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  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: I think it is difficult to contest that the most important state player in world affairs over the last one hundred years – and consistently so over this period – has been the United States of America. World War I – into which, to borrow from Christopher Clark's justly celebrated book, we 'sleepwalked' – marks a useful starting point. It is not only the fairly important role America played in bringing WWI to an end that signals the beginning of this era, but also the no less important role it played in shaping the aftermath. Wilson's 14 points were considered at the time 'idealistic' by some of the yet-to-be 'Old Powers'. But by dismantling the Ottoman Empire through the principle of self-determination (not at that time a universal legally binding norm) it was an early swallow to the demise, a mere generation later, of all other colonial empires and the truly decisive reshaping of the balance of power in the post-WWII world. The US played an equally cardinal role in ideating and realizing the United Nations Organization and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – two lynchpins of our current world order.
  • Topic: Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Gaza
  • Author: Andrew Williams
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The orthodox view of the ECHR and its Court as regime in the context of both the EU and UK has been that it has considerable value albeit with systemic flaws. The purpose of this article is to challenge this orthodoxy. Four inter-related submissions are made: that the ECHR has failed human rights conceptually (1); 'good' or lauded decisions of the ECtHR cannot remedy or sufficiently counter-balance this conceptual failure (2); 'bad' decisions further expose and exacerbate the failure (3); the procedural problems of the ECHR regime may contribute to the underlying failure of concept but their resolution cannot solve it (4). These submissions are to provoke a more intense assessment of value and how such value could be enhanced. It may be too late to see any influence on the accession process but this does not reduce the relevance of the critique for the future of human rights in both the EU and the UK. Ultimately an approach to the ECHR system needs to determine whether it continues to be lauded or its influence resisted (thus seeking reform or replacement - the alternative candidates being the EU Charter and/or a national Bill of Rights) and retained only as an iconic scheme of moral importance.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Rein Müllerson
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Although the sub-title of the book indicates that the authors are not going to deal with all the legal issues arising in the context of a 'privatization' of warfare, the book, and not only the first chapter by Eugenio Cusumano on the policy prospects of regulating private military and security companies (PMSCs), throws its net wider than the title suggests. And rightly so. The privatization of warfare is a consequence and an element of the post-Cold War triumph of capitalism, and especially its neo-liberal advocates' tendency to privatize and deregulate all and everything. It is not by chance that PMSCs have mushroomed in the heartland of neoliberalism – the USA – faithfully followed by its Anglo-Saxon brethren on this side of the Atlantic. As the book specifies, in 2009 there were approximately 119,706 Department of Defense contractors in Iraq, compared with about 134,571 uniformed personnel. The authors accept the privatization of various functions of the state, including its 'monopoly of violence', to be almost inevitable. Nevertheless, they call for stronger and tighter regulation of the status and functions of PMSCs and control over their activities. They also show that though often new norms may be needed, in many cases existing laws, and their stricter and sometimes more creative application, may serve the purpose. The book concludes that 'many private military and security companies are operating in a “gray zone”, which is not defined at all, or at the very least not clearly defined, by international legal norms'.
  • Topic: Human Rights, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Tullio Treves
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Attacks against ships off the coast of Somalia have brought piracy to the forefront of international attention, including that of the Security Council. SC Resolution 1816 of 2008 and others broaden the scope of the existing narrow international law rules on piracy, especially authorizing certain states to enter the Somali territorial waters in a manner consistent with action permitted on the high seas. SC resolutions are framed very cautiously and, in particular, note that they 'shall not be considered as establishing customary law'. They are adopted on the basis of the Somali Transitional Government's (TFG) authorization. Although such authorization seems unnecessary for resolutions adopted under Chapter VII, there are various reasons for this, among which to avoid discussions concerning the width of the Somali territorial sea. Seizing states are reluctant to exercise the powers on captured pirates granted by UNCLOS and SC resolutions. Their main concern is the human rights of the captured individuals. Agreements with Kenya by the USA, the UK, and the EC seek to ensure respect for the human rights of these individuals surrendered to Kenya for prosecution. Action against pirates in many cases involves the use of force. Practice shows that the navies involved limit such use to self-defence. Use of force against pirates off the coast of Somalia seems authorized as an exception to the exclusive rights of the flag state, with the limitation that it be reasonable and necessary and that the human rights of the persons involved are safeguarded.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Kenya, United States, United Kingdom, Somalia
  • Author: Philip Alston, Jason Morgan-Foster, William Abresch
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Since 2003, as part of its 'war on terror', the United States has taken the position that the UN Commission on Human Rights and its successor, the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the system of 'special procedures' reporting to both bodies, all lack the competence to examine abuses committed in the context of armed conflicts. The article examines the arguments put forward by the US in the specific context of the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The authors conclude that the consistent practice of the human rights organs for almost 25 years, often supported and until 2003 never opposed by the US, runs counter to the current US position. Acceptance of the US position would not only undermine efforts to hold the US accountable but would also have a major impact on the international system of accountability as a whole.
  • Topic: Human Rights, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Nigel D. White, Sorcha MacLeod
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The European Union has developed its security competence since 1992, thus putting pressure on its Member States to provide troops for the increasing number of EU peace operations being deployed to different areas of the globe. But with national militaries being rationalized and contracted the EU will inevitably follow the lead of the US, the UK, and the UN and start to use Private Military Contractors to undertake some of the functions of peace operations. This article explores the consequences of this trend from the perspective of the accountability and responsibility of both the corporation and the institution when the employees of PMCs commit violations of human rights law and, if applicable, international humanitarian law.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Noah Benjamin Novogrodsky
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: European Journal of International Law
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: This article assesses the implications of the Canadian case of Bouzari v. Islamic Republic of Iran in which sovereign immunity barred recovery against a foreign state for acts of torture. Part 2 describes the case and the courts' rejection of arguments centred on the hierarchy of jus cogens norms, implied waiver and common law principles. Part 3 evaluates parallel developments in the United States and demonstrates the commonalities and differences associated with efforts to overcome immunity in the two countries. Part 4 examines potential amendments to Canada's State Immunity Act with a view to balancing considerations of comity with a just and workable means of holding states accountable for grave human rights abuses.
  • Topic: Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Canada