Newsletter 2017/9
Newsletter 2017/9



Human Rights

UN rights chief voices concern about Cambodia election after opposition ban (UN News, 17 November 2017)

The United Nations human rights chief voiced grave concerns about the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in Cambodia next year following the decision by the Supreme Court to dissolve the main opposition party. “An effective multi-party democracy requires an opposition that can operate freely without intimidation and threats – and the same goes for a credible, free and fair election,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a news release. The court dissolved the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), the main opposition party, on Thursday after the Ministry of Interior complained that the opposition was plotting a so-called colour revolution against the Government. A total of 118 CNRP members were banned from political activity for five years.

ASEAN urges Myanmar to increase humanitarian efforts in Rakhine state (Manila Bulletin, 17 November 2017)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) urged the Myanmar government to “continue to implement the recommendations of the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State and to increase humanitarian efforts to affected communities.”

UN envoy urges greater support for Rohingya victims of sexual violence (UN News, 16 November 2017)

Following a visit to Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have settled in makeshift camps, a United Nations envoy has called for enhanced measures to protect and assist victims of sexual violence among the displaced population. “My observations point to a pattern of widespread atrocities, including rape, gang-rape by multiple soldiers, forced public nudity and humiliation, and sexual slavery in military captivity directed against Rohingya women and girls,” UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten said. Ms. Pattan's visit, mainly to Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, and to Cox's Bazar, from 5 to 13 November, was to better understand the nature, patterns and trends of sexual violence related to the conflict in Myanmar and also to assess options for providing support to the Government of Bangladesh, the UN system and other partners to ensure that the rights of conflict-affected women and girls are respected and upheld in the settlements.

Gov’t and IS-allied groups violated humanitarian law, human rights in Marawi — Amnesty International (Minda News, 17 November 2017)

Released on Nov. 17 by the London-based Amnesty International, the report —  “The ‘Battle of Marawi’: Death and Destruction in the Philippines” — said the “militants,” referring to the IS-allied groups,  “committed unlawful killings, pillage, hostage-taking, and mistreatment of prisoners” while Philippine government forces “violated the prohibition against torture,” were accused of other “ill-treatment of  detainees, and likely committed pillage” and “may also have carried out disproportionate air and ground attacks.” The report concluded that the documented instances of extrajudicial execution and other forms of direct targeting of civilians by the ISIS-allied groups are “clear violations of the cardinal rule of distinction in IHL and amount to war crimes.

International Criminal Law

UN hails conviction of Mladic, the 'epitome of evil,' as momentous victory for justice (UN News, 22 November 2017)

Welcoming the conviction of former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic on multiple counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes by an international tribunal, the United Nations top human rights official said that the verdict is “a warning” to perpetrators of such crimes that they will be brought to justice. “Mladic is the epitome of evil, and the prosecution of Mladic is the epitome of what international justice is all about,” underscored Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement Wednesday 22nd November. “Today's verdict is a warning to the perpetrators of such crimes that they will not escape justice, no matter how powerful they may be nor how long it may take. They will be held accountable,” he added. Mladic presided over some of the most horrific crimes to occur in Europe since World War II, bringing terror, death and destruction to thousands of victims, and sorrow, tragedy and trauma to countless more.

See also: Ratko Mladić will die in jail. But go to Bosnia: you’ll see that he won (Guardian, 22 November 2017)

International Economic Law

The Reborn TPP Proves That Multilateral Agreements Trump Bilateral Trade Deals Every Time (Forbes, 15 November 2017)

In a clear rebuke to Trump’s ultimatum, the remaining eleven members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership responded by agreeing to move forward—without the U.S.— with what is arguably the most progressive multilateral trade agreement in a generation. The trade pact has been renamed “The Comprehensive Progressive Agreement for the TPP (“CPTPP”), but the original TPP agreement remains fundamentally intact. More broadly, America’s key allies, including Canada, Japan, Australia, Singapore and Vietnam have affirmed their commitment to multilateral agreements and a rules-based trading framework.

See also: The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement now becomes the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership - What is next? (Duane Morris Vietnam, 17 November 2017)

China and India should now join the TPP (Straits Times, 15 November 2017)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) - the biggest trade deal in history - has got a new lease of life. But it remains limited in its geographical coverage - something that can be substantially remedied if China and India also sign up. With the addition of the two Asian giants, it would then cover countries with a total population of about three billion instead of 500 million, and a combined gross domestic product of US$25 trillion (S$34 trillion) instead of US$13 trillion.

China-led regional trade pact (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership – RCEP) tries to make ground as restyled TPP pushes on without US (SCMP, 14 November 2017)

The leaders of the 16 countries that signed up to a China-led trade pact sought to make progress on the deal during an ASEAN business summit in the Philippines capital Manila.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a regional free-trade agreement supported by the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, along with China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. However, after 20 rounds of negotiations, the details of the deal remain under discussion. The talks in Manila come just days after the 11 nations still allied to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreed to rename and push on with their pact, which the United States abandoned in January. Following talks on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, the countries said they would proceed with the deal under the new name, the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) leaders hold first-ever summit (Bangkok Post, 15 November 2017)

Leaders from 16 countries including China, India and Thailand began their first-ever summit yesterday to discuss an East Asian free trade deal that has been seen as a China-led rival to the TPP. The gathering in Manila of leaders from the countries involved in negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement is expected to focus on speeding up negotiations for the RCEP, which has not been concluded after five years of negotiation.

