While in DC last week for the ICC/Palestine event at George Mason — I’ll post a link to the video when it becomes available — I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lawfare’s Wells Bennet and Just Security’s Steve Vladeck to discuss the oral argument at the DC Circuit on the al-Bahlul remand, which the three of us attended that morning. You can listen to the podcast at Lawfare here; Steve did most of the talking, because he understands the constitutional issues in the case better than anyone, but I weighed in a few times on the international-law side. I hope you enjoy it — and my thanks to Wells for inviting me to participate.
Over the past week on Opinio Juris, we again enjoyed a lot of different perspectives from our guest bloggers, beginning with Rob Howse, whom Kristen introduced as this week’s featured guest blogger. He highlighted the return of neo-conservativism in Washington, reminded us of Alexandre Kojève’s being a neglected figure in the history of international law and also discussed the breakthrough at recent WTO talks and the trade facilitation agreement this week. He also posted on Liam Murphy’s book What Makes International Law Law?
Additionally, we heard from S. I. Strong announcing that the preliminary results from a recent empirical study on international commercial mediation and conciliation are now available.
Nicolás Carrillo-Santarelli talked about the most recent events in Colombia with the negotiations between the government and FARC rebels being suspended due to the and the kidnapping under IHL, including discussion around the illegality of deprivations of liberty, which sparked quite an intellectual debate in the comments.
A post also came in from Andrea Pin on the Italian Constitutional Court, the International Court of Justice and German war crimes. Duncan French and Jean d’Aspremont co-blogged on the ILC project on the identification of customary international law in summary of the two-day expert level seminar hosted by Lincoln Law School and the Manchester International Law Center.
Roger wrote up his analysis on the Ninth Circuit’s muddled comity analysis in Mujica v. Airscan while Kevin worked out some of his thoughts on the baffling Comoros decision and introduced a new videogame challenging the player to survive as long as possible as a civilian in a war-torn fictional city. Additionally, he introduced and congratulated the newly minted Dr. Mark Kersten.
Many thanks to our guest contributors and have a nice weekend!
These days, I usually use Twitter to point readers to blog posts that deserve their attention. But Mark Kersten’s new post at Justice in Conflict is so good — and so important — that I want to highlight it here. The post achieves the near-impossible, passionately indicting Canada’s right-wing government for creating a political environment ripe for terrorism without in any way suggesting that Wednesday’s terror attacks were justified. It’s a truly brilliant post, from top to bottom. Here is a snippet, concerning the Harper government’s foreign-policy disasters:
The Canadian government has actively pursued a political philosophy of retribution and control that tarnishes the country’s image as an ‘honest international broker’. Harper’s record attests to an unyielding mission to reshape Canada’s international identity as a tough and hard-power state. The Harper government plays the part of destructive belligerent in climate change negotiations and tar-sands cheerleader. It is first in line to threaten Palestine with “consequences” if Ramallah pursues accountability for alleged crimes committed by Israeli forces in Gaza. While it isn’t usually described as such (many prefer terms like “militarily engaged”), the reality is that Canada has been at war, primarily in Afghanistan, for most of the last decade. And while we should judge each decision to engage in wars on their own terms, the government has positioned itself as a military – rather than diplomatic or humanitarian – middle power. The role of Canadian citizens in the Afghan detainee scandal has been swept under the rug. The government willfully left a child soldier, Omar Khadr, to rot in Guantanamo and were the only Western government not to request the repatriation of their citizens from that nefarious island prison. It left Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen wrongly accused of terrorism, stranded in Khartoum for years and threatened anyone who tried to help him return to Canada with aiding and abetting terrorism. In a country that takes pride in seeing Lester B. Pearson as the father of peacekeeping, the government prefers to count the number of fighter jets it will buy than the number of peacekeepers it deploys. And, making matters worse, those who disagree with the Harper government’s approach to being “hard on crime”, “tough on justice”, and “a military power” are too often portrayed as naive or betraying Canadian values.
Sadly, it’s not just Canada that has pursued the kind of right-wing policies that make horrific acts of terrorism more likely. Very similar posts could — and should — be written about the Key government in New Zealand, the Abbott government in Australia, and (yes) the Obama government in the US. These misguided policies have done next to nothing to prevent terrorism; they create the illusion of security, not its actuality. Indeed, insofar as they do little more than further radicalize the populations they affect, the policies have made us all that much less safe.
Read Kersten. And if you are on an academic committee that is looking to appoint a brilliant young lecturer, hire him.
