Yale Law Library - Foreign and International Blog
May 2008 - Posts
UNdata - a New Portal for UN Statistical Data
The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the statistical arm of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), has launched a new web-based data service UNdata. Instead of clicking through data sets scattered in the websites of different UN agencies, users can now search and download a variety of statistical resources of the UN system through a single entry point.
The new portal provides useful features such as Country Profiles, Advanced Search and Glossaries to aid research. Currently, there are 14 databases and 6 glossaries containing over 55 million data points and covering a whole range of statistics relating to Population, Industry, Energy and the Environment, Trade and National Accounts. The UNdata wiki provides links to the sources' homepages and includes information about the methodology by which data sets are collected.
Finders keepers? Spain claims sunken treasure
NPR reported this morning on Spain's battle to reclaim the treasure from a sunken Spanish vessel recovered in international waters in the Atlantic Ocean by Odyssey Marine Exploration of Tampa, FL. The 19th century shipwreck contained some 17 tons in silver coins, cuff links and other personal items, and
other artifacts; it may be the most valuable treasure ever discovered. Exact details of the discovery have yet to be revealed.
A Federal District Court in Tampa is reviewing Spain's claim to the treasure that Odyssey recovered. Spain insists that Odyssey's claim to the warship Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes is immoral and illegal. Spain compares the Nuestra Señora site to the grave sites of Gettysburg and the U.S.S. Arizona, as the sinking of Nuestra Señora precipitated Spain's entry into the Napoleonic wars. Odyssey maintains, however, that they found no vessel and no human remains, just the cargo, and there is nothing to prove that it is the cargo of La Senora. In PACER, the federal court's password-protected electronic filing database (which is available free to the public in several federal depository libraries), you can review court filings for this case (8:07-cv-00614-SDM-MAP) as well as several others in which the Kingdom of Spain has filed a claim (ask a reference librarian for assistance if needed).
So just what is the law pertaining to sunken treasures? Finders keepers? Return to rightful owner?
The Yale Law Library has several books pertaining to the law of sunken treasure and cultural patrimony. See, for example, Legal Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage: National and International Perspectives. This book compares the laws, traditions, and perspectives of various countries, including the United States and Spain. Note the Subject Headings at the bottom of the record: Cultural property -- Protection -- Law and legislation; Shipwrecks; Salvage; Treasure-trove; Underwater archaeology -- Law and legislation. Click on any of them to find more works pertaining to that topic.
In comparison, see, The Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage: National Perspectives in Light of the UNESCO Convention 2001, for an international law focus and analysis. Under the Subject Heading, underwater archaeology - law and legislation, you will find books in several languages other than English, including French German, Spanish, Russian and Italian. Admiralty law also comes into play, specifically the Supplementary Admiralty Rules. See also, Admiralty and Maritime Law, available in print and electronically.
There are several international law databases you might try as well to find case law and law review articles. See our Foreign and International Resources page for the plethora of electronic resources at your fingertips, or ask a reference librarian for assistance.
Cyclone Nargis has thrust Myanmar into the public spotlight, as pressure increases to allow foreign aid to help cyclone victims.
In February, Myanmar had announced its intention to hold a democratic referendum on a draft constitution this month, and to hold democratic elections in 2010. Immediately prior to the cyclone, on May 2, 2008, the U.N. had taken official notice of Myanmar's intent and encouraged an open process. However, today the U.N. is urging Myanmar to delay this process.
Myanmar is being monitored by the United Nations for human rights violations. On March 18, 2008, the UN
Security Council held a meeting during which Ibrahim
Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Myanmar, reported on his March 6 - 10, 2008 visit
Myanmar. Mr. Kyaw Tint Swe, the government representative from Myanmar,
was present and also spoke at the meeting. The meeting was transcribed
in S.PV/5854, the provisional record of the public briefing.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has spoken many times to the human rights situation in Myanmar. Most recently, on March 28, 2008, the Council adopted resolution A/HRC/7/L.36 wherein the Council strongly deplored the "ongoing systematic
violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of
Myanmar" and extended the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and
protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial
discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. In a separate but related resolution A/HRC/7/L.37, the HRC, in accordance
with Commission on Human Rights
resolutions 1992/58 and 2005/10 of 14
April 2005, extended for one year the the Special Rapporteur's mandate, and urged, inter alia, the Government of Myanmar to "cooperate
fully with the Special Rapporteur and to respond favourably to his
requests to visit the country and to provide him with all information
and access to relevant bodies and institutions necessary to enable him
to fulfill his mandate effectively."
Watch the U.N. Human Rights Council, 7th Session UN Webcast on the two resolutions: the "Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar" (A/HRC/7/L.36), and "Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar" (A/HRC/7/L.37). both from March 28, 2008 at the Palais de Nations in Geneva. See also, an archived video of "The Situation of Human Rights in Myanmar" from October 2, 2007 at the Palais de Nations in Geneva.
Find Security Council and other UN documents related to Myanmar on the website of the Security Council Report - Myanmar. SCR is an NGO headquartered in New York City.
The Yale Law Library collects human rights and interdisciplinary materials
pertaining to Myanmar; they are cataloged and located with other human
rights publications or social science materials on the Upper East Side rather than in the
Myanmar/Burmese legal collection (KNL) on the Lower East Side. If you
conduct a Morris Subject Heading search: Human Rights - Burma,
you'll return 26 hits. You can then sort Newest First and you'll find
several books written in the last few years, including a 2008
publication entitled Promoting Human Rights in Burma: A Critique of Western Sanctions Policy.
The Yale Law Library has a 2005 volume of Myanmar Laws, our most current compilation of laws from Myanmar. This is an English translation of the yearbook of Myanmar laws originally published in Burmese. You will find older materials if you do a Subject Heading search on Morris: Laws - Burma. Note that the laws of Myanmar are still cataloged by Library of Congress using Burma rather than Myanmar. Why is that? During a 2006 interview, Barbara Tillett, chief of the Library of Congress Cataloging Policy and Support Office, explained: "The Library of Congress is the national library for the United
States and to some extent we reflect US policy (for example using Burma
not Myanmar)." Read the BBC's take on this issue. You will see that our collection of law from Myanmar is quite small; there is not a lot being published nor do we heavily collect from this country. See our Country-by-Country guide to foreign legal research: Myanmar, for more print and electronic resources.
For assistance researching Myanmar law, please contact the reference team.
Brandeis Institute for International Judges
The Brandeis Institute for International Judges (BIIJ) "provides international judges with the opportunity to meet and
discuss critical issues concerning the theory and practice of
international justice. Institutes are held approximately every 18
months, bringing together judges serving on international courts and
tribunals around the world to reflect on both the philosophical aspects
and practical challenges of their work. The most recent Institute was
held from July 23-28, 2007, in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA. The
next Institute is scheduled for January 4-9, 2009, in Trinidad."
The BIIJ website has reports for each of the previous institutes along with a group photo of each year's participants. The BIIJ is just one of the Brandeis Programs in International Justice and Society, which is part of the The International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University.