Work On! Call for applications: 2022 International Disaster Law Course

The 7th Edition of the International Disaster Law Course is now open for application.

The Course is organized jointly by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law of Sanremo, and in cooperation with the Italian Red Cross.

Speakers will include Eduardo Valencia-Ospina (Member of the International Law Commission, Former Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters), Walter Kälin (Former Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons), Isabelle Granger (Global Lead, Disaster Law and Auxiliary Role, IFRC), Gian Luca Burci (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Former Legal Counsel, WHO), Giulio Bartolini (Editor-in-Chief Yearbook of International Disaster Law) along with other high-level speakers from academia and distinguished experts from international organizations.

The Course will take place in Sanremo (IT) from 26 to 30 September 2022 and online attendance is also allowed. More info and the application form are available here.

Write On! National Law Institute University Call for Papers

The National Law Institute University (NLIU), located in Bhopal, India, is accepting submissions for Vol. XXI, Issue 1 of the NLIU Law Review. The journal is peer-reviewed, published biannually by the students of the University. The Law Review aims to promote a culture of scholarly research and academic writing by bringing to the forefront, articles on subjects of interest to the legal profession and academia.

The NLIU Law Review does not restrict itself to any particular area of law and welcomes relevant and original contributions from all branches of law. The NLIU is accepting articles, case notes, legislative comments, and book reviews.

For more information on guidelines and citation standards, click here.

Submissions are due by July 15, 2022.

Interview with Philippa Webb (Part 2)

Question: You served as Special Assistant and Legal Officer to President Rosalyn Higgins of the ICJ. What did you gain from this experience?

Answer: I have to say that until now this experience has been the highlight of my international law career. While I was at the Court, I was lucky to see the progress of 15 cases from the institution of the proceedings to the delivery of the judgment. That was a wonderful insight that certainly informs my own practice now as a counsel and an advocate who appears before the Court. It was a very special experience to gain an insight into the working of the Court and also to see President Higgins in that role. She is obviously hugely successful and respected in international law with an outstanding reputation, but what I really appreciated was her human side. It was instructive to see the person at the top of the principal judicial organ of the UN, treat everyone with kindness, to make a genuine connection to people from all backgrounds, and to maintain interests outside of the law. She was, and is , a wonderful mentor.

Question: The Human Rights Council has decided to establish a Commission of Inquiry to look into the violations that have stemmed up from the Russian aggression in Ukraine which has been supported by the European Union. How else can International organizations act in order to prevent war situations faster and lessen their ramifications?

Answer: A lot of international activity has taken place since 24 February 2022. We have had the ICJ ordering Russia to suspend military operations in Ukraine; an order that has not been respected. We have had interim measures issued by the European Court of Human Rights, and expanded on two occasions. We have had a General Assembly Resolution with 141 states condemning Russian aggression. We have seen the fastest and most comprehensive response to an act of aggression by the international community compared to past events. Even so, we have also seen the weaknesses of our international institutions. We have seen the UN Security Council unable to act under Chapter VII because of the veto of the Russian Federation. That also has ramifications for the ICC because potentially it could have had jurisdiction over individuals via a Security Council referral to the ICC, but that is not possible. Technically, the provisional order of the ICJ, which is not being  respected by Russia at the moment, could be put before the Security Council for action  – but again the veto is blocking this route. We have an international political system that was designed nearly 8 decades ago and it is showing its inability to act in certain situations. This calls  for a reconsideration of our institutions. Are they fit for purpose? Do changes need to be made? Change would be very difficult because the veto is built into the UN system, but is there more that other UN principal organs or regional organisations can do? Is there more that coalitions of states can do? Is there more that national jurisdictions can do exercising universal jurisdiction? What about the role of civil society?

We need not be too discouraged by the weaknesses that have been exposed in the international system – we should use it as a motivation to deploy all the tools that we have. What I hope is that we are able to maintain and increase international action and not fall back into old patterns. This is the moment for international lawyers or any committed citizen of the international community to push for a better system.

Question: What message would you like to give to young women who are climbing up or aspire to step on the ladder for a career in public international law?

