Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction

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Customs Unions: Trade Law’s Forgotten Child

By Michal Ovádek|  

Until customs unions (CUs) started to make headlines in British newspapers following the UK’s decision to depart from the EU, there has been little public or legal-academic interest in the concept, perhaps with the exception of Turkey whose estimation of its CU with the EU has decreased in proportion with the probability of its joining the Union. Has the disinterest been warranted? Not quite – more than 110 countries around the world are members of at least one CU and the concept dates back to at least 19th century Germany, where it played a part in German unification. In a recent research project, my colleague Ines Willemyns and I have looked at the state of international law governing CUs in a bid to contribute to the understanding of this particular form of regional economic integration, not least because it has been a source of considerable confusion in the Brexit discourse.

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Strategic Litigation Before the African Regional Courts: Great Potential for Progressive Protection of Human Rights

By Nani Jansen Reventlow |  

The African human rights system is the youngest regional human rights regime currently in operation. The adoption of the in 1981 also resulted in the establishment of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 1987. The African Commission was charged with the protection and promotion of human and peoples’ rights and the interpretation of the African Charter. In 1998, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights was adopted, thereby establishing a complementary counterpart to the Commission that could issue binding decisions.

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has been operational since 2006 and issued its first judgment on the merits in 2013. According to a recent press release, the Court has received 161 applications (for both individual decisions and advisory opinions) to date, of which it has finalised 32. Thirty countries have ratified the Protocol, giving the Court jurisdiction to assess these States’ compliance with the African Charter. Of these 30, eight countries have an active declarationRwanda’s declaration was withdrawn in 2016 – allowing individuals and NGOs to bring such matters directly before the Court (as opposed to accessing the Court via the African Commission). In recent years, the court has handed down decisions protecting the right to free expression, the right to a fair trial, the right to life and land rights, amongst others.

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Call for Papers

The Groningen Journal of International Law continues to receive submission for its Volume 6, Issue 1 to be published in June 2018. Guidelines on the submission can be found here. All manuscripts submitted via email to by 6 April will be considered for publication.

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International Law and Migration: Strategies for Protection

By Liliana Lyra Jubilut and Rachel de Oliveira Lopes |

For all its specialisation in its contemporary phase after World War II and the granting of a special status to human rights, international law still lacks a comprehensive architecture for the protection of migrants. The only advanced regime relates to the protection of refugees, while the Convention on the Protection of Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is the least ratified treaty among the core instruments of human rights, not counting with the commitment of any major migrant-receiving Western State.

Furthermore, even though the processes of negotiation and creation of a Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration (by States) and a Global Compact on Refugees (by UNHCR), are under way, the creation of hard norms on either migration governance or the protection of migrants has not advanced and there is as of yet no consensus on the topic, as the USA’s resignation from the Migration Compact shows.

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President’s Note on Volume 5, Issue 2

By Ferdinand Quist, Groningen Journal of International

Dear reader,

This second issue in Volume 5 of the Groningen Journal of International Law provides another exciting new step in the development of the Journal. Some may have already caught a few glimpses here and there, but it is still an honour to properly announce our co-operation with University of Groningen Press (UGP)! Without getting too technical, UGP has provided us with an Open Journal System and taken on the backend work needed to export our publications to academic databases. Concretely this means that starting from this issue all articles will be published not on our own website, but on <> instead. References to previous issues and articles on our website will gradually be redirected to the relevant external webpage on our UGP site. It goes without saying that all articles will still be made available on SSRN and other outlets. This is an incredible opportunity for the Journal to increase the discoverability of the work that the authors have entrusted us with and by extension increase the Journal’s exposure.

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The Challenges of Prosecuting Wars of Aggression

By Benjamin Dürr |

Twenty years after its creation, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is on the verge of gaining jurisdiction over a new crime, enabling the court to prosecute high-level individuals for waging war. During the annual Assembly of States Parties in December, the ICC’s member states decided to activate the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression as of 17 July 2018 – twenty years after the court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, entered into force. While the activation is seen as a historic step in international law, the political compromises that enabled it raise doubts about the applicability of jurisdiction over the new crime.

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Whose Business is Hurricane Irma? Human Rights Responsibilities of Companies in Times of Disaster – Part II

By Marlies Hesselman and Lottie Lane |

This series of two blog posts builds on two recent articles by the authors on the human rights responsibilities of private actors during disasters, including companies and NGOs (here and here – open access).

As explained in Part I, several international initiatives have led to a common understanding that private companies are subject to both indirect and direct human rights duties or responsibilities, mostly to respect human rights. It was also established that such duties or responsibilities apply during all stages of disaster management. With these findings in mind, the current post particularly reflects on recent corporate responses to hurricanes in the Atlantic region. Continue reading