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Home Posts tagged "UN"

Reconciling new interpretations of the UN Charter with the customary international law on the use of force

Published on November 26, 2019        Author: 

 

In a recent lecture, published as a post on this blog, Professor Dapo Akande analysed the diversity of the rules on the use of force in international law and the implications for the evolution of the law in this area. In this post I wish to address one issue arising from this discussion but not directly addressed in Dapo’s lecture: the impact of changes to the UN Charter on the customary international law rules on the use of force.

In his lecture, Dapo argues persuasively that there are structural difficulties surrounding the evolution of Charter rules, and that these could be avoided if UN members were to interpret the UN Charter through subsequent practice under Article 31(3)(b) VCLT so that a ‘Uniting for Peace’ resolution of the UN General Assembly ‘would be deemed not to be a breach of the prohibition of force under Art. 2(4) in the same way that a Council resolution authorizing force would have that effect.’ However, while this route would avoid the obstacles Dapo discusses that make it difficult to imagine customary international law bringing about a change in the Charter rules on the use of force, it raises the opposite question: how would modification of the Charter rules impact the customary prohibition on force?

As clarified by the ICJ in Nicaragua (Merits, para 179), customary law continues to exist and apply separately alongside even identical treaty provisions. Since the customary and treaty prohibitions exist independently, even if the Charter were to be interpreted so that force authorised through Uniting for Peace was no longer considered a breach of Article 2(4), this interpretation of the Charter wouldn’t automatically change custom to match. A priori, force lawfully authorised by the General Assembly under the Charter would therefore still be in violation of the customary prohibition on force. One could argue that the new treaty rule would simply prevail over the customary prohibition to the extent they conflict, but this seems difficult when the customary prohibition is probably also a jus cogens norm. Indeed, it seems rather that the purported interpretation of the Charter would – by analogy with a new treaty amendment conflicting with jus cogens which would presumably be caught by Article 53 VCLT – be invalid. Read the rest of this entry…

 

The IOM’s New Status and its Role under the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration: Pause for Thought

Published on March 29, 2019        Author: 

On 8 July 2016, the UN General Assembly adopted by consensus the Agreement Concerning the Relationship between the UN and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) (the UN-IOM Agreement). In broad terms, the objective of the UN-IOM Agreement was to ensure better coordination between UN agencies and the IOM as they fulfil their respective mandates. The Agreement created a formal relationship between the two institutions, making the IOM a UN “related organization”.

The formalisation of various interconnections between the UN and the IOM makes intuitive sense. The UN is without a generalised agency for migration, and although the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has widened its mandate somewhat, it remains primarily concerned with refugees.

Since the IOM has become a UN related organization, the UN has transferred escalating levels of responsibility for secretariat processes on the topic of migration to the IOM which would ordinarily be undertaken by the UN Secretariat or a UN specialized agency. The problem is that the organisational structure of the IOM is fundamentally different from the UN, including in terms of mandate, funding, and governance, such that this transfer of responsibility gives rise to a problematic conflict of interest. Moreover, accountability mechanisms have been lost in the ether. This blog post elaborates some of the challenges arising from the new related status of the two organizations and flags concerns about states transferring escalating levels of secretariat responsibility directly to the IOM in the field of migration. Read the rest of this entry…

Filed under: Migration, Refugee Law
 
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Parliaments as Human Rights Actors – Proposed Standards from the UN

Published on June 21, 2018        Author:  and

On 13 June 2018, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released its report on the Contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review, which will be discussed at the Human Rights Council session starting 18 June. The report includes a welcome proposal for a set of standards – the draft Principles on Parliaments and Human Rights – that cover the (i) mandate; (ii) responsibilities and functions (both domestically and vis-à-vis the international human rights system); and (iii) composition and working methods of a parliamentary human rights committee.

We have been advocating for the adoption of standards for four years, and in 2017 we published suggestions for the content of such standards in a chapter in Saul, Follesdal & Ulfstein (eds.) The International Human Rights Judiciary and National Parliaments (CUP) based on our work on this topic since 2013, and on outline standards presented at a Human Rights Council side event in 2014. This post discusses the importance of the proposed UN standards, and what needs to happen next.

Why should parliaments engage with the UN human rights mechanisms?

When we consider human rights actors on the domestic level, we typically think of the executive, the judiciary, the national human rights institution (NHRI), and civil society. But parliaments can also play a vital role. They can oversee the actions of the executive by ensuring that laws, policy and practice are in compliance with international human rights commitments. Yet, many parliaments do not fulfil this role. The OHCHR report and draft Principles could be crucial in encouraging greater parliamentary engagement on human rights. Read the rest of this entry…

 
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