Ius Gentium

University of Baltimore School of Law's Center for International and Comparative Law Fellows discuss international and comparative legal issues


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From the Age of Big Brother, [TITLE CONTENT CENSORED (and that *might* not be a terrible thing…)], Greetings!

Margie Beltran

 

 

The mystique of a dystopian society has maintained a consistent intrigue across the history of mankind.  The imagination of man runs wild when he thinks about the “what ifs” and how they would affect the way we live.

The Time Machine; 1984; Brave New World; Planet of the Apes; The Giver; The Hunger Games; The Divergent Series; and, of course, that paramount episode of The Twilight Zone when all that poor man wanted to do was read his books – he becomes the last man on Earth and can finally sit on the remains of the post-apocalyptic library, reading for the rest of his days. And then, he accidentally steps on his glasses and yells, “That’s not fair, there was time now!”

We have seen the same theme time and again: mankind begins to self-destruct and in the bout of chaos and anarchy, a powerful leader/governing body rises from the ruins and reshapes society into a peaceful and balanced ecosystem.  Beautiful, no? So, what’s the catch? To have order and peace, one must forego the right to freedom and privacy.

My friends, hold on to your Mockingjay pins, for the dawning of the dystopian society may be upon us.

On November 29, 2016, The Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) was passed in the UK set to be enforced in January 2017.[i]  Not the first of its kind among the EU Member States, the IPA was satirically dubbed the “Snooper’s Charter” by those who opposed it. The Act grants law enforcement easier access to the private communications of UK citizens.[ii]  Some of the major provisions[iii] include, but are not limited to:

  1. Power to issue warrants for intrusive surveillance granted to ministers.
  2. Easier access for the government to retain browser history from popular websites.
  3. Ability to collect bulk communications data and to hack suspect’s electronic devices.

Over the past few years, terrorist attacks have become a consistent and troubling threat throughout Europe.[iv]  Although aware of the threat posed by terrorism, many within the EU are concerned since allowing the government into their phones and personal computers was not quite what many had in mind, as far protective measures go.[v]  Amnesty International (AI) criticized the UK, a nation considered to be a fierce protector of human rights, for setting such an example to other EU-Member States.[vi] According to AI, the Snooper’s Charter is “a modern twist of the Orwellian ‘thought crime,’ [in which] people can now be prosecuted for actions that have extremely tenuous links to actual criminal behavior.”[vii]

I sympathize and empathize with this issue under two lenses: the first, my rose-colored-goggles human rights activist perspective, in which I feel the rights of the people should be staunchly protected and the foremost concern of the governing body to any nation because it is what is just and humane; and the second, as a young American adult who remembers being a nine-year old, enveloped with gut-wrenching fear for reasons I could not even comprehend, living just minutes from Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001, and seeing the glazed-over eyes and clenched jaws of my peers whose parents worked downtown trying to hold back their tears in school for weeks following the attack.

The day the government is definitively tracking every communication we send and receive will be a disturbing one for sure.  Even if they have nothing to hide, many people are bothered knowing a third party is always reading, analyzing, and judging everything they type or say.

While freedom of speech is of the utmost importance, I continually find myself reverting to the lenses of nine-year old me.  If the ones I love are at risk of being hurt, I would give up my right to privacy within the confines of this act.  Maybe not permanently – and that is a risk that holds high with a law challenging a fundamental freedom – but at least until this state of emergency in Europe eases.

Think about The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (far more commonly known as The USA PATRIOT Act) enacted during the George W. Bush Administration in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks which enabled law enforcement to detect and prevent terrorism attacks by expanding the scope of their investigatory practices.[viii]  The USA PATRIOT Act passed in Congress across the bipartisan margins.[ix]  In the Senate, the act passed with nearly a unanimous at a 98-1 vote, while the House voted in favor with a 357-66 vote.[x]

Regarding terrorist attacks, the US has not faced an attack of the magnitude of 9/11 since the act was decreed.  While the USA PATRIOT Act has its flaws, as most laws do, the original purpose for introducing the bill has generally been satisfied.  The UK appears as if the IPA has received the same treatment by Parliament.[xi]  According to London-based journalist, Ewen MacAskill, the bill passed “with barely a whimper.”[xii]  Further, he said the marginal resistance to the bill did not come from outside of the parliament’s four walls, indicating the people of the UK and Parliament are both in support of the IPA.[xiii]  If the citizens of the UK are not complaining about the new law and choosing to exercise their right of privacy by foregoing their right of privacy, then so be it.  They have the right to invite Big Brother into their lives.

To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone – to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone…from the age of Big Brother – greetings!” – George Orwell, 1984[xiv]

 

Margery Beltran is a third year law student at the University of Baltimore School of Law (Candidate for J.D., May 2017).  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Family Science with a minor in Psychology from Towson University.  Her interests include mental health and disability law and international alternative dispute resolution. Margie currently serves as the Volume V Comments Editor for the University of Baltimore’s Journal of International Law. She participated in the 2016 Summer Abroad Program at the University of Aberdeen School of Law in Aberdeen, Scotland.  She is currently an intern in Washington D.C. for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Alternative Dispute Resolution Division.

[i] http://www.natlawreview.com/article/uk-investigatory-powers-act-2016-how-to-prepare-digital-age

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id.

[iv] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/17/uk-counter-terror-laws-most-orwellian-in-europe-says-amnesty

[v] Id.

[vi] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/01/eu-orwellian-counter-terrorism-laws-stripping-rights-under-guise-of-defending-them/

[vii] Id.

[viii] https://www.justice.gov/archive/ll/highlights.htm

[ix] Id.

[x] Id.

[xi] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/19/extreme-surveillance-becomes-uk-law-with-barely-a-whimper

[xii] Id.

[xiii] Id.

[xiv] 1984 by George Orwell

 

 

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The Double-Edged Sword in the Stone: London’s Fate as a Seat of International Arbitration Post-Brexit

Esther-Jane Grenness

Her chest tightened and her palms began to sweat when an email popped up in her inbox with the subject line, “Attention HSBC London Employees.” Her worst fears were confirmed. Her job was moving to Paris as “preemptive action” in response to Brexit uncertainties.[1] She picked up her phone and dialed her father’s number. A Welsh collier who eagerly voted “Yes!” to leave the EU, he picked up the phone, happy to see his daughter calling. Without even saying hello, she blurted, “Thanks a lot, Da! My job’s to move to France because you an’ all voted to give them the boot.” Tears welled up in her eyes. After a moment’s pause, her father exclaimed, “Bloody foreign loving bastards! Shame on them. They’re a British bank.” Dejected, she mumbled, “It’s all because of Brexit.”

