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Why Unilateral Humanitarian Intervention Is Illegal and Potentially Criminal

by Kevin Jon Heller

I read Jennifer Trahan’s post yesterday with great interest — but not surprisingly I disagree with it. Before I get to my disagreements, though, I think it’s bizarre that we are all debating the legality of unilateral humanitarian intervention in the context of the recent US missile attack on Syria. It simply beggars belief to think that the attack was in any way motivated by humanitarian concerns. Chemical weapons, which have killed perhaps 2,000 civilians, are not the problem in Syria; conventional weapons, which have killed hundreds of thousands, are the real threat. And the US has done absolutely nothing to protect Syrians from conventional weapons — it has simply funnelled even more into the country to support various rebel groups (including some that are allied with al-Qaeda) in their struggle against Assad. The US cares about protecting its own interests in Syria, such as preventing chemical weapons from being used against Americans. (The real message of the completely ineffectual attack.) It does not care about the lives of ordinary Syrians, as the ever mounting death-toll indicates.

But let’s put aside the context of the missile attack and focus on Trahan’s legal claims. The first is that unilateral humanitarian intervention (UHI) — the qualifier, of course, is critical — can be legal in the right circumstances. The post, however, doesn’t even come close to establishing that claim. Just consider what Trahan cites in defence of it:

[1] NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, in which “all NATO members supported the intervention designed to stave off ethnic cleansing.” Trahan openly acknowledges that “many did not defend it as ‘humanitarian intervention’ per se, except Belgium” — but that gives away the ballgame. If the 26 other NATO states did not invoke UHI, the attack does not help establish UHI’s legality. As the ICJ pointed out in the Nicaragua case (para. 207), not even the Court itself has the “authority to ascribe to States legal views which they do not themselves advance.” So it doesn’t matter whether Trahan and other scholars would like to describe Kosovo as an example of UHI. All that matters is that NATO states could have invoked UHI but chose not to.

It is also telling that Trahan fails to point out that the Kosovo intervention met with significant international criticism. Here are Vaughan Lowe and Antonios Tzanakopoulos in the Max Planck Encyclopedia:

33  The response of other, non-NATO, States to arguments that there was a legal basis for the Kosovo bombing campaign and for a right of humanitarian intervention was overwhelmingly negative. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), numbering well over half of the Member States of the UN, unequivocally condemned the use of force against the (then) FRY, as did many other States, some of which are nuclear powers. In these circumstances, no right of unilateral forcible humanitarian intervention can be said to have emerged as a rule of customary international law.

[2] UK and US no-fly zones in Iraq. Once again opinio juris is lacking: the coalition initially provided no legal justification for the no-fly zones, and the US later justified them as self-defence (against threats to coalition aircraft, a wonderfully circular argument).

[3] ECOWAS’s interventions in Liberia in 1990 and Sierra Leone in 1998. Same problem: as Adam Roberts has pointed out, ECOWAS never invoked UHI to justify its actions. It relied instead on provisions in its own founding treaty.

[4] The UK’s endorsement of UHI in Syria, particularly in the context of the 2013 sarin gas attack that killed hundreds if not thousands. Unlike the other examples, this endorsement does, in fact, contribute opinio juris in favour of UHI.

So, there we have it: one state that explicitly and regularly endorses a right of UHI.  And against that, we have the unequivocal rejection of UHI by the 120 states that are part of the Non-Aligned Movement and the 134 states that are part of the Group of 77, which includes major powers like China, India, and South Africa. (The two groups obviously overlap.) How any scholar could conclude that customary international law nevertheless recognises a right of UHI, however limited, is simply beyond me.

For similar reasons, I also reject Trahan’s confident claim that UHI could never be criminal. Here is what she says:

Humanitarian intervention, narrowly construed, then clearly also would not constitute the crime of aggression, which is poised to activate this December 2017 before the International Criminal Court. (Anything in a legal “grey area” is excluded from that definition—and, at minimum, humanitarian intervention (sometimes supported and sometimes invoked) is within that legal grey area. The U.S., a non-State Party to the ICC’s Rome Statute, would be exempt from the crime’s jurisdictional reach, even if it does activate.)

I disagree. To begin with, during the Kampala Review Conference in 2010, states soundly rejected the US’s attempt to specifically exclude UHI from the crime of aggression. Here is the text of the US’s failed Understanding:

It is understood that, for purposes of the Statute, an act cannot be considered to be a manifest violation of the United Nations Charter unless it would be objectively evident to any State conducting itself in the matter in accordance with normal practice and in good faith, and thus an act undertaken in connection with an effort to prevent the commission of any of the crimes contained in Articles 6, 7 or 8 of the Statute would not constitute an act of aggression.

More importantly, the fact that scholars insist UHI can be legal does not make the legality of UHI fall into a “grey area.” On the contrary, it is difficult to imagine any issue that is more black and white given state practice. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter is clear: force is legal only when authorised by the Security Council or in self-defence. UHI does not involve the former by its very definition, and there is no argument de lege lata that UHI can be justified as a form of self-defence, because it does not involve an armed attack on the intervening state. Adil Haque made that point in response to Jens’s recent post, and here are Lowe and Tzanakopoulos again:

23  Humanitarian intervention in order to alleviate the suffering of a local population cannot, without more, be justified as self-defence. Self-defence under Art. 51 UN Charter requires that an armed attack occur against a State. In most cases, widespread violations of human rights will not reach the gravity threshold of an armed attack. Even if the oppression does reach the threshold of an armed attack, however, there will be no armed attack against a State, but at most an armed attack against the population of the State by or with the support or inaction of State authorities. The right to self-defence under international law vests in States and not in sub-State entities such as the local population. Moreover, the oppression will, ex hypothesi, not emanate from another State, but will be by the government upon its own people.

The illegality of UHI under Art. 2(4) is, of course, not set in stone. As Lowe and Tzanakopoulos rightly note, UHI could become legal through subsequent state practice that results in a new interpretation of the provision or (possibly) through the emergence of a supervening customary rule. But that has clearly not happened, given G77 and NAM’s ongoing and unwavering opposition to UHI.

It is unlikely, of course, that the ICC will ever prosecute a government official who is responsible for preparing, planning, initiating, or executing a UHI — and not simply because of the new crime of aggression’s crimped jurisdictional regime. But that does not mean UHI does not manifestly violate the UN Charter. It most certainly does.

Asia’s Ambivalence About International Law & Institutions: Introduction to Opinio Juris and EJIL:Talk! Mini-Symposium

by Simon Chesterman

[Simon Chesterman is Dean of the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law. He is also Editor of the Asian Journal of International Law and Secretary-General of the Asian Society of International Law. Educated in Melbourne, Beijing, Amsterdam, and Oxford, Simon’s teaching experience includes periods at Melbourne, Oxford, Columbia, Sciences Po, and New York University.]

A decade after moving from New York to Singapore, I began work on this article in the hope of understanding what seemed to me a paradox. Well into the much-vaunted “Asian century”, the states of this region arguably benefit most from the security and economic dividends of a world ordered by international law and institutions — and yet those same states are the least likely to subscribe to such norms or participate in the bodies they create. Regionally, there is no counterpart to the continent-wide organizations in Europe, Africa, or the Americas; individually, Asian states are most reluctant to sign onto most international regimes and underrepresented in the entities that govern them.

The article opens with a brief history of Asia’s engagement with international law. The focus is on three aspects that continue to have resonance today and contribute to the wariness of international law and institutions. First and foremost is the experience of colonialism by India and many other countries across the continent: for centuries international law helped justify foreign rule, later establishing arbitrary standards of “civilization” that were required in order to gain meaningful independence. Secondly, and more specific to China, the unequal treaties of the nineteenth century and the failure to recognize the Communist government in Beijing for much of the twentieth encouraged a perception that international law is primarily an instrument of political power. Thirdly, and of particular relevance to Japan, the trials that followed the Second World War left a legacy of suspicion that international criminal law only deals selectively with alleged misconduct — leaving unresolved many of the larger political challenges of that conflict, with ongoing ramifications today.

It should not be surprising, therefore, that some Asian states take the position that international law is of questionable legitimacy, can be used for instrumental purposes, and is necessarily selective in its application.

Part two assesses Asia’s current engagement with international law and institutions, examining whether its under-participation and under-representation is in fact significant. It is, but history offers at best a partial explanation of the current situation. Ongoing ambivalence towards international law and institutions can also be attributed to the diversity of the continent, power disparities among its member states, and the absence of “push” factors driving greater integration or organization.

Finally, part three attempts to project possible future developments based on three different scenarios. These are referred to as status quo, divergence, and convergence. The article argues that the status quo — in which the most populous and (increasingly) powerful region on the planet has the least stake in its rules and governance structures — is unsustainable. A crucial element of that argument is that the rise of Asia is today complemented by the decline of the West, in particular a decline in the willingness and the ability of the United States to play its role as both a shining “city upon a hill“ and an enforcer of global norms.

Arguments about Asia’s rise and America’s decline are hardly new. Yet the current assertiveness of the Chinese government with respect to its perceived interests in the South China Sea — including the recent deployment of its only aircraft carrier — may herald a strategic inflection in international relations, with inevitable consequences for the form and the content of international law. Still more striking was the victory of a wildcard candidate in the US presidential election who campaigned on an explicit message of American decline and neo-isolationism, peppered with anti-establishment and illiberal rhetoric, who takes office at the end of this week on 20 January 2017. (The European analogue is, of course, the existential crisis of a plurality of the British public voting to express their own ambivalence about international law and institutions.)

A more nuanced example may be found in the Chinese white paper released last week (11 January 2017) on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation. The paper reiterates China’s commitment to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, but also draws a distinction between large states and small ones. Major countries, the white paper notes, should treat the strategic intentions of others “in an objective and rational manner”; small and medium-sized countries, for their part, are enjoined to avoid “tak[ing] sides among big countries.” On the broader question of international law, the paper states that “[i]nternational and regional rules should be discussed, formulated and observed by all countries concerned, rather than being dictated by any particular country. Rules of individual countries should not automatically become ‘international rules,’ still less should individual countries be allowed to violate the lawful rights and interests of others under the pretext of ‘rule of law.’”

With regard to the South China Sea issue, China reaffirms in the white paper its commitment to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), but states that disputes over territories and maritime rights should be resolved through “respect[ing] historical facts and seek[ing] a peaceful solution through negotiation and consultation”. Interestingly, the document makes no reference to the infamous nine-dash line, though it does state that China has “indisputable sovereignty over the Nansha [Spratly] Islands and their adjacent waters”. Any effort to “internationalize and judicialize” the South China Sea issue, the paper goes on to say, will “only make it harder to resolve the issue, and endanger regional peace and stability.”

Such developments are, I think, broadly consistent with the argument put forward in my article. The rise of Asia in general and China in particular will see changes in the form and the content of international law — the white paper refers multiple times to a “new model of international relations” — but this will be an adaptation of existing norms and structures to a new reality rather than a rejection of those norms and structures. Evolution, then, rather than revolution.

* * *

Academic writing generally seeks to take the long view. If there is a virtue to a profession sometimes said to exist in an ivory tower, it is that one hopes to offer some perspective beyond what is in the current news cycle — a respite from the relentless presentism of the “new”. I can therefore take no credit for the fact that well after my piece for the current EJIL was completed — and even after this generous symposium had been prepared by Opinio Juris and EJIL:Talk! — there would be such a confluence of genuine news events that resonate with arguments put forward in the article. It is a sad coda that the symposium also follows soon after the passing of one of the truly great international lawyers from Asia — Christopher Weeramantry, a Sri Lankan scholar who served as Vice President of the International Court of Justice.

The full article is available here in draft form, the final version appearing later this month in EJIL. I am enormously grateful to the convenors of this symposium and the distinguished jurists who have agreed to participate. I look forward to their responses, from which I know I will learn much.

Symposium on Asia and International Law

by Chris Borgen

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 article’s abstract explains:

Asian states are the least likely of any regional grouping to be party to most international obligations or to have representation reflecting their number and size in international organizations. That is despite the fact that Asian states have arguably benefited most from the security and economic dividends provided by international law and institutions. This article explores the reasons for Asia’s under-participation and under-representation. The first part traces the history of Asia’s engagement with international law. The second part assesses Asia’s current engagement with international law and institutions, examining whether its under-participation and under-representation is in fact significant and how it might be explained. The third part considers possible future developments based on three different scenarios, referred to here as status quo, divergence and convergence. Convergence is held to be the most likely future, indicating adaptation on the part of Asian states as well as on the part of the international legal order.

