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A Guardian of Universal Interest or Increasingly Out of its Depth?

The International Seabed Authority Turns 25

Richard Collins and Duncan French

In contemporary debates on the authority of global institutions, there is an important yet often overlooked organisational curiosity: namely, the International Seabed Authority (‘ISA’). The ISA reflects a highpoint in international communitarian governance. Premised around traditional notions of access, control and allocation of deep seabed resources, its mandate is both invariably spatial-temporal, and yet also limited and functional. Its purpose is to govern the extraction of seabed mineral resources for the collective benefit of the international community. To achieve that ambition, however, a highly complex and bureaucratic regulatory structure has been established. In this paper we aim to consider this tension in the mandate of the ISA, particularly insofar as it manifests in aspects of its institutional design and functioning in practice. Recognising these dynamics not only helps one better understand governance of the deep seabed, but also broadly demonstrates the innate tensions in granting institutional control over common spaces.

An Interim Post-Mortem

Specialised Courts in the EU Judicial Architecture after the Civil Service Tribunal

Graham Butler

The EU treaties allow the Union legislature to establish specialised courts within the institution of the Court of Justice. This possibility was inserted by the Treaty of Nice, and by 2005, the Union’s first and only specialised court to date was established—the Civil Service Tribunal (‘CST’). The judicial architecture of the Union has undergone transformative changes in recent years, and as part of the reforms, the CST was abolished in 2016, marking an abrupt end to the Union’s brief use of specialised courts. This article offers an interim post-mortem of specialised courts, examining the Union’s experimentalism with a three-tier judicial institution by focusing on two unique features. Firstly, the role of judges at specialised courts; and secondly, the review procedure that may be undertaken by the Court of Justice. The article contemplates the future of specialised courts, drawing some constitutional lessons that can be learnt from this brief experiment.

Gloria Fernández Arribas

Treaty organs constitute a new system of international cooperation. The lack of definition and regulation for these new entities and their particularities deserves in-depth analysis due to its proliferation, especially in the area of international environmental law. This article will analyse the establishment of treaty organs and will seek a definition that allows them to be differentiated from international organizations. It will give attention to the concept of a set of organs and legal personality to determine the differences between international organizations and treaty organs. Finally, the possible application of international institutional law to treaty organs will be studied.

Alex J. Bellamy and Stephen McLoughlin

Miliary intervention remains a controversial part of human protection. Indispensable in some circumstances, military intervention confronts significant structural challenges which means that it is used only rarely and has the propensity for causing unintended negative consequences. In this essay, we examine the place of humanitarian intervention within the human protection regime. Focusing on the case of Libya, we argue that the UN Security Council has now accepted that the use force, even against a sovereign state, is a sometimes legitimate response to mass atrocities. But the Libya experience also raised three major challenges – challenges of regime change, accountability, and selectivity – that will have be addressed if military intervention is ever to become a legitimate part of international society’s anti-atrocities arsenal. First, we show how increased international activism after the Cold War helped put downwards pressure on the incidence of mass atrocities worldwide. Second, we explain why armed intervention remained a controversial and rarely employed instrument of human protection. Third, we argue that the UN Security Council’s decision to authorise armed intervention in Libya represented a significant development in the place of armed intervention as a tool of human protection. Finally, we examine the political consequences of the intervention and argue that these will need to be addressed in order to rebuild sufficient trust to allow future considerations of the use of force for humanitarian purposes.

Andrea L. Everett

The practice of humanitarian military action has changed markedly in the 21st century when compared with the 1990s. This essay explores three broad trends that have shaped this evolution. First, the UN has adopted the protection of civilians as a central element of its agenda and as a guiding principle for reforming its peace operations and its responses to atrocities such as genocide and ethnic cleansing. Second, major powers have played a central role as belligerents or patrons of belligerents in many of the worst conflicts of the last two decades. And third, the wealthy Western states with the greatest resources and military capabilities for ambitious humanitarian operations have substantially reduced their direct contributions to these missions. Together, these developments have shifted the balance of responsibility and effort for humanitarian military operations toward the UN and developing countries; constrained the ambitions of these missions; limited what they can accomplish and contributed to gaps between the expectations they create and the protection they are able to deliver; and discouraged meaningful action in response to many of the century’s most devastating conflicts.

Eglantine Staunton

Since the end of the Cold War, Iraq has faced three international interventions. While their humanitarian component was a secondary – and at times, arguable – factor, they all played a central role in normative debates on the extent to which states should protect populations from mass atrocities beyond their borders (and what that actually entails), making Iraq a central piece of the human protection puzzle. In addition to analysing how Iraq’s fate has played a key part in the development of human protection over the years, the article argues that France had a central role in both the interventions and the normative debates they generated, and investigates its role in depth. By doing so, it deepens our understanding of human protection, France’s foreign policy and Iraq’s development.

Pınar Gözen Ercan

Bringing into focus the two formal debates on the Responsibility to Protect that took place in 2009 and 2018, this article identifies the approaches of member states towards the humanitarian use of force by locating it in the UN’s deliberations on R2P. To this end, the article compares and contrasts country statements in order to trace states’ general approach towards humanitarian intervention on the basis of their reflections on R2P. Following from this, the article examines whether or not states’ approaches to humanitarian intervention have been transforming in the twenty-first century, and evaluates how the humanitarian use of force is perceived in relation to the R2P framework that was embraced by the member states of the UN General Assembly in 2005, and how this affects the future of R2P.

Bartosz Soloch


Recent decisions of European and national courts, as well as those of arbitral tribunals, concerning the Achmea saga seem to be plentiful enough to draw preliminary conclusions as to the relationship between EU law, intra-EU international investment agreements (IIAs) and the national laws of EU-Member States. In order to get the proper picture of the situation, however, it is necessary not only to analyse the recent decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and their consequences from these three perspectives, but, equally, to understand how they interact with each other. Such an analysis indicates the real possibility of the emergence of a rift between the practice of the EU and national courts rejecting the validity of investment arbitration agreements, on the one hand, and investment tribunals, on the other. In any case, such a divergence would put into question the IIAs’ claim to provide a stable regulatory framework for international investments in the EU, which, in turn, would strengthen the argument for termination of intra-EU IIAs.

Judith Levine


This article deals with the ethical implications of arbitrator resignations. When an arbitrator resigns it can severely disrupt proceedings. Arbitrators have a positive duty to complete the mandate for which they have been appointed, and a corollary duty not to resign without justification. This article considers steps that can be taken at the outset of proceedings to minimise the likelihood of resignation. It then discusses ethical dilemmas associated with five common circumstances that can arise during the course of arbitral proceedings which might justify resignation. The article then recalls rare but disturbing instances when a resignation itself may be ethically dubious and sets out measures available to discourage such conduct. Ethical issues connected with resignation have traditionally been given less prominence than discussion of conflicts and challenges, but should not be overlooked in any new endeavors aimed at developing a code of conduct for international arbitration.