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  • Author: Alejandro Chehtman
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Drones constitute an incremental advance in weapons systems. They are able to significantly reduce overall, as well as collateral, damage. These features seem to have important implications for the permissibility of resorting to military force. In short, drones would seem to expand the right to resort to military force compared to alternative weapons systems by making resorting to force proportionate in a wider set of circumstances. This line of reasoning has significant relevance in many contemporary conflicts. This article challenges this conclusion. It argues that resorting to military force through drones in contemporary asymmetrical conflicts would usually be disproportionate. The reason for this is twofold. First, under conditions of radical asymmetry, drones may not be discriminatory enough, and, thereby, collateral damage would still be disproportionate. Second, their perceived advantages in terms of greater discrimination are counteracted by the lesser chance of success in achieving the just cause for war. As a result, resorting to military force through drones in contemporary asymmetrical conflicts would generally be disproportionate not because of the harm they would expectedly cause but, rather, because of the limited harm they are ultimately able to prevent. On the basis of normative argument and empirical data, this article ultimately shows that we need to revise our understanding of proportionality not only at the level of moral argument but also in international law.
  • Topic: International Law, War, Military Affairs, Weapons , Drones
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Europe
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • 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: Mónica García-Salmones Rovira
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The article examines the substance and form of 20th century positivist international law; in particular the way in which each determines the other. The text describes the turn to interests in international law, which evolved slowly in scope and depth. By examining Lassa Oppenheim's focus on 'common interests' that united states and Hans Kelsen's focus on the 'struggle of interests' that constituted politics, the article studies two phenomena produced by the foundational role taken by interests during the 20th century. First, this role contributed to putting an end to the moral discussion about the treatment of native populations. Secondly, it curbed debate about a common political project for a global order, thus creating conformity characterized by abuse of power – all in the name of the neutrality of positivist law. This article suggests that the work of these two leading theoreticians in the field has contributed to the shaping of the legal theory of mainstream positivist international law, and seeks to foreground discussions about the different theories on the role of law in politics. In this manner it aims to help reconceptualize law in such a way as to bring about a situation in which discussions of a common political project for the international arena are more central.
  • Topic: International Law, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Matthias Goldmann
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: According to mainstream functionalist theories of international law and relations, international organizations are vehicles of states, tied to their masters by meticulous legal instructions. As Jan Klabbers recently pointed out in this journal,1 functionalism was based on the idea of establishing peace by channelling international relations into the purportedly technical, a-political realm of international organizations. Research of the last couple of decades has profoundly rebutted the assumption that international organizations are a-political. They have been discovered, among others, to serve as platforms for the formation of epistemic communities, as agorae for political deliberation and contestation or to use their bureaucratic potential and the flexibility of their mandates to establish a degree of independence from their principals. The book by Tana Johnson, professor of political science at Duke University, adds another important perspective that has not been explored so far. She turns our attention to the fact that institutional design might matter for the international organization’s independence from member states. As chief witness for her thesis, she summons the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Originally a brainchild of the US government, it is today a fairly independent institution fallen from grace with its master. Johnson argues that it owes its independence to the influence of international bureaucracies – that is, staff of other international organizations, upon the process that led to its establishment. The thesis puts the spotlight on the fact that a majority of new international organizations that saw the light of the day during the last decades was fostered by pre-existing international organizations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, International Law, International Organization, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Peter H. Sand
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The tale of the Chagos Archipelago (British Indian Ocean Territory, BIOT) raises a wide spectrum of transnational legal questions, all across the fields of human rights, environment and disarmament. Last-born of the Empire’s colonies, the BIOT was established – and systematically depopulated – for the sole purpose of accommodating a strategic US military base during the Cold War years in 1965–1966. The territory has since generated extensive litigation in the national courts of the United Kingdom (UK) and the USA as well as proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights and an arbitration under Annex VII of the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Stephen Allen, senior lecturer at the University of London’s Queen Mary College, has long followed and commented on legal developments in the Chagos cases as an observer. The focus of his attention remains the plight of the native Chagossians, a small Kreol-speaking people of African and Malgasy origin, whose exile (mainly to Mauritius, the Seychelles and the UK) has lasted for more than 40 years.
