MJIL Online brings you timely short-form articles that represent a wide range of views on contemporary issues in international law. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors only.
Sam Fitzpatrick, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
On January 23, 2013, the Republic of the Philippines initiated binding arbitration in the Permanent Court of Arbitration after exhausting diplomatic and political remedies to resolve its dispute with China over the South China Sea. The Philippine’s memorial requested that the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in accordance with Annex VII of UNCLOS as administered by the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), arbitrate a dispute of maritime rights between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China. Specifically, the Philippines requested that the court determine the boundary between China’s historic “nine dash” claim to exclusive control over the islands and water in the South China Sea and the 200 mile exclusive economic zone off the coast of the Philippines. The overlap between these maritime claims has caused considerable and increasing diplomatic tension and confrontations between Philippine and Chinese naval vessels and fishermen over the past 20 years.
Competing Claims to the South China/West Philippine Sea
The Philippines based their request for arbitration on the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. Both China and the Philippines along with Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia (all the nations
Vol. 37 Production Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
Chinese regulators hold the keys to a market populated by nearly 1.4 billion people, 400 million of which are expected to be mainstream consumers by 2020. This economic weight grants the power to shape the future of emerging industries. Agricultural Biotechnology (Ag-Biotech) is one such industry dependent on Beijing’s favorable regulatory treatment. Understanding China’s regulatory position vis-a-vis Ag-Biotech is vital to any assessment of this growing industry’s past, present, and future.
Despite continued controversy and public concern, the Ag-Biotech industry has matured significantly since the 1986 release of the first Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) into the environment. By 2005, imported GMO varieties constituted 40% (27 million tons) of China’s soybean consumption. Bt cotton, a GMO that was designed to reduce the need for pesticides, accounted for 60% of nationwide cotton production in 2005 and 100% of the production in the fertile Yangtze River Valley region. While one would not expect to see these figures coming out of a country that was hostile to the presence of Ag-Biotech, the rigor of the Chinese regulatory structure paints a more complicated picture.
The State Council of the PRC, China’s supreme Executive Branch organ, promulgated the chief law governing Ag-Biotech,
Abigail Zeitlin, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
For many years, there have been large discrepancies between different countries’ tax reporting standards. This has allowed for certain countries, like the United Kingdom or Switzerland,[i] to become tax shelters and for other governments to lose out on millions of dollars in tax revenue. [ii] In the United States alone, it was estimated that the government lost out on $100 billion of tax revenue a year due to tax havens.[iii] This phenomenon led to the enactment of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, in 2010.[iv] One major provision of FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to disclose the names of U.S. citizen account holders and their various transactions, with limited exceptions.[v] If the institution does not report under FATCA, the U.S. will impose a 30% withholding tax on all transactions involving U.S. money and securities.[vi] Although FATCA was enacted in 2010, because of the immense amount of bureaucratic muscle necessary to enforce FATCA, it is set to begin being enforced in 2016.[vii]
Naturally, FATCA has stirred a lot of controversy regarding the extraterritorial reach of the IRS and the ability of the U.S. government to impose steep penalties on foreign institutions. Compliance with FATCA is largely
David Stute, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
Earlier this month, Der Spiegel interviewed French economist Thomas Piketty,[i] who first rose to international fame with his 2013 study of wealth inequality over the past 250 years.[ii] In the interview, Piketty laid his finger on the stark divide in economic outcomes between the United States and the European Union (EU) seven years after the financial crisis.[iii] Two years into the crisis, the two had comparable rates of public debt and unemployment.[iv] But whereas the EU’s rate of unemployment has risen dramatically, that of the United States has dropped to 2008 levels.[v] Moreover, whereas the EU’s economic output remains below 2007 levels, the US economy has regained strength.[vi] And most devastatingly for the EU’s long-term prospects, youth unemployment across the EU was at 21.4 percent as of January, with rates exceeding 40 percent in Italy, Spain, and Greece.[vii] In contrast, US numbers for this demographic have come down from a high of nearly 20 percent in 2010 to below 12 percent in February.[viii]
It is no secret that the United States and the EU pursued different fiscal and monetary policies in response to the financial crisis. Early on, the United States Federal Reserve embarked on unprecedented
Vol. 37 Notes Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
It is a fundamental assumption of the EU project that economic and political freedoms go hand-in-hand,[i] but recent political trends in some EU member states, particularly Hungary, seem to be challenging this consensus. In 2010, Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party enacted reforms in pursuit of “illiberal democracy” to consolidate their grip over elections, governance, and the media, all the while asserting that an illiberal Hungary could exist in harmoniously within the EU.[ii] The Fidesz reforms elicited outrage from both domestic[iii] and international[iv] human rights organizations and spread worry across Europe.
