Events and Opportunities Update – November 2021

Welcome to the second in our new series summarising events and opportunities relevant to our readership. To submit an item for inclusion on this list, contact the Editors-in-Chief at editor@ilareporter.org.au.

Jobs

Research Associate (Climate Change Law and Policy) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Centre for International Law

The NUS Centre for International Law is accepting applications from candidates with both an advanced degree (LLB/JD or LLM) in public international law/environmental or climate law and prior work experience of between 1 to 3 years. Applications are assessed on a rolling basis. Full details of the position and application procedure are available here. For further information on the focus area including events, activities and publications see here.  Applications close 14 November 2021.

Senior Officer for International Criminal Law at the International Nuremberg Principles Academy

The International Nuremberg Principles Academy is looking to recruit a full-time Senior Officer for International Criminal Law starting on or after 1 January 2022. The successful candidate will have a strong track-record in the International Criminal Law (ICL) community – in an international court or tribunal, a governmental organization, a research institution, a public or private foundation, academia, an international organization or civil society. Applications close 15 November 2021. See here for more information: https://www.nurembergacademy.org/about-us/job-offers-and-calls-for-tenders/detail/f738b026c54e76c59a526f4c97ca43d4/senior-officer-for-international-criminal-law-94/

Legal Officer (P4) at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Geneva)

Applications close 17 November 2021. See here: https://careers.un.org/lbw/jobdetail.aspx?id=166070&Lang=en-US

Legal Officer (P3) at the United Nations Environment Programme (Athens)

Applications close 21 November 2021. See here: https://careers.un.org/lbw/jobdetail.aspx?id=163375&Lang=en-US

Associate (Africa) at Human Rights Watch

The Africa Division of Human Rights Watch is seeking someone to provide administrative support to its Central Africa team. Fluency in English and French is required. Knowledge of one or more national language from Central Africa is an asset. Applications close 21 November 2021. For more information, see here: https://reliefweb.int/job/3786884/associate-africa?fbclid=IwAR31u3GEzhYWHSrJ4aZmK1y05YWFCppFeQCBsWDcgLrvhoAIamxWEnc8tjQ

Associate Legal Officer (P2) at the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (The Hague)

Applications close 24 November 2021. See here: https://careers.un.org/lbw/jobdetail.aspx?id=166450&Lang=en-US

Consultant at Humanity Research Consultancy

Humanity Research Consultancy (HRC) is looking for professionals to join its Pool of Consultants. HRC is particularly keen on hearing from professionals from (but not limited to) Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uyghuristan, who are familiar with extreme human rights violations in their home country’s supply chain. For more information, see here: https://humanity-consultancy.com/join-hrcs-pool-of-consultants/

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Renewable energy supply chains and the case for leverage over divestment

Andy Symington 

The importance of human rights due diligence as a means of detecting the risk of negative impacts on rights in corporate supply chains is increasingly being recognised by companies. This is particularly relevant to supply chains for renewable energy technology. However, the corporate instinct to divest from problematic suppliers does not serve to eliminate or mitigate the human rights impacts and may worsen them; using leverage, where possible, to improve the situation is a better strategy. 

In the ten years that have passed since the launch of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) in 2011, much of the global dialogue on the subject of companies and their impacts on rights has coalesced around them. One of their key components, human rights due diligence (HRDD), has gathered increasing momentum around the world as a consequence. 

Nature of human rights due diligence 

HRDD operationalises the UNGPs’ requirement for businesses to respect human rights by focusing on the risk of harm to people – rather than on the risk of harm to business that is the focus of normal due diligence – in companies’ operations and supply chains. This type of due diligence has, in recent years, been mandated by law in certain jurisdictions, and promoted by other pieces of legislation imposing reporting requirements – Australia’s Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth) is an example of the latter. It is also increasingly being employed by companies as they seek to gain understanding of actual and potential human rights impacts caused or contributed to by their activities or those of their suppliers. As well as for compliance with legislation, due diligence may be conducted in the context of public reporting on sustainability or environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG), for example, or to fulfil requirements imposed by customers, lenders, investors or stock markets. 

HRDD typically involves detailed mapping of company supply chains in order to better comprehend where risk to people might lie. So far, so good for the influence of the UNGPs. But what happens when a company detects human rights risk, or negative rights impacts that are already occurring, in its supply chain? 

