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Wilmshurst (ed): International Law and the Classification of Conflicts

Published on August 20, 2012        Author: 

I am delighted to report that Oxford University Press have recently published International Law and the Classification of Conflicts which is edited by Elizabeth Wilmshurst and which I contributed a chapter to.

This book comprises contributions by leading experts in the field of international humanitarian law on the subject of the categorisation or classification of armed conflict. It is divided into two sections: the first aims to provide the reader with a sound understanding of the legal questions surrounding the classification of hostilities and its consequences; the second includes ten case studies that examine practice in respect of classification.

Understanding how classification operates in theory and practice is a precursor to identifying the relevant rules that govern parties to hostilities. With changing forms of armed conflict which may involve multi-national operations, transnational armed groups and organized criminal gangs, the need for clarity of the law is all-important. The case studies selected for analysis are Northern Ireland, DRC, Colombia, Afghanistan (from 2001), Gaza, South Ossetia, Iraq (from 2003), Lebanon (2006), the so-called war against Al-Qaeda, and future trends. The studies explore the legal consequences of classification particularly in respect of the use of force, detention in armed conflict, and the relationship between human rights law and international humanitarian law. The practice identified in the case studies allows the final chapter to draw conclusions as to the state of the law on classification.

My own chapter, “Classification of Armed Conflicts: Relevant Legal Concepts“, provides an overview of how and why international law classifies situations of violence for the purpose of application of international humanitarian law. The chapter examines the distinction between international and non-international armed conflicts as well as the distinction between armed conflicts and situations of violence that do not qualify as armed conflicts. The chapter examines the history of the distinction between the two categories of armed conflict, the consequences of the distinction and whether the distinction still has validity. The chapter discusses the meaning of the concepts of ‘international armed conflict’ and ‘non-international armed conflict’, including the legal standards by which such qualifications are to be made. Particular attention is paid to foreign intervention in non-international armed conflicts, extraterritorial hostilities by one State against a non-state armed group and conflicts in which multinational forces are engaged. I quoted extensively from that chapter in one of my previous posts on extraterritorial conflicts with non-State groups.

Unlike many edited books where authors write in isolation with little interaction among them, the process of writing this book involved genuine and repeated exchange of ideas. Read the rest of this entry…

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Breaking: Ecuador Grants Asylum to Julian Assange

Published on August 16, 2012        Author: 

BBC report here. Immediately below is a timely post by Roger O’Keefe on an alleged ‘threat’ by UK authorities to enter the Ecuadorian embassy in London. More commentary will follow – stay tuned.

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Amanda Perreau-Saussine RIP

Published on August 7, 2012        Author: 

Amanda Perreau-Saussine Ezcurra

Our colleague Amanda Perreau-Saussine, lecturer at the University of Cambridge, passed away last week. Even though she was one of the kindest and gentlest persons one could ever hope to meet, she was dealt a cruel hand by life, with her first husband Emile dying tragically a few years ago due to medical incompetence, only for her to get cancer a short time later. The funeral will take place in Cambridge on Friday; more details and a tribute from the Cambridge Faculty of Law can be found here. Our thoughts are with her friends and family.

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More Human Rights Reforms Under Discussion

Published on August 4, 2012        Author: 

Readers interested in reform within the international human rights system, including the reform of the UN human rights treaty monitoring system previously discussed here, may be interested in yesterday’s announcement by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), adding a regional dimension to discussions.

The IACHR serves as the focal point for human rights within what is touted as “the world’s oldest regional organization” – the Organization of American States (OAS). The OAS is a pan-American regional organization akin to the Council of Europe, supported by 35 states in the Western Hemisphere, and headquartered in Washington DC. The IACHR was created in 1959, and formally established in 1960, with a mandate to promote and protect human rights throughout the region. It is one of two organs of the inter-American human rights regime, the other being the Inter-American Court of Human Rights based in San José, Costa Rica. With functions similar to the UN treaty-monitoring bodies, and the old European Commission on Human Rights, the IACHR monitors the situation of human rights in the various OAS states, conducts on-site visits, handles individual complaints, and hosts several thematic rapporteurs. The Commission also brings cases to the Court, as was done in the old European human rights system prior to Protocol 11.

But all is not rosy at the IACHR, with a current docket of 8500 individual complaints currently pending before the seven-member part-time body. Financial resources have not kept up with the volume of complaints, and each commissioner also serves as a thematic rapporteur, with consequent duties and workload. Events within the Americas also add to the workload. In 2002, for example, the IACHR received 3783 complaints as a result of the banking measures adopted in Argentina, and further petitions were received in 2009 following the coup d’état in Honduras.

The IACHR has agreed to embark on an in-depth examination of its procedures and mechanisms. To this end it has, as of 3 August 2012, published its methodology document for what it calls its “2012 process of reform of its Rules of Procedure and of its institutional policies and practices” (with the Rules of Procedure last undergoing significant reform back in 2009). It is expected that consultation documents regarding the individual complaint procedure, precautionary measures, the monitoring function, and the promotion function, will be published on or before 25 August 2012, to be followed by a one-month period for comments from all users of the inter-American system. By the end of September, we should see an IACHR report to the OAS Permanent Council on possible reforms to the Rules, policies and practices of the IACHR, and in October, the IACHR promises to convene two hearings on strengthening measures to give key actors an opportunity for dialogue.

