EJIL Analysis

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The Water Cure with Saline Solution, or How a Modern Bureaucracy Does Torture

Having now read the four recently released ‘torture’ memos, I was perhaps most struck with their bureaucratic tone and the sterile overall narrative that they presented. The earlier Yoo/Bybee memos dealing with general issues such as the meaning of the term ‘torture’ in the UN Convention against Torture and US implementing legislation were rightly criticized for their facetious analysis. On that point, these four memos – or at least the three 2005 memos signed by Bradbury – are on the whole admittedly not as obviously bad. The legal analysis at times even sounds plausible – thought it is manifest that the advice given is actually not advice, but an apology for an already predetermined outcome. It is also riddled with caveats, with the OLC regularly saying that there is room for reasonable disagreement with its conclusions, or that a court might not arrive at the same result, etc. The occasional plausibility of the analysis is aided by the fact that the OLC is interpreting US statutes implementing the CAT, and that these contain Senate understandings and definitions…

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Can UNSC Presidential Statements be Legally Binding?

The United States government now apparently thinks so. A couple of days ago the Security Council adopted a presidential statement condemning the recent missile launch by North Korea (press release here; text here). In response to reporters questioning why the Council was unable to adopt a formal resolution, and whether this meant that the…

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Second Thoughts on the Crime of Aggression

Professor Andreas Paulus holds the Chair of Public and International Law at Georg-August-University Göttingen. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Journal of International Law. He has served as counsel of the Federal Republic of Germany in the LaGrand case (Germany vs. United States) and as Adviser to the German team…

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What’s in a Name: The GWOT, Redefinition Accomplished

These past few months have seen the emergence, or rather the beginning of the emergence of the Obama’s administration’s policy towards the fight against global terrorism. A significant part of that policy is the new administration’s relationship towards international law. While some have pointed out (disapprovingly or not) that the Obama administration is continuing many of the policies of its…

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The Security Council and Human Rights: What is the role of Art. 103 of the Charter?

At last week's ASIL meeting there was a panel on whether the United Nations Security Council is bound by human rights law. The panelists (Vera Gowlland-Debbas, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, University of Athens  & Gráinne de Búrca, Fordham University School of Law) discussed cases such as the Kadi decision of the European Court of Justice, Al…

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