The Financial Times Interviews Russian President-elect Dmitry Medvedev who Plans to Strengthen the Rule of Law and the Independence of the Courts

The Moscow Times carried an AP story at Medvedev Sits Down With FT which indicates that President-elect Dmitry Medvedev of Russia plans to strengthen the rule of law and the independence of the courts.

We found a more extensive presentation of Medvedev’s interview with the Financial Times at the Voice of America article by Peter Fedynsky, Medvedev Calls for Rule of Law in Russia, where Fedynsky writes:

Dmitry Medvedev told the Financial Times the challenge facing Russia is to translate its recent economic success into social programs, including housing, healthcare, and education….

He notes that President Putin’s decision to step aside is unprecedented for a Russian leader, but consistent with the constitution.

Mr. Medvedev says Mr. Putin’s move means that Russia is at last developing a tradition of respecting all constitutional and other legal procedures.

Take a look at the full transcript of the interview at the Financial Times, which covers inter alia politics, economics, the media, state monopolies, nuclear weapons, social justice, international relations, consumerism, corruption, democracy and the law. The interview is brilliant.

To quote Medvedev directly on this topic from the Financial Times interview:

[FT Financial Times]: You are a lawyer, a very experienced lawyer so I would like to ask what concrete steps you will take to strengthen the rule of law in Russia?

[Dmitry Medvedev}: I really am a lawyer, perhaps to a greater degree than is necessary. You could say I am a lawyer down to my bones. But this also adds certain advantages.

“I think that we should move in three directions. [1] One direction is the assertion of the supremacy of the law in our society…. [2] [W]e need to make sure that every citizen understands not only the necessity and desirability of observing the law but also understands that without such a relation to the law there cannot be a normal development of our state or our society…. [3] And finally, a third very important thing connected to the legal system and the implementation of laws in our country is an active and effective court system.

Extremely interesting are also Medvedev’s statements about how Russia plans to stop corruption among its ranks, under the motto that corruption in the future – reading between the lines – may cost violators their old age and pension rights. Now there is an effective incentive viz. deterrent to keep people honest, on both sides of any tempting bribe action. To cut down on corruption, you make the price for being caught very high, much higher than most people are willing to risk. It is a simple and clearly workable solution.

Medvedev states that a three-pronged approach will be used to reduce corruption:

1) amendments to the criminal law will be made,
2) counter-corruption stimuli will be required (inter alia, such as we referred to above), and
3) a modern perception of law will be formed among the citizenry.

To really get a good idea about the direction that Russia is heading from Russia’s global and national viewpoint, a full read of this Financial Times interview is highly recommended by LawPundit.

The Qatar Doha Debates at BBC World Highlight World Political Issues in an Arabic Setting : The Next Debate is April 1, 2008

One very interesting and highly viewed Middle East forum (estimated audience up to now is about 300 million, but not well known in the United States, as far as we can tell) is found at The Doha Debates from Qatar which are transmitted via BBC World and sponsored by the Qatar Foundation. Videos of the debates are available for free online.

As written at the Doha Debates website online:

For the past three years, the Doha Debates have been providing a platform for serious discussion of the hottest issues in the Arab and Islamic worlds, striving to be both controversial and informative. They have gained a huge international following through their broadcast on BBC World – the BBC’s international television channel.

Selected topics are debated and the audience votes for or against one side or the other of a given question. The debate participants are selectively chosen, and often represent well-known organizations and their viewpoints, for or against the Doha Debate topic. The audience is mixed.

The last Doha Debate, for example, was held on March 3rd, 2008 and broadcast by BBC World on March 8 and March 9, 2008. The topic was:

This House believes that Muslims are failing to combat extremism” and the vote result was that “The motion was passed“.

The next upcoming debate on April 1, 2008 is:

This House believes the Palestinians risk becoming their own worst enemy.

Also that is a very controversial topic.

See a video of the last debate here.

