Write On! Palestine Yearbook of Int’l Law Vol. 22


This installment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls to submit papers for the Palestine Yearbook of International Law Vol. 22 as follows:

► The Palestine Yearbook of International Law is now inviting submissions of scholarly
articles for publication for its next volume, XXII (2019). This is a general call for papers. The Yearbook is published in the English language, is edited at Birzeit University’s Institute of Law (Birzeit, Palestine), and published by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (The Hague, The Netherlands). The Editor-in-Chief of the Yearbook is Mr. Ardi Imseis. 

► The Yearbook is now accepting abstracts for review. Abstracts should include a working title, with a preliminary outline of the author’s research and arguments, along with a current CV. Applicants should e-mail an abstract (of under 750 words), along with a CV by June 15, 2019.  See here for more information. All submissions should be made to:

• Ms. Reem Al-Botmeh: rbotmeh@birzeit.edu and iol.pyil@birzeit.edu; and
• Mr. Ata Hindi: atahindi@yahoo.com.


Write On! Law & Practice of Int’l Courts & Tribunals Rosalyn Higgins Prize


This installment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls to submit papers for the Rosalyn Higgins Prize as follows:

► The Law & Practice of International Courts and Tribunals now invites submissions for the Rosalyn Higgins Prize. The Rosalyn Higgins Prize is an annual prize which awards EUR 1,000 of Brill book vouchers and a LPICT subscription to the author of the best article on the law and practice of the International Court of Justice, either solely focusing on the ICJ or with the ICJ as one of the dispute settlement mechanisms under consideration. The winning article will also be published in LPICT and made freely available online to maximize its dissemination.

► Competition for the Prize is open to all: scholars as well as practitioners, junior as well as senior professionals. Submissions will be selected via a double-blind peer review process by a Prize Committee, including both co-Editors-in-Chief. Exceptionally, two papers of an equally high standard can be selected. The Committee is also able to choose not to award the Prize if in its opinion none of the submitted papers reaches the required standards.

► Submissions should be between 6,500 and 8,000 words in length, not yet published or under review elsewhere. Other submission requirements are the same as for regular LPICT submissions. Instructions available here. The deadline is August 31, 2019. All papers for consideration of the 2019 prize should be sent directly to Pierre Bodeau-Livinec (bodeaulivinec@gmail.com ) and Freya Baetens (freya.baetens@jus.uio.no), LPICT Co-Editors-in-Chief. The winner(s) will be announced in September 2019.

Write On! Rapoport Center Conference on Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform



This installment of Write On!, our periodic compilation of calls for papers, includes calls to submit papers to the conference on Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform: From the Local to the Global, as follows:

► The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at The University of Texas at Austin, School of Law invites submissions for an interdisciplinary conference on the theme of “Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform: From the Local to the Global,” to be held September 26-28, 2019 in Austin, Texas.

►The Rapoport Center invites proposals for papers, panels, art, or other forms of presentation from activists, practitioners, and scholars in all disciplines. Please send an abstract of your paper, panel, or project in under 500 words to Sarah Eliason by July 15, 2019. A limited number of need-based travel grants are available to support travel costs for selected participants. If you wish to apply for a travel grant, please complete this application form by July 15, 2019.

Read On! Research Handbook on International Law and Peace

I am pleased to announce the publication of the Research Handbook on International Law and Peace. Peace is an elusive concept, especially within the field of international law, varying according to historical era and between contextual applications within different cultures, institutions, societies, and academic traditions. This Research Handbook responds to the gap created by the neglect of peace in international law scholarship.
Explaining the normative evolution of peace from the principles of peaceful co-existence to the UN declaration on the right to peace, this Research Handbook calls for the fortification of international institutions to facilitate the pursuit of sustainable peace as a public good.
It sets forth a new agenda for research that invites scholars from a broad array of disciplines and fields of law to analyse the contribution of international institutions to the construction and implementation of sustainable peace. With its critical examination of courts, transitional justice institutions, dispute resolution and fact-finding mechanisms, this Research Handbook goes beyond the traditional focus on post-conflict resolution, and includes areas not usually found in analyses of peace such as investment and trade law. Bringing together contributions from leading researchers in the field of international law and peace, this Research Handbook analyses peace in the context of law applicable to women, refugees, environmentalism, sustainable development, disarmament, and other key contemporary issues. This volume includes the voices of several women scholars from a variety of disciplines: Kjersti Skarstad, Maja Janmyr, Cecilie Hellesveit, Vibeke Blaker Strand, Jemima Garcia-Godos, Cornelia Weiss, Azin Tadjini, Gro Nystuen, and Christina Voigt. The book aims to assist policymakers, practitioners, and academics in the fields of international law, human rights, jus post bellum, and development. It is available here: https://www.elgaronline.com/view/edcoll/9781788117463/9781788117463.xml

