The Use of British Military Bases for a Pre-Emptive Strike by the US on Iran

It has been reported recently that discussions have taken place between the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) concerning the use of British military bases in Cyprus, the Ascension Island and Diego Garcia in the event of possible military action against Iran. In the past, these particular military bases were used by the US to conduct long-range missions during the invasion of Iraq. However, a spokesperson for Downing Street has refused to comment on reports that the British Government has declined a request by the US for its armed forces to use these strategic military bases. Continue reading “The Use of British Military Bases for a Pre-Emptive Strike by the US on Iran”

The Use of British Military Bases for a Pre-Emptive Strike by the US on Iran

Access to Books for Persons with Disabilities

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Abigail Rekas.  Abigail is a EU Marie Curie Fellow at the Centre for Disability, Law and Policy, NUI Galway.  Abby’s DREAM topic is focused on using digital technology to increase access to print and other copyrighted material for people with print disabilities.

The past few years has seen a major surge in interest in access to books for persons with disabilities. This seems like a pretty simple proposition – everyone should be able to go to the bookstore and pick up a book they’d like to read. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, for a number of reasons. Accessible publishing historically has been an expensive proposition, performed by non-profit charitable organizations. These organizations are frequently working under an exception to copyright law, because they cannot afford to license the right to reproduce the book for such a limited run and do the translation into Braille or record the audio book.

The rise of digital technology has been a Continue reading “Access to Books for Persons with Disabilities”

Access to Books for Persons with Disabilities

A footnote on the Julian Assange Case

Julian Assange (pictured left), founder of Wikileaks, friend of open government, enemy of secrecy, and suspected rapist, has hardly been out of the newspapers this week. News that, following the defeat of his legal efforts to resist extradition to Sweden on the basis of a European Arrest Warrant, Assange had sequestered himself in Ecuador’s UK embassy and sought asylum (and was this week granted) provided a climactic twist to this legal battle. Climactic, but hardly unexpected for this notorious showman, or indeed, from Ecuador, a country whose government continues to bristle with resentment at the US Ambassador’s characterisation of them in the diplomatic cables exposed by Wikileaks. Continue reading “A footnote on the Julian Assange Case”

A footnote on the Julian Assange Case

Floundering attempts at peace in Syria

The Security Council’s mandate in Syria has come to an end and while a UN liaison office will remain in the country, all the peace observers have vacated their mission. Coupled with Kofi Annan’s decision to end his role as envoy of the UN and Arab League, this pull out  suggests that the international institutional and legal machinery has failed to either bring the violence to an end or to restrain both sides of the conflict from descending into ever-more vicious attacks, leaving the Syrian population to their own ends. The various blog posts on Syria chronicle the most violent iteration of the Arab Spring and presents a litany of failures both by the parties within Syria but also the various institutions and states who have been aiming to end the conflict or, at the very least, ameliorate the suffering of the Syrians.

Several rationales can be given for why international action in Syria failed while in Libya, it comparatively succeeded, and these explanations are not simply based upon Russian and Chinese intransigence at the Security Council. First, there was the relatively slow reaction of those outside Syria to the growing protests. Continue reading “Floundering attempts at peace in Syria”

Floundering attempts at peace in Syria

Historic Hearing in US Senate on UN Disability Treaty

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Professor Gerard Quinn Director of the Centre for Disability Law & Policy at NUI Galway.

A historic hearing took place yesterday (Thursday, July 11th) in the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.  The issue before the Committee was US ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  In the US system the Senate must gives its ‘advice and consent’ before the Federal Government can ratify a treaty.  A two thirds majority vote is needed from the full Senate before the Administration can proceed to ratification.  This is an exceedingly high bar but, especially after yesterday, it looks likely to be met.  It is now almost a foregone conclusion that the Committee – chaired by Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) – will commend a positive vote to the full Senate.

This really matters not just for the US but also for the rest of the world.  And it would certainly up the ante for Irish ratification.  The traditional bi-partisan approach of the US Congress was splendidly exemplified in opening remarks made to the Committee by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).  The symbolism of their joint appearance spoke volumes about the natural reflex of both parties in favour of the civil rights of persons with disabilities.  Indeed, both of them relayed the support of former President H W Bush as well as former Senator Bob Dole.  This immediately took the issue out of the cauldron of partisan politics and placed it where it should be – as matter of high principle. Continue reading “Historic Hearing in US Senate on UN Disability Treaty”

Historic Hearing in US Senate on UN Disability Treaty

World Bank Presidents and the US' grip

Jim Yong Kim will be the next President of the World Bank. Two aspects of his appointment are interesting, first his expertise is in health and second the fact he was not born in the United States. While neither of these facts on their own are striking in the context of the World Bank they are remarkable. As with the appointment of Christine Legarde to the IMF, perhaps this appointment is not as revolutionary as it could have been, but nonetheless an important break with the post-World War II settlement in global governance has been made by both appointments.

