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International Legal News - 23 October 2023

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

The following media round up on international and foreign policy issues from around the world for the period of 16 October to 22 October 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.

Ukraine – October 22nd

Ukraine has become heavily reliant on drone strikes to fight Russian forces. The supply of these could quickly dry up, with China placing restrictions on exports, ultimately making life difficult for Ukrainians fighting on the Eastern front. The London-based Think Tank “The Royal United Services Institute” thinks Ukraine is losing 10,000 drones a month. Export licences are now needed, and certain drones cannot be used for military purposes. This has left Ukrainians in a precarious position to gather as many drones from different countries as possible. The problem also extends to parts needed and used to create drones. This has a detrimental effect on the functionality of what a drone can do and when it can be utilised.

Many drone manufacturers have clarified that they do not want their products sold to Ukraine or Russia for warfare. This does not, however, prevent thirdhand drone sales from places such as Kazakhstan. As a result, further measures are having to be put in place. One unintended consequence of this is that Ukraine is now developing its own drone for production to be sent to help its soldiers on the frontline

Israel – October 20th

Israel has struck back with force this week. Amnesty International reports that Israeli forces have disproportionately conducted indiscriminate attacks directed at civilians in breach of International Humanitarian Law. Amnesty International has called on the international community to take action against Israel by imposing a comprehensive arms embargo and bringing Israel to task for mass civilian casualties.

Amnesty International has also called on Hamas to urgently release all civilian hostages and stop its tit-for-tat rocket firing in response. The investigation into a spike in excessive use of force by the Israeli army and the continuing attacks in Gaza suggests that no precautionary measures were undertaken ahead of the attacks, including informing and giving adequate prior warning. The report insinuates that non-military targets were/have been picked to inflict the most damage; the report encourages the Office of the Prosecutor to investigate war crimes against Israel and for the international pressure on Israel to end its total siege and blockade of Gaza.

Europe & Central Asia – October 20th

Amnesty International has highlighted the need for free speech and protests to continue in light of the recent escalation in the Gaza region. This has compelled many European people to protest in favour of Palestinian rights. In some countries, this right to protest has been quashed. In some cases, there has been a ban on certain chants, Palestinian flags and signs. Those found in breach have been arrested. An example of this has been seen in Switzerland, where all demonstrations have been banned in Zürich. There is a need to tread carefully when using divisive language but, at the same time, balance this with a right to protest and express oneself.

USA – October 20th

The Supreme Court has lifted restrictions from lower courts to allow President Biden's administration to actively encourage social media companies to remove content deemed unsuitable or misleading. Putting a hold on a preliminary injunction. It is seen as a back door for censoring differing political beliefs. Censoring specific posts would violate the US Constitution's First Amendment Free Speech protections.

The Biden administration has argued it did nothing illegal and was only trying to mitigate online misinformation, such as public medical information regarding the recent COVID pandemic, with issues such as receiving the vaccine or wearing masks in public. It is hard to see how any administration could address matters of public concern and security in the future if their hands were tied in such a manner going forward.

Sudan – October 19th

Defence lawyers for Ali Mohammed Ali Abdul Rahman Ali told the ICC last Thursday that there has been a case of mistaken identity and that their client is not a Sudanese militia leader better known as Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader. Having denied all claims put against him. Instead, the person sitting in Court was apparently a pharmacist.

Prosecutors are yet to be convinced after the perpetrator surrendered to authorities in the Central African Republic near the Sudanese border. This will potentially be the first time a person from Sudan will go on trial at the ICC, given that Sudan is not a party to the Rome Statute. The former president Omar Al-Bashir remains detained in Sudan, who will not consider handing him over to the ICC; consequently, Ali Mohammed would be a high-ranking scalp for the ICC instead of the Sudanese ex-president if indeed he is the militia leader.

