Germany votes against anti-Israel decision at World Health Assembly for the first time

Published: 09 April 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

The health conditions in the territories occupied by Israel has been a separate agenda item on the programme of the annual meetings of the World Health Assembly (WHA) since 1968. The WHA is the main governing body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), a specialised agency of the United Nations. Since 2006, the agenda item has been named “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan”. Under this agenda item, the WHA initially adopted an annual resolution in which it, inter alia, expressed its concern at the deterioration of the economic and health conditions in the occupied Arab territories, as well as the humanitarian crisis resulting from the continued occupation and the severe restrictions imposed by “Israel, the occupying power”, and addressed specific “demands” to Israel, which were not health-related in all cases. For example, the WHA demanded “that Israel, the occupying power, immediately put an end to the closure of the occupied Palestinian territory”, “respect and facilitate the mandate and work of UNRWA and other international organizations”, or “that Israel dismantle and stop the construction of the wall and abide by its legal obligations mentioned in the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice”. The resolutions also referred to an “Israeli attack” on the Gaza Strip, the destruction of “establishments by Israeli military operations” and urged Member States and others to “to remind Israel, the occupying power, to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949”. (more…)

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Notable statements on international law during January 2021

Published: 07 April 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…)

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Germany counters China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea

Published: 01 April 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

Germany had commented on the South China Sea disputes since 2015 and in 2019 had started to take a more active and outspoken position on the disputes. This approach was continued in 2020. In addition, the South China Sea issue for Germany became a test case for China’s attitude towards international law and the rule of law. On 30 January 2020, during the UN Security Council debate on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the German representative deviated from the topic and stated with regard to the situation in the South China Sea: (more…)

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Germany takes a more outspoken and active position on the South China Sea disputes

Published: 30 March 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

The South China Sea covers a sea area of some 3.6 million km2, which is more than 10 times the size of Germany. It is a semi-enclosed sea in the Pacific Ocean which is bordered by six countries: Brunei, China (both the mainland and Taiwan), Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Due to its geographical location an estimated one-third of global shipping passes through the South China Sea, making it a vital route for maritime trade and transport. As a major exporting nation, in 2016 Germany exported some 111 billion euros in goods through the South China Sea. It is thus not surprising that the “Federal Government attaches great importance to the shipping and trade routes in the South China Sea for the German economy.” The area is also a rich fishing ground and holds huge oil and natural gas reserves in the seabed and subsoil. The sea is dotted by hundreds of islands, islets, shoals, cays, reefs, and rocks. There are two main island groups in the South China Sea: the Paracel Islands in the northwest and the Spratly Islands in the southeast. Five countries (Brunei; China, both the mainland and Taiwan; Malaysia; the Philippines; and Vietnam) claim territorial sovereignty over land features in the South China Sea and all six coastal States make overlapping claims to various maritime zones in the area. China, Malaysia, and the Philippines maintain a human presence on some of the land features, a number of which have been built up or extended by the claimant States by way of land reclamation. All claimant States are parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). (more…)

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Iraq accuses Germany of interference in its internal affairs

Published: 25 March 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

On 1 October 2019, large protests started in southern and central Iraqi cities, including Baghdad. Thousands of protesters, mostly young Shias, demonstrated against the Shia-led political establishment and called for a new government. The protesters voiced their opposition to the deteriorating economic situation, sectarian politics, and rampant corruption in the country. They also expressed their anger at neighbouring Iran, which has great influence in Iraq, inter alia, through the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a pro-Iranian militia. After two months of violent anti-government protests, on 1 December 2019, Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi resigned, but stayed on temporarily in a caretaker capacity until a new government was formed. By the time of his resignation almost 400 protesters had been killed and 16,000 wounded in clashes with security forces and militias. More than a dozen members of the security forces had also died in the clashes. (more…)

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Notable statements on international law during December 2020

Published: 23 March 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…)

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German Constitutional Court affirms that only States can bring claims for compensation for violations of international humanitarian law

Published: 18 March 2021 Authors: Philipp Dürr and Stefan Talmon

After the fall of the Taliban regime that had sheltered the al-Qaida terrorist organisation in Afghanistan, the UN Security Council established the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) by resolution 1386 (2001) of 20 December 2001 to assist the Afghan Interim Authority and its successors in the maintenance of security, so that the Afghan authorities as well as UN personnel and other international civilian personnel engaged in reconstruction and humanitarian efforts could operate in a secure environment and to prevent the re-emergence of the Taliban regime. Germany contributed troops to ISAF which arrived in the country in January 2002. (more…)

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Notable statements on international law during November 2020

Published: 16 March 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…)

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Germany adopts restrictive view on what constitutes a “threat to international peace and security” – when it suits

Published: 12 March 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

On 25 April 2019, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted the “Law on ensuring the functioning of Ukrainian as the State language”. The new law regulated the use of Ukrainian as the sole State language in government functions and services, making it compulsory for politicians, judges, doctors, employees of the national bank and state-owned companies, officers in the military, teachers, and others. The law also requires that 90% of TV and film content be in Ukrainian and for Ukrainian-language printed media and books to make up at least 50% of the total output. The law had a considerable impact on Ukrainian society, in particular on the sizeable Russian-speaking minority. In March 2019, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology published findings that 28.1% of Ukrainians spoke mostly or only Russian with their families, including 15.8% who exclusively spoke Russian. That compared with 46% who spoke mostly or only Ukrainian with their families, and 24.9% who spoke the two languages in equal proportion. (more…)

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Germany reaffirms support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia and calls out Russian “occupation”

Published: 09 March 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

In the wake of the break-up of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic declared its independence on 9 April 1991. This, in turn, triggered the two Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which both border on Russia, to declare their independence from Georgia on 21 December 1991 and 23 July 1992, respectively. In both cases, armed conflict between separatist and Georgian Government forces ensued. Atrocities were committed on all sides, ethnic cleansing was practiced, and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. (more…)

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