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Who Do I Call If I Want to Give Europe a Nobel Prize?

Published on October 14, 2012        Author: 

Mauro Gatti is a PhD candidate in EU law at the University of Bologna and the University of Strasbourg. His article, “‘External representation of the European Union in the conclusion of international agreement” (with Pietro Manzini) recently appeared in (2012) 49 Common Market Law Review, Issue 5, pp. 1703–1734.

The awarding of the Noble Peace Prize to the European Union is a welcome event, especially in the context of the economic, social and political crisis facing the EU. The choice of the Nobel Committee also raises an interesting legal question: who should physically go to Oslo on December 10th and deliver a speech on behalf of the Union? This is a variation of the eternally unanswered question, attributed to H. Kissinger, “who do I call if I want to call Europe?”

This sort of question is often derided as exceedingly technical or formal. In international relations, however, forms may coincide with substance. The external representation of the Union grants elevated visibility and it ensures some discretion as to the content of the message to be delivered or, at least, in respect of the way the message is provided. Since institutional power games and personal struggles for visibility render external representation extremely contentious, this issue has been the object of turf wars for decades.

The Lisbon Treaty modified some specific arrangements, but it did not simplify the general representation framework. On the contrary, it introduced some novel uncertainties, which have already led to legal confrontation (see e.g. case C-28/12) and are likely to raise new issues in the case of the Peace Nobel Prize. The numerous declarations of EU leaders, issued subsequently to the announcement of the Nobel Committee, provide for a glimpse of the insterinstitutional battles that will be fought in the next few weeks: a statement came from the Cyprus Rotating Presidency, another from the European Parliament, a third from the High Representative, a fourth from the President of the European Council, a fifth from the President of the Commission, and a sixth from…the two Presidents together. It is likely that all these leaders strongly desire to deliver a speech in Oslo and be associated with this prestigious Prize. Therefore, the identification of the EU speaker will probably be laboriously performed through a legal battle concerning the interpretation of their respective competences.

Read the rest of this entry…

Filed under: EJIL Analysis, European Union
 
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GoJIL: Call for Papers

Published on October 12, 2012        Author: 

The editors of the Goettingen Journal of International Law send the following announcement:

Vol. 5, Issue No. 1 of the Goettingen Journal of International Law will include a focus on the law and politics of indigenous peoples in international law.

Indigenous peoples received increasing public and scholarly attention over the last decades. It has been a unique journey from the colonial history to the beginning of their political presence in the United Nations since the 1970s to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. The UN’s International Year for the World’s Indigenous Peoples in 1993 as well as the following decades of the world’s indigenous peoples from 1995 to 2004 and 2006 to 2015 prove the ongoing need to attend to indigenous peoples’ interests. Today, discourses of indigenous peoples rights and their claim for self-determination are found beyond International Human Rights law: topics such as intellectual property rights, control over the exploitation of natural resources, the protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions are on the agenda. Underlying all is the constant debate about a definition and the implementation of indigenous peoples’ rights beyond the Americas, particularly in Asia and Africa. In order to shine a light on the legal and political problems indigenous peoples are facing, we call for authors to submit papers on the topic.

The submission deadline is 1 March 2013. For more information contact us at info {at} gojil(.)eu.

Filed under: EJIL Reports, Journals
 

Syrian and Turkish Military Activities and International Law

Published on October 11, 2012        Author: 

Dr. Başak Çali, Senior Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law, Department of Political Science, University College London

A shell fired from Syria into the back garden of 38 year old Zeliha Timuçin, in the  town of Akçakale, Turkey on 3 October 2012 killed her, her 3 children and her sister in law. The Turkish military retaliated by firing artillery salvos against Syrian targets over 3 days. This raises important, but, thus far, largely unaddressed, legal questions about what international law is applicable to both the shelling by Syria, and, crucially, Turkey’s response. The identification of applicable international law, in turn, has important consequences for the attribution of responsibility for the killing of these five civilians.

