Two Weeks in Review, 3 June – 16 June

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Climate change

Two posts commented on ITLOS’ Advisory Opinion on Climate Change, delivered on 21 May 2024. First, Joshua Paine analysed issues of treaty interpretation arising in the opinion. He argued that ITLOS construed the relevant obligations under UNCLOS in their wider context, enabling the Convention to effectively respond to the pressing challenge of climate change.

Second, our Editor Diane Desierto dived into ITLOS’ articulation of the stringent due diligence obligation concerning pollution of the marine environment from excessive anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. She also examined the duties of cooperation and forms of assistance required for climate-vulnerable states. Finally, she explored the tribunal’s integration of external rules into the interpretation of UNCLOS as a ‘living instrument’ while noting the absence of engagement with international human rights law rules.

International Criminal Court

Raphael Van Steenberghe and Jérôme de Hemptinne focused on the charge of the war crime of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare against Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant. They showed how the ongoing armed conflict in Gaza could also trigger the application of the law of international armed conflict, which would provide a legal basis for the prosecution of the war crime of starvation as a method of war under Article 8(2)(b)(xxv) of the Rome Statute.

Joshua Kern and Anne Herzberg commented on the panel of experts that assisted the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the application for arrest warrants in the Situation in the State of Palestine and their report.

Genocide

Tatjana Papic narrated how Serbian President Vučić instrumentalised the General Assembly resolution establishing 11 July as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica to gain domestic political power. She further argued that this episode fits into preexisting local narratives on the selective character of international law.

South Africa v Israel

Mischa Gureghian Hall examined the specific obligations imposed by the International Court of Justice’s order of 24 May 2024. He argued that it cannot be convincingly contended that the measure on the suspension of the Rafah Offensive ‘did anything short of ordering an immediate cessation of the Israeli military offensive in Rafah.’ He further noted that measures on humanitarian aid must be read in conjunction with the previous measures already in force, and he framed the Court’s measure on the access of UN investigative bodies as a first of its kind.

Deep seabed mining

Pradeep Singh foregrounded discussions at the International Seabed Authority (ISA) Assembly for adopting a general policy to protect and preserve the marine environment from exploitation activities. He argued that such a policy could address two widely shared positions among many ISA member states: that commercial exploitation should not begin in the absence of regulations and that any regulations and standards must be robust, scientifically informed, environmentally effective, stringent, and enforceable.

Palestine’s UN membership

Enzo Cannizzaro closely examined the General Assembly resolution on the admission of Palestine to the United Nations, adopted on 10 May 2024. He presented elements suggesting that the resolution was adopted as a reaction to the unlawful conduct of the Security Council, which would have failed in its legal duty to admit a state that meets all the requirements of Article 4(1) of the UN Charter.

European Court of Human Rights

Sarah Thin focused on the case of Semenya v Switzerland, for which the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights recently held public hearings. Thin contended that while Switzerland has framed this as a matter of extraterritorial jurisdiction, in her view, the key issue lies in the application of Switzerland’s positive obligations in relation to international arbitrative bodies within its own territory.

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Recent events and announcements can be found here and here.

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