On the Job! Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer (Firearms Control Expert)

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is seeking a firearms control expert (P3).

This position is located in the Implementation Support Section (ISS) of the Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch (OCB), Division for Treaty Affairs (DTA) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna. The incumbent will work under the direct supervision of the Senior Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, heading the Global Firearms Programme (GFP).

The deadline for this position is May 6, 2021. For more information, click here.

Go On! International Nuremberg Principles Academy: Film Screening ‘Peace Through Justice’

The International Nuremberg Principles Academy is pleased to announce a global screening of the documentary “Peace Through Justice – The Legacy of Thomas Buergenthal” on Judge Thomas Buergenthal’s life and legacy, followed by a live conversation between Judge Thomas Buergenthal and Deputy Director Dr. Viviane Dittrich.

The documentary by Ilona Kalmbach and Sabine Jainski presents the life and legacy of Judge Thomas Buergenthal, Honorary President of the Advisory Council of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy. In the live conversation following the film screening Judge Buergenthal will address his commitment to seeking accountability without revenge as well as current challenges in the field and will be open to questions from the audience.

The live screening is on April 13, 2021 at 5:00PM CEST. For more information and to register for the screening, click here.

Time to Reconsider the Use of Sanctions

This is a translation of an Opinion Piece published by my colleague Benedicte Bull,  Professor of Political Science, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Oslo, Norway https://www.sum.uio.no/english/people/aca/bbull/ (the original was published in Norwegian in Dagsavisen on March 30th)

The sanctions against Venezuela have worsened the economic crisis, contributed to consolidating Nicolás Maduro’s power, and deepened the criminalization of the economy.  This does not mean that all sanctions are wrong.  However, now that Biden’s general approach to sanctions seems to be rather similar to that of Trump,  there is a need to review what sanctions can and cannot accomplish.

Donald Trump set wild records regarding the amount of new sanction-actions issued against other countries- 3.900 total.  No president before him issued over 700.

Thus far, there is little that indicates that Joe Biden will be less eager to apply sanctions.  Furthermore, the EU, Russia, and China have recently ramped up the use of sanctions- often in response to the United States.

Sanctions were originally launched as a peaceful foreign policy tool that could reduce the use of military force. However, the effects and effectiveness of sanctions were criticized already in the late 1960s. Since then, experiences have been addressed in a substantial literature, drawing quite clear conclusions about the  consequences of use of sanctions . The developments in Venezuela illustrate many of those conclusions and were therefore easy to predict:

First, it is important to differentiate between individual sanctions against persons in positions of power and sanctions that block financial transactions or trade between countries or particular sectors.  The first sanctions against persons connected to the government in Venezuela were issued by the United States in 2011 and after 2014 they were directed against persons linked to human rights abuses and the narcotics trade.  The EU followed suit in 2017.

Such sanctions are being called for:  for example, individuals in the regimes in Nicaragua and Myanmar.  Individual sanctions have impact on the economy but can in some cases help to highlight the human rights situation. In Venezuela, however, the human rights situation has become dramatically worse over the last few year, with an explosion of extra-judicial executions and imprisonment of opposition actors.  

Second, substantive sanctions worsen economic crises. The first substantive sanctions against Venezuela were issued in 2017. They prevented the nation from taking on new loans in the international market.  In 2019, the oil sanctions prevented Venezuela from exporting oil- which amounted to 95 per cent of the country’s export income.  In November 2020, Trump halted access to diesel which is used in the transport of goods, including food, through ending the exception from sanctions for crude-for-diesel swaps

When the sanctions were applied, Venezuela was already deep in an economic crisis, and it is difficult to disentangle the effect of sanctions from the ongoing crisis-dynamics. Venezuela’s economy had already shrunk over 30 per cent since 2013, inflation was about to reach 1000 per cent per year, the amount of people living in poverty had doubled since 2014 reaching over 80 per cent of the population, imports had been reduced to one sixth of the rate in 2013, and the lack of goods was harrowing. Nevertheless, there is increasing evidence that  sanctions worsened the situation. Today,  Venezuela’s economy has shrunk 65 percent, and there is an unfolding humanitarian crisis  in the resource-rich land, accelerated by particularly the oil-sanctions.

