AJIL Unbound

By: Alexandra Huneeus | July 22, 2016 |

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Devika Hovell’s “Due Process in the United Nations” returns to the familiar but vexing question of what mechanisms could best provide for UN accountability.[1] Her contribution, as she describes it, is to start with first principles. The article opens by observing that we can neither assess nor try to improve due process mechanisms if we lack a theory of why we need them in the first place: What values underlie the calls for greater transparency and accountability at the United Nations? Why, exactly, should the United Nations provide greater due process at the expense of...

By: Antonios Tzanakopoulos | July 22, 2016 |

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Introduction

Devika Hovell’s article is a very welcome and useful contribution to the debate regarding the “accountability” (whatever the term may mean[1]) of international organizations, and the United Nations in particular. The author argues that scholarship has tended to focus on (descriptive) state practice to the detriment of (normative) theoretical appeal, and so the relevant discussion “has received inadequate theoretical attention.”[2] In response, she sets out to tell the story of the United Nations being held to account through a highly theorized (and,...

By: Rosa Freedman | July 22, 2016 |

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Introduction

Devika Hovell has provided an excellent call to arms for academics to move beyond the question of whether the United Nations has due process deficiencies: By now we all know that it does. She invites us to focus instead on making “the normative case for adopting due process safeguards in UN decision making,” insisting that until now scholars have failed to ask the important theoretical questions underpinning their policy research.[1] Hovell uses two case studies to demonstrate why resort to judicial mechanisms ought not to be the answer when seeking...

By: Joy Gordon | July 22, 2016 |

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Devika Hovell raises deeply significant questions about the role of due process in the legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).[1] Hovell gives us a fine-grained analysis of what exactly makes due process so compelling; in her approach, the reasons why it is compelling will vary in different contexts, depending upon the particular value and function it serves. In particular, she discusses three ways of articulating the values underlying due process, and the models of due process that would follow from each. She then discusses how her analysis would play...

By: Catherine Powell and Carlos M. Vázquez | May 17, 2016 |

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AJIL Unbound is pleased to publish a second set of contributions to our symposium on the obligation of states under international law to criminalize marital rape. The lead essay by Melanie Randall and Vasanthi Venkatesh, Criminalizing Sexual Violence against Women in Intimate Relationships: State Obligations Under Human Rights Law,[1] argues that international law requires the criminalization of sexual violence against women within marriage (and other intimate relationships), and that such criminalization should constitute a central element of the human rights...

By: Fareda Banda | May 17, 2016 |

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There are cases that one never forgets. DPP v. Morgan is one of those for me.[1] I read it as an eighteen-year-old in my first year of law school. It was in the criminal law class where we were being taught about rape. The facts left me shocked and outraged. Morgan went out drinking with his friends. At the end of the night, he invited the friends back to his house. He told them that they could have sex with his wife and added that they should not worry if she appeared to resist, because she liked it that way. The friends duly came over and helped themselves to...

By: Michele Goodwin | May 17, 2016 |

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If no permanent injury has been inflicted, nor malice, cruelty nor dangerous violence shown by the husband, it is better to draw the curtain, shut out the public gaze, and leave the parties to forget and forgive.

State v. Oliver, 70 N.C. 60, 62 (1874)

Prologue: The Context

Sadly, sexual violence against women and girls remains deeply entrenched and politicized around the globe. Perhaps no other allegation of crime exposes a woman’s credibility to such intense hostility and imposes the penalties of shame and stigma to a...

By: Barbara Stark | May 17, 2016 |

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Nothing can be said in favor of intimate sexual violence,[1] including marital rape, as Randall and Venkatesh, the authors of Intimate Sexual Violence, Human Rights Obligations and the State,[2] make plain. As the New York Court of Appeals held in 1984:

“Rape is not simply a sexual act to which one party does not consent. Rather, it is a degrading, violent act which violates the bodily integrity of the victim and frequently causes severe, long-lasting physical and psychic harm. To ever imply consent to such an act is irrational and absurd. . . . A married...

By: Aya Gruber | May 17, 2016 |

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It is difficult to engage from a theoretical perspective an advocacy piece that largely reads like a brief in favor of particular claim of law, namely, that a state’s failure to (vigorously) criminalize marital rape violates international human rights law. In a brief, the litigant pulls together various sources to prove the legal claim is correct. Opponents typically respond by cobbling together their own sources to undermine that claim. In their essay, Criminalizing Sexual Violence Against Women in Intimate Relationships, Randall and Venkatesh, set out to prove...

By: Melanie Randall and Vasanthi Venkatesh | May 17, 2016 |

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Ending the marital rape exemption in criminal law is a demand for legal equality and autonomy for women, rights that are enshrined in international human rights law. Drawing on international human rights law as a source of authority for challenging the marital rape exception in criminal law allows feminist and other social justice organizations, within their specific national and local contexts, to seek greater state action and accountability toward ending this form of violence against women and this violation of women’s human rights. In this reply, we challenge the...