The impacts of divestment following HRDD 

Many businesses now realise that negative human rights impacts in their supply chains can result in significant reputational damage for the company. Risk to people often thus directly translates to risk for business. While this is an important validation of the UNGPs’ position, it also means that the first instinct of many companies on detecting the risk of harm is to change supplier or divest from investments. 

This strategy may be effective in eliminating that risk to people from a company´s supply chain but it is unlikely that the victims of the rights impact will feel the benefit; it may, in fact, worsen the situation for rights-holders. This point was strongly made by representatives of Bangladeshi garment workers in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013: for European and United States (US) companies to boycott Bangladeshi-made clothes in order to cleanse their supply chains of labour rights risks would leave workers without their livelihoods and at the mercy of less scrupulous companies. In general, the garment industry heeded the workers and, rather than disengaging, got involved in order to improve conditions on the ground. 

However, in the context of the sustainable energy transition, some of these lessons appear to have been forgotten. Recently, some electric vehicle companies have been working to remove Congolese cobalt from their lithium-ion battery supply chains and kickstarting ‘sustainable’ European lithium projects to guarantee supply free of the association with harmful environmental and Indigenous rights impacts associated with some North and South American producers. It is understandable that companies dealing in renewable technology have a need to be seen by the public as sustainable. However, affected rights-holders would be better served not by divestment but by vehicle and battery manufacturers engaging with mining companies and the communities themselves in order to find a common strategy to mitigate negative rights impacts and promote positive ones. 

Leverage and the requirements of the UNGPs 

The UNGPs are actually quite clear on the matter of divestment in Principle 19, only countenancing disengagement as something to consider when efforts to engage with the supplier have not changed the situation, or in situations where no leverage exists. Yet in the case of most minerals in renewable technology supply chains – such as the examples of lithium and cobalt given above – leverage most certainly exists. In fact, there are some existing multistakeholder projects underway involving mining companies, communities and customers downstream in the supply chain; these initiatives seek to guarantee a more sustainable supply without abandoning rights-holders by divesting. 

However, the requirement of the UNGPs that companies first attempt to use their leverage to improve rights outcomes in their supply chains is often ignored. This is not helped by the fact that reputational damage is rarely the result of a nuanced analysis by the public. As consumers we are easily persuaded by media coverage to believe that all Congolese cobalt is mined by children or that all South American lithium projects cause desertification. These are simplifications that derive in part from the difficulty of penetrating complex supply chains and in part from the desire to take a broad-brush approach to risk. However, they are simplifications that do not serve the rights-holders who are, after all, the reason for the whole HRDD enterprise. 

That the UNGPs have had notable success in disseminating an awareness for the need for HRDD to increase transparency of corporate supply chains is evident. Yet, if we are to achieve a ‘just transition’ to a sustainable energy future, it is important that companies whose technology is driving that transition acknowledge that the risk to rights-holders does not disappear when they are removed from a supply chain. Adhering to the UNGPs’ requirement for companies to engage with suppliers on these issues and use their leverage – along with genuine engagement and partnership with the rights-holders themselves – is the best way to guarantee those rights. A transition that delivers environmental benefits without realising social ones cannot be considered just.  

Andy Symington is a business and human rights consultant with KPMG Banarra and a PhD candidate at UNSW Law & Justice, investigating human rights dynamics in renewable energy extraction and supply chains. 

Enhancing Australia’s Illegal Logging Laws: an opportunity for Australia to lead global efforts to end harmful deforestation – Dr Hannah Harris

Australia is currently reviewing its illegal logging laws and seeking input on how best to ensure these laws are fair and effective. In a recent government submission, I make recommendations on how to enhance the existing legal framework, based on findings of my academic research. The submission window has now closed, and we can expect recommendations in the first quarter of 2022. 

Illegal logging is estimated to cost the global community up to AUD$206 billion each year. It contributes to global deforestation and biodiversity loss and compromises the planet’s resilience to global warming. It undermines legitimate timber industries and livelihoods, and has been linked to corruption, organised crime, human rights abuses, and armed conflict. Luckily, countries around the world have taken steps to eliminate illegal logging, developing laws that attempt to prevent and punish this harmful activity. 

