Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


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Technologies for International Law & International Law for Technologies

Dr Berenice Boutin | b.boutin@asser.nl

Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), and their societal and policy implications, are at the forefront of current public debates (see, e.g., here, here, and here). The topic is also on the agenda of international organisations, and, in September 2018, the United Nations Secretary-General launched a ‘Strategy on New Technologies’ outlining ‘how the United Nations system will support the use of these technologies to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and to facilitate their alignment with the values enshrined in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the norms and standards of international law.’

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Justice for Syria in Swedish and German Courts: Possibilities and Challenges

By Maria Elena Vignoli |vignolm@hrw.org

For the past six and a half years, the world has witnessed atrocities committed in Syria in a climate of impunity by all parties to the conflict. The route to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the key international forum for accountability, is currently blocked. In 2014, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have given the ICC prosecutor a mandate to investigate and prosecute serious crimes committed in Syria, and there are no indications that they would vote differently today. At the same time, with the conflict still raging, the option of bringing proceedings before Syrian courts is not viable.

In this bleak landscape for accountability, some small steps toward justice are under way in Europe. Several countries are investigating serious crimes committed in Syria since 2011. These investigations are made possible by the international law principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows authorities to pursue certain crimes because of their gravity, regardless of where they were committed, or the nationality of either the victim or the suspect. In addition, the large number of Syrians who have come to Europe, mainly as refugees, since 2015 means that victims, witnesses, material evidence and even some suspects are now within the reach of the European authorities.

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