International Law in Brief


International Law in Brief (ILIB) is forum that provides updates on current developments in international law from the editors of ASIL's International Legal Materials.
| By: Caitlin Behles : November 14, 2018 |

On November 13, 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in Levola Hengelo BV v Smilde Foods BV that the taste of food cannot be classified as a “work” as referred to in Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament in order to be eligible for copyright protection. The case concerns Dutch food retailer Levola, which brought suit against a rival company, Smilde, when they began making a spreadable cream cheese dip with fresh herbs similar to their own and argued that Smilde infringed its copyright in the taste of the dip because the rival dip is a reproduction of...


| By: Caitlin Behles : November 08, 2018 |

On November 7, 2018, Senior U.S. District Judge Roslyn O. Silver sentenced Ahmed Alahmedalabdaloklah, aka Ahmad Ibrahim Al-Ahmad, of Syria, to life in prison plus 30 years for crimes related to bomb construction in Iraq. The Department of Justice (DOJ) press release states that he “was found guilty by a federal jury on March 16, 2018 of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiring to maliciously damage or destroy United States property by means of an explosive, aiding and abetting other persons to possess a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence, and...


| By: Caitlin Behles : November 06, 2018 |

On November 6, 2018, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a joint report entitled, “Unearthing Atrocities: Mass Graves in Territory Formerly Controlled by ISIL,” which documents the discovery of an estimated 202 mass graves containing the remains of thousands of victims in areas formerly controlled by ISIL in Iraq. The report notes that an exact figure is difficult to determine, but that the smallest grave site found contained eight bodies, while the largest had thousands. It also highlights the difficulties...


| By: Caitlin Behles : November 05, 2018 |

On November 5, 2018, the United States re-imposed all sanctions on Iran that had been lifted or waived under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Treasury Department stated that November 4 marked the last day of the 180-day wind-down period after the president announced the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018. The Treasury Department noted that the sanctions “will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as the energy, shipping and shipbuilding, and financial sectors” and that as part of the re-imposition “OFAC sanctioned more than 700 individuals, entities...


| By: Caitlin Behles : October 26, 2018 |

On October 25, 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in E.S. v. Austria that the applicant’s criminal conviction for disparaging religious doctrines by suggesting that the Prophet Muhammad had had pedophilic tendencies did not violate Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. As noted in the press release, the Court stated that while there must be room for critical denial of religion, the subject matter of this case was particularly sensitive and the government must be given a wide margin of appreciation “as they were in a better...


| By: Caitlin Behles : October 23, 2018 |

On October 23, 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee, the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), issued decisions regarding Sonia Yaker and Miriana Hebbadj, finding that France violated the human rights of two women by fining them for wearing the niqab. The two decisions were decided concurrently as they posed the same question regarding whether the French 2010 law prohibiting “any article of clothing intended to conceal the face” in public spaces, with the effect of banning the niqab, violated the ICCPR....


| By: Caitlin Behles : October 22, 2018 |

On October 19, 2018, the Vice President of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ordered (available in French) Poland to immediately suspend provisions of the recent Polish law on the Supreme Court that lower the retirement age for Supreme Court judges to 65, which would have the effect of removing nearly one-third of the Court’s judges. In October 2018, the European Commission brought an action before the CJEU, arguing that Poland had infringed EU law concerning judicial independence by applying the new law to judges appointed before the law was enacted and giving the...


| By: Caitlin Behles : October 11, 2018 |

On October 11, 2018, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2438 in which it extended modifications to the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until April 15, 2019, stating that this will be the final extension unless the parties reach specified benchmarks regarding border demarcation. The Council noted that the “situation in Abyei and along the border between the Sudan and South Sudan continues to constitute a serious threat to international peace and security,” but also welcomed the progress that had been made towards implementing the Joint Border...


| By: Caitlin Behles : October 03, 2018 |

On October 3, 2018, the International Court of Justice issued its provisional measures in Alleged Violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America), ordering the United States to ease some of its sanctions against Iran. The case concerns Iran’s case against the United States for violating the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights concluded between the two states in 1955 when the United States stated that it would reimpos sanctions against Iran after leaving the Joint...


| By: Caitlin Behles : October 01, 2018 |

On September 30, 2018, the United States, Mexico, and Canada reached an agreement in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Upon its ratification by the three states, the USMCA will replace NAFTA, which had been in effect since 1994. The USMCA makes a number of changes to NAFTA, some of the bigger areas being in relation to automobiles and country of origin rules, the daily industry, labor, the environment, intellectual property protections, and digital trade. The USMCA is also subject to review after...