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Announcements: Conference, IHL & Modern Warfare; Oxford Global Justice Lecture; Ghandhi Research Seminar Series; Chatham House Event

Published on October 10, 2015        Author: 

1. International Conference: “International Humanitarian Law and Modern Warfare” Rome23-24 October 2015.  Organized by the Italian Carabinieri, this conference will be composed of four panels dealing with: (i) new weaponry and the law; (ii) the relationship between human rights and humanitarian law in the context of modern warfare; (iii) recent judicial developments in international humanitarian law; and (iv) the evolving relationship between the general principles of international humanitarian law and the features of modern warfare.  Arma%20Carabinieri

Keynote speakers are: Judge Ronny Abraham, President of the International Court of Justice; Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Panelists: Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Vice President of the ICJ), Judge Cuno Tarfusser (ICC), Professor Mads Andenas (UN Special Rapporteur on arbitrary detention), Sir Daniel Bethlehem and Sir Michael Wood (both Former Heads of the FCO Legal Service), Professor Dapo Akande (Oxford), Professor Paola Gaeta (The Graduate Institute), Professor Stefan Talmon (Bonn), Professor William Schabas (Middlesex, London), Professor Sarah Cleveland (Columbia), Professor Guglielmo Verdirame (King’s College London), Professor Attila Tanzi (Bologna), Professor Heather Harrison Dinniss (Swedish Defence University), Professor Roger O’Keefe (UCL), Professor Luigi Condorelli (Florence), Prof. Natalino Ronzitti (LUISS Guido Carli of Rome); Professor Dan Saxon (Leiden); Dr Kimberly Trapp (UCL); Professor Dino Kristiotis (Nottingham); Professor Fausto Pocar (President of the International Institute of  Law, Sanremo); and Professor Yoram Dinstein (Tel Aviv University). Full details and further information are available here.

2. Oxford Global Justice Lecture 2015. greenwood_CThe annual Oxford University Global Justice Lecture will be given by Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood KCMG QC (International Court of Justice) on Monday 12 October at 5.30pm. The topic of the lecture is “State Immunity and Human Rights”. The Oxford Global Justice Lecture is delivered each year, at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford by a leading figure in international law. The lecture series is generously supported by the Planethood Foundation. Previous lecturers are Patricia O’Brien, then Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs at the United Nations (2013) and Judge Theodor Meron, President of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and President of the UN Mechanism for International Tribunals (2014). For details see here. Read the rest of this entry…

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Launch of GQUAL! – A Global Campaign for Gender Parity in International Tribunals and Monitoring Bodies

Published on October 8, 2015        Author: 

On September 17, 2015 GQUAL! was launched at the UN in New York. GQUAL aims to promote transparency and adoption of rules in the selection, nomination, evaluation, and election of candidates to international tribunals and monitoring bodies to promote gender parity, as well as to pursue research and monitor processes in order to identify best practices and standards. The GQUAL Declaration sets forth the road map to be followed and is open for signatures by academics, practitioners, researchers, policy makers, judges and political representatives (both male and female.)

This campaign arose from Viviana Krsticevic’s engagement as the Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and her concern that the majority of international tribunals and monitoring bodies are lacking gender parity among judges. Indeed, since its establishment, the ICJ has only had 3.8% women judges, the European Court of Human Rights 8.4% and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea 2.5%. The aim of this global campaign is to promote conditions, procedures, and mechanisms to ensure that out of 84 international bodies, which have 574 positions, 287 qualified women from different parts of the world and with diverse backgrounds are elected. Read the rest of this entry…

 

Corbyn, Trident, and the Letter of Last Resort: Legality of Use of Nuclear Weapons

Published on October 6, 2015        Author: 

Jeremy Corbyn’s election to the leadership of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom by a landslide victory last month has renewed discussions in the UK about the ‘nuclear deterrent’. Corbyn, a long time anti-war activist and Vice-Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has, for many years, taken a very public and unequivocal stance against the use of nuclear weapons and in favour of scrapping the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system. The Trident system is composed of submarine-launched ballistic missiles carried by four Vanguard-class submarines: HMS Vanguard, HMS Victorious, HMS Vigilant, and HMS Vengeance. One of those submarines is constantly on patrol somewhere around the globe. During the recent Labour Party conference, the party failed to take a position in favour of scrapping Trident, but its leader clearly and unequivocally stated that should he become Prime Minister of the UK, he would not use nuclear weapons. For this he was criticized both from within his own party, and beyond, as his statement would mean that were he to become Prime Minister, the UK would have effectively given up the possibility of any deterrent value of its nuclear arsenal.

