Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Scheldt River Dispute (Part II) : Hedwige Polder

See our previous blog of September 9, 2009 on this matter, Scheldt River Dispute (Part I)

New developments in the "eternal" Scheldt River dispute between Belgium and the Netherlands have led to calmer waters

In its weekly meeting of 9 October 2009 the Dutch Cabinet finally decided to compensate the loss of nature due to proposed dredging works in the Western Scheldt Estuary by means of flooding the Hedwige Polder. A controversy, because of strong opposition by the local population. The Cabinet concluded that no satisfying alternative was available. Flooding the polder will enable the Netherlands to fulfill its international and European treaty obligations on nature compensation and to ameliorate its relations with Belgium, especially the Flemish Region. Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende also stated that the Government intended to carry an administrative procedure on the deepening of the Western Scheldt before the Dutch Council of State to a successful conclusion. Aiming at the positive effects of new special dredging techniques, he is hoping to win the case with a stronger defence.

A short history of the Scheldt River dispute

The Scheldt is a transboundary river which originates in North-Western France and runs through Western Belgium and the South-West of the Netherlands. The Scheldt Estuary is shared between Belgium and the Netherlands. The Dutch section of the estuary is called the Western Scheldt, and is of vital importance as navigation channel to the port of Antwerp. Since the separation of Belgium from the Netherlands in 1839, the free navigation of the Scheldt and the maintenance and improvement of the navigation channel have been a bone of contention and legal controversy.


The Separation Treaty of 1839 contains some important provisions for the freedom of navigation on the Scheldt: the Statute of the Western Scheldt. This statute applies Article 108 to 177 of the Final Act of the Vienna Congress (1815) to all trans-boundary watercourses that form or cross the Dutch-Belgian border. These articles deal with the freedom of navigation, and the obligation of the States to carry out the necessary works ('travaux nécessaires') for safeguarding the navigability of the river. Ever since the conclusion of the Separation Treaty, the interpretation of the words 'travaux nécessaires' has been the most important legal Scheldt issue between the two countries and even continues to be in present day negotiations.

Several attemps have been made to revise the Scheldt Statute, but it was not until 1994 that significant progress was made. Both countries negotiated a package of new water agreements in which the issue of deepening the Western Scheldt was linked to issues of water division in the Meuse River and of water pollution of both the Rivers Scheldt and Meuse. Belgian State reforms and the conclusion of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes contributed to these developments.

In 1994 the Convention on the Protection of the Scheldt against Pollution was signed by France, the Netherlands and the Belgian Regions of Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels to improve water quality of the river. In 1995 Flanders and Netherlands agreed on the Convention on the Deepening of the Navigation Channel in the Western Scheldt.

Recent developments

A new Scheldt Convention was signed in 2002 to amend the 1994 Convention, thereby implementing new European Union community law, Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (Water Framework Directive). And finally in 2005 Flanders and the Netherlands reached agreement on a series of new treaties on the international management of the Scheldt Estuary, which enables an even further deepening of the navigation channel.

Clearly, all these developments have shed another light on the old Separation Treaty of 1839. Both parties do still interpret this Treaty differently as do various international lawyers, but new international and European environmental law demands a new approach. As a result a small polder, the Hedwige Polder, will be flooded to compensate loss of nature by deepening the navigation channel of the Western Scheldt.


Peace Palace Library catalogue

- systematic index: Scheldt

- subject heading: Scheldt River


Recommended books and articles

D'Argent, P., "L'évolution du Statut juridique de la Meuse et de l'Escaut : une mise en perspective des Accords de Charleville-Mézières du 26 avril 1994", in : Revue belge de droit international, 30 (1997), no. 1, pp. 133-171 [1]

Franckx, E. et C. Van Assche, "Les commissions fluviales bilatérales : développements récents concernant l'Escaut", in : Droit du pouvoir, pouvoir du droit : Mélanges offerts à Jean Salmon, Bruxelles : Bruylant, 2007, pp. 1241-1275 [2]

Gosseries, A., "The 1994 Agreements concerning the Protection of the Scheldt and Meuse Rivers", in : European Environmental Law Review, 4 (1995), no. 1, pp. 9-14 [3]

Limburg, G.H.W.M., "Joint Commissions under Regional Boundary Waters Treaties between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Neighbouring Countries : a Brief Survey", in : Hague Yearbook of International Law, 21 (2009), pp. 95-100 [4]

Maes, F., "The Content of the Agreements on the Protection of the Rivers Scheldt and Meuse", in : Revue belge de droit international, 30 (1997), no. 2, pp. 661-681 [5]

Meijerink, S.V., Conflict and Cooperation on the Scheldt River Basin : a Case Study of Decision Making on International Scheldt Issues between 1967 and 1997, Dordrecht [etc.] : Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999, XIV, 357 p [6]

Samkalden, C. en Th. Berger, Advies Verdieping van de Westerschelde in volkenrechtelijk perspectief, Amsterdam : Amsterdam International Law Clinic, 2001, 29 p [7]

Suy, E. en K. Wellens, "Is het water tussen België en Nederland niet diep genoeg ? : volkenrechtelijke aspecten van de verdieping van de Schelde", in : Rechtskundig Weekblad, 63 (1999), no. 17, 553-559 [8]

Tombeur, H., "Volkenrechtelijke aspecten van de exclusieve verdragen inzake de bescherming van Maas en Schelde", in : Tijdschrift voor bestuurswetenschappen en publiekrecht, 51 (1996), no. 4, pp. 211 [9]


Links

Internationale Scheldecommissie (in Dutch)

Commission internationale de l'Escaut (in French)

Ontwikkelingsschets 2010 Schelde-estuarium (in Dutch), with an English summary: Long term vision and 2010 Development Outline

Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technology

Since the birth of the world first test tube baby, Louise Brown in 1978, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) has helped many childless couples successfully produce families in all corners of the globe. Current developments regarding Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatments have sparked debates among religious groups in many Islamic nations resulting in many different viewpoints.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) involves treating a woman with hormones in order for the ovaries to produce several eggs. At the proper time in the treatment cycle, the follicles in which the eggs are developing are aspirated with a needle using ultrasound guidance. The eggs are then placed with sperm in the embryo culture laboratory where successfully fertilized oocytes (zygotes) are allowed to develop for several days. A limited number of zygotes are then transferred into the uterus cavity in hopes of achieving a successful pregnancy. [1]