Brexit is the term used to describe the United Kingdom’s June 2016 referendum in which 51.9% of the eligible electorate voted to leave the European Union.[2] Not expecting it to actually happen, the United Kingdom must now decide how, and when, to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU – or Lisbon Treaty). Article 50 gives the U.K. two years in which to negotiate its exit, but the legislation that links the U.K. and EU is exceedingly complex. Not surprisingly, experts argue it could take ten years to unravel legal ties going back 45 years to the enactment of the European Communities Act of 1972.[3]

The Razor Edge

There is no doubt that Brexit has the British financial markets in turmoil. In addition to HSBC’s dash for the door, VTB Bank, a Russian bank, announced recently that it will also relocate due to Brexit.[4] Moves like this highlight the depth of the Brexit sword’s cut. London is a major player in the financial clearing sector, which is where banks act as intermediaries in business transactions.[5] As a member of the EU, the U.K. enjoys what is known as passporting, which allows the free flow of funds between countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).[6] Without such a free flow, additional regulatory authorizations would be necessary.[7] Brexit strips the U.K. of these EU benefits and leaves the U.K.’s financial market clout teetering on the edge of a sea of quicksand. And it’s not just the free flow of money that’s implicated in Brexit. The heretofore mobile workforce with expertise in “complex and multi-jurisdictional matters”[8] will be curtailed. British lawyers who are currently allowed to “provide interstate services on a temporary basis” in EU member states could lose that right if Brexit goes through.[9] Indeed, experts argue London could lose as many as 18,000 jobs in the legal and accounting services sector, and 83,000 total jobs over the next seven years as a direct result of Brexit.[10]

 grenness_blog1_photo2

The Blunt Edge

Where does this financial sector flight leave the international arbitration business in London? According to a 2015 survey, London is one of the most popular seats of international arbitration.[11] British law is also among the most widely chosen law to govern international commercial contracts—whether or not the contract was formed, performed, or even remotely related to Britain.[12] With such a top spot, the U.K. understandably doesn’t want to lose its primacy to competing international arbitration seats such as Paris, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Geneva, New York, Zurich, and Stockholm.”[13]

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Most writers on the subject believe London’s primacy as a seat for international arbitration will chug along “business as usual.”[14] There are two major reasons. First, EU law doesn’t govern arbitral awards. Rather, any awards granted in London are governed by the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, also known as the New York Convention. This Convention allows parties to enforce arbitral awards in the domestic courts of any of its 156 member states. Second, the U.K.’s Arbitration Act of 1996 is very friendly to arbitration. Britain’s courts take a largely hands off approach but will step in to assist arbitral tribunals with such things as compelling witnesses to testify, preserving evidence, and ordering injunctive relief.[15]

Other arguments posed are that because the U.K. would no longer be bound by rulings from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), any precedent considered harmful to arbitration could be cast aside.[16] They argue further that in the field of investor-state arbitration, Brexit has its perks. After Brexit, the U.K. would not be bound by the EU’s recent move away from investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) to an untested investment court system (ICS). Under the current ISDS model, investors are allowed a voice in choosing the arbitrators that will hear their case. Under the EU’s new ICS model, investors would no longer have a voice in arbitrator selection. Only member states would manage the names on a revolving roster of randomly appointed arbitrators. In a post-Brexit world, investors could continue to cherry pick from the various investment treaties to which the U.K. is a party in its own right. Investors could also happily anticipate the new investment treaties the U.K. would now be free to negotiate on its own behalf.

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Given these sunny predictions, one quickly nods one’s head in agreement with such common sense arguments. The sword is still in the stone, however. More recent studies have pointed out that the proponents of these arguments are largely U.K. centered practitioners, who are naturally biased in favor of keeping London at the top of the list.[17] In addition, optimists downplayed the significance of the financial sector’s flight. Even the most myopic commentators had to acknowledge London’s primacy as a seat of arbitration is “undeniably influenced by its role as an international business hub,” but they were quick to soften the potential “knock-on effect” as “expected to be minimal.”[18] A more realistic prediction for this blunt side of the sword is that an “exodus of businesses” would eviscerate London’s status as the financial hub in Europe.[19] Therefore, if London lost its status “and something else becomes the financial center of Europe, over time you may see arbitration gravitate that way.”[20]

grenness_blog1_photo6

As a British national living abroad, I wasn’t eligible to participate in the U.K. referendum. I wish I could say I agree with the optimists, but the writing is on the wall. Most of the financial sector jobs are moving to Paris.[21] Because Paris is one of London’s competitors for international arbitration market share, it’s only a matter of time before the arbitration business bleeds out of London. The people of Britain have their hands on both edges of the Brexit sword, but as they pull it out of the stone, London’s international arbitration market is likely to wind up cut just as deeply as that of its financial sector.

­

Esther-Jane Grenness is an evening student in her fourth year of studies at the University of Baltimore School of Law. She graduated from the University of Baltimore in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence and obtained her Associate of Arts from Howard Community College in 2001. Esther is a member of the International Arbitration Committee’s Investment Treaty Working Group of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law. She also participated in the Mentorship program with the Women in International Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law. In addition to her studies, Esther coordinates government procurement contracts in the mobility sales operations group for AT&T’s Global Business – Public Sector Solutions segment.

 

[1] Chris Johnson, HSBC Prepares to move 1,000 U.K. Jobs to Paris Due to Brexit Confusion, Law.com (Jan. 11, 2017), http://www.law.com/sites/almstaff/2017/01/11/hsbc-prepares-to-move-1000-u-k-jobs-to-paris-due-to-brexit-confusion/?et=editorial&bu=Law.com&cn=20170111&src=EMC-Email&pt=ALM%20Morning%20Minute&slreturn=20170021202538.

[2] King & Wood Mallesons, Brexit and Arbitration: Shaken but not Stirred, KWM News & Insights (Sept. 15, 2016), http://www.kwm.com/en/knowledge/insights/the-impact-of-brexit-on-international-arbitration-20160915.

[3] Caroline Simson, What Brexit Could Mean for International Arbitration, Law360 (Jun. 22, 2016, 5:22 PM EDT), https://www.law360.com/articles/808801/what-brexit-could-mean-for-international-arbitration.

