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Announcements: Ghandhi Research Seminar Series; The Current Crisis in Nuclear Arms Control Law; CfP Palestine Yearbook of International Law; Blockchain, Law and Governance Conference

Published on October 13, 2019        Author: 
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1. Ghandhi Research Seminar Series. Global Law at Reading (GLAR) is delighted to unveil the programme for the 2019/20 Ghandhi Research Seminar Series. The series showcases the work of experts in global law fields. It is convened this year by Dr Marie Aronsson-Storrier and Matthew Windsor, and is named in honour of Professor Sandy Ghandhi, who taught at the School of Law from 1978 to 2013. Anyone is welcome to attend these seminars, and attendance is free. However, visitors coming from outside the University of Reading are kindly asked to send advance notification that they will be attending: m.r.windsor {at} reading.ac(.)uk.

2. Lecture on The Current Crisis in Nuclear Arms Control Law. In this lecture, hosted by University of Westminster, Professor Joyner will discuss the current crisis in nuclear arms control law and its implications. The lecture will take place on 7 November 2019 in London, from 6.30 – 7.30pm. For more information, see here

3. Palestine Yearbook of International Law – Call for Papers.  The Palestine Yearbook of International Law (PYBIL) has opened an invitation for an additional round of submissions for Volume XXII. We welcome general submissions related to public international law. We are interested in particular in critical approaches to international law, and welcome submissions in relation to Palestine. This peer-reviewed volume would include articles, case commentaries, and book reviews. Deadline for submissions is 30 November 2019. The full call for papers can be found here

4. Good For all: Towards a Paradigm Shift – Blockchain, Law and Governance Conference. This conference will take place on 25 – 26 October 2019 at Milan, Università degli Studi, Sala Napoleonica, Via Sant’Antonio 12. The overall topic discussed throughout the conference is blockchain in a legal perspective. As never before, this new technology requires us to take a multidisciplinary approach. Indeed, enactment of new laws cannot ignore an understanding of how the technology works. Accordingly, workshops and parallel practical sessions will be offered to allow those who are interested to gain knowledge of what there is behind a blockchain node. The common thread throughout the conference will be a look at technology without fear and with the aim to understand it and to better grasp positive effects that can derive from it. For this reason, some sessions will be devoted to blockchain sustainable projects in application. For further information, see here

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The Implementation of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights: Worse Than You Think – Part 2: The Hole in the Roof

Published on October 8, 2019        Author: 
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Part 1 of this blog post addressed the current narratives concerning the implementation of ECtHR judgments. Part 2 below attempts to set out what the current state of implementation might really be.

Imagine you are told that there is a hole in the roof of your house. You go out to buy the materials to fix it, come home and begin work. However, half-way through the repairs you realise that the hole is far larger than you thought. It turns out that you do not have enough materials to mend it properly.

If we are not careful, this is what is going to happen with the challenge of non-implementation of ECtHR judgments and the response that is made towards it in the next era of the Convention system. The scale of the problem is being underestimated – so there is a serious danger that the response will be insufficient. The scale of non-implementation can be demonstrated by looking at the best metrics available to assess the issue.

Overall judgments vs. Leading judgments

The number of overall pending ECtHR judgments is mostly filled by repetitive cases. In order for these to be closed, justice has to be carried out for the individual applicant in the case. This usually involves the payment of compensation; or perhaps a retrial or proper investigation into the relevant events. Read the rest of this entry…

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The Implementation of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights: Worse Than You Think – Part 1: Grade Inflation

Published on October 7, 2019        Author: 
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Part 1 of this blog post will explore how the current narratives about the implementation of ECtHR judgments paint a misleading picture. In Part 2, a different set of statistics will be examined, in order to explore how well the implementation system is really functioning.

In some countries, exam results in schools and universities are improving every year. However, many doubt that this is because the students are actually doing better in their studies. The accusation is made that, though exam marks are improving, this is the result of tests being made easier, rather than the students becoming better educated. This “grade inflation” allows schools and universities to publish better results, but without the performance behind the results actually improving.

What applies to schools and universities can also apply to international institutions.

