Theory of International Law

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A Sympathy Borne out of Legal Identity? (Re)Viewing Ethiopia’s Move to Recognize Somaliland’s Statehood from a Different Angle

Introduction In the process of understanding the undeclared drivers behind Ethiopia’s move towards recognition of Somaliland’s statehood, this blog post sheds light on how changes in legal identities guide the decision-making process of States in international law. It specifically examines the potential links between Ethiopia’s shifting position on the principle of territorial integrity and its move to Somaliland’s recognition. 1. Ethiopia ‘Intends’ to Recognize Somaliland On 1st January 2024, a major event unfolded in the Horn of Africa as the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and the President of a self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Partnership and Cooperation in Addis Ababa.   The Memorandum, though its full contents are not yet published, has received international attention (including  an enquiry on international law’s use to help Ethiopia find a solution for its sovereign right on access to the sea)  and has ignited heated reactions and oppositions, particularly from the Federal Republic of Somalia, who claims Somaliland as…

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EJIL: The Podcast! Episode 24: The Third World: At the Centre of International Law?

Does the decision of the International Court of Justice with respect to Gaza illustrate the influence of Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL)? Has TWAIL perhaps become ‘mainstream’? And how germane are some of the critiques that have been levelled against TWAIL? In…

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A Political Question Doctrine at the International Court of Justice? 

At the end of January 2024, the US District Court in Northern California applied the political question doctrine to dismiss a suit brought against the US President and the Secretary of Defense based on alleged violations of international law. The Plaintiffs, a group of Palestinian human rights organizations and activists including Defense for Children International-Palestine and Al-Haq, alleged…

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Spain’s Supreme Court is at it again: UN Treaty Body decisions are binding

The Spanish Supreme Court has established that the views expressed by UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies in individual complaints are binding on the State. This is not the first time that Spain’s Supreme Court sustains this position. In fact, I wrote a piece for EJIL Talk in August 2018 that began exactly like this blog today. However, in…

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The Hegemony of Penal Accountability: Some Critical Reflections during (Ongoing) Atrocities

“Accountability matters – not only because it provides justice for victims and punishment for perpetrators. It matters because ending impunity is central to ending genocide… Prevention and punishment…can never be seen in isolation from each other. Punishment is key to prevention.” - Michelle Bachelet. Contemporary international law encompasses a legal and institutional framework…

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