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Edited volume: ‘An Institutional Approach to the Responsibility to Protect’, Cambridge University Press, 2016 (paperback)

20/08/2016 – 2:47 pm | Comments Off on Edited volume: ‘An Institutional Approach to the Responsibility to Protect’, Cambridge University Press, 2016 (paperback)

My edited book entitled ‘An Institutional Approach to the Responsibility to Protect’ has recently been published as paperback by Cambridge University Press (35 GBP).
Through its 22 chapters, covering

the responsibilities of the State;
the main political organs of the UN;
important regional and security organizations;
international judicial institutions and the regional human rights protection systems;

the book examines the roles and responsibilities of the international community regarding the responsibility to …

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International and National Law, International Criminal Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Law and Politics, United Nations, Use of Force »

The use of armed force in Syria: getting from bad to worse?

15/04/2017 – 8:19 pm | 4 Comments

Background

* A lot of the background information used below is taken from the BBC Syria timeline profile. The post has been amended to portray better the cause for the beginning of the conflict in Syria.

A lot has been written about the armed conflict in Syria in international law blogs including Ejil:Talk, Opinio Juris and Just Security, especially after the US attack deploying 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a Syrian government military base. This military action was taken as a response against an alleged attack with chemical weapons by Syrian government forces against civilians at Khan Sheikhoun which killed 87 persons.

The conflict in Syria has entered its 7th year. According to UNOCHA, about 13,5 million Syrians need humanitarian assistance, about 5 million have fled the country, and 6,3 million have been internally displaced because of the violence. Most recently, on 5 April 2017, the European Union, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Nations co-chaired the Brussels Conference on ‘Supporting the future of Syria and the region’ where 6 billion USD were pledged to support Syria and the region.  For more details see Brussels Conference April 2017.

In this short post I will deal briefly with three issues, first, who is using force, second, to what ends, and third, what is the end-game.

Who is using force in Syria

Before the conflict began, many Syrians complained about high unemployment, widespread corruption, a lack of political freedom and State repression under President Bashar al-Assad, who succeeded his father, Hafez, in 2000. Peaceful protests erupted in Syria in March 2011, after 15 boys were detained and tortured for having written graffiti in support of the Arab Spring. One of the boys, 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb, was killed after having been brutally tortured (for more details see Aljazera). The Syrian government security forces shoot dead protestors in the southern city of Deraa, triggering violent unrest that steadily spread nationwide over the following months. President Assad announced conciliatory measures, releasing dozens of political prisoners, dismissing government, and lifting a 48-year-old state of emergency. However, things were to take a turn for worse, much worse. The conflict escalated, and by December 2012 the US, Britain, France, Turkey and Gulf States formally recognized the opposition National Coalition as the “legitimate representative” of Syrian people. In the course of 2013 there was a rise in power of Islamist groups and by June 2014 the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (referred to as ISIS, IS, or Daesh) declared a “caliphate” in territory stretching from Aleppo to eastern Iraqi province of Diyala (see among others How Isis came to be).

A number of Western and regional States have been providing military and other support to the Syrian opposition since 2011. Iran and the Hezbollah militia (Lebanon) have been supporting the Assad government throughout. Since September 2015 the Russian Federation has provided support to the Syrian government. From September 2014 the US (and five Arab countries) have launched air strikes against Islamic State around Aleppo and Raqqa. So, there are a number of conflicts going on in Syria (for a detailed discussion see Gill’s Classifying the Conflict in Syria). Simply put, there is a NIAC between the Syrian government armed forces, the Syrian opposition armed forces, and the IS armed forces; a NIAC between the US (and a number of other countries) and the IS armed forces; and an IAC between the US and Syria, after the recent attack by the US armed forces on the Syrian military base.

What is this conflict about?

Can this conflict be characterized, to borrow the words of former US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice (said in a different context), as ‘the birth pangs of a new Middle East’? Currently, the Middle East is plagued by high-intensity armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen (see among others The War Report 2016). Is this another conflict that needed to be fought as the region readjusts the power-balance between the Shia and Sunni governments and the population in the different countries demands more freedoms and better governance? The first two special envoys of the UN Secretary-General entrusted with finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict have openly expressed their frustration at the lack of progress with the peace talks process in Geneva. Kofi Annan resigned in 2012 lamenting growing militarization and a lack of unity among world powers, and the UN-Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi resigned in 2014. The current special UN envoy is Staffan de Mistura and despite several rounds of talks a solution still seems beyond reach.

The end-game: peace in Syria

I still remember quite vividly a colleague speaking at the joint ASIL-ILA conference in Washington DC in April 2014, stating that there might be no answers and no quick end to the conflict in Syria. At that time I was quite surprised to hear such a gloomy assessment, expecting that most likely Assad would be deposed soon. Three years after, with the conflict still going on and no real end in sight, it seems he was right. And, as long as the US and Russia have dug their heels in and insist on two different solutions, not much will change in the short run.

