Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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The Missing Human Rights Nexus in Climate Change Governance

Aisha Binte Abdur Rob \ aisha.rob@bracu.ac.bd

I.  Introduction

There is increasing recognition of the human costs of climate change as cumulating evidence is solidifying the links between, for instance, rising global temperatures and destroyed livelihoods. The adverse impacts on health, food, housing and other fundamental human needs are now manifest. Continue reading


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International Law and India’s National Register of Citizens

Arun Chauhan | archauhan9984@gmail.com

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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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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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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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


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The Universal Declaration at 70: What Next for Human Rights?

This post is a summary of the keynote lecture given by Professor Gearty during the workshop ‘The Universal Declaration at 70: What Next for Human Rights?’ on 26th November 2018. The event was co-organised by the Groningen Journal of International Law and the University of Groningen’s Centre for Religion, Conflict and Globalisation.

Professor Conor Gearty 

How serious are current threats to the post-war international order of which the protection of human rights is such a central part?

Three potential challenges in particular come immediately to mind.  

First there is the outright rejection of the very idea, with states organizing themselves formally around systems of rule in which individuals are allowed to be explicit casualties of passing state interests.  Of course, not even the worst states put it quite like this, and with the passing of the era of the Cold War no substantial ideology sets its face against human rights in quite this explicit way: indeed, not even the Soviet Union did so at its height, preferring a different version of human rights (economic and social rights) to having none at all.

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My office – my rules?

By Tina Korošec | korosec.tina1@gmail.com

Spending on average more than 40 hours a week at work means that my office colleague is by default the person I see most. I keep my sports gear and medical prescriptions in the office drawer and my planner and pictures of people I care about on the desk. I have a YouTube playlist I listen to at work. In short, my workplace is very home-like and my home is often the office for the weekend.

I am not here to judge whether this lifestyle evolution should be welcomed or rejected but I believe the blurring of divisions between the professional and personal should be observed with due caution. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) recognised the difficulties in distinguishing the two and the problems with drawing the lines of human rights protection artificially in the Niemietz v. Germany case, holding that the protection of ‘private life’ under the Convention extends to the workplace. In recent years, the Court has developed considerable case-law on a broad range of workplace-related issues relevant to employees in Europe, who are often unfamiliar with the protection of their rights offered by the Convention. This blog post discusses two aspects of employers’ restrictions on employees in the workplace: dress code and surveillance. Continue reading


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The Horizontal Effect of International Human Rights Law

By Lottie Lane |c.l.lane@rug.nl

This blog post summarises some of the main findings of the author’s PhD thesis, entitled ‘The Horizontal Effect of International Human Rights Law: Towards a Multi-Level Governance Approach’. The findings are taken from an extensive comparative analysis of the extent to which international human rights law is applied to non-State actors (i.e. the horizontal effect of human rights) in jurisprudence at the international, regional and national levels.

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

By Nani Jansen Reventlow |hello@nanijansen.org  

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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