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The World Trade Organization (WTO) Panel Report in Australia – Anti-Dumping Measures on A4 Copy Paper (Australia – A4 Copy Paper) marks a significant development of the multilateral rules on anti-dumping. Under certain circumstances, WTO agreements permit members to impose anti-dumping measures to counteract the injurious effect of dumping on domestic industries, typically through import duties. The Report is the first to examine in detail when an anti-dumping authority may determine that a “particular market situation” exists in the country of exportation under Article 2.2 of the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement, potentially justifying the imposition of elevated remedial duties. The Report also develops the jurisprudence on how such remedies may be calculated, expounding the use of benchmark costs for the calculation of a constructed normal value (CNV) under Article 188.8.131.52. These doctrinal questions are central to the longstanding debate over how far the Anti-Dumping Agreement allows anti-dumping measures against state intervention and market distortions. On both fronts, the Australia – A4 Copy Paper panel created flexibilities for WTO members to respond to government-induced distortions. In doing so, the Report deviates considerably from the course set by the Appellate Body in the landmark EU – Biodiesel decision, which seemed to confine anti-dumping measures to responding to private action. At the same time, the panel left open several important issues relating to the adoption of CNVs and the use of benchmarks for their calculation, leaving wide latitude for investigating authorities to inflate dumping margins in practice.
International Decisions: Edited By Harlan Grant Cohen
This dispute, brought by Ukraine against Russia, provides the first discussion in a World Trade Organization (WTO) Panel or Appellate Body Report of the security exception in Article XXI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT). Unusually for a WTO dispute, the Panel (chaired by former WTO Appellate Body Member Georges Abi-Saab) found that Russia had not acted inconsistently with any of the claimed obligations under the GATT or Russia's Accession Protocol. Central to that conclusion was the Panel's understanding of the GATT security exception and the circumstances surrounding the imposition of the challenged measures, which related to trade in transit by road and rail through Russian territory. The Panel found that, since 2014, an emergency in international relations existed between Russia and Ukraine within the meaning of GATT Article XXI(b)(iii) and that the challenged measures fell within this exception. If the exception had not applied, according to the Panel, Ukraine would have established a prima facie case of violation of the provisions on freedom of transit in GATT Article V:2 and equivalent provisions in Russia's Accession Protocol. The decision, which neither party chose to appeal, has significant implications for other disputes in which the security exception has been invoked.
The Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Slovenia v. Croatia marks the anticlimax of a long-running territorial dispute. It is also only the sixth time the CJEU has issued a judgment in a case instituted by one European Union member against another. Among these cases, it is the first to consider an arbitral award in a dispute between members, the first to consider a boundary dispute between members, and the first to be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. The Court found that it cannot rule on alleged infringements of European Union law when these arise from the breach of a treaty falling outside of the Union's subject-matter competence. Most directly, the Judgment may pose significant consequences for European Union internal affairs in the near term, such as Croatia's ambitions to join the Schengen Area and the Eurozone. More broadly, several of the Court's findings will be relevant beyond the European legal order, particular those concerning the meaning and effect of “ancillary” legal questions, and the bilateral or multilateral character of a dispute involving admission to an international organization.
International Decisions: Edited By Harlan Grant Cohen
In 2009, the International Criminal Court (ICC) stepped into uncharted waters as it issued its first arrest warrant for a sitting head of state, then President of Sudan Omar Al-Bashir. Following the UN Security Council's referral of the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan to the ICC, Al-Bashir was charged by the Court with war crimes and crimes against humanity, and in 2010, he was also charged with genocide. As a consequence, all of the states parties to the Rome Statute had a duty to arrest Al-Bashir. Several states have nonetheless failed to arrest him during country visits, allowing Al-Bashir to evade the ICC. This has given rise to a number of cases before the ICC Chambers, including this Appeals Chamber judgment regarding the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
In Nevsun Resources Ltd. v. Araya, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to dismiss a series of customary international law claims brought by Eritrean refugees against a Canadian mining corporation for grave human rights abuses committed in Eritrea. In doing so, the Supreme Court opened the possibility of a novel front for transnational human rights litigation: common law tort claims based on customary international law. Under the doctrine of adoption, customary international law is directly incorporated into the Canadian common law. However, Canadian courts have not yet upheld a private right of action for violations of customary international law. Writing for a divided court (5–4), Justice Abella allowed the plaintiffs’ claims to proceed, finding that it is not “plain and obvious” that the plaintiffs’ customary international law claims are bound to fail under either Canada's burgeoning “transnational” or “foreign relations” law, or international law itself. In reaching this conclusion, she offered a unique and overdue reflection on the role of national courts in identifying, adopting, and developing custom. A larger majority of the court (7–2) also rejected outright the application of the act of state doctrine in Canada, tracking several common law systems in limiting the doctrine in favor of human rights litigants.
