ICC Assembly Finishes for Another Year


Photo Credit: ICC-CPI

The annual Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has finished, having taken place from November 16-24 in The Hague, Netherlands. IntLawGrrls had a team of bloggers at the ASP, whose work in contributing a series of nine posts has now wrapped up.

These posts began with a discussion of the statements by States Parties at the opening of the ASP, in which many states expressed regret regarding the announced withdrawals of South Africa, Burundi and Gambia from the Rome Statute, and of support for the ICC and the anti-impunity project of international criminal law. This post noted that the feared mass withdrawal of African states did not materialize: rather, a number of African states – including Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – reiterated their support for the work of the ICC.

The posts that followed ranged from a discussion of the reasons behind Burundi’s announced withdrawal, the Prosecutor’s preliminary examinations into crimes in Afghanistan and Guinea, the reality of the work of the ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims, the Prosecutor’s Policy on Children and complementary efforts to eliminate the use of child soldiers, an interview with Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch (a key nongovernmental figure on international criminal law issues for over two decades), and women on the ICC’s bench.

This last issue will be one – among many – to watch between now and the opening of the next ASP. In 2017, the ASP will elect six new judges. These judges will replace judges whose terms are expiring, five of whom are female (including the current ICC President, Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi). With the ICC’s bench currently the most balanced between male and female judges of any international criminal tribunal, the stakes will be high in 2017 in order to maintain this momentum toward gender balance. Another issue to watch will be the ICC’s annual programme budget, which was approved at this ASP at just under €144.6 million (€141.6 million plus Host State Loan), representing a slight increase over the 2016 programme budget of €137.39 million.


ICC Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor with  IntLawGrrls bloggers and other members of the Canadian NGO team

Our IntLawGrrls bloggers had several memorable experiences at the ASP, including:

  • Attending a session on the protection of human rights defenders and witnessing Gladwell Otieno, director of the Africa Centre for Open Governance, being publicly threatened at the ASP by a senior Kenyan government official for critiquing the Kenyan government’s intimidation of civil society organisations:
  • Meeting with representatives of the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor and the Canadian section of Avocats sans frontières/Lawyers Without Borders to discuss international criminal justice issues in Colombia. More generally, observing diplomacy through the interactions of different actors: civil society, state representatives and the organs of the Court:
  • Attending an event titled “Child Soldiers: Prevention and Accountability” with LGen (Ret’d) Roméo Dallaire, former Commander of the UN Mission to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide: and
  • Discovering the disconnect between the rhetoric of states around victims, and the relative lack of economic and other support by the same states for the Trust Fund for Victims.

We hope that IntLawGrrls readers have enjoyed this symposium on the ICC ASP. Join us again next year for more ASP analysis!

The participation of the IntLawGrrls bloggers to the 15th Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through the project “Strengthening Justice for International Crimes: A Canadian Partnership.”

Write on! Call for Papers: NALSAR International Law Journal

The NALSAR International Law Journal, and the NALSAR International Law Society (affiliated to the ILSA) are located at the NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, India. The NALSAR International Law Journal was launched in recognition of an acute lack of International Law scholarship in India. 

The first edition of the Journal received a great response, and the International Law Society at NALSAR has since come a long way. That edition can be accessed here – https://nilj.nalsar.ac.in/Archive.php. This year, we seek to bring out an annual edition of the Journal, and encourage discussion on Public International Law in Indian academic circles. We are keen on publishing articles drawing attention to gender issues within international law.


More Information About the Call for Papers Can be Found Here: call-for-papers-nalsar-international-law-journal

Telling Places with Georgian IDPs

Photograph of Georgian IDP camp, copyright Hannah Mintek, 2010.

Telling Places with Georgian IDPs

Although it created new opportunities for many Soviet peoples, the end of Soviet rule also left many wounds unhealed, while creating new traumas. In the Caucasus, the post-Soviet decades were marked by frequent bloody conflict, from Chechnya to Nagorno-Karabakh to Abkhazia. Wars raged among Georgians, Russians, Ossetians, Chechens, Ingush, and Abkhazians over borders that had been contested since the advent of Soviet rule, if not earlier.

In the Republic of Georgia, one upshot of over two decades of violence is the nearly 300,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) who now reside a country with a total population of 4.6 million. How can these IDPs be integrated into Georgian society, and move on with their lives, given all the damage that has been inflicted by war and the fact that many of them still lack permanent homes? How, in short, do people build new lives after catastrophe?

