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International Law

International Law situational questions

7 International Law situational questions:

1.The International Court of Justice is frequently referred to informally as “the World Court.” But is that term accurate? Is the ICJ “the World Court”?

2.As you know, the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over such internationally-recognized offenses as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. At the Kampala Conference in 2010, the Assembly of States Parties added to that list the crime of aggression. Should the jurisdiction of the ICC be expanded to include other crimes? If so, which, and why? If not, should we be concerned that this list is too narrow, which may allow serious human rights abusers to evade justice?

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3.The Refugee Convention of 1951 defines a refugee as someone who has fled, or is in any event outside, his or her country of nationality, and is unable to return because of “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, [or] membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” Europe, and to a lesser extent the Unites States, are currently being inundated by individuals described by the mainstream media as “refugees,” but who do not meet the Convention’s definition: they are seeking improved quality of life, not fleeing from persecution. Assuming that “economic migrants” are not eligible to receive the benefits to which refugees are entitled under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, what obligations must receiving states honor in their treatment of these people?

4.Ever since it handed down its judgment in the Gabcikovo-Nagamaros Project Case in 1997, the ICJ has increasingly suggested that states depending on a common natural resource, such as a watercourse, are bound by an obligation, established through customary international law, of “equitable sharing.” Numerous international environmental treaties are based on this principle. This is said to derive from the concept of sic utere tuo, which the Court held in the Corfu Channel Case in 1949 is a rule binding on all states.

That sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Who could be against “equitable sharing”? But it is terribly vague. When, say, a river flows from Country A into Country B, and Country A desires to build a dam that will substantially reduce the river water available in Country B but will bring substantial improvements to the quality of life of the people of Country A, what considerations should be taken into account in determining whether the proposed “sharing” of the watercourse is “equitable”?

5.If a Panel established under the World Trade Organization Agreement finds that a Member has denied another Member a benefit guaranteed under the treaty (for example, by denying its products most-favored-nation status or national treatment), and the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) accepts this finding, the DSB will grant the offending Member an opportunity to bring its trade measure into conformity with the WTO Agreement. If the offending Member does not do so within the time allotted, the DSB may authorize the affected Member to retaliate against the offender by imposing tariffs or other trade restrictions on import of its goods. Should the WTO Agreement be amended to allow the DSB to award monetary damages as compensation to the injured Member?

6.What would be the outcome were the General Assembly to seek an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the question: “Is the practice of capital punishment for the commission of certain criminal offenses in domestic legal systems consistent with conventional and customary international law?”

7. In the last two decades, three of the five permanent members of the Security Council have been accused of serious violations of international law (some examples are: Russia – the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight #17 over Ukraine and the invasion of Crimea; China – the treatment of the Uighur minority, human rights violations in Hong Kong, and the unilateral claims of sovereignty over areas in the South China Sea; the U.S. – unauthorized invasion of Iraq, human rights violations at Guantanamo and elsewhere, and the use of drones in places like Yemen and Somalia).

Obviously, all three deny these allegations, and to answer this question you need not accept that any of them is (or is not) accurate. But whether or not the charges are legally supported, the mere fact that they have generated widespread discussion raises this issue: what, if any, opportunities does the international legal regime provide to review the legality of acts and omissions of the P-5?

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            The term ‘‘the World court’’ referring to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is accurate. However, referring to the ICJ as the World Court raises different discrepancies established in the jurisdiction level exercised over the parties. No other court exercises such a high jurisdiction on cross border disputes (Akehurst’s, 2019, pg 544).  In other words, it is the highest court in the world and the only one with such jurisdictions. Unlike the international criminal justice (ICC), which was established through treaty and limited jurisdiction for specific acts such as war crimes, genocide, and a crime against humanity, ICJ exercises universal and general jurisdiction (Akehurst’s, 2019, pg 445).