[William S. Dodge is The Honorable Roger J. Traynor Professor of Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.]
The U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) sets forth substantive rules of contract law to govern contracts for the sale of goods between parties who have their places of business in different CISG countries. See Art. 1. The United States is one of 83 countries that have joined the CISG. According to figures from the Census Bureau, U.S. trade in goods with CISG countries exceeded $2.4 trillion in 2013, which means a lot of contracts to which the CISG potentially applies. (I have written about the need for American contracts students to have some exposure to the CISG here.) It is possible for contractual parties to exclude application of the CISG (see Art. 6), but they must do so expressly. A choice of law clause stating that the contract is governed by “the laws of California,” for example, would not be sufficient. See, e.g., Asante Technologies, Inc. v. PMC-Sierra, Inc., 164 F. Supp. 2d 1142, 1149-50 (N.D. Cal. 2001).
The CISG entered into force with respect to Brazil on April 1, 2014. But treaties do not become effective as domestic law in Brazil until approved by executive decree, which did not happen until October 16, 2014. See Decree No. 8.327. Trade in goods between the United States and Brazil averages $6 billion a month, so a lot of contracts for the sale of goods between Brazilian companies and U.S. companies were presumably entered between April 1 and October 16.
What law governs those contracts (or more precisely, those that did not effectively exclude application of the CISG)? It may well depend on the forum in which suit is brought. My guess is that a Brazilian court would not apply the CISG to these contracts because it was not effective as a matter of Brazilian law. But I expect that a U.S. court would apply the CISG to these contracts because the treaty was in force between Brazil and the United States as a matter of international law and binding on U.S. courts under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. If the parties have chosen arbitration, the answer should turn on the parties’ (presumed) intent, but that may be hard to fathom in a case like this. In any event, this situation presents a good example of the need for countries to make sure that treaties to which they are bound internationally are properly implemented in their domestic laws.
Guest Post: The Evolving Law of Foreign Official Immunity–Mortazavi and Bakhshi, Prince Nasser, and “Samantar II”
[Chimène Keitner is Harry & Lillian Research Chair and Professor of Law at UC Hastings. She is on Twitter @KeitnerLaw.]
I look forward to discussing developments in the international law of non-state actor immunity on a panel on “Responsibility and Immunity in a Time of Chaos” at International Law Weekend this Saturday morning with co-panelists Kristen Boon and August Reinisch, moderated by Larry Johnson. For those of you who can’t attend, we thought we’d offer a taste of our discussion here on Opinio Juris.
In recent years, my research has focused on questions relating to the personal responsibility and ratione materiae immunity of individuals who act on behalf of states. The International Court of Justice has thus far managed to avoid dealing with the subject of ratione materiae immunity. As I recounted on Opinio Juris earlier this year, a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights found in Jones v. United Kingdom that the grant of ratione materiae immunity for torture to Saudi officials by the U.K. State Immunity Act (SIA) did not interfere disproportionately with the applicants’ right of access to court.
Jurisprudence in other Commonwealth countries with state immunity acts that resemble the United Kingdom’s has largely tracked the House of Lords’s 2006 judgment in Jones v. Saudi Arabia. In that case, the House of Lords found that the SIA conferred immunity on foreign officials from civil proceedings for torture, even though its 1999 judgment in Pinochet (No. 3) established a lack of such immunity from criminal proceedings. As a matter of statutory interpretation, the distinction between criminal and civil proceedings finds some support in the explicit exclusion of criminal proceedings or prosecutions from the scope of the U.K., Canadian, and Australian state immunity acts. (For more on these cases, see here.) The Canadian Supreme Court’s October 10 judgment in Kazemi and Hashemi v. Islamic Republic of Iran reinforced this bifurcated approach by interpreting the Canadian SIA to provide immunity from civil proceedings to two named officials (Mortazavi and Bakhshi) who allegedly ordered, oversaw, and actively participated in the torture to death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.
Given the exclusion of criminal proceedings from the scope of the SIA, claims to immunity ratione materiae from prosecution for torture in U.K. courts have followed the different path set out in Pinochet (No. 3). As Oliver Windridge related here at Opinio Juris, the way has been cleared for a criminal investigation into claims that Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the son of the King of Bahrain, was directly involved in the torture of three individuals in a prison in Bahrain. Although some reports indicated that the prince had “lost” his immunity, it would be more accurate to state that the U.K.’s Director of Public Prosecutions ultimately determined that the prince did not benefit from, and never had benefited from, ratione materiae immunity from criminal proceedings for torture. Oliver’s post also notes that, in January 2013, a Nepalese army officer was charged in the U.K. with intentionally inflicting severe pain or suffering as a public official on two individuals during the 2005 civil war in Nepal.
