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Book Review: Clarke’s Fictions of Justice

This edi­tion of our ongo­ing series of book reviews offers a crit­i­cal but ulti­mate­ly pos­i­tive take on Kamari Max­ine Clarke’s Fic­tions of Jus­tice: The Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court and the  Chal­lenge of Legal Plu­ral­ism in Sub-Saha­ran Africa. This book review is par­tic­u­lar­ly time­ly, as the recent ECCC ver­dict in the “Duch” tri­al reminds us of that court’s land­mark deci­sion ear­li­er this sum­mer, which reject­ed one con­tro­ver­sial form of “joint crim­i­nal enter­prise” lia­bil­i­ty.  Kel­ly Geoghegan’s review, pub­lished in issue no. 42:3 of JILP, takes the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lev­el her own crit­i­cism, or skep­ti­cism, at JCE theory.

By Kel­ly Geoghegan

Fic­tions of Jus­tice is Kamari Max­ine Clarke’s search­ing anthro­po­log­i­cal cri­tique of both the inter­na­tion­al rule of law move­ment and its flag­ship tri­bunal, the Inter­na­tion­al Crim­i­nal Court (ICC). Clarke explores the unspo­ken assump­tions, or “fic­tions,” that under­lie this move­ment, show­ing that these assump­tions priv­i­lege West­ern ideas of jus­tice over African ones and obscure the post-colo­nial eco­nom­ic forces behind Africa’s tur­moil. Ulti­mate­ly, Fic­tions of Jus­tice is an anthro­po­log­i­cal work, not a legal text. Still, the book has potent insights to offer legal prac­ti­tion­ers, par­tic­u­lar­ly activists work­ing “on behalf of vic­tims” to achieve “uni­ver­sal” ideals of justice.

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The Effects of the ICJ Decision on Kosovo (if any) on the “Frozen Conflicts” of the Former Soviet Union

by Gra­ham Dumas (J.D. Can­di­date 2011)

Note: This is a cross-post from my Rus­sia-spe­cif­ic blog, Onion Domes and Oligarchs.

That yesterday’s advi­so­ry opin­ion by the Inter­na­tion­al Court of Jus­tice, Accor­dance with Inter­na­tion­al Law of the Uni­lat­er­al Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence in Respect of Koso­vo, was decid­ed on extreme­ly nar­row grounds has already been not­ed else­where in the blo­gos­phere. Fur­ther, its sta­tus as an advi­so­ry opin­ion of course means that it is non-bind­ing (though wide­ly respect­ed) and per­tains only to the ques­tion asked of the Court by the U.N. Gen­er­al Assembly.

Nev­er­the­less, it may be inter­est­ing to apply to the con­text of the frozen con­flicts in the for­mer Sovi­et Union some of the prin­ci­ples dis­cussed in and gen­er­at­ed by the Court’s Koso­vo opin­ion. After all, polit­i­cal lead­ers in Moscow have fre­quent­ly (and threat­en­ing­ly) cit­ed Koso­vo as a prece­dent for the inde­pen­dence of Abk­hazia and South Osse­tia, despite the obvi­ous and numer­ous dif­fer­ences between these cas­es. A brief bit of analy­sis after the jump.

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ICJ Rules on Kosovo Independence

The Inter­na­tion­al Court of Jus­tice today held that inter­na­tion­al law did not pro­hib­it Kosovo’s dec­la­ra­tion of inde­pen­dence, while side­step­ping the larg­er issue of Kosovo’s state­hood.  All of the opin­ions can be found here, but we are hap­py to host the opin­ion of the court on this JILP Forum, since the ICJ’s site has been dif­fi­cult to access as of late.

In a way, as Chris Bor­gen notes at Opinio Juris, this result should not come as a sur­prise, since inter­na­tion­al law gen­er­al­ly does not seem to have much to say about dec­la­ra­tions of inde­pen­dence.  The Court side­steps the trick­i­er prob­lem of the lex spe­cialis cre­at­ed by S.C. Res. 1244 (and the sub­se­quent Con­sti­tu­tion­al Frame­work adopt­ed by UNMIK) by hold­ing that the dec­la­ra­tion did not con­sti­tute an act of one of the Pro­vi­sion­al Insti­tu­tions of Self-Gov­ern­ment.  This lays the ground­work for the Court to con­clude that the dec­la­ra­tion essen­tial­ly took place out­side the scope of S.C. Res. 1244 and the frame­work.  Pre­lim­i­nary thoughts after the jump.

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Implications of European De-Integration for International Law

By Matthew Turk

The G20 Summit

At the recent G20 Sum­mit, Euro­pean lead­ers butted heads with the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion by oppos­ing fur­ther stim­u­lus spend­ing and call­ing for greater fis­cal “aus­ter­i­ty.”  The move to fis­cal tight­en­ing, even dur­ing unsteady eco­nom­ic times, reveals the pro­found affect that the Greek debt cri­sis has had on pol­i­cy­mak­ers in oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries.  In par­tic­u­lar, it indi­cates a com­mon con­cern that grow­ing pub­lic debt pos­es near-term chal­lenges to the con­tin­ued via­bil­i­ty of an eco­nom­i­cal­ly inte­grat­ed Euro­pean Union.  The poten­tial unrav­el­ing of the legal-insti­tu­tion­al struc­tures of Euro­pean inte­gra­tion uproots assump­tions about inter­na­tion­al law held by com­men­ta­tors across the ide­o­log­i­cal spectrum.

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Welcoming a new staff

The NYU Jour­nal of Inter­na­tion­al Law and Pol­i­tics is pleased to intro­duce the mem­bers of its 2010–2012 staff.  As a stu­dent-run jour­nal at the best inter­na­tion­al law pro­gram in the U.S., JILP pro­vides a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to become acquaint­ed with the rich world of inter­na­tion­al law schol­ar­ship.  Wel­come aboard!

Like many stu­dent-run jour­nals in the U.S., the Jour­nal of Inter­na­tion­al Law and Pol­i­tics selects its staff through an anony­mous process that eval­u­ates their knowl­edge of and expe­ri­ence with inter­na­tion­al law, their writ­ing and edit­ing skills, and their aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance.  This year saw par­tic­u­lar­ly fierce com­pe­ti­tion for the lim­it­ed num­ber of spaces on our staff, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.  Hit the jump for the names of our new staff edi­tors, and vist the About page for the com­plete masthead.

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