The symposium will begin on Monday with an opening post by Professor Chesterman, followed by posts on Opinio Juris by Professor Tony Anghie of the National University of Singapore and on EJILTalk by Professor Eyal Benvenisti of Cambridge University.  On Tuesday, Opinio Juris will have commentary by Professor B.S. Chimni of Jawaharlal Nehru University and EJILTalk will have a piece by Professor Robert McCorquodale of the University of Nottingham and the Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.   Wednesday will have observations and reactions on Opinio Juris by Judge Xue Hanqin  of the International Court of Justice and on EJILTalk by Judge Paik Jin-Hyun of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Finally, there will be a closing post pn both blogs by Professor Chesterman on Thursday.

We hope you will join us on both blogs for the discussion.

Identifying the Language of Peace: Developing the Practical and Theoretical Framework of Peace-Making

by Marc Weller, Tiina Pajuste, Mark Retter, Jake Rylatt and Andrea Varga

[Marc Weller is Professor of International Law and International Constitutional Studies in the University of Cambridge. He is the  Principal Investigator of the Legal Tools for Peace-Making Project, drawing on extensive experience in international high-level negotiations in Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Libya, the Darfur crisis, Yemen, Somalia and, most recently, Syria. Tiina Pajuste is a Lecturer in Law at Tallinn University, and former researcher on the Legal Tools for Peace-Making project. She has continued to contribute to the Legal Tools for Peace-Making project since taking up her current post. Mark Retter, Jake Rylatt and Andrea Varga are researchers working on the Legal Tools for Peace-Making project, based at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge. The authors, in collaboration with the United Nations Department for Political Affairs and PASTPRESENTFUTURE, developed the Language of Peace research tool that forms the basis for this post.]

This post was originally published on EJIL: Talk, and is cross-posted with the kind permission of the editors.

In a year which saw an unprecedented number of people displaced by violent conflict, and peace processes suffering setback after setback, from the repeated ceasefire violations reported in Yemen to the difficult process of bridging differences in Syria, faith in peace-making appears to be at its lowest. But when faced with the devastating impact of conflicts around the world, there can be no question of the need to redouble the efforts directed at achieving negotiated peace; as illustrated by the case of Colombia, peace is attainable even in the most entrenched of conflicts. In most cases, redoubling efforts requires going back to the drawing board, reframing issues and suggesting different approaches in order to create novel solutions to seemingly intractable problems. In such cases, the ability to draw on the practice of previous agreements drafted in similar situations may prove invaluable to the process; but without a consolidated and issue-based digest of such previous practice, this means having to spend days combing through possibly hundreds of documents (often on very short notice) each time, while there is still a chance of missing at least some of the relevant results.

Furthermore, identifying the range of options utilised in previous practice is only the first step; the negotiating parties must then consider whether these approaches comply with, or appear to depart from, international law. This in itself can be a cause of great controversy within peace-making processes: for instance, is it legal for peace agreements to grant blanket amnesties, including to (suspected) war criminals? Such controversies, as well as the ever-growing attention to concepts such as lex pacificatoria and jus post bellum, highlight the need to clarify the underlying relationship between peace and international law in specific areas.

It is in response to these concerns that the Language of Peace research tool – launched at the UN Secretariat in New York on Tuesday, 6 December 2016 – was developed, allowing instant search capability across the provisions of around 1,000 peace agreements, categorized according to the issues they address, from negotiating agendas through human rights to power-sharing arrangements. This post identifies two areas in which Language of Peace seeks to contribute to the development of international peace-making.

The Research Gap in Peace-Making: The Origins of Language of Peace

Before Language of Peace, those involved in peace-making processes had no consolidated, analytical digest of peace agreement practice. Beyond valuable personal experience, mediators were almost invariably required to research settlement options afresh each time a dispute arose. Depending on the range of issues to be covered in the prospective peace agreement, from a simple ceasefire to a comprehensive peace settlement, collating and analysing the burgeoning previous practice could be extremely time-consuming. Language of Peace eliminates this repetitive and tedious research by providing a search tool through which past solutions and options adopted in the provisions of previous peace agreements can be accessed within seconds.

In order to ensure that it addresses the needs arising in the field, Language of Peace – part of the Legal Tools for Peace-Making Project at the University of Cambridge – was developed in collaboration with the UN Department of Political Affairs, incorporating feedback received over the course of several months from the Mediation Support Unit and its Standby Team of experts, as well as from the Project’s own practitioner and academic advisory boards, which includes members from the EU and the OAS.

Through this innovative tool, users can search according to 226 issues, organised under 26 main issue headings, and refine their search according to a number of filters such as signatories, region, date range and conflict type. Additionally, the tool contains a word search function which allows users to search by word or phrase as an alternative to the issue area search, or as a method of further refining existing searches. Search results can subsequently be bookmarked and exported in either PDF or DOCX format. Furthermore, in order to provide information about the broader context of provisions on a particular issue, and as part of the Cambridge-UN collaboration, Language of Peace is linked to the UN Peacemaker database, which contains full text PDF documents of the agreements.

Language of Peace also addresses the difficulties presently faced by non-state parties to peace negotiations. Specifically, it alleviates the imbalance of power inherent in negotiations between non-state actors and central governments, arising from the fact that the former lacks the extensive administrative apparatus at the disposal of the latter. The search tool provides non-state actors with ready access to past practice, enabling them to articulate their grievances in a negotiable form. Through analysis of such practice, parties can propose constructive approaches and options to find common ground on contested issues, which can assist them to move beyond deadlocks arising from emotive assertions and counter-assertions. Language of Peace can therefore help to transform or reframe negotiations by equipping all parties with an open-access tool containing decades of peace agreement practice.

Bridging Theory and Practice in International Peace-Making: The Use of Language of Peace in Academia

Language of Peace has also been developed with an eye to enhancing academic research at the intersection of law, practice and policy in international peace-making. From a legal perspective, Language of Peace presents the practice which underpins and cuts across theoretical debates on jus post bellum and lex pacficatoria, offering potential to identify where international law potentially conflicts with, and/or influences, peace-making processes. Additionally, the research tool can be viewed as an access point into a rich deposit of potential customary practice, raising questions about the international legal status of obligations contained within peace agreements. Going beyond the discipline of law, Language of Peace captures valuable source material for inter-disciplinary research comparing the approaches taken in peace agreements with their subsequent implementation.

From Language of Peace to Legal Tools for Peace-Making

Beyond its status as a standalone tool which aims to contribute to the theoretical and practical development of international peace-making, Language of Peace is part of the broader Legal Tools for Peace-Making project. The project team is also working on 26 case studies corresponding to the main issue areas identified in Language of Peace. The case studies analyse the approaches taken in previous peace processes, identifiable within source material generated by Language of Peace, against the backdrop of international law. By doing so, they aim to identify the range of options available to parties on a particular issue by reference to international legal obligations, while also considering the extent to which peace agreement practice complies with or diverges from international law. By the conclusion of the Legal Tools for Peace-Making project, the case studies will become available online, and aim to be a valuable resource for mediators and a starting point for further academic research on the influence of international law and customary practice of peace-making.