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) have thus caused major changes in human reproduction which in turn affects the way in which Islam and religion in general regard procreation. In Islam, attempts to cure infertility can be considered mandatory. In Islamic nations as well as in most countries the family functions as a cornerstone in society. Children are therefore highly desired. However, in Islamic countries, if allowed, IVF treatments can only be practiced if it involves a husband and a wife and if it is performed during the span of their marriage. [2]

With the exception of Iran, most Islamic nations do not allow third party donations. In the late 1990’s Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a religious proclamation or a ‘ fatwa’, that allows for donor technologies, eggs as well as sperm donation to be used. [3] This puts Iran, a predominantly Shi’a Muslim nation, in an extraordinary position opposite the Sunni Islamic World where all forms of third party donations are strictly prohibited by religious decrees and Islamic medical ethics.
In 2003, the Iranian parliament passed Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) legislation with the approval of the Guardian Council, a religious commission that must endorse a bill before it becomes law. The law determines that egg donation is allowed contingent on the condition that the husband marries the egg donor in a temporary marriage according to Shi'a Islam.[4] This way, all three parties involved are married.
Direct sperm donation, on the other hand, is prohibited by law since a sperm donor cannot marry a woman who is already married and whose husband is infertile. Noteworthy is that Iranian law does allow for embryo donation, which consists of an egg - and a sperm cell, to be used to deal with both male a female infertility. This means that an embryo can come from a married couple and can subsequently be given to another married couple.
However, the legal process of artificial insemination does not allow for a woman to donate her own egg cell in case she has an infertile husband. She is therefore unable to strengthen biological relations with the child.
Nonetheless, these recent developments regarding Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) have reshaped traditional concepts of family life and parenthood in Iran. This also demonstrates that ancient religious practices and modern technology can be reconciled in such a manner that both can be advanced.


[1] The influence of Catholicism, Islam and Judaism on the ART, Bioethical and Legal debate; A comparitive Survey of ART in Italy, Egypt and Israel by M.R. Bundren in University of Detroit Mercy Law Review, Vol. 84 (5) 2006/2007, p. 720

[2]Religious views regarding treatment of infertility by ART
by J.Schenker in Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, Vol. 9, No.1, 1992.

[3] The ‘ Iranian ART Revolution’: Infertility, Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), and third-party donation in the Isamic Republic of Iran by Mohammad Jalal Abbasi – Shavazi, Marcia C. Inhorn, Hajiieh Bibi Razeghi-Nasrabad, and Ghasem Toloo in the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 4:2, 2007, p. 4
[4] Making Muslim babies; IVF and gamete donation in Sunni versus Shi’a Islam by M.C. Inhorn in Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 30 (4), 2006, p 427-450



Islam

Procreation and Islam

Iran

Shia Islam

Biomedicine and Human Rights

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mare Liberum 1609-2009


A Great Grotian Gathering took place at the Peace Palace on December 12, 2009.
The International Conference on “The History and Influence of Mare Liberum” brought together Grotian specialists from all over the globe. It was the conclusion of a “Mare Liberum” festival in The Hague, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Grotius’ famous book “Mare Liberum”.
The program offered a wide variety of distinguished speakers on various perceptions of Grotius’ work, ranging from the colonial view to the private and international law view in the morning session, to modern international law of the sea and piracy in the afternoon parallel sessions.
Highlight of the conference was the presentation of the first copy of a new English translation of Mare Liberum to the President of the International Court of Justice Judge Owada :
Hugo Grotius Mare liberum 1609-2009. Original Latin and English Translation”. Edited and annotated by Robert Feenstra, General Introduction by Jeroen Vervliet. Leiden : Brill 2009. ISBN 9789004177017.

It is a beautifully edited book with well chosen illustrations (178 pages), two introductions, a facsimile edition of the Latin text (Leiden, 1609), the new revised English translation and precious indexes. In his general introduction Jeroen Vervliet explains why Grotius wrote Mare Liberum in one of the most turbulent episodes of Dutch history, how he conceived and formulated his ideas, and how his opponents like William Welwood , John Selden and Seraphim de Freitas reacted.
Robert Feenstra, professor emeritus of legal history at Leiden, in his introduction, explains his almost lifelong occupation with Grotius. He describes the process of the meticulous verification of references, corrections, sources, annotations and different translations, comparing various editions. The result is a fascinating story of scientific research that yielded this critical edition.

This new book fits perfectly in the Grotian research tradition at the Peace Palace Library, started by Jacob Ter Meulen (librarian from 1924 till 1952) and now continued by Jeroen Vervliet, the present librarian, and professor Feenstra who made ample use of the Peace Palace Library Grotius collection.
The Peace Palace Library has started a “Mare Liberum – Wiki – Research Guide”, a new way to facilitate research, offering easy access to library material, bibliographic information and external links. This guide is a flexible tool embedded in a network of thematic guides, to keep researchers up to date with the latest development in this field.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Today, Monday 7 December 2009, governmental representatives from 192 countries are starting two weeks of negotiations in Copenhagen which should eventually result in a new global treaty on climate change. Two years ago, at the UN climate conference held in Bali, governments agreed, with the adoption of the Bali Road Map, to start work on a new global agreement attempting to forge a global framework on carbon emissions to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2012.

In Italy in July 2009, the G8 and a number of large developing countries agreed that the average temperature rise since pre-industrial times should be limited to 2°C. In principle the new treaty should curb the growth in carbon emissions enough to keep the world within that limit.

In order to achieve this goal developed countries will need to agree to cut their emissions more aggressively between now and 2020, while developing countries should curb the future growth of their emissions. Developed countries will also have to agree on substantial financial assistance to the developing world to introduce renewable technologies and other climate-control measures and on the governance structures that will have to be created to oversee this. A third area for discussion is the carbon trading scheme aimed at ending the destruction of the world's forests by 2030.