Answer: The first message I would say is go for it! It is a fascinating and important area of law.  Recent events have shown us how important international law is and how much work is left to be done. We need the next generation and their energy and ideas to help make changes. I tell my students that international law is a winding path and you have to be comfortable with some uncertainty about where your next position is coming from, where you have to move next, who your colleagues might be. It is not predictable like a commercial law path where you have clear timelines and steps to take until you retire. I think it is inspiring that an international law career does not require you to tick the right box. If you did not go to a particular university or you did not do that particular clerkship, you can still pursue this path. But you have to accept that it is a winding path, so always make the best first impression you can and be open to a bit of adventure along the way! 

(This interview was taken by IntLawGrrls Submissions Editor, Prerna Tara)

Interview with Philippa Webb (Part 1)

Philippa Webb Professor of Public International Law and Director of the Centre for International Governance and Dispute Resolution (CIGAD) at King’s College London. She joined The Dickson Poon School of Law in 2012 after a decade in international legal practice.

Professor Webb holds a doctorate (JSD) and an LLM from Yale Law School. She obtained the University Medal in her LLB and the University Medal and First Class Honours in her BA (Asian Studies), both of which were awarded by the University of New South Wales in Australia.

She has extensive experience in international courts and tribunals. She served as the Special Assistant and Legal Officer to Judge Rosalyn Higgins GBE QC during her Presidency of the International Court of Justice (2006-2009) and, prior to that, as the Judicial Clerk to Judges Higgins and Owada (2004-2005). She was the Associate Legal Adviser to the Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (2005-2006) and an Associate Officer at United Nations Headquarters (2001-2003).

Photo credits: Gary Schwartz

Question: How did you stumble upon Public International Law and what factors helped you decide that it would become your field of study and foundation of your profession? How much difference has international exposure made in terms of your work?

Answer: “Stumble” is indeed the correct verb to describe how I ventured into public international law. Like many Australians, I come from a multi-cultural background. My mother is from Philippines and my father is from New Zealand. They met in Australia during their university studies and I was born in Sydney. We used to travel a lot in my childhood so I grew up with a sense of the world and a keen interest in other countries and cultures. For some reason when I was looking at my law school and subjects, I thought that International Law would be a good fit. When I studied it during my undergraduate degree, I loved it. I found it fascinating. I love the interaction between international law and politics and it led me to undertake an internship with the United Nations Headquarters in New York which also confirmed my interest in international institutions, and led me to specialize in international law. I ended up undertaking an LLM and a JSD (Doctorate) in Public International Law at Yale Law School. So, it started off as a fairly random elective choice and became my field of study and the direction of my career. I left Australia around 22 years ago and I have lived in Tokyo, Kyoto, New York, The Hague, Paris, London, and Oxford: this was sometimes driven by personal factors but always for international law opportunities as well. Living in these different countries has helped in terms of building a network, learning languages, understanding different approaches to questions of international law, and for enhancing cross-cultural understanding. 

Question: Which public international law case that you have worked on in your career has been the most professionally stimulating one?

Answer: I have two cases that I would like to mention. The first one is quite a classic one; it was the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro) at the ICJ where I worked as the Special Assistant and Legal Officer to President Rosalyn Higgins. It was a special case in many ways. It was Judge Higgins’ first case presiding as President of the Court. It was a very significant case concerning allegations of genocide by one state against another. There were six weeks of hearing, which is unusual for the ICJ. It was a very intensive  process of deliberation. I gained a number of insights. First of all, it showed me the evolution in the work of the ICJ. The traditional view is that the ICJ is there for territorial and maritime delimitation, but increasingly – as with with Ukraine v Russia, another case under the Genocide Convention –  the Court is being asked about alleged massive human rights violations. The Court is being looked to as a guiding light for how states should fulfil their responsibilities and be held accountable. I think the Bosnian Genocide judgment was a significant milestone in that evolution, but it also showed the limits of the Court’s jurisdiction because there was clearly evidence of crimes against humanity and other mass atrocities, but the Court was only able to decide the case in relation to the allegations of genocide. Sometimes the limitations on the Court are hard for the general public to understand: they see all this evidence of human rights violations, but then the Court decides that there was one instance of genocide and the requisite specific intent was lacking for other incidents. It was also a significant case for me because it was fact-heavy. There were live witnesses and reams of evidence. There was also an interesting interaction between the ICJ and the Yugoslav Tribunal. In sum, I think the case confirmed the challenges facing the ICJ, but also demonstrated its ability to be a real leader in this field.

