Cynical International LawSymposium

A rule to catch them all

How European policies on combating abuse of rights in tax law aim at countering cynicism by non-state actors

One of the legal regimes where cynicism is most prevalent in the eye of the public is tax law. After the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ and ‘Paradise Papers’ public debate on fair taxation of companies was rekindled at the World Economic Forum 2019, where Rutger Bregman stressed that it is cynical when people talk about philanthropic engagement, equality and transparency, yet ‘almost no one raises the real issue of tax avoidance’. …

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Cynical International LawSymposium

The Edge of Enlightenment

The EU’s struggle with post-fascist cynicism

Recently, Harvard professor Steven Pinker’s book “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress”, which explores the effect of the Enlightenment on contemporary societies worldwide and also anti-Enlightenment movements in the West, became an international bestseller. Applying his findings about the age-old symbiotic relationship between certain elements of “Western civilization” and (post-) Fascism to certain developments both at the EU level and in individual member states, we can …

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Current Developments

Handschlag oder Kniefall?

Ein Kommentar zum Revised Draft Treaty on Business and Human Rights

Am 16.07.2019 hat die UN-Arbeitsgruppe „Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights“ (OEIWG) einen überarbeiteten Entwurf [revised draft (RD)] für einen Vertrag zum Thema Unternehmen und Menschenrechte veröffentlicht. Es handelt sich hierbei um eine zweite, überarbeitete Version, nachdem der sog. zero draft (ZD) exakt ein Jahr zuvor veröffentlicht wurde. Der neue Entwurf enthält einige weitgehende Zugeständnisse an Industriestaaten und Unternehmen, die …

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SymposiumThe GDPR as a global standard-setter for data protection

The charm of jurisdictions: a modern version of Solomon’s judgment?

From a perspective of international law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) pioneers particularly in terms of its (extraterritorial) application. Whereas in international law, which is based on the Westphalian notion of exclusive state sovereignty, this sovereignty is usually restricted to the state’s own territory and allows for an extraterritorial application of human rights only in exceptional circumstances, the GDPR prominently standardises the domestic-market principle in Article 3(2) GDPR. The …

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SymposiumThe GDPR as a global standard-setter for data protection

The GDPR and algorithmic decision-making

Safeguarding individual rights, but forgetting society

In algorithmic decision-making systems (ADM systems) machines evaluate and assess human beings and, on this basis, make a decision or provide a forecast or a recommendation for action. Thus, it is not only the data processing as such, but above all the automated decision resulting from the data processing that contains risks for the user. The current international legal framework encompasses such risks by guaranteeing privacy, data protection, personality rights …

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SymposiumThe GDPR as a global standard-setter for data protection

The internet on its way back to a future of human dignity?

One year EU General Data Protection Regulation

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come a long way since it was first tabled as proposal by the European Commission on 25 January 2012. Probably, it will be remembered as the biggest achievement of the outgoing Juncker Commission. Despite the fact that Europe plays a second-tier role when it comes to the development and production of data-driven technology and services, research shows that of 132 countries which have …

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Current Developments

Filtering fundamental rights

The European Union’s balancing of intellectual property and the freedom to receive information

The legislation process of the “Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market” has been accompanied by many unusual events, such as a – later removed – communication by the Commission containing insults of the opponents of the reform; a video published by the social media account of the Parliament defending the draft (before an actual vote by the parliament and created by one of the firmest lobbyist groups for the …

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Current Developments

Alea iacta est?

Post-Achmea investment arbitration in light of recent declarations by EU-member states

Almost a year has passed since the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered its ground-breaking judgment– Achmea C-284/16 – concerning the incompatibility of EU law and a Dutch-Slovakian bilateral investment treaty (an intra-EU BIT) (for a discussion see here). While there have been divergent views on the potential scope of Achmea (here restrictively, here more broadly), arbitral tribunals have not yet upheld a jurisdictional challenge by respondent states based …

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Current Developments

An investment arbitration avalanche after a No-Deal Brexit?

How investors could sue the UK for damages in case Britain leaves the EU without a deal

On Tuesday, January 15th, an overwhelming majority in the British House of Commons rejected the Brexit deal, i.e. the Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. With an unsuccessful confidence vote just one day later, the UK’s future in the EU is now more uncertain than ever. And the Brexit clock continues to tick as the UK is still supposed to leave the European Union 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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