It might be thought that even if Corbyn were to become Prime Minister the circumstances in which he would have to make a call as to whether to use nuclear weapons are very remote. Far from it! Each new Prime Minister of the UK must decide on the use of nuclear weapons in his or her first few days in office! This is when each new UK Prime Minister must draft the so-called ‘Letter of Last Resort’. This letter contains an instruction from the Prime Minister (indeed the final instruction) to the commanders of the Royal Navy submarines carrying the Trident system. The letter sets out what the commander is to do in case Britain has suffered a nuclear attack that has effectively destroyed the British state, resulted in the death of the Prime Minister and his or her nominated deputies, and led to a loss of contact between the submarine and the UK. There are a number of checks that must be carried out before the commander can presume that the UK has been attacked so devastatingly that nothing of the state and the chain of command remains. Apparently, one of those checks is to establish that BBC Radio 4 is no longer broadcasting! At that stage, the commander of the submarine is to obtain and fulfill the order stated in the letter of last resort, which is kept in the ship’s safe. No letter of last resort has been published. Each one is destroyed when a new PM takes office and issues a new letter of last resort. However, we do have some idea of the options available to the PM, which range from ‘scuttle the ship’, to ‘find and join the US or Australian Navy’, ‘retaliate’ or perhaps even ‘use your judgement’. (For a serious discussion of the Letter, listen to this BBC Radio 4 programme, for a more humorous discussion of the nuclear deterrent, watch this) .

Presumably, Corbyn’s letter of last resort will not involve a command to use the nuclear weapons aboard the vessel. However, it is interesting to consider whether an order to retaliate, in the circumstances in which a letter of last resort is actually opened, would be legal under public international law. To be sure, if such horrendous circumstances were to occur, we would be right at the vanishing point of the utility of law. Indeed, law, as well as other frameworks for organizing human society, would have failed us. However, thinking about whether a use of nuclear weapons (indeed any use of force) would be lawful in those circumstances helps us to understand what we think the purpose of the right of self-defence is, and how it ought to operate in international law. Read the rest of this entry…

 

Ukraine Derogates from the ICCPR and the ECHR, Files Fourth Interstate Application against Russia

Published on October 5, 2015        Author: 

I’ve somehow managed to miss this – and I don’t think it has been widely reported – but in June this year Ukraine formally derogated from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. In late August it also filed a new interstate application before the European Court of Human Rights against Russia, and this is the really big one, dealing with events in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine after September 2014. A couple of days ago it was communicated by the Court to Russia for a response, as detailed in the Court’s press release. The press release also explains the current state of Ukraine/Russia related litigation; while one of the four interstate cases was discontinued, the three remaining cases come coupled with some 1,400 individual cases on various issues, against Russia, Ukraine, or both. Obviously this whole set of cases – together with those dealing with the downing of MH17, and future Ukraine/Russia cases to come – presents one of the most significant challenges that the Court has ever had to face on how the Convention should apply in armed conflict.

The press release also refers to Ukraine’s derogation from the ICCPR and the ECHR. The text of the detailed notice of derogation can be found here and here. In particular, Ukraine derogated (or at least attempted to derogate) from Articles 5, 6, 8 and 13 of the Convention, and the corresponding articles in the ICCPR. Much of the derogation notice, and the relevant Ukrainian legislation it refers to, deals with detention issues and other restrictions on personal liberty, such as the institution of curfews, as well as changes to judicial and prosecutorial procedures. The most important derogation seems to be the extension of detention without judicial authorization from 72 hours to 30 days, subject to decision of a prosecutor.

Two things struck me as particularly interesting – and particularly unhelpful – after reading the derogation notice.

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New EJIL:Live Extra! Joseph Weiler and Benedict Kingsbury Discuss Editing International Law Journals

Published on October 4, 2015        Author: 

The EJIL: Live Extras series comprises short video conversations with leading international law scholars. In our latest EJIL: Live Extra! our Editor-in-Chief Professor Joseph Weiler discusses with Professor Benedict Kingsbury of NYU Law School/University of Utah and co-Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of International Law the current and future directions planned for AJIL and compare notes on the ins and outs of running an International Law journal. The interview was recorded at the European University Institute in June 2015.

