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.


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.

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.

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.

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.



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