Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Call for proposals: New International Law series

Call for Proposals

The University of Wales Press has launched a new series, International Law. 

The series aim is to capture dynamic and cutting-edge research in the burgeoning field of international law, with a strong focus on legal theory in international law. Proposals are welcome from any broadly defined sub-field of international law

This series will give internationally-based emerging scholars and published authors the opportunity to disseminate their research with a publisher which has strong links with international markets through its global distribution and marketing network.

International Law is currently soliciting proposals for monographs and edited volumes.

Professor Diane Marie Amann, Associate Dean for International Programs & Strategic Initiatives and Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law, University of Georgia School of Law; and Dr Yvonne McDermott, Senior Lecturer in Law, Co-Director of Bangor Centre for International Law and Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

Professor Simon Chesterman, Dean, Faculty of Law, National
University of Singapore
Professor Fiona de Londras, Chair in Global Legal Studies, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham
Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy and Society, University of Minnesota Law School and Professor of Law, Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster
Professor Volker Roeben, Professor of International Law, Swansea University
Professor Carsten Stahn, Professor of International Criminal Law and Global Justice and Programme Director of the Grotius Centre for International Studies, Leiden University
Professor Ryszard Piotrowicz, Professor of Law, Aberystwyth University

To discuss ideas for contributing to this exciting new series, please contact the Series Editors, or Sarah Lewis, Head of Commissioning at the University of Wales Press:

Professor Diane Marie Amann:
Dr Yvonne McDermott: 
Sarah Lewis:

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Funded PhD opportunity: Human rights and climate change

The University of Liverpool invites applications for a funded Doctoral Research scholarship at Liverpool Law School, supervised by our colleague, Dr. Michelle Farrell. The successful applicant will conduct research on the role of international human rights law in the response to climate change. For more details, follow this link

Friday, 7 August 2015

The First Statute of an International Criminal Court?

What may very well be the first draft statute of an international criminal court was submitted by the United Kingdom to the Commission on Responsibilities at the Paris Peace Conference, in February 1919. In its final report, the Commission proposed that an international court be established, but the Americans dissented and subsequently the political leaders at the Conference rejected the idea. Instead - this is set out in articles 228 to 230 - the plan was for trials by national jurisdictions or, if victims were associated with alleged perpetrators in more than one State, by joint military tribunals.
Although the Commission proposed establishing a tribunal, it did not submit a detailed statute or scheme for its establishment and operation. The United Kingdom proposal is the only detailed attempt to outline the procedure and other features of the international court. It may well be the first such proposal within an international lawmaking context. This statute is also of interest to human rights law because it may also be the first to set out the components of a fair trial.
Of note, for example, is the recogntion of the right to counsel and to cross-examination of witnesses, but also the possibility of a trial in absentia. A bare majority of judges is required for a conviction but a death sentence can only be imposed with a two-thirds majority of the judges.

Monday, 27 July 2015

JICJ symposium: Proof in International Criminal Trials

A symposium in the Journal of International Criminal Justice, which I co-edited with John D. Jackson, has just been released. The topic is 'Proof in International Criminal Trials' and it features contributions from Paul Roberts, John Jackson and Yassin Brunger, Michael Ramsden and Cecilia Chung, Triestino Mariniello, Mark Klamberg, and myself. Here is a brief summary of the symposium, taken from the foreword: 

"This symposium focuses on these issues of proof as they pertain to international criminal trials. Broadly speaking, there are two main themes to the symposium. The first is that there is a rich body of evidence scholarship, which international criminal law and procedure could benefit from. Thus, papers in the symposium introduce theories of evidence and proof from the domestic law context and discuss their relevance to international criminal justice. The second theme of this symposium focuses on some of the unique challenges faced by international courts and tribunals when dealing with fact-finding and the different standards of proof applicable at different stages of proceedings. Papers note, inter alia, the issues surrounding the practice of witness proofing, the standards of proof imposed by Pre-Trial Chambers in the International Criminal Court (ICC) when issuing an arrest warrant or confirming the charges, and the tribunals’ approach to the evaluation of evidence. Together these two themes highlight the need for scholarship on proof and evidence in the international courts and tribunals to draw upon domestic experience while recognizing that the international context poses its own particular challenges."

