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Why I Can’t Sign the World Lawyers’ Pledge on Climate Action

Saskia Stucki and colleagues have invited the readers of this blog to sign the “World Lawyers’ Pledge on Climate Action”. I find myself unable to do so and I would like to share the reasons for this, in the spirit of civil academic debate that this blog has long promoted. The following raises what I believe to be some essential questions about the nature of our work as legal scholars and practitioners, especially for those of us interested in climate law. I do not dispute Stucki and colleagues’ assessment of climate science. I fully concur with them about the need for ambitious action against climate change, including through law. I also agree that “the active engagement of concerned citizens, activists [and] NGOs … is essential in order to demand new norms”. I agree that advocacy could play an important role in triggering action, and I could agree to sign citizens’ pledge for climate action. Yet, I can’t agree to sign a lawyers’ pledge for climate action. While…

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The pandemic, UN cyber negotiations and international law and norms

Bright winter sunlight flooded the non-descript conference room in the Palais des Nations, as delegates of the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on cyber took their seats. It was February 2020, and the 2-year multilateral process was still in its early days, with negotiations scheduled over the course of the next 18 months. While delegations did not…

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Attacking women’s rights and UN human rights mechanisms under the guise of principle

Grégor Puppinck’s response to critiques of the ECLJ’s report on financing for the UN human rights Special Procedures’ system is a masterclass in evasion. He entirely ignores Martin Scheinin’s analysis that shows the dishonesty and manipulation involved in the preparation of his report. His claim that my work as UN Special Rapporteur on extreme…

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Brexit, the Irish Protocol and the ‘Versailles Effect’

What does the Treaty of Versailles have to do with Brexit, you may be asking yourself? Quite a lot I would like to suggest. But a preliminary comment is necessary. In the current state of polarized societies  and, increasingly, a polarized academy, an old-style ‘Voltairian liberal’ like myself (of the ‘I disapprove of what you say, but…

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Inviting a Wolf to the Table: The 2020 US-Taliban Agreement and Questions of State Responsibility

On Sunday 15 August 2021, towards the final phase of the US and other NATO States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban entered Kabul’s abandoned presidential palace, confirmed its control over the country, and announced the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The act was the culmination of a well-organized takeover by the Taliban of 26 out of…

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