The webpage for the “Process for Strengthening the IACHR” can be found here.

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Arms Control Law Blog

Published on August 3, 2012        Author: 

Dan Joyner sends us word of a new blog that he started – the Arms Control Law Blog. As the name suggests, the blog will be devoted to discussion and analysis of arms control law subjects, primarily from the perspective of international law.

The team of core bloggers at Arms Control Law is:

Professor Dan Joyner, University of Alabama School of Law Dr. Marco Roscini, University of Westminster Faculty of Law Mr. Pierre-Emmanuel Dupont, Rochelois, Besins & Associe Dr. Zeray Yihdego, Oxford Brookes University Faculty of Law Professor Eric Myjer, University of Utrecht Faculty of Law Professor David Fidler, University of Indiana School of Law Professor Barry Kellman, Depaul University College of Law Professor Dieter Fleck, Formerly of the German Ministry of Defense Professor James Fry, University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law.

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We’ve been hacked

Published on August 1, 2012        Author: 

Dear readers,

As many of you have noticed, EJIL: Talk! was hacked yesterday, apparently by some Moroccan Muslim hacking group, for reasons that entirely escape me. We have now restored functionality, but we had to switch back to the default WordPress template, which is why the blog looks like it does now. We will restore our look as soon as possible, but please bear with us.

Marko

UPDATE: Everything now seems to be in order, with all services fully restored.

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Second Annual Junior Faculty Forum for International Law

Published on July 31, 2012        Author: 

The Second Annual Junior Faculty Forum for International Law was launched earlier today by Professors Dino Kritsiotis (Nottingham), Anne Orford (Melbourne) and J.H.H. Weiler (NYU). It is designed to bring together international legal scholars in the first six years of their academic career to present on a particular aspect of their research work before peers and experts in the field. Each presentation will then be discussed by a senior international legal scholar who has been designated to each junior faculty member for the purposes of the Forum. Selected presentations from the second Forum will be published in a future issue of the European Journal of International Law (Oxford University Press). Further details can be found here: www.annualjuniorfacultyforumil.org.

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Lectureship in International Law at the Keele Law School

Published on July 27, 2012        Author: 

Mario Prost just informed us that the Keele Law School is opening a lectureship in international law. More details can be found here. This is part of an exciting new development at Keele which will see the launch of a new interdisciplinary LLM in International Law in Sept. 2013. The deadline for applications is July 31, 2012.

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Kiobel: The US steals the headlines in first round of supplemental briefs on universal civil jurisdiction under the Alien Tort Statute

Published on June 26, 2012        Author: 

In an earlier post, I considered the US Supreme Court’s re-argument order in the case of Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum (“Kiobel”). The order concerned whether US federal courts may rely on the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”) to exercise jurisdiction over human rights abuses which have no connection to the US, i.e. abuses committed by non-US entities against non-US victims on non-US territory.  In short, is universal civil jurisdiction permissible under the ATS?

Earlier this month, the petitioners, a group of 12 Nigerian victims of crimes against humanity, filed their supplemental opening brief on this issue. Nine amicus briefs in support of the petitioners and four amicus briefs in support of neither party were also filed with the US Supreme Court.

In this post, I discuss the amicus brief filed by the US government. The US brief raises a number of interesting issues, in particular the extent to which theUS government has changed its position in respect of the permissibility and limits of universal civil jurisdiction under the ATS, particularly in comparison with US briefs submitted in earlier ATS cases, as well as the failure of the State Department to sign the brief. After considering these issues, I offer a critique of the US brief, focusing in particular on the failure of theUS to substantiate its assertion that universal civil jurisdiction does not violate international law. I conclude by analysing the submissions put forward in other supplemental briefs in support of this assertion.

The US Supplemental Brief – A Change of Position?

The headline development from this round of filings is undoubtedly the new position set out by the US government in its supplemental brief. Contrary to its earlier support of the petitioners, the US now argues that the Supreme Court should not allow the human rights claims in Kiobel to proceed. Read the rest of this entry…

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New ESIL website and launch of ESIL Reflections

Published on June 25, 2012        Author: 

The European Society of International Law has now launched its brand new website – readers should take a look here. The ESIL website will be updated more and more frequently with new content, thus repaying regular visit.

In that regard, the Society has launched a new electronic publication – the ESIL Reflections, edited by Andre Nollkaemper, Jan Klabbers and Thomas Skouteris. The first Reflection is by Laurence Helfer, discussing the Brighton Declaration on the reform of the ECtHR. Reflections are generally conceived as being less formal than a journal article, but somewhat more formal than a blog piece. And while we are still happy to receive submissiosn for EJIL: Talk that are about 2,500 words max in size, we invite authors to consider whether submitting such larger pieces to Reflections might be a better idea instead, as the blog would like to encourage shorter and snappier posts from its regular and ad hoc contributors alike.  Readers are invited to get in touch with the Reflections’ editors, particularly Andre Nollkaemper who will be serving as editor-in-chief, if they wish to submit a piece.

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