lesli] Bisgould’s first animal law class at the University of Toronto. You just might mind find a future successful animal law lawyer."

Other Library Boy posts that mention animal law include:

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Monday, March 17, 2008

New Report on the Exploding Digital Universe

The research firm IDC (International Data Corporation) has just released The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe, An Updated Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2011.

As the title indicates, this is an update of IDC’s original forecast of the digital universe published in March 2007.

The 16-page white paper predicts that the amount of digital information produced worldwide in 2011 will be 10 times that produced in 2006. This makes for a compound annual growth rate of close to 60%.

The drivers will be mobility, interactivity, growing social networks, rapidly accelerating Net access in developing countries, real-time information from technologies such as surveillance cameras and RFID-equipped objects, user-created content, and new regulatory compliance demands.

Some of the more interesting thoughts in the white paper:
  • "... only about half of the digital footprint would be related to individual actions — taking pictures, making VoIP phone calls, uploading videos to YouTube, downloading digital content, and so on. We called the remainder 'ambient' content. It is digital images of you on a surveillance camera and records in banking, brokerage, retail, airline, telephone, and medical databases. It is information about Web searches and general backup data." Organizations and enterprises will need to spend more and more to ensure information is secure against breaches, yet few are ready to integrate these new data types into their information management procedures.
  • the rate of growth in the amount of information that "might be subject to significant requirements for security; be subject to legal and compliance requirements such as ediscovery, ... or Sarbanes-Oxley; or be valuable enough to expect to store for 10 years or more" is assumed by the authors to be "much faster than the 10-times-in-five-years growth of the overall digital universe."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court Reports Digitization Continues - Thousands of New Judgments To Be Made Available

Right now, coverage of Supreme Court of Canada decisions on free public sites like CanLII and LexUM is spotty for anything before the mid-1980s.

I have just received word from the director of the Supreme Court of Canada Library that:

"The SCC/LexUM database will be updated with all the older decisions that were already available on CanLII ... (as part of ScanLII - most cited cases 1930-1985 - and Ontario Court of Appeal decisions appealed to the SCC from 1875-1985) as well as the balance of decisions published in the SCRs [Supreme Court Reports] from 1970-1985. This amounts to approximately 4,606 documents (decisions prior to 1970 are only in one language, while 1970 on are available in both official languages)."

"We should see the ScanLII and OntCA decisions by March 31, followed by the balance in the late spring."

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

NAFTA Database

The IWS Documented News Service, a news blog run by Stuart Basefsky at the Institute for Workplace Studies at Cornell University, points to a NAFTA Regional Database that is maintained by the United States Government's International Trade Administration.

One can click on the arrow to the left of Canada, Mexico or NAFTA to find customs and tariff information, import rules, labour and investment laws and regulations, as well as documents on temporary entrance, rules of origin, etc.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, March 14, 2008

Comparison of Quicklaw and WestlaweCarswell

At a recent meeting of the Vancouver Association of Law Libraries in late February, Catherine Best, of Boughton Law Corporation, gave a talk on the topic of "New Quicklaw and WestlaweCarswell: Comparing the Two Platforms".

Her PowerPoint presentation was recently made available.

It compares the features, contents and interfaces of the major portals for Canadian legal information: New Quicklaw, WestlaweCarswell and CanLII

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

UN World Drug Report 2008

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently released its 2008 annual report covering its activities for the year 2007.

"Opium trafficking is fuelling instability in one of the world’s most dangerous regions. Afghanistan and its neighbours are trying to cope with the consequences and UNODC is there to help by providing and analysing data on opium poppy crops, facilitating regional cooperation and assisting affected countries to strengthen border management and drug control."

"Cocaine trafficking is threatening the security and sovereignty of vulnerable West African countries that are being used as a hub for drug consignments travelling between Andean producers and European consumers (...)"

"The menace of drug trafficking has caught Central America and the Caribbean in a cross-fire that is jeopardizing security and development. UNODC has studied the factors that make this region vulnerable in order to stimulate a suitable response."

"Drug addiction is killing millions of people every year and creating misery for tens of millions of others. The injection of drugs is spreading HIV and hepatitis. UNODC is urging States to put a stronger emphasis on drug prevention and treatment, and is providing technical assistance to reduce the harm that drugs pose to users and society as a whole (...) "

"Corruption is a cancer that continues to kill people’s trust in public administration and erode the common wealth built by society. UNODC is helping States prevent corruption, build integrity and recover stolen assets."