[4] Chris Johnson, EY Report: Brexit Could Cost London 18,000 Legal, Accounting Jobs, The Am Law Daily (Nov. 14, 2016), http://www.americanlawyer.com/id=1202772254983/EY-Report-Brexit-Could-Cost-London-18000-Legal-Accounting-Jobs?mcode=1202617075486&curindex=0&curpage=ALL&slreturn=20170021203506.

[5] Clearing, Investopedia, http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/clearing.asp (last visited Jan. 20, 2017).

[6] What is Passporting? Definition and Meaning, Market Business News, http:/marketbusinessnews.com/financial-glossary/passporting-definition-meaning/ (last visited Jan. 20, 2017).

[7] Id.

[8] James Rogers, Simon Goodall and Charles Golsong, How will Brexit impact arbitration in England and Wales? It’s Business As Usual, Norton Rose Fulbright, 16 (Sep. 25, 2016), http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/files/international-arbitration-report-issue-7-142408.pdf.

[9] Caroline Simson, Post-Brexit Barriers Could Hurt London Arbitration: Study, Law360 (December 15, 2016, 5:18 PM EST), https://www.law360.com/articles/872676/post-brexit-barriers-could-hurt-london-arbitration-study.

[10] Chris Johnson, EY Report: Brexit Could Cost London 18,000 Legal, Accounting Jobs, The Am Law Daily (Nov. 14, 2016), http://www.americanlawyer.com/id=1202772254983/EY-Report-Brexit-Could-Cost-London-18000-Legal-Accounting-Jobs?mcode=1202617075486&curindex=0&curpage=ALL&slreturn=20170021203506.

[11] Caroline Simson, Post-Brexit Barriers Could Hurt London Arbitration: Study, Law360 (December 15, 2016, 5:18 PM EST), https://www.law360.com/articles/872676/post-brexit-barriers-could-hurt-london-arbitration-study.

[12] James Rogers, Simon Goodall and Charles Golsong, How will Brexit impact arbitration in England and Wales? It’s Business As Usual, Norton Rose Fulbright, 16 (Sep. 25, 2016), http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/files/international-arbitration-report-issue-7-142408.pdf

[13] Caroline Simson, Post-Brexit Barriers Could Hurt London Arbitration: Study, Law360 (December 15, 2016, 5:18 PM EST), https://www.law360.com/articles/872676/post-brexit-barriers-could-hurt-london-arbitration-study.

[14] James Rogers, Simon Goodall and Charles Golsong, How will Brexit impact arbitration in England and Wales? It’s Business As Usual, Norton Rose Fulbright, 15 (Sep. 25, 2016), http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/files/international-arbitration-report-issue-7-142408.pdf

[15] James Rogers, Simon Goodall and Charles Golsong, How will Brexit impact arbitration in England and Wales? It’s Business As Usual, Norton Rose Fulbright, 16 (Sep. 25, 2016), http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/files/international-arbitration-report-issue-7-142408.pdf

[16] King & Wood Mallesons, Brexit and Arbitration: Shaken but not Stirred, KWM News & Insights (Sept. 15, 2016), http://www.kwm.com/en/knowledge/insights/the-impact-of-brexit-on-international-arbitration-20160915.

[17] Maxi Scherer and Johannes Koepp, Consequences of “Brexit” on International Dispute Resolution: Special Issue of Journal of International Arbitration, Kluwer Arbitration Blog, (Oct. 21, 2016), http://kluwerarbitrationblog.com/2016/10/21/consequences-brexit-international-dispute-resolution-special-issue-journal-international-arbitration/.

[18] James Rogers, Simon Goodall and Charles Golsong, How will Brexit impact arbitration in England and Wales? It’s Business As Usual, Norton Rose Fulbright, 18 (Sep. 25, 2016), http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/files/international-arbitration-report-issue-7-142408.pdf

[19] Caroline Simson, What Brexit Could Mean for International Arbitration, Law360 (Jun. 22, 2016, 5:22 PM EDT), https://www.law360.com/articles/808801/what-brexit-could-mean-for-international-arbitration.

[20] Id.

[21] Chris Johnson, HSBC Prepares to move 1,000 U.K. Jobs to Paris Due to Brexit Confusion, Law.com (Jan. 11, 2017), http://www.law.com/sites/almstaff/2017/01/11/hsbc-prepares-to-move-1000-u-k-jobs-to-paris-due-to-brexit-confusion/?et=editorial&bu=Law.com&cn=20170111&src=EMC-Email&pt=ALM%20Morning%20Minute&slreturn=20170021202538.


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A Tale of Two Irelands; Is Unification Possible in the Wake of Brexit?

Alexander Ayer

On June 23, 2016 the U.K. shocked the world (and arguably themselves) by voting to leave the European Union.[1] The vote has left the U.K. and Europe as a whole wondering what will come next. However, in the wake of this event one group of people in the U.K. took an unprecedented action. Following Brexit so many people in Northern Ireland filed for Irish passports that the system came under significant strain and the Belfast Post Office ran out of application forms.[2] For the first time since the separation of the countries almost a century ago, Northern Irish citizens are discussing peacefully leaving the U.K. to join the Republic of Ireland.

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While England voted to leave the E.U., Northern Ireland voted 55.8% to 44.2% in favor of staying, which has caused some to question whether it might be in Northern Ireland’s best interests to split off from the U.K. as it splits off from the E.U.[3] This wouldn’t be the first time a part of the U.K. moved for independence. Just two summers ago Scotland moved to stay in the Union after a vote on independence. However, unlike the Scottish vote and for rather unique political reasons which will be discussed later, Northern Ireland might not need the approval of the current U.K. government to leave.

Historically there has been a lot of bad blood between the Irish and the British. The Irish had suffered political disenfranchisement, religious intolerance, racial prejudices, and other injuries under British rule. At the turn of the last century and in the middle of WWI, Ireland again erupted in rebellion. It has been remembered as the Easter Rising, and was organized by the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The rebellion was crushed, but the surviving members reformed, gathered support, and the rebellion soon turned into a revolution. This was the birth of the Irish Republican Army, the IRA.