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Justice Aimé Muyoboke Karimunda

Aimé Muyoboke Karimunda, who graduated with a PhD from the Irish Centre for Human Rights in 2014, was sworn in last week as a member of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Rwanda. Justice Karimunda's thesis, entitled The Death Penalty in Africa, The Path Towards Abolition, was published last year by Ashgate. Congratulations to this very distinguished jurist. He will continue to lecture at the University of Rwanda.
From left, Justice Karimunda, daughter Isange Amelia, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Gaju Jeanne and son Sangwa Ange.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Otto Triffterer 1931-2015

Roger Clark, Otto Triffterer, Ben Ferencz and myself, in Salzburg

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Nebraska Abolishes the Death Penalty

Nebraska has voted to abolish capital punishment. The repeal had been adopted a few weeks ago but it was vetoed by the Governor. With a vote of 30 senators, the Governor's veto was overriden, and that is what happened yesterday. Nebraska is a conservative state, not a liberal one. At least not until now!
Moves by American states towards abolition of the death penalty are very important because they condition the interpretation of article 8 of the Bill of Rights. The Supreme Court will look to the practice of states as evidence of 'evolving standards of decency', which is the benchmark for applying the notion of cruel and unusual punishment.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Sheri Rosenberg

Sheri Rosenberg passed away a few days ago. Sheri was a wonderful scholar and a determined activist who was deeply engaged in the prevention of genocide and the promotion of the responsibility to protect, equality and non-discrimination. She was the director of the Human Rights and Genocide Clinic and Programme in Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Cardozo School of Law, in New York City.  Over the years, Sheri worked in the areas of civil rights and international human rights with a specific focus on issues of discrimination, equality, and genocide.
For several years, Sheri was based in Bosnia and Herzegovina where she was associated with the Human Rights Chamber. Subsequently, she was involved in important international litigation, including the Finci and Sejdic case at the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. She addressed the Grand Chamber in the hearing. The judgment in favour of the applicants is a landmark in the law of non-discrimination under the European Convention. She deserves much credit for taking the case and for her diligent and persistent work to see it through to a successful judgment.
There is a videoclip of Sheri speaking at a conference on transitional justice held at Cardozo here, starting at about minute 49.
Sheri was to have been presented with the Outstanding Educator Award at the Spirit of Anne Frank Awards Gala on June 15 in New York City. The award ‘recognizes the outstanding leadership and dedication of educators who inspire their students, and who teach about the dangers of intolerance and prejudice and urge those around them into action’. Sheri was also named a 2105 Peace Ambassador by the Centre for Peacebuilding and was to have participated in International Peace Week in Bosnia and Herzegovina in September 2015.
Sheri and I worked together on many occasions over the years, and she hosted me on two stays at Cardozo as a visiting professor. We spent time together in March of this year at a conference on international justice held by Simon Fraser University. She seemed well at the time, but the disease that finally took her life returned very suddenly.
It is a terrible personal loss, and the thoughts of Penelope and myself are with Greg and the children as they cope with this. But Sheri’s passing is also a huge loss for the promotion of international human rights, justice and equality. She had many, many admirers, and we are all mourning her passing.

Friday, 22 May 2015

The "Mandela Rules"

Yesterday, the Committee of the Whole of the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, meeting in Vienna, adopted the updated Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Formal adoption by the plenary should take place today. Then, the instrument goes to the General Assembly in the autumn.
The Commission has decided to call them the 'Mandela Rules'.
The Standard Minimum Rules were originally adopted in 1955. They have been hugely influential as an international standard and have often been cited by international courts and treaty bodies. For example, in the recent Vintner v. UK decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, concerning life imprisonment, we find the Rules cited as evidence of the 'commitment to the rehabilitation of life sentence prisoners and to the prospect of their eventual release ... found in international law'.
The updated rules contain revised or new provisions on a range of issues including solitary confinement, medical care, documentation of detention and matters relating to the prevention of torture.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Research studentships at Middlesex University

Middlesex University has advertised a call for applications for research studentships. These are very attractive studentships. I hope that candidates interested in the fields of human rights, international criminal law and, more generally, international law will apply. Deadline is 5 June 2015. All of the information is available on the University website.

