Weekend Roundup: September 7-13, 2013

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, we continued the discussion on Syria. Geoff Corn started the week by examining President Obama’s options if Congress were not to enact an AUMF, a question that also occupied Peter who yearned for the good old days of unilateral presidential authority to initiated use of force.

When the surprise Russian proposal to put Syria’s chemical weapons under international control put the Congressional vote on hold, Kevin was not convinced that this twist had anything to do with the “credible threat” of a US unilateral strike. Chris asked to what extent the OPCW could be involved in the practical implementation of the proposal. Chris’ post also pointed out how Russia has been more adept than the US at using international law rhetoric, a point he followed up on in a post comparing the international legal rhetoric in Obama’s speech with that in Putin’s NYTimes op-ed.

The possible legal basis for action continued to fascinate us. Kevin wondered what motivated President Obama’s new theory of customary international law, in which the percentage of the world’s population that lives within the territory of a party to a treaty would determine whether the treaty gives rise to custom. Julian linked to a forthcoming article by Andrew Carswell on the possibility of General Assembly action based on the Uniting for Peace resolution. Following a comment by the White House Counsel that a strike would not be prohibited under international law, Julian wanted to know more about the theory on which the White House thinks a strike would be legal under international law. Make sure you catch the comment by Charlie Savage who interviewed Ms Ruemmler.

Despite all these posts on Syria, we are not quite rebranding to Opinio Syriae just yet! There was also a distinct Latin-American flavour to our posts this week, with Julian’s posts on Colombia’s constitutional challenge of the Pact of Bogota, on Venezuela’s withdrawal from the American Convention of Human Rights, and on the possibility that Justice Sotomayor may recuse herself when the Supreme Court deals with Argentina’s certiorari petition in the legal battle between Argentina and NML Capital Ltd. Roger in turn reported on the shifting attitudes of the Chilean public towards Pinochet since the high profile failed extradition trial in the UK.

Then there was a guest post by Jonathan Hafetz discussing Military Commissions and Criminal Liability under a U.S. Common Law of War, a post by Julian on the signing of maritime boundary agreement between the US and Kiribati, and the latest instalment in Chris’ series about the Peace Palace’s centennial: a post about the role of popular activism in pressuring politicians and diplomats to resolve disputes peacefully. Kevin posted about Andrew Cagley’s resignation as the co-international prosecutor at the ECCC, asked our readers for a good discussion of the ability (or inability) of the Security Council to adopt resolutions that are binding on states that are not members of the UN, and criticized Sebastian Junger’s opinion piece in the Washington Post.

As always, we also had our weekday news wraps and the listing of events and announcements.

And if all of the above doesn’t leave you with enough to read over the weekend, can we recommend a new article by Jaya Ramji-Nogales that critically challenges the idea of a universal international human rights law, pointed out by Duncan, or the TEDxHague Academy talks mentioned by Chris?

Have a nice weekend!

http://opiniojuris.org/2013/09/14/weekend-roundup-september-7-13-2013/

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