Weekend Roundup: February 23 – March 1, 2013

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, it was too early for Talk Like a Pirate Day, but we certainly talked a lot about pirates. The reason of course was the Ninth Circuit’s decision to agree with Japanese whalers that the Sea Shepherd’s activities amount to piracy. Julian wasn’t fully confident that “private ends” are broader than financial enrichment, and Kevin strongly disagreed with Judge Kozinski’s argument that a “rich history” supports the conclusion that all acts not taking on behalf of a state are for private ends. In two later posts, Kevin responded to comments disagreeing with his claim that politically-motivated acts are traditionally excluded from the definition of piracy, and added his final word (for now). Kevin also described another problem with qualifying the Sea Shepherd’s actions as piracy: that some states -not including the US- do not consider the area where the events are taking place as part of the high seas, but rather as under Australia’s sovereignty.

Kevin also revisited Libya’s admissibility challenge in the Saif Gaddafi case. Considering Libya’s decision to let the trial in Zintan go ahead before the trial in Tripoli on the same charges as the ICC case, he argued that Libya is unable to obtain custody over Saif, and followed up with a post asking whether Libya is even willing to prosecute Saif.

Following a call by Chinese lawyers for the Chinese government to ratify the ICCPR, Julian asked whether international human rights treaties are a suitable vehicle for domestic legal reform. His post was censored from his China Weibo account, on which you can read more here. Roger addressed Julian’s question with a post on a recent empirical article concluding that there is no clear evidence that the leading international human rights instruments have influenced domestic constitution writing, although he argued that the evidence shows that the agreements may have had an impact during their drafting process.

Jennifer Trahan provided a guest post on recent speeches by former State Legal Advisor Harold Koh on the Obama administration’s policy towards the Rome Statute and the ICC.

Ken advertised his C-SPAN Book TV interview, which will air again today, and can also be watched online here. Also competing for your attention this Saturday is the Annual Conference of the Duke Law, Ethics, and National Security Center, which is live-streamed on the web. If more reading is what you’re after, Roger posted a link to his new article applying the Broken Windows Theory to international corruption, and Duncan recommended a series of draft papers on the ILC’s recent Guide to Reservations that are made available on EJIL:Talk! in preparation of a special EJIL issue on the topic. He also looked forward to the return of IntLawGrrls to the blogosphere this coming International Women’s Day. If a picture is worth a thousand words, this cartoon on Drone Heroes, posted by Kevin, says a lot more than that.

Finally, as always, we posted our weekly events and announcements and the weekday news wrap.

Have a nice weekend!


Weekend Roundup: February 16-22, 2013

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, Julian returned to his old favourite of the Whale Wars, and argued that the US courts can most likely exercise personal jurisdiction over Sea Shepherd, even in relation to its movements in the Southern Ocean.

Julian also covered a more recent favourite: the Philippines’ UNCLOS arbitration against China. He first reported on an article in the Chinese press quoting an unnamed expert advising the Chinese government not to take the Philippines’ claims too lightly. The advice, however, wasn’t followed, and Julian analysed what China’s decision not to walk down the arbitration path meant for UNCLOS arbitration involving major powers and for the discussion on UNCLOS ratification in the US. When the Philippines’ government decided to continue with the arbitration anyway, Julian didn’t consider this to be a futile exercise, or at least not any more futile than when China had decided to participate.

Kevin didn’t share Julian Assange’s optimism that a successful run in the upcoming Australian elections would lead the US to have to drop charges against him. As our regular readers will remember, Kevin argued last week that the ICC’s OTP committed a serious legal error when it argued that even an in absentia trial would mean that Libya’s admissibility challenge of the case against Saif Gaddafi could pass. It is no surprise then that Kevin was happy to see the OTP retract its submission this week. Kevin also recommended Jens Ohlin’s new article on “Targeting and the Concept of Intent“.

Kristen put the spotlight on International Peace Institute’s recent recommendation to give the African Union a bigger role in transitional justice issues in Africa. Kristen also posted the UN’s letter rejecting the Haiti Cholera claims, but thought the letter didn’t explain why the dispute was a public rather a private claim. Ken added to the discussion with an anecdote from his own experience while working in Bosnia.

Michael Lewis provided a guest post questioning how clear the dividing line between API and APII is, and ought to be.