In the United States, the only prosecution for torture to date remains that of Chuckie Taylor, who was sentenced in 2009 to 97 years in prison for torture committed in Liberia. The Torture Victim Protection Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1350 note, explicitly creates a civil cause of action for torture or extrajudicial killing committed under color of foreign law. Unlike the state immunity acts at issue in the civil cases described above, the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not exclude criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court determined in Samantar v. Yousuf (2010) that the FSIA does not apply to suits against individual officials in their personal capacity that seek damages from the defendant’s “own pockets,” in which the state is not the “real party in interest.” In the absence of a statute, foreign official immunity in U.S. courts is governed by the common law. (For a guide to analyzing immunity claims post-Samantar, see here.)
Curt Bradley and Jack Goldsmith argued against taking a U.S.-style approach to personal capacity vs. official capacity suits in a short article published before Samantar was decided. Although I have taken issue with parts of their historical analysis here, their basic point that different policy considerations are in play in designing domestic immunity regimes and international immunity regimes remains sound. Curt has blogged about post-Samantar cases here, and John Bellinger has been chronicling these developments as well. On October 14, the Supreme Court asked for the Solicitor General’s views on whether to review the Fourth Circuit’s determination on remand that there is no ratione materiae immunity for torture because it is a jus cogens violation.
Much conceptual and historical analysis remains to be done as we await the Solicitor General’s brief and the Supreme Court’s decision about whether to tackle the issue of ratione materiae immunity under the “common law” in Samantar II or a future case. Just as the Court should not transplant domestic immunity doctrines wholesale into the foreign official immunity context, so too should it resist parroting decisions that interpret state immunity acts with fundamentally different structures and provisions. It is more important to resolve these issues properly than it is to resolve them quickly or all at once—especially since, in the U.S. context, the Court’s examination of common law immunity in civil cases could have potentially unintended consequences for criminal proceedings as well.
I want to congratulate my friend — and friend of Opinio Juris — Dapo Akande on his promotion to Professor of Public International Law at Oxford University. It’s a massive accomplishment, and one richly deserved. Here is a snippet of Dapo’s impressive bio:
Dapo Akande is also Yamani Fellow at St. Peter’s College and Co-Director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) & the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations. He has held visiting professorships at Yale Law School (where he was also Robinna Foundation International Fellow), the University of Miami School of Law and the Catolica Global Law School, Lisbon. Before taking up his position in Oxford in 2004, he was Lecturer in Law at the University of Nottingham School of Law (1998-2000) and at the University of Durham (2000-2004). From 1994 to 1998, he taught international law (part-time) at the London School of Economics and at Christ’s College and Wolfson College, University of Cambridge.
He has varied research interests within the field of general international law and has published articles on aspects of the law of international organizations, international dispute settlement, international criminal law and the law of armed conflict. His articles have been published in leading international law journals such as the American Journal of International Law, the British Yearbook of International Law and the European Journal of International Law . His article in the Journal of International Criminal Justice on the “Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over Nationals of Non-Parties: Legal Basis and Limits” was awarded the 2003 Giorgio La Pira Prize.
Dapo has advised States, international organizations and non-governmental organizations on matters of international law. He has worked with the United Nations on issues relating to international humanitarian law and human rights law; acted as consultant for the African Union on the international criminal court and on the law relating to terrorism; and also as a consultant for the Commonwealth Secretariat on the law of armed conflict and international criminal law. He has also provided training on international law to diplomats, military officers and other government officials. He has advised and assisted counsel, or provided expert opinions, in cases before the International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, international arbitral tribunals, WTO and NAFTA Dispute Settlement Panels as well as cases in England and the United States of America.
There are four scholars who write in my areas that I am afraid to disagree with — because when we do disagree, odds are that they are right and I am wrong. The first three are Marko Milanovic, Steve Vladeck, and my co-blogger Jens Ohlin. The fourth is Dapo. He is, quite simply, one of the finest scholars writing today.
The event at George Mason University on the ICC and Palestine is today. Here, again, is the flyer:
If you cannot attend, the live-stream link is here.
Your weekly selection of international law and international relations headlines from around the world:
- The top U.N. human rights official in the Democratic Republic of Congo has left the country after the government ordered his expulsion for publishing a report accusing the police of abuses, but a U.N. spokesman said on Sunday he would return.