International Decisions: Edited By Harlan Grant Cohen
In Vedanta v. Lungowe, the United Kingdom Supreme Court determined that civil claims for negligence brought by Zambian claimants against an English parent company (Vedanta) and its Zambian subsidiary (Konkola Copper Mines plc (KCM)) for damages experienced in Zambia can proceed in English courts. While framed as a domestic tort law case, the decision is significant for international efforts aimed at holding businesses accountable for their “negative impacts” on human rights. Writing for a unanimous Court, Lord Briggs's judgment hinged narrowly on the right of victims to access substantial justice. More broadly, Lord Briggs suggested that parent companies that hold themselves out in public disclosures as overseeing the human rights, environmental, social, or labor standards employed by their subsidiaries assume a duty of care to those harmed by the subsidiary. This suggestion has the potential to transform current corporate approaches to human rights due diligence and accountability.
In the MV “Norstar” Case (Norstar Case), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) produced two reasoned decisions. In the first, the Tribunal established jurisdiction over the relevant dispute and the admissibility of Panama's claims. In the second, it found that Italy had violated Panama's right to freedom of navigation on the high seas. In the latter decision, the Tribunal relied on an expansive understanding of flag state jurisdiction—prompting a vociferous joint dissent by seven of its twenty-three judges. The majority's understanding of the jurisdictional exclusivity of the flag state as extending to prescriptive as well as enforcement jurisdiction is a significant expansion of flag state rights—and will have a corresponding impact on the way that shipping is regulated internationally.
In Google LLC v. Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU or Court) held that the EU law only requires valid “right to be forgotten” de-referencing requests to be carried out by a search engine operator on search engine versions accessible in EU member states, as opposed to all versions of its search engine worldwide. While the ruling has been perceived as a “win” for Google and other interveners, such as Microsoft and the Wikimedia Foundation, who argued against worldwide de-referencing, the Court also made clear that that while the EU law does not currently require worldwide de-referencing, “it also does not prohibit such a practice” (para. 72). As a result, the CJEU found that an order by a national supervisory or judicial authority of an EU member state requiring worldwide de-referencing in accordance with its own national data protection laws would not be inconsistent with EU law where the data subject's right to privacy is adequately balanced against the right to freedom of information. By leaving the door to extraterritorial de-referencing wide open, the CJEU continues to pursue its post-Snowden hard-line stance on data privacy in a manner that is likely to transform the data privacy landscape.
On April 11, 1994, approximately two thousand men, women, and children were brutally murdered by armed Hutu extremists after a group of Belgian UN peacekeepers abandoned the school facility where they had sought refuge upon the outbreak of the Rwandan genocide. Almost a quarter of a century later, the Brussels Court of Appeal (Court) on June 8, 2018 concluded the civil proceedings lodged by a number of Rwandan survivors and relatives against the Belgian commanding officers and the Belgian state. Overturning an earlier judgment of the Brussels Court of First Instance, the Court held that the decision to retreat from the facility was imputable only to the United Nations, to the exclusion of the Belgian authorities. Accordingly, the claims against the Belgian state were unfounded. The events—which inspired the movie Shooting Dogs (2005)—bear obvious similarities to the role of the United Nations Protection Force's (UNPROFOR) Dutch battalion (Dutchbat) in the evacuation of the Potoçari camp and the ensuing genocide of seven thousand Bosnian men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica in 1995. Like the Dutch judgments in the (more well-known) Mothers of Srebrenica proceedings, the Mukeshimana appellate judgment provides a rare national court precedent that considers the imputability of the conduct of peacekeepers to troop-contributing countries. The Mukeshimana judgment, however, raises a high bar for finding such imputability.
