13 July, 2016

Permanent Court of Arbitration ~ South China Sea case

Dating from 1899, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is an inter-governmental organisation of 121 member States.

The PCA has delivered its award in the South China Sea case of Republic of the Phillipines v The People's Republic of China.

The Press Release (11 pages pdf) notes:

"This arbitration concerned  the role of historic rights and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, the status of certain maritime features and the maritime entitlements they are capable of generating, and the lawfulness of certain actions by China that were
alleged by the Philippines to violate the Convention

In light of limitations on compulsory dispute settlement under the Convention, the Tribunal has emphasized that it does not rule on any question of sovereignty over land territory and does not delimit any boundary between the Parties."

The actual award may be read here - 501 pages pdf. 

See also Hague Justice Portal

07 July, 2016

Iraq Inquiry report (6th July 2016)

The Iraq Inquiry report was issued today (6th July).  The report has an Executive Summary and 12 Volumes.  The Inquiry Chairman - Sir John Chilcot - made this statement immediately prior to the publication of the report.

The Inquiry did not express a view on whether military action was legal.  Sir John noted that this could only be resolved by a properly constituted and internationally recognised court but the inquiry did conclude that "the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory."

Here is a link to Volume 5 of the report where the legal advice is considered - Advice on the legal basis for military action, November 2002 to March 2003


Statement from the Office of Tony Blair - 6th July 2016

Blair's statement at press conference - 6th July 2016

Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons - 6th July 2016

Elizabeth Wilmshurst - The Guardian 7th July - We ignored the rule of law: the result was Iraq

24 April, 2016

House of Commons - Daesh and Genocide

It has taken a long to come but on 20th April the House of Commons resolved by 278 votes to zero that:

"That this House believes that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh; and calls on the Government to make an immediate referral to the UN Security Council with a view to conferring jurisdiction upon the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators can be brought to justice."

In February, the European Parliament passed a similar resolution.

The British government,

04 April, 2016

South Atlantic ~ UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf


The United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has concluded its 40th session.  The Commission is one of the international bodies established by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea - see United Nations - Oceans and Law of the Sea

The Commission adopted (without a vote) recommendations relating to a submission by Argentina concerning the limits of the continental shelf to the east of Argentina.  However, the Commission also noted that it was not in a position to consider and qualify those parts of the submission that were subject to dispute and those parts that were related to the continental shelf appurtenant to Antarctica (see CLCS/64, paras. 76 and 77 and CLCS/76 para. 57).

British sovereignty

24 March, 2016

International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia - conviction of Radovan Karadžić


Tribunal convicts Radovan Karadžić for crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today convicted Radovan Karadžić, former President of Republika Srpska (RS) and Supreme Commander of its armed forces, of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war committed by Serb forces during the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), from 1992 until 1995. He was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment.

Parties have the right to appeal the judgement.

Karadžić is entitled to credit for time spent in detention thus far. He has been in custody since 21 July 2008.

14 February, 2016

Vacancy at SCOTUS

Addition 17th March - Merrick Garland nominated and more about Mr Garland

15 March 2016 - White House Statement

The Supreme Court of the United States of America has a vacancy arising from the death, at the age of 79, of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

Article III of the US Constitution states that - "The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish."

The power to nominate candidates for the vacancy rests with the President of the USA and President Obama has announced that he will make a nomination.

Nomination is followed by the Senate holding confirmation hearings.  Examples of confirmation hearings held during the final year of a Presidency may be seen via the SCOTUS Blog.

A key feature of SCOTUS is

16 December, 2015

Bingham Centre November 2015 ~ International Justice and the Rule of Law

On 20th November 1945, the Nuremberg trials opened in Germany.  On 19th November, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law together with UCL's Centre on International Courts and Tribunals held an event on 'International Justice and The Rule of Law: The 70th Anniversary of Nuremberg'

See the Bingham Centre's News Release

The event provided an opportunity to hear leading experts and relatives of those participating in the original trial reflect on this important moment for the rule of law and international justice. The event offered a historical perspective on the legacy of the Tribunal and its influence on the development of international criminal law.

A keynote presentation was given by Lord Justice Fulford (Deputy Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales, and former judge International Criminal Court 2003-2012).

30 November, 2015

Syria ~ the peace process

At the time of writing (30th November 2015) the British government is seeking to extend bombing to ISIL targets in Syria. The Royal Air Force is already engaged in Iraq.

Since 2012 there has been a peace process seeking to bring the Syrian Civil War to an end and the UK government is committed to this process.  Here are some links with further information:

Action Group for Syria - Final Commuique of 30th June 2012

Final Declaration on the results of the Syria talks in Vienna as agreed by participants - 30th October 2015

Statement of the International Syria Support Group - 14th November 2015

UN Security Council - Documents relating to Syria

Some background:

22 November, 2015

A global and unprecdented threat ~ UN SCR 2249


Islamic State" (IS) claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris on Friday 13th November - Reuters 14th November.   At the time, the President of France described the attacks as "an act of war."

The United Nations Security Council has now adopted UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2249 (2015) - Read the Resolution.  The resolution calls upon those Member States with the capacity to do so to take

19 November, 2015

Is international law futile in the face of modern terrorism?

An interesting article in The Guardian expresses concern that international law is somewhat impotent in the face of modern terrorism challenges - Lyal S. Sunga* - The Guardian 14th November

The author argues - "It is now urgent for States to update rather than sideline the Geneva conventions, agree upon a definition of ‘terrorist act’, perhaps through a new comprehensive UN convention against terrorism, strengthen international cooperation and public awareness of the role and importance of international humanitarian law, consider revising the International Criminal Court’s Statute explicitly to cover terrorist acts, and above all, maintain the high moral ground."

Please read the article.  This is a topic to which we must return .....!

* Lyal S. Sunga has conducted monitoring, investigation, reporting, technical cooperation, education and training in some 55 countries over the last 25 years in human rights, humanitarian law and international criminal law. He is Head of the Rule of Law program at the Hague Institute for Global Justice in The Netherlands, and Visiting Professor at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Lund, Sweden