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Global Democracy in Decline?

How Rising Authoritarianism Limits Democratic Control over International Institutions

Eugenia C. Heldt and Henning Schmidtke


Over the past decade, rising authoritarian regimes have begun to challenge the liberal international order. This challenge is particularly pronounced in the field of multilateral development finance, where China and its coalition partners from Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa have created two new multilateral development banks. This article argues that China and its partners have used the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to increase their power and to restrict democratic control mechanisms. By comparing formal mechanisms of democratic control in both organizations to the World Bank, this article shows that civil society access, transparency, and accountability are lower at the AIIB and NDB than they are at the World Bank.

Nathanael Tilahun Ali

Recent reforms in international anti-laundering regime install legal professionals as gatekeepers by requiring them to take certain due diligence measures and actively cooperate with the state. These requirements have generated controversy and varied compliance among states. The prevailing view in legal academia and profession is that compliance with these requirements is inversely related to the resilience of states’ domestic rule of law system. The article critiques this view: the gatekeeping controversy is a debate taking place among different traditions of rule of law, and not creeping-in from outside the bounds of rule of law. By tracing policy documents, prominent judicial decisions and records of activities of legal professional associations, the article shows that states’ divergent compliance is instead a function of (i) a split in the philosophical inclinations of judiciaries over how the legal profession serves the public interest, and (ii) a turf-war over the administration of the legal profession.

Xinmin Ma


The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS or the Convention) is one of the most important accomplishments in the development of international law in the twentieth century. As a comprehensive compilation of the modern law of the sea, the UNCLOS not only codifies numerous customary rules of law of the sea, but also progressively develops the treaty rules of law of the sea. Especially the three bodies established by the UNCLOS, namely the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), have played an important role in facilitating the implementation of the UNCLOS and promoting stability and development of the international marine order. As a member of the big family of the States Parties to the UNCLOS, China has been faithfully fulfilling the obligations of the UNCLOS, fully engaged in the work of the three bodies and actively contributing its solutions and wisdom. In the process of implementing the UNCLOS, China has formed its own practices and policies.

Dimitris Liakopoulos


The evolutionary interpretation of a norm presents a similar nature—even if obviously not identical—to the modification of the law, which is a process that follows an interpretative method that must be particularly careful not to be in contrast with the intention of the states concerned by the rule. Interpretation in practice, in speciem in the World Trade Organization becomes prescriptive to descriptive, since our aim will be to see the theme of evolutionary interpretation through the jurisprudence of the Organization.

Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky


This article offers, using a human rights approach, an in-depth analysis of the functioning of the China’s regulatory framework applicable to external lending through national and international financial institutions as well as concrete proposals to enhance that framework. The article describes and critically assesses the institutional and legal framework of the Chinese international lending and outbound investment, it studies the main trends in the Chinese lending to developing countries in the context of the Chinese “Going Global” strategy, and it presents the human rights impact of external lending and outbound investments in terms of both their positive effects and good practices as well as challenges and concerns. A particular attention is paid to the case of the new pertinent multilateral development banks: New Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. After presenting the conclusions the article ends proposing for discussion recommendations addressing a wide range of stakeholders.

Dispensing With the Indispensable Nation?

Multilateralism minus One in the Trump Era

Caroline Fehl and Johannes Thimm


Since entering office, US president Trump has reversed key multilateral achievements of his predecessors, initiating a new US retreat from multilateral cooperation. For other governments wishing to preserve and deepen existing global agreements, this has posed the question of whether and how multilateral cooperation can work without the leadership and support of the dominant global power. International relations scholars have already debated the possibility of “nonhegemonic cooperation” in earlier periods marked by US unilateralism. This article draws on these previous analyses to evaluate the current prospects and limits of a “multilateralism minus one” in three key global policy areas: nuclear arms control, climate change, and trade.