Rebecca Brown
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We open Volume 10(2) of the Cambridge International Law Journal (CILJ) with great sadness following the passing of James Crawford, former Chair of the Cambridge Faculty of Law, Director of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law and Judge at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). James Crawford was the Inaugural Honorary Editor-in-Chief of the CILJ until his appointment at the ICJ. We are grateful for his reflections on the history and achievements of this journal that he helped build, which were published in the previous issue on the occasion of the CILJ’s tenth anniversary.1 We would like to express our deepest condolences to James Crawford’s family, friends and colleagues. In the words of Professor Eyal Benvenisti, the CILJ’s current Honorary Editor-in-Chief: ‘The world of international law has lost its doyen’.2

The Editorial Board


Amid the range of novel challenges facing an international legal order increasingly ill-prepared to meet them, the Conference Team chose as the theme for the 10th Annual Conference of the Cambridge International Law Journal ‘National Sovereignty and International Cooperation: The Challenges of Navigating Global Crises’. However, in his closing address, Professor Makane Moïse Mbengue belied our pessimism. Deconstructing the theme, he contested the notion of navigating crises, noting rather that what was needed was a consideration of their narratives; in particular, the narrative of solidarity. During a crisis, Professor Mbengue argued, solidarity in both resilience and reform were essential: they bridge the potential clash between national sovereignty and international cooperation and allow for international law to flourish at the point at which it is most needed.

The 10th Annual Conference was held virtually from 18 to 20 March 2021, the second year the Conference was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike in 2020, however, the Conference Team had the opportunity not only to prepare for the virtual medium in advance, but to take full advantage of the format. This year’s event was the journal’s largest conference to date, with 97 panellists across 20 panels, three Keynote Speakers and attendees totalling in the thousands. Most significantly, without the limitations imposed by in-person conferences, a far greater diversity of participants could take part, providing a far greater diversity of perspectives: we hosted speakers, attendees and Chairs based in over 80 countries, at varying stages in their careers, and working in a variety of legal fields, including academia, government, international organisations, private practice, and non-governmental organisations. Attendance was free, and the online platform facilitated closed captions and the provision of extended abstracts in advance, permitting greater access, while the Q&A function allowed panellists to privately respond to all queries despite time limitations. We are proud that the journal could facilitate such solidarity between international lawyers, and we remain grateful to all participants, both for adapting to the online medium, and for embracing the opportunity to take part in open discussions on issues of international import in a time of global crisis.

The theme itself entails a quandary rendered particularly acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the tension between the benefits of internationally coordinated responses, and States’ unwillingness to concede their sovereign right to undertake unilateral action; this, in turn, has secondary consequences, raising issues of people returning ‘home’, the transfer of therapeutics, and vaccine inequity. However, this tension is not unique to global health: from maritime delimitations between two States, to global actions on climate change, cooperation is an integral aspect of global life, and international law both facilitates, and is impacted by, States’ willingness to engage in collective efforts. As such, the theme covered perspectives from all branches of international law: environmental law, global health governance, arbitration, human rights, investment, human security, international trade, transitional justice, and international economic law were all represented, in addition to theoretical contributions and treatments of geopolitical interactions, migration and labour flows, the virtual space, and global governance more broadly.

Further, the Conference was privileged to host three distinguished Keynote Speakers. Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice opened the Conference, discussing the inadequate approach to Indigenous rights by governments in northern European States, with an emphasis on the identification of Indigenous persons through so-called objective means, the applicability of Fineman’s theory of vulnerability, and the piecemeal legislative ‘rights’ provided according to identity, without recognition of broader community, culture and aspirations. On the second day, Professor Simon Chesterman explored the gap-filling role of international law in the regulation of artificial intelligence, focusing on where regulation may be needed, challenges in its creation, and how a putative international organisation might coordinate its implementation. Professor Makane Moïse Mbengue closed the Conference with a deconstruction of its theme, noting the necessity of balancing national sovereignty with international cooperation (the latter only available where it is vital and legitimate), and of considering the narratives of crises. We are sincerely grateful for their time and insightful contributions and are delighted to present the remarks by Professor Fitzmaurice and Professor Chesterman in this issue.

