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The Paris Climate Change Agreement

October 21, 2016

On October 5, 2016, the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved. The Paris Agreement will enter into force on 4 November 2016.

The Paris Agreement was adopted on December 12, 2015 at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Paris from November 30 to December 13, 2015.

The agreement enters into force 30 days after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.

The Agreement, the latest step in the evolution of the UN climate change regime, seeks to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.  It seeks to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius and strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Authoritative information on the status of the Paris Agreement, including information on signatories to the Agreement, ratification and entry into force, is provided through the United Nations Treaty Collection website, and the Depositary Notifications.  Background information on the ratification of the Paris Agreement is found on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change website.

On October 21, 2016, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Climate Change Agreement receives the 2016 Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, at a ceremony presided by the King and Queen of Spain.

The European Commission Paris Agreement website provides the EU vision for the Paris Protocol, Consultative Communications and EU submissions.   The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) Paris Agreement website provides a helpful Q&A.   Stop by the 1st floor of the Library to view an exhibit highlighting the Paris Agreement.

Life of a Library

October 14, 2016
Read about the history of GW Law’s Library in A Legal Miscellanea: “Life of a Library: A History of The George Washington University Law Library.”  Using archival materials from Gelman’s Special Collections Research Center, the article provides a look at how the Law Library developed.  It features a rare focus on the earlier years of the “first” founding of GW Law in 1826 before its reopening after the Civil War in 1865.
 The article includes many fascinating facts about the early days of the law school and the library.  Images and photos bring the early history to life.
GW Law has been celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2015-2016.  The 50th anniversary of the Law Library’s move to its current building in Foggy Bottom, The Jacob Burns Law Library, will be marked in 2017.

Stop. Think. Connect.

September 30, 2016

October marks the 13th  National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the 6th annual campaign for “Stop. Think. Connect.”  Highlights of the campaign are:

  • Keep a clean machine.
  • Protect your personal information.
  • Connect with care.
  • Be Web Wise.
  • Be a good online citizen.
  • Own your online presence.

GW IT is hosting a series of sessions each week during the month of October related to cyber security.

Celebrate the Freedom to Read: Banned Books Week

September 28, 2016

Observe Banned Books Week this week, September 25 – October 1.  Banned Books Week draws attention to attempts at censorship by restricting access to books across the country.  Sponsors for the week include the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild.

Check out the list of 2015’s top ten most frequently challenged books.  You may be surprised what’s on the list!  The list is maintained by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

National Book Festival, September 24

September 19, 2016

The Sixteenth Annual National Book Festival is Saturday, September 24, at the Washington Convention Center.  Make the most of your day at the Festival by following the Festival’s blog. Download the app to view all of the day’s activities.  The Festival is free and open to all.

The Festival features many authors, including Stephen King.  Tickets are required for Stephen King on the Main Stage.

Belva Lockwood for President!

July 28, 2016

Belva Lockwood, a graduate in 1873 of the the the National University Law School (now the GW Law School), became the first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court.  Once she had completed her course work, the law school refused to grant her a diploma, without which she could not practice law.  She petitioned President U.S. Grant, in his role as president ex officio  of the law school, to issue her diploma; she received it one week later.

Lockwood set up her practice in the District and, although Lockwood was admitted to the District of Columbia bar, some judges refused to allow her to appear in their courtrooms because she was a married woman.  She was also denied membership in the Maryland bar.  She petitioned Congress to pass an anti-discrimination law that would permit a women to appear in any court in the District, including the Supreme Court.  The law was passed in 1879; Lockwood was admitted to the Supreme Court bar later that year.

Lockwood first ran for President in 1884 and again in 1888 on the National Equal Rights Party ticket.  She received several thousand votes, unusual since women did not have the right to vote.

For the remainder of her life, Lockwood fought for equal rights for both women and minorities.  She died in 1917, just a few years before universal suffrage became reality with the 19th Amendment.

Read more about Lockwood:

Jill Nogren, Belva Lockwood:  The Woman Who Would be President

Mary Virginia Fox, Lady for the Defense:  A Biography of Belva Lockwood


Prayer in Schools

June 23, 2016

The First Amendment, through the Fourteenth Amendment, prohibits states from enacting laws “respecting the establishment of religion.”  The state of New York required that each day students in public schools say the pledge of allegiance and say a prayer.  The law permitted students who objected to saying the prayer to absent themselves during the prayer.  A parent sued on behalf of his student that requiring the prayer was a violation of the Establishment Clause.

On June 25, 1962, the Supreme Court ruled in Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), that states may not require students to say a prayer.  The voluntariness of the prayer and the non-denominational character of the prayer did not make the law constitutional.

Read more about prayer in school or the Establishment Clause:

Religious Freedom in America:  Constitutional Roots and Contemporary Challenges 

First Amendment Stories