The overall aim is to ensure that the world's output of CO2 begins to decline by 2020. If this is not achieved, temperatures will likely rise by more than 2°C and take the world into uncontrollable global warming according to the predictions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is a scientific intergovernmental body set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide decision-makers with an objective source of information about climate change.

The Copenhagen conference takes place within the context of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), adopted at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. The meeting in Copenhagen is the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UNFCCC. According to the Bali Road Map the framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012 needs to be agreed upon within the next two weeks.

Whatever the outcome in Copenhagen, further negotiations in 2010 will certainly be necessary for the final conclusion of any new climate change treaty.

Friday, December 4, 2009

SINTERKLAAS


We regret to say
No new blog today

Our message is in rhyme
Because this is the time

When we in Holland celebrate
Tomorrow evening very late

Sinterklaas’ birthday
Who, so the legends say

Sails to Holland every year
To bring joy, but also fear

For those who have been good this year
many presents will appear

The ones who have been bad and vain
Will be taken back to Spain

Next week after these festivities
We’ll continue our blog activities!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cyberwar: from fiction to fact

Computers rather than missiles could pose the biggest security threat of the future with nations able to cripple rivals by using cyberwarfare. Computer strikes could damage a country's infrastructure as well as defence equipment, cutting off communications, power supplies and military command systems. Major interference on a large scale can be generated by computer viruses. A computer hacker can launch an attack by infiltrating databases and destroying critical data in any industry, company or government organization. Imagine the devastation of a deliberate power outage or shortage in the water supply. We’ve seen the dire results when this occurs because of a natural disaster. Such conflict has the ability to completely incapacitate an economy. The use of computers and internet in conducting warfare in cyberspace, is becoming increasingly more sophisticated.
Players can be individuals, companies, governments, or military and unlike traditional conflict. This could also occur on a national, regional or global scale.
According to this report major countries and nation-states are engaged in a "Cyber Cold War," amassing cyberweapons, conducting espionage, and testing networks in preparation for using the Internet to conduct war. In particular, countries gearing up for cyberoffensives are the U.S., Israel, Russia, China, and France. Pinpointing the source of cyberattacks is usually difficult if not impossible, the motivations can only be speculated upon, making the whole cyberwar debate an intellectual exercise at this point.
Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, speculates for instance that the July 4 attacks denial-of-service on websites in the U.S. and South Korea could have been a test by an foreign entity to see if flooding South Korean networks and the transcontinental communications between the U.S. and South Korea would disrupt the ability of the U.S. military in South Korea to communicate with military leaders in Washington, D.C., and the Pacific Command in Hawaii.
There have been earlier attacks which indicates cyberwarfare too. Estonian government and commercial sites suffered debilitating denial-of-service attacks in 2007, and last year sites in Georgia were attacked during the South Ossetia war. According to the McAfee report, orchestrated by civilian attackers.

Cyberwarfare and international law
Existing international law in the area of cybercrime falls under three main umbrellas: the UN Charter, the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), and the Convention on Cybercrime. The UN Charter provides baseline law for interstate aggression, but is limited to considerations about force, which may not apply to cyberwarfare. LOAC conventions govern acts during wartime. The Convention on Cybercrime is a multilateral treaty that specifically addresses computer-related crime. Jon Jurich states, in his article in the Chicago Journal of International law, that these current international laws, attempt to govern the use of application of Information Warfare and to limit its use. They do not, however, impose a ban on weapons designed to disrupt electronic communications. Jurich concludes that the fast developments of using information warfare makes a new governing law, a necessity.
Cyberwar is no fiction anymore, it is a reality!

Books and articles in the Peace Palace Library Catalogue on cyberwar

Friday, November 20, 2009

400th Trade Dispute for World Trade Organization (WTO)

On 1 January 2010 the World Trade Organization (WTO) will celebrate its 15th birthday. Shortly before the anniversary the 7th Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference will take place for the second time in Geneva, Switzerland, from 30 November to 2 December 2009. Although Article IV: 1 of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO stipulates that there shall be "a Ministerial Conference composed of representatives of all the Members, which shall meet at least once every two years……." it has been almost four years since the last conference in Hong Kong in 2005. Trade ministers will be discussing the general theme “The WTO, the Multilateral Trading System and the Current Global Economic Environment”. Unlike the six previous Ministerial conferences the Geneva Ministerial is not intended to be a negotiating session, but will be devoted to good governance and a review of the functioning of the WTO. The ongoing Doha Development Agenda negotiations are being dealt with seperately. The WTO is still awaiting successful conclusion on these negotiations.

On the subject of dispute settlement the WTO has more reason to celebrate. With an average of 27 disputes per year the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) received its 400th trade dispute on 2 November 2009. Canada requested consultations with the European Communities over the importation and marketing of seal products (European Communities — Measures Prohibiting the Importation and Marketing of Seal Products (DS400)), a few days later followed by a similar request by Norway (DS401)).

Both cases concern the recently introduced Regulation (EC) No. 1007/2009 of the European Parliament and the Council on Trade in Seal Products which prohibits the marketing of products derived from seals on the EU market.

After many years of campaigning by European citizens the new legislation addresses EU citizens' concerns with regard to the cruel hunting methods of seals. Seals are hunted mainly for their skin, fat, and meat, but there is a rising market for omega-3 capsules containing seal oil. The methods used to kill seals and their effectiveness vary considerably. These include shooting seals with bullets, clubbing, and catching them in traps and nets. Seal products include fur used in clothing and oil used in vitamin supplements. Canada, Greenland and Namibia account for around 60 percent of the 900,000 seals killed each year. The remaining 40 percent are killed in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Britain and the United States.

The Regulation applies to seal products produced in the EU and imported products. It does not apply to transit through the EU. The marketing prohibition enters into force nine months after the entry into force of the regulation. During this nine month period the Commission will adopt and implement legislation necessary for the limited exemptions which are foreseen to respect the fundamental economic and social interests of Inuit and other indigenous communities, and the need to conduct hunting for the purpose of sustainable management of marine resources on a non-profit basis and for non-commercial reasons.