What is the EU to do when a member state engages in systemic violations of fundamental rights protection? The EU treaties provide tools to deal with such situations – namely, infringement procedures and Article 7 procedures. Infringement procedures derive from Article 258 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) as a means of resolving disputes between the European Commission and Member States about the application of EU law within national jurisdictions.[v] Article 7 procedures derive from the Treaty on the European Union (TEU), granting the European Council broad powers to sanction Member States for a “serious and persistent breach” of rights
Stephen H. Packer
Vol. 37 Managing Online Content Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
The UN’s Global Focal Point for Police, Justice, and Corrections (“GFP”) is now two-and-a-half years old. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced its creation in September 2012, when he appointed the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (“DPKO”) and the UN Development Programme (“UNDP”) as the GFP for Police, Justice, and Corrections Areas in the Rule of Law in Post-conflict and other Crisis Situations. As the cumbersome official title suggests, the GFP is an attempt to provide a more joined-up response to crises by various UN bodies, characterized as “delivery as one.” This includes dividing support and responsibility into a two-tier structure, with DPKO and UNDP responsible at HQ level for responding to requests at country level from UN entities working in fields related to police, justice, and corrections (“PJC”). But is the GFP just an example of top-down, supply-driven window dressing in response to failures, or is there genuine bottom-up, demand-driven need for it?
Genesis of the GFP
Conceptually, the reason for appointing DPKO and UNDP was summed-up by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous, when he expressed the hope that the GFP would help make the transition from peacekeeping to development a
Nehal Khorraminejad, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
On January 27, 2015, the State of Georgia executed Warren Lee Hill, a 54-year-old man convicted of murdering another inmate while serving time for killing his girlfriend in 1985. In his appeals, Mr. Hill’s attorneys argued that his mental disability (he had an IQ of 70) exempted him from capital punishment. Nearly thirteen years ago, in Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court of the United States deemed the execution of the mentally disabled unconstitutional under the Eight Amendment. However, the Court left the task of defining the contours of mental disability to state legislatures, allowing states like Georgia to establish overly-fluid definitions of mental retardation, resulting in all-too-common circumvention of the Supreme Court rule. Certain state laws make it difficult for defendants like Mr. Hill to avoid the ultimate form of punishment, despite a strong showing of poor adaptive skills by the defendant. The day after Mr. Hill’s execution, a spokesperson for the European Union (EU) issued a statement expressing disappointment in Georgia’s decision to execute Mr. Hill in light of his condition. In the statement, the spokesperson reiterated that the execution of a mentally disabled person is “contrary to widely accepted human rights norms and
Vol. 37 Articles Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
Global drug regulation dates to the earliest pages in the modern chapter of international law. Long before the Geneva Convention or even the Treaty of Versailles, politicians, medical experts, and religious leaders gathered in Shanghai to address what they called “the opium problem.”[i] 52 years and a half dozen treaties later, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs came into effect, unifying the regulatory threads.[ii] 183 signatories and another 54 years later,[iii] the Convention remains the primary narcotics treaty in effect today.[iv]
As with any multilateral treaty, the Single Convention has faced its share of dissenting voices.[v] Chief among these are accusations that the Convention impedes access to licit analgesics (pain killers) and promotes ineffective methods of combatting drug abuse.[vi] Some critics even blame the Convention for human rights violations.[vii] With the U.N. Special Session on Drugs approaching in 2016, has the time come for an overhaul? Is the Single Convention indeed past its prime?
