International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

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Myanmar: Testing the Democratic Norm in International Law

It is official now: history does repeat itself. In 1990, the military regime in Burma, now Myanmar, held elections. To their surprise, the democratic opposition in the shape of the National League of Democracy (NLD) achieved an overwhelming victory. This happened despite the fact that they had taken the precaution of keeping the leader of the NLD, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest well before and during the elections. Then as now, the military refused to transfer power to the elected representatives. Members of parliament were arrested, tortured and at times killed. Those who managed to evade the dragnet of the military assembled at Mannerplaw in the border region with Thailand and established an opposition government, dedicated to holding in trust the democratic mandate granted by the people of Myanmar. Traditionally, international practice follows the ‘Tinoco Arbitration’ principle of effectiveness in determining who is entitled to represent a state and its people. This means that whoever manages to capture actual power within a state will be taken to be entitled…

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Drowning Migrants, the Human Rights Committee, and Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations

In this post I will analyse more extensively the two decisions of the UN Human Rights Committee that I flagged previously (A.S. and others v. Malta, CCPR/C/128/D/3043/2017 ; A.S. and others v. Italy, CCPR/C/130/DR/3042/2017), dealing with the failure of Malta and Italy to rescue a group of more than 200…

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Protecting the Rights of the Rightless: The UN Human Rights Committee and the Right to Acquire a Nationality under International Law

On December 28, the UN Human Rights Committee published its views in a ground-breaking case (Communication n. 2918/2016, CCPR/C/130/D/2918/2016), finding that the Netherlands had violated a child's right to a nationality (Article 24.3 of the ICCPR) by registering “nationality unknown” in his civil records, thus hampering his access to international protection as a stateless child and leaving him with…

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Amicus Curiae Brief re MH17; Human Rights Committee on Search and Rescue at Sea

Recent weeks have been something of an extraterritoriality extravaganza. So let’s continue with that theme, hopefully not ad nauseam. First, readers might be interested in the amicus curiae brief that my colleague Sangeeta Shah and I co-authored and which we submitted this week to the European Court of Human Rights in…

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SDG Report 2020: The Civil, Political, Economic, Social, Cultural, and Development Rights Crises Deepening in the Global South

The United Nations recently released its Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020, and the results are expectedly grim during this global pandemic.  Not only has the world fallen well off track from Agenda 2030 objectives - including the eradication of poverty - but the deepening inequalities within the Global South augur even worse outcomes for the most vulnerable populations on…

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