Research & publications In the spotlight

Tom Ruys
Publication
09-12-21
Legal Standing and Public Interest Litigation - Are All Erga Omnes Breaches Equal?

(2021) Chinese Journal of International Law

Public interest litigation over erga omnes breaches is commonly associated with abuses that are widespread or systematic, such as cases of genocide or crimes against humanity. By contrast, the prospect of such litigation over more isolated breaches causing harm to specific individuals is mostly ignored. Imagine, however, inter-State proceedings over (proven or alleged) human rights abuses in highly politicized and mediatized cases involving figures such as Julian Assange or Jamal Khashoggi. An alluring prospect to some; lex horrenda for others? The present paper tackles two questions that arise in this context. First, are such proceedings subject to the same admissibility requirements as applicable to the exercise of diplomatic protection (as the ILC has suggested in the past)? Second, is or should public interest litigation be limited to serious and widespread breaches, to the exclusion of more “isolated” ones? With regard to the first question, it is argued that the duty to exhaust local remedies applies mutatis mutandis to public interest litigation, but that the nationality requirement does not. As to the second question, the analysis concludes that a negative answer is in order.

Klaas Willaert
Publication
08-11-21
Protest at Sea against Deep Sea Mining: Lawfulness, Limits and Remedies

(2021) International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law. 36(4). p.672-683

Protest at sea has been on the rise and this trend has now also manifested itself within the context of deep sea mining. In May 2021, Greenpeace activists approached the Normand Energy, a ship chartered by Belgian deep sea mining contractor Global Sea Mineral Resources (GSR), and interfered with its operations by painting slogans on the hull of the vessel and attaching banners to the umbilical cord of GSR’s prototype nodule collector. On the basis of applicable international principles and provisions, such actions can be considered unlawful, but adequate enforcement and effective remedies are lacking.

Tom Ruys
Publication
11-10-21
Can attacks against embassies serve as a basis for the invocation of self-defence? A reply to Gábor Kajtár and Gergö Balázs

(2021) 32 European Journal of International Law

In their article ‘Beyond Tehran and Nairobi’, Gábor Kajtár and Gergő Balázs examine whether attacks against embassies can qualify as ‘armed attacks’ and thus serve as a basis for the invocation of self-defence. Based on a survey of relevant state practice and opinio juris, and building on an impressive database encompassing more than 730 incidents, the authors conclude that this question must, in all likelihood, be answered in the negative. This Reply raises the question whether the analysis and the material unearthed ultimately corroborate the conclusion which the authors distil therefrom. Upon closer scrutiny, it is suggested that there may be other, more compelling, inferences to be drawn from the material explored than the one hinted at by Kajtár and Balázs.

Klaas Willaert
Publication
20-09-21
Regulating deep sea mining: a myriad of legal frameworks

The wide array of activities which we refer to as deep sea mining are not governed by one universal framework. On the contrary, numerous legal instruments play a role and it is important to maintain a clear overview. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) evidently sets out the overarching regime, but important distinctions must be made. For example, deep sea mining in the Area is subject to international regulations adopted by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), while similar activities on the continental shelf fall under national jurisdiction and are governed by domestic legislation of the coastal state. This dichotomy must be nuanced, however, taking into account that non-state actors conducting deep sea mining operations in the Area must also adhere to national laws of the sponsoring state, while mineral exploration and exploitation on the continental shelf are likewise subject to a number of international rules and principles. Moreover, separate exploration regulations were adopted by the ISA for distinct categories of mineral resources, and national legislation on deep sea mining is quite diverse. This monograph intends to clearly identify all relevant legal instruments, assess their role, explain their interactions and engage with some of the topical issues that surround them.

Tom Ruys Cedric Ryngaert
Publication
27-10-20
Secondary Sanctions: A Weapon out of Control? The International Legality of, and European Responses to, US Secondary Sanctions

(2020) British Yearbook of International Law, 116 p.

The US is increasingly weaponizing economic sanctions to push through its
foreign policy agenda. Making use of the centrality of the US in the global
economy, it has imposed ‘secondary sanctions’ on foreign firms, which are
forced to choose between trading with US sanctions targets or forfeiting access to the lucrative US market. In addition, the US has penalized foreign
firms for breaching US sanctions legislation. In this contribution, it is argued
that the international lawfulness of at least some secondary sanctions is
doubtful in light of the customary international law of jurisdiction, as well as
conventional international law (eg, WTO law). The lawfulness of these sanctions could be contested before various domestic and international judicial
mechanisms, although each mechanism comes with its own limitations. To
counter the adverse effects of secondary sanctions, third states and the EU
can also make use of, and have already made use of, various non-judicial
mechanisms, such as blocking statutes, special purpose vehicles to circumvent
the reach of sanctions, or even countermeasures. The effectiveness of such
mechanisms is, however, uncertain.

Tom Ruys (editor) Nicolas Angelet (editor) Luca Ferro (assistant editor)
Publication
06-05-19
The Cambridge Handbook of Immunities and International Law

Few topics of international law speak to the imagination as much as international immunities. Questions pertaining to immunity from jurisdiction or execution under international law surface on a frequent basis before national courts, including at the highest levels of the judicial branch and...

