ESIL-International Human Rights Law Symposium: Interactions Between IHRL and Other Sub-branches of International Law

Published on February 4, 2016        Author: 

We are happy to announce that over the course of this week and next we will be hosting an ESIL Interest Group on Human Rights blog symposium on the interactions between international human rights law (IHRL) and other sub-branches of international law. This follows the previous ESIL-IHRL Online Symposium – Is There General International Human Rights Law?

The discussion will start with an introduction by Başak Çali and Lorna McGregor, co-chairs of the ESIL Interest Group on Human Rights. The symposium will go on to consider the relationship between IHRL and other areas of public international law. Lucas Lixinski will analyse the interaction between IHRL and international cultural heritage law, whilst  Francoise Hampson and Daragh Murray will review its relationship with international humanitarian law. Robert Cryer will consider the interaction with international criminal law, Tara Van Ho the relationship with international investment law accounting, and Siobhán McInerney-Lankford the interaction of IHRL and development regimes.

We are grateful to all of the contributors for participating in what we are sure will be a fascinating symposium.

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Filed under: EJIL Analysis, Human Rights

Austria and the Fight Against the “Islamic State”: Whither Neutrality?

Published on February 3, 2016        Author: 

The most recent escalation of the conflict in Syria and the Paris attacks have once again led to intense debates over the still unresolved question of self-defence against non-state actors, the role of UN Security Council resolution 2249 in this regard, and the EU’s mutual defence clause enshrined in Article 42(7) of the Treaty on European Union. While these issues are of particular importance for those states that recently joined the military efforts against the “Islamic State’s” safe haven in Syria , i.e. the UK or Germany, they also affect one of the most delicate topics in Austria: its permanent neutrality.

In September 2015 foreign minister Sebastian Kurz declared that Austria had joined the alliance against the “Islamic State”, albeit without any military consequences. After France invoked the EU’s mutual defence clause, however, Austrian Defence minister Gerald Klug – emphasizing that he was voicing his personal opinion – openly stated that “there cannot be neutrality against terrorism.” From this point of view, measures typically deemed as being incompatible with neutrality, particularly flight permits for military aircraft on their way to Syria, do not pose a problem. Upon closer inspection, however, things are less clear.

Austria’s status as a permanently neutral state is a product of the negotiations with its four occupying powers – the US, the UK, France, and the Soviet Union – following the Second World War. According to Article I of the “Federal Constitutional Law on the Neutrality of Austria”, Austria “is resolved to maintain and defend its [permanent] neutrality with all the means at her disposal” and “will never in the future accede to any military alliances nor permit the establishment of military bases of foreign States on her territory.” Back in 1955, Austria notified all 63 states it entertained diplomatic relations with at that time of this law and asked for recognition of its status as a permanently neutral state. Hence, it is not only bound internally but also under international law to this very day (although it could, in the opinion of the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, unilaterally revoke this status regardless of whether other states take note or agree). Read the rest of this entry…

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Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court Authorizes Initiation of Investigation in Georgia

Published on February 1, 2016        Author: 

On 27 January 2016, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I (PTC) authorized the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation into the situation in Georgia, specifically focusing on allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity during and in the immediate aftermath of the August 2008 armed conflict. In the absence of a state party or the Security Council referral, the OTP filed the request for authorization in October 2015, seven years after initiating its preliminary examination. The investigation can cover alleged crimes by three groups: South Ossetian forces, armed forces of Georgia and armed forces of the Russian Federation. Georgia is a party to the Rome Statute, while the Russian Federation is not.

This post focuses only on the aspects of the PTC decision and the OTP’s request that raise the most questions, namely selection of crimes and of potential cases and admissibility of those cases, with specific emphasis on complementarity.

Crimes within the Jurisdiction of the ICC

The primary targets for the OTP’s investigation appear to be alleged crimes against ethnic Georgians, including forcible displacement and destruction of property, between 8 August and 10 October 2008 in the Russian occupied South Ossetia and adjacent areas. Read the rest of this entry…

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Announcements: ECHR and the Crimes of the Past; Journal on the Use of Force and International Law RfS; Women in International Law Network; International Cultural Heritage Law Summer School; CfC for International Criminal Justice On/And Film Workshop; Conference on the Protection of Persons in Times of Disasters; Drones and International Law Event; Reforms of the Individual Complaint Mechanisms Conference

Published on January 31, 2016        Author: 

1. European Convention on Human Rights and the Crimes of the Past. A one-day conference entitled European Convention on Human Rights and the Crimes of the Past is organized jointly by the European Court of Human Rights and the European Society for International Law.  The programme includes presentations by judges from the European Court of Human Rights, as well as international law scholars.  The conference will take place on Friday 26 February 2016 at the premises of the Court in Strasbourg. Registration is now open (deadline: 19 February). In order to register, please send an email to ESIL-ECHR-Conf2016 {at} echr.coe(.)int.

