The European Journal of International Law has taken a new step in increasing its offerings that contribute to the analysis of issues of international law. In addition to the Journal and this blog, EJIL:Talk!, which was established in 2008, the Journal also has a series of video interviews, EJIL:Live! We have now started EJIL: The Podcast! The aim of the podcast is to provide another forum for in-depth, expert but accessible discussion of international law issues in contemporary international and national affairs. We hope that readers of the journal and of the blog, who already have expertise in international law, will listen to the podcast. However, we also hope to attract an audience that extends beyond the international law specialist. The podcast is hosted by Sarah Nouwen (Cambridge), EJIL’s Co-Editor-in-Chief; Philippa Webb (KCL), Dapo Akande (Oxford); and Marko Milanovic (Nottingham). We also hope to have guests contribute to our discussions from time to time.

Please subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or TuneIn, It will shortly be available on several other platforms as well, and through aggregator apps on your phone or tablet. We would would appreciate listeners leaving a rating or review on the platform of their choice, as this will help promote the podcast.

Episode 1: Contagion

In the first episode of the podcast, we discuss the compatibility with international human rights law of the measures taken by states in the fight against the corona virus. In particular we address the question of whether, in tackling the virus, states have a duty to cooperate in order to secure the right to health. We also discuss whether states need to derogate from rights provided for in human rights treaties in order to take measures they consider necessary to protect health, or do the limitations inherent in those rights mean that they are sufficiently flexible to permit these measures? As we see states take a number of measures, including in some cases, legislation, to  combat misinformation relating to the virus, we consider whether human rights law imposes limits on how far states can go.

Although the coronavirus is the overwhelmingly dominant issue of the day, other international law issues have not completely disappeared. On the blog, we have tried to balance analysis of international legal issues relating to the virus with coverage of other issues. Likewise, we  end this first episode of the podcast with one of the international law issues of the day not receiving attention because of the virus – the indictment by the United States of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Episode 2: WHO Let the Bats Out

In episode 2, Sarah Nouwen, Marko Milanovic, Philippa Webb and Dapo Akande are joined by Gian Luca Burci, former Legal Counsel of the World Health Organization (WHO), to discuss what international health law provides in relation to preparation for and responses to pandemics. We consider the role of the WHO and its response to the COVID-19 crisis. We also discuss the status of the International Health Regulations adopted by the WHO as well as the obligations it imposes in situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic. What obligations, if any, did China have under these Regulations and did it act in breach of those obligations? We then turn to the various calls or attempts to hold states and organizations (China, the US, the WHO) accountable in international and  domestic courts. The final segment, which looks at international law issues being crowded out by the coronavirus, discusses a recent English case that raises a difficult tension between the obligation of states to accord diplomatic immunity and to protect human rights.

Episode 3: Hacked Off!

In episode 3, which focuses on the application of international law to cyber operations by states and non-state actors, Sarah, Nouwen, Marko Milanovic and Dapo Akande are joined by Harriet Moynihan (Chatham House), and Tilman Rodenhäuser (International Committee of the Red Cross). The particular context for the discussion is the recent rise in cyberattacks against the health care sector, especially in the context of the fight against COVID-19. However, the discussion ranges widely across a range of international law issues that might arise in the context of cyber operations. We consider whether international law imposes obligations on states to refrain from such attacks having effect in other states. When would such attacks violate the prohibition of the use of force? Do they constitute a breach of the principle of non-intervention in internal affairs? Is there a principle of sovereignty that can be breached by such operations? We also examine the applicable principles of international humanitarian law when cyber operations occur in the context of, or themselves trigger an armed conflict. Finally, we discuss the obligations, under international human rights law and other bodies of law, to take positive action (to exercise due diligence) to protect against harm occurring from attacks by non-state actors.

Episode 4: Court Between a Rock and a Hard Place

For quite some time, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was criticised for focusing exclusively on Africa, as opposed to investigating situations in which powerful western states are heavily involved or have strong interests. In the first part of episode 4, Kamari Clarke, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Los Angeles and author of the recent book Affective Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Pan-Africanist Pushback, joins us to discuss whether the ICC is able to deal with structural injustice. We discuss this against the background of the question whether black lives matter before the ICC. More recently, and possibly in response to the criticism that the ICC was too focused on Africa, the Prosecutor has made moves towards investigating situations potentially involving a number of bigger powers, including the US, the UK, Israel and Russia. The second part of the podcast discusses some of the political and legal challenges that have arisen when the Court goes after nationals of states not party to its Statute. In particular, the group discusses the legality, under general international law and the ICC Statute, of recent US sanctions against the Court in response to the investigation into the situation in Afghanistan. The episode concludes with a discussion of whether the ICC is able to determine the territorial boundaries of Palestine.

