State Responsibility

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Attribution, Jurisdiction, Discrimination, Decapitation: A Comment on Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary

You know how, every once in a while, you read a case that has everything? I mean really everything? Great facts. Grisly facts even, for those so inclined – say involving a beheading by a state agent. Great law. Not just some genuine legal innovation worthy of scholarly commentary – that’s fine obviously, but not all that uncommon. I mean proper, nerdy, esoteric legal stuff. It doesn’t have to be hugely important; it doesn’t have to concern the world’s most powerful states and its most pressing issues; but it still sticks in your head, it really does. And thank God it’s not about Covid. That’s the kind of case I mean. So let me tell you about one such case that has everything – Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary, a Chamber judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, decided last month. As we will see, while focused primarily on the substantive and procedural obligations of states arising from the right to life, the case also raises significant systemic questions of…

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COVID-19 and Defences in the Law of State Responsibility: Part II

In our previous post, we considered whether States could rely on the plea of force majeure in respect of non-performance of international obligations connected to their efforts to contain the COVID-19. We concluded that force majeure might not provide a defence to States since their measures in addressing the spread of the virus were voluntary measures. In this…

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COVID-19 and Defences in the Law of State Responsibility: Part I

As at 16 March 2020, there were nearly 165.000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 6.470 deaths in 146 countries or territories. The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the Director-General of the WHO on 30 January 2020 which, according to the 2005 International Health Regulations, is an ‘extraordinary event’ which,…

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Living in the Shadow of Flawed Peace: How General International Law Is Implicated in the Trade War between Japan and South Korea

As the anniversary of V-J Day approaches, the legacy of World War II still casts a long shadow on its previous Pacific theatre.  Last month, an unprecedented quadripartite incident involving warplanes from, inter alia, Japan and South Korea played out in the territorial airspace of the contested Dokdo/Takeshima islands, disputed territory that was left unresolved in the…

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A Disappointing End of the Road for the Mothers of Srebrenica Litigation in the Netherlands

On Friday, the Dutch Supreme Court issued its final decision in the Mothers of Srebrenica litigation regarding the acts and omissions of the Dutch battalion (Dutchbat) of U.N. peacekeepers at Srebrenica in July 1995 (English translation). I’ve written previously on these pages about a pair of earlier, narrower cases (Nuhanović and Mustafić-Mujić) related to the Netherlands’ responsibility…

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