Columbia Journal of Transnational Law

Economic Cooperation with North Korea: Could It be Possible?

2018 has been an important year for the Korean peninsula. With North Korea accepting South Korea’s invitation to the 2018 Winter Olympics and South Korea and the United States holding summits with North Korea, the era of President Obama’s strategic patience has arguably ended. As ties between North Korea and South Korea thaw, evidenced by the suspension of certain military exercises and the beginnings of the actual demilitarization of the DMZ, South Korea, under the Moon Administration, is looking into starting economic projects with North Korea. Specifically, the Moon Administration seeks to invest in North Korean infrastructure, such as roads and railways, so as to ease the cost on South Korea were a reunification with North Korea to happen, and so that South Korea can preserve the recent positive changes made in South-North Korean relationships. However, there are many barriers to an economic partnership between North and South Korea, the biggest arguably being United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which imposed sanctions on North Korea in response to the North Korean October 2006 nuclear test. These sanctions ban North Korea from trading, not only in arms, nuclear technology, financial services, and fuel, but also seafood and textiles. Economic projects, especially those aimed at rebuilding North Korean infrastructure, could potentially violate those sanctions. Another barrier is the US’s current stance when it comes to dealing with North Korea. Despite the opening of a dialogue with North Korea, the US has insisted on strong sanctions against North Korea until it embraces denuclearization. As the US is not only a prominent player in international politics, but also plays a major role in... read more

The U.S. Supreme Court Considers What Constitutes Proper Service on a Sovereign Nation

On November 8th, 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument in Republic of Sudan v. Harrison, a case on appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Supreme Court granted the petition of writ of certiorari to resolve a circuit split on whether service of process to an embassy is sufficient when a foreign state is a party to a lawsuit. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1608(a) service on a foreign state can be rendered in a number of ways, among them, “by sending a copy of the summons and complaint and a notice of suit, together with a translation of each into the official language of the foreign state, by any form of mail requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and dispatched by the clerk of the court to the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the foreign state concerned.” In October, 2000, the U.S.S. Cole was destroyed by Al-Qaeda; 17 American Navy sailors were killed and 42 were injured. In 2010, some of the injured sailors and their spouses filed suit against the Republic of Sudan (“Sudan”) in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs brought suit under an exception in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”), which authorized a federal cause of action for victims of “state-sponsored terrorism.” (28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)). The plaintiffs alleged that Sudan had provided material support to Al-Qaeda. The Clerk of the Court served Sudan by sending the summons and complaint to the head of Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was sent via certified mail to the... read more
New Rules for Asylum Seekers

New Rules for Asylum Seekers

The U.S. has sent about 8,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the migrant caravan traversing Central America. The executive branch has also made various changes to the U.S. asylum process, restricting asylum to those who apply at a legal port of entry. While troops so far have primarily been employed to reinforce official ports of entry, there are also many risks facing these troops.

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European Court of Human Rights Upholds Fine Against Austrian Woman: Contextualizing A Free Speech Conviction

European Court of Human Rights Upholds Fine Against Austrian Woman: Contextualizing A Free Speech Conviction

The ECtHR recently upheld the conviction of an Austrian woman under the country’s blasphemy law for statements she made accusing the Prophet Muhammad of pedophilia. Growing global anxiety over international organizations, and the Austrian law’s tension with free speech ideologies, made the decision a ready-made launching pad for political diatribe. Despite some outcry, the ECtHR’s decision seems unlikely to spark a wave of blasphemy convictions, either in Austria or elsewhere in Europe. While Austria’s criminalization of inciting “justified indignation” may be overly broad, it is not clear that the ECtHR’s decision will embolden blasphemy law proponents, and it does not appear to reshape the legal framework currently in place.

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21st Century International Foundations for a 21st Century African Continent

In recent decades, the emergence and development of international law has taken various shapes within the African continent. Most notably, states have begun reconstructing their legal regimes using regional organizations, aiming to create supranational entities that better represent their collective interests and aspirations globally. Amongst the numerous groups, no regional organization has been more successful than the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (“OHADA” – derived from the French translation). Embodying 17 member states, OHADA not only contributes to the making of international law within Africa, but plays a valuable role in its ongoing fruition. OHADA’s value can be showcased by its systematic effectiveness and singularity. Furthermore, OHADA’s legal achievements create pertinent opportunities in a region vying for a path forward. Firstly, OHADA’s framework maintains a distinct legal structure built on efficacy. Ever since its founding in 1993, OHADA focused solely on the field of business law and harmonizing such laws across mostly Francophone countries in western and central Africa. The 1993 Treaty split the organization into four bodies, with the Council of Ministers and Common Court of Justice and Arbitration (“CCJA”) being most significant. The former consists of Justice and Finance ministers of each member state who are charged with crafting Uniform Acts applicable to all members; the latter reserves the final say adjudicating on OHADA legal matters. The structure is unique amongst most African regional organizations because of how much power is delegated to OHADA’s institutions. Member states’ national legislatures have no input in the law-making process. Instead, states must abide automatically to each of the Uniform Acts following their promulgation. Likewise, the CCJA... read more