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Events and Announcements, May 22, 2016

by Jessica Dorsey

Event

  • The Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law of Swansea University will organise a joint one-day seminar on the subject of Lex Petrolea with the Center for Energy, Law, and Business of University of Texas Law School on 21 June 2016 in London. For the flyer see hereFor further information click here.

Calls for Papers

  • The Editors of the Melbourne Journal of International Law (‘MJIL’), Australia’s premier generalist international law journal, are now inviting submissions for volume 17(2) by July 1, 2016. This issue will have a special focus on the legal implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and space will also be available for articles on other issues of international law. Submissions and inquiries should be directed to law-mjil [at] unimelb [dot] edu [dot] au. For more information, please visit the website here.
  • ASIL’s International Economic Law Interest Group has announced a call for papers ahead of its biennial conference September 30, 2016-October 1, 2016 taking place at Georgetown University Law Center. The overall theme is: “Making International Economic Law Work: Integrating Disciplines and Broadening Policy Choices,” and the deadline for paper proposal submissions is June 24, 2016. Please submit an abstract of no more than 500 words and please indicate when you anticipate completion of the paper and whether the paper has been accepted for publication or has been published. If applicable, please indicate place of (anticipated) publication and date. Please also provide a CV or resume, your current affiliation and whether you are a member of the IEcLIG. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed and decisions will be issued on August 1, 2016. More information can be found here.

Announcement

  • The second annual “International and comparative disaster law essay contest” is now launched. This contest is co-sponsored by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the American Society of International Law Disaster Law Interest Group (ASIL DLIG), the International Disaster Law Project (IDL) of the Universities of Bologna, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Roma Tre and Uninettuno.The contest is open only to students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at any university (anywhere in the world) at the time of submission. Essays may examine any issue related to law and disasters due to natural hazards, but must do so either from a comparative or an international law perspective, or both. Comparative essays should examine laws or legal issues from no less than three countries. The winner of the contest will receive: A monetary prize in the amount of CHF 500. A free annual membership in the American Society of International Law and waiver of fees for attendance of the ASIL annual meeting in April 2017. The winner will also have his or her paper published as a “Working Paper” of the IFRC’s Disaster Law Programme. They will retain copyright of their papers and may subsequently publish them elsewhere, according to the terms of the Working Papers series. A message announcing the name of the winner and runners up of the contest will be sent to all members of the ASIL DLIG, as well as to the co-sponsors and made public on the ASIL website. The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2016.

Our previous events and announcements post 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.

Events and Announcements: April 3, 2016

by Jessica Dorsey

Calls for Papers

  • Revisiting the role of international law in national security: call for papers. Many conversations in the U.S. about situations of armed conflict – within civil society, academia, and the U.S. government – center on “national security law,” often drawing primarily from domestic law and military perspectives. International law is sometimes set aside in these discussions. This workshop aims to draw the international legal aspects of armed conflicts to the forefront once again. This workshop, co-organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Delegation in Washington, and faculty at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, Stanford Law School, and Cardozo School of Law aims to drive discussions of public international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international criminal law, into conversations, in the U.S. in particular, on national security issues and situations of armed conflict. The workshop will provide time to discuss scholarly articles that are in process, as well as other major issues of international legal concern regarding situations of armed conflict. Following discussions, the group of participants may choose to collaborate on an outcome document. We invite you to submit an abstract or draft of an article for discussion. A small number of papers will be selected for discussion at the workshop. The article does not need to be finished – an abstract or draft may be submitted. When: May 19th, 2016 (full day) Where: Cardozo Law School, New York City Submissions: Please send your name, current affiliation, and paper proposal to Tracey Begley, trbegley [at] icrc [dot] org. Deadline for submissions: April 8, 2016 A limited amount of travel funds may be available.
  • Dr Kubo Macak (University of Exeter) and Dr Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne (University of Reading) are holding an expert roundtable on 22-23 September 2016 on the topic of ‘The Impact of the Law of Armed Conflict on General International Law’. They are issuing a call for abstracts of no more than 500 words on this topic to be submitted by email to loacimpact [at] gmail [dot] com no later than 20 May 2016. Those chosen to attend will have their domestic travel expenses and accommodation covered. The full details and call for papers can be found here.

