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Editorial #14: 2022 – Another Groundhog Year?


The beginning of 2022 reminds us of the US-American comedy ‘Groundhog Day in which Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) is caught in a time loop and is forced to live throughout the same day over and over again. Just like Phil Connors sees himself confronted with the same day repeatedly, the world finds itself in a seemingly never-ending cycle of crisis. Above all, a global pandemic, which we already addressed in our editorial one year ago. But also a seemingly ceaseless situation of disasters and conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine (to name only those covering the news). Needless to say, all these topics have also kept us busy on the blog and will most certainly continue to do so in the future:

  • The pandemic is not confined to state borders, thus there is reason for international law makers and politicians to deal with the topic on a broader, international level. And so have we and our amazing authors. A highlight in this context was last years ‘Covid-19 and “New” Human Rights’ symposium which we were able to host together with the Global Pandemic Network. The symposium allowed authors to present and develop their ideas on how new human rights influence and shape the pandemic situation. Despite the fact that the well written and interesting posts are providing us with enough food for thought for a couple of more lockdowns, we are very much looking forward to new contributions regarding the effects of the pandemic on international law and the developments sparked by it.
  • The regime change in Kabul, after the sudden withdrawal of the international troops from Afghanistan also has caught the attention of many authors. We have been delighted particularly to host the ‘Völkerrechtliche Tagesthemen’ from the renowned Walther-Schücking-Institut in Kiel in November 2021. Professor Kirsten Schmalenbach presented her analysis of recognition aspects in – inter alia – the case of Afghanistan. Given that the disputed government situation does not seem to have changed and due to the horrible humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, it is – though unfortunate – safe to say that the crisis-ridden country will remain on the international legal agenda and at the forefront of our blog.
  • The Judgement of Solomon that went wrong: Georgia v. Russia (II) by the European Court of Human Rights’ (2021); ‘Schnell heißt nicht rechtmäßig’ (2020); ‘Ukrainische Matrosen bald auf der Heimreise? (2019) and the ‘Russian Perspectives on International Law’ symposium (2018) – the Russian Federation has been subject of many articles on our blog. Unfortunately, the current conflict between NATO and Russia, allows us to predict that it will continue to do so.

Despite the continuing pandemic and different international crisis, there is also a glimmer of hope on the horizon. For example: the African Union celebrates its 20th anniversary; the Association of Southeast Asian Nations reaches its 55th year or existence and the European exchange program Erasmus+ just turned 35. Not only did members of our editorial team profit from the program and enjoyed study and research stays in the United Kingdom (Universities of Birmingham, Warwick, Westminster and at the King’s College), France (Universities Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris-Nanterre, Lille), Sweden (University of Lund) and in the Netherlands (Maastricht University); but also approximately 12 million other European citizens were able to get to know their neighboring countries better and to build multi-national and multi-cultural friendships for a lifetime. It is the editorial team’s sincere wish that programs like this and their important contribution to ‘exercising tolerance and living in peace and good neighborly relations’ (UN Charter, preamble) will be recognized and promoted even further and around the globe in the future. To hopefully allow as many people as possible to learn and surpass themselves.

After all, this is the essence of ‘Groundhog Day’ (spoiler alert!): Phil Connors – a previously self-centered and cynical meteorologist – can only break out of the time loop if he succeeds in transforming himself into a better, selfless human being. An approach that the mothers and fathers of the UN Charter also had in mind. Only if the States of the world are willing to leave behind the egocentrism and cynicism of the past, in other words , if they are willing to change themselves to ‘better’ States, they will be able to escape from the time warp of wars and oppression .

With this in mind and in anticipation of great contributions

– Your editorial team

Lukas Kleinert

Ass. iur. Lukas Kleinert, Master Droit, LL.M. is writing his Ph.D. at the University of Hamburg on an European and public international law related topic. He has been a member of the editorial team of the Völkerrechtsblog since 2018.

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