Current Issue: Volume 56, Number 2

Why Heteronormativity makes our rape laws problematic: The dilemma of the transgender community

Why Heteronormativity makes our rape laws problematic: The dilemma of the transgender community

Internationally, most rape laws are based on the grave and possibly drastic assumption that only women can be raped. The rape law is moulded in a woman-centric way, rather than a victim-centric way. The most striking consequence of this was seen lately in California, where a man faced the reduced sentence of rape to sexual assault, merely because of the inadequacy of the Californian law in recognizing that rape could occur beyond the traditional definition of sexual intercourse as well. This is problematic, as sexual crimes beyond the so-called ‘traditional’ and heteronormative spectrum are rampant today, and the absence of a legal framework to address them leaves their victims helpless. One segment of these victims without redress is the transgender community. Already ostracized from society and facing rampant discrimination in countries all over the world, when members of this community face rape, they also face a law which assumes their absence from society. In a joint statement issued by various UN Agencies Ending violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people- A Programmatic Overview, emphasis was laid on the presence of laws in countries which target and accentuate the discrimination faced by the transgender community. Further, the Salzburg Global Seminar on LGBT inclusion also specified the need for more encompassing laws and policy architectures for tackling discrimination.  The Human Rights Watch in its 2018 Report has also pointed out the terrible state of discrimination against sexual minorities. Countries such as Egypt, Indonesia and Iran still engage in acts of flogging and harassment against these communities. The rape laws of several countries are deficient because of their... read more

Redefining Attainment of the Best Interests of the Child in the Digital World

In the offline world, education for children does not aim to solely equip them with information. It endeavors to develop in them an ability to interact with the world wisely and critically, while building resilience and a will to participate with effective contribution. They are taught to be agents of their own lives and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) confers on them the rights which enable this process of development. However, the UNCRC was adopted as early as 1989, and the children of today are growing up in an increasingly digital environment. This brings to light the need for the recognition of rights online as well as offline, in order to allow children to not merely be users but responsible citizens of the virtual world. This essentially means that the Articles of the Convention require an extension in their scope, and expansive interpretation in national policies, to fulfill the requirement of the ‘best interests of the child’ being the primary consideration guiding action. Article 3 of the UNCRC sets out the principle of the best interests of the child, which requires relevant authorities to (i) assess and represent rights and interests in nexus with actions and decisions which affect their well being, (ii)consider the views and take account of the evolving capacities of the child and (iii)promote measures to train and support those responsible for the well-being of the child. In doing so, the UNCRC echoes the ‘paramount consideration’ threshold in the enacting of laws, as laid down by the Declaration on the Rights of the Child, 1959. Legal instruments specific to children... read more

Inside the World Court: A Conversation with H.E. Judge Joan E. Donoghue, International Court of Justice

H.E. Judge Joan E. Donoghue has been a member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, since 9 September 2010. Prior to her ICJ appointment, H.E. Judge Joan E. Donoghue was Principal Deputy Legal Adviser in the U.S. Department of State (2007-2010), in addition other roles such as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Freddie Mac, and Deputy General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Treasury. In this blog post, H.E. Judge Joan E. Donoghue discusses the work of the Court and some challenges to public international law. On the work of the Court and public international law What do you see as the biggest challenges for Court in the coming years? In the decades since the ICJ was created, other forms of international dispute settlement have emerged and have thrived. Notable examples are the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization, investor-state arbitration and the revitalization of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. These institutions can learn from each other, borrowing and adapting successful procedures. The ICJ must be open-minded about possible changes in established practices that would increase the vitality of the Court. On the substance of our work, we cannot expect every Judge and all observers to agree with the Court’s conclusions in each case, but we must always strive to demonstrate fairness to the parties and rigor of analysis in our decisions, bearing in mind not only the implications for parties, but also the role that our decisions inevitably play in the development of international law. The ICJ... read more
Trump and Tariffs: the start of a trade war, or a hard-bargaining negotiation tactic?

Trump and Tariffs: the start of a trade war, or a hard-bargaining negotiation tactic?

In March and April of 2018 the United States and China announced proposed tariffs specifically targeted to the importation of the other countries’ products. Although these reciprocal tariffs could signal an impending trade war, some analysts counter that they are in fact the result of a hard-bargaining tactic by President Trump primarily motivated by long-brewing concerns of Chinese intellectual property theft of U.S. technology.

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