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Transnational Science-Based Standards on Radiation: A Japanese Experience

‘Dose limits’ after Fukushima

The readers of this blog might have heard of “millisieverts” or “becquerel”. These are the units of radiation dose and emission. While these notions are primarily the commodities of scientific experts in radiology and related fields, the German political debate might not be unfamiliar to such terms. Germany is currently experiencing a transition away from nuclear power, and nuclear energy has been publicly debated since the 1970s. Yet in Japan, …

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Pebble in the shoe or elephant in the room?

A Response to the post by Adrian Di Giovanni In his post, Adrian Di Giovanni drew our attention to the notion of Do No Harm, focusing on the context of humanitarian assistance. He observes the increase in relying on or at least mentioning this concept on the international level and rightly asks the question what the meaning could be in a more specific sense. I would like to add to …

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A Pebble in the Shoe

Assessing International Uses of Do No Harm

My paper published in the last edition of ‘Law and Politics in Asia, Africa and Latin America’ (VRU) is the product of bureaucratic wanderings. Over a number of years, in a meetings on a variety of international topics, I repeatedly heard the same phrase being uttered: “we take a Do No Harm approach.” At first blush, those words had an immediate appeal. Doctors have followed that principle for centuries (primum …

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Whom to Obey?

The incongruence of obedience to the state and its consequences for civil disobedience

A reply to Theresa Züger Theresa Züger argues compellingly for using political philosophy to understand civil disobedience in the context of international law. She identifies two key types of civil disobedience, transversal and epistemic. Transversal implies that civil disobedience has long gone beyond the nation state and increasingly focuses on multi-level governance structures and both public and private actors while epistemic attempts to challenge existing power structures by divulging ‘secret’ …

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Civil disobedience

An international issue

Even though this is a blog for international law, I was invited to provide my perspective from political philosophy and media studies on the issue of civil disobedience. My article represents a normative understanding of civil disobedience from a radical democratic philosophical perspective that values civil disobedience as a contesting democratic practice rather than seeing it as a disruption of unquestionable legal order. The main intention of this article is …

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Defining and identifying threats

A new challenge to old assumptions in the theory and practice of emergency and security law

A reply to Jens Kremer Jens Kremer raises a problem that is well known in the theory of security and emergency law. Since issues of security are so complex, and often so political, legal institutions, and especially courts, are not prepared to make decisions on them, the consequence being that courts, overwhelmingly take officials’ security-claims for granted. To tackle the problem, Kremer suggests we can use new tools and new concepts, …

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Security mindsets and international law

Thinking differently about security and adjudication

Security is a curious term and it comes in many different forms and shapes, and each field of research, every security institution and even more, every security professional has an own very specific understanding of security. Let me give three examples: For military leaders, security is a matter of military strength, tactics and capabilities. If state A has more tanks than state B, state B may want to balance this …

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The limits of emergency mechanisms

A Response to Tine Hanrieder and Christian Kreuder-Sonnen Emergency mechanisms are essential in addressing and containing crisis situations such as the recent Ebola outbreak. Tine and Christian have drawn our attention to the development of the WHO’s emergency powers, and to how recent changes and adjustments of the organization’s response compared to the 2009 swine flu outbreak had a legitimacy enhancing effect. At the same time, however, thinking and conceptualizing …

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The WHO’s new emergency powers

From SARS to Ebola

The Ebola outbreak is only the third Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) ever declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO’s emergency authority is based on the International Health Regulations (IHR) adopted in 2005. While these regulations enable the organization only to recommend measures to states, its decisions to declare a PHEIC and to issue temporary recommendations are de facto authoritative points of reference for global and …

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Wer hat Angst vor dem Völkerrecht?

Die Untätigkeit der nationalen Gesetzgeber als Herausforderung (auch) für die Völkerrechtler

Eine Replik auf Evelyne Schmid Evelyne Schmid plädiert in ihrem Beitrag dafür, dass sich Völkerrechtler*innen stärker mit den Unterlassungen durch nationale Gesetzgeber befassen sollten. Sie weist dabei zu Recht auf einen weißen Fleck in der – ansonsten doch reichen und umfassenden – Diskussion über das Verhältnis zwischen Völker- und Landesrecht hin. Schreiben völkerrechtliche Verträge gesetzgeberische Massnahmen durch die einzelnen Staaten vor, sieht sich die Legislative oft gar nicht bemüssigt, entsprechende …

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