The current dispute over the future of
international trade (oftentimes referred to as a “trade war”) has moved the WTO
from an obscure field of research into the public spotlight. These discussions centre
on the economic
relationship between China and the US. However, another significant
battle is playing out over the future of WTO dispute settlement.
The central question that remains unanswered – and
which we are trying to uncover in this post – is why the US has embarked on a
process which pits itself against the very large majority of the WTO membership
(see only here,
and which has the potential
to end WTO dispute settlement. Before the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, the US
individuals who are no longer formally members of the Appellate Body (“AB”)
continuing to adjudicate disputes; (2) non-adherence to the 90-day deadline for
issuing AB reports; (3) the use of obiter
dicta in AB reports; (4) the AB’s misapplication of the standard of review;
(5) AB reports having precedential effect; and (6) AB interpretations and
decisions having amounted to judicial overreach.
On 30 April 2019, the United States District Court for the Central District of California (“DCCDC”) delivered Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in David Cassirer et al. v Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation(Cassirer). The case was remanded to the DCCDC by the Ninth Circuit after an appeal of the DCCDC’s first instance decision, which found in favour of Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation (TBC).
The plaintiffs, the Cassirers, sought restitution of a painting, Rue Saint-Honoré, Après Midi, Effet de Pluie(Rue Saint-Honoré), which was wrongfully dispossessed of one of their ancestors by the Nazi regime. The defendant, TBC, possessed the painting. TBC is an agency or instrumentality of the Kingdom of Spain. In precis, the DCCDC ruled that it could not order the restitution sought as TBC had acquired ownership of the painting under Spain’s laws of acquisitive prescription (the civil law equivalent of adverse possession).
The case involves both public and private international law, and it produces an instinctively unsatisfactory ruling. In doing so, it illustrates how inadequate the law is vis-à-vis the international restitution of Nazi-looted art, of which there are an estimated 650,000 pieces scattered around the world. This article discusses that aspect of the case.
The Future of International Dispute Settlement will bring together practitioners and academics to assess cutting-edge issues of international law emerging in relation to the peaceful settlement of international disputes. Speakers will examine the recent developments and future prospects for dispute settlement with regards to the practice of international courts, international criminal law, law of the sea, trade, investment, commercial arbitration and climate change.
Last Monday the Appeals Chamber (AC) of the International Criminal Court
(ICC) delivered its judgment
on the question of Omar Al-Bashir’s immunity from prosecution for international
crimes. In addition to the majority judgment, four Judges penned a Joint
Concurring Opinion. A joint dissenting opinion from two Judges is yet to be
The decision has already been
described in early commentary
as ‘stunning’ ‘deeply misguided’ and ‘extremely controversial’.
The Australian Branch of the International Law Association is proud to sponsor an event to launch a new book by Dr Robert Dubler SC and Matthew Kalyk entitled Crimes Against Humanity in the 21st Century: Law, Practice and Threats to International Peace and Security.
The event will take place at the Sydney office of Herbert Smith Freehills on Wednesday, 15 May 2019 from 5:30pm.
Guest speakers include Professor Gillian Triggs and The Hon Michael Kirby AC, as well as Dr Christopher Ward SC, President of the Australian Branch.
Further information on this event, including details for registration, is available in this flyer.
The decision rendered in Jam et al v. International Finance Corp has removed the blanket immunity that international organisations like the World Bank had previously enjoyed, where they were immune to claims in United States courts for commercial activities. This decision represents a development that is in lockstep with the growing accountability of States and investors which cause damage to the environment.
This article gives an overview of what the case was about and outlines the significance of this decision for the Asia region. The author then places Jam et al in the context of the trend where international courts and arbitral tribunals have expanded accountability for States and investors which cause damage to the environment.
“The conference title for the Sydney Biennial Meeting of the International Law Association was well chosen: “International Law in Challenging Times”. Humanity is facing extraordinary challenges of major violence, environmental decline, human rights abuse, and economic privation. Our ILA committees are seeking remedies through international law as one of the few tools humanity commonly shares. But there seems to be a widespread preference for violence and the use of military force over international law. Untold sums are poured into armed conflict and weapons research, including on fully autonomous robotic weapons, a truly inhuman weapon. International law needs to attract adherence. Military strategists have Sun Tzu’s The Art of War to inspire them. We need The Art of Law.”
These words commenced Professor Mary Ellen O’Connell’s keynote at the International Law Association’s 2018 Conference Dinner in Sydney. Professor O’Connell’s full remarks are available for download here.
The Editors of the Melbourne Journal of International Law (‘MJIL’) are now inviting submissions for volume 20(2). The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2019.
MJIL is a peer-reviewed academic journal based at the University of Melbourne and publishes innovative scholarly research and critical examination of issues in international law. Submissions and inquiries should be directed to email@example.com. For more information, please visit https://law.unimelb.edu.au/mjil#submissions.
The Law Council of Australia is inviting students and practitioners with an interest in international law to attend the ILS International Law and Practice Course 2019. The course consists of a series of 10 monthly lectures, the first of which will be held on 15 March 2019 on the topic of EU law. Details of the subsequent lectures are set out below.
The Law Council is offering ILA members a special reduced registration fee of $250 for the 10-lecture course (in lieu of $300).
For information on registration and other enquiries, click here. To join the ILA and take advantage of the reduced registration fee, click here.
In June 2018, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Panel in Australia – Plain Packaging affirmed that Australia’s tobacco plain packaging laws are consistent with its WTO obligations. The law and its accompanying regulations prohibit the use of colours, imagery, logos, fonts, scents, textures, pack shapes and promotional text (other than brand and variant name and consumer information) on tobacco packaging.