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September 01 2014

mr-absentia

August 06 2014

mr-absentia

April 29 2014

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July 25 2013

mr-absentia

Edward Snowden's fear of flying is justified | Geoffrey Robertson | Comment is free | The Guardian

So far Snowden has had three offers of asylum from Latin America, but to travel there means dangerous hours in the air. International law (and the Chicago Convention regulating air traffic) emphatically asserts freedom to traverse international airspace, but America tends to treat international law as binding on everyone except America (and Israel). Thus when Egypt did a deal with the Achille Lauro hijackers and sent them on a commercial flight to Tunis, US F-14 jets intercepted the plane in international airspace and forced it to land in Italy, where the hijackers were tried and jailed. President Mubarak condemned the action as "air piracy contrary to international law" and demanded an apology, to which Reagan replied: "Never." The UK supported the action as designed to bring terrorists to trial.

In 1986 Israel forced down a Libyan commercial plane in the mistaken belief that PLO leaders were among its passengers, and the US vetoed UN security council condemnation. So there must be a real concern, particularly after Nato allies collaborated in forcing down the Bolivian president's jet, that the US will intercept any plane believed to be carrying Snowden to asylum, either because he is tantamount to a terrorist (Vice-President Biden has described Julian Assange as a "hi-tech terrorist") or simply because they want to put him on trial as a spy.

That, no doubt, is why Snowden cancelled his ticket to Cuba a few weeks ago, fearing the flight would end in Florida. Russia has, in effect, provided him with temporary asylum (there is no legal magic about staying airside – he is in Russia) so he might be best advised to accept the gag and enjoy Moscow's hospitality. Until, perhaps, a new government in Germany after its September elections offers him a platform if he turns up as a refugee, whereupon he could take a tramp steamer to Hamburg.

July 10 2013

mr-absentia

ICRC: cyber attacks and the law of war

  • What is cyber warfare and why is the ICRC concerned?

    By cyber warfare, we’re talking here solely about means and methods of warfare that consist of cyber operations amounting to, or conducted in the context of, an armed conflict, within the meaning of international humanitarian law (IHL). IHL does not apply to every kind of activity called "cyber attacks" in common parlance.

    Cyber networks are vulnerable. When the computers or networks of a State are attacked civilians could be deprived of basic essentials such as drinking water, medical care and electricity. Cyber attacks could interfere with rescue services that save lives or disrupt vital infrastructure such as dams, nuclear plants and aircraft control systems. The well-being, health and even lives of hundreds of thousands of people could be affected. One of the ICRC’s roles is to remind all parties to a conflict that constant care must be taken to spare civilians: wars have rules and limits that apply to all means and methods of warfare.

  • Cyber weapons: what does international law say?

    Assessing the legality of new weapons is in the interest of all States, as it will help them ensure that their armed forces act in accordance with their international obligations. Article 36 of the 1977 Protocol I additional to the Geneva Conventions requires each State party to make sure that any new weapons it deploys or considers deploying comply with the rules of IHL, a point usefully recalled by the Tallinn Manual.

    At the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, in 2003, States party to the Geneva Conventions called for “rigorous and multidisciplinary review” of new weapons and means and methods of warfare, to make sure that the law’s protection is not overtaken by the development of technology. The use of cyber operations in armed conflict is a perfect example of such rapid technological development.

  • Are hackers a legitimate target in cyber warfare?

    Most cyber operations are not linked to an armed conflict, so IHL does not even apply. Even in armed conflict, most hackers would be civilians who remain protected by IHL against direct attack, though they would remain subject to possible criminal prosecution depending on what they did.

    But if hackers take a direct part in hostilities, carrying out a cyber attack in support of one side in an armed conflict, they lose their protection against direct attack during the execution of the cyber attack.

July 07 2013

mr-absentia
[Michael] Bochenek [director of law and policy at Amnesty International] said there was no reason why Snowden could not be granted asylum without setting foot in the country that had granted him refuge. The need to be present in the country where asylum is granted is a convention that can be ignored if nations see fit, he said. ‘It's true that a lot of states have that as a rule in their own domestic requirements, but it is not required by international law,’ he said. Neither did placing Snowden on an Interpol ‘red flag’ list mean that states had to hand him over to the US. The procedure is an advisory measure that can be ignored, legal experts said.
US attempts to block Edward Snowden are 'bolstering' case for asylum (guardian.co.uk, Jul. 7 2013)

June 25 2013

mr-absentia
Assange's US attorney Michael Ratner told Monday's teleconference that whistleblowers were protected under the refugee convention. ‘The refugee convention protects people who are being persecuted for political opinion (and) whistleblower activities come within that,’ he said. ‘Whistleblowing and the protection under the refugee convention trumps any efforts to extradite Edward Snowden.’
Snowden made other asylum bids: WikiLeaks (SBS World News, Jun. 25 2013)

May 14 2013

mr-absentia

‘Absurd’: Intentionally dumping Fukushima nuclear material into ocean from land “is not considered dumping” — Allowed under international law?

The Fukushima disaster is without precedent and will have unprecedented impacts on future policies governing the ocean, both Japanese and international.

[...] the Fukushima accident has revealed some key shortcomings in international law, said Kentaro Nishimoto, who teaches law of the sea at Tohoku University. To illustrate, he used an incident that has brought sharp criticism from Japan’s neighbors: the intentional release of radioactive water into the sea.

[...] Nishimoto said, the relevant international laws proved to be nonbinding. In particular, he noted, the London Convention on marine pollution, although it expressly prohibits ocean dumping of radioactive material, limits these restrictions to vessels at sea. Release of materials from land is not considered dumping.

“When I tell this to people outside the field of international law, the reaction I get is, ‘This is absurd,’ ” Nishimoto acknowledged. [...]

Reposted fromanti-nuclear anti-nuclear
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