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Eventually, the British government agreed to negotiate, and an autonomous Irish Free State was created which would soon thereafter become the fully independent Republic of Ireland. However, when the Free State was created, six counties in the North of Ireland were excluded and left as part of the U.K. These six counties became Northern Ireland. They were excluded at the time for several reasons, both practical and philosophical, but one major issue was that Northern Ireland was mostly Protestant while the rest of the island was Catholic. [4]

However, the situation deteriorated in the 1960s. Catholics in Northern Ireland faced discrimination in many aspects of life, including employment and housing, as well as violence from Protestants. The situation eventually boiled over, Catholics took up arms, and formed the Provisional IRA. What ensued was thirty plus years of fighting, with the IRA on one side and Unionist paramilitary units and the British government on the other. The level of violence tore the North apart. The fighting was eventually ended in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement. As part of the agreement, the IRA agreed to renounce violence as a means of effecting change, Sinn Fien (which was the political wing of the IRA) would share power in the government with protestants, Catholics where guaranteed equality, Northern Ireland would stay in the U.K., but left the future possibility of unification on the table.[5]

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Which leaves us where we are now. Brexit may bring the U.K. into conflict with many facets of the Good Friday Agreement. For example, one major argument for the pro-Brexit camp was that leaving the E.U. would allow the U.K. to secure its boarders.[6] However the only land boarder the UK has with the E.U. is the border between the Republic of Ireland and North Ireland. As part of the Good Friday Agreement, the U.K. promised not to limit movement across the Irish boarder.[7]  If the U.K. is going to secure its border with Europe, then it will be brought into contention with the Good Friday Agreement. Further, Northern Ireland receives aid through the Agreement from the E.U. to help rebuild after the fighting and maintain peace.[8] Many argue that Brexit is inconsistent with the Agreement, and a constitutional argument is being made before the High Court in Belfast to challenge the legality of Brexit at least as it relates to North Ireland.[9]

There have been concerns over the threat Brexit might pose to peace. The peace isn’t even 20 years old, and while most of the Provisional IRA has laid down its arms and renounced violence, most does not mean all. New offshoots of the IRA remain somewhat active, even if they are smaller than the old IRA and lack most of its capabilities.[10]

As mentioned earlier, the U.K. government might not get a say in the matter. Under the Good Friday Agreement, the possibility of unification was left open. Specifically, the Agreement states that North Ireland was granted the right to have a vote in the future to join the Republic if they so desired.[11] It was done at a time when London believed that such a strong sentiment would not exist for decades.[12] However, with Brexit and the threat it could pose to Northern Ireland’s economic and social wellbeing this provision has suddenly become relevant. If North Ireland decides to have a vote, it votes to leave, and the Republic of Ireland agrees to accept them that might be the end of the discussion. Unlike the Scottish independence vote two summers ago, Northern Ireland doesn’t require the approval of Parliament to have a vote to leave – they already have it.

Furthermore, not only could the vote happen, Sinn Fien, now one of the major parties in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, has already said they want to have the vote.[13] The Prime Minister of Northern Ireland went so far as to say that a vote for unification might happen in the wake of Brexit.[14]

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It would be inspiring to see Northern Ireland, a place which has experienced so much bloodshed and division to stand unified peacefully for the benefit of all their people. However, there is still a lot of tension, and Brexit may not be enough to create a successful unification effort. However, there are some things that could help push North Ireland towards unification.

  1. If Scotland leaves. Scotland also voted overwhelmingly to stay in the E.U., and after Brexit there was a surge of interest in another independence vote. If Scotland declares its independence, or at least has another vote for independence it could encourage North Ireland to take the plunge. Further, there seems to be a sense in both Northern Ireland and abroad that if Scotland attempts independence again, the possibility of Northern Ireland leaving the U.K. substantially increases.[15]
  1. The economy begins to suffer. The U.K. economy suffered noticeably in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.[16] While it has stabilized somewhat since then, uncertainty remains. There have been justifiable concerns that if the U.K. actually cuts ties with the E.U., it could have significant negative economic impacts.[17] If Brexit actually happens and it begins to take a toll on the economy, while Ireland remains reasonably stable, it would provide the biggest help` in pushing for unification.
  1. A guarantee of equal rights for Protestants and/or a degree of autonomy for the region. The old wounds still ache from time to time. Fear of Catholic reprisals may keep hard-core unionists or even moderate Protestants from going along with unification. While the Republic has always had a distinctly Catholic tone. Divorce was not a legally recognized right until the 1990s.[18] If the Republic of Ireland can reassure the Protestants that they shall have equal rights and access to political participation, then unification may go more smoothly. Northern Ireland may even be granted a degree of regional autonomy, which when combined with the economic and social benefits of continued E.U. membership may be enough to overcome old suspicions.[19]

If these things happen, and the U.K. actually leaves the E.U., then I think the chances of Irish Unification increase noticeably and may happen in the coming years.

Alexander Ayer  is a third year (3L) law student at the University of Baltimore School of Law. His undergraduate studies were completed at Hood College, where he majored in history and graduated cum laude in 2014. Alexander is expected to graduate from the University of Baltimore School of Law in the Spring of 2017. As part of his international law background he took part in a study abroad program at the University of Aberdeen School of Law in Scotland. Alexander is drawn to international law by the comparative approach of seeing how different societies solve similar problems in different ways, as well observing how history has effected the laws and policies of various nations, and the behaviors demonstrated by counties interacting with each other on the world stage. In addition to international law, Alexander is also interested in disability law and copyright law.

[1] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-32810887

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/28/a-stampede-for-irish-passports-in-the-wake-of-brexit-vote/

[3] http://time.com/4383916/brexit-vote-revived-calls-united-ireland/

[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-weigant/will-ireland-reunify-afte_b_10745358.html

[5]http://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/IE%20GB_980410_Northern%20Ireland%20Agreement.pdf

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/08/brexit-threat-northern-ireland-border-communities

[7]http://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/IE%20GB_980410_Northern%20Ireland%20Agreement.pdf

[8] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/northern-ireland-brexit-challenge-involve-attorney-general-john-larkin-a7326531.html

[9] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/northern-ireland-brexit-challenge-involve-attorney-general-john-larkin-a7326531.html

[10] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-10866072

[11]http://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/IE%20GB_980410_Northern%20Ireland%20Agreement.pdf

[12] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-weigant/will-ireland-reunify-afte_b_10745358.html

[13] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-northern-ireland-eu-referendum-result-latest-live-border-poll-united-martin-mcguinness-a7099276.html

[14] http://time.com/4412381/ireland-prime-minister-enda-kelly-referendum-northern-ireland/

[15] http://time.com/4383916/brexit-vote-revived-calls-united-ireland/ & http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-weigant/will-ireland-reunify-afte_b_10745358.html

[16] http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36956418

[17] http://www.bbc.com/news/business-36956418 & http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-weigant/will-ireland-reunify-afte_b_10745358.html

[18] http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Historical_Information/The_Constitution/February_2015_-_Constitution_of_Ireland_.pdf

[19]http://peacemaker.un.org/sites/peacemaker.un.org/files/IE%20GB_980410_Northern%20Ireland%20Agreement.pdf


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British Cabinet Drops Its Obligation to International Law from Code

Shane G. Bagwell

David Cameron has led the British Parliament since 2010 and, since that date, has not shied away from controversy. Policies such as increases in tuition fees for university education, privatization of the National Health Service, and military action in Libya have led to protests in the streets. While his leadership has been unpredictable and his policies at times self-contradicting, he has grown the Conservative Party to the point where it holds an outright majority in the House of Commons. His most recent controversy involves the Government’s self-proclaimed obligations (or lack thereof) to protect and uphold international law.