Third, sanctions rarely lead to regime change, nor do they manage to shift authoritarian regimes to democratic ones. More often, sanctions tend to consolidate the power of authoritarian leaders and worsen freedom of expression and association. The reasons are that authoritarian leaders can use sanctions as an «external enemy» and justify their own attacks. During the past few years, Venezuela has evolved from being a hybrid regime to a full authoritarian regime. Sanctions have also affected the business community that has been among the strongest regime-opponents, and contributed to  new divisions in the opposition

Fourth: Sanctions contribute to new inequality and criminalization of the economy.  In order to evade the sanctions,Nicolás Maduro enacted a type of perverse neo-liberalization: deregulation of prices and currency have rendered the dollar the only viable currency, a privatization program based in the so-called «anti-blockade law»,  a toll-exception in order to encourage direct private import which could violate the prohibition of trade with the state, and decentralization of control in various sectors- leaving them to criminal actors. The result is the growth of a new elite with access to dollars and a deep division with the poor majority. Another consequence is the strengthening of a variety of criminal activities, including illegal mining resulting in catastrophic impact on the environment within the vulnerable Venezuelan Amazon.

Fifth: Sanctions often lead to new alliances between “sanction-busters”. In the case of Venezuela, they have  strengthened the alliance with other countries subject to sanctions, including Russia, Syria, and Iran.  The relationship to Russia was established during the United States application of a weapons embargo against Venezuela in 2006. This converted Venezuela into one of Russia’s best importers of weapons. In later years, the two countries have cooperated on developing the cryptocurrency, which is increasingly utilized to avoid sanctions. 

Let there be no doubt, Venezuela’s catastrophe cannot be blamed on the sanctions.  Neither is there any reason to believe that Maduro would have become a devote democrat or prioritized welfare and human rights in the absence of sanctions. Yet, sanctions have worsened the lives of most people without being able to meet the goals that were set for them,

If the world continues down the wrong path of sanctions, it will not only worsen humanitarian crises, but also worsen the environment for international cooperation and strengthen criminal networks.  It is essential to take a critical look at what sanctions can do and not do, and not only let decisions of imposing them be based on whether they seem justified or not.  


Write On! Call for Papers on the United Nations War Crimes Commission

Dr. Amina Adanan of Maynooth University Law Department is organizing two online events this year, as part of her project on the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) funded by the Royal Irish Academy. The aim of the project is to bring together UNWCC scholars from all over the world in an international collaborative network.

The UNWCC, which operated from 1943-48, was a UN agency that supported localized prosecutions of international crimes committed during the Second World War. The work of the UNWCC gives an insight into substantive and procedural international criminal law in the post war period. Since 2017, the UNWCC Archives have been made available to the public online. However, the UNWCC and its importance to modern day international criminal law remains overlooked and under explored.

The first of these virtual events is a workshop on May 28, 2021. The online workshop is an opportunity for UNWCC scholars to present on any aspect of their UNWCC research and receive feedback on their work from the other experts and attendees in a constructive environment. Presentations will be 10-15 mins and the event will include keynote lectures by leading scholars on the UNWCC. 

Submissions should be composed of a single pdf or Word doc file, and should include: the applicant’s name and institutional affiliation, an abstract (max. 300 words), key words (max. 5), and ‘UNWCC workshop’ in the email subject line.

Submissions should be emailed to amina.adanan@mu.ie by April 20, 2021. Please click here for more information.