Announcements

  • The ICRC has just published its quarterly bibliography. You can find it here,
  • Transnational Dispute Managment has published a CETA special. Editors Andrea Bjorklund, John Gaffney, Fabien Gélinas and Herfried Wöss prepared this TDM CETA special. It undertakes a broad-ranging study of CETA, viewing it as an indicator of the evolution of EU trade and investment policy, and of the kinds of tensions and innovations that can be expected to arise as a new generation of twenty-first century trade and investment agreements emerges. The special starts off with an introduction by three leading experts Professor Pieter Jan Kuijper; The Honourable L. Yves Fortier and Judge Stephen Schwebel (free to read). It is the first detailed collection of reviews of CETA after its latest revisions, including the reworked Investment Chapter with an investment court replacing international arbitration.
  • The Codification Division of the UN Office of Legal Affairs recently added new lectures to the UN Audiovisual Library of International Law website, which provides high quality international law training and research materials to users around the world free of charge. The latest lectures were given by Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice on “Whaling: the Gordian Knot of International Law” and by Professor Antonios Tzanakopoulos on “Domestic Courts in International Law”.

Our previous events and announcements post 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.

Weekly News Wrap: Tuesday, March 29, 2016

by Jessica Dorsey

Here’s your weekly selection of international law and international relations headlines from around the world:

Africa

Middle East and Northern Africa

Asia

Europe

Americas

Oceania

UN/World

Proportionality and Autonomous Weapons Systems

by Jeroen van den Boogaard

[Jeroen van den Boogaard is assistant professor military law of the Netherlands Defence Academy and a lecturer and associate researcher at the Amsterdam Center of International Law.]

Despite Chris Borgen’s plea that “the immediate legal issues may have to do more with international business transactions than international humanitarian law”, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hosted their second expert meeting on autonomous weapons systems last week. The meeting brought together a number of legal and technical experts on the subject as well as governmental representatives (the Report of the first expert meeting in 2014 is here). Autonomous weapons systems, or ‘killer robots’ as they are referred to by others, are sophisticated weapons systems that, once they have been activated, can select and attack targets without further human intervention.

The focus of the ICRC in their definition of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) is on systems with a high degree of autonomy in their ‘critical functions’, namely autonomously selecting and attacking targets. The ICRC has in the past called on States to ensure that AWS are not employed if compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL) cannot be guaranteed. The Campaign to stop Killer Robots have called for a pre-emptive and comprehensive ban on AWS and to prohibit taking the human ‘out-of-the-loop’ with respect to targeting and attack decisions on the battlefield.

It is important to realise that professional militaries around the globe already possess and use scores of weapon systems with varying levels of autonomy. The use of artificial intelligence of future AWS may however enable AWS to learn from earlier operations, which enhances their effectiveness. It is feared that this will lead to scenarios where AWS go astray and decide in an unpredictable way which targets to attack.

The concerns for the use of AWS are based on a number of grounds, for example the moral question whether decisions with regard to life or death can be left to machines. Another concern is the fear that the protection of civilians during armed conflict would be adversely affected through the use of AWS. In legal terms, this means that it is unclear whether AWS are in compliance with IHL, particularly the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautionary measures.

The main focus of the ICRC expert meeting was to establish what may be understood by retaining ‘adequate, meaningful, or, appropriate human control over the use of force’ by AWS. This is important because although there is by definition always a human actor who deploys the AWS, the question is what the consequences are in case the AWS is fully independently making decisions as required by IHL. For example, it is unclear whether AWS would be able to comply with the obligation to verify whether its target is a legitimate military objective.

It seems that in technical terms, it may be expected that the use of complex algorithms may enable AWS to reliably identify the military advantage of attacking a certain target. Recent history has revealed the exponential speed of developments in computers, data storage, and communications systems. There is no reason to assume that this would be any different for the development of self-adapting AWS whose algorithms rely on artificial intelligence to independently assess what the destruction of a certain military objective would contribute to the military advantage of an operation. This is necessary to attack an object in compliance with IHL. Especially in environments without any civilian presence, such as below the sea on the high seas, IHL seems to be no obstacle to deploy AWS.

