Blogposts by André Nollkaemper

André

André Nollkaemper

André Nollkaemper is Dean and Professor of Public International Law at the University of Amsterdam. He is the initiator and director of the SHARES project. He obtained an Advanced Investigator Grant of the European Research Council for this project.

23 January 2014

The Extinction of the West African Lion: Whose Responsibility?

Figure 2. Lion status in West African protected areas within lion range. In: Henschel P, Coad L, Burton C, Chataigner B, Dunn A, et al. (2014) The Lion in West Africa Is Critically Endangered. PLOS ONE 9(1): e83500. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083500

Lion status in West African protected areas within lion range.
© P. Henschel, L. Coad, C. Burton, B. Chataigner, A. Dunn et al. (see footnote).

A recently published study showed that the lion in West Africa is now critically endangered and faces extinction. From one angle, this would be just one of the large (though unknown) number of species that has previously faced extinction or has even become extinct. But the risk of extinction of some species give more reason for pause than others. Surely the lion – a cultural icon for cultures across the world since time immemorial – deserves a moment of reflection.

The cited study describes how the lion was once the most successful large carnivore. Its range extended from South Africa, across Eurasia, and into the southern United States. Today, the lion’s range is restricted to Africa, with a population of the Asiatic sub-species in India. Lions in Africa have lost 75 percent of their range in the last 100 years. (more…)

16 October 2013

Sharing Risks, Sharing Liability: Environmental and Health Risks of the Destruction of Syrian Chemical Weapons

On 11 October 2013, the UN Security Council authorised the establishment of a Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations (UN) to oversee the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. The Council endorsed the proposal formulated by Ban Ki-moon in a letter to the Council of 7 October (S/2013/591), pursuant to a request by the Security Council in Resolution 2118 (2013).

While all attention now focusses on the completion of the Joint Mission’s goal (the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons), it is not too early to plan for contingencies. The destruction of the chemical weapons will entail significant risks for the environment and human health. (more…)

1 October 2013

The Charles Taylor Judgment: Disconnecting the Responsibilities of Presidents and States

Initial comments on the judgment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) Appeals Chamber in the Charles Taylor case have focused on the rejection of the ‘specific direction’ standard in relation to complicity, and on the somewhat peculiar method for determining customary law (see Kevin Heller at Opinio Juris and Marko Milanovic at EJIL Talk). But there is more in the judgment that deserves our attention. Notably, the judgment exposes the disconnection of individual responsibility from state responsibility. (more…)

2 September 2013

Intervention in Syria and International Law: Inside or Out?

Cross posted on Opinio Juris

States that have decided to potentially engage in military strikes against Syria, or to support such strikes, face a difficult choice between two options: do they operate outside the international legal framework when they act, or do they use the strikes as part of an attempt to reconstruct the law on the use of force?

There is no doubt that in the present situation, military strikes against Syria would be in violation of international law as it has been understood since 1945. In situations as we face now, in the absence of a Security Council mandate, international law allows no unilateral use of force. Building a coalition outside the United Nations does not help. Qualifying strikes as punishment does not help either. (more…)

17 June 2013

A shared responsibility trap: supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition

Cross posted on EJIL: Talk!

In the last few weeks, a shared responsibility trap has arisen in relation to the conflict in Syria. On 4 June 2013, the Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic documented that anti-government forces have engaged in a wide range of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. At the same time, several States are inching towards openly supplying the Syrian opposition with arms. On 27 May, the Council of Ministers of the European Union decided not to renew the arms embargo against Syria. On 14 June, the United States announced that it plans to provide weapons in response to its finding that Syria has used chemical weapons. (more…)

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