The Minimum Principle
‘A politician (…) thinks of the next election, while the statesman thinks of the next generation,’ James Freeman Clarke wrote in an 1870 essay with the pressing title Wanted, a...
Das Ende des Al-Khatib-Verfahrens
Am 13. Januar 2022 endete der weltweit erste Prozess wegen Staatsfolter in Syrien. Das OLG Koblenz verurteilte Anwar R. zu lebenslanger Haft wegen Tötung, Folter, schwerwiegender Freiheitsberaubung, Vergewaltigung und sexueller...
Critiques of International Criminal Law Revisited in the Light of the Rome Statute
As 2021 marked the 75th anniversary of the first international criminal trial in Nuremberg, this post will reflect on the current state of international criminal law (ICL). The conventional wisdom...
The Problem with Using Sanctions as Human Rights Accountability
In November 2021, the United States unveiled a flurry of sanctions in response to human rights and humanitarian law violations in the year-long armed conflict in northern Ethiopia. The conflict...
In-between the expectations of the international community and domestic rule of law realties, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt sentenced Taha Al J. to life imprisonment in a historic verdict....
It is Human Rights Day, again – an occasion to reflect on the state of academic debate about human rights. After a phase of significant human rights critiques, the debate has increasingly...
Remembering Professor Rudolf Bernhardt
Professor Rudolf Bernhardt, former President of the European Court of Human Rights and former director of the Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law died on 1 December 2021...
Bringing Order to Orbital Chaos?
Three weeks ago, on 15 November 2021, a Russian anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test was reported, raising serious legal and political questions about the prohibition of the use of force in outer space. Not...
It’s All About Choice
Time and again, a debate pops up on whether access to the internet should be made a human right. While some have favoured universal access thereto with as little restrictions...
The Immunity of the Holy See in Sexual Abuse Cases
In multiple countries, allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have led to lawsuits against dioceses and clergy, and the establishment of investigation and claims commissions. However, because of...
Indicators 2.0: From Ranks and Reports to Dashboards and Databanks
In September 2021, the World Bank Group’s management announced its decision to discontinue one of its most notable and controversial products - the Doing Business Report. Michael Riegner had welcomed...
The Truth about Doing Business
As well-explained by Michael Riegner in his post The End of Indicators, the World Bank pulled the plug on its annual Doing Business report (DB), after scandalous irregularities were denounced...
Self-Reflexivity on the Judicial Bench
A knowledgeable and highly accomplished international lawyer gets appointed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This hardly qualifies as news. When Georg Nolte, who is no less a prominent...
Auslegung von Völkergewohnheitsrecht?
Obwohl führende Lehr- und Handbücher auf diese Fragestellung nicht eingehen, finden sich verschiedene Autor*innen in der jüngeren und älteren Vergangenheit , die Völkergewohnheitsrecht für auslegbar und dies auch für methodisch...
In its recent judgment in Moldova v. Komstroy, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has deemed intra-EU investor-state-dispute settlement (ISDS) under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) incompatible...
The Normative Mess Governing Africa-EU Trade Relation Granted a New Lease of Life
Whatever little hope was left for Africa-EU trade relationship to be brought within a set of coherent rules agreed between the two sides has been put to rest, potentially for...
Leaving Just a Crack for Socioeconomic-Based Non-Refoulement
Much has been discussed about the potential of non-refoulement for preventing removal of persons to a country where they would face violations of their economic, social, and cultural rights (‘ESCR’)....
Is Immaterial Restitution Enough?
The discussion on the restitution of the Congolese cultural heritage is not a recent one. As estimated by Calafate Ribeiro Margarita and Pinto Ribeiro, it arose in 1936 along with...
Two Milestones in Favour of the Environment in Just a Few Days?
On Friday, 8 October 2021, the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations (UN) recognized the human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This was welcomed with...
Trimming Pegasus’ Wings
For centuries, export control regulations have accompanied the development of new weapon technologies. The revelations of the ‘Pegasus Project’ have put the question of whether and how to regulate the...
