Customary International LawSymposium

Religious Freedom and Customary International Law

The struggle for religious freedom is the oldest of all movements for international human rights. Nonetheless, religious freedom remains the most problematic of all human rights. Despite treaty protections for religious rights stretching from the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) to the European Convention on Human Rights (1950) and beyond, the role of customary international law remains considerable. For example, how does one define such rights as the freedom to establish …

READ MORE →

Customary International LawSymposium

The principle of responsibility-sharing in refugee protection

An emerging norm of customary international law

In December 2018, the Global Compact on Refugees was adopted. Especially over the last year, its drafting and negotiations could appear in odd contrast to the surrounding world, in which conditions for seeking asylum continued to harshen. Is the compact a step towards countering these conditions, or mere window-dressing without much effect on refugees’ rights? The compact is non-binding and one widely shared view is that all will depend on …

READ MORE →

Customary International LawSymposium

Corporate liability under customary international law

Is the tail wagging the dog?

Human rights and business issues are far more complex than is often considered in most scholarly writings on the topic. The following is an example of the complexity, taken from the case of Araya v Nevsun Resources 2017 BCCA 401, which is currently winding its way through the Canadian courts. The company is alleged to have aided and abetted serious human rights abuses, primarily conducted by the government of Eritrea. …

READ MORE →

Customary International LawSymposium

Why Customary International Law Matters in Protecting Human Rights

Does customary international law really matter in protecting human rights, and if so how? This was the theme of a panel at International Law Weekend in New York on October 20, 2018. International Law Weekend is an annual conference organized by the American Branch of the International Law Association. The panel was sponsored by the American Branch’s Committee on the Formation of Customary International Law, of which I serve as chair. …

READ MORE →