Announcement of Brennan Prize Winner: Jack McNally, ‘Restrictions on the Freedom of Navigation in the Northern Sea Route: Implications for Arcticus Liberum’

The Australian Branch of the International Law Association is pleased to announce the winner of the 2021 Brennan Essay Prize in Public International Law. The Brennan Prize is named for Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE QBS QC, former Chief Justice of Australia and Patron of the Branch. Sir Gerard was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1981 and appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to the law in 1988.

The winner of the 2021 Brennan Prize is Jack McNally, for his paper ‘Restrictions on the Freedom of Navigation in the Northern Sea Route: Implications for Arcticus Liberum’. Mr McNally is a final year Bachelor of Arts (International Relations) / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student at the University of New South Wales. He currently works as a Research Assistant at UNSW Law, where his research focusses on public international law, the law of the sea and international dispute settlement, and as a Law Clerk in the International Arbitration Group of King & Wood Mallesons. The Australian Branch of the International Law Association expresses its congratulations to Mr McNally on his successful entry.

Mr McNally

The abstract for the paper is included below:

The freedom of navigation is one of the fundamental principles of international order. However, as the effects of anthropogenic climate change grow greater and the extent of Arctic sea ice continues to decline, a question arises as to whether, and to what degree, the freedom of navigation applies in formerly ice-covered areas. This question is not an abstract one. Arctic States have asserted extensive sovereign rights over formerly ice-covered shipping routes, imposing restrictions on the freedom of navigation of both merchant vessels and warships. Whether these restrictions are valid impositions on the freedom of navigation is an unresolved question, complicated by the genuine interests of littoral States in the protection of the Arctic’s highly sensitive marine environment. If, however, these restrictions are acquiesced in by the international community, they may operate to restrict the freedom of navigation and diminish its content in formerly ice-covered areas. Accordingly, there is a need for States to strike a balance between permitting restrictions on the freedom of navigation that pursue environmental protection, while contesting those that exceed what is permitted under international law. This article seeks to provide the necessary legal framework to enable States to undertake that balancing exercise and to, in turn, ensure the Arctic remains mare liberum.

Announcement of Nygh Prize Winner: Michael Douglas, ‘Does Choice of Law Matter?’

The Australian Branch of the International Law Association is pleased to announce the winner of the 2021 Nygh Essay Prize in Private International Law. This prize is named in honour of the late Dr Peter Nygh AM, a leading Australian scholar of private international law and former President of the Branch. Dr Nygh was a judge of the Family Court of Australia, a member of Australia’s first delegation to, and played an integral role in, The Hague Conference on Private International Law and was awarded the Centenary Medal by the Australian Government as well as the Order of Australia, partly in recognition of his outstanding and longstanding contribution to private international law, and in particular his representation of Australia at The Hague Conference.

The winner of the 2021 Nygh Prize is Michael Douglas for his paper ‘Does Choice of Law Matter?’ Mr Douglas is completing his PhD in private international law at Sydney Law School. He works as an academic at UWA Law School and in a litigation firm in Perth. The Australian Branch of the International Law Association expresses its congratulations to Mr Douglas on his successful entry.

The abstract for the paper is included below:

We ought to rethink how we understand the conflict of laws in Australia with respect to forum statutes. Views which may be orthodox in conflict of laws scholarship no longer align to the proper treatment of forum statutes in cross-border civil litigation in Australian courts. Statutory interpretation is of primary importance in determining issues in cross-border litigation before Australian courts involving forum statutes. As most cases involve statutes, statutory interpretation is thus of primary importance to most cross-border litigation. This approach is statutist, in that, like the statutism of centuries ago, it favours interpretation as the method to determine issues of territorial scope of law. It also follows in the tradition of Currie’s governmental interest analysis in that it favours the interests of forum institutions in resolution of questions in cases with a foreign element. Choice of law, in the traditional sense of its traditional techniques, still matters. But statutory interpretation matters more in the actual life of the law. This ought to be embraced by scholars and teachers. Perhaps then the realm of the conflict of laws will be less dismal, less mysterious and more comprehensible to those who understand the law better than many of those in the ivory tower: actual lawyers.