 

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Announcements: Oxford Global Justice Lecture; CfP 2016 Barcelona Workshop on Global Governance; CfP Fifth PEPA/SIEL Conference; Postdoc Positions Copenhagen; Workshop on Framing the Subjects and Objects of Contemporary EU Law; Ph.D. Researcher Positions Utrecht; Accountability for Transnational Counter-terrorism Operations; International Law Weekend Conference; New Blog, Rights!

Published on October 3, 2015        Author: 

1.  Oxford Global Justice Lecture 2015: The annual Oxford University Global Justice Lecture will be given by Judge Sir Christopher Greenwood KCMG QC (International Court of Justice) on Monday 12 October at 5.30pm. The topic of the lecture is “State Immunity and Human Rights”. The Oxford Global Justice Lecture is delivered each year, at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford by a leading figure in international law. The lecture series is generously supported by the Planethood Foundation. Previous lecturers are Patricia O’Brien, then Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs at the United Nations (2013) and Judge Theodor Meron, President of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and President of the UN Mechanism for International Tribunals (2014). For details see here.

2. Call for Papers: 2016 Barcelona Workshop on Global Governance: Adaptation and Change in Global Governance. IBEI (Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals) and ESADEgeo (ESADE Business School’s Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics) will host the fourth edition of the Barcelona Workshop on Global Governance, an international workshop to discuss questions relating to global governance, on 4-5 February 2016. The workshop will focus on ‘Adaptation and Change in Global Governance’. Confirmed keynote speakers include Pascal Lamy (former Director-General of the World Trade Organization) and David Held (Professor of Politics and International Relations, Durham University). The organisers invite abstract submissions by 21 October 2015 from scholars of all related disciplines and all levels of seniority. Further information, including details for abstract submissions, is available here.

3. Call for Papers: Society of International Economic Law and University of Luxembourg, Fifth PEPA/SIEL Conference. SIEL’s Postgraduate and Early Professionals/Academics Network (PEPA/SIEL) and the Research Unit in Law of the University of Luxembourg are pleased to announce that the fifth PEPA/SIEL Conference will take place on 14-15 April 2016 in Luxembourg. We invite graduate students (enrolled in Master or PhD programmes) and early professionals/academics (generally within five years of graduating) to submit papers on any IEL topic. One or more senior practitioners and academics will comment on each paper after its presentation, followed by a general discussion. More information, including the process for submissions by 16 November 2015, can be found here. Read the rest of this entry…

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Authors’ Concluding Response: Assessing the Case for More Plurilateral Agreements

Published on October 2, 2015        Author: 

Editor’s Note:  This is the authors’ concluding response in a series of posts discussing the article in the current issue of EJIL Vol. 26 (2015) No 2, by Bernard Hoekman and Petros Mavroidis. The original post is here. See also the  posts  discussing the article by Junji Nakagawa, Diane Desierto, and Geraldo Vidigal.

We have profited a lot reading the responses to our article by our three colleagues. Undoubtedly, this discussion will help us streamline our thinking going forward, since we believe the discussion regarding the institutional design of the WTO is about to start. Indeed, the passage from the Tokyo round ‘GATT clubs’ approach to the ‘WTO single undertaking’ was not discussed in depth among the institutional stakeholders. It is high time it takes place now, and this is what we hope our contribution will help happen.

We would like at the outset to set the record straight regarding property rights on this issue. We claim no originality in making a case for more plurilateral agreements (PAs). The main contribution on this front is a paper by Robert Z. Lawrence (2006), to which we refer a number of times in our article, and which, surprisingly had been left unanswered. Lawrence brought together discussion that preceded him, and provided a clear framework to think in concrete policy terms about clubs within the multilateral system. Academic literature on ‘clubs’ or ‘codes’ (the term used during the Uruguay round, in the GATT, and more generally, “minilateral” liberalization and cooperation goes back to the 1980s). A notable contribution on this score is B. Yarborough and R. Yarborough (1992), Cooperation and Governance in International Trade: The Strategic Organizational Approach.

Our basic point, simply put is that there are three factors that all bolster the case for PAs, and the ensuing ‘club of clubs’ approach originally advocated by Lawrence almost ten years ago. These factors are:

  • the proliferation of PTAs (preferential trade agreements) following the advent of the WTO, that is, at a time when tariffs are at an all-time low. Modern PTAs deal to a significant extent with regulatory matters;
  • the geo-political dynamics associated with the rise of China and other emerging economies; and
  • the fact that the trade agenda increasingly centers on regulatory differences, an area where the ‘single undertaking’ approach has not proved to be much of a success.

