Current Developments

It could have been worse

A Historian’s Impression of the Conference “Contingency in International Law: How International law could have been”

Both historians and jurists are intrigued by the future: historians – despite their habitual claims to the contrary – wish to say something meaningful about the future by studying the past, whereas jurists make and render law in order to establish justice, lawfulness, and ultimately peace. Yet, while historians at times reject the “learning from the past” paradigm, fearing an oversimplification of history, the papers presented at the conference on …

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Current Developments

‘Vetoing’ the admission of a third state in international organizations

Lessons learned from the Greece-fYROM case

On the 17th June, ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ (hereinafter: ‘fYROM’) and Greece signed an Agreement to resolve their 27-year-long dispute over the former’s name. Most importantly, fYROM committed to change its constitutional name from ‘Republic of Macedonia’ to ‘Republic of North Macedonia’ for both domestic and international purposes. The bizarre dispute (and the Agreement itself) has raised interesting legal questions, serving as the most prominent case of an inter-state battle over …

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Current Developments

Endlich! – Erster Haftbefehl gegen einen ranghohen Vertreter des syrischen Assad-Regimes

Zur strafrechtlichen Verfolgung von im syrischen Bürgerkrieg verübten Verbrechen in Deutschland

Können mutmaßliche syrische Völkerrechtsverbrecher einfach unbehelligt nach Europa ein- und wieder ausreisen? Diesen Eindruck musste man bei der Lektüre eines Berichtes gewinnen, der vor einigen Wochen in der französischen Tageszeitung „Le Monde“ erschien. Bereits im Januar diesen Jahres sei Ali Mamluk, der als „Direktor des Nationalen Sicherheitsbüros“ der Ba’ath-Partei, seit Jahrzehnten eine feste Größe in dem syrischen Sicherheits- und Unterdrückungsapparat, auf Einladung des italienischen Geheimdienstes AISE nach Rom geflogen und …

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Current Developments

The first genocide of the 20th century before a domestic court

A New York Court about to decide on its jurisdiction in Rukoro et al. v. Germany

Once more, Germany is confronted with compensation claims concerning wrongs committed in the past (see on this topic already the post by Andreas Buser). After unsuccessful previous cases against Germany by the Ovaherero and Nama people before the Permanent Court of Arbitration and U.S. federal courts in Washington, D.C., the pending class action complaint against the Federal Republic of Germany in the United States District Court Southern District of New York is the …

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Current Developments

The Philippines’ move away from the International Criminal Court over the war on drugs: A blow for human rights in Asia

As a signatory to every human rights treaty and being at the forefront of promoting international human rights, Philippines is considered as one of the  “architects” of the United Nations and the human rights system. This was seen as a huge step forward for human rights in Asia. However, now with the decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, and the International Criminal Court (ICC), this will be seen a …

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Current Developments

Stretching Abstract Reasoning to its Limits

The IACtHR and the Right to a Healthy Environment

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued the Advisory Opinion (AO) of 15 November, 2017 (OC-23/17), on the subject matter of the environment and human rights. Its wide-ranging features already sparked a lively debate in the blogosphere (see here, here and here). Whereas some welcome the Court’s engagement with environmental rights, others are either skeptical of the way in which the AO deals with criteria of state responsibility in human …

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Grafitti picturing Berta Cáceres on a wall in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Current Developments

Defending the Defenders

Assessing LAC-P10, the new treaty to protect environmental activists in Latin America

The assassination of Berta Cáceres On 3 March 2016 Honduran indigenous activist Berta Cáceres was assassinated. She was a coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and one of the leading voices in her people’s fight against Agua Zarca Dam at the Río Gualcarque. Her activism had earned her the Goldman Environmental Prize and years of threats and intimidations by state and non-state actors, which …

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Current Developments

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers

A New Chapter for International Criminal Justice in the Balkans

As the doors were closing on Churchillplein 1, the Hague, the former home of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), only a short walk away a new institution began preparing indictments for war crimes committed during the Yugoslav wars. 

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Current Developments

Rainbow Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court?

Gender-based Persecution of Gays, Bisexuals and Lesbians as a Crime Against Humanity

On 8 November 2017, something happened which can be seen as a milestone for gay rights: a communication was submitted to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that includes crimes committed based on the victims’ real or perceived sexual orientation. Such a case would be the first of its kind and, if successful, would create a strong message for the universal prohibition of gender-based crimes for all sexual …

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Current Developments

Opt-in vs. Opt-out = opt-in-opt-out?

On the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression

In December 2017, the States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) had the chance to realize in New York what Robert H. Jackson called for in his opening statement before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. While international criminal law was only applied against German aggressors at that time, the U.S. Chief Prosecutor emphasized that the condemnation of aggressive war should be the benchmark for any other nation in …

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