Mr Douglas

Event: International Criminal Law: Practitioner Perspectives, 16 September 2021

The International Law Association (Australian Branch) is pleased to announce its third in a series of online lunch-time panels showcasing the work of early career international lawyers.

This event follows the first panel on “Intersections of International Environmental Law with National Jurisdictions” on 22 July 2021 and the second panel on “Armed Conflict, Technology and Human Rights” on 26 August 2021. Recordings are made of these panels and will be made available in the members’ section of the ILA (AB)’s website in due course.

This third panel is focused on “International Criminal Law: Practitioner Perspectives” and features speakers Pranamie Mandalawatta (Australian Red Cross) and Liam MacAndrews (Nyman Gibson Miralis Defence Lawyers) speaking on ‘Corporate Liability for War Crimes under Australian Law’ and Shannon Torrens presenting on ‘Defending A President: The Charles Taylor Case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone’. The event will be chaired by Dr Chris Ward SC (St James Hall Chambers) and will feature commentator The Honourable Justice Mark Ierace (Supreme Court of New South Wales). The panel will be held online on Thursday 16 September 2021 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm AEST. Registration is free and through Eventbrite.

The final panel in this series will be held on 7 October and consist of an exploration of International Investment Law. It will feature Caitlyn McKenzie (ANU College of Law) presenting on ‘Improving access to Foreign Direct Investment for Pacific Island Countries: Pursuit of International Investment Agreements from a development perspective’ and Zhenyu (Zoe) Xiao (UNSW Law and Justice) speaking on ‘International law and domestic institutions: rethinking the evolution of China’s investor-state dispute settlement policymaking’. The event will be chaired by Associate Professor Jeanne Huang (University of Sydney Law School) and feature commentator Dr Jonathan Bonnitcha (UNSW Law and Justice).

A flyer for this third panel is included below.

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Call for Submissions: Australian International Law Journal

The Australian International Law Journal (AILJ), published by the International Law Association (Australian Branch), is calling for papers on topics of public or private international law for its forthcoming volume. 

Papers should range from between 6,000 and 12,000 words. Case notes (2,000-3,000 words) and book reviews (1,000 words) within the areas of public or private international law are also welcome. 

The AILJ offers established and developing scholars the opportunity to publish high quality refereed scholarship on topics of public and private international law. The ILA is a global organization, which plays a pre-eminent role in the progressive development of international law. From a modest beginning in 1983 as Australian International Law News, the AILJ has become a peer-reviewed law journal of international standing. 

Papers on any topic of public or private international law should be submitted by email to the Editor in Chief at [email protected] The deadline for submissions is 1 October 2021. Accepted submissions will be published in Volume 28 of the AILJ. 

More information on the submission of articles, notes and reviews is available in the AILJ Guidelines for Authors. Further information on the Journal and how to subscribe is available on the ILA (AB)’s website.

Call for Applications: Assistant Editors and Co-Editor-in-Chief, ILA Reporter

The ILA Reporter is calling for applications for Assistant Editors and a Co-Editor-in-Chief. These Assistant Editors will work in collaboration with the current Assistant Editors and Editor-in-Chief of the ILA Reporter. Applications are due on 2 August 2021. 

What is the ILA Reporter?

The ILA Reporter is the official blog of the Australian Branch of the International Law Association (ILA). The ILA was founded in Brussels in 1873. It has consultative status, as an international non-governmental organisation, with a number of the United Nations specialised agencies. The ILA Reporter provides analysis, commentary and discussion on issues in public and private international law which have bearing on Australia and the wider region, as well as publicising relevant events and opportunities for education to its audience.

What are the roles?

The role of the Assistant Editors is to support the Editors-in-Chief by commissioning, editing and publishing articles for the Blog. Assistant Editors are engaged on a voluntary basis and are required to source and edit at least one article per month. There are also opportunities for Assistant Editors to have their own articles published on the blog. The ILA Reporter is looking to recruit two Assistant Editors in this round of applications.

The Editors-in-Chief are responsible for reviewing submissions received from the readership and sourced by the Assistant Editors; finalising and publishing all pieces for the ILA Reporter; preparing bimonthly digests of articles, events and opportunities for the readership; managing the workload and activities of the Assistant Editors; and assisting the ILA (AB) with its activities. This open role is in addition to the existing Editor-in-Chief of the ILA Reporter.