A Sisyphean Task?
The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) with its 55 member states (including the EU’s except for Italy) is the only energy specific international investment agreement. The treaty is increasingly put under...
A Straight Line Towards the Sea
Almost to the day six months after the public hearings took place (for a comment see here), the International Court of Justice delivered its judgment in the case of Maritime...
Watch Your Facebook Comment Section!
Recently, in Sanchez v France, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) swung the door towards social media users’ liability wide open, allowing not only politicians, as in the...
Remedies for Bad Faith Violations
In this blog post, I discuss how the Committee of Ministers (CoM) has developed the Article 18 remedial jurisprudence in the field of individual measures through its monitoring of the...
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Last year, the Netherlands presented their comments on the International Law Commission (ILC)’s Draft Conclusions on Peremptory Norms of General International Law (jus cogens). The Dutch report, which is set...
The End of Indicators
On 16 September 2021, the World Bank unceremonially buried one of its most controversial projects, the Doing Business ranking: in a tight-lipped statement, the Bank announced that “management has taken the...
Is History a Good Legal Argument?
It has become a frequent occurrence for Russia’s top leaders to write about their views on the western approaches to international law and international relations concerning Russia or the Post-Soviet...
From Achmea to Komstroy
In a recent landmark decision Moldova v. Komstroy, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on 2 September 2021 found intra-EU investment arbitration under the Energy Charter Treaty...
Memoranda of (Mis)Understandings (Part II)
As described in Part I of our post, non-legally binding arrangements (NBAs) play an ever larger role in foreign policy. As a response to their growing popularity and to avoid...
Memoranda of (Mis)Understandings (Part I)
When thinking of international law, most lawyers’ first association might not concern non-legally binding arrangements (NBAs) between States (also described as ‘Memoranda of Understanding’ or ’MoUs’). After all, the terms...
Recognition of a Taliban Government?
After the horrible events of the last weeks, policy makers around the world will soon think about their future relationship with the new Taliban leadership in Afghanistan. Whereas some States...
An Urgent Call for Climate Mainstreaming
The world is facing climate emergency, one of a series of overlapping and mutually reinforcing environmental crises. In 2017, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries signed the World Scientists’...
Today marks the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. For many Syrians, survivor-led initiatives and family associations, this is a day of mourning. At least 100.000 Syrians have...
Article 14 ECHR in the Closet
On 13 July 2021, the European Court of Human Rights rendered its judgment in Fedotova and Others v. Russia and unanimously decided in favour of the three complaining same-sex couples....
Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case
Authoritarian governments are exerting their influence on interstate political bodies to persecute political opponents at home and abroad. This results in practices that undermine the rights of individuals to a...
Navigating an Ocean of Information
In 1981, the UN General Assembly agreed for the first time that “Governments should consider the inclusion of youth representatives in their national delegations to the General Assembly and to...
The Narratives of Space Exploration
Human space exploration has been part of the social and political consciousness since Dr. Werner von Braun published his seminal guidebook for a human settlement of Mars. The possibility of...
Consulting Canadians on a Framework for Future Space Exploration Activities
We would like to start this two-part post with a reference to two very different and recent news articles from Canada: First, the positive: The Walrus article on First Nations...
Tens of thousands of Syrians have suffered arbitrary arrests, mainly by the Syrian regime’s security forces, in connection with the popular movement that started in March 2011. They all experienced at least...
The Nijmegen Principles and Guidelines on Interim Measures (2021)
Recently, scholars have paid considerable attention to interim (or provisional) measures (both in general [see here, here and here], and in the context of human rights adjudication [for a focus...
Law’s Vulgar Silence
In Völkerrechtsblog's editorial on 1 June 2021, the editors raised a concrete question to their readers, on the occasion on the most recent wave of violence in Israel and Palestine:...
Of Missed Chances and Set Narratives
“Far from surprising” one could call the latest and final judgement in the case of the former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladić. On 8 June 2021, the Appeals Chamber of the...
