Friday, March 11, 2011

Learning to Live in Italian Time

Chancery Court, Rome
Alore! Today we got to experience an Italian institution – the “general strike.” More on that in a couple of minutes.

We started the day with three great CLE programs. In the first, Professor Francesco Francioni of the European International Institute spoke on “Investment Arbitration and Human Rights.” Those are two topics which one would not normally think are corrected. But, as Professor Francioni explained, as more national governments enter into contracts and joint ventures with foreign investors, issues usually found in the realm of Human Rights litigation – like protection of the environment, the right to earn a livelihood and indigenous peoples’ rights to land – are creeping into disputes in international arbitration. Some international legislation – like the Vienna Convention – specifically allows for the consideration of International law, which may include human rights law. 

At the Chancery Court
 The second panel was a rousing participatory session on ethics, moderated by our Conference Chair Tim Eaton, and featuring commentary from Judge Sophia Hall, Ian Fisher and Dan Kotin. That discussion was made more interesting because Professor Francioni stayed with us and offered his thoughts about EU ethics law – which is in many ways very different from our Code.
Finally, Bishop Danieli, Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican court of last resort) spoke about that Court and the types of cases that it hears.

 We then headed out for a tour of the Apostolic Signatura. Due to the aforementioned “general strike,” with which our private charter bus drivers were in sympathy, we piled into about 15 taxis. That was well and good, until we discovered that all the main streets had been closed for a parade of protestors who were part of the general strike. After 45 minutes of circling Rome by taxi, we gave up and walked the rest of the way to the Signatura.

 A reception room at the Chancery Court
 The roundabout travel was worth it – the Apostolic Signatura, along with the other Vatican or Chancery Courts – are located in a beautiful palazzo – the first Renaissance palace built in Rome. Originally built as the home of a Cardinal who came from a wealthy family, the palace was eventually taken over by the pope, and in the 19th century the Vatican Courts were moved there. We toured two of the public re caption rooms in the palace, guided by a priest from New Jersey who has worked in the courts for several years. It was a special experience to be able to visit the Vatican Courts.

Our special thanks to CBA member and long-time supporter Bishop Tom Paprocki of Springfield for arranging both for Bishop Danieli’s talk and for the tour of the Vatican Courts, and for joining us here in Rome.

The General Strike