U.S. and EU Sanctions Are Punishing Ordinary Syrians and Crippling Aid Work, U.N. Report Reveals

Five years of devastating civil war and strict economic sanctions have plunged over 80 percent of Syrians into poverty, up from 28 percent in 2010. Ferdinand Arslanian, a scholar at the Center for Syrian Studies at the University of St. Andrews, says that reduction in living standards and aid dependency is empowering the regime.

Continue reading

A Peaceful, Silent, Deadly Remedy: The Ethics of Economic Sanctions

Economic sanctions are emerging as one of the major tools of international governance in the post-Cold War era. Sanctions have long been seen as a form of political intervention that does not cause serious human damage, and therefore does not raise pressing ethical questions. However, the nature of sanctions is that they effectively target the most vulnerable and least political sectors of society, and for this reason they must be subject to ethical scrutiny.

Continue reading

In determining whether human rights treaties apply extraterritorially, it is necessary to analyze important provisions and terms in a particular agreement. However, as illustrated in The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (the Vienna Convention), the analysis of a human rights instrument often hinges on semantics. Traditionally, the meaning of a provision was based on the definiteness of the language and the plain meaning of the terms. Recently, however, courts such as the ECtHR have been reluctant to settle with the “ordinary meaning analysis” of treaty interpretation (as suggested in Article 31 of the Vienna Convention) when there are “manifestly absurd” results from adherence to such an approach. Instead, many international courts have embraced the exceptions present in Article 32 of the Vienna Convention, allowing them to bring in subsequent state practice, context, purpose, and travaux preparatoires.

Continue reading

Extraterritorial Application of Human Rights Treaties: An Overview

The book’s main focus is on case law, and most of the case-law that I examine is of fairly recent extraction. It appears that the problem of the extraterritorial application of human rights treaties has been growing progressively more acute in the past decade or so. It is indeed rather startling that such a fundamental issue regarding the scope of application of these treaties has not been definitively resolved much earlier during their life-span. One, almost trite response to this observation would be that in the age of globalization states are increasingly affecting the human rights of individuals outside their borders, and that this explains both the increase of litigated cases on extraterritorial application and the growing importance of the issue generally.

Continue reading

Human Rights Abroad: When Do Human Rights Treaty Obligations Apply Extraterritorially?

This Article proceeds in three parts. Part I summarizes the jurisprudence of foreign courts, specifically the Supreme Court and Fed eral Court of Appeal of Canada and the U. K. Supreme Court. Part II examines the approach taken by international courts, specifically the European Court of Human Rights, the Inter – American Court on Human Rights, and the International Court of Justice. Part III provides an overview of the positions of U. N. – linked human rights bodies, specifically the Committee Against Torture and the Human Rights Committee.

We conclude by noting that the U. S. executive branch’s consistent position against any extraterritoria l application of these human rights protections makes the United States an outlier in the international context. Nearly every other foreign and international body examined here concludes that countries that exert “effective control” over a territory, perso n, or situation must observe basic human rights obligations. It is our hope that by placing U. S. practice within an international context, we can open up a conversation about how the United States might — in this area as in so many others — once again be a lea der in the development and enforcement of human rights protections in the world.

Continue reading

Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of ESC Rights

On 28 September 2011, at a gathering convened by Maastricht University and the International Commission of Jurists, a group of experts in international law and human rights adopted the Maastrict Principles. Drawn from international law, these principles aim to clarify the content of extraterritorial State obligations to realize economic, social and cultural rights with a view to advancing and giving full effect to the object of the Charter of United Nations and international human rights.

Continue reading