Reducing is Caring
The ‘Shell Climate Case’, on which the District Court of the Hague ruled on 26 May 2021, may well herald a new era for climate change litigation. The Dutch court...
How Law Can Make War Inhumane and Banal
War is governed by laws—laws that demand those engaged in armed conflict value humanitarianism and minimize civilian harm. When civilians are disproportionately killed in armed conflict, it’s because involved parties...
Extinguishing the Flares of Death
At 400 °C, around 447 gas flares, known as ‘flares of death,’ are constantly burning in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. This is a long-standing practice by which the...
Big Brother Watch v. UK
On 25 May 2021, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights issued a landmark ruling on the compatibility of systems of mass surveillance with the European Convention...
Will Vienna Talks Put an End to the “COVID-19 Plus” in Iran?
The pandemic is still far from over. In its response to combat COVID-19, Iran has been facing significant difficulties “in part due to the weakening of the national health-care system...
Germany’s “Fair Share” of Climate Change Jurisprudence
Germany has now its own landmark climate case. In its recent decision on the Climate Protection Act (CPA), the Constitutional Court did not follow all of the claimant’s submissions and...
The Selection of the “Worst of the Worst”
“International law should not be wielded as the big stick by strong nations used to pummel the weak ones. We are against selective justice.” As quoted by Jean Ping, former...
The Dreadful Night Goes On
At times, words fail to describe the horrors of reality. That is until we have recourse to the language of international criminal law (ICL). While its use may be problematic,...
A Case of MOX Plant 2.0 in the Pacific?
On 13 April 2021, the Japanese government formally authorised the release of 1.25 million tons of treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean....
A Bill for Better Business
On 11 March 2021, four Dutch political parties submitted a private members’ bill which introduces a new corporate duty of care for human rights and the environment. This proposal for...
Vaccine Apartheid and the Unlikely Overcoming of the Pandemic by 2023
The most important challenge for humanity is to end the pandemic within two years. However, as the largest vaccination rollout in history begins, it is doubtful that this goal will...
Leaving the Pre-Digital Era, Finally!
The UN human rights protection system has left the pre-digital era behind: The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child just released its new General Comment (GC) No. 25...
All that Glitters Is Not Gold
On 29 April 2021, the German Federal Constitutional Court held that the provisions of the German Federal Climate Change Act “are incompatible with fundamental rights insofar as they lack sufficient...
Three Hours from Paris to Karlsruhe
Only two days after its publication, the German Constitutional Court’s decision on the 2019 Climate Protection Act has already given rise to significant repercussions both in political and legal debates....
Case Concerning a Mysterious Maritime Delimitation Treaty
On 5 March 2021, the Press Office of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced that proceedings had been instituted in the Court by way of a Special Agreement between...
Der Anfang ist gemacht!
Am 23. April 2020 begann am Oberlandesgericht Koblenz das Verfahren gegen zwei ehemalige Mitarbeiter des syrischen Geheimdienstes wegen Beihilfe und Mittäterschaft an Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit. Das Syria Justice and...
Don’t Settle For Less
The German Parliament will debate today a draft for a due diligence act intended to protect human rights in global supply chains ('Lieferkettengesetz'), as submitted by the German government. The...
A Violent Effort to Rewrite History?
The geographically small Nagorno-Karabakh is rich in cultural and religious heritage. It is therefore not surprising that the recent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over this contested territory spurred not...
Cyber Space, Sovereignty and the Intricacies of International Law-Making
On March 5th, 2021, Germany published its position paper “On the application of International Law in Cyberspace”. The inter-ministerial document stipulates Germany’s views on the rules regulating state activity in...
Maritime Delimitation, Non-Appearance, and Acquiescence
From 15 to 18 March 2021, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held oral hearings in the Case of Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya). Initially scheduled...
No Rocket Science!