International Organisations 

Singapore's ASEAN 2018 chairmanship to focus on 'resilience and innovation' (Rappler, 15 November 2017)

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially took over the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday, November 14, as the 31st ASEAN Summit drew to a close. Lee said that Singapore will focus on ‘resilience and innovation’ in its year-long chairmanship of the ASEAN. This is to “promote and uphold a rules-based regional order so that we can better deal with emerging security challenges such as cyber security, transnational crime and terrorism,” as Lee said in his speech at the closing ceremony of the summit on Tuesday evening. In an interview with Singaporean press, he said that ASEAN is the “lifeboat” for all 10 member countries. "It means for Singapore a stabler world to live in, a safer Southeast Asia in which we can operate, a more prosperous region in which we can grow our economy, expand our markets and seize opportunities which will be there,” he said.

We need an ASEAN CEO (Jakarta Post, 17 November 2017)

In its editorial on Nov 17, The Jakarta Post urges the regional grouping to suitably empower its Secretary General to take the grouping forward. In his capacity as the 2018 chairman of the 10-member ASEAN, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on Wednesday the appointment of Brunei's senior diplomat, Lim Jock Hoi, as ASEAN secretary-general for the next five years, replacing Vietnam's Le Luong Minh. Lim's promotion was decided by the regional grouping's leaders during their summit in Manila a few days ago. We welcome to Jakarta the new secretary-general and thank seasoned diplomat Le Luong Minh, who will end his tenure at the end of this year. Brunei has named its best government official to head the ASEAN Secretariat. We also believe a more challenging assignment is awaiting the outgoing ASEAN chief. Regretfully, during their summit in Manila, ASEAN leaders lacked the guts to decide drastic policies the region needed the most to ensure the realisation of the ASEAN Community in 2020.

India’s nominee Dalveer Bhandari re-elected to ICJ (The Hindu, 21 November 2017)

India’s nominee to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Dalveer Bhandari was re-elected to the fifth and the last seat of the world court after Britain withdrew its candidate from the election. Mr. Bhandari received 183-193 votes in the General Assembly and secured all the 15 votes in the Security Council after separate and simultaneous elections were held at the UN headquarters in New York. The elections were held after United Kingdom, in a dramatic turn of events, withdrew out of the race for the Hague-based ICJ, thus paving the way for Mr. Bhandari’s re-election to the prestigious world court.

Law of the Sea 

31st ASEAN Chairman's statement references international law in South China Sea (CNN, 16 November 2017)

The Philippines, as chair of the 31st ASEAN Summit brought back a provision into the final Chairman's Statement that implied a reference to a landmark ruling recognizing the Philippines' claims over the South China Sea. The ASEAN Chairman's statement released Thursday "stressed the need to adhere to the peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)." "[We] further reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states," the statement read. This was a departure from the 30th ASEAN Chairman's statement in April, which skipped the passage acknowledging international law altogether. There was also no mention of militarization or land reclamation in the earlier statement.

Duterte calls for legally binding code on SCS (Philippine Star, 17 November 2017)

President Duterte will push for a legally binding Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, Malacañang said as leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) welcomed the adoption of a framework that would pave the way for negotiations on a “substantive and effective” COC with China. ASEAN and China have agreed to start talks on the COC. Encouraged by the “positive momentum,” the chairman’s statement of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila said the leaders of the regional bloc look forward to the start of negotiations at the 20th ASEAN-China Summit and the subsequent convening of the 23rd ASEAN-China Joint Working Group Meeting on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in Vietnam in early 2018.


Call for Papers - Teaching and Researching International Law in Asia

The Centre for International Law at the National University of Singapore will be hosting a conference from 21 to 22 June 2018 on “Teaching and Researching International Law in Asia” (TRILA).  The broad purposes of the Conference are to assess the current state of Teaching and Research in International Law in Asia; to identify commonly experienced challenges for teachers of international law in the region; and to formulate a programme of further action and activities to assist individuals in their teaching and research

The Conference will be preceded by a Junior Faculty Workshop on the 20 June 2018, directed at assisting junior faculty with their scholarship and efforts to publish. Further details about these events and information on how to participate are available here!

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.

Call for Submissions – Asian Journal of Comparative Law

The Asian Journal of Comparative Law (AsJCL) published by Cambridge University Press is the leading forum for research and discussion of the law and legal systems of Asia. It embraces work that is theoretical, empirical, socio-legal, doctrinal or comparative that relates to one or more Asian legal systems, as well as work that compares one or more Asian legal systems with non-Asian systems. The Journal seeks articles which display an intimate knowledge of Asian legal systems, and thus provide a window into the way they work in practice. The AsJCL is an initiative of the Asian Law Institute (ASLI), an association established by sixteen leading law schools in Asia and with a rapidly expanding membership base across Asia and in other regions around the world. The AsJCL would like to invite submissions for future issues. Articles should be submitted exclusively to the AsJCL, with publication subject to double-blind peer-review and editorial discretion. For details on the submission process and style requirements, as well as information on how to subscribe and free downloadable content, visit

Call for Submissions – Melbourne Journal of International Law

The Editors of the Melbourne Journal of International Law (‘MJIL’), Australia’s premier generalist international law journal, are now inviting submissions for volume 19(1). The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2018. MJIL is a peer-reviewed academic journal based at the University of Melbourne which publishes innovative scholarly research and critical examination of issues in international law. Submissions and inquiries should be directed to For more information please visit

New International and Comparative Law Quarterly Discounted Subscription Rate for AsianSIL Members

AsianSIL members can now benefit from a heavily discounted personal subscription to the International & Comparative Law Quarterly. To obtain an annual online and print subscription for £75/$98 AsianSIL members should email<> and request the Asian Society of International Law discount rate.

 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.