Secretary-General's Report on the Status of the Death Penalty

Every five years, the Secretary-General of the United Nations issues a report on the status of capital punishment. The latest report, which will be presented later this week to the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, was issued a few days ago. The report confirms the continuation of a very marked trend towards abolition and restriction of the use of capital punishment in most countries. Moreover, countries that retain the death penalty are, with rare exceptions, significantly reducing the numbers of persons executed and the crimes for which it may be imposed. Nevertheless, where capital punishment remains in force, there are serious problems with regard to international norms and standards, notably in the limitation of the death penalty to the most serious crimes, the exclusion of juvenile offenders from its scope and guarantees of a fair trial

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Venice Academy of Human Rights

The Venice Academy of Human Rights will run from 6-15 July this year. The theme of this year's programme is (Dis)Integration through Human Rights: Citizens, Courts, Communities. Further information can be found here

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The International Criminal Court Summer School 2015: 15-19 June 2015, NUI Galway, Ireland

The ICC Summer School at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premier summer school on the International Criminal Court, the world’s permanent institution for the trial of international crimes. This year’s ICC Summer School will take place from 15-19 June 2015 at NUI Galway, Ireland. The Summer School comprises a series of intensive and interactive lectures over five days given by leading academics and legal professionals working at the International Criminal Court. Participants are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its structures, operations, and applicable law. Specific topics covered include international crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity & aggression), jurisdiction, modes of liability, the role of victims and prosecutorial discretion. This year’s Summer School will include a special session on Palestine and the International Criminal Court, which will involve the participation of the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek. The Summer School is suited to postgraduate students, legal professionals, journalists and staff of civil society or intergovernmental organisations.

The 2015 ICC Summer School faculty includes:

Professor William Schabas – Middlesex University & Irish Centre for Human Rights
Professor Kevin Jon Heller – School of Oriental and African Studies, London
Dr. Fabricio Guariglia – Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court
Dr. Mohamed M. El Zeidy – Pre-Trial Chamber II at the International Criminal Court
Dr. Rod Rastan – Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court
Professor Ray Murphy – Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway
Professor Don Ferencz, Visiting Professor, School of Law, Middlesex University; Research Associate, Oxford University Faculty of Law Centre for Criminology
Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei Atua – University of Ghana and University of Lincoln
Dr. Michael Kearney – School of Law, Sussex University
Dr. Noelle Higgins – Senior Lecturer, Law Department Maynooth University
Ms. Salma Karmi-Ayyoub – Barrister, London
Dr. Nadia Bernaz – School of Law, Middlesex University
Mr. John McManus – Canadian Department of Justice
Professor Megan A. Fairlie – Florida International University
Dr. Mohamed Badar – Northumbria University, United Kingdom
Dr. Shane Darcy – Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway

The deadline for availing of the early bird registration fee of €400 has been extended until 20 April 2015, with the fee for registrations after that date being €450. The closing date for registrations is 30 May 2015. The registration fee includes all course materials, all lunches and refreshments, a social activity and a closing dinner. The registration fee also includes a complimentary copy of: William A. Schabas, Introduction to the International Criminal Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 4th ed.).

To register and for more information, please visit our website at:

Should you have any queries, please email:

Sunday, 12 April 2015

On the Road towards an EU Criminal Justice System: Problems, Achievements and Prospects

