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EJIL Vol.29 (2018) No. 1: In This Issue

Published on May 4, 2018        Author: 

The overture for the 29th volume of EJIL is conducted by Eyal Benvenisti, whose Foreword article opens this issue. Benvenisti aims to determine the role of global governance today in view of the challenges presented by new information and communication technologies. In his view, the task has shifted, or rather expanded, from simply ensuring the accountability of global bodies to upholding democracy and protecting dignity. As with previous Foreword articles we have published, Benvenisti’s article takes stock of an important field of study in international law, and is sure to set the agenda for that field in the coming years.

The following articles in this issue share a retrospective dimension. Wolfgang Alschner and Damien Charlotin undertake the arduous task of analysing almost seven decades of jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice regarding its increasing self-referentiality. Intriguingly, they find that the growing complexity of the Court’s self-citation network is both a vice and a virtue. This empirically grounded and institution-centric endeavour is followed by an article by Hendrik Simon, which takes an almost deconstructivist approach in reexamining one of the most prominent and provocative doctrines in the history of international law. By shedding light on forgotten disputes in 19th-century international legal discourse on justifying war he demystifies the doctrine of liberum ius ad bellum. Ignacio de la Rasilla del Moral complements this section with aretro-introspection. Given the upcoming 150th anniversary of academic publishing in international law periodicals, he examines the history of international law journals from the mid-18th century until today, concluding with thoughts on certain contemporary features such as digitalization, linguistic monopolies and specialization.

The next set of articles focuses on International Economic Law. Sungjoon Cho and Jürgen Kurtz identify the distinctive historical paths and multiple intersections of international investment and trade law from a common origin to divergence and reconnection. In their view, this pattern of convergence and divergence is not limited to historical development but can also be traced to common challenges deriving from balancing market goals and public interest. Christopher Vajda explores mechanisms of dispute resolution in a variety of international economic agreements of the EU, and distils from this comparative exercise the importance of a direct effect whilst pointing to some deficiencies concerning the agreement with Canada.

Roaming Charges takes us to Manila where public transport can be unique experience.

In this issue, and over the next three issues of EJIL, we will mark the four-year centenary of the Great War with a four-part symposium on International Law and the First World War. Each part of the symposium will explore different aspects of international law’s relationship to the global conflict. We begin in this issue with ‘International Law before 1914 and the Outbreak of War’. Following Gabriela Frei’s Introduction on international law and the ‘great seminal catastrophe of the 20th century’, Jochen von Bernstorff explores the largely unregulated employment of violence and international law before 1914 by differentiating between order-related and ontological justifications.

This issue closes with two Critical Review articles. 

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New Issue of EJIL (Vol. 29 (2018) No. 1) Out Next Week

Published on May 4, 2018        Author: 

The latest issue of the European Journal of International Law will be published next week. Over the coming days, we will have a series of editorial posts by Joseph Weiler, Editor in Chief of EJIL, and a guest editorial by Daniel Sarmiento, Professor of EU Law at the University Complutense of Madrid. These posts will appear in the Editorial of the new issue. 

Here is the Table of Contents for this new issue:

Editorial

A Court that Dare Not Speak its Name: Human Rights at the Court of Justice; Vital Statistics; Time for Change: With Thanks to Guy Fiti Sinclair; In this Issue

The EJIL Foreword

Eyal Benvenisti, Upholding Democracy amid the Challenges of New Technology: What Role for the Law of Global Governance?