In Australia, the laws that target illegal logging are the Illegal Logging Prohibition Act 2012 (Cth) (‘Illegal Logging Act’) and Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation 2012 (Cth) (‘Illegal Logging Regulations’) (hereafter, ‘Illegal Logging Act and Regulations’). These laws prohibit the importation and domestic processing of illegally harvested timber. They require that timber importers conduct due diligence to ensure illegally harvested timber does not enter their supply chains and end up on the Australian market. There are also penalties for non-compliance, which are enforced by the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment. 

My research demonstrates the importance of destination country laws such as Australia’s Illegal Logging Act and Regulations, which also exist in other destination countries and jurisdictions such as the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union.  

Destination country laws interact with laws in source countries around the globe, as well as with certification schemes and the efforts of stakeholders at the local, national, regional, and international levels. Relevant stakeholders include corporations and industry associations, non-government organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups, banks and investment bodies, governments and regulators, consumers, and forest reliant communities. Collectively, interaction between these legal mechanisms and stakeholders impact the effectiveness of efforts to end illegal logging. 

By combining due diligence requirements for companies, prohibitions on importation of illegal timber, and penalties for non-compliance, destination country laws represent an essential component of the transnational regulatory framework. However, my research also shows a number of risks and limitations with these laws.  

Limitations include significant rates of non-compliance by corporate actors; enforcement challenges stemming from fraud and corruption in complex transnational supply chains; and, a need for greater interaction between destination country laws and laws in place in source countries. There is also a pressing need for greater collaboration between stakeholders to ensure that incentives for illegality are reduced, and opportunities for sustainable and ethical forest governance practices are enhanced. 

To overcome existing limitations and enhance the opportunities for stakeholder collaboration, I make the following recommendations for improving Australia’s Illegal Logging Act and Regulations: 

  1. The definition of the term “illegally logged” should be broadened and clarified to account for the interaction between harvest-specific laws and other relevant laws including anti-bribery laws, environmental laws, labour and human rights laws, constitutional protections, and customary land rights.  
  1. The due diligence process should mandate consideration of corruption and human rights abuses (including modern slavery) through inclusion of these risks under sections 10 and 13(3) of the Illegal Logging Regulations.  
  1. The Illegal Logging Regulations should mandate that the timber importers and processers who are subject to regulation make public non-sensitive elements of their due diligence system, to allow stakeholders (including consumers, investors and NGOs and civil society groups) to evaluate these systems and support the evolution of best practice. 
  1. Consideration should be given to expanding the scope of the Illegal Logging Act and Regulations to mandate due diligence by importers of ‘forest risk commodities’ and ‘financial institutions’, not just timber importers and processors. 

This final recommendation deserves further explanation. Currently, the Australian law only applies to importers and processors of ‘regulated timber products’ (section 9 of the Illegal Logging Act and section 5 and schedule 1 of the Regulations). However, illegal logging can result from practices unrelated to the forestry industry. Notable examples include land clearing for palm oil or other agricultural activities and the raising of livestock for international export.  

Expanding the scope and purpose of the law to address illegal logging that results from sourcing and trade of other commodities would be a valuable step towards an effective transnational framework to eliminate illegal logging. This step would align with developments in the United Kingdom, where the Environment Bill 2020 proposes due diligence requirements for all ‘forest risk commodities’.  

I also recommend expanding the scope of the law to mandate due diligence systems and reporting for financial institutions, as well as importers. This step would align with global trends towards recognising the role of responsible investment and lending practices in tackling transnational problems. Financial institutions and investors are key stakeholders in the effort to end illegal logging. Existing data shows that the big four Australian banks (Westpac, NAB, CommBank and ANZ) have collectively provided USD$2.21 billion of credit to forest risk projects since 2013. Globally, the numbers are much larger. Expanding the coverage of the law to include financial institutions would increase incentives for collaboration between stakeholders and support sustainable and ethical practices by Australian businesses. 

Countries, including Australia, must continue to support each other to eliminate illegal logging and develop a robust transnational legal framework to prevent harmful deforestation. By taking the above steps to improve its illegal logging laws, Australia has a unique opportunity to lead the world in this transnational effort. However, Australia cannot solve illegal logging alone. It must leverage the support of other powerful stakeholders and implement and enforce legal obligations to incentivise market transformation. 