Alongside the case studies, the scope and functionalities of Language of Peace will continue to be developed and refined; we would be delighted to receive feedback at legaltoolsproject [at] lcil [dot] cam [dot] ac [dot] uk.

Making Libya an ICC Priority Situation: Fake Promises to a Difficult Customer?

by Alexandre Skander Galand

[Alexandre Skander Galand is a Newton Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Global Public Law, Koç University.]

Exactly one week before the annual meeting of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute, Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), was before the Security Council (SC) presenting her Twelfth report on the situation in Libya pursuant to resolution 1970 (.pdf). As the ASP’s 2016 annual meeting was probably the most important one since the Statute’s entry into force, recent coverage in academic circles has missed the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) unsuccessful try to bargain with the SC.

In the wake of the recent withdrawals of South Africa, Burundi and Gambia from the Rome Statute, it is obvious that a need for a new strategy is necessary for the Court to remain a relevant – and alive – institution. At the SC 7806th meeting (.pdf), 9 November 2016, the OTP made clear that it was ready to be flexible in its prosecutorial discretion over which crimes to investigate if this could please the SC. Indeed, the OTP offered to exercise its jurisdictional power against two of the most prominent threats to the P-5 world order, i.e. the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) and the migrant crisis. However, this commodity came at a price: the SC needs to finance and ensure the security of the Court’s staff.

In return for a more comprehensive framework for OTP to operate in Libya, Bensouda pledged to make Libya a priority situation for next year. Three actions were thus summed up. First, it announced that it intends to apply for new warrants of arrest under seal. Second, it will undertake new investigations and consider bring charges for crimes committed by the Islamic State. Third, it will study the feasibility of opening an investigation into alleged criminal acts against refugees and migrants in Libya. In this post, I will tackle the last two issues. I will argue that current crimes committed in Libyan territory are on the verge of falling outside ICC’s jurisdiction.

Crimes currently committed in Libya by the Islamic State

The OTP asserted that her new investigations will consider recent and current instances of alleged crimes committed by the Islamic State. This new focus received a positive feedback from many SC members; in particular the UK, France, Egypt, Ukraine and Venezuela. The Islamic State and other terrorist groups have been active in Libya for a certain period. Already on 12 May 2005, the OTP had declared before the SC (.pdf), that her office “considers that ICC jurisdiction over Libya prima facie extends to such alleged crimes” perpetrated by the Islamic State.

One may question, however, whether crimes currently committed in Libya do still fall within the jurisdiction of the Court. Libya is not a State party to the Rome Statute. The ICC jurisdiction over Libya emerges from SC resolution 1970, adopted on 26 February 2011, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. In order to invoke its Chapter VII powers to trigger the Court’s jurisdiction under Article 13 (b) Rome Statute, the SC had to, according to Article 39 UN Charter, find that the situation in Libya constituted a threat to international peace and security. In my opinion, the threat noted in SC resolution 1970 constitutes the legal basis and the contextual framework on which the ICC’s jurisdiction over Libya is premised.

The threat to international peace and security, back in February 2011, were crimes committed by Gaddafi’s regime against popular protests and demonstrations taking place in several Libyan cities – as the preamble of the referral indicates. After the referral, the Libyan situation spiraled into an armed conflict between Gaddafi’s and rebels’ forces, accompanied by a NATO intervention. Since then, the Gaddafi regime has fallen and Libya has been into a civil war where security and control by the Libyan authorities have not been achieved. While forces claiming to be associated with the Islamic State have seized this chaos to control part of the Libyan territories, we are very far from the situation that constituted a threat to international peace and security back in February 2011.

In Decision on the Prosecutor’s Application for a Warrant of Arrest against Mbarushimana (.pdf), Pre-Trial Chamber I stated that the ICC can exercise its jurisdiction over repeated times as long as the crimes “are sufficiently linked to the situation of crisis referred to the Court as ongoing at the time of the referral.” True, the situation concerning the Islamic State in Libya has been declared by the SC to constitute a threat to international peace and security. However, the initial threat noted in SC resolution 1970 is neither mentioned in the meetings nor in the resolutions condemning the Islamic State’s criminal acts in Libya. Indeed, the situation has changed.

For how long will the ICC jurisdiction extend over the territory of Libya? Like for other trigger mechanisms foreseen by the Statute, a SC referral to the ICC, does not entitle the Court to exercise jurisdiction over a situation ad infinitum. While SC resolution 1970 refers the situation in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya since 15 February 2011, it does not set an end date. Since the referral does not specify for how long the jurisdiction of the Court ought to or may be exercised, it is left to the discretion of the Court. As I argued elsewhere, to capture within the same situation crimes committed by entirely different actors in a different context than the one initially constituting the situation of crisis at the time of the referral is an overstretch of the ICC jurisdiction over Libya.

Crimes currently committed in Libya against migrants

A further type of crimes the OTP announced it will examine in Libya is crimes committed against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. One may recall that Gambia in the weeks preceding its official notification of withdrawal (.pdf) said it had been trying unsuccessfully to push the Court to punish the European Union (EU) for the death of thousand of African refugees to reach its shore. The OTP partly responds to this by saying that it will “continue to study the feasibility of opening an investigation into alleged criminal acts against refugees and migrants in Libya.” While I doubt that it will find evidences that the EU is committing these crimes on Libyan territory, this new focus on crimes against African migrants passing through Libya pleased the Angolan representative to the SC, who stated ‘In that regard, we consider the ICC to be highly important in Libya.’

For the same reasons as for crimes currently committed by the Islamic State, one might express doubts about the Court jurisdiction over crimes against migrants in Libya. Although such crimes could indeed fit within the jurisdiction ratione materiae of the Court (e.g. crimes against humanity of enslavement), I am unsure that the context in which they are currently committed in Libya is sufficiently linked to the original situation referred by SC resolution 1970.

As the OTP says it in its report, many serious crimes are committed in Libya, ”both conflict and migrant related.” However, one has to acknowledge that on a prima facie basis the migrant related crimes currently committed in Libya do neither involve actors active in 2011 nor are they part of the context that was ongoing at the time of the original situation.

