It seems that momentum continues to grow towards the “responsibility to protect” (or R2P) becoming a norm of international law. The Centre for Conflict Resolution, a South African organisation based at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, with “a pan-African focus” (that, according to its website, plays a leading role in contributing towards the resolution of conflict and the reduction of violence in Africa) has published a report titled Africa’s responsibility to protect. The report makes ten key recommendations implementing the R2P principle, which it notes “gained international legitimacy since its adoption at the UN World Summit in September 2005”.

(The Canadian government sponsored International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) report, co-chaired by Gareth Evans and Mohamed Sahnoun, developed the principle in 2001. Further information can be found on the international crisis group R2P website.)

The question, then, is: how does the principle interact with the international obligations of Member States of the UN under Article 2.7 of the UN Charter:

Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.

Does the principle rely upon the actions of the Security Council under Chapter VII? Does that in effect neuter the R2P principle?

The R2P principle is clearly inconsistent with Article 2.7. Does the principle only apply to the extent that it is not inconsistent with Art 2.7? Is the adoption of the principle a new means of overriding prior, inconsistent law, notwithstanding that that prior law is expressed in the words of one of the most important treaties? Are we seeing a pragmatic aproach to the thorny problem of how to modify the Charter? Will the approach lead to larger problems down the track, with States able to avoid their obligations under treaty? Has the adoption demonstrated the Member States’ understanding of how they interpret the Charter?

R2P is, in my mind, an essential evolution of public international law. Unfortunately, the inconsistency between the adopted principle and existing treaty law will set precedent. How this precedent will be used in future remains uncertain. What is not uncertain it that it will be used. It seems that the approach taken in adopting the principle is the least worst approach.

Over to you.


The latest draft “modalities” on agricultural and non-agricultural trade were issued on 8 February 2008. The “modaliites” are the assessments of the chair of each of the Agriculture negotiating group, Ambassador Crawford Falconer, and the Non Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiating group ,Ambassador Don Stephenson, on “what might be agreed for the formulas for cutting tariffs and trade-distorting agricultural subsidies, and related provisions”. The links from these pages are well worth reading for those interested in international trade law.

As you are now no doubt aware,  Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia during an emergency session  of parliament on Monday, 18 February 2008. Serbia has vowed to never recognise the breakaway State. The USA has already congratulated Kosovo on its independence and internationally recognised its new status. Unsurprisingly, Russia and China have refused to do so. In the EU, Britian, France, Germany and Italy have recognised the move. States such as Spain and Greece refuse to do so, being concerned over domestic separatist movements.

Notably, the USA’s recognition is specifically worded to avoid setting precedent – Dr Rice stated that the case of UN-run Kosovo was unique and would not set a precedent for other ethnic secessionist movements around the world. UN Security Council Resolution 1244 placed Kosovo under interim UN administration in 1999. The resolution allowed an international civil and military presence in Kosovo, a Serbian province.

Over to you: what can we expect to flow from this? Will Kosovo be recognised by the UN, noting China and Russia’s opposition. Will Kosovo become another “Chinese Taipei”?

Christopher Langman, current head of the DFAT’s Office of Trade Negotiations, with particular responsibility for Australia’s participation in the WTO, presented a seminar to the Lowy Institute today.

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I highly recommend looking at the following sites and subscribing to their newsfeeds or email alerts:

 The International Crisis Group is a very highly respected international non-government organisation (NGO) focused on preventing and resolving conflict situations through analysis and advocacy.

Another great site for international news, and especially for those with a specific interest in International Humanitarian Law is the Human Security Report Project. The Project is a research body making that research, as well as international news, public.

Transparency International is another highly respected NGO, focusing upon combating corruption around the world. Of particular relevance to lawyers is the corrosive effect corruption has upon the rule of law and all the issues stemming from that, such as respect for the law and access to justice.

Jurist is a news site published by the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law, which provides legal news and articles submitted by (often most highly qualified) publicists.

Lastly, and certainly not least, is perhaps the capital s “Source” site for international news and developments in international law and relations, the United Nations. For their news service, click here.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has invited submissions on the implementation of the International Trade Integrity Act (2007) (the Act). The Act implements the first of the recommendations of the Cole Commission, and focuses upon Australia’s obligation to implement the sanctions of the United Nations Security Commission (UN-SC).  That obligation is implemented through the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945  and the Customs Act 1901.

The timetable for the submissions is tight, and will require work over this weekend, 13 and 14 October 2007.

Please contact bothYu Zhang ( and myself, Robert Dunworth (, by close of business tomorrow, Thursday, 11 October 2007, if you are interested in researching and drafting the NSW Young Lawyers International Law Committee submissions to DFAT in response to the above invitation.

We look forward to working with you.

The Lowy Institute is an independent international policy think tank based in Sydney. Its objective is to generate new ideas and dialogue on international developments and Australia’s role in the world. Its mandate is broad. It ranges across all the dimensions of international policy debate in Australia – economic, political and strategic – and it is not limited to a particular geographic region.

Check out their website for numerous useful research papers and project information.

Read what the State’s judges have to say on the challenges of international commercial litigation and arbitration.

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The front page story in today’s Australian covers Kevin Rudd’s somewhat bizarre declaration that a Federal Labor Government would attempt to take legal action against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the International Court of Justice on a “charge of incitement to genocide”.

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Hello all, and welcome to the launch of The Red Telephone, the online headquarters and newsfeed of the International Law Committee of NSW Young Lawyers.

On this site you’ll find up-to-the-minute news covering all aspects of international law, gathered and edited by our intrepid Committee members, as well as updates on the latest professional and social events and the work of the Committee itself. It’s going to be our nerve center for lively discussion, debate, and networking with our professional peers worldwide.

We’re a young, dynamic and creative membership and we need a state-of-the-art tool for the job. This site is it. We’re in the infamous beta stage right now, so the site will go through a lot of changes in the near future, but bookmark it now and keep checking back.

About this site

THE RED TELEPHONE is the newsblog and discussion forum of the International Law Committee of NSW Young Lawyers, a division of the Law Society of New South Wales.

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