2. Request for Submissions: Journal on the Use of Force and International Law. The Journal on the Use of Force and International Law (Routledge) is requesting submissions. The Journal attracts contributions both from scholars writing on the general nature of the law in the area of the jus ad bellum and those examining particular uses of force or developments in this field of law. The Journal invites submissions of unsolicited manuscripts for both articles (suggested word length between 8-25,000 words including footnotes) and book reviews (suggested word length between  3-4,000 words including footnotes).  All submissions will be double-blind peer reviewed and should comply with the Journal’s style guidelines. The deadline for submissions is 20 May 2016.  Articles and book reviews can be submitted online here.

3. Women in International Law Network: The Olive Schill Society. At a time where there are continuing efforts to promote the place of women working in international law, such as the recently launched global campaign for gender parity in international representation, the Manchester InternationaI Law Centre is proud to launch the Women in International Law Network: The Olive Schill Society (WILNET). Founded by female researchers of MILC, and dedicated to Miss Olive B. Schill (whose bequest to the University of Manchester funds public lectures in commemoration of her brother, Edward Melland Schill, who was killed in the First World War), this new platform aims to provide a professional community for women international lawyers at any stage of their career to discuss both their experiences in — and pathways into — the field. WILNET will be formally launched in Manchester on 1 February: see here for further information.  WILNET invites female international lawyers at any stage of their careers, including students, to join us in this initiative. If you are interested in becoming a member, please email us at wilnet {at} Place “Membership” in the subject title, and provide us with your name, affiliation, and a short bio. Read the rest of this entry…

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Filed under: Announcements and Events

Compliance Adjudication at the ICJ – The Alleged Violations Case

Published on January 26, 2016        Author: 

The ICJ should soon deliver judgments on Preliminary Objections in the two most recent Nicaragua v Colombia cases. Both cases are closely related to the 2012 Judgment in Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v Colombia). In one of them, Nicaragua repeats a pleading the Court rejected in the 2012 Judgment for procedural reasons – that the maritime delimitation take into account Nicaragua’s proposed extended Continental Platform. In the other, Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights, Nicaragua requests the Court, first, to declare that Colombia has violated Nicaragua’s maritime sovereignty as established in the 2012 judgment; second, that Colombia ‘is bound to comply with the Judgment of 19 November 2012, wipe out the legal and material consequences of its internationally wrongful acts, and make full reparation for the harm caused by those acts’.

International Courts and Compliance Jurisdiction

Alleged Violations is the first attempt in half a century to directly bring to the ICJ a dispute concerning compliance with one of its judgments. This is less surprising once one finds out that, in the 1951 judgment in Haya de la Torre, the ICJ refused to provide meaningful guidance regarding the implementation of its 1950 Asylum judgment, on grounds that implementation of judgments must be based ‘only on considerations of practicability or political expediency’, and therefore is ‘not part of the Court’s judicial function’. Subsequent compliance cases (discussed below), other than the sui generis case of Nuclear Tests II, were ‘disguised’ as requests for interpretation, most clearly in Avena and Temple.

Alleged Violations therefore gives the Court the opportunity to re-assess its jurisprudence on the matter, and establish that questions regarding compliance with and implementation of judgments are legal questions, as justiciable as any other. Read the rest of this entry…

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Announcements: ANZSIL Call for Papers & Panel Proposals; ESIL Paper Series; Responsibility to Protect Workshop; UCL Journal Call for Submissions; University of Reading Postgraduate Programme; Protection of Human Rights & Environment Training

Published on January 23, 2016        Author: 

1. Call for Papers & Panel Proposals: 24th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law. This ANZSIL conference will take place from 30 June 2016 to Saturday 2 July 2016 at University House, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. The theme of the conference is International Law of the Everyday: Fieldwork, Friction & Fairness, and participants are invited to reflect on what comprises the everyday of international law and how international law shapes the everyday. The Conference Organising Committee invites paper submissions reflecting on these themes in any area of public and private international law. Also invited are proposals for panels comprised of three to four papers in circumstances where the presenters concerned are already in conversation, or would find it useful to be so assembled. Details of the submission process for proposals can be found in this flyer. Submissions must be sent by 26 February 2016.

2. ESIL Paper Series. The latest instalments in the European Society of International Law’s Paper Series have been published, featuring 8 papers from its 2015 Annual Conference and 7 papers from its 2015 Research Forum. The complete collection of papers from the ESIL Series is available here.

