The Book

This blog updates the book with developments in international law.

Author Profiles

John H. Currie, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Craig Forcese, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

Valerie Oosterveld, Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario

Joanna Harrington, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta

Public International Law Blog Search
Subscribe to Public International Law Blog

Recent Developments in International Criminal Law

Cross-referencing: Chapter 15, pp. 917 et. seq.


International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Update to page 917:  Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić was arrested in Serbia on July 21, 2008 and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on July 30. He is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (grave breaches of the Geneva conventions of 1949 and violations of the laws or customs of war). His case is presently in the pre-trial phase. Given the timing of the arrest of Karadžić, the Tribunal has extended its completion strategy for trials to December 2009 [Security Council Resolution 1837 (2008)]. On July 18, 2008, the Security Council recognized in Resolution 1824 (2008) that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda would also require an extension of its completion strategy to approximately December 2009 in order to complete its trials.


International Criminal Court

Update to page 919: With the accession of the Cook Islands as a State party on July 18, 2008, the Rome Statute now has 108 parties

The International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor has opened investigations into four situations: three referred by States parties themselves (Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic) and one by the Security Council (Darfur, Sudan). Warrants of arrest have been issued in a number of specific cases, and four individuals (Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Germain Katanga and Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo), are currently in the ICC’s custody. On July 14, 2008, the Prosecutor requested Pre-Trial Chamber I to issue an arrest warrant for the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, with respect to the Darfur situation. In his Application, the Prosecutor stated that there are reasonable grounds to believe that al-Bashir bears criminal responsibility for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Darfur in the past five years. The Pre-Trial Chamber is currently reviewing the evidence. At this stage, the judges must determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that al-Bashir committed the alleged crimes. If they determine that there are such grounds, then they will decide on the best manner to ensure his appearance in court (for example, through the issuance of an arrest warrant). On November 20, 2008, the Prosecutor asked for the issuance of arrest warrants against rebels suspected of involvement in war crimes stemming from the September 29, 2007 attack on African Union peacekeepers at the Haskanita base in Darfur.


Hybrid Courts

Update to page 939: The trial of the former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor, is currently ongoing at the Special Court for Sierra Leone, sitting in The Hague, Netherlands. The Special Court for Sierra Leone released its first two trial level judgments in mid-2007.  In June 2007, the Trial Chamber II of the Special Court issued its judgment in the case of Prosecutor v. Brima, Kamara and Kanu, referred to as the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) case. This judgment was followed in August 2007 by Trial Chamber I’s judgment in the case of Prosecutor v. Fofana and Kondewa, known as the Civil Defence Forces (CDF) case.  These two judgments, and the subsequent AFRC and CDF Appeals Chamber judgments in both cases, are noteworthy for having been the first to adjudicate at the international level the war crime of conscription, enlistment or use of child soldiers. The only other case being heard by the Special Court – that of Prosecutor vs. Sesay, Kallon and Gbao (referred to as the Revolutionary United Front case) – has completed all oral arguments. A trial judgment in that case is expected in early 2009.



Click to read more ...


Further Update: Adoption of an Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights



Cross-referencing: Chapter 9, pp. 660-663

On December 10, 2008, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Optional Protocol will enter into force three months after the tenth state deposits its instrument of ratification or accession with the Secretary-General (article 18). The High Commissioner for Human Rights will arrange a signing ceremony some time in 2009.

The Optional Protocol provides an individual complaint procedure to address economic, social and cultural rights within States Parties to that Protocol. The individual or group of individuals must first exhaust local remedies (unless the application of such remedies is unreasonably prolonged) and file a communication with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights within one year (article 3). If admissible, the communication will be conveyed to the State Party, which must reply within six months of receiving the communication from the Committee (article 6). The Committee will then examine the communication and all related documentation, and issue its views and recommendations to the parties (article 9).  Within six months, the State Party must report to the Committee on actions taken in response, and the Committee may also invite further follow-up reporting (article 9). Inter-state communications are also permitted (article 10).

At any time after the receipt of the communication and before a determination on the merits has been reached, the Committee may request that interim measures be undertaken by a State Party in order to avoid possible irreparable damage to the victim(s) of the alleged violations (article 5).

The Optional Protocol also provides for a confidential inquiry procedure into grave or systematic violations, and follow-up:

Article 11

Inquiry procedure

1. A State Party to the present Protocol may at any time declare that it recognizes the competence of the Committee provided for under the present article.

2. If the Committee receives reliable information indicating grave or systematic violations by a State Party of any of the economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the Covenant, the Committee shall invite that State Party to cooperate in the examination of the information and to this end to submit observations with regard to the information concerned.

3. Taking into account any observations that may have been submitted by the State Party concerned as well as any other reliable information available to it, the Committee may designate one or more of its members to conduct an inquiry and to report urgently to the Committee. Where warranted and with the consent of the State Party, the inquiry may include a visit to its territory.

4. Such an inquiry shall be conducted confidentially and the cooperation of the State Party shall be sought at all stages of the proceedings.

5. After examining the findings of such an inquiry, the Committee shall transmit these findings to the State Party concerned together with any comments and recommendations.