Outer space’s unique environment has been utilized to study and further a range of subjects, from colloid behavior to creating protein crystals for more effective disease control, often having enormous commercial application. For...
Beware of Procedural Perils
The global political momentum created by the COVID-19 pandemic recently led to a joint statement on 30 March 2021, signed by the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Director-General and twenty-seven heads...
Time for an Update of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
On 25 March 2021, the European Court of Justice (‘ECJ’) dismissed as inadmissible the climate action brought by 10 families from the European Union, Kenya and Fiji, for the protection...
Not Making the Cut
On 21 January 2021, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (the Court or ECtHR) adopted its judgement on the inter-state case Georgia v Russia (II). The judgement concerns...
International Lawyers, Look to the Heavens – Before We Lose Them
What kind of law do you ‘do’? Where would you place its outward bounds? Substantively, but also geographically; what lines do you draw in your imagination to encompass your field(s)...
Eye on the Spy
During the Covid-19 pandemic, more services and activities have migrated online. Digital supply chains have therefore emerged as the lifeblood of modern society and interferences with them can be hugely...
Turkey’s Withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention
As the 65th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is in progress, feminists from around the world are shocked by Turkey’s sudden decision to withdraw...
“Sport Sex” before the European Court of Human Rights
Sport is the field par excellence in which discrimination against intersex people has been made most visible. Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe Issue Paper: Human rights and intersex...
The Ongwen case: A prism glass for the concurrent commission of gender-based crimes
In a long-anticipated judgment at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Trial Chamber IX found Dominic Ongwen, a former commander in the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), guilty of 61 counts of...
The impacts of climate change on the humanitarian system: towards truly long-term cooperative action
On 1 December 2020, the German Federal Foreign Office hosted one of five virtual launches of the 2021 Global Humanitarian Overview (GHO) in Berlin. The GHO, which is published annually...
Climate migrants – How German courts take the environment into account when considering non-refoulement
In a recent landmark decision concerning an Afghan national a German Higher Administrative Court declared a ban on deportation (non-refoulement) based on German immigration law in conjunction with international human...
Dawn of a new era of global data protection?
The recent survey of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development indicates that 128 out of 194 countries have put data privacy legislations in place. By implication, around 66%...
Trump verlässt das Weiße Haus – und hinterlässt Chaos im Westsahara-Konflikt
Mit Joe Bidens Amtszeit hat eine neue Ära im Weißen Haus begonnen. Doch Donald Trump hinterlässt ein umfassendes außenpolitisches Vermächtnis, welches sich auch auf den Nahen Osten und Nordafrika erstreckt:...
The ICC Israel Palestine decision: Clear skies for an investigation but not without asterisks and further questions
On February 5, the ICC rendered its long-awaited Decision on the case of Israel and the Palestinians. With a majority of 2-1, Pre-Trial Chamber I held that the ICC does...
The unforeseeable future and the rule of law
On December 22, 2020, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of Selahattin Demirtaş v. Turkey (no. 2) concerning the pre-trial...
Quand le vin est tiré, il faut le boire
Ansonsten drohen Konsequenzen, wie sich jetzt in einem Gerichtsverfahren vor dem Tribunal Administratif de Paris (Pariser Verwaltungsgericht) zeigte. 2018 haben sich Oxfam, Notre Affaire à Tous, Fondation pour la Nature et...
The history of international law matters
Speaking about the ‘turn to history in international law’ has now become an embarrassing cliché in the specialized literature and this should be celebrated. Firstly, because the expression the ‘turn...
Enforced disappearances in Turkey: an old habit or a new trend?
Turkey has a long history of state-sponsored abductions and enforced disappearances, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. At the beginning of this century, this grim trend seemed to be running...
The earth system, hydrosphere, and outer space: Cosmo-legal approaches
The law is an example of human design, which has imposed anthropocentric interests on everything considered non-human. With the example of the relationship between law, orbital space, and water, the...
