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Launch of the Manchester International Law Centre

Published on June 30, 2014        Author: 

Jean d’Aspremont and Iain Scobbie are pleased to announce the establishment of the Manchester International Law Centre (MILC).

Roughly twenty researchers are currently associated with MILC and we hope to grow at a steady pace over the next few years.  We have a number of current and planned projects.  One of the most significant is the re-launch of the prestigious Melland Schill public lectures in international law after a 40 year interregnum.  In her will Miss Olive B. Schill left a bequest to the University of Manchester in memory of her brother, Edward Melland Schill, who was killed during the 1914—1918 war.  The income generated by this bequest was initially used to host and publish a series of public lectures dealing with international law.  From 1961—1974, Professor Ben Wortley organised a series of distinguished lecturers, including Professors Quincy Wright, Robbie Jennings, and Dan O’Connell, and Sir Ian Sinclair.  On Professor Wortley’s retirement, his successor, Professor Gillian White, decided to replace the lectures with a monograph series, published by Manchester University Press.  This included equally distinguished authors, such as General AVP Rogers, and Professors Anthony Carty, Hilary Charlesworth, Christine Chinkin, Vaughan Lowe, Robin Churchill, and Leslie Green.  We hope to breathe new life into this monograph series, and to republish some of the classic lectures which still retain interest and relevance

The initial lecture in the revived Melland Schill lecture series will be delivered in Manchester on October 15th by Professor John Dugard when he will discuss contemporary developments in Statehood.

In the autumn we will also introduce four new masters programmes in international law, and we are currently working on the creation of a database of international law documents.  In collaboration with Lancaster Law School, we are also in the process of organising a series of public lectures on the impact of the First World War on international law for the coming academic year.  In 2018, we shall host the annual meeting of the European Society of International Law.

Our areas of research include all major topics of international law.  Although we already have some partners, we welcome new opportunities for partnership and co-operation.  Please visit our webpage or follow us on twitter (@MILC2014) for more information.

 
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Announcements: Conference on Asylum in Europe, Website Covering Italian Practice on International Law

Published on June 28, 2014        Author: 

1.  ‘Using Human Security as a legal framework to analyse the Common European Asylum System,’ 4 July, T.M.C Asser Instituut, The Hague, Netherlands. This expert conference will explore new territory in its analysis of protection under the Common European Asylum System through the prism of Human Security. The four thematic panels of the conference will analyse the added value of using Human Security as a legal framework for protection in Asylum law whilst assessing the prospects of legal interaction between both fields. It will take stock of recent developments in legislation, jurisprudence and doctrine; proposing insightful approaches to contemporary asylum challenges. The event is free of charge, however registration is required. Please register here. More information is available here.

2.  A team of scholars and students mainly based at the University of Trento, Italy announces the launch of www.italyspractice.info is a collection of Italian parliamentary and diplomatic statements on issues of international law. The website’s main purpose is to provide access to the Italian Government’s practice to non-Italian speakers.  The team constantly monitors the statements of the Italian Government as expressed before the Italian Parliament, as well as within the United Nations system, both in New York and Geneva.  Whenever necessary, it translates the statements into English. Then it classifies them chronologically, as well as through keywords and tags: the entire database is searchable. Each post is identified by a topic-based title and introduced by a short summary. When possible, a link to the official document is made available. This website will be a useful tool for scholars and practitioners of international law and international relations, as it provides for wide-ranged and easily accessible materials. 

Filed under: Announcements and Events
 

The Marshall Islands’ Case against India’s Nuclear Weapons Program at the ICJ

Published on June 27, 2014        Author: 

ShashankShashank P. Kumar is a Dispute Settlement Lawyer at the Appellate Body Secretariat of the WTO in Geneva and a visiting lecturer of international law at National Law University, Jodhpur, India.