Articles

Wolfgang Alschner and Damien Charlotin, The Growing Complexity of the International Court of Justice’s Self-Citation Network 

Hendrik Simon, The Myth of Liberum Ius ad Bellum– Forgotten Disputes about Justifying War in 19th Century International Legal Discourse

Ignacio de la Rasilla del Moral, A Short History of International Law Journals (1869–2017)

Focus: International Economic Law

Sungjoon Cho and Jürgen Kurtz, Convergence and Divergence in International Economic Law and Politics

Christopher Vajda, The EU and Beyond: Dispute Resolution in International Economic Agreements

Roaming Charges: Manila

More than One Way to Heaven

 

Symposium: International Law and the First World War

International Law before 1914 and the Outbreak of War

Gabriela Frei, International Law and the First World War: Introduction

Jochen von Bernstorff, Violence and International Law before 1914: On Imperial Ordering and the Ontology of the Nation State  Read the rest of this entry…

 
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70 Years of the International Law Commission: Drawing a Balance for the Future

Published on May 3, 2018        Author:  and

This post, and its sister post on OpinioJuris, mark the start of the seventieth session of the International Law Commission. Under the theme “70 years of the International Law Commission: Drawing a Balance for the Future”, commemorative events will be held on 21 May in New York and on 5-6 July in Geneva. In these two posts, Christiane Ahlborn and Bart Smit Duijzentkunst of the Codification Division of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, which serves as the secretariat of the Commission, place the role of the Commission in a historical context and discuss its promises and challenges moving forward.

This week the International Law Commission has started its seventieth session in New York. From its first session, in 1949, the Commission has played an indispensable role in the promotion of the “progressive development of international law and its codification”. Yet the desire to “codify” international law – to formulate and systematize rules of international law in order to avoid conflicting norms and enhance legal certainty – predates the Commission by many decades, if not centuries. An exhibit exploring the history and the achievements of the Commission is currently on display in the Visitors Lobby of the General Assembly Building at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Here are five things you may not know about the International Law Commission and the codification movement from which it emerged. Read the rest of this entry…

 

China leans in on international adjudication: Why Beijing’s answer to defeat will be more forceful engagement

Published on May 2, 2018        Author: 

This year China might suffer the third in a string of stinging defeats at international tribunals that would then cover trade, investment, and law of the sea matters. Contrary to persistent expectations in some policy circles, China’s leaders will not opt for withdrawal. They have resolved to make existing mechanisms work for China, and shape global governance by doubling down on engagement. In line with different degrees of Chinese integration into these systems, Beijing will respond by ratcheting up litigation (trade), upgrading bilateral treaties (investment), and pushing for favourable state practice through diplomacy (law of the sea). The international community will have to deal with a newly powerful legal actor who is very much on the offense.

Failure and Frustration

In two ways, trade law could this year deliver the third bombshell setback in China’s recent engagement with international adjudication. Firstly, there is China’s soon to be decided WTO complaint against the EU’s retention of a distinct (although modified) antidumping methodology for (states like) China. A similar case against the United States is in the consultation stage. Beijing had expected that its Accession Protocol would deliver automatic ‘market economy status’ including more favourable antidumping treatment 15 years after it joined the WTO.

Secondly, a major trade law standoff is unfolding between China and the US, involving the mutual adoption of tariffs and filing of WTO complaints, which could come to a head this year. The US filed a complaint on China’s protection of intellectual property (IP) rights alleging TRIPS Agreement violations. At the same time, the US Trade Representative (USTR) proposed tariffs following a Section 301 US Trade Act of 1974 investigation into Chinese IP practices. Beijing already responded with a WTO complaintalleging that such tariffs would violate the GATT, and its own list of proposed tariffs. Less crucially, China initiated another case alleging GATT and Safeguards Agreement violations through US tariffs on steel and aluminium products.

Previously, giant life insurer Ping An became the first Chinese company to lose an investment arbitration, when its $1 billion claim against Belgium over the Fortisbank nationalization was rejected in 2015. A year later, China suffered an almost total defeat against the Philippinesin an Annex VII UNCLOS law of the sea arbitration on South China Sea issues in July 2016.