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The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom, made up of the First Lord of the Treasury (also known as the Prime Minister), and members of Parliament appointed by the Prime Minister to lead government departments.[1] Though typically selected from the House of Commons, it is not entirely uncommon for members of the House of Lords to be selected for certain posts. The most senior members of the Cabinet are the Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Home Secretary.[2]

            Unlike in the American system, Cabinet Ministers are not necessarily experts in their field, and rely heavily on the input of members of the Civil Service for developing and implementing policy.[3] Additionally, members of the Cabinet in the United Kingdom have joint responsibility for government departments, and may, pursuant to the Ministers of the Crown Act 1975:

(a) provide for the transfer to any Minister of the Crown of any functions previously exercisable by another Minister of the Crown;
(b) provide for the dissolution of the government department in the charge of any Minister of the Crown and the transfer to or distribution among such other Minister or Ministers of the Crown as may be specified in the Order of any functions previously exercisable by the Minister in charge of that department;
(c) direct that functions of any Minister of the Crown shall be exercisable concurrently with another Minister of the Crown, or shall cease to be so exercisable.

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Cabinet Ministers are bound by the Ministerial Code, which provides ethical guidelines for the performance of their duties and outlines their relationship with Parliament. The first sentence of the Ministerial Code reads, “[t]he Ministerial Code should be read against the background of the overarching duty on Ministers to comply with the law and to protect the integrity of public life.” This is not how the sentence has read historically, however. Until October of 2015, the Ministerial Code began with providing an obligation for members of the Cabinet “to comply with the law including international law and treaty obligations…” On October 22, the Guardian published an article noting the deletion of references to international law from the Code.[4] As an executive body of the British system of government, this change (though subtle) has potentially enormous implications for the United Kingdom’s relationship with the rest of the world. Philippe Sands QC, a professor of law at University College London, said the change was “shocking. Another slap to Magna Carta and the idea of the rule of law. A government that wants to ditch Europe and sever the connection with the European Convention on Human Rights now wishes to free itself from the constraints of international law and the judgments of international courts.”[5] Ken MacDonald QC, a former director of public prosecutions, piled on to the mounting criticism of the Government’s move, stating that “[i]t is difficult to believe that this change is inadvertent. If it’s deliberate, it appears to advocate a conscious loosening of ministerial respect for the rule of law and the UK’s international treaty obligations, including weakening responsibility for the quality of justice here at home.”[6]

Mr. MacDonald’s claim that the Government’s change in policy was deliberate doesn’t require particularly deep research to back up. The Tory website hosts a pamphlet called “Protecting Human Rights in the UK : the Conservative’s Proposals for Changing Britain’s Human Rights Laws,” in which the party promises that “[w]e will amend the Ministerial Code to remove any ambiguity in the current rules about the duty of Ministers to follow the will of Parliament in the UK.”[7] The Conservative Party has a fair amount of support from Euroskeptics, and has attempted to woo voters away from the UK Independence Party (UKIP) by not-so-subtly promoting an anti-EU agenda. With an upcoming referendum on the UK’s continued membership in the EU, the Conservative party has crafted its international law obligations to reflect their desire for Parliament to once again be the supreme body of law, without interference from Brussels.

What is extremely troubling about this is that the European Union is already on shaky ground with the recent crises surrounding Greek debt, the influx of Syrian refugees, and others. The Cameron Government’s decision to distance itself from the international community is a regressive policy which stands only to harm British interests. Without a strong commitment to establishing itself as a participating member of the international community, let alone a voice within the European community, the Cabinet finds itself in the precarious situation of being Europe’s least social member. As the world becomes more interconnected and reliant on international commerce, Britain’s continued aversion to participation could spell out its downfall from the international stage. While Britain retains a seat on the U.N. Security Council, it appears to be a holdover of those lost days when Britain held its head high as a global power and exercised itself as a force for good. While David Cameron backs both horses and pledges personal loyalty to the EU, yet simultaneously dismantles Britain’s obligations to the mainland, he belittles Britain’s prestige, rather projecting his country to the world as a manic and indecisive antique, wrestling with the opposing forces of its colonial past and potentially tumultuous future.

Shane Bagwell is a 3L at the University of Baltimore School of Law, and a graduate of West Chester University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He currently serves as the President of the Military Law Association. His interests are Middle Eastern politics, international conflicts, and the law of land warfare. He is currently a law clerk for the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, Economic Crimes Division.

[1] http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/government-and-opposition1/her-majestys-government/

[2] http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/british-politics/the-executive-in-british-politics/the-cabinet-and-british-politics/

[3] http://www.parliament.uk/about/faqs/house-of-commons-faqs/members-faq-page2/

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/law/2015/oct/22/lawyers-express-concern-over-ministerial-code-rewrite

[5] Id.

[6] http://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/feb/11/no-10-legal-challenge-ministerial-code-rewrite-international-law

[7] https://www.conservatives.com/~/media/files/downloadable%20Files/human_rights.pdf


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How the Scots Dodged a Bullet By Voting “No”

Andres Meraz

On September 18th almost 4.3 million Scots took to the polls to decide their nations future. On the ballot was a very simple yet powerful question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” After two years of campaigning by supporters of both sides, the Scots decided against leaving the United Kingdom. A continued alliance with the rest of the UK guarantees a much brighter future for Scotland, especially if the UK Parliament stands true to their promise to devolve further power to the Scots.

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The loudest voice in support of an independent Scotland was the “Yes Scotland” campaign group while “Better Together” led the charge in campaigning against independence. Many notable figures chimed in on the debate including President Barack Obama and former president, Bill Clinton, both supporting the status quo.