Earlier this year, on 24 April, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed an application against India and eight other States at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), claiming that these States, known or presumed to possess nuclear weapons, have failed to fulfil their obligations under international law with respect to nuclear disarmament and the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date. In its application against India, the Marshall Islands accused it of not engaging in negotiations to cease the nuclear arms race, highlighting that India, instead, continues to expand and improve its nuclear arsenal. By an Order dated 16 June 2014 the Court noted India’s objection to its jurisdiction, as well as its refusal to participate in procedural meetings, and decided that the jurisdictional questions must be separately determined before proceeding to the merits. This post explores the basis of the Court’s jurisdiction over the Marshall Islands’ application against India. One reservation to India’s optional clause declaration excluding disputes concerning actions taken in “self-defence” suggests that the Court lacks jurisdiction over the case.

The Marshall Islands relies on different grounds to establish the Court’s jurisdiction in its nine applications. In its applications against India, the United Kingdom, and Pakistan, it invokes these States’ declarations accepting the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction. In its applications against the United States, China, France, Russia, Israel and North Korea – none of whom have made declarations accepting the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction – it calls upon these States to accept the Court’s jurisdiction under the doctrine of forum prorogatum. The application against India is unique because, while India has accepted the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction, unlike the UK and Pakistan, India made a reservation to its Declaration that may exclude the Court’s jurisdiction over the Marshall Islands’ Application.

The Limits of India’s Recognition of ICJ Jurisdiction

On 18 September 1974, Swaran Singh, the then Indian Minister of External Affairs, made a declaration, on India’s behalf, which recognizes “as compulsory ipso facto and without special agreement … the jurisdiction of the [ICJ] over all disputes”. This blanket acceptance is qualified by a long list of reservations that excludes several categories of disputes from the scope of India’s consent. One broad class of disputes that is excluded are “disputes relating to or connected with facts or situations of hostilities, armed conflicts, individual or collective actions taken in self-defence, resistance to aggression, … and other similar or related acts, measures or situations in which India is, has been or may in future be involved”. Read the rest of this entry…

 

To Juncker or Not to Juncker – Is That the Question?

Published on June 26, 2014        Author: 

(Excerpt from the forthcoming Editorial of EJIL 25:2)

Far beyond the question of whether or not Council should feel obligated, or should even if not obligated, to select as President of the Commission the Lead Candidate of the largest party in the European Parliament, is a far more profound issue: should the President of the Commission be ‘Political but not Partisan’ (the Barroso thesis) or should voter preference in choosing not only this or that President but this or that party (with an ideological line) be translated into the policies espoused by the President of the Commission and indeed the Commission itself.

Strange as it may seem, it appears that this issue was not addressed with real seriousness even within Parliament itself and has not been a central part of the debate about the selection of the next President even on the eve of the Summit. David Cameron has (for the most part) based his objection on the specific political convictions (as he sees them) of Juncker as regards the future of the Union and not to the potential sea change which the Lead Candidate exercise potentially ushers.

But first, is Council really obligated to follow the election results in this manner?

I think the argument based on Article 17 TEU that the European Council is obligated to follow the Parliamentary choice is overstated both as a matter of law and as a matter of politics.

Read the rest of this entry…

Filed under: Editorials
 
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The Legality of Turkey’s Possible Self-Defence Action against ISIS: A Response to Ashley Deeks

Published on June 25, 2014        Author: 

SinaSina Etezazian is a PhD Candidate at Monash Law School.

In a recent blog post at Lawfare, Professor Ashley Deeks analyses the manner in which Turkey may lawfully protect the Turks taken hostage by the jihadist group ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).  She contends that ‘if the Maliki government loses total control of the country, Turkey almost certainly would be legally justified in using force in Iraq to rescue its nationals’ in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter.  She also takes the view that the forcible protection of citizens abroad may be equated with permissible self-defence when:

(1) the nationals in question face imminent threat of (or have suffered actual) injury;

(2) the host state is unwilling or unable to protect or rescue them; and

(3) the action of the intervening state clearly is limited to the goal of rescuing its nationals – that is, it is not engaging in pretextual intervention.

However, Deeks is on shaky legal ground concerning the ‘unwilling or unable’ and ‘last resort’ requirements. I do not aim here to consider the legal status of the protection of nationals abroad; I have discussed it elsewhere  (and it has also been addressed in length on this and other blogs and forums since the Russian intervention in Crimea). Instead, I want to explore a distinction that can be drawn between forcible responses to territorial and non-territorial attacks with respect to the ‘unwilling or unable’ and ‘last resort’ tests, clarifying why – contrary to what Deeks asserts – Turkey might not be allowed to undertake unilateral forcible measures to protect its nationals in Iraq on the basis of the right of self-defence.

