In the first part of this post, I discussed the chequered history of Article 1(4) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. This provision has elevated so-called “wars of national liberation” to the level of inter-state armed conflicts as far as international humanitarian law (IHL) is concerned—albeit only for the parties to the Protocol.
US President Donald Trump traveled to Singapore to negotiate urgent nuclear matters, and not to discuss North Korean violations of basic human rights. Any such willful US indifference to these violations in another country, especially when they are as stark and egregious as they are in North Korea, represents a sorely grievous disregard for America’s vital obligations under international law.
If someone was to make a ranking of the most controversial rules of international law, Article 1(4) of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions would very likely make the top 10. The Geneva Conventions themselves probably need little introduction; these four international treaties were adopted in the aftermath of World War II and now form the core of international humanitarian law (IHL).
In a much anticipated decision, the US Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. declared, by the narrowest of margins, that a state may require an internet seller to collect sales and use taxes even if the seller lacks physical presence in the state seeking to impose the obligation to collect its tax. Wayfair is an important decision, though much of the popular reporting about it has been overstated.
Patents—rights that governments grant to inventors for new inventions—pervade the modern world. The US alone grants about 300,000 of them annually, mostly for components of, or methods relating to, larger end products. Your smartphone, for example, contains thousands of patented features; but even many seemingly simpler items, such as cosmetics, often contain one or more.
Congratulations to the Queen’s University Belfast team represented by Darren Finnegan and Conor Lockhart, who were crowned champions of the OUP and BPP National Mooting Competition 2016-2017, which took place at BPP Law School, Holborn on 22 June 2017. His Honour Judge Gratwicke returned once again to preside over the final and kept the students on their toes with some keen questioning.
In recent years, Europe has lost much of its promise. The financial crisis, the debt crisis, the refugee crisis, the apparent systemic deficiencies of national and supranational governance structures, as well as a fading confidence in democratic government, have led to a certain impression of “messiness.”
Oxford University Press hosted its annual Celebrating Excellence in Law Teaching Conference at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool on 20 June. Playing a central role at the conference were the six Law Teacher of the Year Award finalists. Delegates learned what it was that makes them such exceptional teachers, and heard first–hand about their teaching methods, motivations, and philosophies. The conference concluded with current Law Teacher of the Year, Nick Clapham of the University of Surrey, naming Lydia Bleasdale of the University of Leeds as this year’s winner.
Economic inequality and campaign finance are two of the hottest topics in America today. Unfortunately, the topics are typically discussed separately, but they are actually intertwined.
The rise of US economic inequality that economist Thomas Piketty chronicles in his renowned book Capital in the Twenty-First Century – starting in the late 1970s and continuing through today – coincides remarkably with the US Supreme Court’s decision of Buckley v. Valeo.
The UN Refugee Convention promises safe haven to individuals who, having crossed an international boundary, can prove a well-founded fear of persecution based upon one of five categories. Least well-defined of these categories, and most ambiguous among them, is ‘membership in a particular social group.’ How does one prove lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender ‘membership’?
This past year, I wrote a book about lawyers’ service in the American Civil War, I argued that the lawyers’ part in the US and Confederate cabinets and in their respective Congresses made a civil war a little more civil, and allowed that out of horrific battle came a new respect for rule of law, as well as a new kind of positive, rights-based constitutionalism.
Congress should extend two taxes to donor-advised funds which currently apply to private foundations. First, Congress should apply to donor-advised funds the federal tax on private foundations’ net investment incomes. Second, Congress should extend to donor-advised funds the federal penalty tax imposed upon a private foundation if it fails to pay out annually an amount of at least equal to five percent of its assets.
The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) signifies different things to different people. It is both a court and an advisory body. It rules on disputes ranging from the personal, such as the inheritance of a hereditary title amid accusations of historic infidelity, to those of great public importance, such as the validity of elections, or significant commercially, such as the ownership or control of Turkey’s largest mobile phone company.
We live in a rapidly changing world with the constant presence of so-called “foreign elements” in legal cases. Take, for example, a car accident between an Ontario resident and a New York resident that took place in Mexico, or a contract signed in Japan between English and German residents with respect to delivery of goods in Brazil. Given the multitude of “foreign elements” in the factual bases of these cases, which state’s law should the domestic court apply to adjudicate the litigation? Should this be Ontario, New York, Mexico, English, German, Japanese, Brazilian law or even some other?
If a government ratifies investment treaties and provides foreigners with access to investor-state arbitration, they will receive additional foreign investment. This has been the premise of investment law for over 50 years. Is it true? Two decades of studies testing this premise have been inconclusive. Since statistics on foreign investment are notoriously unreliable, they are unlikely to provide a clear answer anytime soon.
Much as a single discovery can transform science, paradigm shifts in international law can emerge with astonishing speed. Twenty-five years ago, the UN Security Council sparked such a shift when it created a war crimes tribunal to punish those responsible for “ethnic cleansing” in the former Yugoslavia.