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Harrington

Prof. Joanna Harrington wins national award for publication on the UN Security Council

By | News

By: University of Alberta Faculty of Law

Professor Joanna Harrington has won a national award for a scholarly paper about reforming the way the UN Security Council makes decisions.

The first Scholarly Paper Award from the Canadian Council on International Law celebrates her paper, “The Working Methods of The United Nations Security Council: Maintaining The Implementation of Change.”

Drawing on archival records and diplomatic papers, Harrington’s paper examines the working methods of the United Nations Security Council, the world’s most powerful intergovernmental body.

The paper’s position is to incorporate global administrative law principles of transparency, consultation and engagement, and executive accountability into the practices of a highly political institution. Harrington also argues for the principle of conflict prevention to serve as an additional guidepost, given the Council’s role in maintaining international peace and security.

The selection committee called the paper an ideal recipient of this new award because “it constituted a systematic and careful scholarly inquiry into a doctrinal area, relying on primary research to offer new insights into the conduct of an international organization.”

Asked about the inspiration for the paper, Harrington explained that, “oddly enough, it was a term of service as an associate dean that led to an interest in governance and the process for making decisions.”

“While the Security Council attracts a lot of legal analysis on the substance of its decisions, there was little written on how its procedures have evolved to become more transparent and consultative vis-à-vis both non-governmental actors and the wider UN membership,” she said.

Having served as a lawyer-diplomat for Canada at the United Nations, Harrington was also familiar with some of the sources for finding the material she drew upon for her research. 

Given her interests in human rights and international criminal law, her research also touched upon the use of codes of conduct to limit the exercise of the veto when there are credible allegations of acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. It also covered the need to improve the selection process for the UN Secretary-General, with the past “She for SG” campaign having focused attention on the fact that no woman has ever served in the most senior UN post.

Harrington’s article was published in the International & Comparative Law Quarterly, a leading international law journal, and has already attracted citation in a leading textbook on international institutional law

Created in 1972, the Canadian Council on International Law (CCIL) is a leading national non-profit association bringing together academics, government lawyers, and lawyers in private practice working in the various fields of both private and public international law.

The award was announced during the CCIL’s annual conference in Ottawa, on October 24.

Lost in the SNC-Lavalin controversy are the Libyan victims

By | CPIJ in the Media, News

Joanna Harrington | Policy Options | 21 August 2019 |

Any financial penalties would be paid in Quebec. But prosecutors need to find a way to provide redress for the foreign victims of economic crime.

The SNC-Lavalin affair is about many things. It’s about conflict of interest, pressure from the prime minister and whether to split the roles of the attorney general and the minister of justice. It’s also about the collateral impact of a corporate prosecution on employees, pensioners and shareholders. And it’s about corporations lobbying to change the Criminal Code and retaining former judges whose star power gets them a chat with a minister’s officials. All of these themes can be found in the Ethics Commissioner’s report of August 14, 2019.

SNC-Lavalin case shows why we should review foreign corruption laws

By | CPIJ in the Media, News

Joanna Harrington | The Conversation

26 February 2019 – The controversy in Canada involving Québec-based corporate giant SNC-Lavalin highlights the need for a parliamentary review of the legal scheme for fighting foreign corruption.

Underpinning the scandal is a corporate criminal prosecution for the alleged bribery of Libyan officials by SNC-Lavalin officials and the question of a plea deal. Since corporations cannot do jail time, a fine is the obvious punishment. But how large should the fine be, and with what consequences? Should SNC-Lavalin be barred from consideration for future government contracts?

The SNC-Lavalin headquarters in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

It was only in 1999 — almost 20 years to the day of the Globe and Mail‘s report about allegations that Canada’s former attorney general felt pressured to help SNC-Lavalin — that the bribery of a foreign public official became a crime under Canadian law.

Until then, paying a bribe or kickback to secure a contract abroad was seen as the cost of doing business in a foreign land.

Pushed as a fast-tracked initiative, with all-party support, passage of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act was a foregone conclusion. Introduced in the Senate in December 1998, the law received only two days of parliamentary consideration, before it was brought into force in February 1999.

Speedy passage, however, meant that Parliament had not set aside any time to consider the more delicate details, such as the role of plea deals to save court time. And parliamentarians had failed to consider the question of who are the victims of foreign corruption, because plea deals are likely to involve the payment of a victim surcharge to fund victims assistance programs.

Why was Canada so keen to rush this new law into place? The answer lies in international pressure.

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

In mid-1998, Canada and other G8 states made a commitment to ratify the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention before the year’s end. The OECD is the international club of countries with advanced economies.

It was this keenness to join that led Canadian parliamentarians to accept the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, the legislation that put into motion the OECD convention’s terms. Those terms include a provision that the investigation and prosecution of foreign bribery “shall not be influenced by considerations of national economic interest, the potential effect upon relations with another State or the identity of the natural or legal persons involved.”

Canada also accepted the supply-side focus of the OECD’s approach — often called active bribery — as it focuses on the conduct of the one offering the bribes. But the demand side of foreign bribery isn’t always passive if an individual recipient encourages a corporate payment, and so the demand-side aspect is worthy of further parliamentary review in Canada.

Indeed, after a study in 2008, the Law Commission of England and Walesconcluded there should be two general offences of bribery, one for the conduct of the payer and the other for the conduct of the recipient.

Illegal to offer rewards to foreign officials

Corruption takes a variety of forms, with bribery being the standard offence for addressing corruption in the public sphere.

With the Canadian Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in place, it is illegal to offer undue rewards to foreign public officials to obtain improper advantages in the conduct of international business. The act has created work for business lawyers offering compliance advice.

