International Law in Brief


International Law in Brief (ILIB) is forum that provides updates on current developments in international law from the editors of ASIL's International Legal Materials.
| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : February 02, 2021 |

On January 28, 2021, a Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) held that it has jurisdiction over the boundary dispute between Mauritius and Maldives. The judgment was in response to five preliminary objections raised by Maldives, arguing that the Special Chamber did not have jurisdiction over the matter. First, Maldives argued that the United Kingdom is an "indispensable third party" to the dispute because of its sovereign claim over the Chagos Archipelago and that, in its absence, jurisdiction over the dispute is improper. Relatedly, Maldives...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 29, 2021 |

On Friday, January 29, 2021, a group of Diplomatic Missions in Myanmar, including Australia, Canada, the United States, and a number of European Union Member States, issued a joint statement in support of "Myanmar's democratic transition and efforts to promote peace, human rights, and development in the country." The statement expressed optimism surrounding the upcoming Parliamentary session and its elections on February 1 and "congratulate[s] the people of Myanmar on their historic participation in the country's recent general election," which took place on November 8, 2020. The statement...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 26, 2021 |

On January 24, 2021, the Central African Republic (CAR) surrendered Mahamat Said Abdel Kani to the International Criminal Court (ICC), who is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the CAR capital of Bangui. Mr. Said had an arrest warrant issued against him by the ICC in January 2019, after a Pre-Trial Chamber II finding that "there were reasonable grounds to believe that an armed conflict not of an international character was ongoing on the territory of the CAR"; that "from at least March 2013 until at least January 2014, a widespread and systematic attack was...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 15, 2021 |

The U.S. Department of State has published the text of three agreements which entered into force at the end of 2020. The Agreement Concerning Distributed Ocean Sensing between the U.S. Department of Defense and the NATO Science and Technology Organization Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation entered into force on October 21, 2020. It has three objectives relating to the development of oceanographic sensing and analytical equipment and the sharing of information of oceanographic data.

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with Poland entered into force on November 13...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : January 06, 2021 |

The first joint law report of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, European Court of Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has been published. The 107-page report covers 2019 and is the product of the three courts' "solid judicial dialogue" on human rights. The report presents a selection of the leading decisions of each court from that year, some of which, according to the report's introduction (signed by each of the courts' respective presidents), "illustrate how the courts are increasingly having regard to each other’s approach to human rights protection...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : December 18, 2020 |

On Friday, December 18, 2020, the International Court of Justice issued its decision in Guyana v. Venezuela, on the question of its jurisdiction in the case. Guyana asked the Court “to confirm the legal validity and binding effect of the Award regarding the Boundary between the Colony of British Guiana and the United States of Venezuela, of 3 October 1899).” According to a press release from the Court, Guyana argued that the 1899 award was the final settlement on all questions relating to the boundary line between British Guyana and Venezuela. According to Guyana, the Court’s...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : December 14, 2020 |

On Friday, December 11, 2020, the International Court of Justice issued its judgment in Equatorial Guinea v. France, concerning “the immunity from criminal jurisdiction of the Second Vice-President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea in charge of Defence and State Security [Mr. Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue], and the legal status of the building which houses the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea in France.” The dispute originated with a complaint by Transparency International (filed with the Paris Public Prosecutor) against several African Heads of State and their family members...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : December 10, 2020 |

On Monday, December 7, the Council of the European Union (EU) adopted Decision 2020/1999 and Regulation 2020/1998, together establishing a mechanism to sanction serious human rights violations and abuses. The legal basis for the regulation is Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which permits the Council to adopt measures providing for "the interruption or reduction, in part or completely, of economic and financial relations with one or more third countries" in relation to the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy under Chapter 2 of Title V of the Treaty on...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : December 08, 2020 |

On December 4, 2020, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights delivered an Advisory Opinion related to a request by the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) on the compatibility of vagrancy laws with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other human rights instruments applicable in Africa. In particular, PALU contended that several member states of the African Union have laws in force that criminalize “the status of individuals as being poor, homeless or unemployed as opposed to specific reprehensible acts” (generally referred to by PALU as “vagrancy laws”). PALU alleged...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : December 02, 2020 |

On November 27, 2020, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights delivered five judgments involving Benin, Ghana, Mali, and Rwanda. Each of the judgments are now available on the Court’s website.

The case of Akwasi Boateng and Others v. Republic of Ghana involved the alleged confiscation by force of lands belonging to the Applicants, following a boundary dispute between the Twifo Hemang Community and the Morkwa Community, but was dismissed after a finding that the Court lacked temporal jurisdiction to consider the Application.

In Léon Mugesera v. Republic of...