Arbitral Standards of Review in Hall Street v. Mattel : US Supreme Court Sets Clear Standard : Statutory Grounds Exclusive for FAA Judicial Review

Via the Disputing blog, which we have added to our blogroll, we were led to this week’s United States Supreme Court arbitration law decision in Hall Street v. Mattel (Hall Street Associates v. Mattel, Inc., ___ U.S. ___ (2008) (Cause No. 06-989)):

Justice Souter wasted no time in stating in the first paragraph of his majority opinion:

The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA or Act), 9 U. S. C. §1 et seq., provides for expedited judicial review to confirm, vacate, or modify arbitration awards. §§9–11 (2000 ed.and Supp. V). The question here is whether statutory grounds for prompt vacatur and modification may be supplemented by contract. We hold that the statutory grounds are exclusive.

OK. That’s clear. Gee, does that exist in law?

European Digital Rights (EDRI) Defends Civil Rights in the Information Society in Europe

European Digital Rights (EDRI) is an organization in Europe which defends civil rights in the “information society” in Europe. As written at their website:

European Digital Rights was founded in June 2002. Currently 28 privacy and civil rights organisations have EDRI membership. They are based or have offices in 17 different countries in Europe….

Statutory membership is restricted to not-for-profit, non-governmental organisations whose goals include the defence and promotion of civil rights in the field of information- and communication technology.

EDRI produces EDRI-gram, a bi-weekly newsletter about digital civil rights in Europe.

Subscribe here to EDRI-gram.

European Union (EU) Establishes a New Procedure in the Area of Freedom Security and Justice : The Urgent Preliminary Ruling Procedure : March 2008

The Court of Justice of the European Communities, the Curia in Luxembourg, has issued a press release in which it outlines the completely new Urgent Preliminary Ruling Procedure which started application on March 1, 2008 as a European Union procedure in the area of freedom, security and justice:

The Treaty of Amsterdam on the European Union (EU) which came into force on 1 May 1999 states that the EU:

  • must be maintained and developed as an area of freedom, security and justice;
  • (an area) in which the free movement of persons is assured;
  • in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime.”

This area now covers:

  • Free movement of persons
  • Visa policy
  • EU external borders policy
  • Schengen area
  • Immigration
  • Asylum
  • Judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters
  • Drugs policy coordination
  • EU citizenship
  • Data protection
  • Fundamental rights
  • Racism and xenophobia
  • Police and customs cooperation
  • Crime prevention
  • Fight against organised crime
  • External relations
  • Enlargement from a justice and home affairs perspective

Since the normal preliminary ruling procedure on such cases takes on average a year and a half, the Court of Justice, at the urging of the Council, proposed the adoption of the Urgent Preliminary Ruling Procedure in order to expedite urgent cases. As the Court of Justice writes:

This procedure is applicable as from 1 March 2008 and should enable the Court to deal far more quickly with the most sensitive issues relating to the area of freedom, security and justice, such as those which may arise, for example, in certain situations where a person is deprived of his liberty and the answer to the question raised is decisive as to the assessment of the legal situation of the person detained or deprived of his liberty, or, in proceedings concerning parental authority or custody of children, where the jurisdiction under Community law of the court hearing the case depends on the answer to the question referred for a preliminary ruling.

Hat tip to EU Law Blog, where there is more discussion of this development in detail, including a supplemental information note.

Summer Vacation 2008 : Try the Kiel Week (Kieler Woche) June 21-29 , 2008 : Biggest Summer Festival in Northern Europe : Sailing Sports and Much More

Looking for something different this year for your summer vacation?

Take a look at our blog Kiel & Kieler for more information relating to
the Kiel Week (Kieler Woche),
Northern Europe’s biggest summer festival.
It annually attracts over 3 million visitors from more than 70 nations.

Money Can Buy Happiness if You Give To Others : The Joyful Side of Philanthropy

An article at Yahoo Health by Amanda Gardner titled Give and Be Happy reports on a study which indicates that:

Money can buy happiness, at least when you spend it on others.

The reason, writes Gardener, is that “pro-social” giving enhances the community:

“Reaching out and doing things for other people allows you to kind of create a community,” said Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. “Social networks, we know, make people happier. It’s all about creating social networks and community ties and having a sense of self that you feel is worthwhile so money therefore can be used in service of that.”

And money is just one resource that can be used to that end, Dunn said. “All kinds of resources may be beneficial for our well-being,” she added.

This explains why philanthropy is so popular. Not only is the philanthropist doing a good deed, but it also makes the donor happier. Read the entire article here.