There have been few convictions under Canada’s anti-rbribe. Shutterstock

But the act has also fostered disappointment. In 20 years, there have only been four convictions. Three convictions, secured by guilty pleas, have involved Alberta-based companies in the oil-and-gas sector, while the fourth concerned an Ottawa-based individual in the technology sector.

There’s rarely any mention of the tally of closed investigations, acquittals and stayed proceedings. That tally includes the 2017 acquittal of several people associated with SNC-Lavalin and a bridge development project in Bangladesh; the same bridge project that led to SNC-Lavalin’s negotiated acceptance of World Bank debarment in 2013.

Critiques lead to amendments

Criticism of Canada’s performance under the act has resulted in amendments in 2013. And in 2014, new transparency measures were imposed on the natural resources sector.

In 2017, the law’s reach was extended, at last, to cover all forms of bribes, and in 2018, a Canadian version of the deferred prosecution agreement, pioneered in the United States, was added to prosecutors’ toolboxes.

But Canada’s legislative scheme has not kept pace with the multi-jurisdictional realities of fighting foreign corruption.

In its 2018 annual report to Parliament, Global Affairs Canada continued to hail the $10.3 million fine paid by Griffiths Energy International as “the largest to date under the CFPOA.” But no mention is made of the English Court of Appeal’s assessment that this was a “relatively modest sum” given the surge in share value for the successor company in the United Kingdom.

Corruption violates integrity

It is often said that “corruption is not a victimless crime.”

And no less a body than the Supreme Court of Canada has opined that: “Corruption … undermines confidence in public institutions, diverts funds from those who are in great need of financial support, and violates business integrity.”

But more work is needed from Parliament on the definition of a victim. Past plea deals have included the payment of sizeable victim surcharge fees into provincial victims-of-crime funds.

But how do these funds offer assistance to the victims of foreign bribery in, say, Bangadesh or Chad, or to a company’s employees in Canada?

Lastly, there is the larger question, now ripe for review, about the hope placed on using criminal law to secure the often-stated goal of securing a level playing field for Canadian companies operating abroad.

Sorry John McCallum, extradition doesn’t neatly divide the courts from the politicians

By | CPIJ in the Media

The ambassador and the Prime Minister stress the role of judges in the Meng case, but experts say extradition is ultimately about political decision-making

Even after all the coverage of John McCallum’s unorthodox remarks about the strong arguments he says Meng Wanzhou’s lawyers will be able to marshal to stop the Huawei executive from being extradited to the U.S., it’s still worth looking closely at exactly what Canada’s ambassador to China actually said earlier this week when he mused aloud about the sensitive case to Chinese-language media gathered near Toronto.

The overlap of law and politics: Meng Wanzhou’s extradition explained

By | CPIJ in the Media

When John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, said this week that Chinese business executive Meng Wanzhou has “quite good arguments on her side” in her fight against extradition to the United States, he ignited a political storm. The Globe and Mail’s Sean Fine set out to explore the overlap between law and politics in a case that has set China and Canada on a collision course.

CPIJ organizes a panel on the Rohingya at the 47th CCIL Conference

By | News, Press Releases

31 October 2018 – The Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) hosts a panel at the 47th Annual Conference of the Canadian Council of International Law (CCIL). Titled “The Role of International Criminal Law and the ICC in Responding to the Alleged Crimes Perpetrated against the Rohingya”, this panel organized and financed by CPIJ will allow to discuss the different options available within the field of international criminal law to fight against impunity for crimes allegedly perpetrated against the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The panel will be moderated by CPIJ Co-Director Fannie Lafontaine and will bring together Co-Researchers Payam Akhavam, professor at McGill University’s Faculty of Law, and Valerie Oosterveld, associate Dean and professor at the University of Western Ontario’s Faculty of Law, as well as Kyle Matthews, Executive Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) at Concordia University. Prof. Akhavan will discuss the ICC Jurisdiction and the Rohingya Atrocities; Prof. Oosterveld the accountability for sexual and gender-based violence against the Rohingya; and Mr. Matthews will address the use of social media to dehumanize the Rohingya. The conference will take place at 4:00 pm on Thursday, November 1st.

Few other members of CPIJ will also present at the 47th CCIL Conference. Rob Currie and Joanna Harrington will be part of the panel “Extradition after Diab” at 9:05 am on Friday, November 2nd. They will analyze Canada’s place in the international landscape of extradition, as well as the nature and scope of the legal obligations involved and the need of reform notably in the light of the Diab case. Further, prof. Harrington will moderate the panel “Highlights of 2018 from the Canadian Yearbook of International Law”, which will take place at 8:00 am the same day.

The full program of the 47thCCIL Conference can be accessed online here.

Joanna Harrington receives annual CALT prize for contributions to teaching and research

By | News, Press Releases | No Comments

June 2018 – CPIJ co-researcher Joanna Harrington was awarded the 2018 Canadian Association of Law Teachers (CALT) Prize for Academic Excellence. The price is given to honour exceptional contributions to research and law teaching by a Canadian law teacher in mid-career. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee based on the quality of and innovation in teaching and learning, and the quality and impact of legal scholarship.

Harrington’s accomplished career has taken her around the world, from Australia to China and Vietnam. She has taught human rights to government officials in Suriname, and international dispute settlement to students in Shanghai. Her research activities have led to visiting appointments at the University of Oxford and the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, she is a frequent guest speaker in Canada and abroad, as well as a widely-published author, having published over 30 law review articles and book chapters. She is the co-author of a leading text used for teaching international law in Canada.

Her writing has contributed to law and policy discussions on the balance between protecting human rights and securing cross-border cooperation in the prosecution of serious crimes. Her research often involves collaboration with organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Chatham House think tank.

More information on Prof. Harrington’s career and accomplishments is available here.