“We contributed to the respect for international law and the peaceful resolution of international conflicts”
Last month, Germany’s two-year non-permanent membership in the Security Council of the United Nations ended (see here for Hannah Birkenkötter’s blog post). We seize this opportunity to reflect with Ina...
„Wir haben in diesem Gremium zur Einhaltung des internationalen Rechts und zur friedlichen Konfliktlösung beigetragen“
Im vergangenen Monat endete die nicht-ständige Mitgliedschaft Deutschlands im Sicherheitsrat der Vereinten Nationen (siehe hierzu bereits den Beitrag von Hannah Birkenkötter). Wir nehmen dies zum Anlass, um mit Dr. Ina...
The Facebook Oversight Board and its Trump test
Facebook exercises extraordinary power over individuals in the digital world, and the grave consequences of what is said on Facebook can easily spill into the physical world too. There is...
Informed dissent or misinformed rebellion? Making sense of India’s farmer protests
“We are food: we eat food, we are made of food, and our first identity, our first wealth, our first health, comes from the making, creating, giving of good food.”...
Von Felsen und Fischen – Zur Frage der Fischereirechte um Rockall
Bei der steinigen 624 m² großen Erhebung, die 162 Seemeilen in westlicher Richtung entfernt vom nördlichen Teil des Vereinigten Königreichs aus dem Nord-Ost-Atlantik ragt und die unter der Bezeichnung „Rockall“...
The Hague District Court on travel restrictions: A test for international human rights law?
On 31 December 2020, The Hague District Court issued its summary judgment in De Lugt v The Dutch Government, closing a tumultuous year which had started with the first confirmed...
Enforced disappearances in Syria and the Al Khatib trial in Germany
More than 100,000 Syrians have been subjected to enforced disappearances since 2011, when Syria descended into a civil war. The Syrian regime, operating through its four Intelligence Services, has used...
The Judgement of Solomon that went wrong: Georgia v. Russia (II) by the European Court of Human Rights
On 21 January 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court or ECtHR) delivered its long-awaited judgment in the inter-state case Georgia v. Russia (II). This case concerns the...
Taking stock: A review of Germany’s two years on the Security Council
Germany’s two-year membership in the UN Security Council ended on 31 December 2020. Starting with big expectations, it hit the hard realities of increasingly divisive world politics in times of...
Withdrawing from the ‚Withdrawal Doctrine‘
Shortly after his election, President Joe Biden announced a number of issues he would tackle during his first days in office. Amongst others, this included reversing the effects of what...
South Korea’s denial of Japan’s immunity for international crimes
The issue of sexual enslavement of Korean women during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945 has been called ‘the most emotional historical dispute’ between South...
Chaos averted or executive overreach?
No “No-Deal Brexit”! On Christmas Eve 2020, a continent breathes a sigh of relief. The EU and the UK adopt the “EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement” (TCA) to resolve years...
Universal jurisdiction without universal outreach?
Creating a framework for the prosecution of international crimes under universal jurisdiction is clearly worthwhile. But as the intervention by the German Constitutional Court (BVerfG) in the Syrian war crimes...
One man’s martyr is another man’s malignant nuclear missile designer
‘Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh’, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018. On 27 November 2020, the world remembered. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a man who Israel and the United States have...
The Energy Charter Treaty and its (in)compatibility with EU law
Belgium is on the move again. After having submitted a request to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for an opinion on the compatibility of the Comprehensive...
The M/V Roseline A incident
On 22 November 2020, roughly 200 kilometres off the coast of Libya, the Turkish-flagged cargo ship M/V Roseline A was intercepted by the German naval frigate Hamburg. Soldiers boarded the...
Saying Yes to development projects
When a UN agency asked a rural community in Liberia about their development priorities after the civil war, the community asked for music instruments. Failing to understand the economic and...
One step forward – three steps back: why the hellfire from Ramstein may continue after all
Maybe it is the time of the year that Ramstein Air Base looks even greyer and gloomier than usual in the cold November twilight, maybe it is the bitter thought...