Interview with Professor Noura Erakat

Noura Erakat is a human rights attorney and assistant professor at George Mason University. She has served as legal counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives and as a legal advocate for Palestinian refugee rights at the United Nations. Noura’s research interests include human rights and humanitarian, refugee, and national security law. She is a frequent commentator, with recent appearances on CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NPR, among others, and her writings have been widely published in the national media and academic journals.


pid_26507Noura Erakat’s book, Justice For Some: Law and the Question of Palestine, was just published by Stanford University Press. I had the honor of interviewing Noura Erakat regarding her new book. The interview is transcribed below.

Milena Sterio: your book addresses an important topic – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – but a topic that many others have already researched and written about. How is your book, Justice for Some, different? What is your “hook”?

Noura Erakat: This book is about the relationship between international law and politics and shows how that relationship narrates the Palestinian struggle for freedom between 1917-2017. Organized chronologically, the book focusses on five different and key junctures in Palestinian history, to explain how the situation evolved to the present day and to show that the law is both the site of oppression and resistance. The book also makes a theoretical intervention by emphasizing the role of legal work, as defined by Duncan Kennedy, in determining the meaning of law and its dynamic ability to change across time and space.

Milena Sterio: What role has law, and international law in particular, played in the story of Palestine, and how does your book tackle these issues?

Noura Erakat: Although international law has not commanded conduct nor effectively punished transgressions, I show that it has been incredibly consequential. Israel’s legal workers have used it to legitimize Israeli military action in Gaza as well as provide a legal analysis that has facilitated the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It also shows how Palestinian legal workers have used it to inscribe their juridical status as a nation in international law and institutions as well as legitimate their use of force. The book explains how the law has become the site of struggle between Israeli and Palestinian legal workers, and the law has been used to justify oppression by the former, but also to inform resistance by the latter.

Milena Sterio: Was part of your goal in writing this book to offer a different historical narrative about Palestine?

Noura Erakat: Yes – most of Palestinian history has been viewed through the lens of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict- a framework that obfuscates the power imbalance between Israel- a state, the only nuclear power in the Middle East, and the 11th most powerful army in the world and Palestinians, a stateless people. I explicitly frame the book as one about the Palestinian struggle for freedom and draw on an alternative archive of Palestinian scholarship. This is especially unique in regard to scholarship on law and Palestine because that is dominated by Israeli scholars and scholarship, thus making their legal work appear as the norm.

Milena Sterio: How did you research Palestinian history? Did you travel to the region? Did you interview any historical figures?

Noura Erakat: I used a combination of legal analysis, archival research, and primary interviews for my research. I spent time in a rich archive at the American University of Beirut library; I also spent a significant amount of time in the Ramallah and Beirut offices of the Institute for Policy Studies which curates a remarkable archive that includes Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) annual yearbooks. There was a dearth of information on certain junctures including the negotiations that culminate in the Oslo Accords as well as the 1970s when the PLO turns to the United Nations and embarks on legal advocacy. To fill this lacuna, I conducted primary interviews. For example, I reconstruct the negotiations process by interviewing Palestinian negotiators who had participated in the Madrid and Washington negotiations. By doing this, I was able to describe, in this book, a completely different story about the Oslo Accords- one that did not just document how bad of a legal agreement it was for Palestinian interests but that also explained how and why the PLO ultimately endorses it. Much of this story has not been told before.

Milena Sterio: Who is the audience for this book?

Noura Erakat: This book is for a general audience – so anyone who wants to understand the Question of Palestine can benefit from it- in a formal classrooms teaching Middle East studies and beyond. its emphasis on law and its use of critical legal theory will make it particularly appealing to law students, practitioners, and scholars. I wrote this book as a tool of Palestinian knowledge production, where Palestinians are not portrayed simply as victims but instead where they play a central role in shaping the narrative.

Milena Sterio: Does your book offer any policy recommendations for the future?

Noura Erakat: No, this book does not offer policy recommendations. One of the goals of the book is to have a different conversation about Palestine that is not bound by the centrality of preserving Zionist settler sovereignty. It does this by proposing a different way to think about possibilities for the future by recasting the return of Palestinian refugees as the beginning of new futures rather than as the ultimate outcome of Palestinian struggle. How does the presence of six million refugees become an opportunity to forge new political communities that disrupt stark native/settler binaries? What is it that Palestinians have to offer to Jewish Israelis better than what Israel has been able to offer them? It also urges for abandoning a sovereignty framework – which has established the incommensurability of Palestinian and Zionist settler sovereignty – in favor of a framework of belonging which is not mutually exclusive. Part of this thought exercise is to think of what it would take to make Israel a part of the Middle East, rather than a satellite state in the Middle East. I suggest that this requires Jewish Israelis to accept and embrace everything indigenous to the region as the first step.

