Introducing: Volume 19, Issue 2

Latest Issue: Volume 20, Issue 1

April 8 Symposium: Human Rights and Diplomacy Symposium

Read: Volume 19, Issue 1, Symposium: Human Rights and Access to Justice in Ethiopia

Fighting the Resource Curse: The Rights of Citizens Over Natural Resources

By: Wenar, Leif & Gilbert, Jeremie | July 10, 2021

Respect for the rights of peoples over natural resources is crucial for the flourishing of communities and states. This article confirms that international law ascribes robust resource rights both to indigenous peoples and to citizens of independent states. These resource rights include indigenous peoples’ right to free, prior, and informed consent and citizens’ rights that resource revenues are never used corruptly but are used first to secure their means of subsistence. Resource rights are human rights, respect for which requires substantial reforms in the practices of corporations and investors as well as in the laws of resource-importing and resource-exporting states.

Euphemism and Jus Cogens

By: Sinha, G. Alex | July 10, 2021

Jus cogens norms of international law encompass the most stringent prohibitions of the law of nations. They reflect a global—and typically moral—consensus about impermissible conduct so complete and forceful that no derogation is permissible under any circumstances. Yet states derogate nevertheless. Lacking any valid legal justification for violating jus cogens norms, derogating states instead seek to euphemize their unlawful conduct. Doing so appears at a glance to be a calculated choice that allows States to have their cake and eat it too—to acknowledge the peremptory norms that purportedly bind all sovereigns while acting freely in violation of those norms by describing away their own misconduct. Perhaps the most famous recent example of this phenomenon is the United States’ use of the term “enhanced interrogation” to describe its methods for torturing individuals detained in the early years of the War on Terror.

Through a case study of the CIA’s torture program, this essay explores the distinctive and underappreciated link between euphemism and jus cogens. It argues that the special legal-moral character of peremptory norms of international law creates an intrinsic connection between false denials of legal liability and misleading moral descriptions. Thus, far from reflecting an independent messaging decision, the State’s deployment of euphemism to soften perceptions of its conduct flows necessarily from any decision it takes to deny legal liability. Moreover, these euphemisms tend to reverse the moral valence of the conduct at issue, suggesting it is not inexcusable but rather both legal and essential. The consequences of such euphemisms—their influence on public opinion and on lower-level officials empowered to carry out violations—are therefore substantial, and arise independently of any specific incentive to produce such effects. Euphemism thus operates as a powerful and surprisingly sophisticated device to facilitate law-breaking, even as its use is entailed by the State’s legal denials. One primary effect of this dynamic is paradoxical: it tends to strengthen international recognition of relevant peremptory norms while simultaneously undermining the practical effect of those norms.

Constitutional Rights Without Effective and Enforceable Constitutional Remedies: The Case of Ethiopia

By: Tadesse, Mizanie A. | July 10, 2021

The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia guarantees a broad range of human rights in its Bill of Rights chapter. However, constitutional remedies for infringement of constitutional rights are rarely applied notwithstanding that the Constitution has been in enforcement for close to twenty-five years. The author of this article contends that lack of a clear and comprehensive Bill of Rights litigation procedure and lack of redress for violations of constitutional rights are contributing factors to the unacceptably low enforcement of the Bill of Rights via constitutional litigation. To augment his position and show the legal gaps and challenges as well as put forward recommendations for constitutional and legal reform, the author has analyzed the Constitution and relevant laws. The author has also consulted the laws of other countries and relevant literature with a view to identifying normative standards and practices from which Ethiopia can learn.