Such setbacks trigger angry reactions in China against allegedly biased international institutions that might never give China a fair shake. Many commentators decried China’s supposed second-class membership in the WTO, when the EU decided against granting market economy status, while recent US trade actions are termed severe violations and ‘typical of unilateralism and trade protectionism’ by the Chinese government. Chinese officials were stunned when the investor in Ping Anlost over the ‘technicality’ of whether to rely on the older or the more recent bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between China and Belgium. Following the South China Sea case, it was mooted that Beijing could ‘denounce’ the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to be safe from other states’ attempts to ‘exploit’ the system ‘for political reasons’.

Doubling Down

Yet China is not going to withdraw, and Western governments, as guardians of the current system, will be surprised by how forcefully it will instead lean in to shape existing legal regimes. Tools will differ, but trade litigation, investment treaty making and law of the sea diplomacy to influence state practice serve the same purpose: align the rules further with China’s interests.

This effort is part of the more assertive foreign policy outlined by China’s president Xi Jinping, who just consolidated his power at the First Session of the 13th National People’s Congress. In a major shift, Xi has declared that China will no longer just participate in the international system, but provide ‘guidance’ towards a ‘new international order’. A recent treatise in the People’s Daily confirmed the ambition to seize the ‘historic opportunity’ to shape a new order while US policies under President Trump leave a leadership vacuum.

An underestimated driver of such strategic decisions is a policy elite of Chinese international lawyers who overwhelmingly favour playing offense. Prominent academics and legal counsels to the Chinese leadership have argued that with WTO dispute resolution, just showing up is half the battle. They have called for China to develop the litigious ‘mind set’ and investment treaty framework to go with its new status as major global investor. Lastly, they want China to go around the South China Sea award and influence the law of the sea by shaping state practice through diplomacy.

Bespoke Strategies

After China was refused ‘market economy status’, its Ministry of Commerce immediately struck back at the EU with a complaint at the WTO. Should it now lose the case, its appeal will already be prepared, as will be fresh complaints tackling the broader issue from different angles. At the same time, Beijing encourages Chinese companies to more proactively ‘prove’ to regulatory agencies abroad that they operate under market conditions, and contest adverse decisions at local courts.

Similarly, the Chinese government very quickly responded to recent (partly only proposed) US tariffs, with two fresh complaints. The current overall dispute with Washington will see a Chinese leadership that is more open to negotiated solutions than on antidumping methodology. Should there be any adverse decisions, though, China would again immediately appeal and file further complaints.

Flanking its litigation strategy, China continues massive diplomatic lobbying. Firstly, this serves to gain recognition as a market economy. More than 80 countries have already complied by explicitly providing such recognition, and FTA negotiations in line with theBelt and Road Initiative are to increase that number. President Xi has called for hastened implementation of China’s free trade strategy to strengthen its position in writing global trade rules, after failed Western efforts with TPP and TTIP left the field open.

Secondly, Beijing is actively portraying itself as defender of the WTO trade regime against a protectionist Trump administration onslaught. While many governments share US concerns about IP rights in China, Beijing uses (potential) US tariff implementation without WTO decisions, especially where broadly targeted such as on steel and aluminium, to position itself as the better trade citizen. China’s aim is not only to offset pressure concerning domestic legal changes, but also to shape future coalitions of states in international trade law reform (or rather in blocking reform where existing frameworks suit China).

On investment law, the investor’s defeat in Ping An spurred the Chinese government to quickly improve its investment treaties and seek influence on global investment rules harmonization. Beijing wants to get new investor-friendly treaties in place that include improved transitional clauses, and grant broad access to international arbitration, as well as, quite unusually, appellate bodies. Chinese lawyers argue that such mechanisms may improve legal predictability, but perhaps more importantly they would give the Chinese side another chance in case of defeat.

Wanting to make use of the full arsenal of available measures, the Chinese leadership also acts on the multilateral level. On the path towards a common worldwide investment law system that looks more like the WTO in the trade area, Beijing seeks to set the agenda and touts the ‘Guiding Principles for Global Investment Policymaking’, adopted at the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou, as a first step. The non-binding principles are infused with Chinese wording and interpretations of principles such as legal predictability, transparency, and effective dispute resolution.

