Weekend Roundup: November 30-December 13, 2013

by An Hertogen

This fortnight on Opinio Juris, Deborah reminisced about her handshake with Nelson Mandela during her time as a junior White House staffer and Roger posted about the day Mandela was free.

Mandela’s example was invoked at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, where trade ministers reached their first trade agreement in years. Julian argued that the WTO however does not need the Bali Package for its dispute settlement system to remain relevant and Duncan discussed whether the Bali Package requires US Congressional approval. In other WTO news, Roger discussed how the WTO Dispute Panel in its recent EU-Seal Products decision recognized the self-judging nature of the public morals exception in article XX:a GATT.

Trade issues have inspired recent political protests in Ukraine, which Chris used to illustrate how geopolitics has become normative, and how all normative geopolitics is local. Chris also asked where international law should go now that life is imitating the art of political science fiction.

Kevin noted the OTP’s remarkable slow-walking of the Afghanistan examination. A series of articles on Judge Harhoff’s resignation also confirmed to Kevin-once he stopped fuming about the persistent misquoting of the Perisic judgment-that the Judge needed to be removed from the Seselj case. Kevin also assessed Ryan Goodman’s argument that Amnesty International has overstated the number of states that have implemented universal jurisdiction in its report on the issue.

Julian covered various topics that we have known him for recently. He noticed how Russia’s non-compliance with the ITLOS Artic Sunrise order went unnoticed in most media, and concluded that states do not take a reputational hit in case of non-compliance. Julian followed up on earlier posts regarding China’s ADIZ, and argued that the US position is not backed up by a coherent international legal framework. You can also see Julian in action in this video from a Cato Institute event on Argentina’s Debt Litigation and Sovereignty Immunity. On a lighter note, Julian also pondered how the US and Canada could legally merge, and pointed out the happy news that Santa has a visa waiver to enter the US.

Following the recent diplomatic success of the P5+1 and Iran, Sondre Torp Helmersen revisited the impact of the Iran hostage crisis for diplomatic law. Kristen focused on the effect of the deal for UN, rather than unilateral US and EU, sanctions on Iran.

In other organizational news, Kristen updated us on recent developments in Bluefin Tuna management.

Finally, Jessica and I listed various events and announcements that came to our attention (1, 2), and Jessica wrapped up the news headlines (1, 2).

Have a nice weekend!

Weekend Roundup: November 23-29, 2013

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, Kevin asked why the agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is not void given that it goes against earlier UNSC resolutions prohibiting uranium enrichment by Iran. Duncan also looked at the deal, decided that it is not actually legally binding, and asked whether that mattered.

Kevin found the timing of the Bemba arrests curious and raised a word of caution about the arrests. In other ICC developments, he contrasted two Rome Statute articles with the new rule 134ter of the ICC’s Rules and Procedure and Evidence, and argued that the new rules are unlikely to survive judicial review. He also welcomed the DOJ’s reported, although not yet formalised, decision not to prosecute Julian Assange.

Craig Allen contributed a guest post about ITLOS’ order for the release of the Arctic Sunrise and the remaining Greenpeace protestors held by Russia. Julian followed up on this with a post discussing the likelihood of Russian non-compliance. Julian also updated us on the latest developments in the East China Sea.

Finally, Jessica listed events and announcements and wrapped up the weekly news.

Thank you to all our readers for the very lively comments this week. Have a nice weekend!

Weekend Roundup: November 9-22, 2013

by An Hertogen

This fortnight on Opinio Juris, Julian shared his impressions of the Asian Society of International Law Biennial Meeting in New Delhi, and summarized his unofficial notes on Judge Xue Hanqin’s personal comments regarding China’s non-participation in the UNCLOS arbitration started by the Philippines. Peter, meanwhile, was at the 2013 Emma Lazarus Lecture and found much to agree with in Jagdish Baghwati’s proposals for state, as opposed to federal, powers in immigration reform.

Peter later alerted us to Somalia’s ratification of the Children’s Rights Convention. This of course leaves the US in a peculiar position, and a rather more peculiar one than regarding the Minamata Convention on Mercury for which it became the first nation to deposit its instrument of acceptance, as Duncan pointed out in a post raising three questions about the acceptance process and the exclusion of the Senate.

Kristen discussed Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented decision to reject the UN Security Council seat within 24 hours of its election. In other news from the Middle East, Kevin outlined why it is not surprising that Syria is destroying its chemical weapons.

Kevin also analysed whether the ASP can change the ICC’s RPE to allow Kenyatta to attend his trial via video-conference, but argued that the relevant Rome Statute provision is too clear to be circumvented by amending the RPE. He also got his hands on two proposed amendments to examine in more detail.