The US was in violation of the UN Charter and international law on the use of force when it launched an attack against the Syrian government military base. Moreover, the insistence of the US administration and some other States on deposing Assad seems inexplicable and its moral foundation is shaky, if one adopts a longer time perspective, and looks at US relations with authoritarian regimes in other States in the region and beyond. This is not to say that Assad does not carry his part of responsibility for the terrible things that have befallen in Syria and that he should be put on trial, but there is enough blame to go around. In my next post I will address the use of force in Syria, as an option to bring the conflict to an end.

CfP: Special Issue on the Relationship between International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, Guest Editors: Steven Dewulf and Katharine Fortin

12/04/2017 – 4:57 pm |

The theme of this special edition of the Journal of Human Rights and International Legal Discourse is the relationship between international humanitarian law and international human rights law. This is a topic that has prompted considerable academic debate ever since the Geneva Conventions and Universal Declaration of Human rights were drafted in the late 1940s. In the early years, the debate centred on the question …

The International Criminal Court Summer School 2017, 19-23 June 2017, NUI Galway, Ireland

11/04/2017 – 8:34 pm |

The Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland Galway is pleased to announce that the annual International Criminal Court Summer School will take place from 19 to 23 June.
The annual International Criminal Court Summer School at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premier summer school specialising on the International Criminal Court. The summer school allows participants the opportunity to …

Just published: Spring 2017 issue of the European Journal of Legal Studies

10/04/2017 – 3:36 pm |

The new Spring 2017 issue of the European Journal of Legal Studies has gone online: http://ejls.eu/issue/23/.
The topics tackled in this edition range from the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, over the European Court of Justice’s interpretation of the fundamental right to conduct business, to the cross-border portability of online content services in the EU and …

CALL FOR PAPERS: DEVELOPING A BENEFIT-COST FRAMEWORK FOR DATA POLICY GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY ANTONIN SCALIA LAW SCHOOL with the FUTURE OF PRIVACY FORUM

07/04/2017 – 11:03 am |

Data flows are central to an increasingly large share of the economy. A wide array of products and business models—from the sharing economy and artificial intelligence to autonomous vehicles and embedded medical devices—rely on personal data. Consequently, privacy regulation leaves a large economic footprint. As with any regulatory enterprise, the key to sound data policy is striking a balance between competing interests and norms that …

Launch of the Global Campus Human Rights Journal (GCHRJ)

24/03/2017 – 10:29 am | Comments Off on Launch of the Global Campus Human Rights Journal (GCHRJ)

Aims 
The Global Campus of Human Rights is proud to announce the launch of the Global Campus Human Rights Journal (GCHRJ), a peer-reviewed online publication serving as a forum for rigorous scholarly analysis, critical commentaries, and reports on recent developments pertaining to human rights and democratisation globally. The first issue is now available online at https://globalcampus.eiuc.org/human-rights-journal.
GCHRJ is edited by a team of three, led by Frans …

New issue of the Nordic Journal of Human Rights is out (Volume 35, Issue 1, 2017)

16/03/2017 – 6:49 pm | One Comment

* With thanks to Anne Christine Lie, managing editor of the NJHR.
Nordic Journal of Human Rights (2017) Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 1-84.
The Nordic Journal of Human Rights spring issue of 2017 features four research articles covering a wide range of human rights topics: the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, tort law and human rights in business, the right to health care in …

The Cambridge International and European Law Conference 2017, “Transforming Institutions”, 23-24 March 2017, University of Cambridge

12/03/2017 – 6:11 pm | Comments Off on The Cambridge International and European Law Conference 2017, “Transforming Institutions”, 23-24 March 2017, University of Cambridge

The Cambridge International and European Law Conference shall take place on Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th March 2017. The conference is organized by the Cambridge International Law Journal in association with the Centre for European Legal Studies (CELS) and Monckton Chambers.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Transforming Institutions” and shall take place in the David Williams Building, Law Faculty, The University of Cambridge.
The full …

Opportunity to Study Transatlantic Privacy Law in Amsterdam this Summer

01/03/2017 – 12:46 pm | Comments Off on Opportunity to Study Transatlantic Privacy Law in Amsterdam this Summer

Online activities quite often involve transfers of personal data between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), for example when using online search, social networks and many mobile apps. Both regions are governed by different rules on the protection of informational privacy and personal data. The EU’s stance on data protection law made the headlines when its highest court ruled that individuals have …

Call for Papers: Hague Justice Journal on ICTY Legacy

28/02/2017 – 4:27 pm | Comments Off on Call for Papers: Hague Justice Journal on ICTY Legacy

The Hague Justice Journal First Edition in Association with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia launches its call for submissions. The editorial board of The Hague Justice Journal (HJJ) is delighted to announce that it is soliciting submissions for its 2017 volume relating to the ICTY’s legacy in what is the tribunal’s final year of operations. Such submissions will include selected papers from the …

