This Month in International Law - November 2018
Snapback of U.S. Sanctions on Iran
The second wave of American sanctions against Iran went into effect on November 5, thus reinstating all sanctions that existed before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. These will be the most hard-hitting sanctions, covering shipping, shipbuilding, finance and energy.
Brexit Withdrawal Agreement
The Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union was published on November 26, detailing the transition period that would take effect after the UK officially leaves the EU on March 29, 2019. Ahead lies a bumpy road for Prime MInister Theresa May with scheduled debates and a vote in the Parliament on December 11. For more on the Withdrawal Agreement, read The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – All Signed and Sealed?
European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) declines to annul Brexit negotiations:
The application for annulment of the decision authorising the opening of Brexit negotiations, brought by thirteen British citizens who live in EU Member States other than the UK, was ruled to be inadmissible.
ECJ rules that door-to-door preachers are subject to EU data-protection laws
Groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, although “protected by the fundamental right of freedom of conscience and religion,” are not exempt from EU data-protection rules if they maintain a “filing system” of easily retrievable names and addresses of people they have contacted.
ECJ invalidates Austrian limits on social assistance to refugees
The court ruled that a 2015 regulation, which offered less assistance to refugees than to native-born Austrians, violates EU directives on treatment of third-party nationals.
Switzerland rejects sovereignty of Swiss law in referendum
Swiss voters rejected a proposal to give Swiss law precedence over international law. Viewed by some as a measure of strengthening national identity, others were fearful of the potential impact it would have on Switzerland’s standing in the world, and its obligations to the international community.
Central African Republic transfers reputed war criminal Alfred Yekatom to ICC custody
After being in arrest since October 29, Alfred Yekatom was transferred to ICC custody. The ICC had earlier charged Yekatom (a sitting MP nicknamed “Rambo”) with murder, torture, enforced disappearance, recruitment of child soldiers, and other crimes. He is suspected of having led anti-Balaka attacks on Muslim civilians in 2013 and 2014.
Uzbekistan will establish international arbitration center
According to a decree signed by the Uzbek president, the Tashkent International Arbitration Center (TIAC) will arbitrate intellectual-property and blockchain disputes.
UN Security Council lifts Eritrean sanctions
In a unanimous vote, the Security Council canceled an arms embargo, travel ban, and asset freeze imposed on Eritrea in 2009 over its alleged support for Somali militant groups. Eritrea’s relations with its neighbors have improved in recent years, undermining the sanctions’ rationale.
ICC refuses to drop arrest warrant for Saif Gaddafi
Chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda rejected Mr. Gaddafi’s argument that unspecified legal proceedings against him in Libya preclude an ICC trial. The warrant, issued in 2011, pertains to Mr. Gaddafi’s reported role in suppressing opposition to his father Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Koreas receive sanctions exemption for joint survey of North’s railways
The project is a preliminary step in a plan announced earlier this year to modernize North Korea’s rail networks and reconnect them with the South. The U.N. Security Council granted an exemption to sanctions restricting such projects, allowing work to begin.
Progress in ISDS reform efforts
A working group of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) met in Vienna to identify needed reforms to investor-state dispute settlement. The working group will focus its efforts on: improving the consistency and correctness of arbitral outcomes, ensuring arbitrator independence and impartiality, decreasing the length of disputes, facilitating award recovery, and rooting out unmeritorious claims.