The picture changes as soon as (more…)

Cruz Advisor: Joseph McCarthy Was “Spot On”

by Kevin Jon Heller

I’ve been slowly working on a post that points out Ted “Carpet Bombing” Cruz is no less scary than Donald “Torture Everyone” Trump when it comes to foreign-policy. (Schadenfreude isn’t a strong enough word for how much I am enjoying the implosion of the Republican party under the combined weight of their insanity.) To tide you over, I will simply offer this doozy of a quote from one of Cruz’s national-security advisors, Clare Lopez, about the Red Scare:

We can go all the way back, of course, to the time of the Cold War and back to the 1920s, ‘30s, ‘40s when communists, you know, the KGB, infiltrated our government at the very highest levels. And then, like now, we were unprepared and in large measure unaware of what was going on, at least until the House Un-American Activities got rolling in the 1950s with Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who absolutely was spot-on in just about everything he said about the levels of infiltration.

Lopez works for another Cruz advisor, Frank Gaffney — a racist and Islamophobic conspiracy theorist who believes Grover “Drown Government and Poor People in the Bathtub” Norquist is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.

What’s the old adage about how a person is known by the company he keeps?

Why Bemba’s Conviction Was Not a “Very Good Day” for the OTP (Updated)

by Kevin Jon Heller

As readers probably know by now, the ICC convicted Jean-Pierre Bemba yesterday of various war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape as both a war crime and crime against humanity. Commentators are praising the conviction as landmark with regard to sexual violence — against both women and men. Here, for example, is Niamh Hayes:

Today is a very good day for the Office of the Prosecutor. This afternoon, Jean Pierre Bemba Gombo was convicted of rape as a crime against humanity and a war crime, due to his failure as a military commander to prevent or punish such crimes committed by MLC troops under his effective control. This represents the first ever conviction for the crime of rape at the International Criminal Court. Although rape was charged in the cases against Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo, and although the Trial Chamber ultimately concluded that the alleged acts of sexual violence had in fact taken place, Katanga and Ngudjolo’s individual criminal responsibility for those crimes were not proven to the satisfaction of the judges and they were both acquitted on those counts. Bemba is not only the first defendant to be convicted of rape as a war crime or crime against humanity at the ICC, he is also the first person to have been held individually responsible for violations of international criminal law committed during the 2002-2003 coup in the Central African Republic.

It is even more significant to realise that the Bemba judgement represents the first time in the history of international criminal law that sexual violence against men has been charged as the crime of rape (as opposed to crimes of torture, outrages upon personal dignity or cruel treatment) or that a defendant has been convicted of rape based on the testimony of male victims. The Bemba case will go down in history as a vital precedent on that basis alone, but it also represents a hugely important step in the ICC’s broader efforts to provide greater accountability for sexual violence crimes. Prosecutor Bensouda today reiterated her personal and professional commitment to that goal: “[w]here some may want to draw a veil over these crimes I, as Prosecutor, must and will continue to draw a line under them.” The inclusion of further allegations of male rape in the Ntaganda case and extensive allegations of sexual violence against civilians in the Ongwen case are important and welcome developments in that regard.

I agree with Niamh that the decision is a landmark in terms of sexual violence — but I would take strong issue with the idea that Bemba’s conviction represents a “very good day” for the OTP. On the contrary, the Trial Chamber’s judgment illustrates that the OTP continues to have problems developing its cases without the judges’ help. As Niamh notes, Bemba is the first ICC defendant convicted on the basis of superior responsibility. But she fails to point out a critical fact about the trial: the OTP alleged that Bemba was responsible for the various war crimes and crimes against humanity as a superior only because the Pre-Trial Chamber told it to do so. The OTP’s original theory of the case was that Bemba was responsible for those crimes solely as an indirect co-perpetrator. The PTC, however, disagreed: because the evidence the OTP presented at the confirmation hearing indicated that Bemba was most likely responsible for the crimes as a superior, not as an indirect co-perpetrator, the PTC adjourned the hearing and requested (read: instructed) the OTP to amend the charges to include superior responsibility. The OTP did so — but it continued to insist that Bemba was primarily responsible for the charges as an indirect co-perpetrator. Here is the relevant paragraph from its Amended Document Containing the Charges:

57. Primarily, BEMBA is individually criminally responsible pursuant to Article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute, for the crimes against humanity and war crimes referred to in Articles 7 and 8 of the Statute, as described in this Amended DCC, which he committed jointly with Patassé through MLC troops. Alternatively 1 , BEMBA is criminally responsible by virtue of his superior-subordinate relationship with MLC troops pursuant to Article 28 (a), or in the alternative Article 28(b), of the Statute, for crimes against humanity and war crimes, as described in this Amended DCC and enumerated in Counts 1 to 8, which were committed by MLC troops under his effective command, or authority, and control as a result of his failure to exercise control properly over these forces.

The OTP should be grateful to the PTC for its “request,” because the PTC ultimately refused to confirm Bemba’s potential responsibility as an indirect co-perpetrator. Had the PTC not intervened, the case would not even have made it past the confirmation stage.

So, to summarise: The OTP had a theory of the case. The PTC told it to rethink that theory. The OTP did so — reluctantly. The PTC rejected the OTP’s preferred theory. And the TC ultimately convicted Bemba on the theory first proposed by the PTC.

Bemba’s conviction clearly represents a very good day in the struggle against sexual violence. But it hardly represents  a very good day for the OTP. On the contrary, it actually represents a rather stunning rebuke to the OTP’s ability to develop its cases without the judges’ help.

NOTE: I have updated the post in light of an email from Alex Whiting pointing out that the PTC refused to confirm indirect co-perpetration. My thanks to him for the correction.

US House of Representatives Overwhelmingly Calls for War Crimes Tribunal for Syria (with Jurisdiction to Try Americans, Apparently)

by Patrick Wall

[Patrick Wall is studying for an LL.M. in International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, as the Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies Scholar in International Law.]

Last Monday, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed—by 392 votes to 3—a resolution ‘[e]xpressing the sense of the Congress condemning the gross violations of international law amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict in Syria, and asking the President to direct his Ambassador at the United Nations to promote the establishment of a war crimes tribunal where these crimes could be addressed’. Information on the resolution can be found here, and the full text as passed can be found here.

The resolution was sponsored by Rep Chris Smith, a Republican of New Jersey, and was co-sponsored by one Democrat and three other Republicans. This is something of a personal victory for Smith, who has been advocating for a war crimes tribunal for Syria since at least September 2013 (this Google search links to all articles on his website concerning his advocacy on the issue).

After recalling some of the horrendous violations of international law that have doubtless occurred in Syria—and specifically pointing the finger at the Government of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Russia, Iran, ‘Iran’s terrorist proxies including Hezbollah’, the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front—the House:

  • strongly condemns the continued use of unlawful and indiscriminate violence against civilian populations by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict;
  • urges the United States and its partners to continue to demand and work toward the cessation of attacks on Syrian civilians by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict;
  • urges the Administration to establish additional mechanisms for the protection of civilians and to ensure consistent and equitable access to humanitarian aid for vulnerable populations;
  • urges the United States to continue its support for efforts to collect and analyze documentation related to ongoing violations of human rights in Syria, and to prioritize the collection of evidence that can be used to support future prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict;
  • urges the President to direct the United States representative to the United Nations to use the voice and vote of the United States to immediately promote the establishment of a Syrian war crimes tribunal, a regional or international hybrid court to prosecute the perpetrators of grave crimes committed by the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict; and
  • urges other nations to apprehend and deliver into the custody of such a Syrian war crimes tribunal persons indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide in Syria, and to provide information pertaining to such crimes to the tribunal.