A new project I am organizing with geographer Elizabeth Dunn of Indiana University, “Telling Places: Forced Migration and Spatial Memory in the Caucasus,” seeks a partial resolution to the emotional upheavals of the 2008 Georgian-Russian war. In partnership with Georgian NGOs and Georgian scholars, we will use digital mapping technologies (GIS) to create a resource that will be eventually managed by IDPs. This resource will provide a transferable technology usable by IDP communities around the world seeking to reconstruct their lives.

We are calling this resource a ‘convening point’ rather than a website, given the degree of interactivity we envision. The Telling Places convening point will interactively map the villages from which IDPs were ethnically cleansed, and keep the pasts these villages represent for IDPs alive in digital form. As a spatially-organized multi-media repository, Telling Places will gather interviews, video, and writings by IDPs with the family documents and maps that IDPs have preserved during their displacement. This resource will help IDPs rebuild their attachments to their home villages and preserve their memories for future generations.


Continue reading

Write On! Call for Papers: Colonial Law Conference, Helsinki (deadline March 1)

eci20ryhmakuva-7-349pxThe Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki has announced a call for papers for the Conference “Law Between Global and Colonial: Techniques of Empire,” to be held from 3-5 October 2016.

The conference proposes to discuss the legal languages and techniques through which colonial powers ruled non-European territories and populations throughout the modern age. The aim of the conference is to examine in detail the juridical practices and discourses of colonial powers when they exercised their supremacy over colonial subjects and disciplined them. Although the focus of the conference is historical, its theme resonates in the present. With the great numbers of people moving about in Europe, Asia and Africa as migrants, guest workers, refugees and displaced persons, territorial states have often used methods and techniques that resemble those with which colonial populations once were treated. With research showing a sharp rise in world inequality, the conference poses the question whether legislative techniques and institutions inherited from the imperial past, once again see the light of day in the present.

The conference will close the four and a half-year period of the Finnish Academy research project on “International Law, Religion and Empire” at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki. Members: Martti Koskenniemi, Paolo Amorosa, Mónica García-Salmones, Manuel Jimenez and Walter Rech.

Abstracts are due by March 1. For more information, see the full Call for Papers at http://www.helsinki.fi/eci/Events/Call_for_Papers_Colonial_Law_2016.pdf.


Investigating Crimes against Peacekeepers in the Situation in Georgia

The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has officially requested authorisation from the court to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the armed conflict in Georgia between the breakaway region of South Ossetia and Georgia (also involving the Russian Federation) in August 2008. A key strand of the investigation concerns alleged attacks against peacekeepers, in this case, the Joint Peacekeeping Forces Group or JPKF, created in 1992 to monitor the Sochi agreement between Georgia and Russia, and comprised of peacekeepers from Russia, Georgia and North Ossetia.

In its request, the OTP argues that there is reasonable basis to believe that both South Ossetian (potentially with Russian armed forces exercising overall control) and Georgian armed forces committed the war crime of attacking personnel or objects involved in a peacekeeping mission. Georgian peacekeepers were reportedly heavily shelled from South Ossetian positions, killing two Georgian peacekeepers and injuring five more, while, in a separate incident, ten Russian peacekeepers were reportedly killed and thirty wounded as a result of an alleged attack by Georgian forces against their base, which was also, reportedly, destroyed. While the OTP faces many challenges in this case (for discussions see here, here and here), from the perspective of sufficiency of evidence for substantive crimes, these allegations may be the most difficult to prove.

The ICC Statute gives the Court jurisdiction over the crime of intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian or peacekeeping missions in accordance with the UN Charter, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians or civilian objects under international humanitarian law (Articles 8(2)(b)(iii) and 8(2)(e)(iii)). Proving that an attack against peacekeepers has occurred is a two stage test. Firstly, it must be shown that the force in question was ‘a peacekeeping mission established in accordance with the UN Charter’, a concept that is open to different interpretations. The ICC has already considered this matter in some detail in its Abu Garda Decision on the Confirmation of Charges, where the Pre-Trial Chamber relied upon three basic principles when determining whether or not a peacekeeping mission was constituted, namely: (i) whether the consent of the parties to the mission has been obtained; (ii) that the mission is impartial; and (iii) that the mission did not use force other than in self-defence. If these principles are fulfilled, the mission constitutes a peacekeeping mission, and its personnel are entitled to civilian status and consequent protection under international humanitarian law (IHL).

