Customary International Law

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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 choice of military strategy. This is different from the lawfulness of the targeting in individual operations as governed by international humanitarian law or of a possible genocidal purpose of the operations. Marko Milanovic [here] has doubted whether the UN Charter prohibition against the use of force and the right to self-defence is applicable, as well as the usefulness of the customary international law restrictions of necessity and proportionality. The content of these restrictions has also been debated by Adil Ahmad Haque [here and here] and Charles Kels [here] and by other authors. I will discuss, in the absence of universal recognition of Palestine as a…

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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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The Common African Position on the Application of International Law in Cyberspace: Reflections on a Collaborative Lawmaking Process

On January 29, 2024, the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) unanimously adopted Communiqué 1196 (2024) pursuant to which it adopted the Common African Position on the Application of International Law to the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in the Cyberspace. The Common African Position (CAP) and all four Communiqués that the PSC adopted on this…

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Protecting commercial shipping with strikes into Yemen: Do attacks against merchant shipping trigger the right of self-defence?

On January 11, 2024, the US and UK, supported by a group of other States, commenced attacks against targets in Yemen. These attacks were preceded by a range of efforts to secure the sea lines of communication through the Red Sea against continued attacks by the Houthis from Yemen territory. A maritime coalition taskforce was set up…

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American Pick and Choose or Customary International Law?

Since 2003, the United States (US) has been collecting, processing, and analyzing marine geophysical data to determine the outer limits of its continental shelf. Some 20 years later, on 19 December 2023, the US Department of State published the geographical coordinates that define its extended continental shelf (ECS), stating that: ‘The United States…

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