Two Weeks in Review, 5 – 18 July 2021

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The latest issue of the European Journal of International Law Vol. 32 (2021) No. 1) was published in the last week. You can read the table of contents here. The free access articles in this issue are:

Jan Klabbers, Doreen Lustig, André Nollkaemper, Sarah Nouwen, Michal Saliternik and Joseph H. H. Weiler, International Law and Democracy Revisited: Introduction;

Akbar Rasulov, ‘From the Wells of Disappointment’: The Curious Case of the International Law of Democracy and the Politics of International Legal Scholarship; and 

Brad R. Roth, The Trajectory of the Democratic Entitlement Thesis in International Legal Scholarship: A Reply to Akbar Rasulov. 

Editors in Chief, and , in their editorial offer an overview of the contents of the latest issue and the changes to EJIL’s Editorial Board and Scientific Advisory Board. In her editorial,  reflects on the gendered language of reference letters and the gendered expectations about what will make a good academic. Finally, EJIL Review Editor  offers his overview of the book reviews and review essays in the latest issue.

Symposium: Apartheid in Israel/Palestine

In his post,  introduces the symposium and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report ‘A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution’ that prompted it. Milanovic notes there are now three narratives about Israel and apartheid: the ‘mainstream Israeli narrative’ which argues there is no apartheid; the argument that zionism as a project has always been ‘one of systemic domination by one group over the other’; and the third, increasingly voiced by ‘mainstream’ human rights organizations, that Israeli policies have gradually become those of apartheid.  

The symposium starts off with a post by , who writes about the history of the intellectual tradition that understands ‘Zionism as a settler-colonial project predicated on Palestinian elimination, and thus as a racist structure since its inception’ and reviews the ‘legal analysis underpinning Israel’s apartheid regime, which reflects its Zionist ideology.’  then examines the notion of a ‘racial group’, an important element of the crime of apartheid, and how this was applied in the HRW Report. questions whether HRW’s finding of apartheid in relation to occupied territories only, while important, is correct, and reopens questions about the division of Palestinians along the Green Line and the denial of the right of return of Palestinian refugees and exiles. queries the legal analysis of the HRW report, in particular its definition of apartheid, which he argues ‘lacks a legal basis in treaty or customary law’. criticizes the HRW report for being ‘baseless and agenda-driven’.

Finally, and  from HRW conclude the symposium and respond to many of the points raised. They clarify their position on the legal issues such as the definition of apartheid in treaty and custom, including the definition of a ‘racial group’, and whether the defence of reasonableness can be accepted as a justification for treating groups differently. Baldwin and Max also write about some of the temporal and geographic issues raised, such as the exclusion of the right of return for Palestinian refugees from the scope of the report, and reflect on the need for continued debate about the legal understanding of the crime of apartheid and its constitutive elements.

Other posts

 considers the first debate on the topic of human rights at sea in the UK House of Lords. Galani argues that the UK’s understanding of the applicable law is too narrow and that its ‘perception that the protection of human rights at sea concerns only its labour obligations should change if the State is to comply with its human rights obligations.’ 

 offers his thoughts about the impact of the pandemic and how we approach the organisation of the social world as a result. Allott suggests that COVID-19 ‘has challenged human consciousness, at the level of individual human beings and at the social level, calling into question assumptions about stability and security, progress and the ambiguous hegemony of natural science and technology.’

 writes his take on what can be understood about the current Russian approach to the rules based international order after its Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, wrote a piece about international law in a domestic newspaper. Van Severen concludes that ‘Russian approaches to many aspects of international law still differ substantially from those taken in the rest of the world, despite appeals to universality.’


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