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Announcements: CfA International Law in a Dark Time; Athens PIL Summer School 2017; CfP The Military Law and the Law of War Review; CfP Melbourne Journal of International Law; CfP Brill Open Law; Summer Session of Salzburg Law School

Published on April 30, 2017        Author: 

1. Call for Audience – International Law in a Dark Time. The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights and Peking University Institute of International Law Collaboration Project (ECI-PUIIL Project) will organize a seminar for doctoral students and junior researchers on “International Law in a Dark Time,” on 22 – 23 May 2017, in Helsinki. The seminar will be directed by professors Anne Orford (University of Melbourne) and Martti Koskenniemi (University of Helsinki). Up to 30 participants may register to be in the audience. Please register here. The deadline for registrations is 15 May 2017. See here for the seminar program.

2. Athens PIL Summer School 2017: ‘Migratory Flows in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Present and the Future’. The Athens Public International Law Center – Athens PIL is organizing a Summer School dedicated to ‘Migratory flows in the Eastern Mediterranean: The present and the future’. The Summer School will be hosted at the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens on 19 – 23 June 2017. The lectures will be delivered in English, by leading academic experts and practitioners in refugee and migration law and the course will include on-site visits to hotspots and first-reception camps around Athens. We particularly welcome mature postgraduate students and early-stage researchers but also practicing lawyers, policy-makers, NGO workers, international agency staff and other professionals working with refugees and migrants. The number of participants is limited to 25 participants from EU and non-EU countries. The deadline for submission is 15 May 2017. The Call for Applications is available here. For further information and registration please see here.

3. Call for Papers: The Military Law and the Law of War Review.  The Military Law and the Law of War Review / Revue de Droit Militaire et de Droit de la Guerre is a journal specialised in matters of interest for both civilian and military legal advisors as well as legal scholars and academics. The Review is published under the auspices of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War. It features original and challenging articles, case notes, commentaries of the latest legal developments, as well as book reviews. As a distinct trait, it accepts contributions in six languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. For its 2016 – 2017 issue (vol. 55/1), the Review’s editorial board welcomes submissions that come within the broader scope of the Review (including military law, law of armed conflict, law on the use of force, as well as international criminal law and human rights law (inasmuch as related to situations of armed conflict)). In particular, the editorial board invites scholars and practitioners to submit articles pertaining to the international law of military operations. The deadline for submissions is 15 June 2017. Submissions should be sent by e-mail to brussels {at} ismllw(.)org and will be subject to double-blind peer review. Articles should normally not be longer than 15,000 words (footnotes included), although longer pieces may exceptionally be considered. Inquiries can be sent to the abovementioned e-mail address. Read the rest of this entry…

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New EJIL:Live! Interview with Liam Murphy on his Article “Law beyond the State: Some Philosophical Questions”

Published on April 29, 2017        Author: 

In this episode of EJIL: Live! the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal, Professor Joseph Weiler, speaks with Professor Liam Murphy of New York University, whose article, “Law beyond the State: Some Philosophical Questions”, appears as the central piece in an EJIL: Debate! in Volume 28, Issue 1.

A legal philosopher, Professor Murphy takes up the challenge of exploring the realm of international law, an area largely ignored by Anglo-American legal philosophers since H.L.A Hart. Professor Murphy seeks to offer new perspectives on the famous chapter 10 of Hart’s The Concept of Law, and to critique the understanding of the international legal system set out therein. This then serves as the framework for his discussion of two core issues: the relevant grounds of law in international law – what factors are relevant in determining the content of law in force – and what makes international law a legal order. Professor Murphy also reflects on the Replies to his article, published in the same issue of the Journal, and how these prompted him to give further thought to the issues addressed in his article.

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Would a Multilateral Investment Court be Biased? Shifting to a treaty party framework of analysis

Published on April 28, 2017        Author: 

I have recently been pondering a common complaint voiced against the EU and Canada’s proposal for a multilateral investment court, which is that it would be biased against investors because all of the judges would be selected by states (see, for example, the ABA’s Report here and Judge Schwebel’s speech here). In my view, this criticism is misguided because it confuses the role of states as disputing parties and as treaty parties. States have dual roles in the investment treaty system: they are treaty parties with a legitimate interest in the interpretation and application of their treaties and they are disputing parties with a desire to avoid liability in particular cases. When it comes to questions of institutional design, I think that we need to adopt a treaty party framework of analysis, not a disputing party one.

In a particular dispute, an investor can appoint one arbitrator and a state can appoint another. Once a case is filed, it is hardly surprising that both disputing parties would seek to appoint arbitrators who are broadly sympathetic to their positions. This tends to generate polarization within the field with arbitrators often being thought of (whether accurately or not) as having either a “pro-investor” or a “pro-state” bias. This division helps to explain why, when judged from the perspective of the dispute resolution framework, investors and members of the arbitral community have raised concerns that having tribunals selected by states only would lead to biased results. This is so even though neither the claimant investor nor the respondent state would appoint the particular tribunal members tasked with hearing the case.