During his speech in the House urging lawmakers to vote in favour of the resolution, Smith pleaded that ‘the atrocities committed against Syria’s population demand accountability and demand justice’. At a press conference after the vote, he argued that the tribunal would need to be ‘aggressive, transparent, [and] go after all sides’.

There are a few notable elements about the development.

The first is the position of the International Criminal Court in all of this. The preamble to the resolution notes that ‘Syria is not a state-party to the Rome Statute and is not a member of the International Criminal Court’. Smith had the following to say during the post-vote press conference:

An ad hoc or regional court has significant advantages over the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a venue for justice. For starters, neither Syria nor the United States is a member of the ICC, although mechanisms exist to push prosecutions there. The ICC has operated since 2002 but boasts only two convictions. By way of contrast, the Yugoslavia court convicted 80 people; Rwanda, 61; and Sierra Leone, 9. Moreover, a singularly focused Syrian tribunal that provides Syrians with a degree of ownership could significantly enhance its effectiveness.

Although there are certainly no suggestions that Smith is in favour of the United States becoming a member of the ICC, his dispassionate analysis of the possible venues for international criminal trials does stand in stark contrast to the Congress’ well-known hostility towards the ICC.

The second item of note is Smith’s optimism about the possibility of the Security Council actually voting to establish an international criminal tribunal for Syria. Pointing to the fact that Russia did not stand in the way of the creation of the ICTY—despite being a supporter of Slobodan Milošević—Smith argues that a ‘serious and sustained push by the United States and other interested parties’ would result in the passage of a Security Council Resolution creating the tribunal.

This would seem to be unrealistically optimistic. Although there were suggestions during the Balkan conflict that Russia would deploy troops in support of Serbia, this never occurred, so there was never any possibility that the ICTY would investigate or prosecute Russian personnel. In Syria, Russia has become an active participant. Indeed, the very preamble to Rep Smith’s resolution alleges that ‘the Russian Federation…has committed its own violations of international law by leading deliberate bombing campaigns on civilian targets including bakeries, hospitals, markets, and schools’. Smith has not, to my knowledge, explained why Russia wouldn’t veto a resolution that would expose its own troops to prosecution.

Which brings us to the most curious part of the whole saga: the fact that American troops and those of her allies would also fall within the jurisdiction of the proposed tribunal. The proposed tribunal’s rationae personae is said to be ‘the Government of Syria, its allies, and other parties to the conflict’ and Smith said in the post-vote press conference that ‘no one on any side…would be precluded from prosecution’; it would ‘go after all sides’.

As we know, the United States, the United Kingdom and France have conducted strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and are, thus, ‘parties to the conflict’. Given that the Congress has previously authorised the use of military force to liberate any citizen of the United States or an allied country held by the ICC, it is at least passing strange that the House has so overwhelmingly urged the creation of a new international criminal tribunal that would be empowered to prosecute, for example, an American pilot accused of bombing civilian targets within Syria.

Comment on this possibility has been sought from Rep Smith, but a response has not yet been forthcoming.

Responding to Steve Vladeck and Charlie Savage on Garland

by Deborah Pearlstein

Thanks to Steve Vladeck for the thoughtful post over at Just Security about his take on Garland’s record on Guantanamo cases and related matters. Steve, like Charlie Savage in the Times, is in one sense far more critical of Garland than I. I say “in one sense” because, before jumping back into the details here, it seems apparent we’re all applying somewhat different metrics here in assessing that record, some I fear more problematic than others. (more…)

Weekly News Wrap: Monday, March 21, 2016

by Jessica Dorsey

Here’s your weekly selection of international law and international relations headlines from around the world:

Africa

Middle East and Northern Africa

Asia

Europe

Americas

Oceania

UN/World

Events and Announcements: March 20, 2016

by Jessica Dorsey

Sponsored Announcements

  • Admissions to the Seminar “Public Health and Human Rights – Current Challenges and Possible Solutions” (19 May 2016), organised by the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC) are open until 25 April 2016, early bird 30 March 2016 with 10% discount. The issue of global health governance, which deals with the question how to regulate efficiently a panoply of actors in global health, such as international organisations, States, NGOs (including philanthropic foundations), private-public partnerships, pharmaceutical companies, individuals and others. The seminar on public health and human rights will host some of the world’s most renowned experts on health related human rights. Their presentations will be organized in three panels. Presentations in each panel will be followed by an interactive discussion with other participants. Target: the seminar is open to all the people with a strong interest in the study of the link between Human Rights and Public Health. It is especially conceived for professionals who work in fields where this link is particularly strong: employees of national Health Ministries in the European Union and beyond, representatives of Pharmaceutical Companies, functionaries and officials of International Organizations and members of NGOs working in the public health sector. It is also addressed to professional doctors having an interest in the Human Rights policies about public health and to scholars with a background in public health, philosophy and ethics, medical law and social sciences. Eligibility: lectures are conceived for participants with a general interest in Human Rights and some basic knowledge in Public Health. Seminar Language: all lectures will be held in English. Enrolment fee for the seminar amounts to € 260,00 with no accommodation, or € 360,00 with accommodation for 1night (night 18 May – departures 19 May 2016). If you choose the option with no accommodation, the enrolment fee will include: tuition fee and lunch on seminar day. If you choose the option with accommodation, the enrolment fee will include: tuition fee, lunch on seminar day and accommodation in a single room in a hotel on the Lido for 1 night. Interested candidates should register by compiling the online application form. For any query about the seminar please contact us at training [dot] publichealth [at] eiuc [dot] org
  • The University of Utrecht is offering two summer programs of interest to Opinio Juris readers. If you’d like to learn more about the regulation of the various uses of freshwater resources, then the Summer School on International, European and Domestic Water Law might be of interest to you. This course provides you with an introduction to selected issues of international, regional (EU) and domestic (comparative) water law. These issues include the organizational aspects of water management, water safety and flood protection, water quality and combating pollution, protection of drinking water resources and the sustainable use of water. If you are looking for a general introduction to the most important tenets of public international law, then we invite you to join the Summer School on Public International Law. This course will look at the role of international law in responding to today’s global challenges, such as the Russian activities in Ukraine, the legal aftermath of Srebrenica, the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq, and climate change negotiations. These issues will be used to examine the nature and function of international law, its sources and subjects, and questions of jurisdiction and immunities, state responsibility and the responsibility of international organizations. For more information, please contact the course leaders: Professor Marleen van Rijswick (water law) and Professor Cedric Ryngaert (International law), or the course coordinator: Otto Spijkers.

Calls for Papers

  • The Vienna Journal on International Constitutional Law is dedicated to a wide range of subjects including in particular European Constitutional Law, Public International Law, the Constitutionalization of International Law, the Internationalization of Constitutional Law, the Migration of Constitutional Ideas, Legal Theory, and Comparative Constitutional Law. By linking these select perspectives, the Journal endorses an approach towards a coherent understanding of International Constitutional Law, thus preparing the ground for novel answers to the challenges of a changing global legal framework. For its 10 year anniversary the Journal will host a conference dedicated to its very scope: The one day event to be held on23 September 2016 at Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) will focus on the concept of International Constitutional Law. Abstracts of no more than 300 words accompanied by your CV and inquiries may be directed to Maria Fegerl (maria [dot] fegerl [at] wu [dot] ac [dot] at) until May 15. All applicants will be notified by May 31. Accepted papers will be included in ICL Journal Vol 11. Please be advised that travel expenses cannot be covered.
  • Call for Papers, Asian Society of International Law Regional Conference on “International Law and a Dynamic Asia” Ha Noi, Vietnam, 14-15 June 2016 Deadline: 15 April 2016. The 2016 Regional Conference of the Asian Society of International Law will take place in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, hosted by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam. The Conference will consist of plenary sessions and a number of agorae. In addition, the Conference will feature two special agorae on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the establishment of the ASEAN Community – two remarkable developments in 2015. The Conference provides an excellent forum for speakers to share innovative and original ideas in wide-ranging areas of international law with a view to stimulating debate and promoting further research; this is also an opportunity to foster contacts between participants. Papers presented in agorae should focus on the field of international law connected with the overarching conference theme. Papers should be unpublished at the moment of presentation and be at an advanced stage of completion. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 April 2016. Abstracts in no more than 500 words should be submitted via email to ilconference [dot] vn2016 [at] gmail [dot] comPlease click here for more information on the Call for Papers and the conference theme.
  • ILW 2016 – Call for Proposals: International Law Weekend 2016 (ILW 2016) is scheduled for October 27-29, 2016 in New York City.  The ILW Organizing Committee invites panel proposals for the conference to be submitted through the online ILW Panel Proposal Submission Form. All proposals for the conference must be received by April 9, 2016. Panel proposals may concern any aspect of contemporary international law and practice. For more information, please read the full Call for Proposals or visit the ILW webpage. ILW 2016 is sponsored and organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association (ABILA) and the International Law Students Association (ILSA). Questions about the ILW 2016 may be sent to conferences [at] ilsa [dot] org.