The ‘Unwilling or Unable’ Test and a Distinction between Responses to Territorial and Extraterritorial Attacks

The point that Deeks makes regarding the ‘unwilling or unable’ test can hardly be said to reflect existing law, as it is founded on the claim that ‘unwilling or unable’ extends to the protection of nationals abroad, which is itself a very controversial issue in modern jus ad bellum. Let us suppose for the sake of argument that ‘unwilling or unable’ qualifies as a new norm of customary international law that allows for the exercise of the right of self-defence against non-state actors when the host state is unwilling or unable to prevent its territory being used as a base for launching attacks against the victim state’s soil. Even allowing that position, it is extremely unlikely that its scope has been so widened as to include the military rescue of nationals threatened extraterritorially.

It is true that the ‘unwilling or unable’ test has attracted some level of support from the international community since 9/11, especially when the attack has been directed against the territory of the victim state (as was apparent from states’ reaction to the September 11 attacks). Nonetheless, the most recent trend in state practice clearly demonstrates that the argument for ‘unwilling or unable’ would be uncertain at best in scenarios where Article 51 has been invoked to rescue nationals allegedly at risk outside their territory. Read the rest of this entry…

 
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Keep Calm and Call (no, not Batman but …) Articles 31-32 VCLT: A Comment on Istrefi’s Recent Post on R.M.T. v. The UK

Published on June 19, 2014        Author: 

Panos MerkourisPanos Merkouris, LL.M (Athens) 2004; LL.M (UCL, London) 2005; Dr. iur. (Queen Mary, London) 2010 is Lecturer in Public International Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Groningen.

In a recent post on R.M.T. v. The UK: Expanding Article 11 of the ECHR Through Systemic Integration’ Kushtrim Istrefi raises important issues with respect to the application and content of Article 31(3)(c) of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT). Although I agree with the general conclusion that Article 31(3)(c) is not a panacea and should not be used as a backdoor for judicial activism, I think it pertinent to highlight certain issues as to the manner in which this conclusion is reached and in particular regarding the presumed content of Article 31(3)(c).

Firstly, let me clarify that this post is not about evolutive interpretation to which the ECtHR seems to be partial. Nonetheless, I agree with Eirik Bjorge’s comment to the above post, that this idea of ECHR as a living instrument is included in the preamble (‘…further realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms’). Furthermore, the connection of evolutive interpretation with Article 31(3)(c) is particularly evident in ‘generic terms’. A ‘generic term’ can be understood either as ouverture du texte or renvoi mobile (Georgopoulos (2004) 108 RGDIP 132-134). In the former case, the openness of the term allows the content of the norm to change alongside the factual situation contemplated (‘evolution of fact’). Such an interpretation probably falls under Article 31(1). In the case of renvoi mobile, the norm, whenever interpreted, reflects the ‘evolution of the law’. As the law changes so does the content of that norm. In this case, evolutive interpretation could be understood as also being based on Article 31(3)(c).

Kushtrim’s main argument is that because ILO Convention No. 87 and the European Social Charter (ESC) are not binding on all member States of the Council of Europe (CoE), they probably do not fall within the scope of Article 31(3)(c). This conclusion is based on a restrictive interpretation of Article 31(3)(c), which holds that the Article should be read as ‘any relevant rules of international law applicable in the relations between the parties to the treaty’ and not expansively, as ‘…between the parties to the dispute’. This restrictive interpretation allegedly finds support in EC-Biotech:

7.68… This understanding of the term “the parties” leads logically to the view that the rules of international law to be taken into account in interpreting the WTO agreements at issue in this dispute are those which are applicable in the relations between the WTO Members…

7.69 … Accordingly, based on our interpretation of Article 31(3)(c), we do not consider that in interpreting the relevant WTO agreements we are required to take into account other rules of international law which are not applicable to one of the Parties to this dispute.