Dr Andrea Ryan, of the University of Limerick, has organised a fascinating conference on EU Criminal Justice, which will take place on 21 and 22 May. The full programme and further information is available here. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Women, Peace and Security (8 - 19 June 2015)
Challenges and Achievements
In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325, the first in a series of six resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, which not only recognizes the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women but also stresses the crucial importance of including women in all phases of peace processes to ensure sustainable peace and security. Experience has shown that the challenges to implementing these resolutions remain significant. A great deal remains to be done in the areas of gender justice, reflecting on masculinities, peace-building, conflict transformation and the promotion of human rights. This course provides a forum for learning and exchange. It will offer insights to the Women, Peace and Security agenda and a unique opportunity to network with professionals from different regions, countries and contexts. Confirmed faculty includes Prof. Cees Flinterman (member UN Human Rights Committee/former CEDAW member), Prof. Rikki Holtmaat (Leiden University), Prof. William Schabas (Leiden University) and Prof. Dubravka Zarkov (International Institute for Social Studies). Professionals and advanced students with a clear interest in the theme are invited to apply.
International Criminal Law (22 June - 3 July 2015)
From Theory to Practice
This summer school offers a unique opportunity to gain expertise in international criminal law in the International City of Peace and Justice in just two weeks time. The course, which welcomes around 50 participants from all over the world, combines theory with practice: academics from Leiden University and experts from the international courts and tribunals lecture on topics as genocide, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, war crimes and modes of liability, while students develop their skills through an inter-active cross-examination session with senior trial lawyers from the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and a challenging moot court exercise. Confirmed faculty includes Prof. Niels Blokker, (Leiden University), Prof. William Schabas (Leiden University), Dr. Philipp Ambach (ICC), Dr. Mohamed M. El Zeidy (ICC), Hirad Abtahi (ICC), Gilbert Bitti (ICC), Alexis Demirdjian (ICTY), Geoff Roberts (STL), Coleen Rohan (International Criminal Law Bureau) and Niamh Hayes (Institute for International Criminal Investigations). Young professionals and (law) students with a clear interest in the topic are invited to apply.
International Children’s Rights (6 - 10 July 2015)
Frontiers of Children’s Rights
Frontiers of Children’s Rights takes a close look at contemporary children's rights issues from a legal perspective, accompanied by reflections from other academic disciplines, legal systems, local perceptions and realities. Leading academic and professional experts in the field of children's rights, international law and other relevant disciplines offer inspiring and interactive lectures, seminars and excursions in and around the historical university town of Leiden. The sessions will focus on children’s rights and juvenile justice, children’s rights and alternative care, children’s rights and global issues, children’s rights and international criminal law, children’s rights and the virtual world and monitoring children’s rights. Confirmed faculty includes Prof. Ton Liefaard (UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights at Leiden University), Prof. Julia Sloth-Nielsen (Professor of Children’s Rights in the Developing World at  Leiden University), Prof. Jaap Doek (Former Chair UN Committee on the Rights of the Child), Prof. Ursula Kilkelly (University College Cork), Ms. Tulika Bansal (Danish Institute for Human Rights) and Dr. Christian Salazar (UNICEF).
Children’s Rights and Business (6 - 9 July 2015)
Children are Everyone’s Business
Business has enormous power to improve children’s lives through the way in which they operate facilities, develop and market products, provide services, and exert influence on economic and social development. Conversely, business has the power to disregard or even imperil the interests of children. This course, offered in close cooperation with UNICEF, provides a comprehensive overview of the framework that has been developed to guide business’ interactions with children, including the standards and tools that are available to companies and governments.  The sessions will cover The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a framework for a focus on children, Children’s Rights and Business Principles, company management processes and practices for advancing children’s rights, the governmental responsibility to protect children’s rights in the context of business activities, the role of civil society and international organizations in promoting and protecting children’s rights in the context of business activities and child rights in the context of the travel and tourism as well as the extractives industries. Company representatives, staff of international organizations, government employees and graduate students with a demonstrated interest in this topic are invited to apply. 
Human Rights and Transitional Justice (13 - 17 July 2015)
Justice , Reparations and Development
The relationship between human rights, transitional  justice and development requires fresh attention. The field of transitional justice has evolved in the past decade to include social, economic, cultural and legal dimensions, and to cover larger objectives such as rule of law and development. While a more holistic view on transitions might be welcome, the different fields may conflict with each other.  Justice actors are not development agents, nor are development actors necessarily best agents for accountability, truth or reparations. Making development assistance contingent on rule of law reform may be counterproductive, since it may create dependencies or discrepancies in relation to needs of protection or other more pressing socio-economic needs (health, education, access to resources etc.). Conversely, promoting justice through instruments of development may have significant downsides. As evidenced in the transitional justice context, awarding reparation through development programmes may leave victims with a feeling that their suffering is not sufficiently recognized. More work is required to identify how the mutual synergies between these fields may be used most effectively to the benefit of all of them. This is the central inquiry of this Summer School. It explores linkages, as well as tensions between justice processes, reparations and development. Confirmed faculty includes Djordje Djordjevic (UNDP), Roger Duthie (ICTJ), Paul Seils (ICTJ), Prof. William Schabas (Leiden University) and Marieke Wierda (Transitional Justice Advisor UNSMIL). Professionals and advanced students with a background in law or human rights are invited to apply.
Advocacy and Litigation Training Course (13 - 17 July 2015)
Advocacy and Litigation before International Courts & Tribunals 
During this intensive course, run by two highly experienced international criminal defence lawyers, participants will be engaged in role play and practical exercises and improve their advocacy and litigation skills. The training will focus on the skills of case theory, opening statements, direct examination (examination-in-chief), cross-examination (previous inconsistent statements), re-examination, closing statements and legal submissions skills. The course will be concluded with a mock trial at the end of the week, in which participants can apply their acquired knowledge and skills. Apart from the theory and the practical exercises, the course includes visits to the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. A special guest lecture will be given by a leading Defence Counsel at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Professionals as well as graduate law students who wish to develop and improve their advocacy skills are invited to register.
More information and registration:

Monday, 9 March 2015

Two new PhDs in international criminal law

From left: Irini Katsirea (chair), Anthony Cullen, myself, Izevbuwa Kehinde and Ray Murphy.