The “no” campaigners cited uncertainty in how an independent Scotland would address various issues. Among those issues were Agricultural subsidy payments from the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy. Some Scots feared that becoming an independent state would reduce their bargaining power in obtaining these funds as opposed to the strong, established bargaining power of the UK. These voters also feared that becoming a new EU member state could mean that these payments would be phased in, as that has been the case with other new EU member states. “Yes” supporters, on the other hand, believed that an independent Scotland could mean greater agricultural subsidies because the allocation of funds would be decided by an independent Scotland and not the UK.

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Another important issue that divided voters was currency. “No” voters feared that an independent Scotland would lose the ability to use the Pound Sterling, as it would have been unlikely that the UK would have agreed to further keep the currency union. The possible options could have been joining the Eurozone or establishing an independent Scottish currency. Both options presented problems. Scotland’s major trading partner is the UK and a change in currency could have meant transaction charges that could hurt businesses on both sides. Adopting the euro would also be problematic; as it would likely take time before an independent Scotland could join the European Union.

Perhaps the biggest issue causing the divide between the “yes” and “no” voters was government revenue and expenditures. “Yes” voters believed that Scotland would be better off if they used their own revenue (mainly from North Sea oil) to cover their own expenses. “Yes” voters have grown disillusioned with London’s budget decisions believing that their taxes were being misspent by the UK’s parliament. Those who opposed independence feared a dwindling oil reserve along with the instability of oil prices and believed that a continued union would mean economic stability.

In the end, Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom, at least until the next referendum. Regardless of this outcome, Scotland will likely be divided by this issue for some time, as the supporters of independence were very close to succeeding. 55% of voters (2,001,926 ) voted “no” while 44.7% (1,617,989) voted “yes”. This referendum was also of great significance to other states that seek independence such as Catalonia, who stated that they saw it as a model for a future vote to secede from Spain.

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While an independent Scotland may have made many Mel Gibson fans happy, it seems the Scots likely dodged a bullet by remaining a part of the UK.

Andres Meraz is a third-year law student at the University of Baltimore School of Law with a concentration in Private International Law. He graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park where he received a B.A. in Philosophy with a minor in Government and Political Theory. While a student at UB Law, Andres spent the summer before his 2L year studying comparative family law and comparative environmental law at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. During the 2014 winter intersession, Andres will participate in UB Law’s 13th Annual Program in Comparative and International Law in Curaçao, hosted by the University of Curaçao.

In addition to being a CICL student fellow, Andres currently serves as the Outreach & Technology Editor for the University of Baltimore Journal of International Law. He is also the current president of UB Law’s chapter of Phi Delta Phi ( ΦΔΦ) International Legal Honor Society, and has also recently worked as a Law Scholar for first year law students.

 


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Eliminating the IS Threat – Why a U.S. Led Coalition Was the Only Way It Would Work

Lindsay Stallings

The Islamic State (IS), also known by the acronyms ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), has been growing in their power and their influence around the Arab world. However, while they are creating a daily panic in Syria and Iraq, they are causing great concern for the rest of the world.  IS is largely autonomous. They have stolen, robbed, or bartered for their money, weapons, and even slaves. The international concern for IS’ activities stems not only from their humanitarian violations against those in Syria and Iraq; but more, the fear that comes from their sheer power. It is for this reason that President Obama, who had once had been so adverse to relying on the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, felt it necessary to rely on these very legal instruments to bolster his arguments for air strikes against IS. In doing so, he has made his smartest and most mature foreign policy decision of his Presidency – taking charge and leading a coalition of states in eliminating the IS threat.

In the middle of August of 2014, IS released their first viral video – the beheading of American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded for the sins of the Americans. They have beheaded innocent people, have raped and pillaged villagers, and have terrorized countless populations; and there seems to not be an end in sight. [1] President Obama has admitted that US intelligence on the strength of IS was lacking.[2] Over the past few years of Syrian unrest, IS has been able to use widespread lawlessness to recruit and develop their jihad. The United States, along with five Arab nations and France,[3] began air strikes against IS two weeks ago. From outside reports it seems that strikes are currently being aimed at infrastructure and oil strongholds.[4] Thus far, there is a general avoidance of targeting individuals and more of a focus on materials. This makes it clear that the US and their allies recognize the importance of IS’ resources. It is obviously important to not underestimate the strength of IS’ message, both in the Arab world and globally, but their resources will run out long before their passion for the advancement of the Islamic State and, in reality, the loss of resources will hurt them first.  However, to compound the obvious hole in U.S. intelligence, an IS combatant has publicly stated that IS was prepared for the U.S. airstrikes, claiming they have been ineffective against IS.[5] _77944799_iraq_syria_air_strikes_624_01_10_14_v2 The US made the first move on the airstrikes and did so without the full support of the international community. Should the world and, potentially more importantly, US citizens take notice of this deviation in President Obama’s approach to unrest in the Middle East? In a time when the US is fighting an image battle in the Middle East, this was a bold move, and one that seems to have been made less for political reasons than it was for moral ones. It is worth a great deal of commendation that our administration is willing to take this step. Mind, we are not doing this alone, there are multiple Arab countries fighting for their own borders, along with French, British, Belgium, and Danish support, a total of fifty countries have signed on to support the airstrikes.[6] This support comes in the form of ground support, air support, and of course, political support. But, this all began before President Obama went to the United Nations. Before he was forced to explain why the US thought they could, should, and had the right to get involved. The event to be considered here is why the President of the United States decided to commence air strikes and then, at least two weeks later, plead with the international community for their support and encourage action to be taken against ISIS. During the course of his presidency, President Obama has rarely taken international action without wandering around the world, garnering as much support, either implicit or explicit, as he could. But here, he essentially said, “World, we know what we are going to do to deal with this -what are you going to do?” UN-SECURITY COUNCIL-OBAMA This shows a certain level of foreign relations maturity on the part of POTUS. He and his advisors made a decision that we could not stand by and let ISIS terrorize Iraq, Syria, Christians, Jews, the Yazidi (a Kurdish ethno-religious community who practice Yazidism in Iraq), and threaten to lash out at America, without doing something. The President ran his first campaign on the auspices that the “War On Terror” must end. He ended the war in Iraq, he started to pull out of Afghanistan – and is continuing that effort for all intents and purposes – but the Middle East is still in constant, bubbling, turmoil. And, in the end, the US is the US. The world’s savoir, the moral-driven, freedom to all races and creeds-focused, rescuer of all, right!? But, is that our job? Is that the job of the American Armed Forces to step in and save all of those deemed unable to save themselves? I think that President Obama’s decision to direct airstrikes against IS is indeed his most mature foreign policy move to date. He did not wait for the rest of the world powers to support him, he did not ask permission from anyone aside from Congress[7], and did what was right for the United States and the areas in the Arab world we have taken responsibility for over the last ten years. It would have been sadistic on the part of the U.S. to just sit back and watch as Iraq, a country we essentially decimated over the past decade, to struggle to fight this new radical bastardization of Islam that currently terrorizes them. The US took on this responsibility in 2001. We tried to establish communities and governments that would help the weakened and tired populations of the Arab world. We tried to empower them and build democracy. It has not worked yet and we are, clearly, not done. So, when a new group rises up, a group more terrifying than Al-Qaeda has ever been, we cannot step away. The President put on his ‘I am a world leader’ pants and he worked with those who were suffering the most. He created a coalition of the willing and took responsibility for the role the United States played in allowing this to happen. French When President Obama spoke to the United Nations he did not tell the world that we were doing the right thing for everyone. He made it clear that this was important to the US, and why. He did not tell the United Nations that the US was better than the rest of them for taking action; he actually made clear that the US has struggles too.[8] There are school shootings, race riots, militarizing police forces, renegade shooters targeting law enforcement officers, individuals setting wild fires – the list of domestic struggles the US is facing is not less than that of any other country. And finally, President Obama recognized that by not pretending we were better than every other country, those countries were more willing to listen to our silent pleas for help. The President was begging for other countries to step in, to step up and recognize that the threat from IS is not just against those in the Arab world or just against the US, it is a threat to the general level of safety most citizens of the world feel as they go about their daily lives. The French joined in the airstrike offensive on September 19 with the US and Arab partners.[9] Thus far, France has only acted in Iraq, wary to move into Syria and encourage any more disturbances. However, as of Friday, September 25, they have said they are considering moving into Syria on the tail of a French tourist’s beheading by an Algerian terror organization.[10] Yesterday, the UK carried out its first air strikes in Iraq[11]  after voting last Friday to authorize action in Iraq.[12] No mention was made of the UK going into Syria, which shows that they too are wary of moving into an area where they are not invited. UK Parliament Each country currently involved or considering involvement in this offensive is doing so for country-specific reasons, not based on the perceived duty owed to the international community as a whole. A sense of general duty did not work as well as they hoped ten years ago in Iraq, but maybe this time there will be more successful. Personal involvement, a sense of devotion the protection of oneself, will hopefully deal with this matter with less bureaucracy and more effectiveness. Only when there is an understanding that this is not only a worldwide threat but also a worldwide responsibility can we finally defeat IS.