Judging by the statement of the European Commission’s spokesperson for Trade, Lutz Guellner, that the Commission would vigorously defend its position on this issue, the case will probably go all the way. According to Guellner the claim that the EU is not respecting its WTO obligations was unfounded. The measures adopted were not protectionist nor discriminatory and respond to concerns about the killing of seals and their commercialization which are widely held in the EU.


Note:

See for other existing EU Seals legislation: Council Directive 83/129/EEC ; Commission Directive 85/44/EEC and Council Directive 89/370/EEC

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Innocent passage in the territorial sea

It's not easy to define innocent passage in the territorial sea. The US Department of Defense gave it a try. I would like to pay attention to the definition McLaughlin gives in his shortly published book United Nations Naval Peace Operations in the Territorial Sea: "Although innocent passage is a single unitary concept, at first glance it appears to comprise two separable elements"(page 103).

The concept of passage is defined in article 18 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego Bay, 1982) as 'continious and expeditious' navigation through the territorial sea from and to any other sea zone. The passage, to be characterised as innocent, must not be prejudicial to the peace, good order and security of the coastal state (article 19 UNCLOS III).

Article 30 UNCLOS III states that 'If any warship does not comply with the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning passage through the territorial sea and disregards any request for compliance therewith which is made to it, the coastal State may require it to leave the territorial sea immediately.'

Is the coastal state allowed to use force, and if so to what extent? What if the warship is acting in its ‘normal mode’ of operation?

In the Corfu Channel incident British warships passing the Corfu Channel were fired upon by Albanian guns. The warships were in innocent passage but their minesweeping operation afterwards was not innocent and constituted a breach of the territorial sovereignty of Albania.

The International Court of Justice in its judgment Corfu Channel (9 April 1949) ruled that

"It is, in the opinion of the Court, generally recognized and in accordance with international custom that States in time of peace have a right to send their warships through straits used for international navigation between two parts of the high seas without the previous authorization of a coastal State, provided that the passage is innocent. Unless otherwise prescribed in an international convention, there is no right for a coastal State to prohibit such passage through straits in time of peace."


McLaughlin argues that because the ICJ’s judgment was limited to the issue of warship passage through international straits, the subject matter of the Corfu Channel case is now governed by the regime of ‘transit passage’ and not of that of innocent passage.

A more recent incident took place at the Yellow Sea. At November, 10th Two Korean naval ships clashed and exchanged fire leaving the North Korean patrol ship set on fire. In peacetime the regime of innocent passage would be applicable here, because South Korea claimed the North Korean vessel was entering its territorial waters. The South Korean ships fired several warning shots after a patrol vessel crossed a disputed maritime border in the Yellow Sea off the west coast of the peninsula, said Seoul's joint chiefs of staff. Unfortunately the Koreas are still at war...

McLaughlin continues to explain two different schools concerning innocent passage. Some consider innocent passage as a concession of the coastal state; the implication would be that regimes require prior notification and authorisation for warship passage. Others prefer to characterise the territorial sea as part of the oceans and seas, the right of innocent passage must be viewed as an internationally defined and allocated right. The consequence is that regimes of prior approval for warship passage would be inconsistent with the nature of the territorial sea. (page 109).

Source: McLaughlin, R., United Nations naval peace operations in the territorial sea, Leiden : Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2009, XIV, 260 p


+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Books and articles in the Peace Palace Library Catalogue about innocent passage

Books and articles in the Peace Palace Library Catalogue about transit passage


External links:

Relevant articles United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea about transit passage

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fresh air for the EU













After 2 years finally the last ratification instrument of the Treaty of Lisbon (2007), the signature of the Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus, has been implemented. The treaty will enter into force on 1 December 2009.
This was made possible after the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic had announced its judgment this week, in very clear language, that the Treaty of Lisbon amending the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht 1992) and the Treaty establishing the European Community (Rome 1957) and its ratification are not inconsistent with the constitutional order of the Czech Republic.

Apart from the fear of loosing sovereign powers the ongoing debate on the Beneš-Decrees and the Czech Restitution Laws played an important role in the retarded acceptance of the Lisbon Treaty. The incompatability of these laws with the current European Convention on Human Rights, could invoke new claims from the Sudeten Germans, who were expelled from Czechoslovakia, deprived of their citizenship and properties after World War II.

But the Czech delegation negotiated an opt-out from the European Charter on Fundamental Rights, which is according to art 6 of the Treaty on the European Union as amended by the Lisbon Treaty, an integral part of the treaties.
Now the European institutions can start working on a more democratic, transparent and efficient Union. They must choose a new Commission, a new EU president (president of the European Council), and a person for the new post of High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

Then this unique international law phenomenon, this Union of Citizens and Member States (definition by Jaap Hoeksma, accepted by several gremia, a.o. the Dutch Parliament) can become also a really democratic Union.

Links to the PPL catalogue


Friday, October 30, 2009

The Special Commission on the implementation of the 2007 Child Support Convention and of the Protocol on Applicable Law

From 10 to 17 November a Special Commission of the Conference on Private International Law (hereafter HCCH) on the implementation of the 2007 Child Support Convention and of the Protocol on Applicable Law will meet at the Peace Palace in The Hague.[1] The Special Commission of the HCCH will discuss the implementation of the 2007 Child Support Convention and of the Protocol on Applicable Law.

The Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (2007) and the Protocol on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations (2007) are the most recent conventions of the HCCH.

The Hague Conference on Private International Law is a global inter-governmental organization. The purpose of the HCCH is to work for the “progressive unification” of private international law rules.[2] The HCCH has nearly 70 Members (68 States and the European Community) from all continents. As a melting pot of different legal traditions it develops and services multilateral legal instruments, which respond to global needs.[3] According to the HCCH, an increasing number of non-Member States are also becoming Parties to the Hague Conventions. As a result, the work of the Conference encompasses 130 countries around the world.[4]

In case a parent entitled to child support stays behind with the child while the parent who is liable for support lives abroad, it is very difficult to receive maintenance payments from the liable parent. The 2007 Child Support Convention is a necessary modernization and improvement of the existing, outdated international system.