Ireland - October 19th

in a rare act of political consensus, Ireland has announced €13 million in additional funding for humanitarian aid for Palestinians while at the same time calling for an immediate ceasefire to establish humanitarian corridors to help civilians in Gaza. This came alongside an enormous demonstration outside the Leinster House complex in Dublin; the demonstration called for a ceasefire and condemnation of Israel's “evacuation order”. Irish politicians were keen to point out Israel’s right to defend itself but must do so under the parameters of international humanitarian law.

Middle East & North Africa - October 19th

There has been a call that UAE Human Rights Defender Ahmed Mansoor be released from prison, having spent 6 years behind bars, in time for the COP28 climate conference, which UAE is hosting in November 2023. Since 2017, he campaigned for human rights in the UAE in a peaceful manner. He has been held in solitary confinement without any books or hygienic products. Amnesty International has called for the international community to use their influence to release him and finally allow freedom of expression to exist in the UAE.

EU – October 18th

The General Court, as the first instance In the Court of Justice of the European Union, has handed down its first ruling concerning the noncontractual liability of the European Border and Coastguard Agency (Frontex), which is responsible for the European Union's board of management and return-related operational arm. It was submitted that Frontex had violated various treaties and charters according to EU law. This was rejected by the Court that found Frontex does not have the power to assess the merits of return decisions or applications for international protection, so therefore, does not cause the damage allegedly suffered.

This landmark hearing highlights the extracontractual responsibilities often placed on European institutions that do not exist. It found that since Frontex does not have the power to assess the merits of return decisions or applications for international protection, and, as a result, Frontex's alleged conduct could not directly cause the damage allegedly suffered, that EU agency cannot be held liable for any damage related to the removal of the applicants to Turkey. The General Court thus framed the whole issue as one of causation – admittedly out of judicial economy. Issues of attribution of conduct or that of responsibility did not come up in the Court’s reasoning.

Chile – October 17th

It has been 4 years since the police repressed protests in Chile, and little has changed. The police force “Carabineros" have no impunity and needs radical reform. Unfortunately, the government sees reform of the police as a non-pressing issue. Amnesty International has sought comparisons with a military state, which seems unbothered by Human Rights violations during the 2019 social protests. Amnesty has published a report that can help Chile reform the Carabineros.

The report highlights a number of requirements, namely, reparations, a public policy based on international standards and transparency in dealing with victims. Nobody in the Carabineros has taken responsibility for previous actions; there is no accountability. It is not beyond the possibility that the prosecutor's office may intervene, and it is "important to shed the cloak of impunity and act in favour of justice."

Cold War – October 16th

A reflective analysis has highlighted the importance of International Law in leading to the resolution of the Cold War, notably the Cuban Missile Crisis, which proved to be a flashpoint in the war itself. Many historians recount that Kennedy saved the world from nuclear war in the Cuban stand-off by ordering a naval quarantine so Soviet Union ships could not deliver missiles to the island, bringing Soviet leaders to the negotiating table that ended in a diplomatic solution. What is less well known is that the president first sought authorisation from the "Organisation of American States (OAS)." he did this because his legal advisers felt there was a legal obligation to do so.

President Vladimir Putin's aggression towards Ukraine violates the United Nations Charter, which the UN voted on as being unlawful. However, unsatisfactory, the fact that a diplomatic and bureaucratic mechanism can be employed can help bring parties to the negotiation table. Many lessons can be learnt from history, as this article suggests.

India – October 16th

Islamophobic chants directed at Pakistan's cricket team have focused international attention on India's "unapologetic islamophobia". Although relations between these 2 countries have never been cordial. The casual racism used in a sport that both countries adore has opened the door for widespread criticism. This problem will undoubtedly cause issues for the country that boasts the world's biggest cricket stadium "Ahmedabad”. Popularism has always been seen as a trope of Western societies in recent years, but it seems it is now spreading eastwards. Could the game of cricket, which has primarily been seen as a nation-building exercise, finally succumb to politicisation?


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