I extend my sincere thanks to the great number of people without whom the Conference could not have occurred: the 22 chairs, who managed each panel and ensured a fascinating discussion; the speakers, who contributed such pertinent, engaging research; the Cambridge International Law Journal editorial board, especially the Editors-in-Chief, So Yeon Kim and Tom Boekestein, and the Treasurer, Tony (Yan Kai) Zhou, who offered invaluable guidance and assistance; and the Conference Team: Hyfa Azeez, Rashini Balakrishnan, Grant Kynaston, Rachael Mullally, Fabian Nentwig and Nektarios Papadimos. The Team’s tireless efforts are the reason for the Conference’s success. I am also grateful to the journal’s Honorary Editor-in-Chief, Professor Eyal Benvenisti; the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law; and Edward Elgar Publishing for their continued support of the Conference.

So YeonKim, and TomBoekesteinEditors-in-Chief


We are proud to publish this issue of the CILJ under the theme of this year’s Cambridge International Law Conference: ‘National Sovereignty and International Cooperation: The Challenges of Navigating Global Crises’. Most papers presented in this issue were presented and discussed at the Conference, and they are complemented well by one article submitted in response to the CILJ’s open call for submissions. We are also pleased to publish a book review that relates to the theme of this issue.

Exploring the theme of international cooperation, the content of this issue once again reflects the generalist outlook of the CILJ. The contributions that we publish here cover a diverse range of fields of international law, ranging from humanitarian to maritime law. Within this diversity of topics, all contributions seek to address pressing contemporary issues at the supranational level and highlight the importance of international collaboration. They shed light on the various facets of international cooperation from different angles, both traditional (shared natural resources and Indigenous peoples) and more recent (artificial intelligence and internationally mobile students). Like the Conference, these papers remind us of the importance of global collective action and its applicability beyond the present COVID-19 pandemic. The most pressing issues of our time are too extensive and complex to be resolved by any single State. Unfortunately, as Simon Chesterman points out in his contribution to this issue,3 it may well take an exceptional threat to spark the cooperation necessary to address and resolve these global issues. The lack of a comprehensive, global response to the ongoing pandemic or to curb climate change paints a grim perspective of the degree of threat that may be required.

Malgosia Fitzmaurice opens this issue with an insightful contribution on the recognition of the identities of Indigenous peoples at the international level. Her piece draws on broader research on the identity of the Sami people that was conducted together with Felicity Attard and presented as a keynote address at the 10th Cambridge International Law Conference. Fitzmaurice’s article is particularly concerned with the definition of Indigenous identity and its protection through human rights law.

Simon Chesterman’s article on the international regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) was also presented as a keynote at the Conference. Chesterman skilfully highlights the potential of AI and its true internationality. AI can be weaponised easily and cheaply and may cause harm that is impossible to connect to a specific country; addressing this problem requires a truly international framework. Chesterman proposes the creation of an international organisation modelled after the International Atomic Energy Agency. The ‘International Artificial Intelligence Agency’ would help to manage risks and develop industry standards that ensure the safe use of AI. Yet the author remains doubtful of whether these steps will be taken pre-emptively, absent serious harm caused by the (mis)use of AI.

Mary Crock and Zoe Nutter shed light on the uncertain status of internationally mobile students under international law. Although these students provide an important source of revenue to their host States, they are left in limbo when it comes to their legal status. Crock and Nutter critically approach this lack of legal protection by examining the legal status of internationally mobile students in light of existing human rights instruments, including conventions by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Labour Organization. The article ends with 12 recommendations that should be included in an instrument on the rights of internationally mobile students and that further emphasise the dire need for such safeguards in the times of a global pandemic.

Michael Greenop’s contribution takes a comprehensive approach to the international law on transboundary aquifers and examines how this law has developed to strike a fine balance between territorial sovereignty and international cooperation. Greenop provides a detailed analysis of theories of shared natural resources and the legal development of transboundary aquifers. His article concludes that the International Law Commission’s 2008 Draft Articles on Transboundary Aquifers demonstrate the balance between the theory of limited sovereignty and the notion of community interests on shared natural resources.

Also in the field of international environmental law, Gabriela Argüello explores the limitations of regime interaction between international organisations. By exploring these limitations through two cases – concerning, first, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Wastes and their Disposal, and, second, the IMO and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – Argüello exposes the asymmetrical relationship between the organisations. With the IMO’s role as hegemon allowing it to set the narrative and dominant ideology, the article argues that these regime interactions have created negative impacts on legal development, creating legal fragmentation and tunnel vision.