To be sure, I am not arguing that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over any current crimes committed in Libya. Crimes committed by Libyan armed militias and the Presidency Council’s forces are indeed part of the post-Gaddafi transition. Furthermore, both the Islamic State’s crimes and crimes against migrants may be defined as symptoms of Libya’s lack of unified and effective security institutions. Thus, it may be claimed that this security vacuum ultimately results from the threat to international peace and security SC resolution 1970 aimed to repress.

However, it seems to me that a second referral of the situation in Libya would be appropriate for the ICC jurisdiction to be (safely) legally grounded. As an example for the need of a second referral, one may take the case of the Central African Republic (CAR). In December 2004, CAR then-president, François Bozizé, referred (.pdf) to the OTP a situation where “des crimes contre l’humanité et des crimes de guerre relevant de la competence de la Court ont été commis sur toute l’étendue du territoire de la République Centre Africaine à compter du 1er juillet 2002.” The conflict ongoing at the time of the referral was between Bozizé’s forces and the CAR former president from who he had overthrown power through a coup, Ange-Félix Patassé, who was backed by Jean-Pierre Bemba’s (.pdf) then-rebel army. The first CAR referral did not contain an end date, nonetheless the OTP limited its jurisdictional framework over crimes committed between 2002-2003. In May 2014, the transitional government of the CAR – Bozizé had been ousted by Séléka forces in 2013 – sent a second referral to the Court with respect to “la situation qui prévaut sur le territoire de la République Centrafricaine depuis le 1er août 2012”. While one may have argued that CAR II is a continuation of CAR I, it was deemed in this case, that the incidents of 2013-2014 was a situation separate from the one referred by the Central African authorities in December 2004.

The solution to all these jurisdictional conundrums would simply be that Libya ratifies the Rome Statute. If Libya ratifies the Rome Statute, it could refer to the Court the new situation involving war crimes and crimes humanity committed in Libya since the fall of Ghaddafi’s regime. Or, if Libya does not refer under Article 13(a), the OTP could initiate an investigation proprio motu. On the other hand, if Libya does not ratify the Rome Statute, the OTP should try to convince the SC to make a new referral of the current situation in Libya. This would ensure that its jurisdiction over the Islamic State and crimes committed against migrants is not based on a perceptibly faulty legal basis. With Russia’s declared hostility to the Court, the latter option seems implausible.

While the OTP announced its willingness – despite clear legal basis to do so – to prosecute crimes that were in the SC current agenda, no resolution on financing and security for ICC’s staff was adopted at the end of the SC 7806th meeting (.pdf). If Libya becomes a State party to the Rome Statute, it would allow the OTP to gets out of its bad bargain with the SC. And, in contrast with the SC, Libya will at least contribute to the Court budget.

Boer on Footnotes in Use of Force Scholarship

by Kevin Jon Heller

My friend Lianne Boer, who recently finished her PhD at VU Amsterdam, has just published a fantastic article in the Leiden Journal of International Law entitled “‘The greater part of jurisconsults’: On Consensus Claims and Their Footnotes in Legal Scholarship.” Here is the abstract:

This article portrays the use of consensus claims, as well as their substantiation, in the debate on cyber-attacks and Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. Focusing on (re)interpretations of the prohibition on the use of force in the light of cyber-attacks, the article first shows how scholars appeal to the ‘majority opinion’ of scholars or the ‘generally accepted’ interpretation of the norm. It points out the different uses of these ‘consensus claims’, as I refer to them, and what scholars invoke exactly when referring to this elusive majority. Elaborating on this ‘elusive’ nature of consensus, I argue that the appeal of a consensus claim lies precisely in its invocation of a fairly mystical ‘out there’. Consensus, as it turns out, evaporates the moment we attempt to substantiate it, and this might be precisely where its strength lies. The second part of the article thus shifts focus to how these claims are substantiated. An empirical inquiry into the footnotes supporting consensus claims reveals that, most of the time, writers refer to the same scholars to substantiate their claims. Making use of Henry Small’s idea of ‘concept symbols’, the article argues that these most-cited scholars turn into the ‘bearers’ of majority opinion. On the level of the individual academic piece, the singular reference might appear to be fairly innocent. Yet, when considered as a more widespread practice of ‘self-referentiality’, it seriously impacts who gets a say – and thus, ultimately, what we know – in international law.

This is truly innovative scholarship — the kind of work that makes you ask yourself, “why didn’t I think of that?” Well, Lianne did think of it. And I hope her article, as well as her dissertation, spurs similar work in other areas of international law.

Read Boer!

Welcome to the Blogosphere, The Law of Nations!

by Kevin Jon Heller

It’s a bit overdue, but I want to call readers’ attention to a new blog, The Law of Nations. Here is the blog’s self-description:

Public and private international law play an increasingly important role in the decisions of the English courts. From commercial cases to human rights claims, a huge range of public and private international law principles are now regularly applied by the English courts: from state immunity to diplomatic immunity; service out of the jurisdiction; the enforcement of arbitral awards and foreign judgments; the application of customary international law in the UK; the application of the UK’s international obligations to its conduct abroad; international sanctions; and many other aspects of international law.

The Law of Nations aims to provide timely analysis of English court decisions across the vast range of areas where international law issues arise. We aim to combine sharp analysis with lively commentary, perspectives from abroad, weekly news roundups and the occasional guest feature and interview. We welcome all comments and suggestions.

The blog’s editors are Alison Macdonald, a barrister at Matrix Chamber, and Angeline Welsh, who specialises in international arbitration and public law.

Read The Law of Nations!

Keeping up with the Iran Deal

by Deborah Pearlstein

For those interested in the policy merits of the Iran Deal, it’s important to note the letter sent today by 37 leading American scientists, including multiple Nobelists, nuclear arms designers, former White House science advisers and the chief executive of the world’s largest general society of scientists — detailing the effects of the deal to date and urging the incoming President not to “dismantle” it. Here’s the Times article with a link to the letter.

For reasons others have addressed in substantial part, it is not possible for any U.S. president to now “dismantle” the deal in its entirety, the most significant international sanctions having been lifted by a binding resolution of the UN Security Council, a resolution all other veto bearing members of the Council remain committed to supporting. The United States could of course re-impose some or all of the national sanctions it had suspended in support of the deal. But at this point it is hard to see how the sanctions of any individual state, however powerful, would succeed in persuading Iran to abandon its decades old political and military activities in the region or do more than it is already doing to roll back its enrichment efforts.