- At least 22 people, most of them women and children, have been hacked and clubbed to death in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, just days after a similar massacre took place, a government official said.
- A wave of violence hours after Nigeria’s government announced a truce with Boko Haram raised doubt on Sunday about whether more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist militants will really be released, deflating the new hopes of their parents.
- The UN peacekeeping chief on Saturday urged the Malian government to show a strong signal of its commitment to peace as negotiations with rebels restarted.
Middle East and Northern Africa
- The US military has airdropped weapons and supplies to Kurdish fighters defending the Syrian city of Kobane against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group despite its ally Turkey’s declarations opposing such a move.
- Yemen’s Shia Houthi fighters continue to push south in Ibb province, taking over the town of Yarim after dismantling a protest camp blocking the country’s main airport in the capital Sanaa.
- Israeli and Palestinian police kept a tight watch over the al-Aqsa mosque compound on Sunday in Jerusalem amid high tension between Muslims and Jewish visitors to the holy site and calls from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to defend it by “all means”.
- North and South Korea exchanged gunfire on Sunday when the North’s soldiers approached the military border and did not retreat after the South fired warning shots, the South Korean Defence Ministry said.
- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Indonesia for Joko Widodo’s presidential inauguration on Monday, seeking more help from Southeast Asian leaders in the U.S.-led effort against Islamic State in the Middle East.
- Resuming cyber security cooperation between China and the United States would be difficult because of “mistaken U.S. practices“, China’s top diplomat told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
- Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has confirmed that an agreement has been reached with Russia on a provisional price for gas deliveries during the coming winter months.
- Following on from the recent arrest in Belgium of Martina Johnson, alleged to have been involved in war crimes in Liberia, Armed Groups and International Law has an interview with Luc Walleyn, victims’ representative in the case.
- European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will on Monday issue a plea to Britain not to isolate itself in Europe by picking fights over immigration, saying that European Union membership boosts British international clout.
- Sweden released on Sunday a grainy photo of a mysterious vessel in Stockholm’s archipelago, as the military hunted for a foreign submarine or divers in the country’s biggest such mobilization since the Cold War.
- Tens of thousands of Catalans crowded central Barcelona on Sunday calling for early regional elections after plans for a Nov. 9 referendum on independence from Spain were declared illegal by Madrid.
- Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency has concluded that pro-Russian rebels are to blame for the downing of Malaysia Airline MH17 in Ukraine in July, Der Spiegel weekly reported on Sunday, the first European agency to say so.
- U.S-led forces which are bombing Islamic State militants in Syria killed ten civilians in two recent air strikes, a group monitoring the violence said on Saturday.
- Australian police have agreed to assist China in the extradition and seizure of assets of corrupt Chinese officials who have fled with hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit funds, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported on Monday.
- Iraq should stop its widespread use of the death penalty, which is unjust, flawed and only fuels the violence it purports to deter, the United Nations said in a report on Sunday.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has promised to undertake and publish a full review of its handling of the Ebola crisis after a leaked document appeared to show the UN agency had failed to do enough to contain the epidemic.
Right now, the Ebola virus is spreading across the Africa, and the ability of the most affected states – Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea – to stop and contain the virus is very much in doubt. Although only a few cases have been reported in the United States and Europe, it is clear that it will be impossible to completely avoid disease transmission here.
Furthermore, it is also clear that the healthcare systems of Spain and the United States have been incapable of correctly handling cases so as to prevent transmission of the disease. In the U.S., for example, the healthcare system was unable to correctly contain an outbreak that initially started with just one patient. Imagine what would happen if the United States were facing 1000 cases of Ebola. Although clearly the U.S. has more resources to deal with such a scenario than, say, Sierra Leone or Liberia, the current cases do not inspire confidence.
One of the factors leading to the spread of Ebola is the high mobility of today’s populations. We no longer live in one city or even one country. We move around. Once Ebola changed from a rural virus to an urban disease, it became that much easier for the disease to reach epidemic levels.
The other reason the disease spread so quickly is that the governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea responded inappropriately to the outbreak. They did not put in place the required measures to identify and isolate potentially infected Ebola patients. Also, medical personnel did not – and in many cases still do not – have access to the necessary protective equipment to prevent them from contracting the virus and, in turn, passing it along to others. The failures here run deep and are systemic.