The Office produces many other publications in areas such as alternate development, corruption, human trafficking by organized crime, demand reduction strategies, drug testing, etc.

It also offers an online Legislation/Legal Library with the full text of laws and regulations promulgated by many States.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:51 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of February 16th to 29th, 2008 is available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loan to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Legal Antiquarian: New Blog on History of Daily Lives of Lawyers

Mike Hoeflich, a professor at the University of Kansas School, has just created a blog called The Legal Antiquarian.

As he mentions in his intro post last week, the blog deals with "the various aspects of legal history having to do with the daily life of lawyers and judges, as well as to the sources, manuscript, printed, and otherwise preserved which can be used to help understand how law and the legal profession functioned in the past. Among the subjects I will cover will be the daily lives of lawyers, their practices, their offices, the books they owned and read, etc. I will also post quotes on this Blog from little-known sources about the law, such as postcards, trade cards, and other ephemera."

Related Library Boy posts include:
  • Honoré Daumier Lithograph Collections and Corrupt Lawyers (August 14, 2005): "The Librarians' Index to the Internet features 2 items this week about 19th century French artist Honoré Daumier, who gained notoriety for his often acerbic caricatures of the monarchy, politicians, and the French middle class. He is especially well-known for his Les gens de justice collection attacking the corrupt practices of lawyers of his time."
  • Why Do Lawyers and Judges Wear Funny Robes and Wigs? (February 25, 2006): "If you have ever wondered about the origins of court attire in the common law jurisdictions, especially the United Kingdom, there is an interesting book out that is also available in PDF format: 'Legal Habits: A Brief Sartorial History of Wig, Robe and Gown'. Published by Ede and Ravenscroft, suppliers of wigs and robes to the British legal profession for a few hundred years, this small volume by Thomas Woodcock covers the history of judges’ robes, barrister’s gowns and wigs."
  • UK Judges Throw Off Their Wigs (January 6, 2007): "The question of whether judges and lawyers in the UK should keep their famous wigs has been a hot topic of debate across the pond in the past year.Yesterday, The Guardian reported in an article entiled 'Civil court judges prepare to cast aside their wigs after 300 years' that a consensus seems to have emerged that civil court judges will abandon their head coverings."
  • Harvard Law School Legal Portraits Online Collection (August 31, 2007): "The Harvard Law School Library owns 4,000 portraits of jurists and legal thinkers from the Middle Ages to today: (...) 'Although the most frequent request is for reproductions of the likenesses of individuals important in the history of the law, the collection has also been consulted for iconographic images (e.g., scales of justice, blindfolded justice) and for scenes depicting judicial activity (e.g., courtrooms, assizes). Researchers in fields other than legal history may also benefit; many of the images will interest students of social history, costume, art history, and heraldry'. "
  • Harvard Law Library Collection of Early British Broadsides from Public Executions (January 10, 2008): "The Harvard Law School Library has an online collection of so-called crime broadsides, publications sold to the crowds who came to witness public executions in 18th and 19th century England..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

February 2008 Issue of the Global Legal Monitor

The February 2008 issue of the Global Legal Monitor is available on the site of the Law Library of Congress.

It is a publication that provides regular updates on legal developments from around the world.

The current issue covers topics ranging from discrimination in adoption cases to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Liberia that is investigating war crimes in that country in the 1990s.

The complete archive of the Global Legal Monitor is also available.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Top Ten Blawgs According to Canadian Laywer Magazine

In the recent issue of the magazine Canadian Lawyer, Gerry Blackwell identifies the Luminaries of the Canadian blawgosphere.
"Here I tackle the question: which Canadian blawgs should I be reading? (...)"

"I’ve picked my top 10. They range widely in style and content, though technology and internet law inevitably dominate. Tech-savvy practitioners are more likely to blog."

"How did I choose? What makes a good blog? The blogger has to be consistent, posting at least weekly ... The writing has to be lively and the site well designed — admittedly subjective measures. Posts should not be dissertations — a common failing among some Canadian blawgers — and the blog should be focused. If it’s about family law, don’t tell us about your vacation."
I was extremely surprised to find myself in the list. Quite flattering.

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2007 Annual Report of the European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights based in Strasbourg has just published the provisional version of its 2007 annual report.

The report contains sections on the history and development of the institution, its composition and activities, and a survey of the main judgments and decisions in the last year. It also contains a statistical section.

