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The Protection of the Atmosphere and the ‘Regressive’ Development of International Law

In a few weeks, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP-27) will be convening in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. States will negotiate higher ambitions on mitigation, adaptation, and climate finance, in an attempt to curtail the apocalyptic consequences of climate change. In this context, the identification of relevant principles of international law is necessary and will provide timely guidance to negotiators. Last year, the UN International Law Commission (ILC) adopted guidelines on the ‘Protection of the atmosphere’ after eight years of work on the topic led by Special Rapporteur Mr. Shinya Murase. The Guidelines address a significant topic. Yet, unfortunately, it is doubtful if they can play a significant role in the guidance of states. That is perhaps due, though not limited, to political reasons that date back to a ‘2013 Understanding’ when the ILC decided to proceed on the topic subject to substantial limitations that prevent it from addressing questions subject to negotiations. By default, the Commission does not reach political decisions, as its mandate is limited to the codification and progressive development…

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Looking Behind the UN Youth Office: Considering Structural Limitations of Youth Participation After the Party

Last month, the UN General Assembly decided “to establish the United Nations Youth Office as a dedicated office for youth affairs in the Secretariat” (op. para. 1). While the new office was met with general praise, it is important to understand this development in a broader context of international law’s engagement with youth. Pointing to structural limitations,…

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Russia and the UN Human Rights Council: A Step in the Right Direction

The United Nations General Assembly has voted to suspend Russia’s membership of the UN Human Rights Council. This is only the second time in the Council’s 16 year history that a member has been suspended under GA resolution 60/251 paragraph 8 for committing ‘gross and systematic violations of human…

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EJIL:The Podcast! Episode 14 – “From Russia With War”

In this episode Philippa Webb, Marko Milanovic and I are joined by Rebecca Barber (Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect) and Mike Becker (Trinity College Dublin) to examine various aspects of Russia’s war on Ukraine. The discussion begins with an evaluation of Russia’s legal justification for invading Ukraine, moving to…

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Could Russia be Suspended from the United Nations?

The General Assembly is currently meeting in Emergency Special Session on Ukraine, and will likely pass a resolution condemning Russia’s aggression, demanding the withdrawal of troops, and urging a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Such a resolution will be an important step, but also begs the question: if these appeals for peace are not heeded, what could be…

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