Lindsay Stallings is third year student at the University of Baltimore School of Law, planning to graduate in May 2015 with a J.D. and concentration in International Law. She graduated from The Ohio State University in June of 2011 with a Bachelors of Science in Political Science with minors in Sociology and International Studies. She has also studied  Spanish and Arabic language and culture extensively. While at The Ohio State University, she was a member of the International Affairs Scholars program, through which she studied abroad in Bulgaria. She was active in the Undergraduate Student Government and was a member of various academic and student life university-level committees.  Her primary interests are international law, national security, and U.S. Military and diplomatic policies. Through her coursework and relationships with our international law faculty she has developed a more focused interest in the policies surrounding international conflict and the capabilities of international courts. Lindsay currently serves as the Careers Director on the International Law Society and is a Staff Editor on the Journal of International Law. Her legal coursework and extracurricular activities have given her the opportunity to mold her passion for cultural studies and problem solving into an exciting international legal career.

[1] Rod Mills, Family anguish over Glasgow schoolgirl turned jihadi (Sep. 4, 2014) http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/506765/Family-anguish-over-Glasgow-schoolgirl-turned-jihadi; Teenage jihad: 2 Austrian girls stopped en route to join ISIS, (last edited Sep. 10, 2014) http://rt.com/news/186536-austria-schoolgirls-join-isis/.

[2] Stephen Rex Brown, President Obama admits U.S. ‘underestimated ISIS’ strength – but knocks other superpowers for failure to act (Sep. 28, 2014) http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/obama-admits-u-s-underestimated-strength-rise-isis-article-1.1955804.

[3] France Says Carried Out Air Strikes In Iraq September 25 (Sep. 25, 2014) http://www.rferl.org/content/iraq-france/26605701.html.

[4] Scott Neuman, Airstrikes Move to Syria, Target More Than Just ISIS (Sep. 23, 2014) http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/23/350820165/airstrikes-move-to-syria-target-more-than-just-isis; New airstrikes, new tactic to beat ISIS (Sep. 25, 2014) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/u-s-arab-allies-airstrikes-target-isis-oil-refineries/.

[5] Arwa Damon and Holly Yan, ISIS fighter says U.S. airstikes aren’t effective (Sep. 29, 2014) http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/29/world/meast/isis-fighter-and-defector-interviews/index.html?hpt=hp_t1.

[6] Stephen Castle and Steven Erlanger, Nations Offer Limited Support to Attack on ISIS (Sep. 26, 2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/27/world/europe/british-parliament-vote-isis-airstrikes.html?_r=2; Michael Pearson, Greg Botelho, and Ben Brumfield, Anti-ISIS coalition grows, but that doesn’t mean victory is near (Sep. 27, 2014) http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/26/world/meast/isis-syria-iraq/index.html.

[7] Lisa Mascaro, Congress mostly approves of airstrikes in Syria so far (Sep. 23, 2014) http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-congress-syria-airstrikes-20140923-story.html (explaining that Congress approved of support of training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels).

[8] Stewart M. Patrick, President Obama’s UN Speech: Defending World Order (Sep. 24, 2014) http://blogs.cfr.org/patrick/2014/09/24/president-obamas-un-speech-defending-world-order/.

[9] France Carried Out Airstrikes, supra note 2.

[10] Id.; France Considers Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria After Beheading (Sep. 25, 2014)  http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/france-considers-airstrikes-against-isis-syria-after-beheading-n211221.

[11] Jenny Gross, U.K. Carries Out First Airstrikes in Iraq (Sept. 30, 2014) http://online.wsj.com/articles/u-k-ministry-of-defense-raf-carried-out-its-first-airstrikes-in-iraq-1412097556

[12] Nicholas Winning and Jenny Gross, British Parliament Approves Airstrikes in Iraq Against Islamic State (Sept. 26, 2014) http://online.wsj.com/articles/david-cameron-calls-for-u-k-parliament-to-vote-for-iraq-airstrikes-on-islamic-state-1411725035


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National Security Outweighs Travel Rights: The Confiscation of Passports as a Necessary Response to Increased Terrorist Threats in the U.K.

