Posts Tagged ‘general international law’

More on Copenhagen and Climate Change

November 6, 2009 3 comments

A rather dispiriting headline appears in the Irish Times today ‘UN climate summit ‘likely to fail’. (I have posted on this topic here and here) The basis of this article is the comment yesterday made by ‘British officials’ that a deal on climate change could take at least another 12 months. This rather depressing comment was made at the Barcelona pre-summit talkbarc_09_11_4_2_348s that are currently taking place. These talks are part of wider programme of pre-summit talks that have been held under the auspices of the United Nations.  The Barcelona meeting is supposed to establish a firm basis on which the Copenhagen talks agree the basis of a new treaty.  According to the Times all hope is now lost that anything coherent or binding can emerge from Copenhagen. Instead the sources claimed that a further summit would have to be held in December 2010 to finally agree a treaty. The Bali Summit of 2007 established the agenda for these talks with the aim of having a ratified treaty by the end of 2009. This rather short timeframe was established as it was clear that time is of the essence with regard to climate change. (In contrast the Doha Round of negotiations at the WTO have been ongoing since 2001, though the WTO is also keeping a close eye on events in Barcelona and Copenhagen)

According to the Times there are over 1,000 different disagreements over the current text. David Milliband told the House of Commons yesterday that there was no Plan B and that renewed impetus was required to ensure some solid progress at Copenhagen. Though a consensus appears to be emerging that an outline agreement maybe all that can be achieved at Copenhagen. The fact that Ban Ki-moon appears to agree that  it is unlikely that this a binding treaty can be agreed in December seems to put the nail in the coffin of an agreement.

In the Times Benedict Dempsey from Save the Children’s, said: “The cost of any delay to a climate deal will be counted in children’s lives. Save the Children estimates that 250,000 children could be killed by climate change next year.”

The imperatives of agreeing a settlement are clear though it will probably be dependent on the US, China and the EU to agree to the slashing of carbon emissions. On Wednesday in the Irish Times is was reported that both the US and the EU were going to redouble their efforts. If the US is going to make good on their ‘ever-expanding suite of measures‘ it will have to take the lead as the EU (with the possible exception of David Milliband) appears to have lost its will.

EU and Copenhagen

October 30, 2009 1 comment

In a follow-up to my earlier post regarding the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Climate’s Change proposed Heads for a new Climate Change Bill it has eu-reinfeldt-cp-7338261emerged that the EU has agreed a joint negotiating position ahead of the Copenhagen Conference this December. The EU has sought to take the lead at the Conference and in settling on a joint platform it is hoped that the EU will be able to push others into agreement.

One of the main stumbling blocks has been on the question of how much financial support as well as  the degree of technology transfer that should be given to countries of the Global South. While some of these countries, such as China and India, are emerging as major polluters, others have little or no impact upon rates of climate change. However it is the countries of the Global South who will suffer most from droughts and floods should Climate Change keep going unabated.  The UN estimates that yields from rain-fed agriculture could fall by up to 50% in some African countries and that up to 200 million people could be displaced by the effects of climate change by 2050. Obviously the Global North is better placed to deal with these changes than the Global South both financially and with regard to technology. There has been extensive research into this sponsored by both the UN and NGOs.

The EU at today’s summit agreed a joint position on climate finance, though an actual formula for establishing a country’s ability to pay was not settled upon. They also agreed to cut emissions to 30% below 1990 levels by 2020.  Eastern European countries have been particularly concerned that any cuts in emissions will disproportionately affect their abilities to expand and develop their own economies, but with the intervention of Ban-ki Moon were convinced to agree a deal. While the agreed platform by the EU is more likely to lead to success at Copenhagen as Lavanya Rajamani has pointed out one of the greatest impediments to an agreement is the lack of trust in the Global North to fulfill its promises, the lack of success of the Kyoto Protocol is a prime example of this. It will be interesting to watch the various interests formulate their positions over the next month. What is clear is that comprehensive action must be taken soon.

Ireland and Afghanistan

September 16, 2009 Leave a comment

In June of this year the Minister for Defence confirmed that Irish troops were to remain in Afghanistan and Kosovo for at least another year. This coincided with the accession of Afghanistan to the Two Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions. While the elements of the Protocols that have already become part of customary international law were always in force in Afghanistan once the Additional Protocols come into force in December of this year it will strengthen the application of these rules to activities of both the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)  of which Ireland is a part and the Government forces of Afghanistan. There are currently 7  Irish personnel in Afghanistan. The Additional Protocols apply directly between insurgents and the state therefore it will not be directly applicable to ISAF, however in the case of joint operations or operations under the direction of ISAF it is possible that members of ISAF may be held accountable for actions that are considered in breach. This comes quickly after news that the International Criminal Court is looking at possible war crimes prosecutions against members of the Taliban,al Qaeda, as well as ISAF forces.

While there has been no evidence to suggest that Irish personnel have been involved in any incident which the ICC is looking into it does raise questions surrounding the deployment of forces as part of a large international groups and where responsibility lies. Ireland has a long and very proud history of involvement with UN peacekeeping groups such as in the Congo or the Lebanon. Its involvement in both Kosovo and Afghanistan is outside this more traditional remit and presents broader questions of command responsibility and the conditions under which Ireland takes part in these international actions. Ireland has acceded to the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols incorporating them into Irish law under the Geneva Conventions Act 1962 and the Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Act 1998 as well as to the International Criminal Court. If prosecutions against ISAF do occur in Afghanistan it will be interesting to see how the ICC will deal with responsibility among the many different forces currently deployed in Afghanistan.

Justifiable wars, neutrality and the Lisbon Treaty

September 11, 2009 7 comments

In a recent opinion piece in The Irish Times,Tony Kinsella remonstrated with the Anti-Lisbon campaigners regarding their stance on neutrality. While I would agree with his general premise that neutrality is not always the honorable option his argument is surely as flawed as those he seeks to condemn. In conflating the EU, World War II and neutrality Mr. Kinsella is ensuring that in the minds of the Irish populace, Ireland is or ever was legally a neutral country and that the EU threatens this stance.

Read more…

Volume 2, Irish Yearbook of International Law

September 2, 2009 Leave a comment

royal_hbThe second volume of the Irish Yearbook of International Law (2007) has now been published by Hart Publishing. As with the first volume (contents), the IYIL 2007 contains correspondence reports on, among other things, human rights law in Ireland during 2007. Details of full contents can be found here. The main articles contained in the IYIL 2007 are:

* William A Schabas & Aisling O’Sullivan, Of Politics and Poor Weather: How Ireland Decided to Sue the United Kingdom Under the European Convention on Human Rights
* Ray Murphy, Whither UN Peacekeeping in Lebanon
* Pádraig McAuliffe, Forgetting the Purposes of Hybrid Courts: The East Timorese Experience
* Fiona de Londras, Shannon, Saadi and Ireland’s Reliance on Diplomatic Assurances Under Article 3 of the European Convention
* Colin Smith, Special Agreements to Apply the Geneva Conventions in Internal Armed Conflicts: The Lessons of Darfur