In 2007, the number of applications was in excess of 41,000. The total number of cases pending rose was 103,000. Most applications are rejected. Just over 1,500 judgments on the merits were delivered.

The Court is an institution under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (AKA European Convention of Human Rights) that was drawn up by the Council of Europe. The Court website has excellent information about its history, structure and procedures.

The Council of Europe is the continent's oldest political organization, founded in 1949. It groups together 47 countries, including many countries from Central and Eastern Europe, and it has granted observer status to five other countries (the Holy See, United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico). The Council of Europe is distinct from the European Union, but no country has ever joined the Union without first belonging to the Council of Europe.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:51 pm 0 comments links to this post

Cornell's Legal Information Institute Launches Blog

Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute (LII) has launched LII Announce, a blog that will include "[A]nnouncements, featured content, and the occasional bizarre legal information factoid."

LII is part of the international movement for free access to law that includes Canadian partners such as CanLII and LexUM at the Université de Montréal.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 10, 2008

UN Human Rights Special Procedures Brochure

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has posted United Nations Special Procedures Facts and Figures 2007.

"Special procedures" is the name given to the mechanisms, such as Independent Experts or Special Rapporteurs established by the United Nations to monitor, examine, advise and publicly report on a thematic issue (thematic mandates) or on a human rights situation in a specific country (country mandates).

I found the following fact to be very important (and somewhat reassuring), given the controversies surrounding alleged attempts by many undemocratic countries to dominate and thwart the work of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights:
"Special procedures’ mandate holders are independent; selected among prominent experts from different backgrounds and appointed to serve in their personal capacity for a maximum of 6 years. They are unpaid and not staff members of the United Nations and are supported by OHCHR in their activities."
The brochure provides an overview of activities, such as country visits, thematic events, joints activities, reports, communications and press statements. The document also provides some examples of the impact of special procedures' work on the ground.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Critical Perspectives on Web 2.0

First Monday, a peer-reviewed online journal about the Internet that is hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago, has just published its most recent issue devoted to a critical analysis of the web 2.0 phenomenon (or hype?).

In his preface to the issue, Michael Zimmer, the Microsoft Resident Fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, writes:
"It [the rhetoric surrounding web 2.0]suggests that everyone can and should use new Internet technologies to organize and share information, to interact within communities, and to express oneself. It promises to empower creativity, to democratize media production, and to celebrate the individual while also relishing the power of collaboration and social networks."

"But Web 2.0 also embodies a set of unintended consequences, including the increased flow of personal information across networks, the diffusion of one’s identity across fractured spaces, the emergence of powerful tools for peer surveillance, the exploitation of free labor for commercial gain, and the fear of increased corporatization of online social and collaborative spaces and outputs."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, March 08, 2008

UNESCO Cultural Heritage Laws Database

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, recently launched the Cultural Heritage Laws Database:
"Looting, theft and illegal export and import of cultural property are worldwide problems. In 2003, UNESCO devised an international solution to combat this illicit traffic: the Cultural Heritage Laws Database."

"By compiling on the Internet the national laws of its Member States, UNESCO offers all stakeholders involved (Governments, customs officials, art dealers, organizations, lawyers, buyers and so forth) a complete and easily accessible source of information. In the event of a legal question about the origin of an object (which may have been stolen, pillaged, or illegally exported, imported or acquired), it is very useful to have rapid access to the relevant national laws."

"The database owes its originality and effectiveness to two features: not only is it the main gateway to national legislation, but it also brings together the laws applicable to the cultural heritage as a whole (whether movable, immovable, intangible, underwater or natural)."

"Both States and art markets stand to gain from this: while free access to national laws allows good faith buyers to easily verify the legal antecedents of cultural property, it will make it harder for traffickers to claim to be ignorant of the law and thus of the illegal nature of what they are doing."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:50 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, March 06, 2008

'Corporate Culture' as a Basis for the Criminal Liability of Corporations

The Australian law firm of Allens Arthur Robinson has recently prepared a study for the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights and Business that examines the way different jurisdictions have contemplated the basis for corporate criminal liability.

The study is entitled " 'Corporate Culture' as a Basis for the Criminal Liability of Corporations ":

"The traditional approach to corporate criminal liability has focused on the relation between the corporation and its employees and agents, and developed a legal fiction that the state of mind of employees and agents can be said to be the state of mind of the corporate entity. There are two main variations to this approach. Under the 'identification' model that is used in, for example, the UK and Canada, the corporation is held directly liable for wrongful conduct engaged in by senior officers and employees on the basis that the state of mind of the senior employee was the state of mind of the corporation. Under the vicarious liability model that is used in the US, the corporation is indirectly liable on the basis that the state of mind of the individual is, in certain circumstances, imputed to the corporation."