Much as all heads of the IMF have been European, all previous Presidents of the World Bank have been US born, this was part of the settlement agreed, though not legally binding, at the Bretton Woods conference which created both organisations. Jim Yong Kim moved to the US at the age of five and is an US citizen however this should not take away from the important change that the appointment of a non-white waspish American leading this global organisation represents. Continue reading “World Bank Presidents and the US' grip”

World Bank Presidents and the US' grip

European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Aisling de Paor, a Ph.D candidate in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, and Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) scholar. Aisling is a graduate of NUI Galway (BCL) and University College Cork (LL.M).  Aisling qualified as a solicitor and specialized primarily in employment law.

On 6th March 2012, Marian Harkin MEP and Phil Prendergast MEP hosted a seminar on the topic of Genetic Discrimination. The event was organised by the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway, in conjunction with the European Disability Forum, and took place in the European Parliament, Brussels. This international seminar, which was chaired by Andre Gubbels (Belgian Ministry), was the first of its kind in the European Parliament and brought together a diverse range of leading experts in the area, with the objective of exploring the case for a European level response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination. The seminar highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of this area and focused on the interaction between genetic science, technology, ethics and the law, and in particular, how best to address this complex area. The event also looked at the challenges and practical problems that arise when attempting to Continue reading “European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination”

European Parliament Recently Hosted International Seminar on Genetic Discrimination

Report on the Proceedings from the Conference on Genetic Discrimination: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Aisling de Paor, a Ph.D candidate in the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway, and Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) scholar. Aisling is a graduate of NUI Galway (BCL) and University College Cork (LL.M).  Aisling qualified as a solicitor and specialized primarily in employment law.

On Saturday 19th November 2011, the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (in conjunction with the Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, USA) hosted a conference entitled ‘Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response’ at National University of Ireland Galway.  This international conference, which was chaired by Justice John Mac Menamin of the High Court, was the first of its kind in Europe and brought together a diverse range of leading experts in the area, with the objective of exploring the case for a European level response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination. The conference highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of this area and focused on the interaction between genetic science, technology, ethics and the law, and in particular, how best to regulate this complex area. Continue reading “Report on the Proceedings from the Conference on Genetic Discrimination: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response”

Report on the Proceedings from the Conference on Genetic Discrimination: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response

Conference Announcement Genetic Discrimination

The Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI, Galway will host a one day conference (in conjunction with the Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University) entitled ‘Genetic Discrimination – Transatlantic Perspectives on the Case for a European Level Legal Response’.  The conference is taking place here in NUI, Galway on Saturday, 19th November, 2011.  The purpose of this conference is to examine the case for a European level legal and policy response to protect the privacy of genetic information and to prevent genetic discrimination, particularly in the employment and insurance contexts.  This conference recounts recent scientific advances that make genetic testing more and more accurate and more sophisticated (and which offers the prospect of being able to detect the onset of future disabilities).  It looks at the ethical debate on how to balance competing rights and interests (the right to privacy of the individual and the ‘need to know’ of business and other interests).  It examines the balance struck in the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (2008) in the US.   Keeping in mind the technological advances (and its future orientation) the ethical context and the balance struck in the US legislation it will examine the options for a European legal response possibly in the shape of a new non-discrimination (genetic information) Directive (or an amendment to existing Directives) and whether a sufficient case exists of such a response.  The conference is aimed at legal practitioners, medical practitioners, academics and researchers, NGOs and those involved in disability issues, bioethics and practice. It is also aimed at those interested in medical testing generally as well as genetic testing specifically and the implications of these practices (particularly in the employment and insurance contexts).

See here to register and for more information.

Conference Announcement Genetic Discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 21st birthday

Today the Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its 21st birthday. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 was a pioneering law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and enshrined in law the concept of equality for persons with disabilities and it has been hugely influential in shaping anti-discrimination law across the world. The ADA represented a significant landmark in the disability rights movement, it was the culmination of a civil society movement across the United States that fought hard to remove barriers that prevented persons with disabilities participating within their communities and society.  The ADA has a wide-ranging scope extending to state and local governments, employers, and to the public and private spheres in the supply of goods and services.  Not to overstate the point but the ADA went beyond the traditional concepts of anti-discrimination law in enshrining the concept of reasonable accommodation in the legislation. Reasonable accommodation requires the removal of barriers that restrict Continue reading “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 21st birthday”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrates its 21st birthday