Sources of International Law

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A general obligation of due diligence in international law?

Recently, arguments have emerged that a universal source exists from which it is automatically possible to derive binding due diligence obligations for states in relation to all forms of activities. Specifically, these claims contend that international law imposes a general obligation on states to act with due diligence to prevent their territory being used for activity which harms the rights of other states, and that this obligation is not restricted or confined to particular forms of activities. These arguments have been advanced by academic initiatives in the context of debates over the application of international law to cyberspace. They are noteworthy because they have influenced the positions of an increasing number of mostly European states who have made remarkable statements that have significant implications beyond the cyber context. Indeed, if these arguments receive widespread acceptance from states, it would constitute a radical broadening of obligations of conduct for states in an unprecedented manner beyond the cyber context. This blog post hopes to draw attention to these developments for those who may be…

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Does Israel have the right to self-defence – and what are the restrictions?

There has been much focus on Israeli violations of international humanitarian law (jus in bello) and possible genocide in Gaza. Less attention has been paid to Israel’s claim to self-defence (jus ad bellum) against the terrorist attack on 7 October 2023. However, the rules on self-defence address the legality of the overall purpose of the operations and the…

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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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Damaged Beyond Repair? International Law after Gaza

“Never has [an international law professor] sensed such profound skepticism about the legitimacy and usefulness of the discipline he teaches. Hasn’t the appalling conflict unfolding before our eyes demonstrated with tremendous eloquence the vanity, or at least the extreme fragility, of a so-called legal order in relations between states, at the very moment when its development was…

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The African Union’s Statement on the Application of International Law to Cyberspace: An Assessment of the Principles of Territorial Sovereignty, Non-Intervention, and Non-Use of Force

A growing number of States have published statements examining the application of international law to cyberspace (for an overview see the Cyber Law Toolkit). On 29 January 2024, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council adopted the ‘Common African Position on the Application of International Law to the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in…

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