Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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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 | andrea.trigoso@gmail.com

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 | rvy21@cam.ac.uk

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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Beyond soft regulation – Sanctions on digital platforms

Dr Enguerrand Marique | enguerrand.marique@uclouvain.be
Dr Yseult Marique| ymarique@essex.ac.uk

This blog post outlines the main arguments of the authors’ next piece “Sanctions on digital platforms – beyond the public/private divide”, to be published in the December 2019 issue of the Cambridge International Law Journal. It seeks to illustrate how digital platforms can set up “hard” mechanisms to regulate users’ behaviours and thus go beyond the “soft” regulation through design of the platform.

“Hard” mechanisms mean that digital platforms unilaterally exercise their power to withdraw or curtail users’ access and/or actions on the platform to remedy a violation of a public policy or a contract. For instance, if an Uber driver commits an offence, Uber has a duty to investigate the issue and would have to take necessary measures to prevent the driver to reoffend – maybe blocking his account. Digital platforms impose these kinds of sanction to police undesirable behaviour.

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Happy 60th Anniversary, European Court of Human Rights: Celebrating (with) Protocol 16 Advisory Opinion and Infringement Proceedings

By Aikaterini Tsampi| A.Tsampi@rug.nl

This year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR/Court) turned 60. To celebrate this occasion at the University of Groningen, the “ECtHR Evenings” were organised at the Faculty of Law – Department of Transboundary Legal Studies. In the framework of four “ECtHR Evenings” sessions, which took place between April and May 2019, UG LLB students researched, read and reflected on the recent (2019) ECtHR case-law under the supervision of dr. Aikaterini Tsampi. While many cases were discussed during these sessions, the present blog contribution will focus on the outcome of two proceedings that have already marked the 2019 judicial activity, if not the entire history, of the Court.

On 10 April 2019, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights delivered its Advisory Opinion concerning the recognition in domestic law of a legal parent-child relationship between a child born through a gestational surrogacy arrangement abroad and the intended mother, under Article 1 of Protocol No. 16 to the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR” or “Convention”). Shorty thereafter, the Grand Chamber delivered its judgment in Proceedings under Article 46 § 4 of the Convention in the case of Ilgar Mammadov v. Azerbaijan. Continue reading


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Bringing responsibility home: What next for parent company liability?

By Russell Hopkins

Introduction

The dust is settling on the UK Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Lungowe v Vedanta. In a judgment laced with metaphors, Lord Briggs depicts the English court as having “one hand tied behind its back” since the European Court of Justice held in Owusu v Jackson that proceedings against a UK-domiciled defendant could not be stayed on forum non conveniens grounds. His Lordship laments that the court’s other hand has been “effectively paralysed” by prior cases wrongly treating the risk of irreconcilable foreign judgments as a “trump card” to be deployed by claimants in favour of English jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the court is left “beating its head against a brick wall” by repeated failures to keep jurisdictional litigation within proportionate bounds. This is vivid imagery woven into a thorough analysis of whether England really ought to be the place to litigate environmental harm from a Zambian mine. Continue reading


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Would it be useful if the UN Security Council were to Establish a Climate Change Court or Tribunal?

By Prof. Shirley Scott| s.scott@unsw.edu.au 

As evidence mounts that diplomacy will likely prove inadequate for achieving the necessary mitigation – or adaptation for that matter, there is increasing preparedness to explore alternative governance mechanisms. Indeed, those people already most significantly threatened by climate change, such as the inhabitants of the Small Island Developing States in the Pacific, are already prepared to supplement, if not replace, the UNFCCC diplomatic process with decisive action by the UN Security Council. Continue reading


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The Origins of Transitional Justice

By Marcos Zunino

Wherever there are allegations of serious human rights violations or international crimes, from Syria, to Venezuela, to Myanmar, calls for transitional justice follow. They involve implementing a policy for dealing with these violations that may include criminal trials, truth-finding initiatives, reparations programmes, vetting of personnel, and state reform efforts. These mechanisms are meant to pursue the transitional justice elements of justice, truth, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence while paying special attention to the needs and views of victims. Transitional justice has thus emerged as the primary framework for responding to widespread violence. Indeed, ours has even been called the ‘era of transitional justice’. When did this idea of a need to respond to mass violence with this particular toolbox and goals appear? Continue reading