Jadhav Case (India v. Pakistan) concerned Pakistan's arrest, detention, conviction, and death sentence of Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, asserted by India to be an Indian national, who had been convicted of engaging in acts of terrorism and espionage in Pakistan. This is the third dispute over the interpretation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) to come before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In contrast to the Applicants in the previous consular rights cases, India sought relief that included the annulment of Jadhav's conviction in Pakistan, his release from custody, and his safe transfer to India. After unanimously finding it had jurisdiction, fifteen judges of the ICJ, with only Judge ad hoc Jillani dissenting, held on the merits that Pakistan had breached VCCR Article 36 by failing to inform Jadhav without delay of his rights under that provision; by failing to notify without delay the appropriate consular post of India in Pakistan of his detention; and by depriving India of its right to communicate with Jadhav, to visit him in detention, and arrange for his legal representation. In addition, the Court, with only Judge ad hoc Jillani dissenting, found that Pakistan is under an obligation to inform Jadhav of his rights without further delay and is obliged to provide Indian consular officers access to him. The Court further found that appropriate reparation required Pakistan to provide, by means of its own choosing, effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav's conviction and sentence to ensure that full weight is given to the effect of the violation of his rights. Finally, the ICJ, again with Judge ad hoc Jillani dissenting, declared that a continued stay of execution constituted an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of Jadhav's conviction and sentence.
The judgment in Houngue Éric Noudehouenou v. Republic of Benin adds to the growing body of human rights jurisprudence on national electoral processes in Africa's international courts. Houngue Noudehouenou's (Houngue) case was sparked by a series of amendments to the 1990 Constitution of the Republic of Benin (Benin), Law No. 2019-40 (Revised Constitution), and changes to Benin's electoral law (para. 1). Houngue argued that the cumulative effect of the amendments violated his right to stand for election in the upcoming 2021 presidential election as an independent candidate, as well as his right to freedom of expression and freedom of association.
On January 21, 2021, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or Court) issued its judgment in the interstate case of Georgia v. Russia (II). Georgia complained that Russia committed systemic human rights violations in the course of the 2008 war in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Both of these regions are de jure parts of Georgia, but they have not been effectively governed by central Georgian authorities since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. During the night of August 7–8, 2008, Georgian artillery attacked Tskhinvali (the administrative capital of South Ossetia). Russian forces entered South Ossetia and Abkhazia the next day. Russian and Georgian troops engaged in hostilities for five days, before agreeing a ceasefire on August 12, 2008. Since then, a significant military contingent of Russian troops has remained in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Georgian authorities complained of systemic violations of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Articles 2 (right to life), 3 (prohibition of torture), 5 (right to liberty), and 8 (right to privacy), ECHR Protocol 1 Articles 1 (right to private property) and 2 (right to education), and ECHR Protocol 4 Article 2 (Freedom of movement).
The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR or Court) in Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary is remarkable both on account of its facts and the peculiar legal issues it raised. In 2004, an ax-wielding Azerbaijani army officer (R.S.) beheaded one Armenian officer, and attempted to kill another, while attending a NATO-organized English language course in Budapest, Hungary. R.S. was prosecuted in Hungary and given a life sentence. Eight years later, R.S. was transferred to Azerbaijan to serve the remainder of his sentence. However, upon his arrival, R.S. received a hero's welcome. He was released, pardoned, promoted, and awarded salary arrears for the period spent in prison, as well as the use of a state apartment in the capital. Many high-ranking Azerbaijani officials expressed their approval of R.S.'s conduct and pardon. (The long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan of course looms in the background of this story.)
In two nearly identical judgments dated July 14, 2020, the International Court of Justice (ICJ or Court) reviewed a decision taken by the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in a dispute about aviation restrictions imposed on Qatar by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These cases represent the second time that the Court has heard an appeal concerning a decision of the ICAO Council, a treaty body which has executive, administrative, and dispute settlement functions. As in 1972, when the Court heard an appeal brought by India against Pakistan, the Court's 2020 judgments concern a Council decision on preliminary objections to jurisdiction and admissibility. These judgments not only reinforce the ICJ's findings in its 1972 judgment, which raised similar procedural issues, but they also highlight the scope and the limits of the Court's rare appellate function.