The outbreak will cross international borders, potentially overwhelming national healthcare systems, and causing thousands of deaths. Experts have already predicted that, absent appropriate intervention and global resources, by the end of November the outbreak could claim as many as 10,000 new infections each week. Imagine what the weekly infection rate will be in January, or next June. The infection rate increase exponentially; the numbers are truly frightening.
The media attention to the disease has been schizophrenic. On the one hand, news outlets are reveling in public hysteria over Ebola because it no doubt increases readership and viewership. At the same, the same media outlets run stories or commentaries decrying the public hysteria as irrational and disproportionate to the level of threat. The latter is incredibly unhelpful because it ignores the fact that many governments, in both Africa and even the United States, have under-reacted to the threat and therefore missed the boat with regard to early containment. I think much of the public hysteria is warranted and rational because the government has done insufficient planning for a worst-case scenario situation.
All of this adds up to a situation that may very well threaten international peace and security. The director of the W.H.O. has already said as much, although I’m not sure if she was aware of the legal consequences of this statement. In any event, I am aware of the legal consequences, and I do believe that Ebola may become a threat to international peace and security.
Once that happens, the Security Council will have the authority under Chapter VII to declare Ebola a threat to international peace and security and to authorize measures to repair the breach. Those remedies could include outside interventions in effected countries even in the absence of local government consent. The time might come when outside governments need to do more than offer assistance; they might need to take control over the response, not just because of a humanitarian obligation but also from collective self-interest. The way to defeat Ebola will be to take the fight to Africa rather than sit back and wait for it to come here.
This issue doesn’t line up as Africa versus the rest of the world. The countries with the greatest interest in seeing a more intrusive global response are the African nations that border on the outbreak but have so far remained Ebola-free. If the outbreak spreads, they will be the hardest hit and it is their interests that would be most vindicated by a global intervention. An uncontained outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea is a disaster for their African neighbors.
Outside intervention would infringe the sovereignty of the host governments, but with a Chapter VII enforcement resolution from the Security Council, those putative violations of sovereignty would be lawful and consistent with the U.N. Charter.
I hope none of this becomes necessary. I hope the Ebola outbreak is contained and eliminated next week. I hope one of the vaccines proves effective and the whole world gets the vaccine by January. But there is no rational reason for optimism. Disaster planning requires preparing for the worst. If Ebola lingers and spreads, it makes sense to think now of the appropriate global response, the role of the U.N. and the Security Council in leading that response, and the structure of a legal argument that would justify intrusive interventions.
- On Thursday, November 13, 2014, the University of Georgia School of Law and the ASIL International Legal Theory Interest Group will convene a book workshop on “International Law as Behavior,” at Tillar House, 2223 Massachusetts Ave., NW, ASIL’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Organized by Harlan Cohen (University of Georgia School of Law), the workshop will bring together scholars working at the cutting edge in a variety of different fields, including constructivist international relations theory, anthropology, behavioral law and economics, organizations theory, social psychology, and sociology to discuss how these approaches can best be applied to the study of international law, how these approaches can complement both each other and positivist and rationalist accounts, the opportunities and challenges of working across these fields, and the development of a common language and tools to study how international actors actually behave, how their rationality is bounded by psychology, how they operate as members of groups and recipients of culture, and how they write and follow organizational scripts. Participants include Elena Baylis (University of Pittsburgh School of Law), Tomer Broude (Hebrew University Faculty of Law), Adam Chilton (University of Chicago School of Law), Sungjoon Cho (IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law), Martha Finnemore (George Washington University School of Law Elliott School of International Affairs), Jean Galbraith (University of Pennsylvania Law School), Derek Jinks (University of Texas School of Law), Ron Levi (University of Toronto Global Affairs and Sociology), Tim Meyer (University of Georgia School of Law), Galit Sarfaty (University of British Columbia Faculty of Law), and Kathryn Sikkink (Harvard Kennedy School). A book based on presentations at the workshop will follow. For more information and to register, please click here.
The Minerva Center for Human Rights at Tel Aviv University is pleased to invite the public to the conference “Lessons for Transitional Justice in Israel-Palestine”, to be held on 16-17 November 2014 at Tel Aviv University. The conference builds on an academic collaboration between Israeli, Palestinian and South African students and researchers who participated last summer in an intensive two-week Transitional Justice Workshop at the University of Johannesburg. At the conference, international and local scholars will share perspectives on current theories and practices that can shed light on possible transitional justice processes for Israel/Palestine, and students will present papers based on their research during the workshop. Please find conference program here. For further information please contact minerva [at] tauex [dot] tau [dot] ac.