Write On! Call for Proposals: Narratives of International Law

Maastricht University – MindSpaces

This instalment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls for proposals from Maastrict University, as follows:

The Maastrict University Study Group for Critical Approaches to International Law invites abstracts for a workshop on Narratives of International Law. The aim of the workshop is to explore the meaning of international law to a diversity of actors and its purpose in the twenty-first century. The workshop will take place over Zoom on May 20, 2021. Abstracts for the workshop should be submitted by April 25, 2021. For more information on the workshop and details of the requirements for abstracts, click here.

Write On! The Hague Yearbook of International Law

Cover Hague Yearbook of International Law / Annuaire de La Haye de Droit International

This instalment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls for contribution to the Hague Yearbook of International Law, as follows:

The Hague Yearbook of International Law is now receiving submissions for publication in its upcoming volume. The Hague Yearbook of International Law is an internationally recognized journal with a wide-ranging and in-depth focus on various issues of international law. It aims to offer a platform for review of new developments in the field of international law. In addition, it devotes attention to developments in the international law institutions based in the international City of Peace and Justice, The Hague. Submissions on any issues of public or private international law in either English or French language are welcomed. The Editorial Board will select articles based on their quality and relevance. Selected papers will be subject to peer-review before publication. Most published papers are around 15,000 words, but shorter and longer pieces may also be accepted. Submissions should follow the OSCOLA style guide and should be sent to hagueyearbook@gmail.com before midnight on 1 May 2021  For more information, please click here.

Go On! Centre for Applied Human Rights Event

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

►  The Centre for Applied Human Rights announced open registration for The Istanbul Convention in Turkey, past, present and future in action, which will be held on online on March 31, 2021, from 3:00 – 4:30 PDT . The event will consist of three presentations and a Q & A. The past impact and uncertain future of the Istanbul Convention will be at the heart of the legal analyses provided by three Turkish experts, from the point of view of victim-support activities, gender-based lawyering and of constitutional law. Click here for details and registration.

ICC Ongwen Case Event

For our readers interested in the International Criminal Court, I am posting information about an upcoming event on the ICC Ongwen case, on Wednesday, March 24, from noon – 1:00 p.m. EST.  The event will be co-hosted by Dr. Julie Fraser (Utrecht University, Netherlands) and yours truly, and it will feature Sarah Kihika Kasande, International Centre for Transitional Justice, Kjell Anderson, University of Manitoba, Grace Acan, Co-Founder of Women’s Survivors’ Group in Northern Uganda, Adina Nistor, University of Groningen, and Dov Jacobs, Leiden University.  

The event will be formally hosted by the Public International Law and Policy Group and Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges.Event information and the registration link are available here:
https://www.publicinternationallawandpolicygroup.org/ongwen-case-roundtable

Go On! Transitional Justice in the USA Web Series: Panel 2

The Center for International Law and Policy’s Transitional Justice in the USA announces its second webinar entitled How Do We Build Collaborative Models for Transitional Justice Process? on March 24, 2021 at 4:30PM (EST). This panel explores how human rights and academic institutions, and their affiliates, can best support an existing grassroots network of racial justice advocates working on themes related to Transitional Justice in the United States in ways that do not replicate the same predominant power structures these movements seek to dismantle. 

For more information and to register, click here.

Write On! Irish Yearbook of International Law Call for Papers

The Irish Yearbook of International Law invites submissions on any area of public or private international law for publication as an article. The IYBIL Student Prize – consisting of €250, sponsored by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs – will be awarded to the best submission written by an individual enrolled in a degree program at the time of submission. Submissions (typically 10,000-12,000 words), comprising a 100-word abstract, article referenced in OSCOLA style, and confirmation of exclusive submission, should be sent to James Gallen (james.gallen@dcu.ie) by July 31, 2021.

The editors are also happy to consider book reviews written by authors from anywhere in the world on any topic loosely connected with international law. Book review suggestions should be sent to Bríd Ní Ghráinne (brid.nighrainne@mu.ie) and will be considered on a rolling basis.

For more information, click here.