ESIL Newsletter September 2020
Editor: Sandrine Maljean-Dubois (University of Aix-Marseille)
In this issue
- President’s Message
- Guest Editorial by Stefania Negri: Borrowing from Multilateral Environmental Agreements to Strengthen the Effectiveness of the International Health Regulations (2005): Time for an IHR Compliance Committee?
- 2021 Research Forum
- 2020 ESIL Book Prize
- ESIL Events
- ESIL Reflections
- ESIL Teaching Corner
- News from Interest Groups
1. President’s Message
We are moving towards autumn with the rushed beginnings of the academic year for most of us, but, as it appears, this autumn will be a different one, as the COVID-19 crisis has yet to subside. No one wants this to be the new ‘normalcy’, but we are now becoming accustomed to virtual teaching and gatherings, at least for the near future.
In this direction, the Society held some of its annual events virtually this September. While the 16th Annual Conference in Stockholm has been postponed to September 2021, the traditional ‘Current Events’ panel was held online on 10 September, with the theme: “COVID-19 and International Law: science, disinformation, exceptions and emergencies”, graciously organized by our colleagues in Stockholm and which attracted a large audience. A wide range of international law aspects of the current health crisis were discussed by two panels of distinguished speakers, and many of the themes broached will surely be fleshed out in time, and with perspective.
The Society also held its annual General Assembly, as well as the elections of Board members, virtually. Several new members were elected to join the Board for the next four years: Freya Baetens (University of Oslo), Adriana Di Stefano (University of Catania), Ana Salinas (University of Málaga), Christian Tams (University of Glasgow) and Catharine Titi (CNRS-CERSA, University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas). We warmly welcome the new members, along with Veronika Bílková and Pierre d’Argent, who were re-elected for another term. The Society can be proud of the geographical diversity and gender balance (tipping towards a majority of women…) and the entrance of new voices bringing new ideas. At the same time, let me express my sincere gratitude to the Board members who served the Society for years and whose mandate has ended: Luis Hinojosa (former President, Anne van Aacken (former Vice-President), Fulvio Palombino (former Vice-President), and Philippa Webb.
Warm autumnal wishes to all, and please remember to check the ESIL website for news and up-coming events.
2. Guest Editorial: Borrowing from Multilateral Environmental Agreements to Strengthen the Effectiveness of the International Health Regulations (2005): Time for an IHR Compliance Committee?
The exponential spread of Covid-19 across the globe has spotlighted, now more than ever, the critical importance of reporting and managing infectious disease outbreaks with timeliness, transparency, due diligence and good faith.
These principles should unequivocally inform state action pursuant to the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR), the global binding instrument adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to prevent and control the international diffusion of communicable diseases. Notably, articles 6 and 7 IHR impose core reporting and information-sharing obligations: States Parties are required to promptly assess and notify the WHO of extraordinary events that may constitute “a public health emergency of international concern”; public health events have to be reported within 24 hours from detection by national surveillance systems; notification must be followed by continuous communication of timely, accurate and detailed public health information, including case definition, laboratory results, source and type of the risk, number of cases and deaths, conditions affecting the spread of the disease. Delay or non-compliance with these duties contributes to scaling up a local outbreak into a potential health emergency of international concern or, even worse, into a pandemic of unforeseen proportions undermining global health security.
As the Covid-19 crisis has revealed, holding states responsible for breaching IHR obligations and settling related disputes is not straightforward. The tools offered by the Regulations and the WHO Constitution show their inherent limits. In fact, the dispute settlement mechanism provided in article 56 IHR – never used so far – is substantially based on either negotiation or a resolution by the Director-General, while resort to binding procedures such as arbitration (under the same provision) or institution of proceedings before the International Court of Justice (under article 75 of the Constitution) would very probably clash with the reluctance of allegedly responsible states to give their consent.
Against this background, the time is probably ripe for exploring alternative solutions, borrowing from successful practices adopted in other fields of international law. As I suggested elsewhere, one such possibility could be the establishment of an IHR Compliance Committee emulating similar procedures created by multilateral environmental agreements. This body of independent experts could be either instituted by the World Health Assembly under article 18(l) of the WHO Constitution, or by the Executive Board under article 38. The IHR Compliance Committee would facilitate, promote and secure compliance with IHR obligations, also with a view to preventing international disputes. It should be entrusted with at least three major functions: monitoring and reviewing compliance on the basis of referral from the Director-General or the IHR Secretariat, or on the basis of communications filed by third states and non-state actors (along the same lines as article 9 IHR); providing advice and assistance to enhance respect for the Regulations; making recommendations or exercising enforcement powers through sanctions and other measures of a political nature to put pressure on non-complying states.
Without necessarily requiring an amendment to the current Regulations, a compliance procedure would bring strength to the IHR and enhance their effectiveness, while reaffirming the key role of WHO as the international leading institution governing their implementation at the global level.
3. 2021 Research Forum
The University of Catania, Department of Law, will host the 2021 ESIL Research Forum “Solidarity: The Quest for Founding Utopias of International Law”. The Catania ESIL Research Forum aims at inspiring thoughtful reflections on the genealogy of international solidarity by focusing on the actors, norms and processes influencing its evolution over time.
