Aggression, from Cyber-Attacks to ISIS: Why International Law Struggles to Adapt

Albi Kocibelli
Vol. 39 Editor In Chief

Ius ad bellum and the notion of aggression have been a ‘yin yang’ for centuries.[1] Nevertheless, international law did not prohibit states from engaging in aggression until the conclusion of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.[2] Even then, the term was not defined.  In the aftermath of World War II, the act of aggression was equated with ‘waging of war’ by the Nuremberg Tribunal.[3] Twelve defendants were convicted of that crime.[4] The trial constitutes the fundamentals of the modern understanding of aggression. The term is used twice in the UN Charter. Paragraph 1 of Article 1 lists as one of the Charter’s purposes “the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.” Article 39 empowers the Security Council to determine which acts constitute aggression. However, aggression is nowhere defined in the Charter. Instead, it imposes a general prohibition on the use of force in Article 2(4)[5] and exceptions under Article 51[6] and Chapter 7.[7]  Continue reading

South Korean and Japanese Diplomatic Crisis over Comfort Women Statue

Andrew Fletcher
Vol. 39 Production Editor

In January 2017, Japan recalled its ambassador to South Korea. This latest setback in the tense relationship between Japan and South Korea centers on a dispute over a statue located in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan. The statue depicts a ‘comfort woman,’ a reference to the thousands of women, many Korean, who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial government to be used by the Japanese military during World War II. This historical issue has created enormous tension between Japan and South Korea. In 2015, South Korea and Japan signed an agreement that was intended to put the issue to rest. When a civic group in Busan erected a ‘comfort women’ statue next to the Japanese consulate in Busan, the Japanese government claimed that South Korea had broken its agreement and violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Continue reading

Microsoft Wants a Digital Geneva Convention

Salam Sheikh-Khalil
Vol. 39 Contributing Editor

Microsoft just called for a monumental shift in international law—at a conference for coders and cryptographers. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer, delivered the keynote address at February’s RSA Conference in San Francisco, urging governments to create a “Digital Geneva Convention”.[1] Continue reading

From Compulsion to Cooperation: The Importance of the Local in a Global World

Lakshmi Gopal
Vol. 39 Managing Online Content Editor

Trends in electoral politics in nations across the world have given political expression to a rhetoric of nationalism that presents itself as a “turn away” from international cooperation.[1] As the global community experiences the resurgence of nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric, public discourse on the future of international law remains increasingly focused on the tension between nationalism and the demands of international cooperation. While the international community bemoans these tragedies of the national commons, as it continues to articulate models for humanity’s shared future, it also important to contextualize these changes in the broader context of global change. Continue reading

Water, Water, Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink: Transboundary Freshwater Management and Climate Change

Stephanie Zable
Vol. 39 Articles Editor

Mexico City is sinking.[1] So concludes a New York Times article detailing the implications of climate change for Mexico City. But the article also notes the most severe and immediate consequence of climate change for cities all over the world: the effect on fresh water resources. In many places, climate change will cause longer and more frequent droughts, while increased heat will cause an increase in evaporation of groundwater and a decrease in river-feeding snowpack.[2] Critically, these effects will vary place-to-place, so changes will occur in not only water quantity but also water distribution. The result is that the world is about to see a massive shift in water-wealth and -poverty that will have drastic and potentially devastating effects on freshwater resources around the globe.[3] Continue reading

Trump’s Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Domestic Boost or Disaster?

Jenny Elkin
Vol.  38 Associate Editor

Upon election to the highest office in the United States, President Donald Trump launched a spree of executive orders. One of these orders was the swift abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal that his predecessor, Barack Obama, had worked for years to implement.[1] The TPP was a plan to unite twelve nations of the Pacific Rim and the United States, a partnership accounting for forty percent of the world’s GDP, in a pact of free trade.[2] The plan would cut tariffs and decimate other potential obstacles to trade, such as investment restrictions and blocked data transfers.[3] The TPP would have been especially beneficial for the American services industry, including business, finance, and information, a slice of the global economy in which the United States still maintains a semblance of supremacy.[4] The deal would have opened doors for sectors such as finance, software, and legal services by reducing domestic red tape in the partner nations.[5] Continue reading

Climate Change Refugees: Where to Look for Legal Protection

Rebecca Hughes
Volume 38 Associate Editor

The Arctic is having an unusually mild winter.  In February, the region experienced a period of unseasonably warm weather, with the temperature being twenty degrees warmer than the average.[1]  This is the third time this year that dramatically higher than average Arctic temperatures have been recorded. [2]  At the same time, on the opposite end of the globe in Antarctica, sea ice is at the lowest level ever recorded.[3]  The climate is changing, and as it does, it is exacerbating existing vulnerabilities in regions across the globe,[4] having a direct effect on the people who live in areas directly impacted by climate change.  Continue reading

Enclave Projects: Negative Social Impacts and the Need for Law

Sam Han
Vol. 38 Associate Editor

Large international financial institutions (IFIs) have increasingly been experimenting with enclave projects over the past two decades in efforts to develop the territories and promote long-term growth of less developed countries. These IFIs, including major banks such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) aim to assist member countries to foster development of foreign trade and investment as a means of spurring economic growth.[1] One means of doing so has been through the implementation of an enclave project in a specific region of the less developed country. Continue reading

Bringing Back Torture Wouldn’t Just Be A Mistake—It Would Be Illegal

Rachel Barr
Vol. 38 Associate Editor

After just a few weeks in office Donald Trump has already threatened to violate international law. I’m not talking about his executive orders banning refugees from entering the United States,[1] or his re-implementation of the global gag rule;[2] I’m talking about his desire to revive enhanced interrogation techniques, also known as torture. On January 25, it was reported that a draft executive order, entitled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants,” if signed, would begin a review process that could eventually lead to the re-opening of C.I.A. black site prisons, and the reinstatement of torture.[3] The order would specifically have revoked the Obama-era order that closed the black site prisons and limited interrogation techniques to those in the Army Field Manual, which “prohibits waterboarding, prolonged sleep deprivation and other enhanced interrogation techniques.”[4] As of February 4, it appears as though the administration has walked back the terms of the order and, in the latest draft, no longer plans to revoke Obama’s executive order or pursue an evaluation of whether C.I.A. black site prisons and torture should be used.[5] Continue reading

Shifting Tides: The Future of Globalization in an Era of Rising Populism

Adam Church
Vol. 38 Associate Editor

Over the past year, there have been numerous events indicating that populism is on the rise in the Western world. Though the particular forms of these individual events may vary, a common thread linking them together is a desire to retreat from globalization to the perceived safety of protectionism. While a retreat from globalization would likely have steep consequences for a number of market sectors,[1] one sector that may prove to be especially vulnerable is the financial sector. Arguably still reeling from the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis,[2] the international financial sector is already under pressure from events that appear to indicate a retreat from globalization by the West, such as Brexit.[3] Furthermore, as Western nations have traditionally occupied significant leadership positions within the international financial system,[4] their shift towards more protectionist stances would likely create a substantial leadership vacuum within this system. Should Western nations continue to retreat from globalization, the question arises as to who will emerge as a leader and how they will shape the future of international finance and trade. Continue reading