If we cannot eliminate illegal logging, the consequences will be catastrophic. However, if we succeed in this effort, we have an opportunity to protect vital forest ecosystems and the communities that rely on them, while increasing our planet’s resilience to climate change and contributing to sustainable economic opportunities for all. 

The full submission, endorsed by Transparency International Australia, is available here.  

Dr Hannah Harris is a legal scholar and Senior Lecturer at Macquarie Law School. Her research area is transnational law and corporate regulation. Her current work includes analysis of legal responses to transnational challenges, including illegal logging, modern slavery, and foreign bribery. Her research also explores the potential for technology to support transnational regulatory efforts, including the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for supply chain governance, law enforcement, and corporate governance. See details of her work here, and connect on Linkedin

The right development: brief reflections as the UN finally recognises the right to a healthy environment – Jared Wilk

The United Nations Human Rights Council recently recognised a human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, in a historic moment for human rights law and environmental activism. This post briefly explains the development and ventures some observations on its potential significance.

Reportedly, pollution was responsible for 9 million premature deaths in 2015 alone. When accounting for the increased disease and lower standards of living caused, the toll of pollution on human life is staggering. The climate crisis poses significant threats to life, health, food and water security, housing, political stability and a range of human rights, with its impacts to be felt disproportionately by vulnerable populations. The Holocene extinction event continues gathering pace. It is in this context, on 8 October 2021, that the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) momentously recognised the human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (RHE). The resolution (Res 48/13) was led by Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland, inter alia. Russia, China, India and Japan abstained. 

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The Proposed Reform of the Chinese Arbitration Law and its Impacts on Foreign Parties: Part I – Shu Zhang and Peng Guo

The Chinese lawmaker, being the Ministry of Justice of the PRC, recently published a draft revised New Chinese Arbitration Law for public consultation, which suggests a series of major changes. While most of the changes are in line with the international practice, there are also significant deviations from the commonly accepted practice suggested by the UNCITRAL Model Law. This series aims to highlight the changes and briefly evaluate its impact on foreign parties in dealings with Chinese parties, who may face potential arbitration proceedings in China. This is part one of a two-part series.

The Chinese Arbitration Law (1994) (CAL) was drafted and enacted more than 20 years ago and has been criticised for its out-of-date regime governing the practice of arbitration in China. After years of debates and discussions, the amendment of the CAL was finally prioritised by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and the State Council. On 30 July 2021, the Chinese Ministry of Justice circulated the draft of an Amended Chinese Arbitration Law for public consultation (‘the Draft’), which marks a significant step towards its formal amendment. On the one hand, a number of important features of contemporary international arbitration practice are now accepted by the Draft, demonstrating its aim to be in line with the international practice. On the other hand, some distinctive Chinese features in the Chinese arbitration system are maintained and developed, furthering its divergence from international expectations. Both of these aspects would have significant impacts on foreign parties who might consider, or who might be subject to, China-related arbitration. The authors will highlight some important features and briefly discuss their impacts on foreign parties conducting arbitration in China in this two-part series.

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Lymph or liberty: ethics and human rights in mandatory Covid-19 vaccination – Rebekah McWhirter

The strength of vaccination as a public health tool is that it both protects the individual and contributes to protection of the community by reducing the spread of disease. This is also its weakness: when individuals do not vaccinate, either because they cannot or choose not to, herd immunity – the state where enough individuals are immune to a disease to provide indirect protection by inhibiting community transmission – is weakened. Achieving very high rates of vaccination is therefore important to its success as a public health intervention. This blog post surveys the ethical and human rights considerations relevant in implementing vaccine mandates.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant loss of life globally, in addition to ongoing pressures on health systems and the emerging evidence of longer-term effects of the disease. The near-miraculous development of multiple effective vaccines against Covid-19 within a year demonstrated the power of well-funded research and responsive regulatory action, building on decades of work in vaccine research. In combination with other public health measures, achieving high vaccination rates is a key part of the path out of the pandemic. As voluntary rates slow, and herd immunity remains elusive, it is tempting to look to vaccine mandates to get rates up and over the line.

What are vaccine mandates?

