Law of the Sea

At Lawfare yesterday, two law professors at West Point defended the US's right to attack North Korea if it tests another nuclear weapon or fires another missile into Japanese waters: North Korea is extraordinarily close to becoming a global nuclear power. This very real possibility has reportedly resulted in the United States debating a limited military strike dubbed the “bloody nose” strategy. In...

[Xuechan Ma, PhD candidate at Grotius Center for International Legal Studies of Leiden University, the Netherlands, researching on the topic of international cooperation in disputed marine areas; L.L.M. & L.L.B. at Peking University, China. Email: maxuechan@gmail.com.] The Special Chamber of the ITLOS delivered its judgement of the Ghana v. Côte d'Ivoire case on 23 September 2017, which pertained to unilateral oil...

I have just posted on SSRN a draft of a (very) long article entitled "Specially-Affected States and the Formation of Custom." It represents my first real foray into both "classic" public international law and postcolonial critique. Here is the abstract: Although the US has consistently relied on the ICJ’s doctrine of specially-affected states to claim that it and other powerful states...

Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed that one of my pet peeves is the incorrect usage of international legal terms in public and diplomatic discourse.  Hence, Israel did NOT commit "piracy" during the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid despite lots of governments claiming otherwise.  Cuba is not under a "blockade" despite tons of Cuban government propaganda otherwise. So you can imagine my...

President Trump has indicated that he will announce a decision on future U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement later today at 3 pm.  Reports suggest that he has already made up his mind to withdraw.  That decision is likely to receive extensive attention (not to mention criticism) on the merits.  And certainly that attention is warranted.  But I believe an...

Last month, I blogged about the Syria War Crimes Accountability Act of 2017, a bipartisan Senate bill “[t]o require a report on, and to authorize technical assistance for, accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Syria.” I praised the bill, but pointed out that Section 7(a) was drafted in such a way that it permitted the US to provide technical...

As has been widely reported, 17 international-law scholars -- including yours truly -- recently submitted a 105-page communication to the Office of the Prosecutor alleging that Australia's treatment of refugees involves the commission of multiple crimes against humanity, including imprisonment, torture, deportation, and persecution. The communication is a tremendous piece of work, prepared in large part by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and...

The forthcoming issue of the European Journal of International Law will feature an article by Professor Simon Chesterman, the Dean of the National University of Singapore’s Faculty of Law, entitled Asia’s Ambivalence About International Law and Institutions: Past, Present and Futures. This week, Opinio Juris and EJILTalk will hold a joint symposium on the two blogs on Professor Chesterman’s article. The...

After months (or even years) of threats, Ukraine finally filed an arbitration claim against Russia under Annex VII of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea.  According to this statement from the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign of Affairs, the claim will focus on Russia's actions in the maritime zones bordering Crimea. Since the Russian Federation’s illegal acts of aggression in...