Self-Determination

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ICJ Delivers Advisory Opinion on the Legality of Israel’s Occupation of Palestinian Territories

Yesterday, the International Court of Justice delivered its groundbreaking advisory opinion on the Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. (The Court’s opinion and all of the individual opinions of the judges are available here.) The bottom line of the AO is that the Court found that Israel’s continued occupation of the OPT violates various rules of international law, and that Israel has to withdraw from the OPT as rapidly as possible – but there are many other findings of the Court, including with regard to the obligations of third states, that merit discussion. In some senses the outcome of the AO is hardly surprising, but the opinion covers so many different issues, some of which are actually quite novel, that, even if we took the political context aside, we could easily say that this is one of the most important decisions that the ICJ has ever delivered. In this post I will discuss some of the Court’s key findings.

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Is the Prohibition of Forcible Annexations of Territory a Jus Cogens Norm?

International law prohibits states from forcibly acquiring the territory of other states. But does this prohibition of the annexation of territory have the status of a peremptory or jus cogens norm? The question is unsettled. In the recent set of submissions to the International Court of Justice in the advisory opinion proceeding…

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Towards A United Kurdistan: Prospects for Kurdish Self-Determination

A century has elapsed since one of history’s most hypocritical, enduring, and consequential betrayals of principle. Following World War I (WWI) and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, an independent Kurdistan was about to emerge. In Europe the Treaty of Versailles had implemented the principle of self-determination for ethnically-defined peoples, giving birth to new nation-states. Likewise in the…

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Will history repeat itself? Anticipating the ICJ advisory opinion on the legal status of Israel’s occupation and its consequences

The Request for Advisory Opinion On 30 December 2022 the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/77/247, containing the annual indictment of Israeli practices in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. In addition, the resolution contains one novelty, a request addressed to the ICJ to render an Advisory Opinion on the following…

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The UK Supreme Court in the Scottish case: revitalising the doctrine of remedial secession

On 23 November 2022, the UK Supreme Court issued an important judgment on the question of the Scottish referendum. The judges unanimously ruled that the Scottish government could not pass legislation paving the way for the second referendum without the approval of the UK parliament. The reasoning of the UK Supreme Court is heavily based on the…

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