From left: David Keane (chair), Elvira Dominguez, Payam Akhavan (on screen), Tatiana Batchvarova, myself and Anthony Cullen.
Two Middlesex students successfully defended their doctoral theses today. Both were in the area of international criminal law. This morning, Izevbuwa Kehinde presented her thesis on the impact of international criminal courts and tribunals in the Commonwealth. Prof. Ray Murphy of the National University of Ireland Galway was the external examiner and Dr Anthony Cullen was the internal examiner. The supervisors were myself and Dr Nadia Bernaz. In the afternoon, Tatiana Batchvarova defended her thesis on the standing of victims in the procedural design of the International Criminal Court. Prof. Payam Akhavan of McGill University was the external examiner and Dr Elvira Dominguez was the international examiner. The supervisors were myself and Dr Anthony Cullen. Congratulations to Izevbuwa and Tatiana.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Moratorium on death penalty in Pennsylvania

The Governor of Pennsylvania has declared a moratorium on capital punishment in the state. Governor Wolf said: 'This moratorium is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row, all of whom have been convicted of committing heinous crimes. This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 150 people have been exonerated from death row nationwide, including six men in Pennsylvania.'
Slowly but surely the death penalty is in decline in the United States. This trend will provide the legal basis for the Supreme Court to declare that capital punishment is incompatible with 'evolving standards of decency' enshrined in the 8th amendment.
Thanks to Brian Farrell.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Dr Yingxi Bi

Yingxi Bi successfully defended her doctoral thesis this morning at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway. The title was 'Drug Control Policies and Human Rights'. The examiners were Prof. Elies van Sleidregt, dean of the law school of the Free University of Amsterdam, and Dr Shane Darcy. From left: Shane, Elies, Yingxi and myself. Congratulations, Dr Bi! And happy new year!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Georgia and the Issues of "Legal Transplants"

In December of last year, the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights released a fascinating report on its trial monitoring activities in Georgia. In 2009, following significant input from USAID and other international donors, Georgia adopted an amended Code of Criminal Procedure, described by the US Embassy in Georgia as introducing 'a full adversarial system to criminal courts.'

The OSCE's report reveals inadequate judicial intervention on key issues of case management - in one case, the prosecution proposed that it would call 4,000 witnesses, and the pre-trial judge granted this request, refusing 'to assess the relevance and necessity of the witnesses, or discuss the defendants’ right to a timely hearing'. The imposition of a party-led approach to replace Georgia's old inquisitorial system appears to have led to something of a non-interventionist judicial approach in the trials observed, where on a number of occasions, the prosecution was permitted to call defendants as witnesses for the prosecution, without those defendants being told by the judges of their right to remain silent. 

These elements, combined with a reluctance to halt inappropriate or irrelevant questioning of witnesses, permitting discussion of the accused's criminal record during trial, and a general passivity in courtroom management matters, present something of a caricatured view of the adversarial legal system. Georgia's experience illustrates some of the difficulties that can be faced when elements of one legal system are transplanted to another. In the words of Professor Damaška, 'In their natural habitat, each set of practices is part of a larger procedural whole, with its own internal coherence.... Creating a successful mixture is not like shopping in a boutique of detachable procedural forms, in which one is free to purchase some and reject others.'

Corporate liability for contempt at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon: the saga continues

I have blogged previously on decisions (see here and here) regarding the STL's evolving jurisprudence on the liability of corporations for offences against the administration of justice. As will be recalled, on 2 October last year, the Appeals Panel of the STL overturned Contempt Judge Lettieri's finding that the Tribunal could not have jurisdiction over legal persons, and affirmed the case against the New TV news corporation. A little over a month later, Judge Lettieri once again ruled that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction over legal persons, this time in relation to the Al-Akhbar Beirut newspaper. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Appeals Panel also overturned this finding in its most recent (and presumably, final) decision on the matter. 

