Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction

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Guidelines for Submission to International Law Under Construction

By GroJIL Blog Committee, International Law Under Construction |

Welcome to International Law Under Construction, the Blog set up by the Groningen Journal of International Law in conjunction with the International Law Department of the University of Groningen. The aim of the Blog is to provide a platform for scholars, experts and occasionally students of international law to present their views and engage in debate on current issues in the field.

This post sets out our rules for contribution to the Blog. Please read them carefully and take note before submitting. Continue reading

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Contributions from the International Law Department of the University of Groningen to the 6th Conference of the European Association of Health Law

By Yi Zhang, University of   

On 28 – 29 September 2017, Professor Brigit Toebes, Dr. Marie Elske Gispen and Yi Zhang participated in the sixth annual conference of the European Association of Health Law (EAHL). The conference was organized by the Faculty of Law, University of Bergen, Norway in cooperation with the EAHL, and its theme was health rights regulations and the distribution of health care in Europe.

During the EAHL conference, Professor Toebes gave a keynote lecture entitled ‘International Human Rights Protection and the Distribution of Healthcare’. In her lecture, Toebes discussed the scope of the right to health care at the international, regional and domestic levels. Among other matters, she discussed the authoritative case law of the European Court of Human Rights. As seen in cases such as Sentges v the Netherlands and Vasileva v Bulgaria, the Court is increasingly engaging with health matters, touching in particular on the duty of the State to oversee the quality of healthcare services as well as possibilities for redress. Toebes explained that the right to health care as defined internationally does not provide a comprehensive set of standards when it comes to the distribution of health care. However, the so-called ‘AAAQ’ (i.e. availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality), for example, provides an authoritative set of principles that is increasingly applied in the context of healthcare distribution at the domestic level, as was also evidenced by the presentations from various participants at the conference (e.g. the presentation by Professor Hartlev on personalised medicine).  Continue reading

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To Overfly, or not to Overfly…? Autonomous Sanctions in International Civil Aviation amidst the Recent ‘Gulf Crisis’ – Part II

By Elena Carpanelli, University of Parma|   

Part 2/2 – Legal challenges and future perspectives related to the adoption of sanctions in international civil aviation amidst the ‘Gulf crisis’ 

As stated in Part I of the post, there is little doubt that restrictions of the right to overfly adopted during the ‘Gulf crisis’ violate international treaty law. But is the denial of overflight rights justified?

The denial of overflight rights: a justified act under international law?

A preliminary ground to justify this measure is to rely on the suspension or termination of IASTA or the Chicago Convention (see, i.e., Appeal relating to the jurisdiction of the ICAO Council (India v. Pakistan), judgment of 18 August 1972, ICJ Reports 1972, p. 46). Pursuant to Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, any such argument would inevitably require, nonetheless, the allegation of a material breach of the treaty whose suspension or termination is invoked. So far, however, sanctioning States have not claimed any violation by Qatar of IASTA or the Chicago Convention in their public statements.

As a consequence, the answer to the question raised at the outset very much depends on whether the denial of overflights may be regarded as a lawful countermeasure under customary international law as stated in the 2001 ILC Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (ILC Draft Articles). Continue reading

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To Overfly, or not to Overfly…? Autonomous Sanctions in International Civil Aviation amidst the Recent ‘Gulf Crisis’ – Part I

By Elena Carpanelli, University of Parma|   

Part 1/2 – International civil aviation sanctions and the ‘Gulf crisis’: setting the scene

In June 2017, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), later joined by other countries, severed ties with Qatar, claiming that it undermined the security of the region by supporting terrorist groups such as the Islamic Brotherhood and Daesh. This ‘Gulf crisis’ presents interesting and at the same time concerning issues from the standpoint of public international law. Whilst some of the concerns have already been discussed at length in other fora (see here and here), this post will focus specifically on the decision taken by the abovementioned States to close their airspace to Qatari-registered aircraft and to halt their (State-owned) carriers from flying to and from Doha until further notice. Continue reading

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President’s Note on Volume 5, Issue 1

By Ferdinand Quist, Groningen Journal of International

Dear reader,

It is a privilege to properly introduce Volume 5, Issue I of the Groningen Journal of International Law. This issue marks the Journal’s five-year anniversary and warrants some slightly self-celebratory remarks. During these first five years the students at the helm of this Journal have continuously strived to establish the Journal as a known entity in international legal academia. Therefore, I would like to express my thanks to all the authors for their contributions and all students at the University of Groningen and everyone else who has been involved with the Journal in some capacity for their efforts and continued support. Furthermore, it is only appropriate to congratulate all previous and current members of GroJIL and my predecessors Philip Reppen, Lottie Lane, and Júlia Ortí Costa in particular. We made it! Continue reading

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Law of Peace(making) and Transforming Children’s Invisibility

By Sarah M. Field, Rights

The law of international human rights came into being through an international peacemaking process, in particular the successive processes that gave birth to the Charter of the United Nations. The law as developed affirms children’s legal standing and agency as subjects of human rights. There is a concomitant international obligation to affirm the same in relation to the successive processes of peacemaking and give effect to those rights through the resultant agreements, as recalled by treaty and Charter bodies. Yet children are mostly invisible in such processes. Its extent is laid bare by a cursory review of collections of peace agreements. Of the close to eight hundred peace agreements in the United Nations database, for example, approximately ninety-five include a reference to children. The extremity of their invisibility raises a multiplicity of questions. Is it justified from the perspective of the law of peace(making)? May children’s human rights yield to the pursuance of peace? And if not, why are children (mostly) invisible in peacemaking? These questions sparked and structured a probe of peace processes from a juristic, human rights and child rights perspective. Continue reading

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The 2017 Blood Antiquities Convention – Protecting Cultural Property through Criminal Law

By Jamie Brown, Council of | @jamiebealebrown

Of all the tragedies that occur worldwide, the loss of ancient monuments, art and archaeological artefacts might seem pretty insignificant to the needless suffering of innocents. In Syria, Iraq and Mali, the world has been exposed to some appalling images of ancient ruins being intentionally destroyed in front of their eyes. But not only were unique places of heritage being reduced to dust, hugely profitable, industrial-scale excavations were taking place behind the scenes in order to sell artefacts abroad and help fuel further attacks and violence.

It was in this context that the Council of Europe negotiated and opened for signature the new Nicosia Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property, also known, more dramatically, as the “Blood Antiquities Convention”. As part of the Secretariat to both the drafting committee that negotiated the Convention and its Explanatory Report as well as the oversight committee (European Committee on Crime Problems (CPDC)), this post shares some of my personal insights into how this Convention came into being. Continue reading

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Non-Recognition and Denial of Self-Determination in the Case of Western Sahara: Recent Developments in International Law

By Dr. Clive Symmons, Trinity College


After the withdrawal of Spanish colonial forces in 1975, Western Sahara did not gain independence, but was occupied by Morocco following a war between Morocco, Mauretania and the pro-independence Polisario Front. This occupation is illegal under international law, violating the erga omnes right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people and being based, ultimately, on the use of force. The United Nations Security Council (hereafter ‘SC’) has called on Morocco to withdraw from the territory, though to no avail; meanwhile, the General Assembly (‘GA’) has effectively branded Morocco an illegal occupier.

Inadequate Reponses to the Occupation

While it should be noted that no state has officially recognised Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, the reaction of many members of the international community has been far less decisive in practice, particularly in the ambit of trade. This can be observed, for example, in free trade agreements (‘FTAs’) and Fishery Partnership Agreements (‘FPAs’) between the EU and Morocco, which I believe violate international law in themselves, something the EU seems to have recognised in the recent Frente Polisario case. Continue reading