magnify
Home 2017 September

Challenging Gender Stereotyping before the ECtHR: Case of Carvalho Pinto v. Portugal

Published on September 21, 2017        Author: 

On 25 July 2017, the ECtHR delivered an important judgment on discrimination, condemning ageist and sexist assumptions made in the reasoning of the domestic court. In this post, I will share my observations about the novelty of the case and its contribution to the case-law of the ECtHR.

Facts and Judgment in short

The applicant, suffering from a gynaecological disease, underwent surgery during which her left pudendal nerve was injured as a result of medical malpractice. Following discharge from hospital, she began to experience intense pain and loss of sensation in the vagina, urinary incontinence, difficulty walking and sitting, and she could not have sexual relations. In the lawsuit she filed, the Lisbon Administrative Court awarded her a sum of compensation for pecuniary damage, covering inter alia the service of a maid for household tasks which she was unable to carry out, and non-pecuniary damages for the physical and mental suffering she experienced. However, at the appeal, the Supreme Administrative Court (Hereinafter: SAC) reduced the amounts awarded for both pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages on account of three reasons set out as the following:

  1. The applicant’s complaints had only been aggravated following the surgery but they were not new;
  2. She probably only needed to take care of her husband, given the age of her children, and did not require a full-time maid; and
  3. The applicant, who had two children, was already 50 years old, an age when sex was not as important as in younger years and that its significance diminished with age.

In its judgment, the Strasbourg Court drew similarities between the applicant’s case and two other judgments concerning medical malpractice experienced by two men at the ages of 55 and 59, who became impotent and incontinent as a result of medical error in operations they underwent. The ECtHR observed that in those judgments, the SAC did not find the amounts awarded excessive, considering the “tremendous shock” or “strong mental shock” experienced by plaintiffs who would suffer irreversible consequences to their sex lives. Contrary to the applicant’s case, the SAC had taken into account neither the plaintiffs’ age nor whether they had any children in these similar cases.

In the decision the ECtHR stated that the general assumption relied on by the domestic court that sexuality was no longer important for a fifty-year-old woman derived from the traditional understanding of female sexuality, essentially linked to reproduction. The Court also noted the patriarchal understanding of the Supreme Court revealed by the assumption that the applicant was responsible to “take care of her husband”. The ECtHR found that the Supreme Court’s decision was not based on objective assessment of facts but on the wrongful gender stereotyping and eventually, by five votes to two, decided that there was a violation of Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) read together with Article 8 (right to respect for private life). Read the rest of this entry…

 

So, Has This Ever Happened Before?

Published on September 19, 2017        Author: 

For the past week or so I’ve been enjoying the start of my sabbatical in New York, as a visiting professor at Columbia this semester. And for the past couple of days I’ve been enjoying – well, experiencing – the chaotic collapse of parts of the city during the UN General Assembly. And today I could enjoy – well, behold – the spectacle of the President of the United States threatening another UN member state with nuclear destruction at the podium of the General Assembly:

http://www.trbimg.com/img-59c133a3/turbine/la-na-trump-un-pictures-20170919/650/650x366

Photo credit LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/world/la-un-general-assembly-live-updates-world-awaits-president-trumps-first-assembly-20170918-htmlstory.html

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.

It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict. No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

Note the nature of the threat – if the US is forced to defend itself or its allies, it will totally destroy North Korea (not – react to the extent necessary and proportionate; presumably even a preemptive self-defense theory would be on the table). Note also how the United Nations is a ‘they’ rather than a ‘we.’  Question for the readers: has this ever happened before? Shoes have been banged at that podium, of course, and sulfur has been smelt. Yet even at the height of the Cold War, has a head of state of a nuclear-weapons state used this kind of directly threatening language? Or is this simply old-fashioned nuclear deterrence inartfully expressed?

 

Twenty Years of the ECHR in Ukraine

Published on September 18, 2017        Author:  and

Twenty years ago, in September 1997, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) entered into force for Ukraine. By ratifying the Convention, Ukraine recognised the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). While Ukraine had been a party to a number of the international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, long before the ECHR, joining the ECHR had a special significance. It symbolised a European choice of Ukraine, a final breakaway from the Soviet past, and (at least on paper) the acceptance of the European values of democracy and respect for human rights. Making the determination to join the Council of Europe (CoE) and its fundamental legal instruments, however, was easier than to maintain Ukraine’s international obligations in practice. In fact, there had been times when the CoE seriously considered to terminate the membership of Ukraine altogether (in 1999, for example, for the failure to abolish the death penalty).