Events

  • Queen Mary University of London’s  Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context cordially invite you to its 2016 Annual Lecture. The lecture, entitled ‘Mare Nostrum: International Law, Spatial Order, and the Mediterranean’, will be delivered by Professor Anne Orford (Melbourne) on 31 March 2016 from 6:30 – 8:30pm at the ArtsOne Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London. More details can be found here. The event is free and open to all, but please register online via Eventbrite.

Announcements

  • Trade, Law and Development (Vol. 7, No. 1) [TL&D] has been published. TL&D has been ranked as the best law journal in India (2011-1015) and the 10th best law journal in the field of international trade worldwide (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012) by the Washington and Lee University Law Library in its annual rankings of law journals. Since its establishment in 2009, the journal’s efforts have been recognized by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes and the World Trade Organization. The issue and its contents can be accessed online on the website here.

Our previous events and announcements post 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.

AJIL Unbound Symposium on Third World Approaches to International Law

by Kevin Jon Heller

AJIL Unbound has just published a fantastic symposium entitled “TWAIL Perspectives on ICL, IHL, and Intervention.” The symposium includes an introduction by James Gathii (Loyola-Chicago) and essays by Asad Kiyani (Western), Parvathi Menon (Max Planck), Ntina Tzouvala (Durham), and Corri Zoli (Syracuse). All of the essays are excellent and worth a read, but I want to call special attention to Ntina’s essay, which is entitled “TWAIL and the ‘Unwilling or Unable’ Doctrine: Continuities and Ruptures.” Here is a snippet that reflects her central thesis:

The similarities between this practice and the prominent role of nineteenth-century international legal scholars in the construction of the “civilizing” discourse of the time are striking, even if “[s]ubsequent generations of international lawyers have strenuously attempted to distance the discipline from that period.” Imperial aspirations tied to such arguments also form a “red thread” that connect “the standard of civilization” with the “unwilling or unable” doctrine. The unequal international legal structure promoted by these arguments is intimately linked to an unequal political structure, characterized by the dominance of the Global North over the Global South. More specifically, states of the Global North are enabled to use force against the sovereignty and—importantly—the life and security of the citizens of states of the Global South in pursuing the former’s “war on terror” and the political and economic agendas accompanying it. Moreover, pressure is exerted upon states of the Global South to transform themselves and adopt policies appealing to powerful states, if they want to avoid being branded “unwilling or unable.” A strong parallel can be detected between this transformative process and the pressure exerted upon peripheral states during the nineteenth century to introduce reforms that would render them “civilized” and, hence, equal to Western states.

Ntina makes a number of points in the essay that I’ve tried to make over the years — but she does so far better than I ever have or could. For anyone interested in the “unwilling or unable” doctrine, her essay is a must read.

Worried About Garland’s National Security Law Record? Don’t Be.

by Deborah Pearlstein

On the hopeful assumption the Senate will come to its senses and consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court on its merits, I wanted to respond to what appears to be some skepticism among progressives that Garland is indeed a good choice for the Court. The Huffington Post, for instance, published an article following the nomination headlined (ominously) that Garland once sided with the Bush Administration on Guantanamo. I was curious, so I decided to look up the cases.
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