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 : January 27, 2020 |

On January 23, 2020, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) indicated provisional measures in the case of The Gambia v. Myanmar. According to a press release issued by the Court, The Gambia requested a series of five provisional measures "to preserve . . . the rights of the Rohingya group in Myanmar, of its members and of The Gambia under the Genocide Convention." To indicate provisional measures, several conditions must be fulfilled. First, the Court must have prima facie jurisdiction over the case. On this point, the Court determined that it had jurisdiction over the case based on a...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 16, 2020 |

On January 16, 2020, the Council of Europe's Venice Commission for Democracy Through Law and the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe published an "Urgent Joint Opinion on the amendments to the Law on organisation on the Common Courts, the Law on the Supreme Court and other Laws." Like the OSCE opinion published earlier this week, the Venice Commission expressed concern over the laws and their negative impact on the independence of the Polish judiciary. A similar sentiment was expressed by the Venice Commission in a 2017 opinion on similar...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 14, 2020 |

On January 14, 2020, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published an Urgent Interim Opinion on the publication of a Bill which amends several legislative Acts of Poland relating to the organization of the Supreme Court of Poland. The Opinion was drafted in response to a request from the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights and assesses the Bill's compliance with OSCE and international human rights and rule of law standards, while still recognizing the right of every state to reform its judiciary. The...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 10, 2020 |

On January 10, 2020, the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone decided that Augustine Gbao is eligible for consideration for early release from prison. Mr. Gbao was convicted on fourteen counts of crimes against humanity by the Court on March 2, 2009, and sentenced to twenty-five years of imprisonment on April 8, 2009. As of December 16, 2009, Mr. Gbao had served two-thirds of his sentence. The relevant Practice Direction permits consideration for early release if certain conditions are fulfilled. This includes, for example, successfully completing prison programs, demonstrating that he...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 07, 2020 |

On January 7, 2020, the U.N. Human Rights Committee ruled that a communication lodged against Russia by relatives of Polish nationals allegedly killed in the Katyn Massacre was time-barred and therefore inadmissible. The authors of the communication alleged violations of article 2(3) in conjunction with article 6, 7, 14, 17, and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the Covenant) and articles 1 and 2 of the Optional Protocol based on claims of a lack of effective investigation into the execution of their prisoner-of-war relatives by Soviet authorities in 1940, as...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 06, 2020 |

On January 5, 2010, the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a statement on the situation in Venezuela and the re-election of interim President and President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó. The statement "welcomed" the re-election of Guaidó, which took place on the 5th and emphasized the Secretariat's continued recognition of Guaidó and his cabinet "as the legitimate authority of the country." The Secretariat reiterated its "condemnation of the fraudulent attempt to strip Juan Guaidó . . . of his powers" and "demand[ed] that the dictatorial regime...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 06, 2020 |

On December 18, 2019, the UNCLOS Article VII Tribunal ordered São Tomé to pay compensation to Malta in the (approximate) amount of 13,051,507.61 USD (not counting post-award interest) in the Duzgit Integrity Arbitration (Malta v. São Tomé and Príncipe). According to an UNCLOS press release, the case involved a dispute between the above parties concerning the 2013 arrest by São Tomé of a vessel flagged under Maltese colors while the Maltese ship was in São Tomé’s waters attempting to make a cargo transfer with another ship (and resulting measures taken by São Tomé). In a previous...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 03, 2020 |

On December 27, 2019, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its judgment in the case Abou-Haidar v. Sanin Vasquez on the interpretation of the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. This was the first case on the Convention to reach the D.C. Circuit. Articles 3 and 12 of the Convention provide that “retention of a child is to be considered wrongful [where] . . . it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person . . . under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before” the retention. The appellant contested the...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 02, 2020 |

On December 19, 2019, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) released its Considerations on Appeals Against Closing Orders in Case 004/02 against AO An. A press release from the ECCC and a statement by the International Co-Prosecutor explain that the ECCC was faced with conflicting closing-investigating judges' orders for the first time. Following an investigation into allegations against AO An, the international co-investigating judges concluded that the case should proceed to trial and issued an order accordingly. However, the national co-...


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

On December 20, 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court (Hoge Raad) ordered the Dutch Government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by twenty-five percent by the end of 2020 in its judgment in Netherlands v. Urgenda [currently in Dutch only]. According to the New York Times, the Dutch Supreme Court stated that the government "must act 'on account of the risk of dangerous climate change that could also have a serious impact on the rights to life and well-being of residents of the Netherlands'" (see also paras 5.2.1-5.5.3 of the judgment, which heavily cited Article 2 and...