If you’re planning to watch the Oscars this weekend, make sure to have a look at Deborah’s latest post on Zero Dark Thirty in which she discusses another forgotten element of the real story in the movie: the possibility of regret by those involved in the authorization of torture.

If your weekend plans include writing that long neglected paper, don’t make the mistakes listed by Roger when he stepped in the discussion on why academic writing is so bad. Check out our list of events and announcements too, maybe there is conference that is looking for just that paper!

Finally, as always, we provided you with our weekday news wraps.

Have a nice weekend!

Weekend Roundup: February 9-15, 2013

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, Julian noticed the apparent truce between the American right and the ICC, but didn’t go as far as calling it peace. Further on the ICC, Kevin pointed out a flagrant mistake at the Washington Times, and argued that the OTP was wrong in concluding that Libya is able to try Saif Gaddafi, because the Rome Statute does not consider a trial in absentia to meet that standard. Talking about criminal prosecutions, Peggy asked whether Pope Benedict XVI could be sued in the child sex abuse cases, when he retires later this month.

Julian discussed the latest interim order in the saga of the Lago Agrio case between Chevron and Ecuador, and wondered whether there is anything stopping Ecuador from dragging its feet in complying with the order. Roger weighed in in the comments.

In another post, Roger reflected on the role of intellectuals as Doubters-in-Chief of a society, and how often we take this for granted in a free society. Following the reference to the importance of citizenship to society in Obama’s State of the Union address, echoing earlier speeches, Peter argued that this is unfortunately more of an ideal not reflected by reality.

Peter also drew our attention to the issue of private rights of action under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction that is likely to reach the Supreme Court after the Second Circuit split with the Fourth Circuit.

To finish off the week, Deborah gave her view on the increasingly popular argument to create a drone court with jurisdiction to review targeted killing decisions.

If you want to read more this weekend, can we refer you to Kevin’s new his essay on Charles Taylor’s sentencing or an essay by Noam Lubell and Nathan Derejko on the Geography of NIAC, recommended by Kevin? Or, if you’d rather turn to writing, check out our events and announcements post. Kevin also posted a call for papers for the newly launched London Review of International Law. In the spirit of the Review’s intention to include “non-traditional forms of engagement with international legal themes”, Roger posted the poem Cruel Window No More.

You can also find our summary of international law news in our weekday news wraps.

Have a nice weekend!

Weekend Roundup: January 26 – February 1, 2013

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, Julian kicked off on a lighter note with a Chinese cartoon on the maritime dispute between China and the Philippines.

IHL and ICL lawyers were well catered for throughout the week, starting with a guest post by Michael W. Lewis, who discussed two more issues raised at the Boundaries of the Battlefield symposium: “elongated imminence” in response to an armed attack and the lack of operational experience of those writing on international humanitarian law. Kevin later took issue with the suggestion that Israel’s Six Day War supports an “elongated” concept of imminence.

Alexander Wills added two more arguments in favour of allowing states to make article 12(3) declarations under the ICC Statute and for these to have retroactive effect. Also on the ICC and Palestine, Julian shared his two reactions to a NY Times op-ed by Professor George Bisharat calling for an ICC investigation, which triggered a lively discussion in the comments.

A potential ICC’s claim was far from Israel’s only worry this week, with the UN Human Rights Council strongly condemning Israel’s settlements policy. Kevin commented on the report’s main conclusions here. And then there is of course Iran’s threat; Kevin updated his timeline of estimates of when Iran will have the bomb.

And if these posts were not enough, Ken recommended Benvenisti and Cohen’s new article on SSRN addressing the laws of war from an principal-agent perspective.

Two more guest posts graced our blog this week. Başak Çalı provided her final guest post in a series on international judicial review, in which she assessed the legal policy implications of the variable standard used by the European Court of Human Rights, and Jonathan Hafetz analysed the changes and the continuities in renditions under the Obama administration. He expressed particular concerns about the use of proxy detention and the substantive reach of US counter-terrorism legislation.

Finally, Roger posted a chart depicting the legal system of the world, and updated it with a more accurate one.

As always, we kept you informed with our weekday news wraps and a list of events and announcements. Deborah also advertised a panel discussion of Zero Dark Thirty hosted by Cardozo Law School on February 11.

Thank you to our guest contributors and have a nice weekend!