The line taken by the Turkish government immediately after its retaliatory attacks on Syria on 3 October 2012 was that its actions were ‘in accordance with international law and the rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed forces’. No clarification about what body of international law was forthcoming. Given that Turkey used military force, it could only be referring to the right to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter and customary international law. Taking it further, and assuming there was an armed conflict between Turkey and Syria within the sense of Common Article 2 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, principles of proportionality and military necessity with regard to targeting decisions under international humanitarian law would also apply.  The reference to these two bodies of law assumes that events have indeed triggered their applicability. In reality, this is far from clear.

Has there been an armed attack against Turkey within the framework of Article 51 of the UN Charter?

The reaction of the NATO at its emergency session in Brussels on 3 October 2012  qualified the shelling as an “aggressive act against an ally” – thus supporting the view that Turkey was acting in self-defense under the ius ad bellum. Read the rest of this entry…

 

Francis Lieber Prize

Published on October 10, 2012        Author: 

The Francis Lieber Prize is awarded annually by the American Society of International Law’s Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict to the authors of publications which the judges consider to be outstanding in the field of law and armed conflict. Both monographs and articles (including chapters in books of essays) are eligible for consideration, as the prize is awarded to the best submission in each of these two categories.

Criteria: Any work in the English language published during 2012 or whose publication is imminent at the time of submission may be nominated for this prize. The re-submission of works which have already been considered for this prize is not allowed. Entries may address such topics as the use of force in international law, the conduct of hostilities during international and non international armed conflicts, protected persons and objects under the law of armed conflict, the law of weapons, operational law, rules of engagement, occupation law, peace operations, counter terrorist operations, and humanitarian assistance. Other topics bearing on the application of international law during armed conflict or other military operations are also appropriate.

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Filed under: EJIL Reports
 
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An Indian trial on Danish soil – an odd proposal in a somewhat bizarre case

Published on October 5, 2012        Author: 

Jacques Hartmann is Lecturer in Law, Dundee Law School, Scotland. Previouslyjoined the School of Law in September 2012. Prior to that he worked as a legal advisor at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

It is reported that India seeks to establish a tribunal at its embassy in Copenhagen to try a Danish national for conspiracy to wage war against the Indian Government. National trials in foreign countries are not without precedent. In 1999, after the Lockerbie case, two Libyan nationals were tried before an ad hoc Scottish court set up in a former US military base in the Netherlands. After the verdict in 2001, Professor Plachta in a piece in the European Journal of International Law (2001) questioned whether the case had opened the way to a neutral venue principle to solve future disputes involving the obligation of aut dedere aut judicare ). It has taken several years, but Plachta’s suggestion might be getting further support.

India has long been seeking the extradition of Niels Holck, a Danish national known in India by his alias ‘Kim Davy’. Holck is wanted for his involvement in the 1995 ‘Purulia arms drop’ where large quantities of weapons and explosives were dropped over the Purulia district of West Bengal in India. A British national and five Russians were subsequently arrested. Holck – the alleged mastermind of the operation – escaped. His co-accused were sentenced to life imprisonment. After pressure from their respective governments all six were later released (for UK parliamentary debate, see here).

India never relented in it efforts to bring Holck to justice. It first requested extradition in 2002. The request came after a major shake-up of the Danish extradition law following the events of 11 September 2001. Prior to this, Denmark would only extradite its nationals to other Nordic countries. Holck was one of the first Danes requested for extradition south of the border. Read the rest of this entry…

 

News from ESIL

Published on October 3, 2012        Author: 

Some very brief (and a bit belated) news from the 5th Biennial Conference of the European Society of International Law in Valencia, which went splendidly – many thanks to Mariano Aznar and Jorge Cardona for ensuring that everything ran so smoothly.

First, the Society’s next major event will be the 5th Research Forum in Amsterdam on 23-25 May 2013, with the main theme being international law as a profession. The Forum website is live, as is the call for papers and panel proposals – the deadline for submission is 15 November.