6. The State Party concerned shall, within six months of receiving the findings, comments and recommendations transmitted by the Committee, submit its observations to the Committee.

7. After such proceedings have been completed with regard to an inquiry made in accordance with paragraph 2 of the present article, the Committee may, after consultations with the State Party concerned, decide to include a summary account of the results of the proceedings in its annual report provided for in article 15 of the present Protocol.

8. Any State Party having made a declaration in accordance with paragraph 1 of the present article may, at any time, withdraw this declaration by notification to the Secretary-General.

Article 12

Follow-up to the inquiry procedure

1. The Committee may invite the State Party concerned to include in its report under articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant details of any measures taken in response to an inquiry conducted under article 11 of the present Protocol.

2. The Committee may, if necessary, after the end of the period of six months referred to in article 11, paragraph 6, invite the State Party concerned to inform it of the measures taken in response to such an inquiry.

The onus is on the State Party to ensure protection for those submitting communications:

Article 13

Protection measures

A State Party shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that individuals under its jurisdiction are not subjected to any form of ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of communicating with the Committee pursuant to the present Protocol.

States began discussions on an Optional Protocol in 2004, concluding negotiations within the Human Rights Council on June 18, 2008. The Optional Protocol was then adopted by the General Assembly in December 2008.




Click to read more ...


Bali Action Plan

Cross-referencing: Chapter 11, pp. 740-747


The United Nations Climate Change Conference - comprising more than 10,000 participants, including representatives of over 180 countries together with observers from intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations and the media - was held in Bali, Indonesia from December 3-15, 2007.  The Conference included both the thirteenth annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP13) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and a Meeting of the Parties related to the Kyoto Protocol. Delegates to the Climate Change Conference adopted the Bali Road Map, which included the Bali Action Plan. This Action Plan represents the beginning of a two year process to conclude a future agreement to address climate change. Specifically, the Action Plan provides a roadmap leading to COP15 and a Meeting of the Parties related to the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen in 2009, and sets out steps toward a new post-2012 agreement to address the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period.


Two contentious debates in Bali related to whether there should be reference in the Action Plan to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendation of a reduction of 25-40% from 1990 levels of carbon emissions by Annex I countries by 2020. The European Union argued for, and the United States, Russia, Japan, and Canada opposed, the inclusion of these numbers. The numerical references were ultimately not overtly included, though they are implicitly included via a footnote in the nonbinding preamble. The other debate centred around whether Annex II (or developing) countries should be subject to carbon reduction goals. The Action Plan includes a compromise which recognizes action by both developed and developing countries. Note that the sectoral approaches apply to both developed and developing countries:


1. Decides to launch a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action, now, up to and beyond 2012, in order to reach an agreed outcome and adopt a decision at its fifteenth session, by addressing, inter alia: …

(b) Enhanced national/international action on mitigation of climate change, including, inter alia, consideration of:

(i) Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives, by all developed country Parties, while ensuring the comparability of efforts among them, taking into account differences in their national circumstances;

(ii) Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner;

(iii) Policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries;

(iv) Cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions, in order to enhance implementation of Article 4, paragraph 1(c), of the Convention;

(v) Various approaches, including opportunities for using markets, to enhance the cost-effectiveness of, and to promote, mitigation actions, bearing in mind different circumstances of developed and developing countries; …


The Bali Action Plan also addresses technology development and transfer, disaster reduction strategies and economic diversification.

Click to read more ...


About this Blog

This Blog will update material in International Law: Doctrine, Practice and Theory (Irwin Law, 2007).  Each entry is categorized by chapter, and cross-referenced to the appropriate page number in the book.  Occasionally, the entry will link to original documents.

Click to read more ...


About the Book

International Law: Doctrine, Practice, and Theory

International Law: Doctrine, Practice, and Theory is an innovative and unique volume which crosses the traditional boundaries between textbook, casebook, and scholarly monograph. The book is designed primarily to introduce students and practitioners of law, political science, and international affairs to the system and substance of international law. It is also a convenient and comprehensive reference work on the most important aspects of this burgeoning field.

International Law includes introductory materials on the nature, history, and theory of international law from an international relations, as well as a legal, perspective. Carefully selected and edited primary materials—including treaties, UN documents, and cases—take readers to the very sources of the rules and principles that comprise modern international law. Extensive and critical commentary on, and analysis of, these primary materials guide the reader to an understanding of the rules, their strengths and weaknesses, and their place in the international legal system. Descriptions of contemporary real-world situations provide concrete context to the discussion.

This book provides readers with the information and critical tools necessary for further study in the field. The latest international legal developments and likely future trends are discussed. Up-to-the-minute changes can be tracked on an interactive website, which will be available in September 2007. Detailed tables and indices make it an easy-to-use reference tool.

Remarkable for both its depth and breadth, International Law: Doctrine, Practice, and Theory sets a new standard for the study of international law in Canada. It will make an invaluable addition to the reference collection of practitioners, judges, and scholars working in this ever-increasingly important area of modern law.

Click to read more ...