International Humanitarian Law

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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 then know it, COVID-19 would from that moment fundamentally alter the form and substance of negotiations. For many delegates it would be the last time they would meet face-to-face. And they would soon be discussing a new type of cyber threat, born out of the pandemic; one they would not have contemplated on that cold Geneva morning.   Notwithstanding these challenges, as well as an uptick in geopolitical tensions over the period, in 2021 the GGE (with its 25 experts appointed by States) and the parallel UN Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) (with diplomats from all UN members) both adopted landmark, consensus reports on responsible State behaviour in cyberspace (see here for GGE…

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Strengthening the rule of law in time of war: An IHL perspective on the present and future of the Articles on State Responsibility

International humanitarian law is one of the oldest areas of international law. As such, it was unsurprisingly a key source for the International Law Commission in its work on the Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (hereafter ‘Articles’). This is apparent, among other things, from the frequent references to IHL in Special Rapporteur Crawford’s…

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International Law at NATO’s Brussels Summit

The June 2021 NATO summit in Brussels was noteworthy for the U.S. renewal of its commitment to the Alliance. Speaking with Secretary-General Stoltenberg, President Biden reassured NATO members (the “Allies”) that “NATO is critically important for U.S. interests” and “Article 5, we take as a sacred obligation.” Also noteworthy was the extent to which NATO…

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The Oxford Statement on International Law Protections in Cyberspace: The Regulation of Information Operations and Activities

The Internet has allowed the dissemination of content across the globe in a matter of seconds. Recommendation algorithms, found in social media platforms and search engines, have also dangerously amplified the reach of false, misleading, and violent content (see here, here, and here). Because they are geared towards…

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Passing the Buck? The UN Security Council’s Undue Reliance on ASEAN to Defuse the Myanmar Crisis

After the UN Special Envoy's highly-charged report to the UN Security Council of "widespread, systematic attacks on civilians in Myanmar" and the continuum of unabated atrocities against peaceful protesters, children, journalists, among other unarmed victims of Myanmar's rapid descent away from democracy towards 'failed state' status, it is readily observable that the 10…

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