Category Archives: International law

New publication: “Dual Attribution of Conduct to both an International Organisation and a Member State”

Just in time for the holidays, my article on dual attribution was published in the Oslo Law Review today. Here is the abstract:

Responsibility, and in particular attribution of conduct, is one of the most intensely debated issues of public international law in the last couple of decades. In this article I seek to determine whether, how, and when acts or omissions may be attributed both to an international organisation and a member State (dual attribution). My aim is to clarify what dual attribution is, and what it is not. This is done in two steps. First, I (a) define the concept of dual attribution, (b) demonstrate that dual attribution is possible under the current law of international responsibility, and (c) establish a typology of dual attribution. Second, dual attribution is distinguished from three forms of shared responsibility. These are situations of two acts or omissions leading to one injury, derived responsibility, and the notion of piercing the corporate veil of international organisation. I end the article by criticising the disproportionate attention given to dual attribution in legal scholarship, given its limited practical utility.

Click here to access the full text on (open access).

I hope the article (or at least its illustrations!) can be useful for teaching purposes. Since OsLaw is an open access journal, you are free to share it widely, and also to e.g. re-use the illustrations in presentations under the terms of the CC-BY license.


New publication: “Suing the European Union in the UK: Tomanović et. al. v. the European Union et. al.”

ep_ej_2016_2_coverI have just published a piece in European Papers that critically analyzes the very interesting Tomanović judgment of the England and Wales High Court (Queen’s Bench Division).

Here is the abstract:

In its judgment of 13 February 2019 in the case of Tomanović et. al. v. the European Union et. al., the English High Court of Justice dismissed several claims based on human rights violations by EULEX Kosovo. Although the High Court’s dismissal was ultimately based on the lacking incorporation of the Treaty provisions on the Common Foreign and Security Policy into domestic law, the judgment contains extensive obiter dicta discussing key Union law matters. In this Insight I summarize, contextualize and reflect critically upon the High Court’s reasoning. In particular, I focus on the extent of the Court of Justice’s jurisdiction over – and the application of the Foto-Frost principle to – the CFSP.

Click here to access the full text on (open access).

It’s been a while…

… since the last time I updated this blog. Much has happened in both my personal and professional life over the last 2 years: I’ve finished my PhD, got a Senior Lecturship at the UiO, and last (but definitely not least) a daughter. Additionally, I have published a few smaller things that I forgot to post about here:

Currently I am working on publishing my PhD thesis, entitled The Human Rights Accountability Mechanisms of International Organizations: A Framework and Three Case Studies. While you await its publication, you can enjoy this little teaser of an abstract:

International organizations are becoming increasingly powerful. As a consequence, they are now more capable than ever of violating the human rights of individuals. But how can international organizations be held to account for such violations? This thesis assesses the procedural mechanisms that may hold international organizations to account. First, a general framework for identifying, analyzing and assessing the accountability mechanisms of international organizations is established. Second, the general framework is applied to three distinct cases: the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy missions, Refugee camp administration by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Detention by the International Criminal Court. The thesis concludes that in none of the three case studies do the existing accountability mechanisms fulfill the normative requirements set out in the general framework. However, there are significant variations between the cases, and between different types of accountability mechanisms. In light of these findings, the thesis puts forward some hypotheses applicable to international organizations generally.

Judicial control of EU foreign policy: the ECJ judgment in Rosneft

Yesterday the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) delivered its judgment in the long-awaited Rosneft case (C-72/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:236). The judgment clarifies some aspects of the CJEU’s jurisdiction over the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Moreover, it is an important precedent in the field of EU sanctions law generally, and also resolve some questions of interpretation that are particular to the Russian sanctions.

In this blog post I will focus on what the judgment in Rosneft adds to the existing case-law on the review of CFSP decisions. Thus, I will not be discussing any of the more specific questions of EU sanctions law nor summarize the full 197 paragraph judgment. For those looking for a quick summary of the case, I refer to the succinct post by Maya Lester QC at the Sanctions Law blog.

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New publication: “Accountability for Human Rights Violations by CSDP Missions: Available and Sufficient?”

ICLQAn article (partially) based on a chapter in my PhD thesis has just been published in International and Comparative Law Quarterly, issue no. 1/2017, pages 161-207. The title of the article is: Accountability for Human Rights Violations by CSDP Missions: Available and Sufficient?

Here is the abstract:

This article demonstrates that it is doubtful whether the accountability mechanisms available in connection with operative missions conducted under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) provide a sufficient level of protection when human rights are violated. The assessment of the CSDP accountability mechanisms—the Court of Justice of the European Union, domestic courts of EU Member States, and other mechanisms at the international level—is conducted in light of the requirements laid down in Article 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The consequences of the insufficiency of these mechanisms for the EU’s accession to the ECHR are also touched upon.

Click here to access the full text of the article (sharing link, subscription NOT required).