The UN’s Apology Won’t Heal Disease, But It’s A First Step to Justice

by Beatrice Lindstrom

[Beatrice Lindstrom is a Staff Attorney at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and counsel for plaintiffs in the lawsuit Georges v. United Nations.]

When the outgoing Secretary-General issued his long-overdue apology for the UN’s role in Haiti’s cholera epidemic, he turned a corner on six years of silence and stonewalling. At the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux—the Haitian public interest law office that has led the charge against the UN for introducing the disease to Haiti—about 100 victims and activists were gathered to watch a live-stream of the statement in Port-au-Prince. They broke into spontaneous cheers and applause when the apology was delivered.

“This was a victory for us today. It wasn’t easy. We sent thousands of letters and took to the streets to get this victory, for them to say today that they were responsible. They said that, and we thank them…” said Desir Jean-Clair, a cholera survivor who has been organizing for justice, in a statement following the apology.

A public apology has been a central demand of the victims, along with cholera eradication and compensation for families who have suffered. While the disease has caused thousands of deaths and massive suffering since UN peacekeepers contaminated Haiti’s largest river with cholera-laden sewage in 2010, the UN’s failure to own up to its actions has itself been an affront to victims’ dignity. By continuously denying responsibility in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, and by hiding behind immunity to avoid an independent hearing on the merits of victims’ claims, the UN turned its back on Haitians and on its own human rights principles. Against this background, an apology from the Organization’s top leadership is a fundamental component of a just UN response.

As the Secretary-General acknowledged, however, “apologies don’t heal disease” – a play on a Haitian proverb that states that apologies do not heal scars. On December 1, he also launched a $400 million plan that will bring cholera control measures to Haiti and material assistance to victims. The material assistance is intended as a “concrete and sincere expression of the Organization’s regret,” and could take the form of community projects, death benefits to surviving families, or some combination thereof. [U.N. Doc. A/71/620]. Importantly, the plan promises to “place victims at the centre and be responsive to their needs and concerns” by engaging a nationwide consultation process on remedies.

These actions will be crucial steps to fulfilling the UN’s legal and moral obligations to the victims. Under Section 29 of the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and the Status of Forces Agreement signed with Haiti, the UN has a well-established obligation to address claims for compensation submitted by third parties “for personal injury, illness or death arising from or directly attributed to MINUSTAH.” An appropriate remedy, even if fashioned outside of this legal framework, is critical to staving off criticisms that the UN’s obligations have no meaning.

Yet the refusal to accept legal responsibility for the outbreak, and the decision to treat the new response as an expression of “solidarity” rather than as remedies for a legal wrong, complicates the UN’s ability to actualize the new plan. Whereas the General Assembly has an obligation to meet the Organization’s legal liabilities through assessed contributions [Memorandum to Controller, 2001 U.N. Jurid. Y.B. 381], the UN is currently relying on voluntary contributions from Member States, agencies, and even private individuals. Thus far, this has not generated adequate pledges to turn the plan into a reality.

On December 16, the General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution calling on all Member States and other actors to provide their full support for the new approach.  This is an important signal that the Organization’s membership must step up and do its part. But to actually right the UN’s wrongs in Haiti, and avoid criticisms that the Organization operates above the law, governments must now follow through on this acknowledgement with actual funding

The UN must also ensure that it does not foreclose the option of providing cash payments to victims out of a misguided aversion to anything that could resemble compensation grounded in legal liability. In his report to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General outlined a series of challenges with direct payments, including identification of victims and meeting burdens of proof in a country with limited documentation. These challenges have been overcome in other similar contexts around the world, and merit full study and victim input to inform the way forward.

As the report notes, the new response “will inevitably be an imperfect exercise.” Full funding, and involvement of victims throughout the elaboration of the plan, will be critical to ensuring that the plan still translates into justice for cholera victims and lives up to its promise of healing the UN’s credibility in Haiti and the world.

Addendum to Goodman: Saudis Haven’t Promised to Stop Using Cluster Munitions

by Kevin Jon Heller

The inestimable Ryan Goodman has a new post at Just Security listing all the times the Saudis denied using cluster munitions in Yemen. As Ryan points out, we now know that those denials were what I like to call “shameless lies” (emphasis in original):

On Monday, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told the House of Commons that following the UK’s own analysis, the Saudi-led coalition has now admitted to using UK manufactured cluster munitions in Yemen. Mr. Fallon heralded the “transparent admission” by the coalition, and added, “we therefore welcome their announcement today that they will no longer use cluster munitions.” Many news outlets ran a headline focused on the Saudi-led coalition’s statement that it would stop using cluster munitions in Yemen (including Al Jazeera, Fox, ReutersUPI).

Lost in the news coverage is the Saudi-led coalition’s  consistent pattern of denial of using cluster munitions.

So, let’s take a walk down memory lane. At the end, I will discuss the significance of this pattern of denial for future policy options on the part of the United States and the United Kingdom.

At the heart of Monday’s revelations were allegations of the use of cluster munitions by Amnesty International, and here’s a key point: Riyadh previously assured the UK government that it had not used cluster munitions in response to Amnesty’s allegations.

Ryan’s post is very important, particularly its discussion of how Saudi Arabia’s admission could affect the US and UK. I simply want to point out something that also seems to have been lost in all the media coverage: Saudi Arabia did not promise to stop using cluster munitions in Yemen.

No, it promised to stop using British-made cluster munitions in Yemen. From Al Jazeera:

“The government of Saudi Arabia confirms that it has decided to stop the use of cluster munitions of the type BL-755 and informed the United Kingdom government of that,” said the Saudi statement, carried by state news agency SPA.

If Saudi Arabia only had BL-755 cluster munitions, its announcement today might be meaningful. But we know from investigations conducted by Human Rights Watch that Saudi Arabia has also used US-made cluster munitions in Yemen, particularly the CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon:

yemenclusters0516_map-01

Nothing in the Saudi statement rules out continuing to use American-made cluster munitions in Yemen. Only British ones are off the table. And if you believe that I am parsing the statement too carefully — well, I’d suggest reading Ryan’s post. Saudi Arabia cannot be trusted to tell the truth about the brutal UK- and US-backed counterinsurgency it is waging in Yemen. Full stop.

To Be Responsible for Ourselves: Dominic Ongwen and Defences Before the International Criminal Court

by Clare Frances Moran

[Clare Frances Moran is a Lecturer in Law at Edinburgh Napier University.]