Not quite. A close evaluation of the Single Convention at fifty-four reveals a still-effective, surprisingly adaptable system of treaty obligations. The main international drug problems, it appears, stem not from the text of the treaty itself, but from errors of
Vol. 37 Articles Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (“Single Convention”) requires signatories to prohibit recreational use of cannabis within their territories.[i] The United States ratified the Single Convention in 1967.[ii] Under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, treaties are “the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby.”[iii] In 1970, the U.S. Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act (“CSA”), which categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, defined as a drug with a high potential for abuse, no recognized medical usage and no safe usage under medical supervision.[iv] The CSA imposes criminal liability for growing, possessing or selling marijuana.[v] Enforcement of the CSA would seemingly place the United States in compliance with its obligations under the Single Convention. Now, however, new laws have legalized marijuana in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Colombia. The President’s decision to abstain from enforcing the CSA in these states (and federal district) calls into question the compliance of the United States with its treaty obligations under the Single Convention.[vi]
Current Status of Single Convention Compliance
The International Narcotics Control Board (“INCB”) and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs of the
Sam Fitzpatrick, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
On March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council ("UNSC") adopted Resolution 1973, providing the legal framework for the subsequent NATO led military intervention in Libya. The resolution established a “ban on all flights in the airspace of [Libya] in order to help protect civilians” and authorized member states to “take all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban.” NATO forces implementing this resolution, including troops from the United Kingdom, France and the United States, conducted 9,000 strike sorties in Libya over the course of the next six months, resulting in the collapse of the Qaddafi regime.
Resolution 1973 set a new precedent for the UNSC by authorizing military intervention based on the “responsibility to protect.” The doctrine of responsibility to protect (RtoP) places an affirmative burden on the international community to protect civilians, with force if necessary, when individual nations fail to do so. Specifically, responsibility to protect doctrine justifies international military intervention to protect civilians from human rights abuses such as genocide, ethnic cleansing or atrocities. In recent years, the doctrine of responsibility to protect had been steadily gaining traction, particularly among scholars and commentators.
Post-Libya Opposition to the Responsibility to Protect
After Resolution 1973,
Edward Mears, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
[Ed. note: Compare Chris Sungwon Lee's article of October 2015 here.]
On February 4th, 2015, Ross Ulbricht, known online as ‘Dread Pirate Roberts,’ was convicted of seven felonies for his involvement with the Silk Road, a so-called “dark-market” that existed on what is commonly known as the Deep Web – a network of unindexed websites that provide a nearly impenetrable shield of anonymity. On the Silk Road, Ulbricht and others bought and sold millions of dollars worth of illicit drugs financed with a cryptocurrency known as BitCoin. At their core, BitCoin and other cryptocurrencies are early pioneers in the frontier of virtual decentralized currency, which do without the ‘trusted’ middlemen such as banks or credit card companies that most people rely upon for their day-to-day currency transactions. By removing third parties from transactions, these cryptocurrencies provide a level of anonymity that is nearly impossible to find in traditional currency markets.
How BitCoin Works
While the identity of the inventor(s) of BitCoin remain somewhat unclear, the payment system emerged in 2008 and attracted a very niche market of clientele, primarily consisting of users involved in the online sale of illegal goods such as controlled substances. In recent years, BitCoin
Emily Rutkowski, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
The United States’ success stories of shutting down multinational corporations (MNCs) for environmental pollution often results in factories relocating from the West to the developing world. For example, Ciba, a manufacturing plant, secretly polluted the town of Toms River, New Jersey for decades before the case was made public. Once exposed, they simply closed their doors and reopened in China. The legal system’s current framework is insufficient at providing remedies in many of these cases. Alternative dispute resolution ("ADR"), can play an important role in providing solutions to ensure that polluters cannot exploit regulatory arbitrage and relocate to loosely regulated jurisdictions in the developing world where polluters can disproportionately shift the burden of pollution onto the poor and underrepresented. In particular, this can be achieved by incorporating ADR mechanisms through specialized Environmental Courts and Tribunals ("ECTs"). ADR can help close the gaps in the current framework, both by bringing more voices to the table, allowing those voices to be heard, and providing a forum for relief.
