Research & publications 2020

Alexandra Hofer
Publication
21-04-20
All the World’s a Stage, and Sanctions the Merely Props: an Interactional Account of Sender-Target Dynamics in the Ukrainian Crisis

International Peacekeeping, 2020

This article argues that sanctions are interactional tools; their interactive nature is evident if these measures are considered as a form of stigmatization, which is the outcome of an interaction between the group imposing the stigma and the actor that is stigmatized. Stigmatized states do not always accept the label that is placed upon them and can adopt strategies to counter or resist stigma. From a symbolic interactionalist perspective, this can be understood as a state’s foreign policy role. Such an approach is illustrated through a study of Russia’s response to being sanctioned by the EU and the US for its policies in the Ukrainian crisis. It is argued that Russian leaders are unlikely to cave into Western pressure because they reject the role of deviant that is placed upon their state and instead adopt the role of the ‘untouchable’ state, which is consistent with Russia’s great power identity. Though the sanctions may enable the EU and the US to activate their roles as normative powers, in the context of the Ukrainian crisis, they have locked the parties into roles that contribute to the crisis’ duration.

Tom Ruys
Publication
16-06-20
Mukeshimana-Ngulinzira and Others v. Belgium and Others

(2020) 114 American Journal of International Law, pp. 268-275

On April 11, 1994, approximately two thousand men, women, and children were brutally murdered by armed Hutu extremists after a group of Belgian UN peacekeepers abandoned the school facility where they had sought refuge upon the outbreak of the Rwandan genocide. Almost a quarter of a century later, the Brussels Court of Appeal (Court) on June 8, 2018 concluded the civil proceedings lodged by a number of Rwandan survivors and relatives against the Belgian commanding officers and the Belgian state. Overturning an earlier judgment of the Brussels Court of First Instance, the Court held that the decision to retreat from the facility was imputable only to the United Nations, to the exclusion of the Belgian authorities. Accordingly, the claims against the Belgian state were unfounded. The events—which inspired the movie Shooting Dogs (2005)—bear obvious similarities to the role of the United Nations Protection Force's (UNPROFOR) Dutch battalion (Dutchbat) in the evacuation of the Potoçari camp and the ensuing genocide of seven thousand Bosnian men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica in 1995. Like the Dutch judgments in the (more well-known) Mothers of Srebrenica proceedings, the Mukeshimana appellate judgment provides a rare national court precedent that considers the imputability of the conduct of peacekeepers to troop-contributing countries. The Mukeshimana judgment, however, raises a high bar for finding such imputability.

Publication
29-06-20
A Libyan Playground for Foreign Powers: Presenting the Case for ‘Negative Equality’

Prematurely calling time of death on ‘negative equality’?

On 5 and 6 December 2019, the Journal on the Use of Force and International Law (JUFIL) and the Ghent Rolin-Jaequemyns International Law Institute (GRILI) hosted an international conference on ‘military assistance on request’, the doctrine formerly known as ‘intervention by invitation’. Also present at the conference were several members of the refurbished International Law Association (ILA) Committee on the Use of Force, co-chaired by Professors Claus Kreß and Vera Rusinova and intent on fleshing out the many unresolved issues related to this intricate topic.

One leitmotif of the spirited conference proceedings (with resultant papers soon to be published in two special issues of JUFIL) was profound scepticism towards the doctrine of ‘negative equality’, which prescribes that ‘[t]hird States shall refrain from giving assistance to parties to a civil war which is being fought in the territory of another State’. Few participants considered the doctrine as a representation of the lex lata, echoing common criticism among legal commentators – including in the blogosphere (see, for example, here, here and here). In a 2018 report, the ILA Committee’s immediate predecessor also seems to have hedged its bets by opining that while ‘consent can allow for the sending of armed forces into a State following the request by its government for assistance in quelling an insurrection … [and] may preclude a violation of the jus ad bellum, it cannot justify violations of the jus in bello or international human rights law’.

It is therefore all the more surprising that the situation in Libya appears to belie this negative trend for ‘negative equality’ as it features a ban on all foreign interference and emphatic support for a Libyan-led, Libyan-owned process to end the conflict – and thereby confirms the doctrine’s main tenets.

Read more here.

Tom Ruys Luca Ferro
Publication
20-07-20
Non-Lethal Assistance and the Syrian Conflict: Lessons from the Netherlands

Whether one thinks of Syria, Libya, Yemen, or Ukraine, third-State involvement is undeniably a common feature of many – if not most – ongoing non-international armed conflicts. While the direct provision of arms to non-State armed groups is widely deemed contrary to international law, recent years suggest that States feel less reticence to provide so-called “non-lethal assistance” (NLA), understood as material aid not designed to inflict serious bodily harm or death. In particular, in the context of the Syrian civil war, such aid has been provided to various rebel groups, including by the United States as well as by several European countries.

Of these countries, the Netherlands provides a particularly fascinating case study. This is not so much because of the scale of its NLA program, which remained altogether modest with a total cost of around USD 30 million. Rather, the intense dialogue between the executive and legislative branches in the Netherlands offers a unique insight into the type of NLA equipment that was provided, the processes used to vet beneficiaries, and the efforts taken to monitor where provided equipment ended up and how it was used. Parliamentary scrutiny intensified particularly after media reports in 2018 exposed the full extent of the aid program. As part of such scrutiny, the Dutch parliament commissioned a joint report from two expert bodies, the Advisory Committee on Public International Law (CAVV) and the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) on the support of foreign non-State armed groups through ”non-lethal assistance”.

In their joint report (currently in Dutch only) of 25 June 2020, the CAVV and AIV were careful not to retrospectively pass judgment on the Dutch NLA program (for our analysis of the report, see here), but instead adopted a more abstract and forward-looking approach, including by offering criteria to determine the permissibility of future NLA programs. Given the broader relevance for similar government-sanctioned programs elsewhere, this blog post offers a brief commentary of the report’s findings, both on the state of customary law and on the criteria identified. Ultimately, the report leaves (little) room for such programs in the future.

Read more here.

Luca Ferro
Research
15-09-20
International Order & Justice Lecture Series

FLYER AVAILABLE!

Please find attached all information on the International Order & Justice Lecture Series - vol. 3, including esteemed speakers and their affiliation, the topic and dates of their presentations, and general set up.

To register, contact Ms. Kristien Ballegeer; for more information, contact Prof. Tom Ruys or Dr. Luca Ferro.

Luca Ferro
Research
15-09-20
International Order & Justice Specialist Course

FLYER AVAILABLE!

Please find attached all informatiopn on the International Order & Justice Lecture Series Specialist Course - vol. 3, including esteemed respondents and their affiliation, the dates of the doctoral seminars, and general set up.

For registration and payment details, contact Ms. Kristien Ballegeer; for more information, contact Prof. Tom Ruys or Dr. Luca Ferro.