The trial of Dominic Ongwen, in which he is pleading not guilty to the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, raises the question of how he may defend what he has done as commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army. The discussion of the use of duress for child soldiers has been undertaken elsewhere, but a more general examination of the defences is useful at this juncture. The prosecution of a former child soldier confronts a classic dilemma for the Court, the Prosecutor and, indeed, all with a vested interest in international criminal justice: When boy soldiers become adults and then, commanders, how do we deal with the aftermath of the crimes they commit? Should they be tried for all the crimes committed from childhood onwards, those committed in adulthood, or those that were committed while they were in command? Arguably this is where the issue of defences under the Rome Statute ought to play a role; could the defences be used to exonerate the individual or to mitigate their conduct?

The defences under the Rome Statute most likely to be utilised by individuals in the position of Ongwen would be mental disease or defect, destroying their capacity to perceive the wrongfulness of their actions, or duress which compelled them to act. Under article 31(1)(a), the first defence is open to those who can demonstrate that they suffer from a mental disease or defect that destroys their ‘capacity to appreciate the unlawfulness or nature of his or her conduct, or capacity to control his or her conduct to conform to the requirements of law.’ One of the two tests should be satisfied: either the accused did not know what he or she was doing as a consequence of mental disease or a defect in perception, or they lacked the control to conform to the criminal law that can be expected of the average person, again as a consequence of the defect or disease. The wording of the defence presents a complex set of question which would require expert opinion: what kind of illnesses would permit the use of the defence? Regarding the idea of a ‘defect,’ would this need to be medically or psychologically evidenced? From a legal perspective, it may be possible to argue that the brutality to which Ongwen was subjected altered his frame of mind so substantially that it ought to constitute a mental defect. As a consequence, it may be impossible to expect him to conform to the normative strictures which apply to most individuals, based on the impact on him of the treatment he encountered from such a young age. The experiences of child soldiers are well-documented, and their suffering is acute; this is beyond doubt. Fatou Bensouda’s opening statement at Ongwen’s trial demonstrates amply their vulnerability: she gives the example of child soldiers too small to properly carry the weapons which drag along the ground after them. In our search for international criminal justice, it is difficult to acknowledge that the worst crimes may be carried out by those who were originally victims themselves, leading to significant moral problems in pursuing their prosecution. Returning to the Rome Statute, Ongwen may qualify for the defence of mental defect, rather than mental disease, given that there is, at least, an arguable case that he cannot possibly be expected to control his behaviour following a lifetime of appalling treatment which may have resulted in psychological damage constituting a mental defect.

The defences of intoxication and mistake are likely to be outwith the scope of his pleading: the drafting of the Statute views intoxication as a short-term phenomenon, while his crimes were committed over a period of years. It is without doubt that the charges have been confirmed in a way which puts beyond doubt the mistaken commission of any of them, thus mistake would be unavailable.

This leaves duress as a defence, which highlights a key problem of the defence itself in what may transpire to be its first use before the ICC. The drafting of duress in the Statute indicates that it is available because he may meet the first test. Many child soldiers are threatened with death and brutalised, to anaesthetise them to the violence they are expected to display at a later point. This sort of treatment would undoubtedly constitute the serious threat anticipated by the defence in article 31(1)(d). However, the qualifications of a necessary and reasonable reaction, as well as the proportionality requirement of not causing ‘a greater harm than the one sought to be avoided’ would make it difficult for Ongwen and, indeed, anyone to plead the defence successfully. Duress appears stronger in the Statute than it actually is; it would be nearly impossible for it to be pleaded successfully in any circumstance. Duress in the Rome Statute is something of a façade. It constitutes a nod to Cassese’s dissent in Erdemovic, heeding the warning to avoid setting intractable standards of behaviour. However, it has been so tightly drafted that it is virtually inconceivable that it could ever apply to any cases involving serious physical harm of another person. It is questionable that Erdemovic himself would even have been able to use the defence, would he appear tomorrow before the ICC.

The issue of defences appears natural to a domestic criminal lawyer, but the issue is amplified at the international level because of the crimes that concern the ICC. The desire to include defences in the Rome Statute is a laudable aim, and one which honours Cassese’s legacy. However, the way in which the defences does not suggest that each has been considered as they might have. The distinction between mental defect and disease in article 31(1)(a) demonstrates thoughtful consideration of the problems regarding evidence of psychological, as well as psychiatric, problems. However, the defence of duress does not demonstrate consideration of how difficult it would be to meet the tests specified. The variable geometry of deliberation prior to the drafting of the defences is evident.

Defences in international criminal law are possible, but ought to be fairly and thoughtfully considered, paying heed to a key message in Cassese’s dissent: that there are broad and creative ways in which individuals may mistreat one another, and that international criminal justice must be prepared for these eventualities. The issue of defences connects to a key aspect of international criminal justice which must be considered when the defences are reformed: when is it just not to find war criminals guilty?

Events and Announcements: December 18, 2016

by Jessica Dorsey

Here’s an extra-long edition of our Events and Announcements for the holidays. Thanks to all our readership for following us on OJ!