Episode 5: Breaking Bad – in a Specific and Limited Way

In this episode of the podcast, the team analyse the Internal Market Bill going through the UK Parliament. The Bill is a remarkable piece of proposed legislation in that UK ministers, including the governments most senior legal advisers, admit that the aim of particular parts is to breach international law – albeit “in a specific and limited way”! More specifically, the legislation, if adopted, will give UK ministers powers to adopt regulations which violate the Withdrawal Agreement entered into between the European Union and the UK less than a year ago. The podcast team discusses the reasons the UK government has put this Bill forward at this point in time, noting how rare it is for a state not only to admit to breaking international law before actually doing so, but to actually give its executive organs powers that are explicitly aimed at doing so.  The discussion turns to whether there are any international legal arguments, particularly under the law of treaties, that could plausibly justify the actions proposed by the UK government. The team also consider whether the actions taken by the UK are consistent with the rule of law: can this concept be bifurcated between the domestic and the international spheres? Finally, what should the role of governmental legal advisors should be in such situations.

Episode 6: Trumping International Law?

This episode examines the effects of the four years of the Trump Administration on international law. The team are joined by Neha Jain, Professor of Public International Law at the European University Institute and Chimene Keitner, who is Alfred and Hanna Fromm Professor of International Law at the University of California Hastings to explore the impact of the Trump Administration on the future of multilateralism. To what extent did the Trump Administrations policies affect or change the foundations of the international legal system or help to reshape certain structural features across that system. We discuss the effect of Trump Administration policies on a range of international institutions, including the World Trade Organization and the International Criminal Court. Did those policies simply expose weaknesses in those institutions? How might those weaknesses be remedied, and how will the relationship between those institutions and the US develop over the course of the new Biden administration?

Episode 7: Walking Back Human Rights in Europe?

In this episode of the podcast, Sarah Nouwen is in conversation with Laurence Helfer (Harry R. Chadwick, Sr. Professor of Law, Duke Law School) and Erik Voeten (Peter F. Krogh Professor of Geopolitics and Justice in World Affairs, Georgetown University) about their EJIL article “Walking Back Human Rights in Europe?” In their article, Professors Helfer and Voeten consider whether the European Court of Human Rights is shifting in a regressive direction. They do so by analysing all separate and minority opinions of the Court’s Grand Chamber between 1998 and 2018, focussing on opinions asserting that the Grand Chamber has tacitly overturned prior rulings or settled doctrine in a way that favours the respondent state.

The conversation begins with a discussion of what it mean to “walk back human rights” and how one assesses whether human rights are being walked back? The discussion also extends to the art of co-authoring academic work, particularly one such as this, written by people from different disciplines. How does one keep a single voice in a co-authored text?

Episode 8: After the Fall

Megan Donaldson and Surabhi Ranganathan host a new podcast series Reckonings with Europe: Pasts and Present. In this episode they discuss statues. The toppling of the statue of the slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol Harbour was a cheerful spectacle within a bleak year. A moment of local politics and popular protest, it was also part of a global pattern of confrontation with and around monuments. Such moments have divided observers and concentrated questions. What does the toppling of statues signify? Where does this process of reckoning ‘end’? For some, these questions are a demand to stop the contestation at some (elusive) point. Our conversation asks instead where the reckoning might go. What are the paths to dismantlement of the structures of exploitation, and imperial glorification which statues like Colston’s (a 19th century commemoration of a 17th century life) signify? 

They are joined by Professor Matthew Smith (director of UCL’s Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery), Dr Mezna Qato (Newnham College, Cambridge; curator of a project on Archives of the Disappeared), and Dr Rahul Rao (SOAS, currently writing a book on the politics of controversial statues).

Episode 9: Reviewing Book Reviewing

Which author of a legal monograph has not had that frustrating feeling — Why is my book not getting reviewed (and his or her book is…!)? And yet, in one of the many exquisite paradoxes of academic life, all Book Review editors of legal journals will attest to the difficulty of getting colleagues to accept to do a book review. ‘I have to read that book carefully (i.e. going beyond the index and checking if I am cited and whether the engagement with my work is ok) and then write a couple of pages which count for nothing in the current lamentable state of quantitative academic appointments and promotions?’ Thank you but no thank you is the usual reply. We want our books reviewed but we don’t like reviewing books. Or as readers of legal book reviews — have you ever had the frustrating feeling of ‘I want to read about the book and this reviewer is just using it to inflict on us his own thoughts and ideas’. Or the opposite — if I want to read a description of the book I can go to the publisher’s website (or the author’s homepage…). Why is this review so bland and lacking in critical bite? 

These are just some of the issues that Cait Storr, Fuad Zarbiyev, EJIL book review editor Christian Tams and EJIL Editors in Chief Sarah Nouwen and Joseph Weiler discuss in this EJIL Live! episode of the podcast.

Episode 10: Whatever Happened to International Law & Democracy?

Accompanying the Symposium on that question in EJIL issue 32(1), this podcast contains a duel between anti-anti-international law & democracy scholar Akbar Rasulov and anti-international law & democracy scholar Brad Roth. The debate continues on this blog: read Akbar Rasulov’s rejoinder here and Brad Roth’s subsequent response. Hosted by EJIL Editor in Chief Sarah Nouwen, they disagree on the curious fate of international law & democracy, on the politics of form versus the politics of substance and the role of the international lawyer. 

Episode 11: The Limelight on ESIL!

In this episode of the podcast, Joseph Weiler is joined by Helene Ruiz-Fabri, Photini Pazartzis and Marko Milanovic, to discuss the EJIL’s sister institution, the European Society of International Law (ESIL) – its foundation, mission, governance, and plans for the future, including the forthcoming annual conference in Stockholm.

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