Over the last few years, the Council of Europe has advanced a consistent narrative about the state of implementation of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights. This narrative suggests that implementation is going very well indeed. Read the rest of this entry…

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Announcements: SIEL-Hart Prize in International Economic Law; American University Washington College of Law LLM

Published on October 6, 2019        Author: 
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1. Submissions for the SIEL-Hart Prize in International Economic Law. The SIEL–Hart Prize is awarded every two years to an outstanding unpublished manuscript by an early career scholar in the field of International Economic Law. The winner of the SIEL–Hart Prize will receive a contract for publication within the Hart series Studies in International Trade and Investment Law; a £250 Hart book voucher; a SIEL bursary of up to £750 to cover travel and accommodation expenses to, and waiver of the registration fee for, the 2020 SIEL Global Conference (to be held in Milan, July 2020). Full details about the prize can be found here. Deadline for submissions is 1 December 2019.

2. American University Washington College of Law LLM. The LL.M. in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law is accepting applications for the hybrid and online programs starting this January. Students will benefit from a flexible curriculum focused on over 20 human rights doctrinal courses offered every year and taught by expert faculty. Deadline to apply is 1 December, classes start January 2020. Apply here

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International Civil Servants and Their Unexplored Role in International Law

Published on October 3, 2019        Author: 
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2019 marks the centenary of the foundation of the League of Nations. While the early intergovernmental organizations (IOs) founded before WWI were often staffed by seconded officials, Eric Drummond, the British diplomat and the first Secretary-General of the League, set the ground for creation of an ‘international’ secretariat, composed of professional public servants of various backgrounds, who were ready to commit to the goals of the League and carry out their functions under the sole direction of a non-national leader. The concepts and approaches introduced by Drummond were later inherited by the United Nations and other IOs. Later on, the second UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld played a major role in concertizing the concepts and principles of international civil service, introducing ‘independence’ and ‘international responsibility’, as the pillars of the work of the secretariat.

Today, the backbone of international bureaucracies are individuals with expertise and diplomatic tact, who altogether constitute a unique body of human resources known as ‘international civil servants’. International civil servants perform their duties in complex legal and political environments; in refugee camps, humanitarian missions, post-conflict administrations, and sometimes in calmer environment of headquarters. The status, rights and obligations of employees of IOs are rooted in the constituent instruments of their respective organizations, concluded under international law. However, this is not a one-way road. Indeed, international civil servants actively contribute to formation of international norms, monitor and report on their implementation at macro and micro levels. In a broader perspective, they collectively shape the vision of ‘good life’ for the world population, using an expert language, which enhances the persuasive force of their narratives. Nevertheless, the role of individuals behind the wheels of IOs in development of international law is, to a great extent, absent from the international legal discourse. A better understanding of the changes in international law necessitates an in-depth inquiry into the role of international civil servants in constructing the narratives that influence the spheres of global and national governance. Read the rest of this entry…

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“Sustainable Self-Defense”? How the German Government justifies continuing its fight against ISIL in Syria

Published on October 2, 2019        Author: 
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“We have defeated ISIS in Syria”, US President Trump, tweeted on 19 December 2018. “We just took over 100% caliphate. That means the area of the land.”, he added in March 2019. Nonetheless, until to date, the global coalition against the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) continues its military operations in Iraq and Syria. May States in Syria still use armed force against ISIL, now deprived of territorial control, under the right of (collective) self-defense?

The German Government answered this question in the affirmative. On 18 September 2019, the Government formally requested the German Parliament to extend the (national) mandate “for German armed forces to safeguard the stabilization of Iraq and Syria, to promote their reconciliation, and to prevent ISIL’s regaining of strength in those regions” (all translations by the author). The Parliament is currently debating the issue. With the governing parties endorsing the request, Parliament is expected to agree despite critique on the operation’s legality by opposition parties.

In its formal request, the Government details the legal basis for the continuation of operations against ISIL. As a matter of principle, it does not significantly depart from its previous justifications. It bases the use of armed forces in Iraq on the “Iraqi government’s continuously valid request and continued consent”. For its operations in Syria, the Government continues to invoke collective self-defense on behalf and on request of Iraq against attacks from ISIL, “in connection with” Security Council resolution 2249 (2015).

But importantly, the Government has also updated its justification in light of ISIL’s loss of territorial control. This, in short, would not affect the coalition’s right to continue military operations against ISIL in Syria. This updated justification is worth discussing in regard to three aspects of self-defense: whether it can be used against non-State actors, its endorsement by the Security Council, and the question of continuing armed attacks.

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France Speaks Out on IHL and Cyber Operations: Part II

Published on October 1, 2019        Author: 
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In the first part of this post I discussed the position paper’s articulation of the views of France on the applicability of IHL to cyber operations, on the classification of armed conflicts, and on their geographical scope in the cyber context. In this part I will examine the position paper’s views on the concept of “attack,” on the conduct of hostilities and on data as an object.

The Meaning of the Term “Attack”

The issue of the meaning of the term “attack” has occupied center stage from the very inception of legal thinking about cyber operations during an armed conflict. It is a critical one because most key IHL “conduct of hostilities” rules are framed in terms of attacks – it is prohibited to direct “attacks” against civilians or civilian objects (distinction), an “attack” expected to cause collateral damage that is excessive to the anticipated military advantage is prohibited (proportionality), parties must take precautions in “attack” to minimize harm to civilians (precautions in attack), etc.  These prohibitions, limitations, and requirements beg the question of when a cyber operation qualifies as an “attack” such that the rules govern it.

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France Speaks Out on IHL and Cyber Operations: Part I

Published on September 30, 2019        Author: 
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The French Ministry of the Armies (formerly the Ministry of Defense) has recently released Droit International Appliqué aux Opérations dans le Cyberspace (International Law Applicable to Operations in Cyberspace), the most comprehensive statement on the applicability of international law (IHL) to cyber operations by any State to date.  The position paper dealt definitively with many of the current unsettled issues at the forefront of governmental and scholarly discussions.

This two-part post builds on an earlier post at Just Security in which I examined the position paper’s treatment of the relationship between peacetime international law, including that set forth in the UN Charter regarding uses of force, and hostile cyber operations. The focus here, by contrast, is on France’s views as to how IHL applies in the cyber context. Key topics addressed in the paper include the applicability of IHL in cyberspace; classification and geography of cyber conflict; the meaning of the term “attack” in the cyber context; the legal nature of data during an armed conflict; and other significant IHL prohibitions, limitations, and requirements on cyber operations.

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Announcements: CfS Cyber Law Toolkit; UN Audiovisual Library of International Law; Socially Responsible Foreign Investment Conference

Published on September 29, 2019        Author: 
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1. Call for Submissions: Cyber Law Toolkit. Cyber Law Toolkit, the leading interactive web-based resource on the international law of cyber operations, is inviting submissions for its next general update in 2020. Successful authors will be awarded an honorarium. The Toolkit consists of a number of hypothetical scenarios, each of which contains a description of cyber incidents inspired by real-world examples and accompanied by detailed legal analysis. To keep pace with the recent developments in the cyber security domain and remain relevant source of help for practitioners and scholars alike, the Toolkit is regularly updated. The project team welcomes proposals for new scenarios to be included in the 2020 Toolkit update. This call for submissions is open until 1 November 2019. For more information, see the full text of the call
 
2. New Additions to the UN Audiovisual Library of International Law. The Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs recently added the following lectures to the Lecture Series of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law (AVL) website: Mr. José Antonio Burneo Labrín on “International Criminal Law: its development and genealogy“ (in Spanish), and Mr. Roberto Fernando Claros Abarca on “The International Legal Subjectivity of the Investor: Reflections on Counterclaims in Investor-State Arbitration“ (in Spanish). The Audiovisual Library is also available as a podcast, which can be accessed through the preinstalled applications in Apple or Google devices, through Soundcloud or through the podcast application of your preference by searching “Audiovisual Library of International Law”.
 
3. Socially Responsible Foreign Investment Conference. On October 24 and 25, Católica Global School of Law and the European Society of International Law are organizing an international conference on Socially Responsible Foreign Investment, which will take place in Lisbon, at the campus of Universidade Católica Portuguesa | Católica Global School of Law. The conference is directed to scholars and practitioners interested in such topics as investment law or human rights and business, and specially for those interested in testing new legal tools for a changing world. Attendance is free, but subject to registration here.
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