Newsletter 2017/3
Newsletter 2017/3

Current Issue

Newsletter 2017/3

Asia and International Law 

Developments and news pertaining to Asia in various areas of IL 

Dispute Settlement ­– ICJ makes public details of Malaysia's bid to revise 2008 Pedra Branca judgement (Straits Times, 10 February 2017)

The International Court of Justice on Feb 10 released Malaysia's application to revise the court's 2008 judgment that awarded sovereignty of Pedra Branca to Singapore. In the 42-page application, Malaysia cited three "new facts" to argue that "Singapore's officials at the highest levels did not consider that Singapore had acquired sovereignty over Pedra Branca from Johor" in the years following 1953. Malaysia filed the application on Feb 2, asking the court to revise its judgement. Singapore has formed a legal team, including senior lawyers well-acquainted with the issue, to study the application.

History and Theory of International LawNew frontiers in international law: The Asian paradox (OUPblog, 20 February 2017)

Asia’s history offers a partial explanation of the current situation of its ongoing ambivalence towards international law and institutions, but this can also be attributed the absence of “push” factors driving greater integration or organization. There is some evidence that this is changing, but breathless talk of a new “Eastphalian” order seems overblown. Though the status quo appears unsustainable, the major powers of Asia have made clear that their preference is for evolution rather than revolution. China’s claims in the South China Sea and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) might suggest a desire to set up new, parallel regimes — yet closer inspection reveals that China’s claims are more traditional than first feared, and that the AIIB is clearly modeled on other international financial institutions (though with China garnering similar special privileges to the US and Europe in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund respectively). Asia’s rise is not, therefore, a “new frontier” in the strict sense of either word. Yet the growing importance of Asian states is suggesting the need for systemic change because the most populous and (soon) powerful region on the planet currently has the least stake in it.

Human RightsUN rights expert calls on Myanmar authorities to protect Rohingya population (UN News, 27 February 2017)

Following the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) flash report in February, in which it documented mass gang-rape, killings, including of babies and young children, brutal beatings, disappearances and other serious human rights violations by the country's security forces, Yanghee Lee, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, has concluded a four-day visit to parts of Bangladesh where she met with members of Myanmar's Rohingya community who fled the violence there following attacks on a border post in early October and the ensuing military operations. In addition to the alleged human rights violations occurring within the context of the security operations that followed the 9 October attacks, Lee also highlighted today how the Government of Myanmar appears to have taken, and continues to take, actions which discriminate against the Rohingya and make their lives even more difficult. Lee called for urgent action by the Government of Myanmar to end the suffering of the Rohingya population in the country.

International Economic LawAsia advances free trade talks in wake of US TPP withdrawal (Deutsche Welle, 27 February 2017)

Amid growing protectionism across the globe, an ASEAN initiative has brought together 16 nations to talk free trade. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the TPP has left a vacuum in the region. Negotiators representing 16 nations of the Asia Pacific region gathered in the Japanese city of Kobe to discuss a possible free trade agreement in the wake of the US' withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). While the China was not included in TPP, Beijing leads the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with Australia, India, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. The RCEP's 17th round aims to "push negotiations forward broadly in the fields of goods, services, investment, intellectual property, rules of origin, competition and electronic commerce," a Japanese trade official told AFP news agency. "It is important to strike a quality deal in RCEP at a time when protectionism is emerging around the world," the official added.

Japan will tell US to respect WTO rules: PM Shinzo Abe adviser (Economic Times, 1 March 2017)

Japan will tell the United States in their economic talks that any border tax the US government imposes on imports should not break World Trade Organization rules, an adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. Yasutoshi Nishimura also said Japan would not rule out a bilateral trade agreement with the United States, but talks may not start soon because Washington is putting a higher priority on renegotiating the North America Free Trade Agreement. “We don't want any border tax to violate WTO rules by becoming a tax system intended to promote exports," Nishimura told Reuters in an interview. "Our position is WTO rules and multilateralism are important and we want to lobby for that." 

International OrganizationsSyria war: Russia and China veto UNSC sanctions (BBC News, 1 March 2017)

Russia and China have vetoed a UN resolution to impose sanctions on Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons. It is the seventh time Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to protect the Syrian government. China has also vetoed six Security Council resolutions on Syria since the civil war began in 2011. The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad is accused of carrying out chemical attacks on its own civilians – a charge it denies.

However, investigations by the UN and international chemical weapons watchdog have found that Syrian government forces carried out three chemical weapons attacks in 2014 and 2015.

Law of the SeaPhilippines needs clarity on China ties before lifting South China Sea exploration halt: Minister (Channel News Asia, 27 February 2017)

The Philippines is waiting for clarity on its relations with China before lifting a suspension on exploration in disputed areas in the South China Sea, its energy minister said. It is being studied whether it is "high time to lift the suspension," Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told Reuters in an interview. Cusi said any exploration activities would require approval of the Philippine foreign ministry, which was responsible for consultations with China.