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Whose Club Is It Anyway? PTAs 2.0 and the Creeping Non-Trade Rules

Published on October 1, 2015        Author: 

Editor’s Note: This post responds to Bernard Hoekman and Petros Mavroidis’ article in the current issue of EJIL Vol. 26 (2015), No. 2, titled “WTO ‘à la carte’ or ‘menu du jour’? Assessing the case for more Plurilateral Agreements”. For a post by the authors of the article, introducing their piece, see here. For other comments see here and here. For the authors’ concluding response, see here.

Bernard Hoekman and Petros Mavroidis’s article comes at an important time for the WTO. Alternatives to the multilateral trade talks have always existed, both outside the WTO (PTAs) and within it (PAs). However, the repeated failure of Doha talks to deliver meaningful results is leading PTAs to take an ever more important role. Their capacity to displace WTO rules has so far been limited, in no small part because they do not cover trade between the largest WTO Members. This is about to change, however, if TTIP and TPP really get off the ground – one could add to the list the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). We may call these agreements PTAs 2.0. Both the US and the EU have been signing similar deals with third parties over the past two decades. A PTA 2.0 between the two would amount to a fait accompli to everyone else regarding a number of issues. To avoid a fragmentation of global rules, Hoekman and Mavroidis propose to expand the scope of intra-WTO plurilateral agreements, and incorporate the rules conveyed in PTAs 2.0 into WTO law, as PAs if necessary.

I should begin by saying that I am generally suspicious of the argument that the WTO has somehow become too big for consensus decision-making. It is not the world’s Cubas, Venezuelas and Nicaraguas that are halting trade talks (even if they can delay results for a few hours). If we are to go beyond consensus, it seems reasonable to state whose veto it is we expect to overcome. In this case, it seems that it is mainly large developing countries – in particular India, who has repeatedly been playing spoilsport in trade talks, but perhaps China and Brazil as well – who will be given an option between accepting the incorporation of PTAs 2.0 into the WTO or being left out of trade rules 2.0.

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Flexibility or Gridlock? The Promises and Perils of Popularizing Plurilateral Agreements at the WTO

Published on October 1, 2015        Author: 

Editor’s Note: This post responds to Bernard Hoekman and Petros Mavroidis’ article in the current issue of EJIL Vol. 26 (2015), No. 2, titled “WTO ‘à la carte’ or ‘menu du jour’? Assessing the case for more Plurilateral Agreements”. For a post by the authors of the article, introducing their piece, see here. For other comments see here and here . For the authors’ concluding response, see here.

Professors Bernard Hoekman and Petros Mavroidis’ EJIL article WTO ‘a la carte’ or ‘menu du jour’? Assessing the Case for More Plurilateral Agreements provokes much thought on opportunities for achieving better flexibility and neutralizing gridlocks at the WTO. The article was published soon after WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo lamented the organization’s failure to reach a work programme under the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) under its 31 July 2015 deadline, which could conceivably impede trade negotiations at the next WTO Ministerial Conference at Nairobi in December 2015. Professors Hoekman and Mavroidis provide a brilliant exposition of the factors to be considered in using the plurilateral agreement (PA) route while attempting to build multilateral agreement on more frontiers of world trade.

While I completely agree with Professors Hoekman and Mavroidis that more ‘variable geometry’ is needed now to breathe life into the trade negotiations mandate of the WTO, I do wonder whether devoting organizational resources at this stage to develop a PA ‘code of conduct’ with transparent terms on the mode of negotiating issue-specific PAs, is something that the WTO can politically afford at this stage of institutional stagnation and negotiations inertia over the DDA. A PA duly approved by the WTO membership under Art. X.9 of the WTO Agreement could indeed be a viable path to achieve harmonization and discipline over non-tariff measures, but how could this be harnessed to incentivize reaching a multilateral agreement among WTO members? If the two remaining PAs to date – on civil aircraft and government procurement – have not been universally ratified or widely opted into by WTO members to date, how can this be done under a strategically-crafted PA (as Hoekman and Mavroidis appear to suggest in proposing more usage of this route under an upfront code of conduct addressing the scope of coverage, e.g. an issue for WTO Plus, or a WTO Minus X issue on regulatory policy cooperation)?

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