Customary International Law

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Nuclear Weapons and International Law: The Impact of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

With Honduras being the 50th state to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on the 24th of October 2020, the 90 day countdown has begun for the treaty to come into force. Honduras also happened to ratify the treaty on UN Day, and not just any UN day, but the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. That means the TPNW will come into force on 22 January 2021. Maybe it will be an omen of 2021 being less of a bonfire than 2020. In the face of the perceived general trend away from multilateralism, this multilateral treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement for any the prohibited activities for State Parties. It is a major step in the banning of nuclear weapons – by actually banning them. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was supposed to lead to eventual disarmament, but after 50 years there is growing discontent with…

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Reconciling new interpretations of the UN Charter with the customary international law on the use of force

  In a recent lecture, published as a post on this blog, Professor Dapo Akande analysed the diversity of the rules on the use of force in international law and the implications for the evolution of the law in this area. In this post I wish to address one issue arising from this discussion but not directly…

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The Diversity of Rules on the Use of Force: Implications for the Evolution of the Law

Last month, I had the pleasure and honour to deliver one of the keynote lectures at the Canadian Council of International Law Annual Conference. The theme of the conference was "Diversity and International Law" and I chose to speak about the diversity of rules on the use of force and the implications of that…

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The Jadhav Judgment: Espionage, Carve-Outs and Customary Exceptions

On 17 July 2019, the ICJ rendered its judgment in Jadhav. In brief, this case involved an Indian national (Mr Jadhav) who was arrested, tried, and convicted by Pakistan for espionage and terrorism offences and sentenced to death. India made repeated requests to Pakistan to allow consular access to Mr Jadhav during his period of detention, all…

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Silence and the Use of Force in International Law

States frequently take actions and make statements that implicate international law. But because they do not — and, indeed, could not — express a view on each such act or statement by all other states at all times, silence seems to be the norm, rather than the exception, in international relations. When states and other international…

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