Vaccine mandates can encompass a range of sanction designs. Criminal penalties, such as fines and imprisonment, were a feature of nineteenth-century compulsory vaccination statutes requiring parents to have their children vaccinated against smallpox. Such laws were of variable efficacy, and fell into abeyance following the introduction of conscientious objection clauses in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. 

Modern mandates more commonly focus on specific groups through targeted incentives or penalties. Incentives, such as the now-repealed Maternity Immunisation Allowance, may not technically constitute a mandate, but can be significant enough, especially to those on lower incomes, that they operate in much the same way as a mandate. In recent years, incentive-based approaches have gradually been replaced by penalty-based approaches, such as the No Jab, No Pay and No Jab, No Play policies which restrict access to childcare and family assistance payments if children have not received the vaccinations required by the National Immunisation Program Schedule. While medical exemptions are available, these policies removed conscientious objection exemptions.

While the Australian government is always very careful to emphasise that vaccination in Australia is voluntary, the practical implications of these measures are such that childhood vaccinations are, except for the wealthy, essentially mandatory. Similarly, occupational vaccine mandates, such as certain childcare and aged care employers that require employees to be receive annual flu vaccines, are voluntary only in the sense that the choice is between vaccination and unemployment. 

A return to population-wide vaccine mandates is extremely unlikely, but targeted Covid-19 mandates requiring evidence of vaccination for specific purposes, such as employmenttravel or health insurance, are being seriously considered, if not already being implemented. Significantly, such mandates are going beyond previously accepted high-risk contexts, such as healthcare and aged care, and are being implemented in contexts such as a museum and a fruit processing plant on the basis of workplace health and safety considerations rather than under public health orders. This raises questions about the extent to which such mandates are ethical and lawful.

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ILA Reporter Events and Opportunities Update – October 2021

This is our first, in what will become a monthly fixture on the blog, summarising events and opportunities relevant to our readership. To submit an item for inclusion on this list, contact the Editors-in-Chief at editor@ilareporter.org.au.

Jobs

Legal Consultant at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials) 

General call for legal consultants (at all levels, including experts) to assist the Chamber’s judges prepare and finalize the appeal judgment Case 002/02. Applications accepted on an ongoing basis. For further details, see: http://www.unakrt-online.org/vacancies/legal-consultants-all-levels-including-experts   

International Arbitration Associate (2+ years post admission experience) 

Associate position available at a global law firm based in Melbourne. Applications can be made through Montgomery Advisory. For further details, see: https://www.montgomeryadvisory.com.au/full-listing/?ads=3784845  

Solicitor/Caseworker – Refugee Advice and Casework Service 

Position available for a solicitor to provide legal assistance to people seeking asylum and refugees in an immigration setting. Applications close 10 October 2021. For further details, see: https://www.ethicaljobs.com.au/members/racs/solicitor-caseworker-3?categories=35&page=2  

Research Fellow in Law: Human Rights – UNSW 

UNSW is seeking to appoint a postdoctoral fellow to assist on the implementation of the ‘Improving the Regulation of Modern Slavery and Access to Remedy: Learning from Experience’ project within the Australian Human Rights Institute. Applications close 11 October 2021. For further details, see: https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/2716589246/?referenceId=ByteString%28length%3D16%2Cbytes%3D450d72d1…b6f5b7b7%29.  

Assistant Protection Officer – UNHCR  

Position available to assist the UNHCR’s multi-country representation team in Canberra on a full-time basis. Applications close 14 October 2021. For further details, see: https://www.ethicaljobs.com.au/members/aulca/assistant-protection-officer?categories=35&page=2  

Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Gender, Peace, Security – Monash University 

Monash University is seeking to appoint a postdoctoral research fellow to assist on a research project associated with the UN Women, Peace and Security Agenda. Applications close 14 October 2021. For further details, see: http://careers.pageuppeople.com/513/cw/en/job/618285/post-doctoral-research-fellow-gender-peace-security  

Internships

Remote Internship with the Coalition for the International Criminal Court 

Assist the CICC International Secretariat on a range of tasks relating to the International Criminal Court, the general work of the coalition and the Assembly of States Parties. Deadline to apply is 15 October 2021. For further details, see: https://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/sites/default/files/cicc_documents/CICC_Volunteer_2021_final.pdf  

Internship at Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials) 

Internships between April 2022 – June 2022 are now accepting applications. Deadline for applying is 30 November 2021. For further details, see here: http://www.unakrt-online.org/recruitment  

