Home 2012 (Page 5)

Blog Revamp and Downtime

Published on November 3, 2012        Author: 

We are happy to report that we will shortly be launching a revamped, visually and technically much-improved version of the blog. The launch will most likely happen on Monday, and readers can expect a couple of hours of downtime.

Filed under: EJIL Reports
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The Copenhagen Process: Principles and Guidelines

Published on November 3, 2012        Author: 

Jacques Hartmann is Lecturer in Law, Dundee Law School, Scotland.

On 20 October the Danish Government published a set of ‘Principles and Guidelines’ on the handling of detainees in international military operations. The Principles addresses uncertainties surrounding the legal basis for detention and the treatment of detainees during military operations in non-international armed conflicts, such as current operations in Afghanistan or Iraq. An impressive 22 States, including the P5, have expressed support. Human rights organisations, on the other hand, have expressed dismay. The following provides a short background to and comments on the non-legally binding text.

The Principles and Guidelines are the outcome of a five-year long process that was initiated by the Danish Government in 2007 – the so-called ‘Copenhagen Process’. The process was initiated in recognition of the fact that bilateral or ad-hoc solutions to detention during international military operations often led to unacceptable differences in the handling of detainees, which, according to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), are not only unsatisfactory in relation individual protection but at times also constitute a hindrance to effective military cooperation. Read the rest of this entry…


Antonio Cassese Initiative for Justice, Peace and Humanity

Published on November 2, 2012        Author: 

It is still hard to believe that Antonio Cassese, one of the leading and most influential international lawyers of our time, and one of the founders of the European Journal of International Law passed away almost exactly a year ago (see here, here and here). Nino Cassese was a distinguished jurist and scholar, an illustrious judge and an inspirational teacher, who will be remembered for his profound humanity and generosity of spirit. In order to continue his legacy, the Antonio Cassese Initiative for Justice, Peace and Humanity has recently been founded.

The mandate of Antonio Cassese Initiative is to promote global education, learning and training (particularly in developing countries and countries facing political transtion) in the disciplines to which Antonio Cassese dedicated his professional life. These include human rights, peace, international justice, transitional justice and development. The Initiative will conduct its work mainly through the global network of experts, friends and admirers of Antonio Cassese. Operating from its base at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, all activities of the Antonio Cassese Initiative will be infused with the spirit of humanitarianism and public service that characterized the life and work of Antonio Cassese. As a teacher, jurist and statesman, Antonio Cassese believed passionately in the power of law as a force for good and change; he believed in using the law to achieve justice, peace and humanity. Antonio Cassese strived to make learning egalitarian and accessible to all and he sought to empower and liberate through his teaching and his books, but also by dedicating his life work to effect practical changes.

The Antonio Cassese Initiative will also rely on the pro bono efforts of its network. If you wish to apply to be included in the roster of experts and instructors to offer your specific expertise to the various activities sponsored by the Initiative, click here. If you wish to become a supporter or a sponsor of the Initiative, click here.

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Announcement from the Hague Academy

Published on November 2, 2012        Author: 

Programme : Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations

The Centre is designed to bring together young international lawyers of a high standard from all over the world, to undertake original research on a common general theme which is determined each year by the Academy. The research work undertaken at the Centre may be included in a collective work published by the Academy.

There are between 20 and 24 participants, half in the English-speaking section and half in the French-speaking section.

Organisation : The Hague Academy of International Law

Topic: The Legal Implications of Global Financial Crises

Period: 19 August-6 September 2013

Venue : Peace Palace, The Hague Netherlands

Directors of Studies:

English-speaking section: Michael WAIBEL, Lecturer at the University of Cambridge

French-speaking section: Geneviève BASTID BURDEAU, Professor at Sorbonne Law School, Paris I University

Fee : free of charge, each participant receives a daily allowance of 35 euros according to the length of the stay and the reimbursement of half of the travel expenses, up to a maximum of 910 euros.

Application : online registration form, deadline to register : March 31st 2013

General information  Practical information  Registration form

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How to survive a PhD in international law

Published on November 1, 2012        Author: 

So, some time ago I wrote a post directed at those considering a PhD in international law. This post is aimed at those holding an acceptance letter in their hands. Congratulations: you’ve got into a doctoral programme, that’s no small achievement. However, let’s consider what’s ahead of you. My main themes here are: funding, timing, the emotional challenge, your relationship with your supervisor and a final word on the joys of the process. (Future posts will probably deal with questions of career planning and viva preparation.) Again, my aim is not to be off-putting but to highlight some of the things I think many PhD students don’t consider in advance.

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Scottish Independence and the European Union

Published on October 31, 2012        Author: 

Matthew Happold is Professor of Public International Law at the University of Luxembourg 

Recent events in a number of European States have pushed the issue of secession up the political agenda.  In Catalonia, the ruling Convergencia i Unio party has announced its intention to hold a referendum on Catalan independence if it wins the forthcoming regional elections, despite the Spanish government’s claim that such action would be illegal.  In the United Kingdom, the Westminster and Edinburgh governments have agreed to the holding of an independence referendum in 2014. In neither case, however, does there seem to be a wish to combine independence with an exit from the European Union. The Scottish National Party (SNP), in particular, have long campaigned on the slogan ‘Independence in Europe’, seeking to persuade voters that they can have the best of both worlds: Scottish independence and EU membership.