When it comes to institutional design, however, we need to shift our focus from the disputing party framework to the treaty party framework. Read the rest of this entry…

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Tackling Non-Implementation in the Strasbourg System: The Art of the Possible?

Published on April 28, 2017        Author: 

Slow, partial or sometimes even non-implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights is the Achilles heel of the European Convention system. The latest annual report of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers attests to some positive trends — a record number of cases closed in a single year and a decrease in the number of pending cases revealing systemic or structural problems — yet still 9,944 judgments remain unimplemented. While this is the first time since 2010 that the figure has dipped below 10,000, it remains a substantial caseload for the Committee of Ministers, the body formally tasked with monitoring implementation.

How, then, to tackle the problem? A thought-provoking contribution to this debate has been made by Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou and Fiona de Londras in their article, ‘Mission Impossible? Addressing Non-Execution through Infringement Proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights’.

Infringement proceedings under Article 46(4) of the Convention were introduced by Protocol No. 14 to the Convention in order to provide a means of increasing pressure on obstructive states short of the extreme sanction of suspension or expulsion. This — as yet unused — mechanism empowers the Committee of Ministers to refer a state back before the Court if it refuses to implement a judgment.

Dzehtsiarou and de Londras argue that invoking Article 46(4) would be ‘futile and counterproductive’ because, among other reasons, it risks overburdening the Court (specifically its Grand Chamber, which would consider any referrals) and further delaying implementation while proceedings are pending. Moreover, they venture, infringement proceedings would do nothing to address the root causes of non-execution and could provoke a backlash by impugned states, potentially damaging both the effectiveness and legitimacy of the Convention system. Read the rest of this entry…

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Excusing Humanitarian Intervention – A Reply to Jure Vidmar

Published on April 27, 2017        Author: 

The US strikes in Syria, for which the US offered no legal justification, have once again ignited the debate on the qualification of such acts as illegal but legitimate – a label that had been used, in its day, to describe NATO’s use of force in Kosovo. Legally speaking, what does this sentence mean? Jure Vidmar, in his post on this blog, attempted to explain it by means of the distinction between justification and excuse. As Vidmar explains, excuses usually (but by no means always) cover situations in which conduct, while illegal, is nevertheless the morally right thing to do in the circumstances. He sees this type of reasoning behind the reactions of other States to the US action – expressing support for the action as the right thing to do, but unwilling to go as far as to say that the conduct was permitted or lawful.

The argument is certainly plausible (although note that no State has used the language of excuse in these circumstances which is, in my view, somewhat problematic for the argument). However, it raises a number of important issues which may, ultimately, undermine the very purpose of excusing an actor engaged in humanitarian intervention. I want to consider three of these here: (i) the current recognition of excuses in international law; (ii) the availability of excuses in respect of the breach of peremptory rules; and, (iii) the potential effects of excusing states for humanitarian intervention. I will address each of these in turn.

Excuses in International Law

Excuses are defences that arise from properties or characteristics of actors which, while having no effect on the illegality of the act, shield that actor from responsibility for its (illegal) actions. By contrast, justifications are defences that arise from properties or characteristics of acts and have the effect of rendering those acts lawful, despite apparently breaching a rule of the legal order. Read the rest of this entry…

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Irregular Migrants and the Prohibition of Slavery, Servitude, Forced Labour & Human Trafficking under Article 4 of the ECHR

Published on April 26, 2017        Author: 

On 30 March 2017, the ECtHR delivered the Chowdury and Others v. Greece judgment (currently available only in French), where the Court found a violation of Article 4(2) of the ECHR (the right not to be subjected to forced labour). This judgment is an important addition to the gradually growing body of case law under Article 4 of the ECHR. Against the background of the overall prolific output of the Strasbourg Court, it might come as a surprise that the case law under Article 4 is very limited. In addition to the line of cases where the state demands services, which could amount to forced labour (see, for example Chitos v. Greece), there have only been seven cases in which the Court had to address circumstances where abuses inflicted by non-state actors (i.e. employers) qualify as slavery, servitude, forced labour or human trafficking under Article 4. Chowdury and Others v. Greece is the eighth one. It is, however, the first case where the Court found that exploitation of irregular migrant labour amounts to forced labour. The previous cases (Siliadin v. France and C.N. and V. v. France), where the Court determined that the factual circumstances amounted to forced labour, involved children who provided domestic services.  Chowdury is also the first case where the Court found that the victims were subjected to forced labour, but not to servitude.