As regards the second case:  international law crops up in domestic courts all the time, so when we think of “international law cases”, it does not necessarily mean only ICJ or ICC cases. I have been working on a case for four years concerning allegations of human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude of a migrant domestic servant in London. I have been representing the domestic worker in her case against the diplomat who employed her. On the one hand, it is a simple employment law claim. She is claiming that she was not paid properly, not treated properly and that her contract was breached. But on the other hand, it is a test case for the scope of diplomatic immunity in international law, specifically the question of whether human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude can fall within the exception in Article 31(1)(c) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations that pertains to a “commercial activity” outside of the diplomat’s functions. That case was heard in October 2021 by the UK Supreme Court and I hope that the eventual judgment will be one that advances justice.

Question: Covid- 19 has impacted international law litigation. What kind of incorporations/ reforms can be advantageous for International Courts so that a pandemic does not affect its working?

Answer: The impact of the pandemic has been interesting because in recent years there had been discussions about making courts more flexible, introducing technology to facilitate their work, perhaps allowing video conferencing when it was appropriate for either defendants or witnesses, but it had been a very slow progress. Then, suddenly we had a massive two-year experiment in virtual hearings forced upon us and courts had to adapt. I have to say the ICJ, the court I know best, is a very traditional court as the UN’s principal judicial organ, but it adapted surprisingly quickly. It quickly arranged to hold remote and hybrid hearings. Within three months of the pandemic, it had issued news rules that permitted not only the parties attending remotely but also the judges participating remotely. It also worked to maintain, the principle of open justice and to accommodate different time zones. The Court has continued to be able to deliver judgements and decisions that help resolve inter-state disputes, without building up a backlog. Of course, now we are thinking about which adaptations we keep as the pandemic wanes. Especially for the ICJ, there are advantages to in person hearings. These are cases of great significance to the parties. There are often diplomatic elements. It may be helpful to the parties to be meeting in person in the corridors of the Peace Palace, to be seeing each other to diffuse the tensions. This may militate in favour of maximising in person presence for ICJ cases. However, I think it may be helpful to retain some flexibility for when states or certain participants need to attend remotely. Another simple but practical change that I hope the court will consider is electronic filing of pleadings because typically it requires the delivery of 125 hard copies of the pleading to the Peace Palace. Many of these pleadings are hundreds of pages. It would facilitate matters on the parties’ sides, at least, if emailing the pleadings was an option.

to be continued…

Work On! Call for Applications: 2022 EULab Summer School

The EULab is now accepting applications for the Summer School on Labour Migration in the European Union.

The program is open to 30 postgraduate students in the fields of law, international relations, and social science who intend to develop a solid knowledge on labour migration in Europe from the specific lense of International and EU law. The program will take place from June 27 – July 7, online through Microsoft Teams. It will cover 4 modules, including The European Pillar of Social Rights, Migrant Workers’ Socio-Economic Rights, Agriculture, and Domestic Work. Instruction will be delivered by distinguished scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and other stakeholders. Participants will gain a comprehensive understanding of the multilevel legal framework governing labour migration in the EU. 

The deadline to apply is June 20, 2020. Applications, including a CV and a motivation letter, can be submitted to Click here for more information.

Go On! Cross-Border Commercial Dispute Resolution – HCCH 2005 Choice of Court and 2019 Judgments Conventions Zoom Webinar

Go On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures, and similar events.

►  Singapore-based Asian Business Law Institute (ABLI) and the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) announced open registration for a webinar: Cross-border Commercial Dispute Resolution – HCCH 2005 Choice of Court and 2019 Judgments Conventions.

The event will be held on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, from 3pm to 6pm (Singapore time). With two sessions, each devoted to one of the conventions, attendees have the option to choose which session(s) to attend to listen directly from judges, practitioners and senior HCCH legal officers on the operations of the Choice of Court and Judgments Conventions.

For more information or to register, click here.

Register by June 26, 2022, to enjoy an early bird discount of 15% off.

Go On! “Challenges for Women in the International Justice System”

The SNF-funded project Diversity on the International Bench: Building Legitimacy for International Courts and Tribunals”, led by Professors Neus Torbisco-Casals and Andrew Clapham (Graduate Institute, Geneva), continues to host its monthly public lecture series on “Women’s Voices in the International Judiciary”. The series aims to reflect on the lack of diversity in the international judiciary —especially gender diversity—, which raises concerns not just in terms of descriptive representation and symbolic self-identification, but also regarding unconscious bias and systemic privileging of specific ideologies or positions in the process of adjudication.