The OTP acknowledges that there are difficulties surrounding whether the JPKF in fact fulfilled these criteria. This is particularly so regarding whether the mission was impartial (paras. 151-155). For example, the submission refers to sources cited by the Government of Georgia arguing that Russian peacekeeping sources were not impartial, but were supporting the South Ossetian de facto authorities (para. 152), there are also suggestions that infrastructure connected with Russian peacekeeping forces was being used to make an effective contribution to the military action of a party to the conflict (para. 172). Thus, the OTP’s conclusion that the ‘JPKF fulfilled the criteria of a peacekeeping mission in accordance with the UN Charter and so was entitled to protected civilian status’ (para. 160) is open to question. Continue reading

Write On! Call for Papers: Socio-Legal Review (deadline 1 November)

The Socio-Legal Review (SLR), a student-edited, peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal published by the Law and Society Committee of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, has issued a Call for Submissions for its twelfth volume, to be released in 2016. Submissions are due by November 1, 2015.

SLR aims to be a forum that involves, promotes and engages students and scholars to express and share their ideas and opinions on themes and methodologies relating to the interface of law and society. The Journal thus features guest articles by eminent scholars as well as student essays, providing an interface for the two communities to interact. From 2012, SLR has become a biannual publication from an annual publication.

The Journal subscribes to an expansive view on the interpretation of “law and society” thereby keeping its criteria for contributions simply that of high academic merit, as long as there is a perceivable link. This would include not just writing about the role played by law in social change, or the role played by social dynamics in the formulation and implementation of law, but also writing that simply takes cognizance of legal institutions/institutions of governance/administration, power structures in social commentary, and so on. Through this effort, the Journal also hopes to fill the lacunae relating to academic debate on socio-legal matters among law students.

Submission Guidelines

  1. All contributions submitted to the Journal should be original and should not be simultaneously considered for publication elsewhere.
  2. The Editorial Board has refrained from imposing a theme. A submission is welcome as long as it fits within the general mandate of the Journal, as outlined above.
    1. Contributions should be mailed only in a soft copy to slr@nls.ac.in and sociolegalreview.nls@gmail.com, the subject of the mail being ‘Submission for 2015 Volume’. Biographical information is to be provided in a removable title page.
    2. The Journal is accepting contributions for Articles and Short Articles. With reference to Articles, contributions should not ordinarily exceed 8000 words. With reference to Short Articles, contributions should not ordinarily exceed 5000 words. The Editorial Board reserves the right to reject without review manuscripts that exceed the word limit substantially.
    3. The Journal also accepts Book Reviews and Notes from the Field. The latter includes shorter pieces designed to provide a glimpse into a new legal strategy, political initiative or advocacy technique applied in the field, a current problem or obstacle faced in, legal reform or development work, or a new issue that has not yet received much attention and needs to be brought to light. Contributions should not exceed 3000 words.
    4. The last date for submission for the first issue is November 1st, 2015. Submissions may, nevertheless, be made after these dates. They will be considered for publication in the issue to follow.
    5. All submissions are to be made via e-mail as .doc or .docx documents.
    6. SLR follows the Harvard Blue Book – A Uniform System of Citation (20th edn.) style of referencing. Contributors are requested to comply with the same.
  3. For any clarifications, please contact us at slr@nls.ac.in or sociolegalreview.nls@gmail.com.

You go, ‘Grrl! Anna Dolidze appointed Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Defence


IntLawGrrl Anna Dolidze has been appointed Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Defence. Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli said at Anna’s appointment on May 15, 2015, “The main criterion for my choice is high professionalism. Her main direction will be human rights: everything connected with the wounded soldiers, our soldiers who serve abroad, the families of the fallen heroes.”

As part of her new role, Anna will be taking a leave of absence from her role as Professor of Law at the University of Western Ontario. Prior to joining Western Law, Anna served at a number of international and non-governmental organizations, including Human Rights Watch, the Russian Justice Initiative, and Save the Children. From 2004 to 2006, Anna was the President of the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, the largest legal advocacy organization in the Republic of Georgia. She also served at the National Constitutional Commission, Commission for the Human Rights in Prisons and the Expert Commission for Georgia’s European Integration.


Anna has taught and lectured at Duke University, Helsinki España-Human Dimension in Madrid, Sorbonne University in Paris, and Elmira Maximum Security Correctional Facility in New York State. She has co-authored a series of policy reports including a UN-sponsored report on the privatization of the internally displaced persons’ collective settlements (2005) and a policy proposal for the establishment of a truth commission in Georgia published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (2012). In 2012-2013 Anna was a Joachim Herz Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy of the German Marshall Fund, having contributed to the Academy’s annual report The Democratic Disconnect: Citizenship and Accountability in the Transatlantic CommunityHeartfelt congratulations, Anna!


(All photos courtesy Anna Dolidze.)