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Access_open Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Treaty-Based Settlement of Terrorism-Related Disputes in the Era of Active United Nations Security Council Involvement

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 2 2013
Trefwoorden Terrorism, inter-state dispute, international treaties, the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice
Auteurs Nathanael Tilahun Ali LL.M.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The United Nations Security Council has become a crucial actor in international counterterrorism by not only spurring the taking of preventive and suppressive measures against terrorist individuals and groups, but also by taking actions against states that are said to stand in the way. The Security Council's actions against such states invariably arise from accusations by other states, such as accusations of refusal to extradite suspects of terrorism or responsibility for supporting terrorists. Meanwhile, most such issues of dispute are covered under international treaties relating to terrorism, which provide for political (negotiation) and judicial (arbitration and adjudication) mechanisms of dispute settlement. The Security Council's actions against states in connection with terrorism, therefore, involve (explicit or implicit) factual and legal determinations that affect the legal positions of the disputing states under the applicable international treaties relating to terrorism. The point of departure of this paper is that, in this respect, the Security Council effectively becomes an alternative to the treaty-based dispute-settlement mechanisms. The article centrally contends that the Security Council effectively acts as a more attractive alternative to treaty-based dispute-settlement mechanisms for pursuing terrorism-related (legal) disputes between states, without providing a meaningful platform of disputation that is based on equality of the parties. And the Security Council's relative attractiveness, arising from the discursive and legal superiority its decisions enjoy and the relative convenience and expediency with which those decisions are delivered, entails the rendering of resort to treaty-based dispute-settlement mechanisms of little legal consequence. The point of concern the article aims to highlight is the lack of platform of disputation some states are faced with, trapped between a hostile Security Council that makes determinations and decisions of legal consequence and an unhelpful treaty-based dispute-settlement mechanism.


Nathanael Tilahun Ali LL.M.
PhD Candidate in public international law, Erasmus School of Law. E: ali@law.eur.nl. I would like to thank Prof. Xandra Kramer and Prof. Ellen Hey for their valuable comments on an earlier draft of this article. The usual disclaimer applies.

J. Han Wansink
Emeritus Professor of Insurance Law, Erasmus University and Leiden University.

Niels Frenk
Professor of Liability- and Insurance Law, VU University Amsterdam.

Herman Cousy
Director, Centre for Risk and Insurance Studies, K.U. Leuven.

Malcolm Clarke
Emeritus Professor of Commercial Contract Law, University of Cambridge.

Isabelle Bambust
Researcher, University of Ghent.

Albert Kruger
Judge of the High Court of South Africa, Professor Extraordinary in Roman Law, History of Law and Comparative Law at the University of the Free State.

Thalia Kruger
Lecturer, University of Antwerp, Honorary Research Associate, University of Cape Town. This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

Christoph A. Kern
Dr. Christoph A. Kern, LL.M. (Harvard), professor, chair of Private Law, Private International Law, Comparative Law and Procedural Law at EBS Law School, Wiesbaden. The author wishes to express his gratitude to Maître Anne-Caroline Urbain, LL.M. (Harvard), admitted to the bars of Paris and New York, for her support in researching the current situation in France, as well as PD Dr. Alexander Brunner, Commercial Judge, Zurich, for his support in researching the situation in Switzerland. Remaining errors are the sole responsibility of the author.

Marios Koutsias
Lecturer in Law, University of Essex.

Chris Willett
Professor of Commercial Law, University of Essex.

F. Weber
Post-doc researcher at the Private Law Department, Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam, within the research program ‘Behavioural Approaches to Contract and Tort’ (www.behaviouralapproaches.eu).

C.M.D.S. Pavillon
Dr. C.M.D.S. (Charlotte) Pavillon is a postdoctoral researcher with the Groningen Centre for Law and Governance, University of Groningen (The Netherlands).

Bert Keirsbilck
Assistant Professor HUB, senior affiliated researcher KU Leuven.

Willem van Boom
Professor of Law at Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam (the Netherlands) and professor of Law at Durham Law School, Durham (England).

Daniel D. Bradlow
SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations, University of Pretoria; Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law; and Chair, Roster of Experts, Independent Review Mechanism, African Development Bank. The views expressed in this article are his personal views, and should not be attributed to any organisation with which he is affiliated.

Megan S. Chapman
Independent Consultant; B.A. University of Chicago; J.D. American University Washington College of Law. The authors wish to thank Anoush Begoyan, Andria Naude Fourie, Werner Kiene, Ellen Hey, David Hunter, Henrik Linders, Per Eldar Sovik, and our anonymous reviewers for comments on various sections and drafts.
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