The new Convention aims to resolve the problems of unpaid or uncollectible child support and the problems of costly, complicated, slow and under-utilized international procedures. It will provide for a simplified procedure to recover child support internationally. The Convention is designed to respond to the needs of children and other dependants by providing international procedures which are simple, swift, cost-effective, accessible and fair.[5]


Related links to the catalog of the Peace Palace Library:


Links:


[1]: The meeting is open only to delegates or experts designated by the Members of the Hague Conference, invited non-Member States and International Organisations that have been granted observer status.
[2]: As quoted from the Hague Conference on Private International Law website
[3]: Ibid.
[4]: Ibid.
[5] As quoted from the HCCH Press Release concerning the Signing of the Final Act of the New Convention on International Child Support

Thursday, October 22, 2009

EU Enlargement Strategy and Progress Reports 2009

On 14 October 2009 the European Commission adopted its annual strategy document explaining its policy on EU enlargement. The document includes also a summary of the progress made over the last twelve months by each candidate and potential candidate: Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, as well as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo.
Furthermore, the 2009 progress reports were published on the same date, where the Commission services monitor and assess the achievements of each of the candidate and potential candidates over the last year. That "enlargement package" of information contains also a multi-annual financial framework setting out the financial assistance available to support the reform efforts of the candidate and potential candidates over the next years.

Some suggestions for further reading on this topic :

EU key documents :Candidate countries:Potential candidates:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Human Rights Institutions in Indonesia

Addressing past human rights violations in Indonesia has proven to be a complicated and often challenging task. Massive atrocities and large scale human rights violations mostly took place during the 32 year rule of President Suharto and were never properly investigated or prosecuted. After Suharto’s New Order Regime came to an end in 1998, Indonesia’s human rights community was determined to establish legal instruments in order to prevent human rights violations from reoccurring in the future and to help reconcile Indonesian society by bringing the perpetrators of these human rights violations to justice.

The first step taken to realize these goals was the adoption of the Law on the Human Rights Courts (Law number 26/2000) in 2000 which provides a legal basis to hear and rule upon cases of gross human rights violations that have occurred prior to the coming into force of this law. In 2004, the Indonesian Parliament adopted Law number 27/2004 which determined that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to be established to investigate human rights violations that occurred prior to the entry of the law on the Human Rights Court.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was also authorized to award compensation to victims and victims’ families as well as recommend amnesty to perpetrators of human rights violations. This way, victims and victims’ families have the option to choose an alternative form of mediation as an out -of -court – resolution to settle their cases. Both Laws determine that the Human Rights Courts and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have the authority to take on cases regarding the most serious human rights violations such as genocide and crimes against humanity. Noteworthy is that the legal definition of genocide and crimes against humanity are in line with those of the Statute of Rome of the International Criminal Court (ICC) even though Indonesia is not a party to the ICC. Unfortunately, the Law on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission showed some severe operational weaknesses which would not enable it to operate in a fair, just and effective manner. For instance, it was determined that a victim of human rights violations can only obtain restitution when the perpetrator has been granted amnesty. As a result, the Constitutional Court declared that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was unconstitutional and had no legal basis. This was considered a major setback for the victim community as this decision closed off one legal avenue to obtain redress for gross human rights violations. The Human Rights Courts has also demonstrated a reluctance to take on cases mainly due to political will. Although human rights remain difficult to implement in practice, these new Laws and regulations have contributed to a remarkable change in Indonesia’s human rights sphere.

Today, discussions on human rights violations take place in the public sphere whereas 10 years ago this would not have been possible. Manfred Nowak, Special United Nations Rapporteur on Torture, Cruel and Inhuman Treatment has stated that Indonesia has made progress in improving human rights, especially with regard to combating torture and domestic violence against women. During the Parliamentary and Presidential elections that took place in April and July of this year, many NGO’s and human rights activists have called on voters not to vote for candidates who are being accused of committing human rights violations. Election results did indeed prove that many Indonesians are no longer willing to vote for candidates with a record of human rights violations. These significant changes can be considered a huge leap forward in bringing justice to victims of human rights violations and ending a culture of impunity. Enforcing human rights protection in daily life will continue to be a struggle but the lack of results can never be a reason to give up this struggle for justice.

Books and articles in the Peace Palace Library on the combinations indonesia and human rights , indonesia and crimes against humanity, indonesia and genocide and indonesia and reconciliation.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hugo Grotius’ Mare Liberum 1609-2009

The Hague celebrates the 400th anniversary of the publication of Hugo Grotius’ Mare Liberum (Leiden, Publishing House of Elsevier) with an extensive program of activities. It commemmorates the fact that Grotius wrote his book in The Hague with exhibitions, theater/musical plays, films, publications and lectures in museums and libraries.

Mare liberum is a small pocket-sized booklet of 68 pages in latin, the lingua franca of the educated elite of that time, with the official title: Mare Liberum sive De iure quod Batavis competit ad Indicana commercia dissertatio.
In thirteen chapters Grotius states his ideas of the principle of the ‘Free Sea’. The sea was to be considered international territory and all nations were free to use it for trade. In view of the Dutch competing with the Spanish, Portuguese and the English over navigating, trading and fishing issues, this was a controversial view. In reaction to Grotius’ view John Selden (1584–1654) wrote Mare Clausum.
Grotius’ ideas eventually became the foundation of the modern regime of the high seas. The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea shows Grotius’ heritage in the principle of the Common Heritage of Mankind.
The Peace Palace Library has an original copy of Mare Liberum (TMD 541, in the famous Ter Meulen/Diermanse Bibliographie de Grotius). There are probably 30 to 50 first editions in the world.
Excellent reading on Mare Liberum is The Free Sea. Grotius. Edited and with an introduction by David Armitage. ISBN 0865974306 (2004).
Two new translations of Mare Liberum, in Dutch by Arthur Eyffinger and in English by Robert Feenstra and Jeroen Vervliet are due before the end of the year.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Transboundary Water Cooperation in the Newly Independent States

With the emergence of the Newly Independent States (NIS) in the 1990s, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, new borders cut through Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. As a result, many water allocation and pollution problems that were previously national issues within the Soviet Union have become transboundary issues.

