Thursday 28 Oct 2021 | 07:26 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

International law

Would a war over Taiwan be legal?

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for “solidarity” with Taiwan in the face of China’s “intimidatory sorties” testing its air defences. As the war drum incessantly beats, would a war against China to defend Taiwan be legal? For all the abstract talk about a rules-

An opening on the ICJ and an opportunity for renewal

In the early 20th century, the Peace Palace in The Hague – seat of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) since 1946 – was envisioned as “a sort of holy place”, “prized … by thinking men throughout the world … to which, in … danger of war between any two countries, the minds of men

Did 9/11 change our world?

We asked six experts, “Did 9/11 define our world? If so, how? If not, what did?” After each of their responses to these questions, editor Lydia Khalil challenges the experts with questions that delve deeper into their rationales and reasons

Rules Based Audio (Episode 1): In Conversation with John Ikenberry

In an increasingly contested world, basic questions about how the world works, and how it should work, are being asked anew. In Rules Based Audio we will be posing those questions to some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners. This podcast series is part of the Lowy Institute’s Rules

Whatever happened to the South China Sea ruling?

Five years ago on this day, an international tribunal in a landmark ruling dismissed Beijing’s claim to much of the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague said on 12 July 2016 that there was no evidence that China had exercised exclusive control historically over the key

Scholar, advocate, judge: James Crawford 1948–2021

James Crawford, who passed away on Monday, was the most influential Australian international lawyer of all time. Many of us in the field hope for some measure of success as scholars, advocates, or perhaps as a judge. Crawford’s greatness in all three areas might have been infuriating had he not

Why did Australia sign the Moon Treaty?

International space law has again become a theatre of geopolitical competition. Unlike the bipolar space race of the Cold War era, a proliferating cast of countries and corporations are developing spacefaring capacity, testing the limits of existing law. China recently matched the United States in

Economic diplomacy: Patent politics and trade deal twists

Biden’s jab First it was new carbon emission cuts, and then a global minimum corporate tax. But it is hard to beat the Biden administration’s move to shaft the pharmaceutical industry lobby over vaccine patents for putting the US back at the heart of global public policy. The devil will be in

High hopes and hot air on climate change

Amid a very bad week for news about Covid-19, there was a long-awaited ray of hope about climate. Within an hour of US President Joe Biden’s opening to the Virtual Leaders’ Summit on Climate, there was new optimism – but no certainty – that catastrophic global climate change might be

When will PNG establish a National Human Rights Commission?

Corruption is one of the biggest challenges in Papua New Guinea, according to Transparency International PNG. In 2020, the government successfully established the Independent Commission Against Corruption to protect government systems and provide whistleblowers a mechanism for reporting complaints.

Antarctica: Working a rules-based system

Panic about China in Antarctica or shoehorning the continent into US-China geostrategic competition risks creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Australia’s interest in a peaceful Antarctica doesn’t fit such a binary view. Besides, where else would it be commonplace for Chinese, Australian and US

Chagos: A boundary dispute tips over a sovereignty ruling

The decision last month of a Special Chamber of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea on a maritime boundary dispute between Mauritius and the Maldives reflects two dimensions to the engagement by international courts in resolving disputes among Indian Ocean states. First, it represents

Australia in focus at the UN Human Rights Council

Australia is a peaceful, prosperous nation that vocalises its support for human rights – and yet last week at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, one after another, countries voiced their concerns about serious human rights violations that are being committed in Australia, particularly relating