This post will not cover all the intricacies of the complex (and at times turbulent) relationship between Ukraine and the CoE. We will start with a brief review of the statistics regarding the current situation, in particular the ECtHR case law concerning Ukraine. Then, we will focus on the reasons why Ukraine is still one of the laggard states in terms of the numbers of applications and violations to the ECtHR. Further, we will discuss Read the rest of this entry…

 
Tags:

Announcements: ILA British Branch Conference; iCourts Visiting Programme; PluriCourts Workshop; CfP 60 Years of the NY Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards; CfP Conference on Disarmament; International Administrative Law Centre of Excellence Conference

Published on September 17, 2017        Author: 
1. ILA British Branch Conference. This year’s conference will take place on September 22 and 23 at the offices of Clifford Chance. With the theme New International Order in an Isolationist World the conference will address the pressing challenges faced by international law in the political and economic climate prevailing in many regions of the world. These include the challenges caused by rising populism in Europe and North America and reactions against free trade and economic interdependence, manifested most obviously in the Brexit referendum and policies advocated by President Trump, the changing foreign policies of many countries towards military and diplomatic intervention in politically unstable regions and the flows of refugees into Europe, the role of international criminal law in the modern world along with the challenges faced by the International Criminal Court, and the increased scrutiny of the legitimacy of investment treaty arbitration, whether as a standalone system or as an aspect of mixed trade and investment agreements. The conference will begin with a keynote address from Ben Emmerson QC, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights followed by six panels covering the following topics: peace and security; human rights and international humanitarian law; international trade law; international investment law; regionalism; and accountability and remedies under international law, and will include selected speakers drawn from private practice, the public sector and academia in order to incorporate diverse perspectives, both theoretical and practical, on the conference theme. To view the conference programme and to register see here.
 
2. iCourts Visiting Programme. iCourts strongly encourages researchers – from PhD-students to tenured Professors – to visit iCourts and share their knowledge. Contributions may consist of published articles that credit iCourts, data-sharing, contribution to analysis, co-authorship with permanent iCourts staff, printed interviews with relevant people and other relevant documentation. Researchers with a particular interest in a closer association to iCourts may apply for an iCourts visitors grant. iCourts handle grant applications on an ad hoc basis, and offer the possibility of applying for research visits of up to 1 year. All incoming applications will be evaluated after 1 April and 1 October each year. For more information about the Visiting programme and how to apply, please see here.
 
3. PluriCourts Workshop on the Political and Legal Theory of International Courts and Tribunals. PluriCourts invites you to a workshop on The political and legal theory of international courts and tribunals, to take place in Oslo 18 – 19 June 2018. We welcome papers that address one or more such International Courts (ICs), on such themes as: the appropriate legitimacy standards for ICs from the perspectives of history of ideas and/or contemporary legal and political theory, such as human rights, transparency, or rule of law; their multilevel separation of authority, and its impact on adjudication; norm-indeterminacy and international adjudication; specialization and fragmentation in ICs; ICs and the international rule of law; and, independence and accountability of ICs. The deadline for submitting expressions of interest, with abstract, is 1 November. Some travel grants are available. 

Read the rest of this entry…

Filed under: Announcements and Events
 

A Commentary on the Maritime Delimitation Issues in the Croatia v. Slovenia Final Award

Published on September 15, 2017        Author: 

I. Introduction

An arbitral tribunal, constituted under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, issued its final and unanimous award in the Croatia v. Slovenia case on 29 June 2017. The arbitration concerned a territorial and maritime dispute between Croatia and Slovenia. This post will focus on the maritime delimitation issues. The present post will deal with the Arbitration Agreement of 2009 (“AA”) (II), the Junction Area (III), and the maritime boundary (IV) in turn. The questions of contamination of the proceedings and the annulment of inter-state arbitral awards have caused a series of controversies. These fall outside the scope of this post and have already been dealt with by Alison Ross and Peter Tzeng respectively. These issues were determined by the reconstituted arbitral tribunal in its partial award rendered on 30 June 2016.

II. The Arbitration Agreement of 4 November 2009

The dispute between the Parties was submitted to arbitration in accordance with an Arbitration Agreement signed by the parties on 4 November 2009 in Stockholm (Annex HRLA-75, Final Award), and witnessed by the then Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, since Sweden then held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (“EU”). The Arbitration Agreement is unique because it is the first intra-state arbitration agreement of its kind to be drafted under the auspices of the EU, despite the fact that this is not the first occasion where an international organisation was involved in such a task. [See for example the signature for specific purposes of the World Bank of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, between India and Pakistan, although that treaty is much more complex and not just a simple arbitration agreement (see Article IX and Annexure G). See also for example the involvement of the African Union, the UN and a few EU member states in the drafting of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2005, which was witnessed by the Minister of Development Co-operation of the Netherlands on behalf of the EU, paving the way for the drafting of the Abyei Arbitration Agreement 2008, which was eventually signed by the government of Sudan and the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement Army only. Brooks Daly has written more on the procedural aspects of the Abyei arbitration.]