These roles are a great opportunity for those looking to gain experience in the field of international law with a well-respected non-government organisation.

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Call for Papers: Volume 40 (2022) of the AYBIL

Volume 40 of the Australian Year Book of International Law will be dedicated to the memory of the late H.E. Judge James Crawford AC SC FBA. In addition to a long and distinguished career as an academic, practitioner, arbitrator, and judge, James was a friend and mentor to many. We hope that papers in this volume will reflect on some of his numerous contributions to the field of public international law, and particularly international law in Australia, by engaging with one or more of his varied roles.

The AYBIL welcomes paper proposals reflecting on James’ contributions to the field in such roles as:

  • Scholar;
  • Educator;
  • Role in institutional law reform and codification efforts (eg. Australian Law Reform Commission and the International Law Commission);
  • Legal Advisor;
  • Counsel (especially reflections on his oral or written advocacy);
  • Arbitrator; and,
  • Judge.

Abstracts of up to 500 words on any of these topics accompanied by a short 1-page CV should be sent to the Editors at [email protected] by 15 August 2021. Applicants will be notified of outcomes no later than 10 September 2021, and a virtual workshop to develop papers based on the accepted abstracts may be held in December 2021. The AYBIL anticipate final papers would need to be submitted no later than 15 February 2022 to meet a publishing deadline of June 2022.

You are also welcome to contact the Editors at any time on [email protected] to discuss your proposal or seek clarification regarding the Call for Papers.

Event: ‘Intersections of International Environmental Law with National Jurisdictions’, 22 July 2021

The International Law Association (Australian Branch) is pleased to announce its first in a series of online lunch-time panels showcasing the work of early career international lawyers.

The first panel will be on “Intersections of International Environmental Law with National Jurisdictions”. Speakers including Carina Bury of Universität Hamburg and Millicent McCreath of UNSW Law & Justice. Justice Nicola Pain at the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales will chair the panel, and Dr Emma Carmody at the Environmental Defenders Office and Legal Advisor to the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands will serve as Commentator. The panel will be held online on 22 July 2021 at 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm AEST. Registration is through Eventbrite.

Future panels (with further details to be circulated) include ‘Emerging Topics in the Law of Armed Conflict’ (August 26), ‘International Criminal Law: Practitioner Perspectives’ (September 16) and ‘International Investment Law’ (October). A flyer is included below.

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Event Re-Cap: Developments in cyber and international law at the UN – Josephine Dooley

For the Australian National University’s Centre for International and Public Law (CIPL) Seminar in April, key members of Australia’s delegation to the United Nations (UN) Open-ended Working Group on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security (OEWG) discussed latest developments in cyber and international law at the UN.

The third and final substantive OEWG session was held in March. Importantly, on 12 March 2021, 193 States adopted a consensus report containing recommendations to address cyber threats and ‘promote an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful’ international cyber environment (OEWG, Final Substantive Report UN Doc A/AC.290/2021/CRP.2, para 7 (‘OEWG Final Report’). The OEWG Final Report has now been endorsed by consensus by the UN General Assembly (UNGA). As part of that effort to improve peace and security in the cyber environment, the OEWG Final Report includes recommendations concerning the development of how international law applies in cyberspace, that States continue to:

  • Inform the UN Secretary-General, and through other appropriate avenues, of their national views and practices on how international law applies to states’ conduct in cyberspace  (Recommendation 38),
  • Support, in a neutral and objective manner, capacity-building of other States in developing their national views and practices, to contribute to building common understandings of and consensus on how international law applies in cyberspace (Recommendation 39), and
  • Participate in future UN processes on international law and cyber as a key step to clarify and further develop common understandings on the issue (Recommendation 40).

At the talk on 27 April 2021, participants were able to learn first-hand from key Australian representatives in the OEWG process what has been Australia’s role in the recognition and elaboration of the application of international law to cyberspace so far, and Australia’s perspective on the implications of the OEWG Final Report going forward. The Panel consisted of: 

  • Johanna Weaver, Special Adviser to Australia’s Cyber Ambassador and Head of Delegation on UN Cyber Processes,
  • Harry Aitken, Assistant Director, International Law Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT),
  • Tess Kluckow, Senior Legal Officer, Office of International Law, Attorney-General’s Department (AGD), and 
  • Wing Commander Craig Deveney, Deputy Director, Operations and International Law Military Branch (Defence Legal).

