Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction

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TRICI-Law Project

Prof. Panos Merkouris |

In international law, interpretation is ubiquitous and is the process through which the interpreter attempts to determine the meaning of the rule that is being interpreted. Every case brought before international courts and tribunals raises questions of interpretation. For written agreements between States, this process has been codified in Articles 31-33 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT). Based on these articles, some of the elements that are taken into consideration are the text, the context of the treaty, and its object and purpose as evidence of the intention of the parties. However, a key issue is that these VCLT articles refer only to interpretation of treaties and not of customary international law (CIL).
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International Law and India’s National Register of Citizens

Arun Chauhan |

The final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list, which establishes the individual statuses of more than 30 million applicants, was released online on 31 August 2019. Amnesty International in its report has noted that over 1.9 million people were omitted from the final list, pushing them to the brink of statelessness. Inarguably, this is going to make India witness one of the country’s largest upheavals of people and the worst humanitarian crisis unfolding in Assam. Previously, the Supreme Court of India extended the deadline for the final publication of the Assam National Registry of Citizens due to allegedly wrongful inclusions and exclusions. The other demands of Centre and Assam, such as a 20 percent sample verification of NRC to find out the discrepancies over inclusions, was rejected by the Apex Court.

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New Issue Out: Volume 7, Issue 1

Dear reader,
Our Editorial board would like to proudly introduce the first Issue of the Groningen Journal of International Law’s 7th volume. As all previous issues, this one is readily available for free on our website at <> and <>.
Being an open issue, GroJIL 7(1) presents you with several articles on various topics from a wide range of International Law subfields.
The GroJIL Editorial Board would like to recognise all the efforts made by its editors in order to prepare the articles for publication and express gratitude for their splendid work. Moreover, I personally would like to thank each Board Member for their great dedication and work on this issue.
– Kyrill Ryabtsev, President and Editor-in-Chief

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Reformulating Rules on Dual Object Targeting

Ishita Chakrabarty |

The debate over conducting a UN led inquiry into the attacks on Syrian hospitals again brought the issue of dual object targeting to the forefront. This development followed an airstrike on a Libyan detention centre at Al Sabaa in July, 2019, in spite of prior knowledge regarding its coordinates. In both cases, the authorisers of the attack justified the strike on the ground that the centres were being used by the belligerent parties to store ammunitions, missiles and other weapon systems. As Kevin John Heller puts it, a ‘categorical prohibition’ on targeting might not be the solution, rather it would only lead to more incidences of flouting of IHL rules.

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Human Rights OR the Environment?

Dr. Sumudu Atapattu |


“Are you an Environmental Lawyer or a Human Rights Lawyer?” is a question I get asked occasionally.  As I ponder on how best to answer it, I often wonder “does it matter?” After all, we are fighting for the same things.  This question reflects a larger problem of not appreciating the link between environmental degradation and human rights. We are accustomed to compartmentalizing issues. This “silo mentality” has led to many challenges, especially in the context of climate change. Hard core environmentalists sometimes say “we don’t care about people” while some human rights advocates say “human beings are much more important than the environment.” Indeed, not all environmentalists and human rights advocates share these sentiments. However, reconciling these two extreme positions is necessary to appreciate the close relationship between the two fields. Continue reading

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The International Court of Justice on the Chagos Archipelago Situation: a Turn to Human Rights in a Traditional Court

Andrea Trigoso |

On February 25, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago. The decision was not favorable to the UK, as it concluded that the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when the country was granted its independence, because it was conducted in breach of the already crystallized right to self-determination.

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The birth of Lulu and Nana: testing the boundaries of freedom of research?

Dr Rumiana Yotova |

I. Genome Editing and the Case of Lulu and Nana

In November 2018, the Chinese scientist Dr He Jiankui reported the birth of the first genetically edited babies – Lulu and Nana- as a result of his editing and implanting of the embryos of seven couples with HIV-positive fathers in order to make them resistant to the virus. This announcement was met with universal condemnation and serious concern by scientists and International Organisations, strongly indicating that clinical research involving genome editing is not deemed to be acceptable at this stage. The Statement of the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, where the experiment was first announced held that ‘the procedure was irresponsible and failed to conform to international norms’ due to, inter alia, the ‘failure to meet ethical standards for protecting the welfare of research subjects and a lack of transparency in the development, review and conduct of the clinical procedures.’ The Summit ultimately concluded that ‘the scientific understanding and technical requirements for clinical practice remain too uncertain and the risks too great to permit clinical trials of germline editing at this time.’ Similar concerns were expressed in the statements in response by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, the French National Academy of Medicine and the Academy of Sciences and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. China’s Science Ministry reportedly suspended the scientific activities of those involved in the experiment, the Medical Ethics Committee of Shenzhen province opened an investigation into it and He was put under house arrest. In response, the WHO established a panel of experts to look into the international standards that should apply when editing the human genome with specific focus on interfering with the germline, i.e., the cells that we pass to future generations.

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