Notable statements on international law during May 2021

Published: 22 July 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

Throughout the year, Germany makes numerous statements on international law. Not all these statements form part of a case study presented on GPIL. However, these statements may nevertheless be of interest to international lawyers. We therefore compile these statements on a monthly basis. (more…)

Read More

The pitfalls of co-locating diplomatic premises

Published: 20 July 2021 Authors: Stefan Talmon and William Heylen

Germany maintains 228 missions abroad, including 153 embassies, 54 consulates-general and seven consulates. In recent years, Germany has adopted the practice of co-locating diplomatic and consular missions with other European countries and the European Union. The sharing of embassy and consular premises allows countries to save costs and achieve synergies and, in the case of EU member States, promote the concept of a unified European voice on matters of foreign and security policy. In order to further mission co-location projects, the EU Member States and the European Commission signed a General Memorandum of Understanding on the Co-location of Diplomatic and Consular Missions. Germany shares embassy premises with other States and the EU delegation in Nigeria, South Sudan and Tanzania and the consulate in Gaziantep in Turkey. (more…)

Read More

Notable statements on international law during April 2021

Published: 15 July 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

Throughout the year, Germany makes numerous statements on international law. Not all these statements form part of a case study presented on GPIL. However, these statements may nevertheless be of interest to international lawyers. We therefore compile these statements on a monthly basis. (more…)

Read More

Iran condemns German ambassador’s tweets as interference in internal affairs

Published: 13 July 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

On 31 August 2020, Iran’s Supreme Court upheld the two death sentences against 27-year-old Iranian champion wrestler Navid Afkari, who had been convicted of killing a security guard during violent anti-government protests and demonstrations over economic and social hardship in August 2018. Navid Afkari had also been found guilty of “waging war against the State” for participating in the protests. His brothers, Vahid and Habib, who also took part in the protests, were sentenced to 54 and 27 years’ imprisonment, respectively, and 74 lashes each. According to their family and human rights organisations, all three were tortured into making false confessions, a claim denied by Iran’s judiciary. (more…)

Read More

Notable statements on international law during March 2021

Published: 08 July 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

Throughout the year, Germany makes numerous statements on international law. Not all these statements form part of a case study presented on GPIL. However, these statements may nevertheless be of interest to international lawyers. We therefore compile these statements on a monthly basis. (more…)

Read More

Federal Court of Justice rejects functional immunity of low-ranking foreign State officials in the case of war crimes

Published: 06 July 2021 Author: Rohan Sinha

On 26 July 2019, the Higher Regional Court in Munich sentenced Ahmad Zaheer D., a former officer of the Afghan National Army, to two years’ probation for, inter alia, grievous bodily harm, coercion and attempted coercion, as well as the war crime of outrages upon human dignity. During the non-international armed conflict in Afghanistan between government forces and the Taliban in 2013/2014, the accused had mistreated three captured Taliban fighters during interrogation and had desecrated the dead body of a high-ranking Taliban commander. (more…)

Read More

Germany bans Syrian Embassy in Berlin from holding presidential elections

Published: 18 June 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

Syria has been engulfed in a bloody civil war since 2011, when opposition forces rose against the Government of President Bashar al-Assad. By the end of 2020, several hundred thousand people had been killed and wounded; 6.6 million Syrians had become refugees, and another 6.7 million people were displaced within Syria. In order to achieve a lasting political settlement of the crisis in Syria, the UN Security Council advocated a Syrian-led political process facilitated by the United Nations that was to lead to a new constitution. In its resolution 2254 (2015), the Security Council expressed its support for free and fair elections, pursuant to the new constitution, to be held by May 2017 and administered under supervision of the United Nations. The elections were to be subject to the highest international standards of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate. However, the Government under President Assad stalled the political process and neither the new constitution nor free and fair elections materialised. Instead, on 18 April 2021 it was announced that Syria was to hold presidential elections on 26 May 2021, with expatriates able to vote in Syrian embassies abroad on 20 May 2021. The elections were rejected as a farce by the opposition. (more…)

Read More

Germany warns Israel that annexation of any part of the occupied Palestinian territories would represent “a most serious violation of international law”

Published: 27 May 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

The annexation of parts of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967 had been an issue in Israeli domestic politics for many years. Especially during the two closely fought elections for Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, in April and September 2019, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to annex about one-third of the occupied West Bank if he won another term in office. On both occasions, the two main parties, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and the Blue & White alliance of Benny Gantz, failed to win a majority. As no new government could be formed, another round of elections was scheduled for 2 March 2020. In the meantime, Prime Minister Netanyahu continued in a caretaker capacity. (more…)

Read More

Germany backs Israel’s right to self-defence against Hamas “rocket terror”

Published: 25 May 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

In the wake of Israelis celebrating “Jerusalem Day” – marking the capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Israeli-Arab war – and the impending eviction of Palestinians from their homes in the Israeli occupied Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, violent clashes erupted between Palestinians and Jews. On 10 May 2021, the violence escalated, and Israeli police stormed the compound known to Jews as Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, which is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, more than 300 Palestinians were injured during the raid, as well as 21 police officers. The Islamic terrorist organisation, Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip thereupon set Israel an ultimatum to withdraw its security forces from the compound and the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood by 6 p.m. local time.  Upon the expiry of its ultimatum, Hamas fired about 150 rockets into Israel from Gaza. Israel responded by carrying out air strikes against Hamas armed groups, rocket launchers and military posts in Gaza. In the following days, Hamas fired more than a thousand rockets into Israel which killed seven people, and Israel responded by further air strikes on Gaza which claimed the lives of at least 103 Palestinians – with civilians and children being killed on both sides. (more…)

Read More

Germany directs attention to questions surrounding non-legally binding international agreements

Published: 21 May 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

Non-legally binding international agreements – that is, instruments that contain political or moral, rather than legal, commitments – have gained increasing importance in State practice in recent years. In many areas of international relations, where in former times States most likely would have concluded a treaty, they are now adopting non-legally binding instruments. Thus, some pressing questions of international law have more recently been dealt with in non-binding instruments such as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) for the containment of Iran’s nuclear programme, and the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detentions in State-to-State Relations. Such non-legally binding agreements present a number of advantages for governments compared to treaties: they usually are easier to agree on because of their non-binding nature, they allow negotiators to gloss over political or legal differences more easily as there is no danger of them being subjected to legal scrutiny or dispute settlement mechanisms, they are not subject to parliamentary examination or approval, and they allow for flexibility with regard to form and to the process of their adoption. On the other hand, such instruments may raise false expectations concerning the settlement of disputes or the solution of pressing problems of the international community, create uncertainty in international relations, and give rise to disputes over their legal status as a treaty or non-legally binding agreement. Unlike treaties, which are subject to the customary law rules embodied in the Vienna Conventions on the Law of Treaties, non-legally binding agreements fall outside the realm of international law – their conclusion, amendment, termination, and effects are not governed by international legal rules. They are not subject to the principle of pacta sunt servanda and their breach does not entail international responsibility of States or international organisations. Non-compliance with such non-binding agreements may give rise to political sanctions and cause reputational damage, but there is no room for countermeasures. (more…)

Read More