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On this day March 20, 1883

Eleven countries signed the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, one of the first intellectual property treaties.

The Convention was one of the first intellectual property treaties. As a result of this treaty, intellectual property systems, including patents, of any contracting state are accessible to the nationals of other states party to the Convention. Read More…

On this day July 1, 2002

The Rome Statute entered into force, establishing the International Criminal Court to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.

The statute is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17 July 1998 and it entered into force on 1 July 2002.

As of June 2009, 108 states are party to the statute. Chile will become the 109th state party on 1 September 2009, and a further 39 states have signed but not ratified the treaty. Among other things, the statute establishes the court’s functions, jurisdiction and structure. Read More…

Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico leaking 42000 gallons daily

After an explosion aboard an oil rig four days ago, an oil spill caused by the sinking of the rig has expanded to cover an area of around 600 square miles (1550 square kilometers), and efforts to shut off the leak have thus far been unsuccessful.

Officials have begun to use robotic submersible vehicles to stop the leak. The efforts began yesterday, although it could be as late as tomorrow before they are completed.

The vehicles will attempt to engage a device called a blowout preventer, which can seal the well shut to prevent sudden releases of pressure within the well, like the one that may have caused the rig to explode. According to BP, the company that operated the well, the attempt was the first of its kind in the world. Read More…

Oil rig in Gulf of Mexico sinks after explosion

The oil rig Deepwater Horizon sunk yesterday after an explosion Tuesday night that left eleven people missing. According to an officer from the US Coast Guard, the rig sank sometime in the morning.

Fireboats combat fire on Deepwater Horizon

The rig had caught fire after an explosion of unknown origin occurred two days ago. 115 of the 126 workers on board the time of the explosion have been rescued after evacuating in lifeboats, either by the Coast Guard or from other ships in the area.

The remaining eleven have not been located, although Coast Guard officials have expressed optimism that they are still alive.

The environmental impacts of the explosion and subsequent sinking of the rig are unclear. While up to 13,000 gallons of crude oil per hour has been released from the rig, until now, the effects have been considered minimal, as it had been burned off in the fire. Read More…

On this day March 26, 1975

The Biological Weapons Convention enters into force. The Convention was the first multilateral disarmament treaty banning the production of an entire category of weapons.

Participation in the Biological Weapons Convention

Participation in the BWC

It was the result of prolonged efforts by the international community to establish a new instrument that would supplement the 1925 Geneva Protocol.

The BWC was opened for signature on April 10, 1972 and entered into force March 26, 1975 when twenty-two governments had deposited their instruments of ratification. Read More…

On this day March 4, 1918

The first case of Spanish flu occurs, the start of a devastating worldwide pandemic.

It was caused by an unusually severe and deadly Influenza A virus strain of subtype H1N1. Historical and epidemiologic data are inadequate to identify the geographic origin of the virus.

Most of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or otherwise weakened patients. Read More…

On this day February 15, 2003

In one of the largest anti-war rallies in history, millions around the world in approximately 800 cities took part in protests against the impending invasion of Iraq.

London Rally

London Rally

Millions of people protested in approximately 800 cities around the world.

According to BBC News, between six and ten million people took part in protests in up to sixty countries over the weekend of the 15th and 16th; other estimates range from eight million to thirty million.

Some of the largest protests took place in Europe.

The protest in Rome involved around 3 million people, and is listed in the 2004 Guinness Book of World Records as the largest anti-war rally in history. Read More…