International Justice Program Intern at Human Rights Watch 

HRW is calling for applications for its January-May 2022 internship in its International Justice Program. The internship is based in New York, however, remote arrangements may be possible. Applications due 19 October 2021. For further details, see: https://boards.greenhouse.io/humanrightswatch/jobs/5576004002  

Opportunities

Law Council of Australia International Law Essay Competition 

The International Law Section of the Law Council of Australia is running an essay competition for studies in the law of the South Pacific. Entries are required to explore an international law issue relevant to the South Pacific. Entries close on 29 October 2021. For further details, see: https://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/international-law/international-law-section-essay-competition-for-studies-in-the-law-of-the-south-pacific  

Melbourne Journal of International Law Call for Submissions 

Submissions are invited for volume 23(1) of the Melbourne Journal of International Law, to be published in June 2022. Submissions are due by 31 January 2022. For further details, see here: https://law.unimelb.edu.au/mjil#submissions  

Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law – Human Rights Essay Award 

Essay competition topic for 2022 is ‘Climate Change and Human Rights: Impacts, Responsibilities, and Opportunities’. Submissions due 31 January 2022. Open to law graduates across the world and the prize for best submission includes a full scholarship to the Program of Advances Studies on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, travel expenses to Washington, living expenses and accommodation.   

Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarships 

University students looking to complete up to two semesters abroad in Asia to forge new links between Asia and Australia can apply for the scholarship, valued up to $12,250. Applications close 29 November 2021. For further details, see here: https://scholars.westpacgroup.com.au/scholarships/asian-exchange/#section2  

Cambridge International Law Journal: A Tribute to Judge James Crawford Call for Papers 

The Cambridge International Law Journal welcomes contributions on the responsibility of states and other subjects of international law. Submissions due by 24 October 2021. For further details, see: https://opiniojuris.org/2021/09/14/events-and-announcements-13-september-2021/  

Events

Early Career Panel on International Investment Agreements and National Impacts 

The International Law Association (Australian Branch) will be hosting its final early career international lawyer virtual panel on international investment law, featuring speakers  Caitlyn McKenzie, Zhenyu (Zoe) Xiao, chair Associate Professor Jeanne Huang (University of Sydney Law School) and commentator Dr Jonathan Bonnitcha on 7 October 2021. To register, see: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/international-investment-agreements-and-national-impacts-tickets-170399557664.  

Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi on Gender, Women and Leadership at the International Criminal Court 

This event is organised by the Minerva LAW Network. Dr. Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi is a former International Criminal Court judge and president and will be leading a talk on gender, women and leadership at the International Criminal Court. Event is online on 8 October 2021 at 11:00 British Standard time. Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/silvia-fernandez-de-gurmendi-on-gender-women-and-leadership-at-the-icc-tickets-174450685697  

Conference on ‘International Criminal Law before Domestic Courts’  

The University of Vienna and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Fundamental and Human Rights is hosting this conference in Vienna from 14 to 16 October 2021. The event will be livestreamed and registration is free. To register, go to: https://www.iclconference21.com/registration  

Private International Law and Intellectual Property: The ILA Kyoto Guidelines 

The Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the Sydney Law School and the International Law Association (Australian Branch) are hosting a virtual panel on the Kyoto Guidelines adopted at the 79th Conference of the International Law Association featuring Professor Toshiyuki Kono, Professor Gyooho Lee, Professor Vivienne Bath and Associate Professor Jie (Jeanne) Huang. To register, see: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/private-international-law-and-intellectual-property-tickets-171695484817.  

Kaldor Centre Virtual Conference 2021: Whose move? Addressing migration and displacement in the face of climate change 

The Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law is hosting a virtual conference from 19-21 October 2021 addressing issues in migration and displacement in the face of climate change. To register, see: https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/event/kaldor-centre-virtual-conference-2021-whose-move-addressing-migration-and-displacement-face  

The profound challenges facing COP 26 and the UNFCCC 

The International Law Association (Australian Branch) and Melbourne Climate Futures based at the University of Melbourne will be holding a virtual expert panel featuring Professor Jacqueline Peel, Professor Robyn Eckersley, Associate Professor Malte Meinshausen and chair the Honourable Justice Nicola Pain on 26 October 2021. To register, see: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/international-law-of-climate-change-profound-challenges-facing-cop26-tickets-177620647137.  

