By Belachew M Fikre, Lecturer at Addis Ababa University, Institute of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has given on the 7th July 2011 a judgement (Al-Jedda case) holding the United Kingdom responsible for the acts of its military forces in Iraq in what may be called a significant blow to the ever unchecked multinational military operations under the names of maintaining international peace and security, war on terror, or as recently emerging dubious guise ‘to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.’

The case (Al-Jedda v the United Kingdom, available here) involved an Iraq-born individual who had been interned or detained in Basra for over three years, between 2004 and 2007. Basra internment centre was controlled and run by the British forces in Iraq and he was held for purposes of investigation on his alleged involvement, among others, in recruiting terrorists outside Iraq to commit atrocities in Iraq, for helping an identified terrorist explosives expert travel into Iraq, and conspiring with that explosives expert to conduct attacks with improvised explosive devises against coalition forces near Fallujah and Baghdad. 

After his release (and being denied re-entry into the UK to which he had become a national), Al-Jedda had brought actions, though unsuccessfully, before various national organs until his case was dismissed by the House of Lords which reiterated that because of the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) Resolution, the British government’s responsibility under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) cannot be invoked. The House of Lords reasoned that the mandate the UNSC Resolution 1546 had placed on the UK government brings the UN as the proper organ responsible for the internment measures taken on Al-Jedda which, because of Article 103 of the UN Charter displaced the applicability of Article 5(1) of the ECHR. According to Article 103 of the UN Charter ‘in the event of conflict between the obligations of the members of the UN under the present Charter and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the present Charter shall prevail.’

Read the rest of this entry »

By Susan Breau, Professor of International Law (Flinders University, Australia)

On 30 March 2011, the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter  adopted Resolution 1975 which urged the defeated President Gbagbo to immediately step aside and declared the situation in Ivory Coast to be a threat to international threat and security.

The resolution also imposed targeted sanctions (freezing of assets, travel bans) against Laurent Gbagbo and other members of his regime.  In its preamble it declared that the attacks currently taking place in Côte d’Ivoire against the civilian population could amount to crimes against humanity and that perpetrators of such crimes must be held accountable under international law and noting that the International Criminal Court may decide on its jurisdiction over the situation in Côte d’Ivoire on the basis of article 12, paragraph 3 of the Rome Statute.

For the purposes of this analysis the resolution also authorised the United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) to use “all necessary means to carry out its mandate to protect civilians” including preventing the use of heavy weapons.  Surprisingly, the resolution specifically mentioned ‘the French forces’ supporting UNOCI which indirectly authorised the use of force by French forces  in assisting the UN operation to fulfil its mandate.

Importantly, the resolution specificially referred to the ‘primary responsibility’ of each State to protect civilians, thus referring to the responsibility to protect albeit in an oblique way. It can be asserted that together with the recent resolution 1973 on Libya which authorised “all necessary means to protect civilians”, there is a growing body of international practice responding to massive violations of human rights with mandates to use force, if necessary, to protect civilians.

Read the rest of this entry »

By Loye Jide Olufemi (LL.B, LLM, BL), international lawyer and legal consultant on laws of war practicing in Nigeria and working on Human rights and international armed conflict issues. 

Ivory Coast, a former French Colony that was once admired and envied by its West African neighbours for its well developed economy and political stability has been plagued by continuous turmoil in recent years.

Historical Perspective

For more than 30yrs under its charismatic first president Felix Houphouët-Boigny, Ivory Coast prospered as a nation. However, Houphouët-Boigny’s death in 1993 brought an end to the country’s economic prosperity and political stability. Henri-Konan Bédié succeeded him in 1993, and won the 1995 election boycotted by the opposition led by Houphouet-Boigny’s Vice President: Alassane Ouattara. A coup–d’état orchestrated by General Guei forced Bedié and his government out in 1999, and presidential elections took place under his military dictatorship. Ouattara (whose party represented the majority group as reflected in the parliamentary votes) was banned from the presidential elections because of his alleged foreign parentage, while Gbagbo was allowed to run against Guei. The election results were disputed, but the Supreme Court eventually declared Gbagbo the winner. Guei, however, would not relinquish power, leading to clashes and many killings. General Guei was eventually deposed in an uprising and the declared winner of the elections Laurent Gbagbo was installed as the president.[1]

Read the rest of this entry »

26 October 2010 – An independent United Nations human rights expert said today that the regime created by the Security Council to counter terrorism is outside the scope of its powers, and called on the 15-member body to systematize its counter-terrorism measures and reporting duties of States under one framework rather than several resolutions.

Martin Scheinin, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, said that obligations in countering terrorism imposed on Member States by Security Council resolution 1373, adopted in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, “amount to a quasi-legislative measure that is unlimited in time and space.”

In his yearly report, which he presented to the General Assembly yesterday, Mr. Scheinin stated that whatever justification the Council may have had in September 2001 for adopting the resolution, “its continued application nine years later cannot be seen as a proper response to a specific threat to international peace and security.

Read the rest of this entry »

By Dr Juan Garcia Blesa

Among all the legal questions posed by the Iraq Inquiry, the one that most urgently needs an answer relates to the way international lawyers should look at the interpretation of the purported legal basis used by the UK to attack and invade another sovereign state in 2003.

With regard to this critical issue, the different legal approaches to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions should be assessed by previously revisiting their legal nature as exceptions to a fundamental international rule.

This note was recently used for the purpose of the Surrey International Law Centre (SILC) submission to the Iraq Inquiry on the correct approach to the interpretation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions relevant to the UK’s military intervention against Iraq. The full document is available here.

%d bloggers like this: