EJIL: Live! Interview with Professor Bernard Hoekman

Published on October 18, 2015        Author: 

The latest in the EJIL: Live! podcast series features an extended conversation between Professor Joseph Weiler, Editor-in-Chief of EJIL, and Professor Bernard Hoekman of the European University Institute, whose article, co-authored with Petros Mavroidis, “WTO ‘à la carte’ or ‘menu du jour’? Assessing the Case for More Plurilateral Agreements“, appears in Volume 26, Issue 2 and was discussed at EJIL:Talk! earlier this month. The conversation looks behind the scenes at the issues examined in the article, taking the discussion to deeper levels. The podcast is available in both video and audio formats.

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Announcements: University of Louvain academic vacancies; Developing International Law at the Bar; Settlement of Tax Disputes under International Law Conference; Conference on Australia’s Asylum Seeker Policies

Published on October 17, 2015        Author: 

1. University of Louvain (Belgium) academic vacancies. The University of Louvain in Belgium is currently advertising two academic vacancies. The first vacancy, Professorship, Public International Law, is a full-time position. The Professorship, Economic law position is a part-time position. The procedure and deadline for applying can be found here. Full English translations of the relevant websites are available.

2. Developing International Law at the Bar – A Growing Competition Among International Courts and Tribunals. On 5 November 2015 at 3pm, The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals (Brill/Nijhoff) will offer its second Seminar in a series devoted to contemporary developments in international judicial practice. The Seminar will discuss some salient aspects of a growing competition among international courts and tribunals in the development of international law. The program is organized by Pierre Bodeau-Livinec (University Paris 8) and Chiara Giorgetti (Richmond Law School) and is co-sponsored by European Affairs committee of the NYCBA. Panelists include Chester Brown (University of Sydney), Mathias Forteau (University of Paris Ouest-Nanterre), Makane Mbengue (University of Geneva), Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (Editor-in-Chief of The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals), August Reinisch (University of Vienna), Attila Tanzi (University of Bologna) and Catherine Tinker (Seton Hall University, Chair of the European Affairs Committee of the NYC Bar Association). For more information and to enrol see here. Read the rest of this entry…

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Governing the Future with Sustainable Development Goals: Hopes and Challenges

Published on October 16, 2015        Author: 

The summit of world leaders that took place at the UN General Assembly in New York at the end of September marked an unusually harmonious moment in international politics. In the summit 193 countries acted in concert to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are set to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the beginning of 2016.

The new development agenda builds on the MDGs, and its Preamble declares that the SDGs are to complete what the MDGs failed to do. The final MDG report, which was released a week before the summit, shows that while progress has occurred in many spheres of global development, there have also been plenty of uneven achievements and shortfalls. These range from the world’s poorest remaining very unevenly distributed across regions and countries, to targets in improving maternal health not being fully met.

The SDGs reach far beyond MDGs in terms of their ambition, and they come with enormous potential. For example, instead of aiming to reduce extreme poverty rates the SDGs have set the bar higher with the aspirational target of eradicating extreme poverty everywhere. The new development agenda is also of unprecedented scope. While the MDGs comprised of 8 goals and 18 targets, the SDGs have 17 goals and there has been a nearly ten-fold increase in the targets to 169. The new agenda also recognises that some important development challenges, such as gender equality, are crosscutting issues that need to be taken into consideration in the implementation of all goals.

There are also positive developments in relation to human rights. Historically the relationship between MDGs and human rights has been tenuous, and the link between the two has been mostly implicit and under-developed. The MDGs have been criticised from a human rights perspective – among other thingsfor their non-participatory design process, for providing a ‘fig leaf of legitimacy’ to authoritarian regimes with poor human rights records, for enshrining goals that are less ambitious than those present in the human rights paradigm, and even for undermining international human rights law standards. The new agenda is more explicitly tied to international human rights instruments. The agenda states that the SDGs are grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights treaties, and that they seek ‘to realize the human rights of all’ (Preamble, Paragraph 10). In other words, human rights can be understood as both the foundation and the aim of SDGs. Read the rest of this entry…

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Will the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Awaken? The Kunduz Hospital Attack and the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission

Published on October 15, 2015        Author: 

Editors Note: Following the attack earlier this month in Kunduz on a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières, we  are  today posting two articles on the potential role of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) in any investigation. The two posts, the first by Ove Bring (Professor Emeritus of International Law at Stockholm University & Swedish National Defence University, and former member of the IHFFC) and the second by Catherine Harwood (Ph.D. Researcher at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at Leiden University), present different views on the debate regarding the IHFFC’s role.

The horrific attack on 3 October 2015 on a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, has turned the world’s attention back to the enduring armed conflict in Afghanistan and the need for full and transparent investigations of incidents that ostensibly violate international humanitarian law (IHL). Following the attack, MSF called on the US to “consent to an independent investigation led by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) to establish what happened in Kunduz, how it happened, and why it happened.”

The IHFFC, established by Article 90 of Additional Protocol I (1977) to the Geneva Conventions (AP I), is the only permanent international fact-finding body with a specific mandate to investigate violations of IHL. Its President, Dr. Gisela Perren-Klingler, has confirmed that the Commission is ready to undertake an investigation of the attack. Despite its potential value to promote compliance with IHL, the IHFFC has never been used. Back in 2002, Professor Frits Kalshoven questioned whether the Commission had become a ‘Sleeping Beauty’, suggesting that its disuse was due to its independence and the general reluctance of parties to armed conflicts to have the truth about certain facts exposed.

This incident appears at first sight to provide an eminently suitable opportunity to put the Commission to good use. However, this contribution argues that the distinctive contours of the Commission’s jurisdiction, combined with political factors, mean that it is unlikely to be roused from its fact-finding slumber just yet. Read the rest of this entry…

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The Kunduz Hospital Attack: The Existence of a Fact-Finding Commission

Published on October 15, 2015        Author: 

Editors Note: Following the attack earlier this month in Kunduz on a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières, we  are  today posting two articles on the potential role of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) in any investigation. The two posts, the first by Ove Bring (Professor Emeritus of International Law at Stockholm University & Swedish National Defence University, and former member of the IHFFC) and the second by Catherine Harwood (Ph.D. Researcher at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at Leiden University), present different views on the debate regarding the IHFFC’s role.

The accidental bombing of the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on 3 October 2015, epitomizes the need for fact-finding with regard to possible violations of the international humanitarian law of armed conflict (IHL). President Obama has ordered a national investigation, but from the perspective of IHL an international process of fact-finding would be a more credible and impartial option. Since 1992, the 1977 First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (the Protocol) has established an International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC, Commission). The Commission has been contacted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) in the Kunduz matter (see news reports here). The Secretariat of the Commission, seated in Berne, Switzerland, has reported on the Commission website that it has taken appropriate steps and is in contact with MSF, but cannot give any further information at the present stage.

The Protocol aims at increasing the protection of civilians in international armed conflicts and improving the implementation of IHL. Article 90 of the Protocol lays down the competence and procedure for the IHFFC, which became operational following acceptance of its competence by 20 States Parties to the Protocol. This group of states, parties to the Commission, has since, at five-year intervals, elected the prescribed 15 members of the Commission. Such members should be of “high moral standing and acknowledged impartiality”. They serve in their personal capacity for five-year terms. A list of the current members is available on the IHFFC website.

So far, 76 states have accepted the Commission´s competence and thus become parties to it. The number includes several major military powers and several states that have been involved in armed conflicts. They are from all parts of the world. Read the rest of this entry…

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The Growing Importance of Data Protection in Public International Law

Globalization and borderless electronic communication has brought huge benefits to individuals. At the same time, the increased exploitation of personal data by the private sector and reported intelligence gathering of personal data via the Internet have caused widespread international concern. The recent appointment by the UN Human Rights Council of a Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy in the summer of 2015, and the adoption on 18 December 2013 by the UN General Assembly of a resolution on “the right to privacy in the digital age”, demonstrate the growing international interest in data protection rights.

There is a growing need for legal rules protecting the processing of personally-identifiable data, known as data protection, to be anchored more firmly in public international law. The increasing number of regulatory conflicts caused by differing national and regional conceptions of data protection, as illustrated by the judgment of 6 October 2015 of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Maximillian Schrems, should be a wake-up call to the international community in this regard.

Indeed, data protection at the international level remains fragmented and weak, creating risks for individuals and problems for international organizations (such as UN entities and international humanitarian organizations), many of which process large amounts of personal data. Read the rest of this entry…

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2015 ESIL Annual Conference Final Lecture: Developments in Geopolitics – The End(s) of Judicialization?

Published on October 12, 2015        Author: 

Editors Note: The European Society of International Law held the 2015 ESIL Annual Conference from 10–12 September 2015 on “The Judicialization of International Law – A Mixed Blessing?” The event, hosted by the PluriCourts Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, took place at the University of Oslo. For the Final Lecture, Professor Philippe Sands QC (University College London) discussed “Developments in Geopolitics – The End(s) of Judicialization?”. This post is a précis (summary) of the lecture as prepared by the Editors of EJIL: Talk! and reviewed by Professor Sands; the lecture may be viewed in full here. The full lecture, with all references and citations added, and a short Afterword, will be published in the European Journal of International Law. Full details of the conference are available on the conference website, including recordings of selected sessions.

In the summer of 2014 I spent three weeks in The Hague, in the company of a man who was 100 years old. Professor Vladimir Ibler, who was born in 1913 in Zagreb, was one of my co-counsel during the hearings in the arbitration proceedings between Croatia and Slovenia, heard in the Peace Palace. Each morning he and I walked slowly up the central staircase of the Peace Palace, and then down it later in the afternoon: past the statue of lady justice, to and from the Japanese room, where the hearing took place. Professor Ibler, who was diminutive in height but certainly not in presence or character, would muse about the state of the world, of international law, and of international courts. “When I was born there were none”, he said to me, “and now there are so many that I cannot keep up with them all. What are they all for? What do they all mean?” The questions were never answered of course, but from his cheery disposition I always felt he retained a sense of hope. A centenarian who lived a life that was touched by Emperor Franz Josef, Hitler, Stalin and Tito was easily able to seize on the possibility of courts as an alternative to war, which is of course the principal end of judicialization. He was hopeful too that Croatia and Slovenia would finally be able to resolve their dispute, by arbitration proceedings under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

Yet he also sounded a note of caution. I interviewed him in June 2014 more formally for a profile I was asked to write for the Financial Times magazine. “I learnt in my life not to come to fast conclusions”, he told me.

“I was very happy in a lawyers office in Zagreb from 1937 to 1939, working with Mr Korsky, and then the Nazis just shot him. I think that being in a lawyer’s office you can make certain conclusions about people and about human relationships, and you can learn certain things. And what I learnt is not to be very quick to make conclusions, but reflect all the time.”

Wise advice from a man who had reached the age of 100.

Was it a good idea to refer the dispute between Croatia and Slovenia to an international arbitral tribunal, I asked. “Yes”, he replied, but added: “What I am sceptical of is some of the judges that were appointed to the court, I am not entirely convinced that the tribunal has been totally independent.” He paused. “It seems there are some invisible forces. There are justices and there are injustices.” Recent events have caused me to go back to that conversation. Read the rest of this entry…

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New EJIL:Live Extra! Joseph Weiler and Doreen Lustig Discuss the Transition from Doctoral Student to Academic Lecturer

Published on October 11, 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 Dr Doreen Lustig, recently appointed lecturer at Tel Aviv University, the joys and challenges involved in making the transition from doctoral student to academic lecturer. The conversation also focuses on the significance of bibliometrics in today’s academic world. The interview was recorded at the European University Institute in June 2015.

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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…

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