Milena Sterio: What is next on your research agenda? Do you have other projects lined up about the region or the conflict?

Noura Erakat: I have several research projects lined up. One research project looks at framing Israel’s shoot-to-kill policy in Gaza as a form of settler-colonial eliminatory violence. I am writing another article on the topic of surveillance and settler colonialism using Israel’s encroachment in one Palestinian village as a case study. And I have an additional project about the work of Israeli lawyers in the field of national security law.

My next book project begins where this book ends: namely at the “sovereignty trap,” which I define as a political arrangement of derivative sovereignty featuring native collaboration with settler-colonial and imperial powers, whereby good native behavior is rewarded with limited autonomy and perpetual subjugation. I am examining contemporary renewals of Black Palestinian transnational solidarity to explore the potential for freedom in excess of sovereignty. At this stage, my research consists primarily of interviews with activists involved in this movement.

Go On! Seminar on Human Rights and Mass Atrocities

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

Griffith College in Dublin, Ireland, will be hosting the 2nd annual Human Rights and Mass Atrocities Law Seminar taking place from June 19-21.

The 3 day certificate seminar will deep dive into the following topics: wildlife crimes, child sex crimes, universal jurisdiction, starvation as a mass atrocity, post colonialism, indigenous rights and climate change, human rights defenders, and prosecuting genocide cases.

Registration is now open. For more information, click here.

The number of convictions at the ICC — a fair performance indicator?

In yesterday’s post on the Atlantic Council website, several prominent individuals argued that the International Criminal Court (“ICC”, “Court”) needs fixing. Citing the Afghanistan decision as an example of the Court’s inability to operate as it should, they argued that there is a “growing gap between the unique vision captured in the Rome Statute, the Court’s founding document, and some of the daily work of the Court” and that an independent assessment is needed. Elsewhere, it has been argued that the Court has produced a “paucity of concrete results”, as there have not been many convictions, which has also been cited as a challenge to its legitimacy. However, is the ICC’s track record in convicting people really a fair indicator of its weakness? Or even of its strength? While it is clear that there should be an independent assessment, the indicators must be clearly evaluated for their fairness, especially in a highly politicized context such as that in which the ICC operates.

Former ICTY and ICTR prosecutor Richard Goldstone has previously addressed this point, arguing that using the number of convictions at the ICC as an indicator of its success or failure is not fair. Mr. Goldstone makes a critical point: “I have often cavilled at criticisms of acquittals in international criminal courts. I have said on many occasions that the fairness of any criminal justice system must be judged by its acquittals and not by convictions. As a former chief prosecutor of the ICTY and ICTR, I welcomed acquittals that helped establish the credibility of those courts.” Mr. Goldstone is right: a court – especially an international criminal court – cannot and should not be judged to be a failure or inept because of its number of convictions. This is not to say that the ICC has not stumbled or made mistakes along the path, but it is neither fair nor appropriate to level criticisms of failure or illegitimacy against the Court because it has not convicted more people. It is worth remembering that the Court’s job is not to deliver convictions to the public or to anyone else, but to deliver fair and impartial trials. If it were to fail in this respect, it should be held to account, and it should be constantly monitored and scrutinized to ensure that this does not happen. However, monitoring and scrutinizing the fairness of Court proceedings is fundamentally different from using its attempts to uphold fair trial rights and the consequently low number of convictions as evidence of its failure or weakness as an institution. To this end, it is unequivocally preferable to have a Court that acquits rather than convicts when in doubt.

If there is an independent assessment of the Court’s structures, it is important to contextualize the analysis and to make the political context in which the Court operates and its limitations a central feature, rather than honing in on conviction rates. The political problems that are and have been hindering the ICC’s performance are macro issues, and the micro issues that are symptomatic of deeper problems should not be confused with foundational weaknesses. It is undeniable that the Court needs more political support, and allowing it to function – even when it does not suit state political or financial goals – is imperative for its long-term survival, especially considering that in some cases the Court cannot act due to political and structural limitations that have been in place from the beginning. This was perfectly illustrated in 2014, when Russia and China blocked a Security Council referral of Syria to the ICC, displaying the Court’s utter reliance on international political will. Independent, impartial judicial action has been the aim and objective of international justice from the beginning, but the international community has not yet succeeded in achieving this goal. When will it?