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Is the EU Engaging in Impermissible Indirect Regulation of UN Action? Controversies over the General Data Protection Regulation

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a robust and ambitious framework for the protection of the personal data of natural persons adopted by the European Union in 2016, has found an unlikely stakeholder. On 14 May 2020, the United Nations Secretariat sent an eloquent and detailed set of comments to the European Data Protection Board, outlining the ways in which the GDPR comes to the detriment of the organizations of the UN System, and making legal objections to certain aspects of the regulation. In a nutshell, under Articles 44 to 50 of the GDPR, personal data may only be transferred to – or for processing in – a third country or an international organization if the latter offers a level of privacy rights protection that is “essentially equivalent” to that provided within the EU (as confirmed in strong terms by the recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU in Schrems II). That this condition has been met can be certified by a…

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On the ILC, professional background, gender and positivism: A Rejoinder to Jan Klabbers

In “Codification by Interpretation”: The International Law Commission as an Interpreter of International Law, I argue that the United Nations (‘UN’) International Law Commission (‘ILC’) interprets international law; interpretation falls squarely within the ILC’s mandate; the ILC’s interpretative pronouncements can trigger an interpretative dialogue with States whose reactions can lead to ‘authoritative interpretations’; and ‘codification by interpretation’,…

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The United Nations and the Third Geneva Convention

This post is part of a joint blog symposium with the Humanitarian Law and Policy Blog and Just Security exploring the new ICRC Commentary on the Third Geneva Convention. See below for other posts in the symposium. This post discusses the role of the United Nations in ensuring…

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The Failure to Pursue the Mandates of International Organizations in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

This blogpost is a reaction to the last episode of EJIL: The Podcast!, in which the brilliant discussion on the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the pandemic ended up with the perennial question of accountability. As contended by Gian Luca Burci, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown once again that international organizations are ideal scapegoats.

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The Myth and Mayhem of ‘Build Back Better’: Human Rights Decision-Making and Human Dignity Imperatives in COVID-19

Human rights were already under siege everywhere around the world before COVID-19.  But there is also a dawning race now against reaching the ‘twilight of human rights law’, due to: 1) authoritarian regimes’ dismissal of the relevance of human rights while using this pandemic to expand and consolidate their power, such as to silence speech,…

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