"There are several difficulties to the traditional approach from a prosecutorial perspective. It provides for 'derivative' liability in the sense that corporations can only be culpable if the
liability of an individual is established. From a practical perspective, it can be very difficult to identify the employee who committed the wrongful act or had the culpable state of mind.
From a conceptual perspective, this approach does not reflect the complex interactions between human actors and the corporate matrix."

"Recently, some jurisdictions have contemplated a new basis for criminal liability – 'organisational liability' – that has the potential to address this interaction more squarely. Australia, in particular, has introduced provisions holding corporations directly liable for criminal offences in circumstances where features of the organisation of a corporation, including its 'corporate culture', directed, encouraged, tolerated or led to the commission of the offence."

Among the jurisdictions compared are: Australia, UK, Canada, United States, Switzerland, Finland, Japan, Austria, Belgium, South Africa, and many more.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:38 pm 1 comments links to this post

New Current Awareness Services for Patent and Trademark Literature

The Tarlton Law Library (University of Texas) has launched two new current awareness services, Current Patent Literature and Current Trademark Literature.

They will provide basic bibliographic data for recent articles appearing in U.S. law journals and non-U.S. legal journals published in English.

Both services are RSS-enabled.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Update on Racism Allegations at Justice Canada

This is an update to the 2 following Library Boy posts: Justice Canada Accused of Being 'Rife With Racism' (February 6, 2008) and Justice Canada Responds to Racism Allegations (February 11, 2008).

The controversy concerns allegations that visible minority lawyers have been subjected to systemic discrimination.

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly has looked into the issue in an article entitled Allegations of racism at the DOJ cause a stir. The article quotes Justice Canada visible minority lawyers about their allegedly negative experiences in the department.

It also mentions statistics:
"DOJ employment equity data for 2006-2007 obtained by The Lawyers Weekly disclose that 88 per cent of visible minority lawyers are concentrated in the department’s two lowest salary categories, as compared to 71 per cent of white lawyers in the lower ranks. Visible minority lawyers are totally absent from top management. The data also show that the DOJ’s visible minority employees have a higher turn-over rate than their white colleagues ... "

"An anonymous government survey at the DOJ in 2005 revealed that 41 per cent of visible minority respondents felt they were not fairly classified in their employment category when compared to others doing similar work, versus 34 per cent of white employees who felt they were unfairly classified..."
The department is looking into beefing up its minority promotion programs:
"Ines Kwan, a human rights lawyer of Chinese heritage who chairs the DOJ’s Advisory Committee on Visible Minorities, said DOJ is 'definitely not perfect' but 'it is a microcosm of Canadian society and there is discrimination in Canadian society so in that respect I don’t think it unusual. There are problems, but I don’t think everyone’s experience has been like Mark Persaud’s [one of the minority lawyers behind many of the complaints]. I think that the experience is varied.'

"She said she believes that 'senior management has taken this issue very, very seriously and that myself personally, and the committee, we are confident that things will be done to improve the situation'."

(...)

"The advisory committee has told the deputy minister more visible minority lawyers should be promoted. It is presently awaiting approval from senior management for a new national mentoring program, Kwan said. 'It looks good'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:59 pm 0 comments links to this post

This Day In The History of the Supreme Court of Canada: Bertha Wilson Becomes First Woman SCC Justice

Well, it was really yesterday March 4.

On March 4, 1982, Bertha Wilson was the first woman justice named to the Supreme Court. Her nomination occurred just 17 days before the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted.

More background is available in the April 30, 2007 Library Boy post entitled First Woman Supreme Court Justice Bertha Wilson Dies.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada Statistics 1997-2007

The Supreme Court of Canada has published a special edition of its Bulletin of Proceedings that contains a statistical overview of its work for the period 1997-2007.

Tables include:
  • number of complete applications for leave to appeal and notices of appeal as of right filed by litigants with the Court’s Registry each year;
  • number of leave applications granted and the percentage granted of the total submitted;
  • number of appeals heard each year and the number of hearing days over the year;
  • information with respect to the number of judgments rendered each year;
  • time lines in the life of a case: time between the filing of a complete application for leave to appeal and the Court’s decision on whether leave should be granted; time lapse between the hearing of the appeal and the delivery of reasons.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, March 03, 2008

Supreme Court of Canada Rules on Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously in R. v. Ferguson that Parliament has the right to create mandatory minimum criminal sentences and have those measures enforced by reluctant judges.

