Categorie archief: Verantwoordelijkheid voor Mensenrechten en Internationale Verplichtingen

Armed Non-State Actors and International Human Rights Law: An Analysis of the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly

In June 2017, the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflicts published a briefing on ‘Armed Non-State Actors and International Human Rights Law: An Analysis of the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly’. In this blog post, I demonstrate why the briefing – and the data collected in the annexes – is an important addition to knowledge in this area that will facilitate important discussion of this issue amongst policy makers. In order to start this discussion, I highlight a few particular aspects of the report that I find most interesting and valuable. In doing so, I explain inter alia why I disagree with the authors’ conclusion that no pattern is discernible in how the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly address armed non State actors. I end the post by giving some suggestions about how the data collected by the study may provide rich potential for even further analysis.  Lees verder

Te heet onder de voeten: Trump en het klimaatakkoord

Het zijn barre tijden voor iedereen die gelooft in multilaterale oplossingen voor transnationale problemen. Vooral de verkiezing van Donald Trump, en de serie maatregelen die in de eerste paar maanden van zijn presidentschap uit het Witte Huis zijn komen rollen, hebben het vertrouwen in multilaterale samenwerking flink onder druk gezet. Na politiek-militaire samenwerking op de helling te zetten via een schoffering van NAVO-bondgenoten was het nu de beurt aan internationale klimaatsamenwerking: Trump heeft aangekondigd het klimaatakkoord van Parijs, nog zwaarbevochten door zijn voorganger Barack Obama, op te zeggen. Kan Trump echter zomaar onder een akkoord uit dat onder Obama gesloten en geratificeerd werd? Dit blog poogt hier enige antwoorden op te geven.
Lees verder

Ingehaald door de geschiedenis… Tijdloze vragen voor de toekomst: historisch onrecht

Eens in de zoveel tijd wordt de rechtswetenschap – en vaak kort daarna de rechtspraktijk getroffen door de plotsklapse aandacht voor een voorheen onderbelicht thema en blijkt er opeens een ‘trending topic’ te zijn opgestaan. De zogenoemde ‘omkeringsregel’ was er zo een, net als de klachtplicht, en recenter de juridische problemen rondom zelfrijdende auto’s. Zo’n fenomeen meen ik ook te ontwaren – hoewel het wat voorzichtiger aan de poorten rammelt – waar het gaat om ‘historisch onrecht’. Ik doel dan op die gevallen waarin nu, vele jaren na dato, langs juridische weg gezocht wordt naar erkenning en genoegdoening voor leed dat in het verleden is toegebracht aan (groepen) mensen hier of elders. Lees verder

Accountability and International Business Operations: some conclusions of the 2017 Ucall conference

Between 18 and 20 May 2017, Ucall organized its second biennial international conference, titled ‘Accountability and International Business Operations: Providing Justice for Corporate Violations of Human Rights, Labor and Environmental Standards’. The conference included presentations by various keynote speakers and panelists, a stakeholders’ roundtable and a PhD masterclass (see the programme). In this post, some tentative conclusions of the conference are offered.

Lees verder

Holding private military and security companies to account: from legal to democratic accountability

On 2 May 2017, Jelle Leunis obtained his PhD in political science from the Free University of Brussels (VUB) on the accountability of private military and security companies (PMSCs), a topic that in this past has proved of interest to UCall too. The full title of the thesis is: ‘The regulatory governance of armed force: Holding private military and security companies to account’. I had the honor to be a member of the examination committee. In this post, I set out, and subscribe to Leunis’s view that the fetishization of legal mechanisms to hold PMSCs to account has overshadowed the question of how to involve citizens in PMSC-based security governance. Enhancing the political-democratic accountability of the use of PMSCs has obvious merit, but further research will be needed regarding how such accountability could be enhanced for affected populations in conflict areas.   

