International Organisations

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The UN HRC recognizes the right to a healthy environment and appoints a new Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change. What does it all mean?

On Friday 8 October, the UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 48/13, recognising for first time that having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right and calling on UN Member States to cooperate to implement this right. On the same day, the Council adopted Resolution 48/14, establishing a Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change. This blog post reflects on these resolutions and on their implications for international environmental cooperation and governance. A right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment: why? The right to a healthy environment is already formulated with various phraseologies in the law of more than 150 states, which recognise the crucial role of environmental conditions to the existence and well-being of humankind. A growing body of national and international caselaw and practice has defined the content and scope of this right, as well as its relationship with other human rights. This practice has been amply documented in the literature, and has…

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Credentials and the Politics of Representation: What’s in it for the UN?

The UN General Assembly 76th session raised political controversy already before all the opening speeches have been made, as the credentials of at least two states, not completely unexpectedly, have become subject to debate. In the case of Myanmar and Afghanistan new regimes have recently surged to power, whereas the previous governments still hold UN accreditation. Afghanistan´s…

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Codification Illustrated: 70 years of the International Law Commission in pictures

In 2018, a photo exhibition illustrating 70 years of ILC activities was shown in New York and Geneva, and later in Bangkok, The Hague and Washington. In view of its success, the Codification Division, which organised the exhibition – and which ensures the Commission’s secretariat – has taken the initiative of publishing a brilliantly illustrated and intelligently commented…

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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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Will the Taliban Represent Afghanistan at the UN General Assembly?

The work of the Credentials Committee of the General Assembly is normally procedural. Typically, the Committee reviews the credentials submitted by state representatives, and ensures they comply with the Assembly’s procedural rules.  The Committee is scarcely ever called upon to consider matters of government legitimacy.  In stark contrast to this status quo, it seems this year’s…

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