3. Lincoln Law School Responsibility to Protect Workshop. On 22 April 2016, Lincoln Law School will host the workshop ‘Evaluating the Impact of the Responsibility to Protect – 10 years on: An idea whose time has come and gone?’. This workshop will focus on the effectiveness and implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP), and brings together eminent scholars in the field and academics currently undertaking research into the implementation of RtoP. Key speakers include, Dr Aiden Hehir, University of Westminster; Professor James Pattison, University of Manchester; and Dr Justin Morris, University of Hull. We will also be joined by Dr Alexandra Bohm, University of Sheffield; Dr Sarah Sargeant, University of Buckingham; and Dr Stuart Wallace, University of Nottingham. Registration is available here and costs £15. The workshop will run between 10am and 6pm, lunch and refreshments will be provided. Contact Dr. Graham Melling (gmelling {at} or Dr. Christy Shucksmith (cshucksmith {at} for further information.

4. Call for Submissions: UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence. The UCL Journal of Law and Jurisprudence is a law journal run by postgraduate students of the UCL Faculty of Laws. The Journal appears twice a year and is available open access. The Editorial Board is pleased to call for submissions for the second issue of 2016. This will be our ‘City Issue’ and the Editorial Board welcomes submissions that engage with this general theme. The topic is broadly conceived and leaves scope for any area of law or jurisprudence (domestic, regional or international) that is deemed to be ‘City’ related, including, for example, banking and finance, regulation, capital markets, trusts, tax, IP, corporate or international economic law. Submissions could be theoretical, doctrinal or aimed at practice. The deadline for submissions is 30th April 2016. Manuscripts must be uploaded via the submissions section on our website. For further information and guidelines for authors please visit our website.

Read the rest of this entry…

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The ‘Compliance Track’ on a Track to Nowhere

Published on January 22, 2016        Author: 

The 32nd International Conference of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IC), held from 8th to 10th December 2015 and bringing together delegations from States Party to the Geneva Conventions (GCs), National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ICRC and the IFRC, has already attracted some comments (here and here). A little-explored topic to date has been the adoption of Resolution 2 on “Strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law”. This Resolution was linked to the so-called ‘compliance track’: an initiative managed by the ICRC and Switzerland, aimed at identifying options to improve the implementation of IHL.

A draft resolution circulated in October 2015 recommended that States create a new compliance mechanism, the so-called “Meeting of States on IHL” (MoS), and identified the key elements proposed for that mechanism. This draft resolution was also accompanied by a Concluding Report, providing insights into the consultation process and emphasizing the questions still pending. However, delegations at the International Conference were unable to reach a consensus on this new mechanism. Operative paragraph (OP) 2 of Resolution 2 adopted at the International Conference merely recommends “the continuation of an inclusive, State-driven inter-governmental process based on the principle of consensus…to find agreement on features and functions of a potential forum of States…in order to submit the outcome of this intergovernmental process to the 33rd International Conference”. The Resolution reiterates a series of guiding principles intended to inform further discussions. This post will describe the key features of the proposed Meeting of States. It will be noted that the proposals which were put to the International Conference, but not adopted, contained only a minimal option for strengthening compliance with IHL, though it would have had the merit of planting a tiny seed in the IHL system, with an eye to its possible ripening into a fruit.

The path towards the 32nd International Conference

The ‘compliance track’ was developed following the adoption of Resolution 1 at the 31st IC held in 2011, where the ICRC (later joined by Switzerland) was entrusted with pursuing consultations to enhance the effectiveness of IHL compliance mechanisms. A shared skepticism on the effectiveness of some existing mechanisms (such as Protecting Powers, Enquiry Procedures, Meeting of the High Contracting Parties, or the IHFFC) lay behind this request. In particular, as such mechanisms were designed for international armed conflicts and are dependent on States’ consent for their activation, they have barely functioned as envisaged. States’ discomfort with the increasing proliferation of (sometimes) proactive compliance mechanisms operating outside the realm of IHL, such as human rights bodies, was an additional element in favor of the possible development of new mechanisms for implementing compliance with IHL. Read the rest of this entry…

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Provisional Measures and Joinder of Cases at the International Court of Justice – The Answers

Published on January 18, 2016        Author: 

Earlier this month I asked four trivia questions about the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) practice on provisional measures and joinder of cases. The questions were prompted by the ICJ’s recent Judgment in the joined cases concerning Certain Activities carried out by Nicaragua in the Border Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua) and Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v. Costa Rica). I also stated that the first person to provide the most correct answers would win a year’s free subscription to the European Journal of International Law prize. Within minutes of my piece being posted, Niccolò Ridi (right, who is doctoral candidate at the Dickson Poon School of Law,  King’s College London and Research Assistant at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva) had provided comprehensive answers to all four questions. His quickness off the mark hardly gave anybody else a chance! He later added to his answers with subsequent comments, and is very deserving of the prize!