The decision is, to my mind, the most coherent on the issue of jurisdiction over corporations for contempt offences. In line with an argument I made in my last blog post on this matter, it finds the strongest justification for such jurisdiction in the fact that Lebanese law, which the STL applies, provides for jurisdiction over corporations. In the words of the Appeals Panel (para 59), 'It would be an oddity for a Lebanese company to face criminal sanction in Lebanon for interfering with the administration of justice with respect to cases before Lebanese Courts and at the same time enjoy impunity for similar acts before an internationalised Tribunal guided by Lebanese law in carrying out its judicial work.' This is much more convincing than earlier decisions that referred to the vague principle of ending impunity or strained textual analyses of the Statute and Rules in finding that such jurisdiction over legal persons existed.

The reference to the tribunal as being 'internationalised', as opposed to the more frequent line of it being a 'tribunal of international character', is noteworthy. Indeed, a factsheet on the STL's website conflates the concepts of 'international' and 'hybrid or internationalised' tribunals by calling the STL both at different parts of the document. So, which is it? Following Schabas's suggestion in Unimaginable Atrocities, I think the wisest approach to distinguishing between 'international' and 'hybrid' tribunals is not to look at the judicial composition or the crimes prosecuted, but rather to ask whether the tribunal could be closed down by means of passing a domestic law. This is not the case for the STL, nor was it for the SCSL, so they are international tribunals. The ECCC, War Crimes Chambers in BiH and the SPSC, by contrast, were all founded by domestic legislation, and thus they are classified as 'internationalised' or 'hybrid' tribunals.

It is unfortunate that the decision did not directly tackle the issue of stare decisis, or whether lower chambers of the STL are bound by earlier appeals decisions. Instead, it referred rather vaguely to the principles of 'consistency, certainty and predictability' and underscored the similarities between this case and the New TV case. It found that it would have been 'preferable and important for judicial certainty' for the Contempt Judge to have followed the earlier Appeals Panel decision on that basis. In his November 2014 decision, Judge Lettieri had expressly dismissed the 'consistency' argument by referring to the fragmentation that would be caused by finding that one international criminal tribunal had jurisdiction over legal persons, where other tribunals do not have such jurisdiction. Rather than overturning the decision on such malleable principles as consistency, the Appeals Panel might have been better served by more explicitly following the approach taken by other tribunals, that existing jurisprudence should be departed from only where careful consideration has been given as to whether there are 'cogent reasons in the interests of justice' for such a departure. Ironically, the Appeals Panels decision leaves us without the 'certainty and predictability' it values in this respect. 

Thursday, 5 February 2015

URLs in footnotes - Don't!

Students often ask about putting a url in a footnote. For many years I have discouraged this practice. My view is that a url is not really a proper reference at all. Rather, it is an indication of a place where you may find a document. It is the electronic equivalent of putting, in the footnote, that the document can be found in the second floor of Barnes & Noble in the politics section or on the 43rd shelf of a particular library.
In any event, I have question the real use of such references. If I want to find a document, I am unlikely to keyboard in a long url. Rather, I am going to google it using a key word or two.
I find some support for my attitude in a recent article in the New Yorker ‘The Cobweb. Can the Internet be archived?’ by Jill Lepore (26 January issue, p. 34. It includes the following:

In providing evidence, legal scholars, lawyers, and judges often cite Web pages in their footnotes; they expect that evidence to remain where they found it as their proof, the way that evidence on paper – in court records and books and law journals – remains where they found it, in libraries and courthouses. But a 2013 survey of law- and policy-related publications found that, at the end of six years, nearly fifty per cent of the URLs cited in those publications no longer worked. According to a 2014 study conducted at Harvard Law School, ‘more than 70% of the URLs within the Harvard Law Review and other journals, and 50% of the URLs within United States Supreme Court opinions, do not link to the original cited information’…
The footnote, a landmark in the history of civilization, took centuries to invent and to spread. It has taken mere years to destroy. A footnote used to say, ‘Here is how I know this and where I found it’. A footnote that’s a link says, ‘Here is what I used to know and where I once found it, but chances are it’s not there anymore’. It doesn’t matter whether footnotes are your stock-in-trade. Everybody’s in a pinch. Citing a Web page as the source for something you know – using a URL as evidence – ubiquitous. Many people find themselves doing it three or four times before breakfast and five times more before lunch. What happens when you evidence vanishes by dinnertime?

