The recent success of the conciliation between Timor-Leste and Australia has put a spotlight on alternative dispute resolution in international law, a far cry from the disappointments of the South China Sea arbitration in which China refused to participate. In the context of these recent developments, this article will explore the philosophy, popularity and possibilities of alternative dispute resolution in international law.
In an interview with Guardian Australia, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has voiced his opinion that ‘like-minded nations’ should consider a revision of the 1951 ConventionRelating to the Status ofRefugees (“the Convention”). The objective of such a revision would be (though he has not explicitly said so) to degrade the non-refoulement obligation, which provides that States cannot expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. It is the cornerstone to refugee protection and the subject of the vast majority of refugee-related litigation globally.
Victoria has recently become the latest jurisdiction to legalise assisted dying (a term employed here as a ‘catchall’ phrase intended to cover both assisted suicide and euthanasia). It joins Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the US States of California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, and the District of Columbia, which have all introduced legislation permitting some form of assisted death.
Missing from this list are jurisdictions such as Switzerland in which assisted suicide is not unlawful but is also not expressly permitted by legislation. This might come as a surprise, as Switzerland is widely recognised as a jurisdiction that allows assisted suicide, largely as a result of organisations such as Dignitas which provide assistance to residents and non-residents in dying by suicide. In Switzerland, however, there is no legislation akin to Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (‘VAD’). Rather, art 115 of the Swiss Penal Code criminalises assisting or inciting another’s suicide based on ‘selfish motives’. Thus, provided the assistance is not so motivated, it may be given without risk of prosecution.
In his address at the opening of the current session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), the High Commissioner, Zeid Ra’ad Al Husseini announced that, since this would be his last address as High Commissioner, he was going to be blunt – and indeed blunt he was.
His first target was the permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC) and the ‘pernicious use of the veto’, which made those who used it responsible, ‘second to those who are criminally responsible … for the continuation of so much pain … it is they – the permanent members – who must answer before the victims’.
With the development of peer-to-peer networks and the dark web (a sub set of the deep web), child abuse activities are now mostly occurring in anonymous and encrypted environments largely out of reach of law enforcement bodies. Images are stored by the terabytes on personal hard drives and shared by the millions. For some people the anonymity seems to have ignited what may previously have been latent tendencies. (Understanding and Preventing Online Sexual Exploitation of Children, Edited by Ethel Quayle and Kurt M. Ribisl. 2012 Routledge. Chapter 11, ‘Situational prevention of child abuse in the new technologies’. Richard Wortley, Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science, University College London. Introduction.) Fueling the problem and driving it to new almost unthinkable dimensions is the issue of desensitisation and destabilisation. (Heather Wood, Internet pornography and paedophilia, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, (2013) 27:4, 319-338)
It has been estimated that each year, approximately 25 million unsafe abortions take place. This number represents nearly half of all abortions undertaken worldwide. Almost all unsafe abortions occur in developing countries, where around 7 million women annually are hospitalised following terminations performed without the assistance of a trained health worker and in other conditions that place women at risk. Whether abortion is legal and accessible play an enormous role in determining whether a woman will have to take this route to end an unwanted pregnancy.
It is undeniable that the right to life represents a fundamental building block to achievement of all other human rights, but where argument tends to arise is in asking in whom this right accrues. The question of when life begins, considered from scientific, legal, philosophical and religious perspectives, yields a variety of answers, none of which is definitive. Yet, while this may be an interesting philosophical debate, for women seeking to terminate unwanted pregnancies the discord becomes tangible. Throughout the world women’s bodies are the subject of government intervention in the form of how society deals with the legality and practicalities of abortion. While some regimes are highly permissive, treating abortion as an issue of women’s health, others are restrictive to the point of harm, to the extent that a woman may be convicted of a crime for having suffered a miscarriage.
Bitcoin has taken the world by storm as the most popular cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is a means of peer-to-peer transacting with no middleman institutions or banks, no transaction fees and no delay in transfer between parties all around the world. This ease and convenience makes it a popular alternative to conventional banking, in spite of its fluctuating and volatile value.
It is useful to explore the treatment of Bitcoin across different jurisdictions in order to understand how it functions and how it will affect transacting in the future.
The absolute prohibition of torture, both as a matter of treaty law and international customary law, has been described as one of the ‘few issues on which international legal opinion is [most] clear’ and its transgressors rightfully identified as the ‘common enemies of mankind’. In SZTAL and SZTGM v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection  HCA 34 (SZTAL), the High Court of Australia recently had cause to consider the CAT, ICCPR, and other international legal materials regarding torture, in relation to Australia’s ‘complementary protection regime’ established through the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)(Migration Act).
The Delhi High Court has temporarily restrained British companies Vodafone Group Plc and Vodafone Consolidated Holdings Ltd (together, “Vodafone“) from taking any further action in respect of a claim against India under the Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Republic of India for the Promotion and Protection of Investments (“UK-India BIT“): Union of India v Vodafone Group PLC United Kingdom & Anr. CS(OS) 383/2017.
The Court’s decision was made on the basis that an arbitration under the UK-India BIT would duplicate a claim already filed by Vodafone’s subsidiary Vodafone International Holdings BV (“Vodafone BV“) under the Agreement between the Republic of India and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the Promotion and Protection of Investments (“Netherlands-India BIT“) and that the “natural forum” for the dispute was the Indian courts. The Court has asked Vodafone to respond to India’s request for a permanent anti-arbitration injunction by 26 October 2017 before any further orders are made.
It is reported that the courts of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) have refused to enforce a Singapore International Arbitration Centre (“SIAC”) award under Article V(1)(d) of the New York Convention, on the basis that “the composition of the arbitral authority or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties…”.
In this case, two parties entered into a contract for the sale and purchase of iron ore. However, the arbitration agreement therein contained a potential (and potent) clash of terms:
The arbitration agreement provided for a three person panel, and
The arbitration agreement also provided for arbitration under the SIAC Rules, and the SIAC Rules contain an expedited procedure and state that if this expedited procedure applies, the case would be referred to a sole arbitrator (unless the SIAC determines otherwise).