Tonny Kirabira closes this issue with a paper on transitional justice that discusses the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in that process, using Uganda as a case study. Kirabira draws on interviews with practitioners involved in the Ugandan process of transitional justice to showcase how NGOs interact with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and how their work shapes the perception of the Court. The author discusses the legitimising effects that NGOs had on the ICC’s intervention in Uganda and the effects of their work supporting victims. He also highlights the remaining shortcomings regarding the ICC’s legitimacy in post-conflict communities, and in particular the need for it to develop closer relationships with NGOs.

In addition to these contributions, we are delighted to publish a book review of Aldo Zammit Borda’s Histories Written by International Criminal Courts and Tribunals. The review has been written by Adaena Sinclair-Blakemore, Emraan Azad and Ahmed Farooq and provides a concise overview of the book and its investigation of the narrative force of International Courts and Tribunals. They praise Borda’s work as one that ‘will appeal to a wide and diverse audience of practitioners and academics’ and that ‘has arrived at a critical moment in the history of international criminal law itself: a juncture at which the debate over the legacy of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the ongoing relevance and efficacy of the ICC is at its peak’.4

We would like to close this Editorial by once again thanking all those without whom Volume 10(2) of the Cambridge International Law Journal could not have been published. We are immensely grateful to Rebecca Brown for organising the 10th Cambridge International Law Conference in the midst of the ongoing pandemic. We were impressed by her tireless efforts to make the Conference the success that it was, despite being unable to host it in Cambridge and lacking a Co-Convenor. We are equally grateful to Rebecca’s team of Conference Assistants, Hyfa Azeez, Rashini Balakrishnan, Rachael Mullally, Fabian Nentwig, Nektarios Papadimos and Grant Kynaston, and echo her kind words above. We join Rebecca in expressing our gratitude to the Keynote Speakers, Chairs, and those whose support has made this year’s Conference possible. We are equally grateful to the participants who submitted their work to the CILJ for consideration for this issue. We once again received an unprecedented number of excellent contributions in response to our calls for submission.

The preparation and publication of this issue would not have been possible without the reliable and dedicated work of our Editorial Board. We thank our Managing Editors, Rebecca Brown, Christian Plamenov Delev, Alexander Ferguson, Oliver Hailes, Ibrahim Hanif, Mohamed Moussa and Darren James Peterson, and their editorial teams, for their committed work during the production of Volume 10(2). Without our Managing and General Editors, the review, selection and editing of manuscripts would not have been feasible. We are impressed by the ease and reliability with which they completed the various stages of the publication process. We are equally thankful to our publisher, Edward Elgar, and their team that continues to support the CILJ in its work: Ben Booth, Marina Bowgen, Phillip Thompson and Nick Wilson. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Academic Review Board and the ad hoc reviewers who have supported us in the selection of the contributions published in this volume with their wealth of knowledge and expertise. Finally, we thank our Honorary Editor-in-Chief, Professor Eyal Benvenisti, and the members of our Faculty Advisory Board, Professor Catherine Barnard, Professor Jorge E Viñuales, and Dr Kate Miles for their continued support throughout our term as Editors-in-Chief.

As we close this Editorial and come to the end of our term as Editors-in-Chief of the CILJ, we would like to express our gratitude to our predecessors, Catherine Drummond and Patrick Perillo, whose tireless guidance has been invaluable throughout this year. We also thank everyone who has been involved directly or indirectly in supporting the CILJ. We leave the journal in the capable hands of the incoming Editors-in-Chief, Darren Peterson and Oliver Hailes. We extend our very best wishes to them and the journal as it enters its second decade, and look forward to seeing the Cambridge International Law Journal’s success grow in the years to come.

  • 1

    Crawford James , '‘Reflections on the CILJ on the Occasion of its Tenth Anniversary’ ' (2021 ) 10 (1 ) Cambridge International Law Journal : 1, 1.

  • 2

    ‘James Crawford 1948–2021’ (Cambridge Faculty of Law, 1 June 2021) <https://www.law.cam.ac.uk/press/news/2021/06/james-crawford-1948-2021> accessed 29 August 2021.

  • 3

    Chesterman Simon , '‘Weapons of Mass Disruption: Artificial Intelligence and International Law’ ' (2021 ) 10 (2 ) : 181.

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  • 4

    Sinclair-Blakemore Adaena, Azad Emraan & Farooq Ahmed , '‘Book Review: Aldo Zammit Borda, Histories Written by International Criminal Courts and Tribunals (TMC Asser Press, The Hague 2021) 276 pp.’ ' (2021 ) 10 (2 ) Cambridge International Law Journal : 300, 304 -305.

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