Old-fashioned footnotes are the best, with proper citations to case law, treaties and secondary literature.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Letter of resignation

Here is my letter of resignation from the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza Conflict.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Call for papers: International Law and Time

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva (IHEID), International Law Department, is convening a conference entitled ‘International Law and Time’ to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 12–13 June 2015. A call for papers has been issued and the deadline for submission of abstracts is 15 February 2015. 
For details please visit the conference website or email

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Call for Papers: International Law and Domestic Law- Making Processes

Dr Evelyne Schmid has sent this call for papers for a conference to be held in the University of Basel, Law Faculty, on 4 September, which may be of interest to readers:

"The reality of international law ‘in action’ largely depends on domestic legislators implementing and shaping norms originating at the international level: Domestic parliaments and other law-making bodies undoubtedly play a central role in determining whether or not the promises of international law can be fulfilled.
The importance of domestic parliaments in making international law ‘work’ is clearly due to the decentralized nature of the international legal order. In most cases, international legal norms leave considerable discretion to the state and make only minimal requirements regarding implementation. In some fields, however, international norms start to become more statute-like, decreasing the margin for the states how to implement them. Some international norms explicitly oblige states to take legislative measures. Yet, it is very unusual that international law can rely on mechanisms that would ensure the uniform implementation of international norms within national jurisdictions. Given the complex interaction between the domestic and the international level in the field of law-making, it is warranted to consider how the interactions between the international and the domestic levels complement, contest or mutually influence each other. Recent research, e.g. that on international law in domestic courts, confirms this need.
We start from the premise that the complexities of interaction and mutual influencing between domestic parliaments and the international legal order is increasing, rather than decreasing. Therefore, the upcoming event of the Working Group of Young Scholars in Public International Law (Arbeitskreis junger Völkerrechtswissenschaftler*innen, AjV) wants to shed light on selected problems connected with the interaction of domestic law-making and international law.
Topics to explore include (but are not limited to):
  1. When do domestic legislators legislate because of international norms soft or hard?
  2. International law, domestic law-making processes and direct democratic institutions
  3. International law and sub-entities of federal states (e.g. international law in the law-
    making of cantons / Länder)
  4. Designing democracy: The ECHR and the organizational law of national parliaments
    and voting rules
  5. National parliaments as opposition in international law
  1. National parliaments as providers of legitimacy to international law
  2. Duties to protect (Schutzpflichten) and national law-making
  3. State responsibility and the legislative: e.g. the legislative branch in the preparatory
    works of the ILA Articles on State Responsibility or in international case-law such as
    before the ICJ or the ECtHR
  4. Domestic parliaments and the formation of customary international law
  5. The involvement and information of members of domestic legislatives prior to
    ratifications of international treaties
  6. International law and national law-making processes in transitional states / post-
    conflict societies
  7. Transnational legislative networks
  8. Methodological approaches on international law and domestic law-making
The conference/workshop will take place on 4 September 2015 at the University of Basel and is intended for young researchers (including PhD students and Post Docs). Apart from those working in international law, other legal researchers are explicitly invited to apply. In addition, those working in related disciplines (such as sociology, political science, history, etc.) are also welcome to apply.
Presentations can be held in English and German, although English is considered more conducive for international exchange. Participants are not required to submit papers and may present work in progress. However, those who do submit final papers shortly after the workshop will be considered for publication in a special issue of a Swiss online law journal (Jusletter). Such papers can range from short notes to full articles (1’500 to 10’000 words).
We invite you to send an abstract of max. 500 words by the 27th March 2015. Please address submissions and any queries to and When submitting an abstract, please also include the following information about yourself: your name, your affiliation, your function/job title and your address. Researchers who have completed a PhD should please indicate the month and year of completion. We will notify applicants by mid-May.
Travel expenses will be covered to at least a certain extent and child care will be available. Details will be communicated in the mail of acceptance.
Organizers: Dr. Evelyne Schmid / Dr. Tilmann Altwicker (both University of Basel)

P.S. Please note that there will also be an informal AjV-workshop in Hamburg from 25- 27th September 2015 organized by Anne Dienelt und Katrin Kohoutek. Interested doctoral students and post docs are welcome to submit abstracts to the open call until 31st May to More information will soon be available from