With respect to this restrictive interpretation I would like to raise the following three issues: Read the rest of this entry…

 
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ESIL Interest Group on Human Rights Launches Online Symposia on International Human Rights Law

Basak2 Dr. Başak Çalı (pictured above left) is Associate Professor of International Law at Koç Univerlmcgregor-53sity, Turkey. Lorna McGregor (pictured right) is a Reader in Law and Director of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex School of Law. Ivana Radačić (pictured below left) is a senior research associate at Ivo Pilar Institute of Social Sciences in Zagreb and Radacic_foto_CVa visiting lecturer at the University of Zagreb, the University of Osijek, the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (Venice). They are the Founding Co-Chairs of the European Society of International Law’s Interest Group on International Human Rights Law.

The theme of this year’s ESIL annual conference is ‘International Law AND …’  It takes place in a year of conferences seemingly devoted to ‘taking stock’ of the current state of international law and assessing the future opportunities and challenges it will face (see the recent ASIL-ILA conference on the Effectiveness of International Law and last week’s ILA British Branch conference on Foundations and Futures of International Law).

In establishing the ESIL Interest Group on Human Rights, we wanted to ‘take stock’ of International Human Rights Law and in doing so, to ask the big structural, procedural and substantive questions that are necessary to determine its future.  We plan to hold conferences like our inaugural roundtable on ‘International Human Rights Law AND…’ at the ESIL annual conference in Vienna in September and to encourage debate and discussion through online symposia, particularly on EJIL Talk! and other academic and practical projects.

Before our discussions even begin, however, we have to be clear on how we understand international human rights law. We regard international human rights law as a field that is simultaneously positioned both within public international law and across other disciplines.   International human rights law is substantial but nonetheless a sub-branch of public international law as well as part of a large and growing interdisciplinary ‘field’ of human rights.  Characterising international human rights law in this way is often overlooked but gives a much more textured and nuanced picture of its operation and the challenges it faces through resistance to containment as a sub-branch; internal-fragmentation; and interdisciplinary expansion.

Resistance to Containment to a Sub-Field  

The presentation of international human rights law as a sub-branch conceals its dominance within public international law making it a much bigger project than a ‘sub-branch’ would suggest.  Read the rest of this entry…

 

Announcements: Job Openings–Professor/Reader at University of Essex, Legal Advisor at ICRC

Published on June 14, 2014        Author: 

1.  The University of Essex announces an opening for a Professor/Reader in Law (IHRL/ICL/IHL or related PIL). To be appointed to the Professorship an individual will have a clearly established international level reputation in the field of International Human Rights Law or a related field of Public International Law, such as International Criminal Law or International Humanitarian Law, and will be recognised as one of the leaders in their field. For the Readership the appointee will have an outstanding record of excellent research and be able to display clear potential to achieve a chair level appointment in a UK university. The closing date is 14 July 2014. Further details are available here.

2.  The Commentaries Update Project of the International Committee of the Red Cross has a job opening for a legal adviser. Further details  are available here.

Filed under: EJIL Analysis
 
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Announcing the OPIL World Cup Challenge

Published on June 11, 2014        Author: 

In nearly 20 years of legal publishing nobody has ever sent me a proposal for a book on football and international law. It’s not like there is any lack of international legal issues to be addressed – dispute settlement, IP, workers’ rights, corruption – the list goes on.  Perhaps many of the issues are more matters of private than public law but with the ongoing blurring of that distinction it could equally be the case that the time is ripe for a thorough scholarly investigation.

In an effort to marry up interest in public international law and football, and also to provide a bit of a distraction from all the sports coverage, we have devised the Oxford Public International Law World Cup Challenge. The concept is straightforward; hopefully the questions are less so. The questions are all about international law, and the answer to each question is the name of a country, or two countries, contesting the World Cup in Brazil. There are 27 questions relating to the 32 countries. You can try to work out the answers using your existing knowledge and deductive logic and then when you get stuck do a bit of research to find the rest.

The answers to the questions, along with brief explanations as necessary, will be posted on the site upon the conclusion of the group stages, on Friday 27th June. Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries.

We sincerely hope you find the quiz stimulating and enjoyable. Who knows, I might finally get a book proposal that combines the world’s greatest pastime and…football.

 
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