Finally, in the third issue area of the law of the sea, after the stunning loss on South China Sea claims, Beijing decided to undermine the award’s authority with a diplomatic push to underline contradictory state practice. Chinese officials aim to prevent the arbitrators’ restrictive interpretations of ‘historic rights’ and ‘island’ status from becoming international customary law. They point out, for example, that the United States and Japan use tiny rocks to make extensive maritime claims, and lobby states worldwide to support China’s interpretation of its islands’ entitlements. Some scholars point out the potential for further UNCLOS implementation agreements(as on deep seabed mining), which could clear up ambiguity in terms favourable to China and override the tribunal’s decisions.

While China may strictly reject compliance with the South China Sea award, it needs UNCLOS to protect its interests and gain influence on maritime governance. Beijing aims to secure a large UNCLOS-sanctioned continental shelf in the East China Sea, based on favourable geography vis-à-vis Japan. It wants Chinese companies to be in a prime position for the coming International Seabed Authority-sanctioned mining bonanza under the high seas worldwide, and it intends to have a seat on the table regarding Arctic governance issues. Indicative of its strategic choice to shape the system from within, China now adopts more UNCLOS-like language for its South China Sea claims and backs away from the ‘Nine-dash Line’.

The Future of China and International Law

So, in a nutshell, what should we expect China to do? Its approach has already evolved considerably. The focus shifted from the international legal order’s ‘hardware’ – joining institutions and equipping them with Chinese judges and staff – to its ‘software’. Now the Chinese leadership wants more influence on the treaties and customary law behind the system. In a parallel process, once it feels confident enough in a particular field, China gradually but inevitably boots up participation at court.

Prominent voices in China, including Prof. Yi Xianhe, member of the Foreign Ministry Consultative Committee on International Law, have argued that China must be a ‘leader country’ on international law, if it is to consolidate economic and political gains. That includes actively engaging with international tribunals. Such statements represent an emerging consensus among Chinese international lawyers that forward-leaning engagement will on balance be a positive for China, and the best protection of its national interests.

 
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European Court of Justice Bans Homosexuality Tests for Asylum Seekers

Published on May 1, 2018        Author: 

Asylum seekers in European Union countries will no longer be subject to psychological tests to prove their homosexuality, according to a decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on 25 January 2018. In F v. Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal, the ECJ declared the illegality of the use of psychological reports based on projective personality tests in determining sexual orientation of asylum seekers.

The asylum applicant, a Nigerian man identified as F, sought asylum in Hungary, arguing that he has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his homosexuality. The Bevándorlási és Állampolgársági Hivatal (Office for Immigration and Citizenship of Hungary, hereinafter “Immigration Office”) rejected his asylum application. While the Immigration Office concluded that F’s application was not “fundamentally contradictory,” the Immigration Office found that F’s statement about his homosexuality “lacked credibility” based on one psychologist’s report (para. 22). F appealed this decision to a Hungarian court, and the case was eventually referred to the ECJ.

The “expert report” at issue in the case was produced by a psychologist after an investigative examination, which involved several basic projective personality tests, including the “Draw-A-Person-In-The-Rain” test and the Rorschach and Szondi tests. Upon completing the tests, the psychologist concluded that F’s homosexuality could not be confirmed.

The ECJ ruled that EU law does not prohibit authorities or courts from ordering the production of an expert report to help assess the facts and circumstances relative to an asylum seeker’s claim, but only if the production of the report is consistent with human rights law and the report is not relied upon solely or conclusively. The Court further held that EU law precludes the preparation and use of a psychological expert’s report based on projective personality tests to determine an individual’s sexual orientation when assessing an asylum claim sought by the individual on the ground of sexual orientation. Read the rest of this entry…

 
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