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 27, 2018 |

On November 27, 2018, the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic released a report entitled, “Death Notifications in the Syrian Arab Republic,” in which it discusses the high number of missing and detained people within Syria and stresses the need to account for the fate and whereabouts these individuals. As noted in the press release, the Commission was mandated by the Human Rights Council to investigate and record all violations of international law since March 2011 within Syria. The report notes that arbitrary detention is widespread...


| By: Caitlin Behles : November 19, 2018 |

On November 16, 2018, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia delivered its judgment in Case 002/02, convicting former senior Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan of genocide, crimes against humanity, and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and sentencing them to life in prison. The Court found that Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan participated in a joint criminal enterprise during the Cambodian genocide, with crimes taking place between April 1975 and January 1979 that included genocide of the Vietnamese, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation,...


| By: Caitlin Behles : November 15, 2018 |

On November 15, 2018, the United Nations Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) until May 15, 2019, while also reducing UNISFA’s troop ceiling and increasing its police presence. Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Council decreased UNISFA’s troop ceiling from 4,500 to 4,140 and increased its authorized police ceiling from 50 to 345 police personnel. The Council also decided to renew UNISFA’s mandated tasks related to the protection of its personnel, facilities, equipment, and any civilians under any imminent threat...


| By: Caitlin Behles : November 14, 2018 |

On November 14, 2018, the United Nations Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, lifted the arms embargo, travel ban, assets freeze, and targeted sanctions on Eritrea, while also renewing sanctions against Somalia. The Council noted its support for Somalia’s efforts to reduce threats to peace and security posed by Al-Shabaab and affiliates linked to ISIL, while also condemning violations of the arms embargo in Somalia, including when this results in supplies reaching these groups. The Council also ended the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, to take...


| 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 30, 2018 |

On October 30, 2018, the Human Rights Committee adopted its General Comment no. 36 on Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the right to life. The General Comment includes legal clarification on the prohibition against arbitrary deprivation of life, the duty to protect life, imposition of the death penalty, and the relationship of Article 6 with other articles of the Covenant and other legal regimes. It also notably discusses abortion, stating that although governments “may adopt measures designed to regulate voluntary terminations of pregnancy, such...


| 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...