New Publication: Jan Arno Hessbruegge, Human Rights and Personal Self-Defense in International Law, Oxford University Press (2017)

21/02/2017 – 10:57 am | Comments Off on New Publication: Jan Arno Hessbruegge, Human Rights and Personal Self-Defense in International Law, Oxford University Press (2017)

About the author
Dr. Jan Arno Hessbruegge works for the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He is also a visiting professor for international law at the U.N.-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. In the course of his career, he has worked as a legal advisor in the Executive Office of the High Commissioner, with the U.N. Commissions of …

CALL FOR PAPERS: “THE ROLE OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS: JURISPRUDENCIAL ADVANCES AND NEW RESPONSES” Oslo, 15 May 2017

20/02/2017 – 2:26 pm | Comments Off on CALL FOR PAPERS: “THE ROLE OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS: JURISPRUDENCIAL ADVANCES AND NEW RESPONSES” Oslo, 15 May 2017

Aims
This workshop has three specific aims. Firstly, it focuses on the identification and discussion of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ (IACtHR) valuable contribution to the field of International Human Rights Law, particularly in connection to new issues reaching this judicial body. Secondly, aware of existence of negative reactions provoked by some IACtHR’s decisions in determined States, the workshop aims at identifying and analyzing specific …

Call for Papers: JTMS Summer/Fall 2017 Issue

17/02/2017 – 9:26 am | Comments Off on Call for Papers: JTMS Summer/Fall 2017 Issue

The Journal Territorial and Maritime Studies (JTMS) is soliciting submissions for its Summer/Fall 2017 issue.  In the interest of increasing submissions for this recently launched publication, JTMS is offering authors of articles successfully passing peer review and selected for publication in the Summer/Fall 2017 issue an honorarium of $1000. 
JTMS is an interdisciplinary Journal of research on territorial and maritime issues sponsored by the Northeast Asia …

Call for Papers: AsianSIL Interest Group on International Law in Domestic Courts, Deadline 23 April 2017

16/02/2017 – 8:52 am | Comments Off on Call for Papers: AsianSIL Interest Group on International Law in Domestic Courts, Deadline 23 April 2017

The Asian Society of International Law’s Interest Group on International Law in Domestic Courts has issued a call for papers  for a workshop to be held on 24 August 2017 at Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea.
On the occasion of the Sixth Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law  (which takes place on 25-26 August), the Society’s Interest Group on International Law in Domestic …

iCourts and PluriCourts PhD Summer School on International Law: Courts and Contexts, 26 June – 30 June 2017

15/02/2017 – 12:19 pm | Comments Off on iCourts and PluriCourts PhD Summer School on International Law: Courts and Contexts, 26 June – 30 June 2017

Context
The Centre of Excellence for International Courts (iCourts) and PluriCourts (Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order) are hosting a high-level summer school for PhD students working on international courts in their social and political context. We particularly welcome students who are writing up a PhD thesis that involves a strong focus on methodology.
 The set-up
The iCourts/PluriCourts …

Call for Papers:  Utrecht Journal of International and European Law – General Issue 2017

07/02/2017 – 5:14 pm | Comments Off on Call for Papers:  Utrecht Journal of International and European Law – General Issue 2017

The Utrecht Journal of International and European Law has issued a Call for Papers to be published in its 85th edition in the summer  of 2017 on ‘General Issues’ within international and European law. Read the full announcement of this call here.
The Board of Editors invites submissions addressing any aspect of international and European law; topics may include, but are not limited to, European Union law, International and European …

Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation)

05/02/2017 – 4:28 pm | Comments Off on Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation)

* This post is based mainly on ICJ Press Releases No. 2017/2 (17 January 2017) and No. 2017/4 (1 February 2017).
In the late afternoon of 16 January 2017, Ukraine instituted proceedings against the Russian Federation with regard to alleged violations of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism of 9 December 1999 and the International Convention on the Elimination of All …

Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law: Call for Papers

19/01/2017 – 10:29 am | Comments Off on Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law: Call for Papers

25th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law, Canberra, 29 June–1 July 2017
“Sustaining the International Legal Order in an Era of Rising Nationalism”
The 25th ANZSIL Annual Conference will take place from Thursday, 29 June, to Saturday, 1 July 2017 at Hotel QT Canberra, 1 London Circuit, Canberra, Australia.
The Conference Organising Committee invites proposals for papers to be presented at the …

Tanja Altunjan and Aziz Epik: The International Criminal Court in Crisis?

17/01/2017 – 1:48 pm | 2 Comments

By Tanja Altunjan and Dr. Aziz Epik
Tanja Altunjan is a Research Fellow and Dr. Aziz Epik is a Senior Research Fellow to the Chair for German and International Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Modern Legal History, Prof. Gerhard Werle, Humboldt-University, Berlin.
70 years after the International Military Tribunal passed its Nuremberg judgment, the International Criminal Court (ICC) – the first permanent institution for the prosecution of …