The volume comprises 34 chapters including contributions by GRILI members Tom Ruys and Luca Ferro

Full list of authors: Tom Ruys, Nicolas Angelet, Luca Ferro, Hazel Fox, Lori Fisler Damrosch, Wenhua Shan, Peng Wang, Alexander Orakhelashvili, Yas Banifatemi, Sally El Sawah, Catherine Amirfar, Niels Blokker, Kristen E. Boon, Ramses A. Wessel, Jean-Marc Thouvenin, Victor Grandaubert, Ingrid Wuerth, Cedric Ryngaert, Matthew Happold, Eric De Brabandere, Mark A. Cymrot, Mathias Audit, Maria-Clara Van Den Bossche, Frédéric Dopagne, Sanderijn Duquet, Eileen Denza, Andrew Sanger, Michael Wood, Muriel Ubéda-Saillard, Rosanne Van Alebeek, Chimène I. Keitner, Christian Walter, Fabian Preger, Aurel Sari, Rosa Freedman, Nicolas Lemay-Hébert, Harmen Van Der Wilt, Pierre D'argent, Pauline Lesaffre, Phillipa Webb and David P. Stewart.

Jan Wouters Cedric Ryngaert Tom Ruys Geert De Baere
Publication
20-12-18
International Law: a European Perspective

This textbook offers for the first time a comprehensive analysis of the classic doctrines and main areas of international law from a European perspective, meeting the needs of the many European law schools teaching public international law in English. Special attention is devoted to the practice of the European Union, the Council of Europe and European States – both civil law and common law countries – with regard to international law. In particular the book analyses the interplay between international law, EU law and national law in the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU, the European Court of Human Rights and national jurisdictions in Europe. It provides the reader with insights into how the international legal practice of the EU and its Member States impacts the development of international law, both in terms of doctrines such as treaty-making and customary law, the exercise of (extraterritorial) jurisdiction, state responsibility and the settlement of disputes, as well as particular sub-fields of international law, such as human rights law and international economic law. In addition the book covers other important areas such as the use of force and collective security, the law of armed conflict, and global and regional international organisations. It provides European perspectives on all these issues and will be of great value to students, scholars and practitioners.

Tom Ruys (editor) Olivier Corten (editor) Alexandra Hofer (assistant editor)
Publication
14-05-18
The Use of Force in International Law: a Case-based Approach

The international law on the use of force is one of the oldest branches of international law. It is an area twinned with the emergence of international law as a concept in itself, and which sees law and politics collide. The number of armed conflicts is equal only to the number of methodological...

The volume comprises 66 chapters including contributions by GRILI members Tom Ruys, Alexandra Hofer and Luca Ferro.

Full list of authors: Constantine Antonopoulos, Karine Bannelier, Janina Barkholdt, Susan Breau, Wenke Brückner, Michael Byers, Enzo Cannizzaro, Kenneth Chan, Théodore Christakis, Olivier Corten, Fanny Declercq, Ashley Deeks, Oliver Dörr, François Dubuisson, Luca Ferro, Mathias Forteau, Gregory H. Fox, Daniel Franchini, Tarcisio Gazzini, Terry D. Gill, Christine Gray, James A. Green, Douglas Guilfoyle, Andrea de Guttry, Gerhard Hafner, Nabil Hajjami, Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, Mohamed S. Helal, Christian Henderson, Etienne Henry, Alexandra Hofer, Jörg Kammerhofer, Maurice Kamto, Pierre Klein, Robert Kolb, Marcos Kotlik, Vaios Koutroulis, Claus Kreß, David Kretzmer, Dino Kristiotis, Jean-Christophe Martin, Lindsay Moir, Sean D. Murphy, Anne Lagerwall, Eliav Lieblich, Georg Nolte, Benjamin K. Nußberger, Mary Ellen O'Connell, Alexander Orakhelashvili, Ki-Gab Park, Mónica Pinto, Erin Pobjie, John Quigley, Aurora Rasi, Theresa Reinold, Natalino Ronzitti, Tom Ruys, Alison See, Ying Xiu, Paulina Starski, Raphaël Van Steenberghe, Christian J. Tams, Kinga Tibori-Szabó, Dire Tladi, Kimberley N. Trapp, Nicholas Tsagourias, Antonios Tzanakopoulos, Agatha Verdebout, Ugo Villani, Christian Walter, Marc Weller, Erika de Wet, Nigel White, Myra Williamson, Sir Michael Wood

Eva Brems Ellen Desmet
Publication
04-10-17
Integrated Human Rights in Practice Rewriting Human Rights Decisions

This book aims to introduce concrete and innovative proposals for a holistic approach to supranational human rights justice through a hands-on legal exercise: the rewriting of decisions of supranational human rights monitoring bodies. The contributing scholars have thus redrafted crucial passages of landmark human rights judgments and decisions, ‘as if human rights law were really one’, borrowing or taking inspiration from developments and interpretations throughout the whole multi-layered human rights protection system. In addition to the rewriting exercise, the contributors have outlined the methodology and/or theoretical framework that guided their approaches and explain how human rights monitoring bodies may adopt an integrated approach to human rights law.

Eva Brems Ellen Desmet Wouter Vandenhole
Publication
27-06-17
Children’s Rights Law in the Global Human Rights Landscape

Children’s rights law is often studied and perceived in isolation from the broader field of human rights law. This volume explores the inter-relationship between children’s rights law and more general human rights law in order to see whether elements from each could successfully inform the other. Children’s rights law has a number of distinctive characteristics, such as the emphasis on the ‘best interests of the child’, the use of general principles, and the inclusion of ‘third parties’ (e.g. parents and other care-takers) in treaty provisions. The first part of this book questions whether these features could be a source of inspiration for general human rights law. In part two, the reverse question is asked: could children’s rights law draw inspiration from developments in other branches of human rights law that focus on other specific categories of rights holders, such as women, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, or older persons? Finally, the interaction between children’s rights law and human rights law – and the potential for their isolation, inspiration or integration – may be coloured or determined by the thematic issue under consideration. Therefore the third part of the book studies the interplay between children’s rights law and human rights law in the context of specific topics: intra-family relations, LGBTQI marginalization, migration, media, the environment and transnational human rights obligations.