Lees verder

Human rights violations by international organizations: exploring the responsibility of member states


On 28 April 2017, Sofia Barros successfully defended her PhD at Leuven University on the topic of the responsibility of member states in the context of their participation in international organizations (full title: “Governance as Responsibility – Member State Participation in International Financial Institutions and the Quest for Effective Human Rights Protection”). I had the honor of being the co-supervisor of this thesis. In this post, I draw attention to the novelty of the author’s conceptualization of member states as autonomous actors within international organizations. Her approach is unique in that she demonstrates that conferring separate legal personality on international organizations does not negate the abiding role played by member states in those international organizations, with the attendant consequences for responsibility.     Lees verder

Dutch Court of Appeal holds businessman liable for complicity in war crimes

On 21 April 2017, the Court of Appeal of ‘s-Hertogenbosch convicted Dutch businessman Guus Kouwenhoven to 19 years of imprisonment for, inter alia, complicity in war crimes committed in Liberia. In the late 1990s Kouwenhoven had provided arms to the murderous regime of the Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was later convicted to 50 years of imprisonment by the Special Court of Sierra Leone. This is a rare example of a domestic court holding a corporate actor liable for involvement in the commission of international crimes abroad. In line with the recent Corporate Crimes Principles of the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, a corporate actor is defined as a ‘corporate entity or individual acting on behalf of a corporate entity’.. It bears emphasis that Kouwenhoven, while directing a corporate entity, was convicted in his individual capacity. In the Netherlands Kouwenhoven is not a unique case; earlier, another businessman, Frans van Anraat, who had sold raw materials for the production of chemical weapons to Saddam Hussein, was also convicted of complicity in war crimes (upheld on appeal). The Kouwenhoven case highlights again the potential of complicity to hold criminally to account Western corporate actors who ‘recklessly’ accept the risk that their business dealings with  warlords could contribute to the commission of international crimes. The next challenge will be how to prosecute corporate entities rather than individual businessmen for their involvement in international crimes.
Lees verder

Dutch Supreme Court upholds immunity of the European Patent Organization in collective labor case

EPO_HagueOn 20 January 2017, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that it had no jurisdiction over claims brought by two trade unions against the European Patent Organization (EPO), an international organization (partly) based in The Hague. The Court held that the organization enjoyed immunity from the jurisdiction of Dutch courts in accordance with the EPO Protocol on Privileges and Immunities. This judgment puts an end to a drawn-out and highly public case which threw the spotlight on the poor employment conditions in the EPO, including apparent restrictions of employees’ right to strike and to participate in EPO decision-making. The Supreme Court could be criticized for upholding the organization’s immunity in this case. However, from a systemic point of view, it is heartening that the Court affirmed the principle that conferring immunity from jurisdiction should not affect the very essence of a claimant’s right of access to justice, enshrined in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In future cases, claimants can continue to rely on Article 6 ECHR to challenge acts of international organizations before Dutch courts. As far as the EPO case is concerned, it is hoped that, even if the EPO’s immunity was upheld, the Dutch litigation serves as a wake-up call to push through important reforms within the organization.
Lees verder

Okpabi v. Shell: a setback for business and human rights?

Sandakan_Sabah_Shell-Station-Labuk_Road-01Last week, Justice Fraser writing for the London High Court dismissed Okpabi v. RDS and SPDC, a claim of a group of Nigerian plaintiffs against Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary. This dismissal has prompted strong responses by NGOs involved in the region such as Amnesty International, calling it a severe setback for victims in their search for remedies against corporate human rights violations. This contribution shortly looks at the decision on jurisdiction in this case, and how it contrasts against comparable cases on some procedural and substantive issues.
Lees verder

Russische aansprakelijkheid voor het neerhalen van de MH17 en andere incidenten in Oost-Oekraïne? Oekraïne dagvaardt Rusland voor het Internationaal Gerechtshof

Internationaal GerechtshofOp 16 januari 2017 heeft Oekraïne een langverwachte zaak tegen Rusland formeel aanhangig gemaakt bij het Internationaal Gerechtshof (IGH), waarbij het de Russische inmenging in Oekraïense aangelegenheden aan de kaak stelt. Oekraïne voert aan dat Rusland verschillende schendingen van het internationaal recht jegens Oekraïne heeft begaan, met name van het Verdrag inzake de Financiering van Terrorisme en het Rassendiscriminatieverdrag. De zaak betreft een groot aantal incidenten, maar relevant is dat deze ook het neerhalen van de MH17 bestrijkt. De zaak is niet bij voorbaat kansloos, al zal Oekraïne eerst over een aantal procedurele en inhoudelijke hordes moeten springen.  Lees verder