We teamed up with the Leiden Journal of International Law this week to bring you a symposium on their two most recent issues, introduced here by Dov Jacobs. On the first day, Gabriella Blum and Christopher Kutz discussed Janina Dill’s essay “Should International Law Ensure the Moral Acceptability of War?”. Janina’s reply is here. The second article, on Diplomatic Asylum and the Assange Case, by Maarten Den Heijer, was discussed by Gregor Noll and Roger O’Keefe, with a reply by Maarten. On Wednesday, Piet Eeckhout and Erika de Wet discussed Devika Hovell’s proposals in A Dialogue Model: The Role of the Domestic Judge in Security Council Decision-MakingYou can find Devika’s response here. Finally, Brad Roth defended his concept of self-determination against Zoran Oklopcic’s challenge in “Beyond Empty, Conservative, and Ethereal:  Pluralist Self-Determination and a Peripheral Political Imaginary”. The debate continued in Zoran’s reply.

In other guest posts, Paul Williams and Roushani Mansoor argued that the Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal is not just about justice, but also about transforming Bangladeshi national identity, and James Stewart wrote on his research on corporate war crimes.

For those of you who want to read more, Kevin announced the publication, including in open access format, of his edited volume with Gerry Simpson on The Hidden Histories of War Crimes Trials.

Finally, Jessica and I listed events and announcements (1, 2) and Jessica wrapped up the news (1, 2).

Have a nice weekend!

Weekend Roundup: November 2-8, 2013

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, we brought you a healthy diet of treaties, chemical weapons, drones, and a sprinkle of terrorism.

Duncan rounded up various treaty related news items this week, and argued that US treaty practice does not have to be a zero-sum game. Peter posted about the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearings on a possible Understanding that would limit anxieties about the domestic impact of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The main event this week however happened across the street from the US Congress: the SCOTUS hearing in Bond v United States. Peter kicked off the conversation with the question whether Missouri v Holland has ever been used by the federal government. Julian was first out of the blocks to post his impressions of the oral argument, followed by seven observations by Marty Lederman, while Duncan was too stumped to comment on the merits due to the apparent lack of appreciation on all sides for the difference between treaty signature and ratification. Bill Dodge pointed out how the difference between a self-executing and non-self-executing treaty was also misunderstood.

Should an international treaty ban “killer robots”? Ken, in a WSJ op-ed with Matthew Waxman, argued that it should not.

From killer robots to drones: Deborah was worried about reports that the migration of targeting operations from the CIA to the Pentagon has stalled. The recent drone reports by HRW and AI were criticized by Jens Iverson who examined whether members of armed groups can be targeted and by Michael W. Lewis who argued that significant flaws undermine the reports’ objectivity and overall credibility.

Finally, Kevin mourned the premature death of the concept of terrorism, victim of overly broad definitions by Scotland Yard and the UK Terrorism Act 2000.

As every week, we listed upcoming events. You may also be interested in the Berkeley Journal of International Law’s latest issue with its symposium on Taming Globalization co-authored by John Yoo and our own Julian Ku.

Many thanks to our guest contributors and have a nice weekend!

Weekend Roundup: October 26-November 1, 2013

by An Hertogen

This week on Opinio Juris, we held a symposium on Chevron and the rise of arbitral power introduced here by Michael D. Goldhaber. Comments were by Christoph Schreuer, Anthea Roberts, and Muthucumaraswamy Sornarajah. Michael’s response is here.

In follow up on earlier symposia, Anupam Chander posted his reply to the comments in last week’s book symposium on The Electronic Silk Road and Anne van Aaken responded to Tomer Broude’s guest posts on behavioral international law and economics.

Peter wondered why Bond v United States came to be prosecuted under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and noted emerging efforts towards a human right to privacy in the wake of the NSA spying scandal. Julian did not think these efforts would lead anywhere, and put more faith in the conclusion of no-spy agreements.

Kevin posted about his recent talk at Chatham House defending the specific direction requirementFollowing reports by The Sudan Tribune that the presiding judge had threatened William Ruto with arrest if he commented publicly on his case, later corrected after a clarification by the ICCKevin examined whether there is any legal basis on which the Court can silence an accused. Kevin also pointed out problems with the appointment of a new judge in the Seselj case, which led to a very active discussion in the comments.

Julian asked whether Japan’s pledge to shoot down Chinese drones violates international law. Maybe the Japanese could learn a thing or two from the British Navy and its use of Britney Spears’ songs to scare away Somali pirates along Africa’s East Coast.

Finally, Sean D. Murphy summarized the International Law Commission’s work in its 65th session, Kristen posted about the ASIL Mid-Year Meeting that we suspect quite a few of our readers will be attending, and Jessica listed the events and announcements and wrapped up the news.

Thank you very much to our guest posters and have a nice weekend!