This process of change poses new challenges to regional cooperation. There is a considerable inter-dependance in the NIS region with regard to water resources as they are crucial for life, economy and political stability. Therefore, managing their transboundary waters requires a new and jointly negotiated legal and regulatory framework.

In this, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) - and in particular its secretariat for the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Helsinki, 17 March 1992) - takes a leading role. The UNECE is active in programmes and initiatives aimed at peaceful and sustainable management of water resources in the region. In its recent publication Transboundary Water Cooperation : Trends in the Newly Independent States (2009) the outcome of the UNECE Water Convention's project on "Transboundary Water Cooperation in the Newly Independant States" is explained. It builds on and further develops the conclusions from the High-level Meeting on the Strategic Partnership on Water for Sustainable Development held in Moscow on 5-6 March 2003.

Programmes and further initiatives in the field of transboundary water cooperation in the NIS Region will contribute to the further development of international water law. The Peace Palace Library has an extensive collection on this topic.:

PPL systematic code : Boundary waters or lakes, international waterways and canals

PPL systematic code : Other international waterways, etc.

PPL keyword combination : Central Asia + Water

PPL keyword combination : Caucusus + Water

PPL keyword : International Watercourses

PPL keyword : Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Peace Palace Library news

New blog on international law news
Our library staff is immersed in international law news in many forms on a daily basis. We read websites, newspapers, blogs, news of international organizations and many other things. We decided to bring this international law news as a kind of extra alerting service in a new blog on international law news. Read it on our library website or use RSS to stay up to date.

in the library
The Library has subscribed on Swisslex, the most comprehensive legal database in Switzerland. Swisslex provides full-text access to judicial decisions and academic resources about Swiss law, both federal as cantonal case law and legislation, along with law journals, law books, and a unique thesaurus tool that translates search terms into any of Switzerland's official languages. Publications include Gesetzesumgehung im internationalen Privatrecht, Schweizerische Zeitschrift für internationales und europäisches and Schweizerisches Jahrbuch für Europarecht. Swisslex is for inhouse use only.

More on publications related to Switzerland: go to our useful country list, or choose the option find by country on our home page.

New feature: QR codes
QR codes, or Quick Reponse codes, are two-dimensional bar codes containing information like phone numbers, text, URLs, or other things. These codes can be scanned by camera smartphones, like the iPhone or Android phone. Using a special scanning application, like Google’s free Barcode Scanner, you can scan the QR code to read the information hidden inside it. Your phone will automatically take you to a website or get you the library’s contact information for example, right on your phone. The QR on the left hand side of the home page will take you to a phone friendly version of our library blog, and we are exploring new ways of using these codes to take you to bibliographic information.


Want to try it out?

Try to scan the image to the left to view the library's contact information!

Learn more about QR codes on wikipedia and the website 2-de code.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Messages in Miniature

Postage stamps were originally used as denotation of the prepayment of postal charges. Back in the 19th century stamps issued usually depicted heads of state, crests or flags and occasionally commemorated an event. In the 1920s this changed, when governments began to realize that postage stamps, by conveying cultural or political messages, could also be used as an inexpensive communication medium that could have a real impact on their citizens and on the people of other nations. Symbols like the communist emblem of scythe and hammer, swastika, heroes and heroines etc., together with inscriptions or slogans aimed at national identity-building and at spreading of official government views, started playing a very forward part in stamp design. This is one of the reasons that led many governments to issue more and more stamps.

Stamp issues could have unexpected side effects. For example, on 29 June 2005 Mexico released a set of five stamps to commemorate Memín Pinguín, a well known comic book character in Latin America. African-American groups and US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson were enraged over these stamps because they portrayed 'an urban black boy with large lips, bugged-out eyes and monkey-like gestures that smack of "Sambo-type" images'. Even the White House and Congress got involved. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the stamps' images 'have no place in today's society'. Mexican President Fox was baffled by the US reaction and stated: ' I would suggest to them that first they read the magazines, get the information and then express publicly their opinion. We know that all Mexicans love the character.' He also stated that the US had a total lack of knowledge of and respect for the Mexican culture. Mexicans have never interpreted cartoon character Speedy Gonzales as being offensive.

Postage stamps have also been used in territorial issues. For more than half a century postage stamps have played their part in the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the UK over the Falkland Islands/Malvinas Islands and in occasionally overlapping Antarctic territorial claims. Although Article IV of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty puts aside any disputes over territorial claims as long as it is in force, there are seven countries with historic claims prior to the Treaty. Of these countries Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, UK and New Zealand issue postage stamps on a yearly base to back up their claims.
Lately the war over stamp issues between Argentina and the UK is hotting up again. In a letter dated 23 April 2009 sent to the UN Secretary General, Argentina rejected "the attempt by the United Kingdom to issue postage stamps on behalf of the so-called and illegitimate 'governments' of the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the alleged 'British Antarctic Territory'" In its reply dated 19 May 2009 the UK stated that it stands by its decision to issue postage stamps from the disputed territories of and around the Falkland Islands, and said that it had no doubt about its sovereignty over the disputed territories, and referred to Article IV of the Antarctic Treaty of which both the UK and Argentina are parties to. On the 'Day of Argentine sovereignty rights over Malvinas, South Atlantic islands and the Antarctic sector' (10 June 2009) Argentina commemorated June 10, 1829 when the nascent Argentine government created the 'Political and Military Command of the Malvinas islands and adjacent areas to Cape Horn on the Atlantic ocean' with a set of stamps.





Another interesting aspect of postage stamps is that by looking at how well postal, telegraph and telephone services are run, you can tell how stable a government in a country or territory is. In the case of the Falklands this for the moment is clear.