The eighth lecture will welcome Hilary Charlesworth, Judge of the International Court of Justice, the first Australian woman elected to the court and the fifth woman ever elected. The lecture will take place on May 30th, 2020 on Zoom at 6:30PM (CEST). To register for this event, click here.

Introducing Ananya Mukherjee

It is our pleasure to introduce our new contributor Ananya Mukherjee. Ananya is an India qualified lawyer and a graduate from the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. She has 4 years of professional work experience working on corporate laws, M&A, PE & VC deals in India, and currently works at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements on higher education policy in India. She is actively interested in fields of international criminal law, international environmental law, human rights and policy. She is also a trained negotiator and mediator from ADR Group UK and an incoming MPA student at Columbia University, New York. Previously she was a Public Policy Scholar with the Global Governance Initiative and enjoys spending her weekends working with leading Indian NGO’s such as Udayan Care towards helping young women achieve their professional potential. Outside of the work space, she enjoys painting, is a trained Scuba Diver and mentors young lawyers in India in navigating the domestic and international legal and policy space.

Heartfelt welcome!

Introducing Ruby Axelson and Anna Mykytenko

It is our pleasure to introduce our new contributors Ruby Axelson and Anna Mykytenko. Ruby Axelson is a Senior Adviser focusing on international litigation and project implementation in the fields of international criminal law, international humanitarian law and gender justice. Ruby currently leads GRC’s MATRA-Ukraine Project “Strengthening Ukraine’s Capacity to Investigate and Prosecute International Crimes”, executed in partnership between GRC and T.M.C Asser Instituut. Ruby is appointed to the defence team of Jovica Stanišić before the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), prior to this she was on the defence team of Ratko Mladić at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Anna Mykytenko is a Senior Adviser and the Ukraine Country Manager at Global Rights Compliance Foundation. As a Ukrainian lawyer specialising in international humanitarian and criminal law, Anna advises Ukrainian state authorities, specifically, law enforcement organs, and NGOs on compliance with international humanitarian law, and the investigation and prosecution of international crimes. Additionally, she is engaged in conducting legal analysis and advising organs of the legislative and executive powers on various issues stemming from the belligerent occupation in Crimea and certain districts of the Ukrainian East.

Heartfelt welcome!

Go On! Documenting Good Practice on Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in the Sepur Zarco Case

Go On! makes note of interesting conferences, lectures, and similar events.
►  The War Crimes Research Office of American University Washington College of Law, co-sponsored by the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and the War Crimes Research Office of American University Washington College of Law with UN Women, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo and ReLeG announced open registration for a discussion of “Documenting Good Practice on Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: the Sepur Zarco Case“, which will be held on Friday May 13th at 12 p.m. EST via Zoom.  Click here for Registration.

Sepur Zarco is a landmark verdict in which a Guatemalan court convicted two former military members of acts of sexual violence, sexual slavery, and domestic slavery committed against Maya Q’eqchi’ women near a military outpost in Sepur Zarco during the civil war in Guatemala. This was one of the first convictions of former military members for acts of sexual violence committed in the context of the country’s civil war, and one of the first instances of a domestic court anywhere prosecuting sexual slavery as an international crime.

The report highlights some of the critical developments prior to the case, as well as the social, legal, and political strategies employed in the case, which led to its remarkable success. It will also offer some reflections about the challenges that have emerged since the Sepur Zarco case and the potential lessons learned for pending and future litigation of similar cases in the region.

Speakers include Demecia Yat, President of the Jalok U Collective and one of the survivors of the conflict-related violence in the SepurZarco case, as well as:

·      Paula Barrios, Chief Coordinator, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo.

·      Susana SaCouto, Professorial Lecturer-in-Residence and Director, War Crimes Research Office, American University Washington College of Law.

·      Claudia Martin, Professorial Lecturer-in-Residence and Co-Director, Academy of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law.

·      Emily Kenney, Policy Specialist, Rule of Law and Transitional Justice, UN Women.

·      Ana Grace Cabrera Cordon, Coordinator on Women, Peace & Security and Humanitarian Action, UN Women Guatemala.

This event is free but requires registration through:

Date: Friday, May 13, 2022 – 12:00pm to 1:30pm.