Since the creation of the British Indian Ocean Territory, a remnant of the British Empire has been subject of international legal dispute. The two most prominent are the request for an advisory opinion – currently under deliberation of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – and secondly the arbitral proceedings under the Law of the Sea Convention. These issues and certain domestic proceedings in the United Kingdom relating to the legal status of the Chagossian people, have been the subject of legal academic research and subsequent publications. A recent addition is titled: “Fifty years of the British Indian Ocean territory: legal perspectives.” This book, produced in response to the 50th anniversary of the British Indian Ocean Territory’s founding, also assesses the impact of the decisions taken in respect of the Territory against a wider background of decolonization while addressing important questions about the lawfulness of maintaining Overseas Territories in the post-colonial era.Read more
Recent years have seen the African Court begin to find its stride. Its willingness to expand its jurisdiction and defend vulnerable groups against powerful states has shown it to be a bold court with a desire to vigorously uphold its mandate to protect human rights on the Continent. Whilst it indeed seems that the Court has the aspiration to assert itself, the fact that so few states have deposited their Special Declarations allowing individuals and NGOs direct access to the Court continues to hamper its effectiveness. The Court’s outreach efforts to engage with states and civil society in response to this paucity of Special Declarations do appear to be having some success, however, progress has been slow and the Court may have to have recourse to other means to improve state engagement in future.Read more
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed on August 9 each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. This event also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection. It was first pronounced by the General Assembly of the United Nations in December 1994, marking the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in 1982. In 2004 the assembly proclaimed the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (2005-2014). The focus of this year’s International Day is “Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples”.
The theme aims to highlight the importance of implementing the rights of indigenous peoples through policies and programs at both the national and international level working together towards this common goal with Governments, the United Nations system, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders.Read more
On January 30, 2013, the court (Rechtbank) in the Hague, The Netherlands, ruled that Royal Dutch Shell can be held partially responsible for pollution in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region and ordered it to pay damages to one farmer. The Dutch court dismissed four out of five allegations of the Ogoni people against the oil company. Although Shell blames the oil pollution to sabotage, activists say the case could set a precedent for damage claims related to the foreign activities of multinational companies.Read more
In the middle of the Indian Ocean, about halfway between India and Indonesia, some 500 km from the Maldives, lies a remote group of coralline islands called the Chagos Archipelago. This chain of islands consists of seven atolls comprising a total of sixty individual tropical islands. In 1814, the Chagos Islands officially became British territory and were administratively attached to Mauritius.Read more
Whales, large, mysterious, intelligent, and endangered. Has any mammal inspired such romantic images of the sea and love for nature as much as the whale, yet aroused such controversy in global environmental conservation? King of the Seas, symbol of the environmental movement, meat and oil for commercial whaling. Over the years, large-scale commercial whaling has depleted a number of whale populations to a significant extent, resulting in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) issuing a moratorium on whaling in 1986. Some recent developments will illustrate the highly controversial nature of whaling.Read more
On Wednesday, 30 July, the Australian High Court in Canberra in a key ruling (Northern Territory of Australia v Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust  HCA 29, judgement here) upheld a decision by the Federal Court earlier this year granting Aboriginal people rights of ownership over a large part of the Northern Territory’s (NT) coastline.Read more