Calls for Papers

  • The blog IntLawGrrls: voices on international law, policy, practice, will celebrate its first decade with “IntLawGrrls! 10th Birthday Conference” on Friday, March 3, 2017. The daylong event will be held at the Dean Rusk International Law Center of the University of Georgia School of Law, which is hosting as part of its Georgia Women in Law Lead initiative. Organizers Diane Marie Amann, Beth Van Schaack, Jaya Ramji-Nogales, and Kathleen A. Doty welcome paper proposals from academics, students, policymakers, and advocates, in English, French, or Spanish, on all topics in international, comparative, foreign, and transnational law and policy. In addition to paper workshops, there will be at least one plenary panel, on “strategies to promote women’s participation in shaping international law and policy amid the global emergence of antiglobalism.” The deadline for submissions will be January 1, 2017, though papers will be accepted on a rolling basis. Thanks to the generosity of the Planethood Foundation, a fund will help defray travel expenses for a number of students or very-early-career persons whose papers are accepted. For more information, see the call for papers/conference webpage and organizers’ posts, or e-mail doty [at] uga [dot] edu.
  • Young scholars and PhD candidates interested in empirical methods in international law are invited to submit expressions of interest for this workshop on the use of “authorities” in international dispute settlement. The workshop will not involve the publication of papers, although works-in-progress will be discussed by the participants. By bringing together young and established scholars using empirical methods, this workshop aspires to provide inspiration and practical guidance. The workshop, funded by the British Academy, is organised by Dr Michael Waibel and will take place on 20 March 2017, at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge. Expressions of interest shall be sent to Damien Charlotin (dc655 [at] cam [dot] ac [dot] uk) by 10 January 2017 with a description of your research interests and how they relate to the theme of the workshop, plus a CV with a list of publications. The organizer will let applicants know by 20 January 2017 about the outcome of their application.
  • The Minerva Center for the Study of the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions at the University of Haifa (Faculty of Law and the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies), invites proposals for research activities, aimed at analyzing the various aspects of pre, during and post-emergency resilience. For more details, see the website here.
  • The Board of Editors of Trade, Law and Development [TL&D] is pleased to invite original, unpublished manuscripts for publication in the Summer ‘17 Special Issue of the Journal on Recent Regionalism (Vol. 9, No. 1). The manuscripts may be in the form of Articles, Notes, Comments, and Book Reviews. TL&D aims to generate and sustain a democratic debate on emerging issues in international economic law, with a special focus on the developing world. Towards these ends, we have published works by noted scholars such as Prof. Petros Mavroidis, Prof. Mitsuo Matsuhita, Prof. Raj Bhala, Prof. Joel Trachtman, Gabrielle Marceau, Simon Lester, Prof. Bryan Mercurio, Prof. E.U. Petersmann and Prof. M. Sornarajah among others. TL&D also has the distinction of being ranked the best journal in India across all fields of law and the 10th best trade journal worldwide by Washington and Lee University, School of Law for five consecutive years (2011-15) [The Washington & Lee Rankings are considered to be the most comprehensive in this regard]. For more information, please go through the submission guidelines available here or write to us at editors@tradelawdevelopment.com.
  • We invite submissions to a one-day conference on ‘Non-universal franchise? Eligibility and access to voting rights in transnational contexts’ to be held at the European University Institute (Florence) on 3rd April 2017. Convenors: Rainer Bauböck (EUI), Derek Hutcheson (University of Malmö) and Ruvi Ziegler (University of Reading). Papers should connect to the central topic of the conference, with a focus on eligibility to electoral rights, access to the ballot, or both. We invite comparative and theoretical papers from political science, normative political theory, and comparative legal perspectives. Deadline for submission of abstracts Tuesday, 31 January 2017 (by email to derek [dot] hutcheson [at] mah [dot] se). For further details, please see the call for papers.
  • Senior and junior academics and practitioners (including PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers) are invited to participate in the call for papers of the Colloquium on International Investment Law & the Law of Armed Conflict’. Authors are invited to submit by March 15, 2017,an abstract (of an original paper) which is neither published nor accepted for publication when the Colloquium takes place. Papers will be selected on the basis of submitted abstracts, subject to double-blind peer review. Only one abstract per author will be considered. Abstracts must not exceed 800 words, must be anonymous and not identify the name or affiliation of the author(s) in the abstract, the title, or the name of the document, and must be submitted to the following email addresses: agourg [at] law [dot] uoa [dot] grcathy_titi [at] hotmail [dot] com; and katiafachgomez [at] gmail [dot] com. In addition to the abstract, each submission should contain, as a separate file, a short (one page) author’s CV, including the author’s name and affiliation and contact details and a list of relevant publications. Authors of selected abstracts for the Colloquium will be notified by April 15, 2017. Following this, they must submit a draft paper (6,000-8,000 words) by August 15, 2017. The draft papers will be distributed to the other participants in advance to facilitate an in-depth discussion during the Colloquium  a ‘no paper – no podium’ policy applies. After the Colloquium, submission of final papers by authors is due by November 30, 2017. Selected final papers will be published by Springer, subject to peer review, in the Special Issue of the European Yearbook of International Economic Law (EYIEL) on ‘International Investment Law & the Law of Armed Conflict’.

  • The international criminal justice stream at the SLSA Annual Conference contains four panel sessions and invites submissions on all areas of substantive international criminal justice, whether on theory, policy or practice. Empirical work would be particularly welcomed and papers based on “works in progress” will be considered so long as the work is sufficiently developed. Both individual papers and panel submissions (of three related papers) can be submitted for consideration. Postgraduate students are also encouraged to submit abstracts. Selected papers from the conference will be published in a forthcoming edition of The Hague Justice Journal. For an informal discussion please email the convenor, Anna Marie Brennan at Anna [dot] Marie [dot] Brennan [at] liverpool [dot] ac [dot] uk. Abstracts must be no longer than 300 words and must include your title, name and institutional affiliation and your email address for correspondence.
  • Polish Yearbook of International Law (PYIL) is currently seeking articles for its next volume (XXXVI), which will be published in June 2017. Authors are invited to submit complete unpublished papers in areas connected with public and private international law, including European law. Although it is not a formal condition for acceptance, we are specifically interested in articles that address issues in international and European law relating to Central and Eastern Europe. Authors from the region are also strongly encouraged to submit their works.Submissions should not exceed 12,000 words (including footnotes) but in exceptional cases we may also accept longer works. We assess manuscripts on a rolling basis and will consider requests for expedited review in case of a pending acceptance for publication from another journal. All details about submission procedure and required formatting are available at the PYIL’s webpage. Please send manuscripts to pyil(at)inp.pan.pl. The deadline for submissions is 31 January 2017.
  • Transnational organized crime is a major threat to international security. This has been recognized by the United Nations Report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change. One country’s success in limiting illicit production and flows often results in the displacement of the problem to another state, thereby signalling the need for a coordinated response. The past few decades have seen a growing number of multilateral conventions addressing questions of transnational crime. In response, the emerging field of transnational criminal law is developing with the growing recognition of the need for further research and informed dialogue about important legal questions arising in this context. On May 4-5, 2017, the Transnational Law and Justice Network at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law, invites academics, policy makers, NGOs, and individuals working on the ground to participate in a multidisciplinary regional dialogue about the most pressing transnational criminal law issues facing the Americas today. Topics may include: the suppression treaty regime generally; legal responses to specific transnational crimes such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, money laundering, corruption, firearms trafficking, environmental crimes, and other transnational organized crime; institutions and accountability for transnational crime; and mutual legal assistance, cooperation and capacity building. More information can be found here.
  • The 13th Annual Conference of the European Society of International Law will take place in Naples, Italy, on 7-9 September 2017. The conference will be hosted by the University of Naples Federico II, the oldest public university in the world. The theme of the conference is ”Global Public Goods, Global Commons and Fundamental Values: The Responses of International Law”. The Call for Papers is now open. Deadline for submission of abstracts: 31 January 2017Further information is available on ESIL website.

Announcements

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.