The Right Family: The Personal is Geopolitical

By: Rita Abrahamsen

In the wake of Mr. Biden’s election victory, the foreign policy commentariat is brimming with optimism.  With a committed internationalist in the White House and a woman as Vice-President, the world stage seems set for a return to happier times.


Selling Human Rights Due Diligence in Canada

By: David Hughes

On 29 November, Swiss voters gathered for a referendum. They affirmed that the country’s constitution should be amended to impose human rights due diligence (HRDD) requirements on multinational firms headquartered in Switzerland. The proposed amendment, which would require companies to proactively manage the adverse human rights impacts of their business activity, ultimately failed.

The Rise of African Philanthropy and International Development

By: Farai Chipato

There is a significant change taking place across the global south, as international development agencies are taking a less prominent role in promoting development and democracy.


The Ties that Bind? The Increasing Complexity and Indeterminacy of Inter-Governmental Organizations

By: John Packer

The State-based system of international governance that evolved from the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 is struggling in the face of contemporary realities.  Today, developments in technology permit instantaneous movement of capital and information, quick movement of goods, and the simultaneous presence of persons – whether as State agents, commercial actors, or private individuals – in different territories and time-zones. 



Of Tactics, Illegal Occupation and the Boundaries of Legal Capability: A Reply to Ardi Imseis

European Journal of International Law

By: David Hughes

This contribution engages with Ardi Imseis’s article ‘Negotiating the Illegal: On the United Nations and the Illegal Occupation of Palestine, 1967–2020’. In reply, I contemplate whether an occupation’s legal status can or should affect the requirement that an occupying power must withdraw from the territory that it controls. I consider Imseis’s claim that it is necessary to declare that an occupation has become illegal to move beyond the tension that exists between the requirements of state responsibility and a political preference for negotiations. I question the effectiveness of Imseis’s proposed approach, argue that the duty to terminate an occupation is a positive legal duty that exists regardless of an occupation’s legal status and suggest that the negotiation process cannot be completely uncoupled from the withdrawal requirement. In conclusion, I suggest that grounding calls to terminate occupation in the principle of temporality and the international consensus prohibiting the acquisition of territory by force better reflects international law’s capacity to contribute to an occupation’s termination.


Something is Not Always Better than Nothing: Problematizing Emerging Forms of Jus Ad Bellum Argument

Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

By: David Hughes and Yahli Shereshevsky

Since the adoption of the UN Charter, an unending debate concerning the permissible exceptions to the use of force prohibition has filled the pages of countless law reviews. The resulting legal regime, the jus ad bellum, has become increasingly strained as the international community faces new threats and encounters unforeseen scenarios. The post-war legal architecture is, so the debate goes, either insufficiently enabled to address contemporary challenges or consistently undermined by actors who seek exceptions to the strict limits placed upon state conduct. Debates regarding different instances when force is used exhibit a predictable pattern. Those that wish to limit the scope of the permissible use of force by states (minimalists) offer legal arguments that emphasize the importance of adhering to a strict reading of the UN Charter. Responding, those that support broadening the instances in which force is permissible (expansionists) provide moral arguments that stress the need to bridge the gap between what the law says and what is required to ensure a just international society. This Article identifies a significant shift in the structure of this debate. Following the controversial airstrikes by US, French, and UK forces in Syria, proponents of an expansionist approach have moved from pursuing moral arguments about the necessity of armed intervention to embracing argumentative techniques that attempt to nullify minimalist apprehensions. The Article describes three forms of emergent expansionist arguments that have altered the traditional form of expansionist claims. Each instance suggests that good-faith expansionist efforts to ensure the legitimacy of thead bellum regime are undermined by this emerging argumentative prioritization. The Article concludes by proposing reversion to a form of legal argument that accentuates moral implications and positions international law to maintain its relevancy by effectively contributing to the redress of many of the most consuming challenges that face a nonideal world.