International Law in Brief


International Law in Brief (ILIB) is a forum that provides updates on current developments in international law from the editors of ASIL's International Legal Materials.
| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : March 02, 2021 |

On February 27, 2021, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, made an official notification to the President of the United Nations Security Council of a targeted military strike in east Syria. The notification letter explained that the U.S. was acting in self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, in response to "an escalating series of threats and attacks by [Iran-supported non-State militia groups]." As a result, the letter indicates that defensive U.S. military action was targeted at "a facility used by Iran-supported non-State militia groups that are...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 12, 2021 |

On February 12, 2021, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution calling for the "immediate and unconditional release of all persons arbitrarily detained . . . and the lifting of the state of emergency" in Myanmar. The resolution specifically refers to the release of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. The resolution also "[s]trongly deplores the removal of the Government democratically elected by the people of Myanmar in the general election held on 8 November 2020, and the suspension of mandates of members of all parliaments, and calls for the...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 11, 2021 |

On February 10, 2021, President Biden announced sanctions on military officials from Burma in response to their involvement in the recent coup, which overthrew the result of the November 2020 elections. An executive order published on February 11 states the President's finding that the situation in Burma (and especially the coup) "constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States" such that he declared a state of emergency to respond to the threat. The order sanctions the military leaders who directed the coup, their property,...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 08, 2021 |

On February 8, 2021, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced U.S. plans to re-engage with the United Nations Human Rights Council, after the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Council in 2018. As reported by The Guardian, Blinken stated that the 2018 withdrawal "created a vacuum of US leadership" that has been used to the advantage of "countries with authoritarian agendas." Blinken noted the importance of U.S. leadership in "address[ing] the council's deficiencies and ensur[ing] it lives up to its mandate." This is another in a line of steps taken to re-engage with the...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 05, 2021 |

On February 5, 2021, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its decision on the Court's territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine (see also ICC press release). The decision follows the December 2019 request by the ICC Prosecutor pursuant to Article 19(3) of the Rome Statute. Pre-Trial Chamber I referenced, inter alia, UN General Assembly Resolution 67/19 (which accorded non-member observer State status in the UN to Palestine), which referred to "the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 05, 2021 |

On February 4, 2021, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its judgment on preliminary objections concerning Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Qatar v. United Arab Emirates). By eleven to six votes, the ICJ upheld the objection to the Court's jurisdiction raised by the United Arab Emirates, finding that it does not have jurisdiction to hear the application filed by Qatar in June 2018. As explained in a press release from the Court, Qatar launched proceedings against the United Arab Emirates, alleging...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 04, 2021 |

On February 4, 2021, a Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found Dominic Ongwen guilty of 61 crimes against humanity and war crimes. As a press release from the Court explains, the conviction is in relation to acts committed in Northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005. Specifically, the "crimes were committed in the context of the armed rebellion of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) against the government of Uganda" due to a perception on the part of the LRA that the citizens of Northern Uganda were aligned with the government. Ongwen was found to bear full...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 04, 2021 |

On February 3, 2021, Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, announced a five-year extension of the New START Treaty (Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms) with Russia. According to the U.S. Department of State, the Treaty, which originally entered into force in 2011, "enhances U.S. national security by placing verifiable limits on all Russian deployed intercontinental-range nuclear weapons." It imposes aggregate limits on both the U.S. and Russia concerning intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 04, 2021 |

On February 3, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its unanimous judgment in Federal Republic of Germany et al. v. Philipp et al. The case concerned the rightful ownership of a collection of medieval relic known as the Welfenschatz. The respondents in the case are the heirs of German Jewish art collectors and claim that the Nazi government coerced their art collector relatives into selling the collection to Prussia for much less than its value. The heirs brought several property law-based claims in the U.S. courts against Germany, which argued that it was immune from suit...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 02, 2021 |

Toward the end of 2020, the cour administrative d'appel de Bordeaux (administrative court of appeals in Bordeaux) issued a judgment on an asylum claim that substantively took environmental pollution into account when making its determination that the asylum seeker could not be returned to Bangladesh because of medical conditions exacerbated by the air quality there. The judgment is currently only available in French, but a helpful commentary has been provided by the UK Human Rights blog. According to that piece, the asylum seeker is a Bangladeshi national, suffering from severe respiratory...