Sources of International 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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To Custom or Not to Custom: A Battle for the Applicable Sources of Law at the Kosovo Specialist Chambers

Introduction Over the past 5 months, the Prosecutor of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers ('KSC') and defence counsels for multiple accused have been filing submissions on a legal question that is of utmost importance for the work of the Court: to what extent can the KSC apply customary international law (‘CIL’)? A series of jurisdictional motions, the…

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Lavrov’s Lament: A Russian take on the rules-based global order

At the end of last month, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov wrote a spirited defence of international law in Kommersant, Russia’s main business paper. True to form, the country’s top diplomat lamented that, unlike the West, Russia still wants universally accepted principles of international law to govern international affairs. But what does it mean for…

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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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A Study in Contrasting Jurisdictional Methodologies: The International Court of Justice’s February 2021 Judgments in Iran v. USA and Qatar v. UAE

The International Court of Justice issued two significant Decisions on Jurisdiction in early February: its 3 February 2021 Judgment in Iran v. United States (where the Court accepted jurisdiction over a dispute in which Iran alleged that the United States breached the 1955 Treaty of Amity between these two States) [hereafter, Iran v. US Judgment on Preliminary…

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