Traditional courts, both domestic and international, have proven to be insufficient in dealing with environmental disputes, and particularly environmental disputes involving the relocation of factories to the developing world. Both
Alexandra Plutshack, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
Electricity systems have traditionally always been operated as publically owned monopolies. Over the last few decades several nations have begun liberalizing reforms of the electricity market, opening up markets for both generation and retail. However, given the nature and history of the industry, there is concern that current competition laws may not be capable of breaking up the natural “monopolistic inertia” electric companies enjoy.
This past June, the Japanese Diet enacted legislation aimed at liberalizing the electricity retail market, ending the monopoly of regional power companies.[i] The new laws, in force starting 2016, are just the latest in a three-stage reform of Japan’s electricity market. [ii] While these plans look optimistic, it has yet to be seen whether such reforms will be successful in ending the market power these regional companies have. A major tool for liberalization is the robust enforcement of competition laws, and some question has been raised as to whether the current antimonopoly regime will be adequate.
In Japan, implementation of competition law for the electric power industry is delegated to two agencies: the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).[iii] The first is the agency responsible for
Vol. 37 Online Content Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
The United Nations Security Council has five permanent members (“P5”): China, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and the United States. According to the predominant theory, and a recent ICJ advisory opinion, the General Assembly has the power to admit a new state only if the state has received a favorable recommendation from the Security Council.[i] A positive recommendation requires nine affirmative votes, including the concurring vote of each of the five permanent members, which essentially gives each member of the P5 a veto over a petition for statehood.[ii] This veto power has been exercised by China against Taiwan and the U.S. against Palestine. The use of the veto power by the U.S. and China, for reasons other than those found in the Charter, represents an abuse of power that needs to be remedied.
According to the Montevideo Convention criteria for statehood, Taiwan and Palestine arguably both possess all of the qualifications (a permanent population, a defined territory, government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states).[iii] It is for political reasons that China and the U.S. stand in opposition to these non-states achieving recognition from the U.N. China has a "one-China"
Vol. 37 Managing Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
Consumers of all ages flock to stores like H&M, Forever 21, Zara for the latest trends at bargain prices. What they do not realize is the price that is really paid to produce their bargain buys. The “fast fashion” industry is experiencing a rapid race to the bottom. “Fast Fashion” is an industry is built on getting fashion’s latest trends to the market quickly and at bargain prices. Companies continuously look to the next country with the lowest wages and labor standards for production. For example, as of mid-2014, Gap Inc. is the first American retailer to move production to Myanmar and H&M is currently moving its production to Ethiopia. Companies’ desire for lower prices has exacerbated terrible working conditions. These terrible working conditions have led to deaths in the garment industries that produce clothes for “fast fashion” giants. And despite the worst accident in the garment industry just two years ago, little has changed.
Bangladesh’s Garment Industry and Rana Plaza
Bangladesh’s garment industry is an extremely vital part of its economy. It consists of 80% of the country’s overall exports and employs four million people in 5,600 factories, making Bangladesh the second largest garment
Amy Bergstraesser, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
Legal History of Care
Sweden is known for being a successful and happy welfare state where lifetime benefits are funded by high taxes from Sweden’s sizable workforce. The well-being index places Sweden among the four happiest countries in the world. Keeping this expansive and expensive welfare model in mind, Sweden faces a rapidly aging population. Proportionally, Sweden has the highest number of elderly citizens in the world – in 2011, 19 percent of Sweden was 65 or over, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicted that by 2050 that number would rise to 24 percent. Sweden is therefore confronted with one of the highest life expectancies and the challenge of supporting elderly citizens who are accustomed to government care.
Germanic law provided the basis by which Sweden established the country’s historical continental law system, a structure based on written law, not case law. In the 1800s, adult children were legally required to take care of their parents if needs arose. A few families and underprivileged elders without family received assistance from local poor relief boards and/or municipal poorhouses, but those services were extremely limited. As this Swedish legal system of codifications morphed away from the
Vol. 37 Business & Development Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
India is aiming to become a renewable energy super power. India’s current prime minister, Narendra Modi, has outlined grand plans for India to provide electricity to 300 million Indians living without power, and to prepare for negotiations ahead for a United Nations deal to address global warming concerns.[i] India’s Minister of State, Piyush Goyal, expects $100 billion to be invested in renewable energy in India in the next five years. To incentivize this massive growth in solar energy infrastructure, Goyal has doubled the tax on coal. Specifically, this new decision doubles taxes on every metric ton of coal mined or imported by India. The revenue generated funds the National Clean Energy Fund and provides funding for clean energy while also introducing incentives to close dirty and inefficient coal plants that are older than 25 years.[ii] NCEF funds are earmarked for renewable energy projects, environmental projects and research and development.[iii]
The Launch of the National Solar Mission
On January 11th, 2010 the Prime Minister Modi formally launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM), under the brand name “Solar India.” The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global
Name Withheld by Request, Vol. 36 Associate Editor
It seems that every day we turn on the news, another terrorist attack occurs. A couple days ago Denmark, a month ago Paris. Two Tuesdays ago, a video surfaced purporting to originate from ISIS, showing a Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, burned to death while trapped in a cage. In response, King Abdullah II of Jordan promised a strong military response, including striking ISIS weapons depots and training sites. Jordan and ISIS had spent days attempting to work out negotiations to swap prisoners, until the video revealed ISIS savagely burning a human being alive. While this story ended in a terrible tragedy, the legal aspects surrounding it are numerous and multi-faceted. Two of the most fascinating pieces include 1) that a sovereign state attempted to bargain with an uncivilized terrorist group, and 2) the response of that same sovereign state to the terrorist acts. Realistically, Jordan had two options: wait like a sitting duck or attack, and without asking any permission it chose the latter. The question arises: how does a state legally deal with a group that is illegal in the first place?
September 11, 2001 is a day that changed every person’s
Vol. 37 Executive Editor
Vol. 36 Associate Editor
On April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed applications against all nine nuclear-armed nations in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging violations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).[i] The RMI also filed suit against the United States in U.S. Federal District Court, which was tentatively dismissed on January 16, 2015.[ii] Despite this dismissal, it still remains to be seen what will happen in the ICJ.
The RMI has firsthand knowledge of the effects of nuclear weapons. Between 1946 and 1954, the United States tested sixty-six nuclear bombs on RMI atolls.[iii] The nuclear tests have had both immediate and long-lasting consequences for the Marshallese. The radiation affected every island in the Marshall Islands chain. In fact, the radiation from one test bomb alone was so great that it affected every continent in the world.[iv] The Marshallese suffered not only immediate physical ailments as a result of the radiation, but also long term health problems as they continued their tradition of living off of the land and ocean, not realizing or being informed that doing so subjected themselves to radiation.[v] Within a few years of the tests,
Sarah Jaward, Volume 36 Associate Editor, Volume 37 Online Content Editor
On July 2002, after ratification by 60 countries, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) went into effect. With that, the ICC became the first established, treaty-based, international criminal court aimed at holding accountable individuals who were responsible for perpetrating some of the most serious crimes against human rights. The ICC has dealt with most forms of atrocities including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. While there were 139 countries that signed the Rome Statute, some of its greatest support came from the African region, accounting for 34 of those signatories. Many of these leaders were motivated by the atrocities that resulted from the Rwandan genocide and South African apartheid.
Regardless of this, the ICC has been under a great deal of scrutiny recently as a growing number of African leaders have openly expressed their disappointment with the court. This disappointment stems from ICC’s exclusive focus on the region, as evidenced by the fact that only African-related issues have been referred and brought to the ICC. More specifically, all persons who have been brought to the Court are African, coming from Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic
Sarah Sessler, Volume 36 Associate Editor, Volume 37 Articles Editor
On July 17, 1998, one hundred and sixty states signed the Rome Statute, bringing about the creation of the International Criminal Court. The court was, and is, the first of its kind: treaty-based, autonomous, and intended to be permanent. The court was created to address complex and heinous international crimes, particularly genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. Since the ICC entered into force in 2002, the number of ratifying parties to the treaty has dropped to one hundred and twenty-two. This likely has much to do with the inescapable reality that the ICC’S first decade or so of life has been tumultuous and steeped in adversity.
