Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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Climate change and human rights: The Torres Strait Islanders’ claim to the UN Human Rights Committee

By Dr Miriam Cullen

In May 2019, a group of eight Torres Strait Islanders, with legal representation from Client Earth, submitted a claim to the UN Human Rights Committee (UN HRC) alleging that Australia’s contribution to emissions together with its failure to establish adequate adaptation measures violates their human rights. The claim is legally significant as it is the first lodged with the UN HRC by island inhabitants threatened by climate change. It is also the first instance of climate change litigation based in human rights law against the Australian Government. The filings remain confidential, but this blog post sketches the possible parameters of the claim, drawing on a journal article I published last year. Continue reading


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International Law and Migration: Strategies for Protection

By Liliana Lyra Jubilut and Rachel de Oliveira Lopes |lljubilut@gmail.com  rachel_lopes@yahoo.com.br

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

By Marlies Hesselman and Lottie Lane | m.m.e.hesselman@rug.nl  c.l.lane@rug.nl

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


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

By Marlies Hesselman and Lottie Lane | m.m.e.hesselman@rug.nl  c.l.lane@rug.nl

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). The following post addresses whether private companies have human rights responsibilities during disasters, while the second post particularly reflects on recent corporate responses to hurricanes in the Atlantic region.

Boasting the severely destructive hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season revealed deep concerns about (in)adequate human rights protection in situations of natural disasters. It especially revealed the impact of natural disasters on the most vulnerable.

Premature loss of lives and limb, massive damage to homes, property and the economy, the total disruptions of lives, livelihoods, infrastructures and utilities: these matters raise important questions about the adequate protection of human rights prior, during and after disasters. Human rights at stake include the right to life, the right to food, the right to water, the right to health, the right to private and family life and protection of the home, the right to housing, the right to shelter, and the right to property. More rights may be relevant, as is detailed, for example, by the UN’s Inter-Agency Standing Committee.

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The Right to Housing and its Applicability to Asylum Seekers in Europe

By Mareike Hoffmann | s.m.hoffmann@student.rug.nl

Despite its crucial importance for emotional and physiological well-being, the right to housing is often treated as a ‘poor cousin’ in comparison to other necessities.[i] Pointing out the emerging trend to limit the right to housing, the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Housing has gone as far as naming it as ‘one of the most endangered rights.’ Asylum seekers are especially at risk of having their right to housing restricted since they essentially rely on the state for the provision of housing. Following the influx of asylum seekers to Europe since 2015, the issue of accommodating them adequately persists to this day. Nevertheless, the right to adequate housing is part of the right to an adequate standard of living and thereby included in a wide array of international human rights instruments. Within this blog post, I aim to identify the relevant human rights provisions applicable to asylum seekers and subsequently analyse the flaws of the current system.

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