The brokering of the Arbitration Agreement by the EU is reflected in Article 9, which requires Slovenia to “lift its reservations as regards the opening and closing of negotiation chapters where the obstacle is related to the dispute”. This was an important provision for Croatia’s accession to the EU. It is to be noted that Slovenia had already been a member of the EU for approximately 5 years at the date of signature of the arbitration agreement, as it had acceded to the EU on 1 May 2004. On the other hand, on the date of signature of the Arbitration Agreement, Croatia was on the path to accession, which was to last for another 4 years, as it eventually became an EU member state on 1 July 2013.

There are two other points worth mentioning regarding the 2009 Arbitration Agreement. First, the applicable law as set out in Article 4 is unusual. The “rules and principles of international law” were applicable to determining the course of the maritime and land boundary (Article 3(1)(a)). International law, equity and “the principle of good neighbourly relations in order to achieve a fair and equitable result” were applicable to determining Slovenia’s junction to the High Sea and the regime for the use of the relevant maritime areas (Article 3(1)(b) and (c)). This is probably a rare instance of the principle of good neighbourly relations for the achievement of a “fair and just result” being encountered in a modern Arbitration Agreement. While it is doubtful whether such a principle could count as a “general principle of law recognised by civilized nations” within the meaning of Article 38(1)(C) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice, it might be regarded as similar to a requirement to determine a case ex aequo et bono under Art. 38(2) of the ICJ Statute. The inclusion of this source of “applicable law” is a curious addition, which can probably be explained by the fact that it was a product of negotiations under the auspices of the EU.

The second point worth mentioning regarding the Arbitration Agreement is that one of the tasks of the arbitral tribunal, as per Article 3 (b)-(c), was to determine “Slovenia’s junction to the High Sea” and “the regime for the use of the relevant maritime areas”. This is a peculiar insertion, and apparently led the arbitral tribunal to determine that starting point of the present arbitration was not whether Slovenia should have a junction to the high sea, but rather where the junction would be and what would be the package of rights given to Slovenia over that area. Read the rest of this entry…

 
Tags: ,

The MERCOSUR Protocol on Investment Cooperation and Facilitation: regionalizing an innovative approach to investment agreements

Published on September 12, 2017        Author:  and

The States Parties of the MERCOSUR (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) signed in April 2017 the Protocol on Investment Cooperation and Facilitation (“MERCOSUR Protocol”).

As discussed in this post, the Protocol draws significantly on the Brazilian model investment agreement (the Agreement on Cooperation and Facilitation of Investments – ACFI), which stands out for departing from the traditional design of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), particularly – but not only – by excluding the possibility of investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS).

The emergence of the MERCOSUR Protocol has implications at the level of investment policy, as it represents a step towards the regionalization of the Brazilian model. It reflects the attempt to include in a single document the realities of four countries with important political, economic and investment policy differences, as expressed by the varying trajectories of Argentina and Brazil in the investment area.

It also raises interesting questions from an international law perspective. It highlights the legal challenges faced by Brazil, which not only joined the network of international investment agreements (IIAs) as a late-comer but also opted for embracing a particular approach to investment treaties. Accordingly, aside from provisions that innovate in investment law-making, the MERCOSUR Protocol incorporates provisions whose intention seems to be to insulate Brazil from applying protection standards often found in the over 3,000 treaties that now comprise the network of BITs, but which have been deliberately absent in the ACFI.

Read the rest of this entry…

 

In Memoriam: Frits Kalshoven

Published on September 11, 2017        Author: , and

The world has lost one of its greatest international humanitarian law scholars.

On Wednesday 6 September 2017, at the respectable age of 93, emeritus professor Frits Kalshoven passed away. Professor Kalshoven was one of the most well-known and respected international humanitarian law (IHL) scholars, but above all, he was a very kind, warm and humble person – insisting, for example, to always be addressed by his first name. He was a mentor on IHL for us, as he has been to so many. Indeed, for years, the first introduction to IHL for many students was his book “Constraints on the Waging of War”.