  • Topic: Environment, Human Rights, Imperialism, International Law, History, Courts, Disarmament, Displacement
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States, Europe, Chagos Islands
  • Author: Yishai Beer
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: The exercise of brute force by militaries, though common, reflects professional incompetency. A well-trained military has an inherent interest in enhancing its operational effectiveness and constraining unnecessary brutality. The law of armed conflict, however, generally ignores the constraining effect of the necessity principle, originally intended to allow only the minimally necessary use of force on the battlefield. Consequently, the prevailing law places the burden of restricting the exercise of brute military force upon humanitarian considerations (and the specific norms derived from them). Humanity alone, however, cannot deliver the goods and substantially reduce war’s hazards. This article challenges the current dichotomy between the two pillars – mistakenly assumed to be polar opposites – of the law of armed conflict: necessity and humanity. It calls for the transformation of the military’s self-imposed professional constraining standards into a revised legal standard of necessity. Though the necessity principle justifies the mere use of lethal force, it should not only facilitate wielding the military sword but also function simultaneously as a shield, protecting combatants and non-combatants alike from excessive brutality. The suggested transformation would bind and restrain the prospective exercisers of excessive force, political and military alike, and restrict the potential damage that might be caused both intentionally (to combatants) and collaterally (to non-combatants). The combined effect of the current changes in war’s pattern and the law of armed conflict, in the military and social thinking of recent decades, and the new strategies available due to the development of new military technologies have all created a new war environment – one that may be ready to leverage the constraining potential of military professionalism into a binding legal standard and norms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Law, Treaties and Agreements, War
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe
  • Author: Andrew Williams
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • 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: Congyan Cai
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Great Powers (GPs) have always been prominent in international relations. Their rise and fall often lead to structural transformations of international relations. In the past decade, the world has witnessed the rise of some New GPs (NGPs), which primarily consist of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS). While the effect of the supremacy of the United States, an Old GP (OGPs), on international law has been examined extensively since 2000, international lawyers have hardly discussed how the rise of NGPs may shape and reshape international law. This article endeavours to examine the implications for such rise that stem from the rise of NGPs. In particular, as an 'insider' from an NGP, the author reviews the latest development in China's international legal policy and practice.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Law
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Rein Müllerson
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • 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: Günther Auth
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: European Journal of International Law
  • Abstract: Global governance has been the buzzword for many internationalists for quite some time now, and the United Nations has been one of the primordial focal points in controversies about global order. This prominence of the UN has been especially remarkable in the context of deliberations about the legality and legitimacy of military force. For, despite the growing importance of the US as the world's most capable superpower, internationalists have not been muted by voices stressing the impossibility of successfully grappling with power-based interests and high-political considerations of predominant states through international law and organization. The emergence of a unipolar moment, a constellation supposedly characterized by a high concentration of military capabilities and widespread scepticism as regards the fruitfulness of multilateralism in the US has rather enticed many commentators to ponder all the more seriously the potential role of multilateral institutions, such as the UN – as a mediating structure vis-à-vis national interests, as a legitimacy-conferring agent the main function of which it is to rationalize the regime of the great powers, or as a potential counterweight to US-American unilateralism. The author of the book under review adds to this list as he endeavours to show that, after the end of the Cold War in 1990, the Secretariat of the UN repeatedly championed views that brought it into conflict with the US and other influential member states of the UN. Based on his own experience as a staff member in the Office of Legal Affairs since 1973, as the Director of the UN Secretariat's Office of Legal Counsel since 1988, and as an Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs of the United Nations from 1998 to 2005, he delivered The Sir Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures at Cambridge University in 2008, in which he made a strong point for an independent role for the UN Secretariat as regards questions concerning the legality and legitimacy of military force.
  • Political Geography: United States, United Nations