- On 3 December 2014 the International Humanitarian and Criminal Law Platform, a research platform coordinated by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut, is hosting a conference:The Cyber Warfare Manual: A Detailed Assessment. This conference, organized in cooperation with the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, the Gerda Henkel Stiftung and the University of Amsterdam, will bring together top researchers and practitioners to critically discuss and assess the Manual, which is the result of a three-year effort by a distinguished group of international experts to examine how existing international law norms apply to this ‘new’ form of warfare. The conference will provide a general forum where the international legal community of The Hague and beyond can engage with people who were involved in the drafting of the Manual and others to discuss whether, and if so how, existing law can be applied to cyber threats.
- Letters Blogatory, along with the Center for Transnational Business and the Law at Georgetown University Law Center, will be hosting an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of the Hague Service Convention. The event, to be held in Washington on February 19, 2015, will bring together practitioners, central authority representatives, and academics to discuss and celebrate the Convention’s legacy and to look ahead to its future. There will be plenty of time for meeting and greeting, too! Please do mark your calendars, and RSVP. More information can be found here.
- The Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions at the University of Haifa invites applications from researchers, graduate students (MA, Phd., Post-doc) and practitioners to take part in the Minerva Center’s research on cyber regulation, policy and theory during the 2014-2015 Academic Year. More information can be found here. The application deadline is 1 December 2014.
- The 11th Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law will take place in Oslo, Norway from 10-12 September 2015. It is hosted by the PluriCourts Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, University of Oslo. The theme is: The Judicialization of International Law – A Mixed Blessing? More information can be found here.
Calls for papers
- The Oil, Gas, and Energy Law (OGEL) and Transnational Dispute Management (TDM) Journals invite submissions for a joint Special Issue on Renewable Energy Disputes. These disputes may involve issues of public international law, EU and US law (at the supranational, national and subnational levels), private law and contractual arrangements. The Special Issue will examine these types of disputes and analyses their backgrounds and the reasons why they arose. Papers should be submitted by 15 January 2015 to the editor of the special Professor Kim Talus (University of Eastern Finland).
- The Geneva Academy is recruiting for two positions. For more information please click on the terms of Reference for Postdoctoral Researcher on the Right to Food and Food Sustainability and terms of Reference for Postdoctoral Researcher on the Right to Food, Gender Equality and Land Commercialization. Interested applicants are requested to apply by 3 November 2014.
Last week’s events and announcements can be found here. If you would like to post an announcement on Opinio Juris, please contact us with a one-paragraph description of your announcement along with hyperlinks to more information.
This fortnight on Opinio Juris, Jens discussed how to get Quirin right when Quirin was wrong. Kevin asked for sources backing the US position on self-defence against non-state actors, while Kristen gave an overview of the legal issues up for debate at the General Assembly this fall. Julian expressed doubts about the strength of Greece’s legal arguments for the return of the Elgin Marbles.
We also had a range of guest posts, with Başak Çalı commenting on the Tory attack on the European Human Rights system, and Oliver Windridge discussing how a recent decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales confirms that there is no immunity for torture in England and Wales. Yanying Li followed up on an earlier post discussing the recent reforms for more orderly sovereign debt restructurings at the IMF.
Finally, Jessica and I wrapped up the international law headlines (1, 2) and listed events and announcements (1, 2). Our DC-based readers can hear Kevin speak on Monday at an event at George Mason University on the ICC and Palestine.
Many thanks to our guest contributors and have a nice weekend!
Amal Alamuddin-Clooney, Kevin’s Doughty Street Chambers colleague, made news this week by visiting Greece as part of a legal team working for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece from Britain. This is not ordinarily global tabloid fodder, but Alamuddin-Clooney’s recent marriage means she will draw media attention wherever she goes.
I don’t doubt her legal credentials (as well as that of her colleagues), but I do doubt the strength of their legal case for the return of the Marbles. At the time the Marbles were removed from Greece, the Ottoman Empire had sovereignty over Greece and there is pretty decent historical evidence that Lord Elgin had their authorization to remove the Marbles, or if he did not have authorization, his removal was ratified by official acts of the Ottoman government. (John Merryman seems to have made the most complete case here).
To be sure, there are strong moral arguments for the return of the Marbles to Greece. But Alamuddin-Clooney and her colleagues are hired for their legal expertise. On this front, I think they have a very tough case (which may be why they appear to have ruled out litigation already). But I am open to counter-arguments (based on law, not on cultural nationalism) for the Greek case. .