In recent years, however, the SNP have quietly modified their position.  Instead of arguing that an independent Scotland would automatically be a member of the European Union, it now claims that it is ‘inconceivable’ that it would not become one.  This reflects a hard truth.  Although as a matter of politics, it may seem inconceivable that an independent Scotland -or an independent Catalonia – would not take its place as an EU member; legally there is no automaticity about the matter at all.  Succession to membership of international organisations (which the EU must, for these purposes, be classed as) is governed by international law.  International law provides that membership of international organisations is governed by the rules of each organisation.  And the Treaty on European Union does not provide for succession to membership.

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International Law Trivia: The Winners

Published on October 28, 2012        Author: 

Readers will recall that last month I had a series of posts asking trivia questions relating to international law (see here). Many of those questions related to the practices of international tribunals and the International Court of Justice in particular. The questions had a special focus on voting practices at international tribunals. Before I started the series, I promised a prize for one person who was successful in answering the trivia questions. The prize is a years free subscription to the European Journal of International Law. I apologize for not getting round to announcing the winner till now. In fact we have two prize winners!

Our first winner is Tamás Hoffmann (left) who is Lecturer in law at the Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary. Tamás has a PhD from ELTE Budapest and an LLM in Public International Law from King’s College London. He responded to most of my questions and got his answers correct. His depth of knowledge of ICJ and PCIJ cases is very impressive indeed.

Our second winner is Daniel Wisehart (right), licence en droit, First State Exam completed in 2012, who studied at the University of Potsdam and the Universié Paris Ouest La Défense. He is currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Potsdam and working as an associate with  Professor Robin Geiß on legal problems surrounding international drug control. Daniel also responded to most questions but we were particularly impressed with his response to my question on cases at the ICJ where no judge has issued an individual opinion (separate or dissenting). Not only was he able to give the answer with regard to the ICJ he also pointed out the position at the PCIJ, noting that in the 1920s most PCIJ decision were issued without individual opinions but that this changed in the 1930s. He then offered a reason why the practice might have changed. Tamas then followed up with a further explanation.

Congratulations to both of them!


UK Government Rejects Pre-emptive Self Defence With Respect to Iran

Published on October 26, 2012        Author: 

The Guardian reports that the United Kingdom has denied a United States request to use UK military bases in Cyprus as well as in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans for a buildup of military forces in the Gulf. Apparently, the US requests have been made as part of ‘routine’ contingency planning for potential military action against Iran. In rejecting the US requests, British Ministers are reported to have acted on legal advice from the UK Attorney General to the effect that preemptive military action would be unlawful under international law.

According to The Guardian:

‘[British Ministers and Downing Street]have pointed US officials to legal advice drafted by the attorney general’s office and which has been circulated to Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

It states that providing assistance to forces that could be involved in a pre-emptive strike would be a clear breach of international law on the basis that Iran, which has consistently denied it has plans to develop a nuclear weapon, does not currently represent “a clear and present threat”.

“The UK would be in breach of international law if it facilitated what amounted to a pre-emptive strike on Iran,” said a senior Whitehall source. “It is explicit. The government has been using this to push back against the Americans.”

Sources said the US had yet to make a formal request, and that they did not believe an acceleration towards conflict was imminent or more likely. The discussions so far had been to scope out the British position, they said.’

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No Detente on Prisoner Voting and the ECHR in the UK

Published on October 24, 2012        Author: 

In the wake of the European Court’s judgment last May in Scoppola v. Italy, in which it more or less gutted its prior cases on prisoner voting rights (see my previous post on prisoner voting and strategic judging for more background), the UK governmental structures have been debating how to respond in their long-drawn out altercation with Strasbourg. Scoppola essentially gave the UK an opening to end the dispute – all it needed to do to comply with the Court re-interpreted judgment in Hirst was to pass some essentially cosmetic changes to its existing legislation that would ‘strike the proper balance’.

The opportunity is not yet completely lost, if cooler heads prevail. The UK government is of course not monolithic, and some parts thereof would rather put the whole thing to rest. But that process is political more than it is legal, and after today’s performance by David Cameron at the PM questions in the House of Commons, a detente between the UK and Strasbourg seems increasingly unlikely.

“No one should be under any doubt – prisoners are not getting the vote under this government,” he told MPs, in answer to a leading question by a Labour MP strongly urging him to continue defying the Court. The whole exchange is available at BBC News, and the short video bears watching, if nothing else then for witnessing the extent of the cheers among the assembled parliamentarians in support of the Prime Minister’s position.

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After a Brief Hiatus, Kenya Once Again Has Universal Jurisdiction Over Pirates

Published on October 24, 2012        Author: 

 Jon Bellish is a Project Officer at the Oceans Beyond Piracy project just outside Denver, Colorado, though the views expressed are solely those of the author. You can follow him on Twitter.

On October 18, the Kenyan Court of Appeal in Nairobi handed down a pivotal decision in In re Mohamud Mohammed Hashi, et al. It held that Kenya has jurisdiction to try piracy suspects whose alleged acts occurred beyond the country’s territorial waters. Due to Kenya’s central role in the emerging global network of piracy prosecutions, the Court’s ruling in Hashi will have positive implications both within and outside of Kenya.

The Court of Appeal decision overturns a ruling from the High Court of Mombasa, which concluded that, “[Kenyan] Courts can only deal with offences or criminal incidents that take place within the territorial jurisdiction of Kenya.” For an excellent analysis of the lower court’s decision, I would point readers to this post on Communis Hostis Omnium.

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