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: Justine N. Stefanelli : December 05, 2019 |

On December 5, 2019, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) published its annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities. The ninth of its kind, the Report details the Office's determinations under Article 53(1)(a)-(c) of the Rome Statute from December 1, 2018 to November 30, 2019. A press release issued by the Court highlights that the Prosecutor's Office "received 795 communications pursuant to article 15 of the Statute" and that of those, "617 were found to be manifestly outside the jurisdiction of the Court." The aim of these reports is to "promote...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : December 04, 2019 |

Also over Thanksgiving week, on Wednesday, November 27, 2019, President Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. As reported in the Washington Post, the Act "authorizes sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in human rights abuses and requires the State Department to perform an annual review of the special trade status that Washington grants Hong Kong. 


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : December 03, 2019 |

On November 28, 2019, a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously held in Mustafa v. Belgium (in French only) that a civilian tried within the Bulgarian military court system suffered a violation of his fair trial rights under Article 6 of the Convention because the Bulgarian military courts lacked safeguards to preserve their independence and impartiality that are available in the ordinary courts. According to a press release issued by the Court (in English), the applicant in the case, Mr. Mustafa, was one of several defendants convicted of illegal cross-...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : November 21, 2019 |

On November 21, 2019, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment in Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary. This was the first time the Court was asked to apply the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to a transit zone located on a land border between two Council of Europe states where asylum-seekers stay pending the outcome of their applications. According to a press release issued by the Court, the case involved two migrants from Bangladesh who, after transiting through several countries, including Serbia, arrived at a Hungarian land border transit...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : November 21, 2019 |

On November 21, 2019, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights issued its judgment in Z.A. and Others v. Russia, a case involving prolonged detention in an airport transit zone in Moscow. According to a press release from the Court, the case involved the detention of four men, three of whom were held for between five and seven months, and the fourth who was detained for one year and nine months. The men challenged their detention under ECHR Articles 5(1) (right to liberty) and 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment). The Grand Chamber unanimously held that...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : November 20, 2019 |

On November 20, 2019, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved a resolution on the "Situation in Bolivia". The resolution resolves to calls upon Bolivian authorities to "urgently" hold elections and "to promptly adopt an electoral schedule". In addition, it resolves to urge political and civil actors in Bolivia to "immediately cease from violence, preserve peace, and seek a frank dialogue to promote national democratic reconciliation." The Permanent Council also resolves to instruct the OAS General Secretariat "to grant all the requested technical support...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : November 19, 2019 |

On November 19, 2019, the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published the report from its September/October 2017 periodic visit to Estonia and Estonia's response to the CPT report. The focus of the visit was people in police custody and prisoners on remand who are held in police and prison facilities. The CPT expressed concern regarding the failure of Estonian authorities to effectively implement previous recommendations, such as those relating to improving prison conditions and reducing the use of prolonged...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : November 19, 2019 |

On November 19, 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (C.J.E.U.) issued its preliminary ruling in Joined Cases C‑585/18, C‑624/18, and C‑625/18, each involving questions relating to the independence of the newly-created Disciplinary Chamber within the Polish Supreme Court. According to a press release issued by the Court, the cases involved actions by three Polish judges challenging amendments to the law on retirement age (covered in a previous ASIL ILIB post). In particular, the referring queried the jurisdiction of the Disciplinary Chamber and asked the C.J.E.U. "whether, on...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : November 18, 2019 |

On November 18, 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the reversal of a longstanding U.S. policy holding Israeli settlements on the West Bank to be unlawful under international law. According to the Washington Post, Pompeo claims that the policy change will "increase the likelihood" of a peace agreement. U.S. policy on the legality of Israeli settlements under international law was previously based on a 1978 legal opinion drafted for the Carter Administration. The full text of Pompeo's speech will be posted on ILIB once it is available.


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : November 14, 2019 |

On November 14, 2019, Pre-Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced its decision to allow the Prosecutor to proceed with an investigation into alleged crimes in the Situation in the People's Republic of Bangladesh/Republic of the Union of Myanmar. A press release issued by the Court explains that, "[t]he Chamber concluded that the Court may exercise jurisdiction over crimes when part of the criminal conduct takes place on the territory of a State Party. While Myanmar is not a State Party, Bangladesh ratified the ICC Rome statute in 2010 . . . the...