Frits began his career as an officer in the Royal Dutch Navy (1945-1967). During his service, he studied law in Leiden. After completing his studies in 1958, he taught law, including IHL, at the Royal Naval Academy. When he left the navy, he joined the law school of Leiden University, where he wrote his PhD on belligerent reprisals (1971), the publication of which is still regarded the standard work on this topic (and which was reprinted in 2005). Between 1975 and 1989, he held the Red Cross Chair in IHL at Leiden University and subsequently was a professor at Groningen University (1999-2002), before returning to Leiden as professor emeritus. As a member of the Dutch delegation, he negotiated, and was one of the drafters, of the 1977 Additional Protocols; and the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention of 1980.

Frits had an enormous passion for IHL. Although he gave his valedictory lecture in 1989 in Leiden, he never really actually retired, but rather continued to be actively involved in the humanitarian law field, helping to shape and develop it. Besides teaching full courses and guest lectures at various universities, he was the first Chairman of the UN Commission of Experts to investigate serious violations of IHL in the Former Yugoslavia (1992-1993), and was a member and president of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (1991-2001). He was a long-term Advisor to the Board of the Netherlands Red Cross (1971-1993), and after that always ready to support its IHL department with advice and contributions to its events. Until the very last moment, he continued to attend international law events to engage with other scholars and practitioners, in nearby The Hague, but also in San Remo. Read the rest of this entry…

Filed under: Announcements and Events
 

Announcements: ILA British Branch Conference; Revista Latinoamericana de Derecho Internacional

Published on September 10, 2017        Author: 
1. ILA British Branch Conference. This year’s conference will take place on September 22 and 23 at the offices of Clifford Chance. With the theme New International Order in an Isolationist World the conference will address the pressing challenges faced by international law in the political and economic climate prevailing in many regions of the world. These include the challenges caused by rising populism in Europe and North America and reactions against free trade and economic interdependence, manifested most obviously in the Brexit referendum and policies advocated by President Trump, the changing foreign policies of many countries towards military and diplomatic intervention in politically unstable regions and the flows of refugees into Europe, the role of international criminal law in the modern world along with the challenges faced by the International Criminal Court, and the increased scrutiny of the legitimacy of investment treaty arbitration, whether as a standalone system or as an aspect of mixed trade and investment agreements. The conference will begin with a keynote address from Ben Emmerson QC, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights followed by six panels covering the following topics: peace and security; human rights and international humanitarian law; international trade law; international investment law; regionalism; and accountability and remedies under international law, and will include selected speakers drawn from private practice, the public sector and academia in order to incorporate diverse perspectives, both theoretical and practical, on the conference theme. To view the conference programme and to register see here.
2. New Issue: Revista Latinoamericana de Derecho Internacional. The fifth issue of the Latin American Journal of International Law (Revista Latinoamericana de Derecho Internacional -LADI-) is now available online. LADI’s sixth issue includes a special dossier on history and human rights, featuring articles by Samuel Moyn, Juan Pablo Scarfi, Lynn Hunt Stefan-Ludwing Hoffmann, and María Inostroza, along with an interview with Professor Dino Kritsiotis. The latest issue can be found here.
Filed under: Announcements and Events
 

New EJIL:Live! Interview with Niels Petersen on his Article “The International Court of Justice and the Judicial Politics of Identifying Customary International Law”

Published on September 7, 2017        Author: 

In this latest episode of EJIL: Live! the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal, Professor Joseph Weiler, speaks with Professor Niels Petersen of the University of Münster, whose article, “The International Court of Justice and the Judicial Politics of Identifying Customary International Law”, appears in Volume 28, Issue 2 of the journal.

In the article, Professor Petersen explores International Court of Justice decisions confirming the existence of customary international law.  The abstract of the article states that:

It is often observed in the literature on customary international law that the identification practice of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for customary norms deviates from the traditional definition of customary law in Article 38 (1) lit. b of the ICJ Statute. However, while there are many normative and descriptive accounts on customary law and the Court’s practice, few studies try to explain the jurisprudence of the ICJ. This study aims at closing this gap. I argue that the ICJ’s argumentation pattern is due to the institutional constraints that the Court faces. In order for its decisions to be accepted, it has to signal impartiality through its reasoning. However, the analysis of state practice necessarily entails the selection of particular instances of practice, which could tarnish the image of an impartial court. In contrast, if the Court resorts to the consent of the parties or widely accepted international documents, it signals impartiality.

The EJIL:Live! discussion focuses on the principal empirical findings of the article, and Petersen’s novel conceptualization of those arguments in terms of “judicial politics”, explicable by the institutional constraints that the Court faces. This conversation offers a reflection on how this assessment of the jurisprudence could alter scholars’ normative conceptions of the Court’s decisions, particularly in regards to customary international law.

 

Read the rest of this entry…