The Court decided that judges may not grant one-time, individual exemptions from those mandatory minimums.

By coincidence, the ruling came the same week as the federal government's omnibus Tackling Violent Crime Act was passed by the Senate. That law introduces a number of new mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes.

The Library of Parliament prepared a legislative summary of the Tackling Violent Crime Act that includes a discussion of the pros and cons of mandatory minimum sentences for serious gun crimes.

Earlier Library Boy posts about mandatory minimum sentences include:
  • Library of Parliament Mini-Review of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (March 22, 2006): "The document states that studies show that a direct cause and effect relationship between mandatory minimums and a decline in crime rates can not be drawn; as well, given the many factors that can explain crime trends, studies on the effects of such sentences are considered difficult to interpret... And since the accused has no incentive to plead guilty, some fear that mandatory minimums can lead to costly trials."
  • Tougher Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Gun Crimes (May 4, 2006): "Today, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Vic Toews introduced bills to increase mandatory minimum penalties for gun crimes and to restrict conditional sentences for violent offenders."
  • Federal Justice Reforms Criticized, Stalled (January 11, 2007): "Thanks to an Access to Information request, the Toronto Star got its hands on an internal analysis conducted last year by Correctional Services Canada of the impact of the federal Conservatives' law and order agenda. In particular, the federal correctional agency appears to be concerned that the get tough on crime policies could lead to a major increase in the prison population, disproportionately affect aboriginal people, and have little deterrent effect."
  • Updated Library of Parliament Report on Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Gun Crimes (March 10, 2007): "The document includes sections on: History of Minimum Sentences for Firearm Offences; Constitutionality of Mandatory Minimum Sentences; Effect of Mandatory Minimum Sentences on Gun Crime :1. Canada 2. United States 3. Effect of Imprisonment Generally 4. Incidental Effects of Mandatory Minimum Sentences; Description and Analysis"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, March 01, 2008

World E-Parliament Report 2008

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Inter-Parliamentary Union published the World e‑Parliament Report 2008 earlier this week.

The report, based on information provided by 105 parliamentary assemblies from around the world, "represents a first effort to establish a baseline of how parliaments are using, or planning to use ICT to help them fulfill their responsibilities and to connect to their constituencies. The Report also provides an opportunity for sharing lessons learned and good practices from different regions of the world."

The report includes sections on Documenting the Legislative Process (access to bills, amendments, committee reports and texts of debates and hearings) and Parliamentary Websites.
"The results of the survey confirm that the income level of each country plays a significant role in determining the extent to which ICT are adopted in parliaments. However, technological legacies in older legislative bodies, organizational flexibilities in younger parliaments, and the rapid evolution of technologies are all factors that can help level the playing field among legislatures. Attaining a high level of performance in the application of ICT is not only dependent on resources; it also requires strong political leadership, active engagement of members, a skilled secretariat, well-trained technical staff, and a sustained commitment to the strategic implementation of information and communication technologies in the legislative setting."

"Approximately 10 per cent of the chambers and parliaments that replied to the survey have acquired extensive ICT capabilities across a wide range of key application areas. These include developing systems for managing essential documents, utilizing open document standards, creating rich websites that present information through a variety of formats and channels, and providing access to a wide range of online information linked to pending legislation. At the other end of the spectrum, many parliaments lack a strategic plan, an adequate ICT infrastructure, basic tools for members and staff, systems for managing documents and trained ICT staff. The status of the ICT systems and services of those parliaments that fall between these two groups is uneven. Many of them have implemented ICT applications that serve some of their most important functions. But many of these applications appear to be operating at the lowest level of utility and have not been enhanced to take greater advantage of ICT to improve efficiency and effectiveness, or to offer additional services (...)"

"The Report concludes that there is a significant gap between what is possible with ICT and what has actually been accomplished by parliaments thus far. On the other hand, survey responses clearly demonstrate that most parliaments have plans to improve their use of technology to support their goals and their work. The high level of participation in the World e-Parliament Conference 2007 and the enthusiastic response to the survey indicate that parliaments are acutely aware of the strategic
importance of ICT."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:10 pm 0 comments links to this post