Chowdury and Others v. Greece has already received wide media coverage (see the Guardian, New York Times) and has been assessed as constituting an important advancement. After briefly describing the factual circumstances and the findings, in this post I would like to take a more critical approach to that part of the judgment where the Court addresses the definitions of servitude, forced labour and human trafficking in human rights law. Despite the positive outcome, the judgment Chowdury is in some respects lacking in rigor in terms of delineating the definitional boundaries of the above mentioned concepts. Read the rest of this entry…

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Stability vs. Flexibility: Can the European Union find the Balance?

Published on April 25, 2017        Author: 

To what extent can a State forego its contractual commitments, in particular those arising from a stabilization clause for human rights and environmental protection? (“under a stabilization clause, the host State commits itself either not to enact changes of the domestic law in the future, or at least, not to apply such changes to the investor”, Ohler, Concessions, Max Planck Encyclopedia, 2009.) Our assumption is that stabilization clauses and states’ rights to regulate should be integrated and not be taken as opposite obligations, considered as incompatible. In other words, if framed correctly, stabilization clauses can balance the two conflicting needs at stake: the sanctity of contract and a state’s right to regulate to protect its public interest (Leben, L’évolution de la Notion de Contrat d’État, Revue de l’arbitrage, 2003; Carbone, Luzzatto, Il Contratto internazionale, 1996; Giardina, State Contracts, national versus international law, The Italian Yearbook of international law, 1980; Fatours, International Law and International Contract, 1980; Mann, State Contracts in International Arbitration, 1967).

This post examines whether the (fairly) new European exclusive competence on foreign direct investment changes the way stabilization clauses should be framed in EU State contracts to avoid potential conflicts. There are two different kinds of possible conflicts that could arise: first involving either provisions among themselves, or second, the two different legal regimes at stake (the international and the European).

Read the rest of this entry…

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Ukraine’s Dashed High Hopes: Predictable and Sober Decision of the ICJ on Indication of Provisional Measures in Ukraine v Russia

Published on April 24, 2017        Author: 

 

There has been a lot of speculation on the possible outcome of Ukraine’s request for indication of provisional measures in the highly politicized case of Ukraine v Russia, in particular following the parties’ heated exchange of arguments during oral proceedings that took place on 6-9 March 2017 before the ICJ (see my blog here and another blog here). Last week, the Court delivered a highly anticipated decision in which it indicated provisional measures with respect to Ukraine’s claims under CERD by requesting Russia “to refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of Crimean tatar community to conserve its representative institutions, including the Mejlis” (by 13 to 3) and “ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language” by a unanimous vote (p. 106). In addition to those specific measures aimed at preserving specific rights, the Court chose to indicate an additional measure of general nature with the view of ensuring the non-aggravation of the dispute between the Parties (paras 103, 106).

In rather mild language, the Court also spoke of its ‘expectation’ for the Parties, “through individual and joint efforts, to work for the full implementation of [the Minsk agreements] in order to achieve a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the eastern regions of Ukraine” (para. 104). This seems to be a compromise middle-ground solution when the Majority, although having dismissed the plausibility of claims under ICSFT and therefore chosen not to indicate provisional measures with respect to Ukraine’s claims under the Convention, highlighted the seriousness of the ongoing fighting in eastern Ukraine and encouraged the Parties to revive the Minsk agreements that have been violated countless times. Read the rest of this entry…

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Announcements: Business and Human Rights Conference; Contemporary Challenges to International Criminal Justice Summer Academy

Published on April 23, 2017        Author: 

Conference on “Business and Human Rights: International Law Challenges, European Responses”, University of Milan. The Conference on “Business and Human Rights: International Law Challenges, European Responses” (organised by the University of Milan on 29 – 30 May 2017) focuses on several different legal instruments and legal areas, including: the international legal framework on Business and Human Rights (B&HR); domestic legislation and related practice and case law implementing it in Europe; the European Union legal framework on Corporate Social Responsibility, corporate behavior, and private international law; and, the EU trade and investment policy and the international agreements thereby negotiated or concluded. On the basis of the examination of these legal instruments, the Conference aims at identifying the solutions offered in Europe to the B&HR international law issues and at providing an overall assessment of their effectiveness. The programme is available here. Signing up is possible by sending an e-mail to EUlawbusinesshumanrights {at} unimi(.)it.

Contemporary Challenges to International Criminal Justice Summer Academy Northumbria University, Newcastle. The inaugural Summer Academy on Contemporary Challenges to International Criminal Justice (Law & Criminology) will take place in Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK) from 12 – 16 June 2017. This novel summer academy provides an opportunity for participants to acquire in-depth knowledge on the most pressing issues facing the international criminal justice system from leading scholars and practitioners. To view the list of speakers and the list of topics please visit our website.

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