-
Jack Child : Miniature Messages : The Semiotics and Politics of Latin American Postage Stamps. Durham : Duke University Press, 2008. [Not available at the Peace Palace Library]
- Falkland Islands
- Falklands propaganda philately
-
History of the Falklands
- Falkland Islands Sovereignty Question [Peace Palace Library Catalogue Titles]
- Postage Stamps Tell the Tale
- Sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (Wikipedia)
- Stamps issued by Argentina related to Antarctica and the Falkland Islands

Monday, September 14, 2009

ICTY Judgement in Florence Hartmann Case

On Monday, 14 September, the Specially Appointed Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted French journalist Florence Hartmann for contempt of the Tribunal (Case No. IT-02-54-R77.5, full Judgement [PDF], Judgement Summary [PDF]).

On 27 August 2008 Florence Hartmann was charged with two counts of contempt of court, pursuant to Rule 77(A)(ii) of the Rules of Procedure, for knowingly interfering with the administration of justice by disclosing the contents, purported effect and confidential nature of two Tribunal decisions.

Hartmann, who served as public spokesperson for former ICTY chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte from 2000 to 2006, allegedly disclosed protected information relating to the Tribunal's proceedings against Slobodan Milošević in her book ‘Paix et châtiment : les guerres secrètes de la politique et de la justice internationales’ in 2007 and in an article entitled ‘Vital Genocide Documents Concealed’, published in January 2008.

The disclosed information concerned two confidential Appeals Chamber decisions not to publicise documents from Serbia's Supreme Defense Council given to the ICTY by Serbia for the purpose of the Milošević trial. These documents allegedly show the involvement of the Serbian government in the atrocities committed in the Bosnian war in the 1990s and might have supported Bosnia's efforts to hold Serbia liable for genocide in its case before the International Court of Justice.

During the trial both Hartmann's lawyer and numerous human-rights groups and NGOs in the former Yugoslavia pointed out that the information revealed by Hartmann was already in the public domain and that a conviction would be limiting free speech.

In its judgement the Specially Appointed Chamber stressed that “a decision remains confidential until a Chamber explicitly decides otherwise.” The Chamber found that, although some of the information disclosed by Hartmann was already in the public domain, it did not equal the confidential information referred to in the charges. In view of her former position at the ICTY the Chamber was also convinced that Hartmann knew that her disclosure was done in breach of a court order.

Regarding the sentence the Chamber considered that the conduct of Hartmann might deter other states from cooperating with the Tribunal in providing evidence which in turn would seriously hamper the work of the Tribunal. However, the Chamber also took into account, inter alia, that part of the information provided by Hartmann was already public. She was fined 7,000 Euros.

See also the blog written by William Schabas, "Hartmann Convicted of Contempt of the Tribunal."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Scheldt River Dispute

The eternal Scheldt River Dispute

Again there is serious controversy between the Netherlands and Belgium, or rather the Region of Flanders, about one of the 4 Scheldt Treaties of 21 December 2005 regulating the execution of the development outline 2010 of the Scheldt Basin, of vital interest for the access to the Antwerp harbour.
The Dutch Council of State issued July 28 a provisional ruling against the dredging works on the grounds of regional environmental reasons. The citizens of the province of Zeeland are strongly opposed to the flooding of the Hedwige Polder, land once recovered from the sea. This flooding is required to compensate lost nature. Two Dutch commissions advised the flooding as the best solution.
Also the EU Commission is very critical about this Dutch approach. Member States are free in their management of European protected aereas. In this case the European Commission fears deterioration of nature.
Since centuries the Scheldt River has been a bone of discontent between the Netherlands and Belgium. Several treaties, 1648 (Muenster), 1815 (Vienna) and the Treaty of 1839 allready regulated free navigation and commerce on the Scheldt River. The 2005 treaties include an arbitration clause for disputes. The Flanders government, the competent authority, already threatened to start proceedings. They concluded that the Dutch government does not implement the Treaty at all.
Dutch government is again trying to find another solution, saving the polder and the environment.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cultural Diversity

On Monday the 17th of August 2009 the Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International Relations of the Hague Academy of International Law started. The Centre takes place annually at the Academy and Library building of the Peace Palace. The purpose of the Centre is to bring together advanced young scholars of a high standard from all over the world.

The Centre is a programme of the The Hague Academy for International Law. The Academy proposes a different research theme each year. This year the topic is 'Cultural Diversity'. Cultural diversity is however a very broad topic which touches many fields of law, such as for example private international law, family law and public international law, but also the legal status and rights of minorities.

The Centre only accepts a limited number of participants in order to ensure a high standard. The participants exchange ideas and views about their research regarding this year's topic, together with the two directors of studies for the coming three weeks. This will ultimately result in a collection of articles.

The director for the English speaking participants is Dr. Nadjima Yassari, Senior Research Fellow from the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Germany. The director for the French speaking participants is Prof. Dr. Marie-Claire Foblets from the Faculty of Social Sciences Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium.

The best research work of the Centre participants about the topic of this year will be published collectively by the Academy.

On the website of the Peace Palace Library you can find a link to the wiki research guide and bibliography on Cultural Diversity which has been created for the Centre. When you visit the wiki you will be taken to a selection of related literature about cultural diversity that is part of the collection of the Peace Palace Library. The wiki research document about cultural diversity also contains links to the website and documents of international organisations related to cultural diversity.


Related links:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Georgia on his mind. From R2P toR2I?

Russian President Medvedev, also supreme military commander, introduced an amendment to the Russian Defense Law to allow Russian armed forces to intervene beyond Russian borders. If the Duma, the Russian Parliament, accepts the amendment, Russian troops can be used abroad to “rebuff or prevent an aggression against another state” or “protect Russian citizens abroad.” The amendment was required to clarify the present law regarding the situation in Georgia. Critical voices in Russia said there was no legal basis to send troops to intervene in South Ossetia in 2008. The problem was solved by saying that Russia did not send an army but peacekeepers to the region.

The anniversary of the conflict in South Ossetia and recent tensions in the Caucasus made President Medvedev react. Russia always maintained that its intervention in Georgia was justified by the principle of “responsibility to protect” (R2P).

