From North Dakota to Geneva: The Legal Battle Behind the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline

Katrina Fetsch
Vol. 38 Associate Editor

In recent weeks, a normally peaceable state has found itself rife with conflict as protests erupted over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota. The opposition began with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who opposed the pipeline on the grounds that its construction would result (and indeed has resulted) in the destruction of important historical and cultural artifacts, including ancestral graves, and that the pipeline’s proximity to the area’s water source poses a grave threat to the tribe’s drinking water. Continue reading

Legal Framework for Retaliation against North Korea’s Rocket Launch

Ashley Harshaw, Vol. 37 Associate Editor

Following North Korea’s long-range rocket launch on February 7, 2016, South Korea and the United States are urging for strong sanctions against the Kim Jong-un regime. But, it is unclear what kinds of sanctions will be effective in influencing North Korea’s behavior. The successful functioning of the rule of international law depends on the consent of states. Since North Korea seeks to remove itself from the limitations of international legal norms, what is the legal framework in which other countries may retaliate against North Korea? Continue reading

UN Peacekeeping Forces: Blind Boxers and Blue-Hatted Sitting Ducks

Richard Self, Vol. 37 Associate Editor

“UN Peacekeepers provide security and the political and peacebuilding support to help countries make the difficult, early transition from conflict to peace.”[1]

 The stated mission of the United Nations Peacekeeping forces is an admirable one, but in the wake of 2015’s evolving global threats, the principles of the Peacekeeping forces have markedly constrained the mission from becoming one that can achieve the primary goal of the United Nations as enumerated in Article 1(1) of the UN Charter: “to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures and removal of threats to the peace”.[2] Continue reading

Getting Away with Murder: The United Nations’ Role in Fostering Accountability and Reconciliation in Post-War Sri Lanka

Yekaterina Reyzis, Vol. 37 Associate Editor


The United Nations’ (“UN”) intervention in the Sri Lankan civil war spawned an international inquiry into the efficacy and legitimacy of UN forces and raised broader concerns about UN involvement in internal state conflicts generally. The aftermath of the conflict illustrates that during more than a quarter century of violence between the Sri Lankan government and secessionist militants, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (“Tamil Tigers”), the UN could have been more proactive, efficient, and responsible in its mission to monitor and report the violence on the ground,[1] which slayed at least 100,000 people.[2] Namely, in the lead up to the end of the war, the UN failed to address multiple red flags presented by the Sri Lankan government,[3] which consequently wiped out an estimated 40,000 civilians in the last five months of the conflict alone.[4]  Last week, however, the UN’s call for an international war crimes court[5] appeared to be its first constructive step in ensuring that the post-war Sri Lankan government takes the appropriate steps to achieve accountability and prolonged reconciliation within its borders. Continue reading

The UN’s Global Focal Point: Top-Down Bureaucracy, or Bottom-Up Results?

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.[1] 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.”[2] 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”).[3] 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?

Continue reading