The event will be held on April 15th and 16th, 2021. The final programme of the conference will be delivered shortly. Pre-conference events organised by the ESIL Interest Groups will take place in the morning of April 15th. Most notably, the Interest Groups on “History of International Law”, “International Economic Law”, “International Environmental Law”, “International Law of Culture”, “Migration and Refugee Law”, “Peace and Security” and “The EU as a Global Actor” confirmed their presence at the event.
All participants attending the ESIL Research Forum shall register by filling the registration form by March 15th, 2021. Organizers will keep all registered participants informed on the updated schedule of the Research Forum.
For assistance and information please visit the conference website or contact the local secretariat: firstname.lastname@example.org
4. 2020 Esil Book Prize
Philippa Webb (King’s College, London)
As announced by the ESIL President at the Annual General Meeting, the ESIL Book Prize for 2020 is awarded to Dr Daniel Peat for his monograph Comparative Reasoning in International Courts and Tribunals (CUP, 2019).
The jury composed of eminent international lawyers (Professors Erika De Wet, Mathias Forteau and Christian Walter) evaluated a wide range of books published in 2019 submitted for consideration by leading publishers. Their decision to award the prize to Dr Peat was unanimous. According to the jury, the book’s “main virtue is that it draws new conclusions which are discovered behind well-known general issues” and is “concise (a quality that the members of the jury found important) yet very substantial, innovative and highly stimulating”. They commend the book to the ESIL membership, noting that “it will provide any international lawyer with new insights and perspectives on core issues of general international law and will not doubt pave the way to future researches in the field.”
The ESIL Book Prize 2020 will be celebrated with a conversation among the jury members and Dr Peat to be held online on 2 October (registration details to be announced soon). EJIL: Talk! has recently hosted a symposium on the book. Congratulations Daniel!
5. ESIL Events
On 10 September, ESIL and the Stockholm Centre for International Law and Justice (SCILJ) organised a very successful joint online event: ‘Covid-19 and international law: science and disinformation, exceptions and emergencies’. The event contained two panels:
Covid-19 and International Law: Science, Tech, Trolls and the Role of Information
- Gloria González Fuster (Vrije Universiteit Brussels)
- Marko Milanovic (Nottingham University)
- Jiří Přibáň (Cardiff University)
- Philippa Webb (moderator; King’s College, London)
Covid-19 and International Law: Emergencies, Exceptions and Regime Contestation
- Anne van Aaken (moderator; University of Hamburg)
- Gian Luca Burci (Geneva Academy)
- Jürgen Kurtz (European University Institute)
- Federica Paddeu (Cambridge University)
6. ESIL Reflections
ESIL Reflections are short papers published on the website of the European Society of International Law (ESIL). ESIL Reflections offer up-to-date reflections on current issues in international law. The Reflections are now in their sixth year, covering a wide range of topics relating to current developments in international law and practice as well as theoretical reflections in a way that is relatively accessible to non-experts. The aim is to foster discussion between ESIL members and international law scholars and practitioners more generally – in Europe, but also beyond. ESIL Reflections are published online and distributed freely to ESIL members.
The editors are Federico Casolari, Patrycja Grzebyk, Ellen Hey, Guy Sinclair and Ramses Wessel (editor-in-chief).
ESIL Reflections are short papers (3000-4000 words) that argue one particular point that may trigger further debate in the scientific community. Extensive referencing is to be avoided. References are only necessary in case of direct citations or when new or less well-known works are mentioned.
Latest publications are:
- International Law in an Age of Post-Shame by Fuad Zarbiyev
- States’ Resilience to Future Health Emergencies – Connecting the Dots between Core Obligations and Core Capacities by Brigit Toebes
- Due Diligence and Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations – Mind the Gap! by Samantha Besson
7. ESIL Teaching Corner
We warmly invite all Members to peruse and to contribute to the ESIL Teaching Corner, an online resource developed so that ESIL members can share syllabi, module outlines, reading lists, and other international law teaching tools. We have developed the Teaching Corner to encourage the dissemination of good practices, and especially to provide support for early career researchers who may be designing a course for the first time.
Of course, whomever wishes to find some inspiration on the teaching of international law is warmly welcome. By seeing the innovations and ideas of others, we hope to nurture and inspire innovative teaching both in Europe and beyond. You will find materials here that might prove innovative or useful both in relation to substance as well as form, for example, in relation to assessment, or how to structure a course relating to international law mooting. During this particular pandemic, in particular, much inspiration can be drawn from others’ shift to online or blended learning.
To take a look at the Teaching Corner, go to the ESIL website https://esil-sedi.eu/ and click on the right-hand tab.
Once in the Teaching Corner, please select the ‘Add Course’ option from the drop-down menu and fill in the online form. Your syllabus will then go to the editors of the Teaching Corner and will be added to the ESIL Teaching Corner within a few days. To see what’s already in the Teaching Corner, go to ‘Search Course’, fill in the relevant criteria, and click on ‘search’.
7. News from Interest Groups
The IG on International Law of Culture held its first full online workshop on 9 September 2020, on ‘15 years of the Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Lessons for New Ways of International Law-Making: Actors, Processes, Impact’. The workshop was composed of eight speakers and dozens of participants from every region of the world. In line with our virtual setting, speakers discussed broadening participation in cultural expressions governance across virtual and e-commerce environments, as well as the matter of civil society participation and the relationship between cultural rights and international trade in the Convention, which has 149 parties, including the European Union.