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Before the International Tribunal for the Law of Sea, there are ongoing advisory proceedings concerning the rights and obligations of flag and coastal States and international agencies with regard to illegal fishing. The request as well as written and oral statements of the participating States and international organizations are available on the Tribunal’s website. The Advisory Opinion will be released in a few months.
The Bolivia v. Chile case before the International Court of Justice is also very interesting. In this case, Bolivia claims that Chile has an obligation to negotiate with it an outcome to the Pacific Ocean.
Finally, I should also mention the two cases opposing Nicaragua and Colombia before the International Court of Justice concerning maritime delimitation. I can’t go into further details, but anyone interested in maritime disputes should keep an eye on these two cases.
The first example may appear very technical but is fundamental. In international law – and, in particular, in the law of international organizations – the importance of the unanimity rule in amendment or decision-making procedures has been reduced. The majority rule is increasingly applicable in many international organizations. This is the case for the U.N., although the five permanent member of the Security Council still possess a veto right. This trend has also been verified over the past decades with the European Union. With each reform of the treaties of the E.U., the role of the unanimity rule has decreased.
The second example is, in some respects, an application of this evolution. Over the past decades, we observed a multiplication of sanctions adopted by States collectively against States which allegedly committed the most serious internationally wrongful acts (unlawful use of force, war crimes, crimes against humanity, etc). U.N. sanctions against Libya or E.U. sanctions against Russia are recent examples of such collective reactions. And, as Pr. Alain Pellet notes, “on ne peut raisonnablement prétendre qu[e ces sanctions] ont été « voulues » par les Etats qui en sont l’objet (ni d’ailleurs forcément par ceux qui doivent les mettre en œuvre)” (“one cannot reasonably claim that [these sanctions] were ‘wanted’ by the targeted States (nor necessarily by those who must implement them)”).
Of course, the process is slow, often too slow for the temporal frame of reference of a human being (60 years represents more than ¾ of a human life). We often hear that European Union has gone nowhere, that it is useless and failed to give its citizens what they need. I know that the European institutions are not yet perfect but the real problems are the policies and the politicians who run those policies. We can complain but, at the end of the day, this is our responsibility to elect people who are ready to make a change in these policies.
The situation of the UN is not that different. In my opinion, the UN should follow the same approach. No doubt that the reform process is and will be slower than that of the E.U. The UN is not composed of 27 States but of 193! However, I think that, instead of making a big fuss every 10 years, the UN should focus on promoting small changes every year.
I studied for four years at Sorbonne University. At the end of my fourth year, I applied for an LL.M. at Sorbonne University. I was in the top 10 of my class but they rejected my application (I still don’t know why :) ). I was very upset. But looking backward, this is the best thing that could have happened to me! I also applied for an LL.M. at Nanterre University and got accepted. At the end of my LL.M., I wanted to apply for an internship at the OECD and I asked the director of the program, Pr. Alain Pellet, whether he would accept to recommend me. He accepted but told me that if my application was not accepted he would offer me an internship at the International Law Commission of the U.N., of which he was a member. The truth is he usually did not offer such internships to students of his program because he had an agreement with NYU and he took every year an intern from that university. That year, he refused the student NYU proposed because he had never studied international law. Once again luck was on my side. A week later, without even applying for an internship at the OECD, I told him that I would be very happy to be his intern at the I.L.C.! The internship went great.
A few months after this internship, I started my Ph.D., under his supervision. At the same time, one of his assistants left to join the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Luck again! He needed a new assistant to take over and he knew I needed financing for my Ph.D. That’s how I started working on my first ICJ cases. It was Peru v. Chile.
MUNers should realize that their future careers will be based on luck, which they can “provoke” by working hard, and their ability to learn from their failures, adapt and seize every single opportunity offered.
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