My first question was “1) In what other case has the Court made a finding in the dispositif of a judgment that a party has breached a provisional measures order made by the Court?” Niccolò is absolutely right to note that the use of the singular – ‘case’ – in my formulation is incorrect. The Court has made such a finding in the dispositif of a judgment in a few cases. The first case in which the Court did so was the La Grand case (Germany v the US) 2001. That was the first case in which the Court held that provisional measures orders were legally binding, and it is only since that judgment that the Court has included declarations of non-compliance with provisional measures in the dispositifs of judgments. Massimo Lando and Niccolò are also right that the Request for Interpretation of the Avena Judgment (Mexico v US); the Armed Activities case (DRC v Uganda); and the Bosnia Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v Serbia and Montenegro) case are other cases where the Court has found non-compliance with provisional measures. Indeed, it seems to be the case that, since LaGrand, in the majority of judgments dealing with cases where the Court has ordered provisional measures, it has subsequently made findings of violations of its interim orders. Two cases where the ICJ has not, in that time period since LaGrand, made such findings are the Land and Maritime Boundary (Cameroon v Nigeria) case (2002) and the Request for Interpretation of the Judgment in the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) case (2013). By my count that makes it 5 cases of findings of non-compliance with 2 cases of no such finding. These are not encouraging statistics regarding compliance with provisional measures!

Which Cases have been Joined?

Question 2 asked “In which proceedings have cases before the International Court been joined?” Niccolò was correct in referring to the South West Africa cases (Liberia & Ethiopia v South Africa) and the North Sea Continental Shelf cases (Federal Republic of Germany/Denmark; Federal Republic of Germany/Netherlands). Those were indeed the two cases where the ICJ has formally joined proceedings (I later realized that I had made a gaffe in my earlier post in referring to this press release as the answer to the question was made plain there).  Read the rest of this entry…

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Announcements: CfP Adjudicating International Trade and Investment Disputes; CfP Regional Approaches to International Adjudication; CfP DEBACLES – Illusions and Failures in the History of International Adjudication; Conference on Non-State Actors; Judge Rosas Conversation at City University; Research Fellow – International Humanitarian Law; Representations of the (Extra)territorial Conference; 1st Annual Conference on Energy Arbitration and Dispute Resolution in the Middle East and Africa;

Published on January 17, 2016        Author: 

1. Call for Papers – Adjudicating International Trade and Investment Disputes. PluriCourts, Center of Excellence for the Study of the Legitimacy of International Courts and Tribunals at the University of Oslo will host a conference from 25 – 26 August 2016 on “Adjudicating International Trade and Investment Disputes: Between Interaction and Isolation”. A call for papers has been issued for the conference across the disciplines of law, political science, and philosophy relating to three themes: the new mega-regionals, comparisons and practices, and cross-fertilization and learning. Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted by 1 March 2016. Further details can be found here.

2. Call for Papers – Regional Approaches to International Adjudication. A call for papers for the second joint meeting of ASIL Interest Group on International Courts and Tribunals (ASIL ICTIG) and ESIL Interest Group on International Courts (ESIL ICTIG) has been announced. The joint meeting will take place in Washington, D.C. during ASIL’s annual meeting (30 March-3 April 2016) (exact time and date to be confirmed). Abstracts are requested describing unpublished works (original and ongoing research) on the theme of  “Regional Approaches to International Adjudication”. Current (2016) members of either ASIL ICTIG and ESIL ICTIG, at any level of their careers, are invited to submit abstracts. Abstracts must not exceed 500 words, and must be submitted to geir.ulfstein {at} jus.uio(.)no and ngrossman {at} ubalt(.)edu. Deadline for submissions is 1 February 2016. Along with the abstract, please include the author’s name and affiliation, a short author’s CV and whether the author is an ESIL ICTIG member or an ASIL ICTIG member, or both

3.  Call for papers – “DEBACLES – Illusions and Failures in the History of International Adjudication”. The Department of International Law and Dispute Resolution of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for Procedural Law launches a call for papers for the Research Workshop “DEBACLES – Illusions and Failures in the History of International Adjudication/ Illusions et échecs dans l’histoire de la juridiction internationale”. The purpose of the DEBACLES project is to share cutting-edge research on specific failed attempts to create and operate international judicial forums as well as on broader historical/theoretical issues related to such failures. For more information, please read the call for papers. Read the rest of this entry…

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Filed under: Announcements and Events