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This Month in International Law - March 2019

New EU screening framework for foreign investments approved

The European Union has approved a new framework to screen foreign direct investments coming into the European Union. In a procedure that is said to take 35 days on average, the European Commission and Member States will cooperate in investigations of target companies and investors. The framework is particularly aimed at helping Member States determine whether a foreign investment might cause security or public order concerns.

Advocate General of the European Court of Justice delivers opinion on bilateral agreements for processing Schengen Visas.

Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston delivered her opinion in Case C‑680/17, concerning bilateral agreements over the processing of Schengen Visas, which will could have an important impact on such agreements. The case revolves around an agreement between the Netherlands and Switzerland in which Switzerland will process Schengen visa applications on the Netherlands’ behalf. Such agreements are quite common in countries where few Schengen members have consulates. A Sri Lankan couple had applied for a visa to visit their son in the Netherlands, at the Swiss consulate, and when their application was rejected, questions arose as to whether the Netherlands or Switzerland were the competent Member States under the European Union’s Visa Regulation to handle the judicial appeal. AG Sharpston concluded that the represented Member State (the Netherlands) would be the State in charge of any judicial review. Sharpston further noted that the sponsor, in this case the son, could not be prevented from bringing a claim on his parents’ behalf.

The EUCJ rules that deficiencies in an EU Member State’s social system does not prevent the transfer of asylum seekers

In a combination of cases involving asylum seekers, the European Court of Justice ruled that an asylum seeker could not rely upon deficiencies in a Member State’s social protection system to challenge their move from one Member State to another unless the deficiencies amounted to inhumane and degrading treatment. In this decision, the Court affirmed a high standard for challenging the Dublin III Regulation under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Denmark moves towards denying citizenship for children of foreign fighters

In a deal between the coalition partners in the Danish Government and the Danish People’s Party, the Ministry of Justice will work towards the revocation of citizenship for the foreign fighters with dual citizenship. The agreement also states that children of foreign fighters will not be granted Danish citizenship. It is one of many controversial measures to be enacted in European States for those that have left to join ISIS. The revocations will be adjudicated administratively, which has raised many eyebrows.

Malaysia accedes to the Rome Statute - Becomes a member of the International Criminal Court

Malaysia has acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and will officially join the ICC on June 1st.

The Philippines officially withdraws from the International Criminal Court

In response to the Court’s preliminary inquiry into President Duterte’s implications in crimes against humanity, the Philippines has officially withdrawn from the Rome Statute. The announcement comes after the highest court in the country did not overrule Duterte’s decision to withdraw.

Syrian refugees in Jordan file ICC lawsuits against Bashar al-Assad

The ICC lacks jurisdiction over Syria’s internal affairs. But last year the court claimed jurisdiction over Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya, on the basis that its effects have spilled into the territory of ICC-member Bangladesh. Jordan is an ICC member.

United States will deny visas to ICC staff investigating alleged US or allied abuses

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move is necessary to protect American and allied personnel from “fear of unjust prosecution.” The court is considering requests to investigate alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.

South Sudan begins WTO membership negotiations

After gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan has begun negotiations to become a member of the World Trade Organization. As a WTO member, the government is hoping to become more attractive for foreign investment in the future.

UN Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia affirms conviction of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, increases sentence to life

The tribunal convicted the elderly Mr. Karadzic in 2016 on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and sentenced him to forty years to life. Last month’s final appeals ruling declared any possibility of release, however remote, “unreasonable and plainly unjust.”

New Chinese intellectual property (IP) court rules for French auto parts manufacturer

The Supreme People’s Court IP Tribunal ordered two Chinese firms to cease infringement of the French company’s patent. IP attorneys interpreted the ruling as a sign of Beijing’s growing commitment to addressing IP theft.

Indonesia and Australia sign free trade agreement

The agreement, which must be ratified to go into effect, eliminates nearly all tariffs between the two countries and expands Australian investors’ access to the Indonesian health care, telecommunications, energy, and mining sectors.

President Trump recognizes Israel’s 1981 annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights

Recognition reverses decades of US policy and flouts multiple UN Security Council resolutions declaring the annexation legally void. The Security Council’s fourteen other members unanimously condemned the decision.

UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution on terror financing

Resolution 2462 obliges all states to adopt legal and regulatory measures sufficient to support prosecution and strict penalization of financial support for terrorist groups and individuals.

China blocks terrorist designation for Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) founder Masood Azhar

In response to February’s JeM-attributed attack on Indian troops in Kashmir, the United States urged the UN Security Council to blacklist Mr. Azhar, a Pakistani citizen. For the fourth time since 2009, China thwarted the effort.

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