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Event: Book Launch of “The UN Commission on Human Rights: ‘A Very Great Enterprise'”, 2 June 2021

The UN Human Rights Council faces a critical phase in its development. Between 2021 and 2026, the Assembly is due to review its status, with a view to determining, to quote Kofi Annan at its inauguration in 2006, whether its work has “so clearly established [its] authority that there would be a general will to amend the Charter, and to elevate it to the status of a Principal Organ of the United Nations”.

A new book by former Secretary to the UN Commission on Human Rights John Pace is intended to aid the process of review by furnishing, in one volume, the entire record of the Commission and the Council since the inception of UN work in human rights in 1946. The UN Commission on Human Rights: ‘A Very Great Enterprise’ was published by Oxford University Press in 2020.

In the course of a career spanning more than 50 years in the field of human rights, John Pace has worked in a wide range of human rights activities at the international and regional level. He has headed several sectors of the human rights programme and was Secretary to the Commission on Human Rights (1978 to 1994) and Coordinator of the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights (1991 to 1993). He has a long association with UNSW, where he has taught and headed the Australian Centre for Human Rights in the early 2000s. He is currently Senior Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Law and Justice and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Diplomacy Training Programme.

Former High Court Justice the Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG and Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous UNSW and Professor of Law Megan Davis will join the author in conversation about his new book, moderated by Director of the Australian Human Rights Institute Professor Justine Nolan.

This event will be held online on 2 June 2021 at 9:00 am to 10:00 am CEST. Registration for this event is via Eventbrite and is free to all attendees. Event attendees are eligible for a 30% discount on purchase of the book.

This event is co-hosted by the Australian Human Rights Institute and the International Law Association Australia.

Call for Papers: iCourts (University of Copenhagen) Virtual Conference

The iCourts (University of Copenhagen) Virtual Conference will be occurring on 22 April 2021 and 23 April 2021. The Conference, organised by iCourts (the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre of Excellence for International Courts), focuses on transforming evidence and proof in international criminal trials. As part of the Conference, a call for papers has been issued.

On 1 July 2022, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will mark the twentieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute, its constitutive treaty. Prior to the Court’s establishment, and through those intervening years, scholars and practitioners have energetically debated the effectiveness of its procedural architecture, its evidential model, and its deliberations on matters of fact. The twentieth anniversary of the Rome Statute’s entry into force thus provides an opportune time to re-engage with these debates, and to take stock of a dynamic field which has undergone significant development. To this end iCourts is hosting a virtual conference, which will serve both to generate dialogue, and to facilitate engagement with innovative theoretical, and empirical work: research which advances the study of evidence and proof, shaping future practice, and laying the foundations for a dynamic research agenda.

iCourts welcomes contributions relating to the core topic of the ICC, and cognate international criminal courts and tribunals, but would also encourage submissions which engage with the overarching topics, as broadly construed. We particularly welcome papers focusing on national jurisdictional approaches to international offences, in addition to theoretical and empirical works whose application reaches beyond the sphere of international criminal adjudication. Contributions may include, but are not limited to, discussions of;

  • Proof and procedure in international criminal courts.
  • Open Source investigations and expert scientific evidence
  • Bayesian and Wigmorean inference networks
  • Evidential reasoning in epistemological and ontological perspective
  • Eyewitness testimony, narrative and memory
  • Innovative jurisdictional approaches to international crimes

We further welcome contributions from researchers, academics, and practitioners across the fields of law, the forensic sciences, political science, psychology, data science, and allied disciplines. Interdisciplinary approaches are particularly encouraged. Interested authors should send an abstract (300 words), and a brief author biography (150 words) to [email protected] by 29 March 2021. Authors will be notified of the status of their submission by 5 April 2021.

The organisers encourage contributors to submit their papers to a special issue of the International Criminal Law Review. Completed papers will be due by 14 June 2021, and will undergo blind peer review. Submissions must be original and should not have been previously published elsewhere. More details on the submission process will be provided following acceptance of proposals. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact the organisers.

Further details are available in the call for papers.