Natalie Krajinovic

The recent conflicts in Syria and Iraq have had a substantial impact on the domestic policy of foreign nations. It was recently announced that the U.K. has raised its terror level threat to “substantial” following these conflicts.[1]  Specifically, British Prime Minister David Cameron has voiced his intent to enforce new legislation that would make it easier for U.K. authorities to confiscate passports from individuals who are travelling abroad to fight in the conflicts.[2] These temporary powers granted to officials would involve powers to seize the passports of British nationals fighting in the Middle East who are attempting to return to the U.K. to conduct terrorist operations.[3]

Under the Royal Prerogative, U.K. authorities already have the power to confiscate an individual’s passport if it is in the public interest to stop that individual from travelling.[4] Passport confiscations have occurred twenty three (23) times since April 2013 in order to prevent individuals from travelling abroad for alleged terrorist-related or criminal activity.[5] These new measures, however, are aimed specifically at eliminating terrorist threats stemming from extremist groups, such as ISIS. In particular, news of the British national, who is suspected as the member of ISIS responsible for the brutal killings of American journalists, has undoubtedly raised concerns for the U.K. in heightening security standards.[6]

The confiscation of passports, whether indefinite or temporary, has serious implications not only for the individual from whom the passport is confiscated, but also for the global community as a whole. By allowing officials to confiscate passports from individuals suspected of terrorist acts, the U.K. government is sending a clear message that public security outweighs the free movement of individuals. An individual’s ability to exit and re-enter a given country is a deeply respected aspect of belonging to a nationality. To overly control an individual’s ability to travel to foreign nations encroaches upon jurisdictional concerns, particularly when an individual holds dual citizenship.

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It is imperative that the screening process to determine whether an individual has substantial links to an extremist group and poses a terrorist threat be well-developed. There exists the risk that passports may be confiscated without properly substantiating the individual’s terrorist threat. There must be a line drawn between substantiated confiscations for public protection and premature preventative confiscations based on unfounded predictions. Prime Minister Cameron has stated that confiscating passports of suspected terrorists would not apply to British nationals who hold one passport since the confiscation of their passport would render the individual stateless.[7] Therefore this initiative would only apply to British nationals who hold two passports.[8] By limiting passport confiscation to individuals with dual nationality, it appears as though the U.K. government is targeting individuals with close, direct ties to areas suspected of terrorist activity.

These recent developments ultimately demonstrate that possessing a passport requires that individuals respect the value and implications of national citizenship. As a member of the European Union, the U.K. has a distinct awareness of foreign regulation for the prevention of terrorist activity. For example, the European Union’s counter-terrorism strategy specifically aims to “pursue and investigate terrorists, impede planning, travel and communications, [and] cut off access to funding and materials and bring terrorists to justice.”[9] The curtailing of terrorist and criminal acts are extremely valid reasons for the confiscation of passports by U.K. authorities. Such measures are imperative for the control of domestic terrorist acts and for the prevention of the movement of individuals to foreign states for the purpose of terrorist and illegal activity on a global level.

The current crises in Syria and Iraq, and increased threat of terrorist activity resulting from these conflicts, also have serious implications for the United States. While the U.S. has not increased their threat level, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has recently stated that American and British officials have been in contact in order to evaluate terrorist threats posed by Western-born foreign fighters in Syria returning home.[10]

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The close monitoring of these threats and any increase in danger will likely result in the U.S. making comparable policy and legal determinations as the U.K. The crux of the current U.K. legislation is aimed at U.K passport confiscation based upon preventing individuals who are attempting to return to the U.K. after having traveled from engaging in terrorist regimes. Under current U.S. law, “a person’s naturalization can be revoked either by civil proceeding or pursuant to a criminal conviction,” and cases typically involve the individual falsifying information to fraudulently procure U.S. citizenship.[11]  It would be reasonable for the U.S. government to strengthen their passport confiscation scheme for the purpose of limiting terrorist activity in the U.S. Public safety certainly trumps a suspected terrorist’s ability to enter the country using a valid passport. The U.S.’ reliance upon passport confiscation should seek to curb potential terrorist threats both domestically and internationally.

Ultimately, the need to preserve public safety outweighs an individual’s capacity to possess a passport. The protectionary measures taken by U.K. authorities are a reasonable and necessary response to terrorist activity. As tensions rise with extremist groups in Islamic regions, it is likely that more nations will rely upon stricter policies that forbid certain individuals connected to extremist groups from entering their borders.

 

Natalie Krajinovic is a University of Baltimore School of Law J.D. candidate (’15), with a concentration in Business Law. She holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts in English and East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto, St. George. Natalie has always had an interest in international law and policy. While studying at the University of Toronto, she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Toronto Globalist, an international relations magazine with chapters across the globe. She currently serves as the President of the International Law Society and as the Comments Editor for the Journal of International Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Natalie is also a law clerk for John H. Denick & Associates, P.A., a business law firm in downtown Baltimore.

 

[1] UK terror threat level raised to ‘severe’, BBC (Aug. 29, 2014), http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28986271.

[2] Id.

[3] Kim Hjelmgaard, British terror suspects may be stripped of passports, USA Today (Sept. 1, 2014), http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/09/01/uk-anti-terror-powers-cameron/14921581/.

[4] UK terror threat level raised to ‘severe’, BBC (Aug. 29, 2014), http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28986271.

[5] Id.

[6] Jessica Elgot, Who Is The Hip Hop Jihadi Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, Linked With James Foley’s Murder? Here’s 9 Things We Know, The Huffington Post UK (Aug. 24, 2014), http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/08/24/abdel-majed-abdel-bary-hip-hop-jihadi-is-james-foley_n_5705043.html.

[7] Kim Hjelmgaard, British terror suspects may be stripped of passports, USA Today (Sept. 1, 2014), http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/09/01/uk-anti-terror-powers-cameron/14921581/.

[8] Id.

[9] Crisis & Terrorism, European Commission Home Affairs (May 28, 2014), http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/crisis-and-terrorism/index_en.htm.

[10] Michael Walsh and Rich Shapiro, UK raises threat level to severe, PM blames ‘poisonous ideology of Islamic extremism’ — U.S. level stays same, New York Daily News (Aug. 29, 2014), http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/britain-raises-threat-level-severe-terrorist-attack-highly-article-1.1921283.

[11] USCIS Policy Manual, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (Aug. 26, 2014), http://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume12-PartL-Chapter1.html#text:note-ID0EMP2Q.