Vietnam slams Chinese fishing ban in South China Sea (Star Tribune, 28 February 2017)

Vietnam has slammed a fishing ban China has imposed in parts of the disputed South China Sea, saying it violates Vietnamese sovereignty and further complicates the tense situation in the troubled waters. China's Ministry of Agriculture on has issued a seasonal fishing ban in parts of the South China Sea, including waters near the Paracel islands claimed by Vietnam but occupied by China. Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said in a statement that Vietnam opposes and rejects the ban, adding Vietnam has the legal grounds and historical evidence to back up its sovereignty claims.

Other Areas of International LawInternational law not adequate to check terror cyberattacks: India (Deccan Herald, 1 March 2017)

Addressing a Security Council debate on 'Threats to International Peace and Security caused by terrorist acts: Protection of Critical Infrastructure', India's Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin said big urban centres like Mumbai, New York and London have become targets as impact on cities serving as financial hubs affect the economy of the country in multiple ways. Citing the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, Akbaruddin said that financial hubs are targeted by terrorists to impact a country's economy. "The investigations into the heinous terrorist attacks on Mumbai in 2008 revealed the impact its perpetrators wanted to have on the psyche and economy of the whole of India. “These attacks, including on a hospital, railway station and hotels were carefully planned and crafted from beyond our borders to have crippling effects not only on daily life in a bustling metropolis but targeted a country of a billion people". He lamented the lack of adequate international law to deal with the threat of cyber-attacks, adding that despite years of concern, states have addressed few international instruments addressing issues of threats from cyberspace.

AsianSIL Announcements and Events

Call for Papers – 6th AsianSIL Biennial Conference
Seoul, Korea
25-26 August 2017

The 6th Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law will be in Seoul, Friday 25 to Saturday 26 August 2017. The conference will be hosted by the Korean Chapter of the Asian Society of International Law, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. The theme of the conference is “Asia and International Law in Times of Uncertainty”. The biennial conference will be preceded by a half-day workshop for junior scholars on Thursday, 24 August. Registration will open in late January 2017.

Asian Journal of International Law (AsianJIL) Book Reviews

The Asian Journal of International Law (AsianJIL) publishes reviews of books of relevance to the region by subject matter or author. We now invite members to consider contributing a book review.

Book Reviews

Book reviews should:

  • be concise at approximately 500 words
  • outline the key themes of the book
  • achieve a balance between a description of the content and a critical evaluation of the book’s analysis
  • ideally position the book within the relevant literature
  • perhaps offer a few points of information about the author’s background.

Book Review Essay

Separately, if there are a few related books in a particular subject area you wish to review together as a review essay, please forward your proposal to the Book Review Editor. A review essay is usually approximately 1,500 words.

For the more details information and a list of books available to review, please click here.

Asian Journal of International Law Invitation to Submit National Language Review Essay

The Asian Journal of International Law (AsianJIL) is interested to publish National Language Review Essays and invites members of the Asian Society of International Law (AsianSIL) to submit an expression of interest in contributing such an essay.

The essay would review some key books on International Law, written in a language of the Asian region, that have not yet been translated into English, and that are of sufficient standing that they should be brought to the attention of the English-speaking International Law community. The essay could, for example, inform readers of some of the ‘classical’ literature in the relevant language or else more recent books on a specific subject of likely interest to our readership. We anticipate that such essays are most likely to be contributed by established scholars working either individually or in collaboration.

For more information, please click here.

Call For Abstracts: Public Law and the New Populism
New York University School of Law, USA
Submission date: on or before March 31, 2017

The International Journal of Constitutional Law (I-CON) announces a call for abstracts for a workshop on "Public Law and the New Populism" to take place at NYU School of Law on September 15, 2017.  The focus will be on the relationship between the current populist turn in national and international politics, on the one hand, and legal norms and institutions on the other.  Further details available here.

Opportunities – ASEAN Post-Doctoral Fellowships at the NUS Centre For International Law, Singapore

CIL invites applications for ASEAN Post-Doctoral Fellowship positions commencing in Academic Year 2017/2018. We welcome applications from those with expertise in international economic law or international trade law, comparative constitutional law, and law and transnational crime. For more details, refer to

Opportunities – Law Clerk Positions at the International Court of Justice, The Hague

The International Court of Justice wishes to appoint a number of Law Clerks, each of whom will provide research and other legal assistance to one of the judges of the Court. For administrative purposes, the Law Clerks are attached to the Department of Legal Matters. French and English are the official languages of the Court. Excellent knowledge of and drafting ability in one of these languages is required, as well as good comprehension of and basic ability to communicate in the other language. Knowledge of other official languages of the United Nations would be an asset. To apply, please click

Call for Submissions – Asian Journal of International Law

The Society’s Journal is soliciting submissions for future issues. Articles should be between 8,000 and 12,000 words (excluding footnotes) and be submitted exclusively to the AsianJIL, with publication subject to double-blind peer-review and editorial discretion. For details on style and the submission process, as well as information on how to subscribe, visit For enquiries, please email Many articles are available FREE for download at We encourage readers to make full use of this opportunity to access the latest international law scholarship. Please also visit our Facebook page and recommend AsianJIL to your friends and colleagues.

NUS Centre for International Law (CIL) ASEAN Documents Database

The ASEAN Documents Database is a free, user-friendly, internet resource of selected ASEAN and International Law Documents. About than 600 selected ASEAN documents and 260 International Law documents are now included in the database. Please click here to access the database.