The Bosphorus presumption is still alive and kicking: the case of Avotiņš v. Latvia

Judges of the Latvian Supreme Court

Judges of the Latvian Supreme Court

Yesterday, 23 May 2016, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment in the case of Avotiņš v. Latvia. This seems to be the ECtHR’s first detailed appraisal of the so-called Bosphorus presumption after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Opinion 2/13 rejected a draft agreement providing for the accession of the EU to the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). It also provides a first glimpse of how the ECtHR views the EU law principle of mutual trust, which has become particularly dear to the CJEU over the last couple of years.

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A report from the oral hearing in Case C-72/15 (Rosneft)

Snow over the CJEU as it hears the Rosneft case.

Snow over the CJEU as it hears the Rosneft case.

This week I attended the hearing at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in case C-71/15 (Rosneft). This is one of several cases brought by the Russian energy company Rosneft against the EU sanctions regime established following the Russian military intervention in Crimea. The case has its basis in a request for preliminary ruling by the High Court of Justice (England & Wales), Queen’s Bench Division. In the reference, the High Court of Justice asks the CJEU to determine the validity of several provisions of the EU economic sanctions against Russia.

As the legal issues in play in this case are very closely connected with the precise legal nature of the sanctions challenged, it is necessary to first describe the contested parts of the EU sanctions regime in some detail. Then I will go through the submissions of the parties, and offer some preliminary analysis of the arguments presented. My focus is the same as that of the oral hearing; on the issue of the jurisdiction of the CJEU to review sanctions adopted under the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Before we start I must also add a small disclaimer: this report is based on my own notes and recollections, and there may thus be inaccuracies, misunderstandings, or plain errors.

The contested parts of the EU sanctions regime

The contested parts of the EU sanctions regime in this case are the measures “targeting sectoral cooperation and exchanges with Russia” – which I will refer to as the sectoral measures. These sectoral measures are laid down in Council decision 2014/512/CFSP and Council regulation 2014/833/EU (links to latest consolidated versions). Essentially, these provisions prohibit EU persons, natural or legal, from engaging in contractual relations with certain Russian state-owned companies and banks, and from providing such companies and banks access to financial markets.

Sectoral measures may be contrasted with the targeted sanctions laid down in Council decision 2014/145/CFSP and Council regulation 2014/269/EU (links to latest consolidated versions). Such targeted sanctions directly affect named Russian natural and legal persons (not including Rosneft) by inter alia obliging European financial institutions to freeze their assets. With regard to the sectoral measures, on the other hand, Rosneft primarily feels the sting of them through the lack of access to European suppliers, consultants, credit institutions, etc.

This distinction between targeted and sectoral sanctions is also reflected in TFEU article 215. According to that provision the Union may in the form of a regulation adopt measures providing for ” the interruption or reduction, in part or completely, of economic and financial relations with one or more third countries” (i.e. sectoral measures) or “restrictive measures […] against natural or legal persons” (i.e. targeted sanctions). Since sectoral measures are formulated as prohibitions on EU citizens and undertakings from engaging in such activities, they only seems to affect Rosneft indirectly; it is their EU partners that are now prohibited from doing business with Rosneft. Note the use of the word seems in the previous sentence. Rosneft argues that it is also directly affected by the sectoral measures, and that they should be regarded as targeted sanctions. Still, the following summary of the hearing more or less presupposes that the sanctions are sectoral measures – which was also generally presupposed during the hearing.

A final peculiarity concerning CFSP sanctions regimes is that they are enacted through the use of two separate legal instruments. First, by a Council decision under TEU article 29. Second, and following such a decision, the sanctions are implemented within the internal market by means of a Council regulation under just-mentioned TFEU article 215. In the present case the relevant instruments are Council decision 2014/512/CFSP and Council regulation 2014/833/EU, which I will refer to in the following as “the CFSP decision” and “the regulation”, respectively. The relationship between the regulation and the CFSP decision was a key factor in relation to many of the issues discussed during the oral hearing in Rosneft.

The CFSP decision is adopted under a provision in the CFSP chapter of the TEU, namely article 29. This has certain consequences. First, legislative acts are precluded under the CFSP, see TEU article 31(1) i.f. Second, being adopted under the CFSP chapter the jurisdiction of the CJEU to review the decision is generally excluded according to TFEU article 275(1). Third, while the EU member states “shall ensure that their national policies conform to” the CFSP decision, the decision is not binding upon persons (natural or legal).

The regulation adopted under TFEU article 215 implements the CFSP decision within the internal market. That regulation is not a CFSP measure. This means that it is binding in its entirety, also on natural or legal persons, and directly applicable within the legal system of the EU member states (TFEU article 288(2)). Moreover, the general jurisdiction of the CJEU to review acts of the Union institution should therefore apply. (But see the Commission’s arguments to the contrary discussed below.)

What kind of provisions the two instruments should contain when the Union imposes sanctions is less clear. The only guidance we seem to get from the constituent treaties is that (a) legislative acts cannot be enacted in the form of CFSP decisions, and that (b) when a CFSP decision “provides for the interruption or reduction, in part or completely, of economic and financial relations with one or more third countries” the Council shall adopt “the necessary measures” in the form of a regulation under TFEU article 215. In practice, the wording of the CFSP decision and the regulation is more or less identical. This is also the case here. The provisions Rosneft is challenging are almost word-for-word identical in the CFSP decision and the regulation.

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