Two Weeks in Review, 21 June – 4 July 2021

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EJIL: The Podcast! Episode 9: Reviewing Book Reviewing

EJIL Book Review Editor Christian Tams and EJIL Editors in Chief Sarah Nouwen and Joseph Weiler are joined by Cait Storr and Fuad Zarbiyev to discuss book reviewing in the latest episode of EJIL: The Podcast! The podcast accompanies EJIL issue 31:4 which contains a ‘Bumper’ Book Review section. 

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An International Crime of Ecocide

The proposed international crime of ‘ecocide’ has been at the forefront of recent debate about developments in international law. The Independent Expert Panel published a proposed Legal Definition of Ecocide this week which could serve as the basis for an amendment to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

 offers an assessment of the proposed definition, arguing that the move signals ‘great confidence in the regulatory potential of criminal law, but the proposal lacks sufficient reasoning and the drafters offer practitioners little help with the intricate problems arising from their draft definition.’ Ambos assesses the proposed definition and explains how the proposed crime would relate to the four current core crimes. 

 thinks that amending the Rome Statute to include the crime of ecocide will not be easy and examines the extent to which it might be possible to expand the scope of existing crimes to cover harm to the environment. 

, who served on the Independent Expert Panel, offers some insight into the five parameters that she understood the work on the proposed legal definition of ecocide, and the many options facing the IEP, to be guided by. These were: ‘1. pragmatism and realism, 2. precedent, 3. deference and respect, 4. environmental integrity, and 5. legal effectiveness.’

You can find further debate on the proposed legal definition of ecocide on other blogs, including here, here, here, and here.

Other posts

Also on the topic of environmental harm, , and  comment on the applicability of the European Convention on Human Rights to greenhouse gases that ‘transcends national borders and time’. Given the flurry of recent domestic cases and the three complaints from Portugal, Switzerland, and Norway to the ECtHR, their discussion of individual State responsibility for climate harm even where the harm is also attributable to other states is a timely one. 

and  write about the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Nestle USA, Inc. v. Doe, which involved six former child slaves, to dismiss the case on the grounds that the Respondents had not overcome the Court’s presumption against extraterritorial application of the Alien Tort Statute. Desierto and Song argue that as a result of this decision ‘U.S. corporations now have little incentive to take corrective action upon discovering that their offshore activities violate international law.’

 reviews the June 2021 NATO summit in Brussels, noting as significant that the US renewed its commitment to NATO and how prominent a role international law played in the discussions and final communiqué. Schmitt assesses the position adopted on Russia, the centrality of international law to NATO’s approach to space and cyberspace, and how the Summit addressed the NPT and TPNW.

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