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International Legal News - 13 November 2023

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 07 November to 13 November 2023.

Guernica 37 will provide weekly media updates from the International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights, United Nations, European Union and other sources. Should you wish to contribute or submit a media summary, opinion piece or blog, please send to Ned Vucijak at for consideration.

Pakistan – 10 November

Pakistan is being accused of widespread harassment of Afghan refugees; Pakistan is trying to return Afghan refugees to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. The justification for this is a lack of "paperwork and documentation". As a result, there have been human rights breaches. Pakistan must provide women and girls access to safety, education and livelihood. Some refugees have been detained in holding and transit centres; they have been denied access to legal advice. Journalists have not been given access to these centres. Amnesty International calls for the government and the UNHCR to expedite the registration of applicants seeking refuge in Pakistan, especially those at high risk.

South America – 09 November

Immigrants and Asylum Seekers in South America have been forced to cross the Darién Gap (a swampy jungle on the Columbia-Panama border), leaving them exposed to abuse and organised crime. It is thought that restrictions the USA imposed have led to this situation, such as the restriction across the USA-Mexico border. These immigrants are made up of Venezuelans, Haitians, Ecuadorians and Cubans who seek to escape violence, persecution and poverty.

Ukraine – 09 November

Attention has turned to the destruction of schools and kindergartens in Ukraine since Russia's invasion. Since February 2022, over 3,790 facilities have been damaged or destroyed. This has had a devastating impact on the education of millions of children. A recent report, "Tanks on the Playground," has documented this. Some children have had to resort to remote learning; however, attacks on Power infrastructure have made this impossible in Ukraine. Human Rights Watch speculated that schools have been deliberately pillaged and looted by Russian forces. In addition, some vandalism and graffiti on schools was reported. Some schools have been used as living quarters, ammunition storage or parking military vehicles. Russia has not endorsed the Safe School Declaration through the UN.

Colombia – 09 November

Human Rights Advocates and Protesters are at risk of retribution according to a new report published by Amnesty International, “Hope at Risk,” highlighting the lack of a safe space to defend human rights. The government is being accused of failing to guarantee the collective protection of these Human Rights defenders. Amnesty International has analysed the last two administrations, and contrary to advice from various organisations, both governments insisted on adopting counter-productive measures to protect human rights defenders. Despite multiple promises to introduce and sign up to various declarations of intent, the results have been poor. The Colombian authorities should adopt a collective protection measure, supplementary to individual protection and based on an intersectional approach that gauges the risks and needs of protected characteristic communities.

Uzbekistan – 09 November

Turkey, Russia, Iran, and Pakistan leaders seek to expand their influence in regions previously ruled by the USSR. Turkey’s President Erdogan, Iran's President Raisi, and Pakistan's Prime Minister Huq Kakar are visiting Uzbekistan on Thursday for a regional economic summit; this indicates that former Soviet countries want to establish new partnerships with Russia. Kazakhstan seeks partnerships with other world powers. It has been apparent in recent years that China hopes to become a key player in the region, with up to 150 infrastructure projects in other countries. One topic that will be off the table is the Israel – Palestine conflict, as many countries attending the meeting back different sides. Most of the talks at the summit are expected to focus on humanitarian cooperation, transport and trade. Russia has a lot to gain from this summit to remain a key player in the region, given the sanctions because of the Ukrainian war. Russia has launched substantial energy projects, including gas supplies to Uzbekistan via Kazakhstan and building nuclear power plants and hydroelectric projects in other countries.

Israel-Palestine – 08 November

Israel's response to Hamas when it carried out its attacks at the beginning of October has impelled The American Jewish Committee to speculate that commentators have deliberately spread lies about Israel's actions and intentions. They have organised a meeting on law and foreign policy to unpack these problematic issues; the Council on Foreign Relations and Columbia Law School have hosted the event.

Burkina Faso – 08 November

Burkina Faso’s military Junta is using emergency law legislation against perceived dissidents. They notified in writing or by telephone journalists, activists, and opposition party members that they would be conscripted to participate in security operations across the country under the April 13th "General mobilisation" plan to recapture territory lost to Islamic forces.

The plan seeks to create a "legal framework for all actions" against insurgency and gives the President extensive powers. However, critics see it as an abuse of this emergency legislation to silence peaceful demonstrators. This illegal conscription is seen to violate fundamental human rights. Conscription should only exist if authorised by domestic law. That gives the potential conscript notice of the duration of military service and an adequate opportunity to contest the time to be served.

According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and The United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC), certain rights may be restricted under a state of emergency but must be tailored to the situation; some rights may not be delegated or suspended, this was confirmed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

Global – 08 November

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) commissioned a report: “Production Gap Report on Fossil Fuel Production,” showing that the production of fossil fuels by 2030 will be more than double the limit required to keep global warming within the internationally agreed goal of 1.5°C. International coal production will increase until 2030, and worldwide oil and gas production until at least 2050.

This has been seen as a profit-driven undercurrent and human rights obligations are dashed in favour of moneymaking. Steps must be taken to phase out all fossil fuel production, halt new expansion projects and accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Carbon Storage and carbon dioxide removal are not enough. The report will be delivered at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai this winter.

Global - 07 November

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Israeli President Isaac Herzog have given a press conference which has looked at the international law implications surrounding the conflicting Gaza. The laws on war might seem incomprehensible if war is often a last resort. Every country in the world has accepted the First and Second Geneva Conventions. Consequently, they can apply to every conflict whereby civilians or prisoners of war should be protected from the worst consequences of war. There is much debate about whether the conflict in Gaza is in breach of International Law and Convention. Sudan is an example of a Civil War conflict which has seen attacks on civilians take advantage of the inability of global actors to intervene. International Law can be seen as a network of reciprocity; it does not require a critical mass of requirements. The formal body of International Law represents the dominance of Western thought. What form should the law take so it is no longer connected to the choices of the mighty Western Nations? International Law cannot and should not be abandoned by Western liberalism.

Italy – 07 November

The Italian and Albanian Prime Ministers signed an agreement to construct two centres in Albania to detain people rescued from the sea by Italian ships. At the heart of the agreement is the issue of “refoulment”, the practice of sending anyone to a country where they are at risk of human rights violations; Italy has also been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights in 2012 for this, in the Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy case. This is where people detained are under the country's jurisdiction to circumvent National and International Law on Asylum status; thus, the consequences for people seeking asylum would be problematic. The principle of non-refoulment was enshrined into EU law in Article 78(1) TFEU and Articles 18 and 19 of the EU Charter Of Fundamental Rights.


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