Since its inception, the ICC has continually had its effectiveness called into question. The ICC was created solely with the above-mentioned crimes in mind, and as a result the Court’s jurisdiction is quite limited. Obedience to such limitations necessitates a set of concrete standards by which to evaluate potential cases. The ICC may only exercise jurisdiction in three scenarios: when the accused is a national of a state party (or of a state who has otherwise accepted such jurisdiction); when the
C. Elizabeth Bundy, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
Exercising a claim of collective self-defense as enshrined in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, the United States is currently assisting Iraq in addressing armed attacks carried out by the Islamic State. As historically construed under the Charter, Article 51 represents an exception to Article 2(4)’s prohibition on the threat or use of force against any state and therefore clearly endorses the right of self-defense against sovereign nations. Two issues at stake in the current conflict present a challenge to the conventional understanding of this framework: U.S. operations are directed at a non-state actor, and the threats posed by that actor are not restricted to Iraqi territory but extend to Syria. Although the United States has long claimed that it is justified in encroaching on the territory of a state that is unwilling or unable to exercise a threat emanating from within,[i] the variance of international opinion as to this question suggests that a norm governing the right to self-defense against non-state actors has not yet crystalized.[ii] The question remains as to whether a norm justifying U.S. incursion may be in the process of developing, but greater specificity of that norm
Alex Gish, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), government-managed investment vehicles, have been growing rapidly in both numbers and assets in recent years[i] but continue to operate in lightly-regulated terrain. If the problem is left unchecked, the inherent risks of the SWF model can be exposed. Most SWFs lack transparency and have questionable fiduciary duty controls, causing an investee nation to be exposed to risks of unfair competition, corruption, and non-financially or non-economically motivated investments.[ii] The only international answer to these concerns thus far is the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) voluntary “best practices” list, better known as the Santiago Principles. Alas it is not clear they are being followed, even by the nations who signed it.[iii] To be clear, the record shows that thus far the concerns regarding SWFs are hypothetical.[iv] But that does not mean we should wait to act until dangers are apparent. This blog post considers the question of whether an international agreement is an appropriate measure to regulate SWFs and concludes that a multilateral treaty would be one way to ensure compliance with much-needed standards.
While there is no single definition of a sovereign wealth fund, it can be thought of as
Zhandos Kuderin, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
After the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, made a decision not to sign an association deal with the European Union in favor of a deal with Russia, the protests began in the capital, Kiev. The protests and the ensuing movement, known as “Euromaidan”, eventually succeeded in ousting the incumbent President after a Parliamentary vote.[i] The events led to some dramatic events involving the region of Crimea. Russia refused to recognize the legitimacy of the new government in Ukraine and sent troops to Crimea. The Crimean regional parliament held a referendum on whether to join Russia.[ii] The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of such a move, even if there are still concerns about its fairness.[iii] Meanwhile, on March 18, 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty of absorption of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation.[iv] Within two months since the invasion of Crimea, Russia annexed Crimea.
It is clear that Russia’s actions and involvement in the events that tore Ukraine apart raise important questions about international law.[v] One of the less discussed questions is whether Ukraine had a legitimate recourse to self-defense against Russia. There is rarely a
Evan Nichols, Associate Editor, Michigan Journal of International Law
On the night of June 30th, 1997, the last British governor of Hong Kong ordered the permanent lowering of the Union Jack over the city’s center of power.[i] With that seemingly small gesture, the UK transferred sovereignty over what was then the world’s 25th largest economy back to the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”).[ii] It was a process long in the making, and one that promised to have a far-reaching impact on the world geopolitical order. With this year’s mass outbreak of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, we are beginning to see one facet of this impact take shape.
While the normative implications of expanding democratic institutions in Hong Kong have justifiably been the subject of much debate, the present legal relationship between Hong Kong and the mainland is a creature of international contract. So this blog post asks, is China living up to its end of the bargain struck with the United Kingdom under which Hong Kong was freed from colonial rule? A preliminary analysis of the international agreement that governed this momentous transaction, in relation to Hong Kong’s subsequent experience under the aegis of Beijing, suggests that China, despite public