Author: Alonso Gurmendi

The last time Venezuela faced the plight of war, almost 120 years ago, German and British gunboats deployed outside its ports, blockading them. After turbulent times, Venezuela had run out of money and was unable to pay its debts. In a classic display of pre-UN-Charter jus ad bellum, both the German Empire and the United Kingdom felt fully within their...

As I noted in a recent post, on January 4th, the Lima Group decided not to recognize “the legitimacy of the new presidential term of Nicolas Maduro” as President of Venezuela. On January 11th, Venezuela’s National Assembly declared itself the “sole Legitimate Power of Venezuela before the International Community” (all unofficial translations my own). Soon after, the Assembly’s Chairman, Juan...

On January 4th, the Lima Group – an informal gathering of 14 states seeking multilateral solutions to the humanitarian, democratic, and economic crisis in Venezuela – issued its latest statement, on the upcoming inauguration of Nicolás Maduro as President of Venezuela (see here for Spanish version). The statement called for the non-recognition of the legitimacy of Maduro’s government and called...

During colonial times, the Spanish empire lost around 1500 warships carrying priceless riches from the gold and silver mines of the Andes and the Sierra Madre. Under international law, these sunken warships are immune from state jurisdiction and generally remain state property even after sinking. In the past decade, international law has sought to regulate their preservation and salvaging, both...

Cocaine is a big problem in Latin America. According to the UN, 99.5% of worldwide coca cultivation is concentrated in just three countries: Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. Under pressure from the Global North, Latin American nations have reduced the problem to a plan to contain cocaine flows through mostly violent means, to disastrous humanitarian consequences. In several states, violence has...

Between 1980 and 2000, Peru went through what Peruvians call “La Época del Terrorismo”, or “The Era of Terrorism”. In those years, the Shining Path, a Maoist-inspired terrorist group, launched an attack on Peruvian democracy seeking to establish a Khmer-Rouge-like dictatorship. According to Peru’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission, its Supreme Court, and The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the “Era...

As evidenced in Part I, Latin American states have not been keen to allow expansive interpretations of the rules for use force in foreign soil. Latin America is a region historically subjected to foreign intervention, and as such, the rules it designed, especially in the pre-Charter era, were always very much thought out from a perspective of protecting “the invaded”,...

Ever since its very first articulations, the “unwilling or unable test” has relied heavily in the time-tested legitimacy of the 1837 Caroline Affair, where British forces sunk a vessel manned by Canadian rebels in American territory. Dressing such a visible and well-known case in the cloth of “unwilling or unable” allows its proponents to argue that its underlying principles have...

Since February 21st, 2018, Rio de Janeiro has been under military intervention. Brazilian President, Michel Temer, has tasked the armed forces with ending the “serious endangerment of public order” caused by the drug war between various armed gangs and paramilitary militias in Rio’s favelas, or shantytowns. The use of armed forces for control of crime is not a strange occurrence...

[Alonso Gurmendi Dunkelberg is Professor of International Law at Universidad del Pacífico, in Peru.] I want to draw readers’ attention to a recent decision of the Brazilian Tribunal Superior Eleitoral (TSE), Brazil’s top electoral court, regarding the mandatory nature of UN treaty body decisions. The case centers on former President Luis Inazio da Silva’s (better known as “Lula”) disqualification from the...