Corruption and Human Rights Sanctions in Australia: What to Expect?  

The Australian National University Transnational Research Institute on Corruption is hosting an event on corruption and human rights sanctions in Australia. Speakers include Geoffrey Robertson QC (Doughty Street Chambers), Anna Bradshaw (Peters & Peters) and Adam Masters (Transnational Research Institution on Corruption). Event will be conducted via webinar 1t 7pm AEST on 27 October 2021. Register here: https://lawschool.anu.edu.au/event/webinar/corruption-and-human-rights-sanctions-australia-what-expect  

Assessments of Liability for Violations of International Law involving Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems: Abstract Entities and Algorithmic Accountability – Helen Stamp

In 1950, the International Military Tribunal sitting at Nuremburg, put forward the following, fundamental proposition, reported in the official proceedings of the Tribunal [466], regarding criminal responsibility for crimes of international concern:

“[c]rimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced.”  

This statement was in response to arguments submitted to the Tribunal that it is sovereign states which are governed by international law, rather than individuals, and that individuals are therefore protected from personal responsibility when the act in question is an ‘act of state.’ This submission was strongly rejected by the Tribunal who confirmed that individuals can be held responsible under international law, and specifically the laws of war; a position which has been maintained and has informed the development of international criminal law since that time.

Seventy-one years on, the notion of individual criminal responsibility is again being challenged; not through arguments of state sovereignty but by the very technology incorporated into weaponry which is now being developed and used in modern armed conflicts

In particular, Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) – where responsibility for decisions is shared between a human operator and to varying degrees an autonomous digital system – have created a challenge to established legal frameworks and accountability mechanisms which would have been unimaginable to those sitting at Nuremburg many years ago. 

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Beyond the International Health Regulations: The Role of International Disaster Response Law in the Global Pandemic Response – Thomas Mulder

The global pandemic response has legally largely relied on the International Health Regulations of 2005, but this instrument does not offer a clear framework for the provision of international assistance in pandemics. The regime of international disaster response law offers a solution and should fill this gap. The concurrent application of both regimes contributes to a comprehensive global approach to the complex challenges of pandemics.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, dramatic surges in COVID-19 cases have caused crises around the world. Rising pressure on health care systems and shortages of medical supplies have put several states in urgent need of assistance at various stages during the pandemic. A striking example is India, where an exponential rise of cases led to heartbreaking scenes in April and May 2021. States have responded to these needs with offers of international assistance, including assistance to India. However, it has been unclear which legal framework applies to international assistance in a pandemic. 

The International Health Regulations of 2005 (IHR 2005) have been the main framework for the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, two independent panels that reviewed the global pandemic response have highlighted the lack of attention drawn to international cooperation and mutual assistance in the IHR 2005. The panels have recommended revision of the IHR 2005 and even a new ‘pandemic treaty’, but did not come up with detailed proposals that address international assistance in pandemics. However, rather than reinventing the wheel, we should look beyond the IHR 2005 and rely on the rules and principles of international law that already address international assistance in crises, namely international disaster response law. This regime should be integrated into the legal framework on the global pandemic response.

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International Human Rights Law ‘In Here’: Bail Reform in Victoria – Jennifer Keene-McCann

Jennifer Keene-McCann brings international human rights law home to Victoria’s Bail Act 1977.  

When I teach international law, I often wave my hands in the air separating the ‘domestic sphere’ and the ‘international sphere’. This separation, I explain, is how something could be lawful in the domestic sphere but unlawful in the international. Australia is a dualist system; we can commit to particular principles on the international stage and choose not to implement them domestically.  

This separation is partly why I imagine many domestic practitioners do not see international law as a part of their ‘toolbox’ – it exists ‘out there’ somewhere. But international legal principles provide excellent support for strategic litigation.  

A perfect example of this is bail.  

Victoria further tightened its laws in 2017 and 2018 by increasing the number of offences subject to what is referred to as a ‘reverse onus’ test for granting bail (outlined further below). Now, there is growing concern that not only are provisions in Victoria’s Bail Act 1977  (Bail Act or the Act) too harsh, they are also disproportionately effecting Victoria’s most vulnerable.  

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