Mr Gareth Evans, enthousiastic supporter of this rather new humanitarian principle of R2P, has serious doubts about this interpretation. R2P was accepted in 2005 by the world leaders in UN General Assembly as the principle that they have a general “responsibility to protect” human beings from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. See resolution “World Summit Outcome 2005”, A/RES/60/1 (October 24, 2005)., paras 138-9.
Although R2P refers to states responsible for their own people, with extreme exceptions, soon critics expressed their fears that R2P might legitimize armed interference, calling it R2I (right to intervene).

Mr Evans, former Australian foreign minister and campaigner for R2P, wrote a major work on this concept : “The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All.” (2008).

Monday, August 3, 2009

International Court of Justice sets date for public hearings on Kosovo independence


The Hague, 29 July 2009. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced that it will hold public hearings starting on 1 December 2009 on the question of Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence early last year. The United Nations and individual Member States will be able to present oral statements and comments at the ICJ’s headquarters in The Hague, as will the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) of Kosovo.

On 8 October 2008, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted resolution 63/3 (A/63/L.2) in which, referring to Article 65 of the Statute of the Court, it requested the Court to render an advisory opinion on the following question :

"Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?"

Some 36 Member States and the authors of the unilateral declaration of independence by the PISG have already filed written statements on the question, and they have until 15 September to indicate to the ICJ whether they wish to participate in the public hearings. Fourteen States and the authors of the unilateral declaration of independence by the PISG have also submitted written comments on the other written statements.

Peace Palace Library keywords : Kosovo and Independence

ICJ on this case, see website

Thursday, July 30, 2009


The European Court of Human Rights ‘Irish abortion ban case’

The European Court of Human Rights has agreed to hear the challenge by three women in Ireland to the Irish government’s ban on abortion in a full hearing before its grand chamber of 17 judges. The three Irish women, represented by the Irish Family Planning Association , claim their rights were denied when they were forced to terminate their pregnancies outside Ireland.

The court in Strasbourg adjudicates on human rights issues among the 47 states of the Council of Europe. Any decision of the court is binding on all lower chambers and on all member states and must be complied with, except if it consists of an advisory opinion. The court’s decision to hold a hearing before the grand chamber rather than a smaller chamber of seven judges is regarded by legal experts as a sign of the significance of the issues at stake. This abortion case has a particular gravity because it is the first direct challenge to Irish abortion law by a group of women.

Roger Kiska, legal counsel for the pro-life legal group Alliance Defense Fund , told the independent news agency LifeNews.com that this abortion case could set an official policy on the issue for Europe, “No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless. Ireland’s constitutional amendment defending innocent life is under attack, and now the stakes have just gotten higher. With the case moving to the Grand Chamber, the ramifications of the decision that is eventually reached in the case are massive. The case is not only pivotal to Europe; it is pivotal to America as well. With ever-greater frequency, American courts have considered what other countries are doing when deciding their own cases. This case could be the Roe v. Wade of Europe, so its importance should not be underestimated.”

The abortion case focuses on whether the women's human rights were infringed because they were unable to terminate their pregnancies in Ireland. The women claim the restrictive nature of Irish law on abortion jeopardized their health and well being. The Irish law created delays and hardships for each woman, resulting in each of them having a later abortion, creating greater risk to their health. The women claim that abortion restrictions interfere with the most intimate aspects of their private and family lives and thus a violation with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides a right to respect for one's "private and family life." In addition, the women also claim the abortion laws impeded the ability of some of them to obtain necessary follow-up medical care upon their return to Ireland and there would be also a lack of any effective remedy at home. Taking the case to the Irish courts would have been costly, futile and could have forced them to relinquish their anonymity. The women's complaints are based on four alleged violations of articles in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Firstly, the women argue that their human rights are being violated because Ireland's abortion ban violates their right to privacy in all family, home and personal interests, and their entitlement to no public interference from any public authority in exercising this right (article 8).
Secondly, the ban violates their right to be free from inhumane and degrading treatment (article 3) because women seeking abortions are stigmatized and suffer increased feelings of guilt, as well as difficulty securing follow-up care.
Thirdly, the ban breaches their right to life (article 2) because the Irish government has not provided any clear legislation about when abortion may be legally carried out under the exception reserved for saving the mother's life.
And finally, the Irish abortion law discriminates on the basis of sex and financial status (article 14). Thus, the plaintiffs argue that forced travel and childbirth, endangerment of pregnant women's lives and discrimination based on sex and financial status violate their rights.

Ireland (both Northern Ireland and the Republic) has an exceptionally restrictive law on abortion, which allows abortion only when the life of the woman is in danger. In practice, however, abortion is unavailable in Ireland in almost all circumstances due to ambiguity about when a physician may legally perform a life-saving operation. The law also fails to make any provision for a woman who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest, experiencing severe fetal abnormality or at risk of permanent bodily harm such as blindness, diabetes, kidney or heart disease. Official figures show that over 7,000 women travel each year to England for abortions from Ireland. This figure is based upon the number of women providing Irish addresses (from the Republic and Northern Ireland) and vastly undercounts the actual number of women travelling, some of whom may give false addresses in England or travel to other countries like Belgium and the Netherlands.

In April 2009, the Irish government filed its legal papers. The main plank of the government’s defence rests on its contention that domestic legal remedies in Ireland have not been exhausted by the plaintiffs. It also robustly challenges suggestions made by the plaintiffs that there is a lack of post-abortion care or counselling in Ireland. As a result, government attorneys say they should not have brought the case to the court, which covers the 42 members of the Council of Europe. The Irish government also insists the European Convention on Human Rights, on which the court operates, does not confer a right to abortion and the member states of the Council have never voted for the convention to authorize such a right.

The Court will hold the hearing in the case on 9 December 2009.
The case will be watched closely by observers. In 2007 the same court gave a ruling in a Polish abortion case which resulted in Poland being instructed to guarantee access to legal abortions.

Books and articles in Peace Palace Library catalogue about abortion, the combination abortion and Ireland, the combination european court of human rights and abortion

External links:
An interesting article about Irish Abortion Cases by Rick Lawson
More about
abortion law in general
Latest update on the Dutch abortion boat