Second, EJIL:Talk’s permanent contributor Michael Waibel was awarded the prestigious ESIL Prize for his book Sovereign Defaults before International Courts and Tribunals, published in 2011 by Cambridge University Press. The jury members, Eyal Benvenisti, Jutta Brunnee and Francesco Francioni, were unanimous in their selection of the prize-winner: “A remarkable book – to our knowledge, it is the first comprehensive and systematic treatment of this subject. The book combines historical analysis with careful research of case law and other practice. The result is an impressive and original treatment of a subject that is of the utmost relevance for the present state of the international economic system.” Congrats Michael!

Third, at its post-conference meeting the ESIL Executive Board elected Laurence Boisson de Chazournes as the new President of the Society. Many congratulations also to Laurence, who succeeds the indefatigable Anne Peters, and best of luck for her term.

Filed under: Conference, EJIL Reports
 
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People’s Justice: Addressing the 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran

Published on October 2, 2012        Author: 

 Parisa Zangeneh is currently finishing her LL.M. at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and she completed her LL.B. at the University of Edinburgh and her B.A. at McGill University. She would like to thank those who provided assistance on previous drafts of this note.

“It is far better for an Imam to err in clemency than to err in punishment.”  Ayatollah Montazeri

Introduction

The victims of bloodshed, torture, and horror deserve justice, and selective justice is no remedy. The humanitarians of the world have exercised a discriminatory approach in selecting which human rights atrocities on which to focus, yet this does not provide redress to the invisible suffering of those who, for perhaps political reasons, have been overlooked. This is the case of those who suffered and died in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran, and this is why the establishment of a People’s Tribunal to address what happened to them, their families, and Iran is so important. To think that this happened in 1988, but that work is actively underway to address these atrocities only at this late stage, in 2012, highlights the need for uniform and intense scrutiny on all crimes on this scale – especially those that have been ignored by the international community.

 An important consideration before the People’s Tribunal will be the international criminal implications of the 1988 political prisoner massacre. The crime of genocide will likely feature in this discussion, considering that some of those who died were atheists or agnostics, and there is an unanswered question of whether these groups fulfill the “religious group” criterion in the 1948 Genocide Convention definition of that crime. Alternatively, or perhaps concurrently, charges of war crimes and/or crimes against humanity may be easier to prove. Read the rest of this entry…

 

Why the Special Court for Sierra Leone Should Establish an Independent Commission to Address Alternate Judge Sow’s Allegation in the Charles Taylor Case

Published on October 1, 2012        Author: 

Charles C. Jalloh is Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.; formerly the Legal Advisor to the Office of the Principal Defender, Special Court for Sierra Leone and duty counsel to former Liberian President Charles Taylor. He blogs at International Criminal Law in Ferment

Introduction

On April 26, 2012, after Presiding Judge Richard Lussick read out the summary of Trial Chamber II’s long awaited verdict in the case Prosecutor v. Charles Taylor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (“SCSL”), sitting in The Hague, Alternate Judge El Hadj Malick Sow controversially proceeded to issue his own “dissenting opinion”.

The way in which the Trial Chamber reacted to Alternate Judge Sow’s decision to make a public statement on the Taylor Trial; the exclusion of his statement from the official transcript of the hearing; and the recent information suggesting irregularities in the process which the SCSL judges invoked to discipline their judicial colleague for alleged misconduct all underscore the need for greater transparency on this issue than we have so far received from the SCSL.

This article argues that it is time for the SCSL to establish an independent fact finding commission, with a narrowly framed and time limited mandate, to establish the truth, or falsity, of the allegation that Alternate Judge Sow made during the delivery of the Taylor Trial judgment that there were no (serious) deliberations by the three judges who convicted the accused and sentenced him to 50 years imprisonment. Such a commission could also determine the extent to which, if any, Taylor’s fundamental right to fair trial under Article 17 of the Statute of the SCSL was impacted. The proposal for an ad hoc fact finding commission would demystify what happened during deliberations and can be concurrent with Taylor’s current appeal. It therefore will not delay the conclusion of the tribunal’s work. Read the rest of this entry…