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Analysis and Comment (90)

Protesters in New York ahead of the UN climate summit. Protesters in New York ahead of the UN climate summit. AAP Image/NEWZULU/ANDRE RIVERA

Pledges can work, but it will take international law to fight climate change

Do we need a climate treaty, or could a simple political deal based on national pledges work just as well? Conventional wisdom suggests that the only international climate deal worth having is one that…
Charting new waters. Charting new waters. EPA/Alexey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/KREM

BRICS keep supporting Russia in bid to rebalance world power

While Western nations beef up economic sanctions and Nato discusses what stance to take toward Russia, the BRICS are maintaining tacit support for Moscow despite the Ukraine crisis. This is not entirely…
Does Tony Abbott’s justification for Australian involvement in Iraq amount to a legal basis for our commitment? Does Tony Abbott’s justification for Australian involvement in Iraq amount to a legal basis for our commitment? AAP/Dave Hunt

Australia’s military involvement in Iraq is legal – for now

The humanitarian missions by the Royal Australian Air Force in Iraq are in accordance with international law, despite a confusing statement by Iraq’s ambassador to Australia, Mouayed Saleh. But continued…
Yes…but is it war? Inspecting weapons seized in east Ukraine. Yes…but is it war? Inspecting weapons seized in east Ukraine. EPA/Tatyana Zenkovich

Explainer: when does a conflict become a war?

Is the conflict in Ukraine a war? This question has been raised in recent reports about a Russian invasion in Ukraine on the Caspian Sea. The USA and other NATO powers call it an “incursion”; the Baltic…
A coffin bearing the remains of a victim from flight MH17 arrives in the Netherlands. In determining compensation, the onus is on the airline to prove it wasn’t at fault or negligent. A coffin bearing the remains of a victim from flight MH17 arrives in the Netherlands. In determining compensation, the onus is on the airline to prove it wasn’t at fault or negligent. EPA/Bas Czerwinski

The loss of flight MH17: how much compensation – and who pays?

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 17 (MH17) – an international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur – crashed in eastern Ukraine. All 298 passengers and crew were killed. It appears…
A strike on the UN school in Jabalia killed at least 17 people. A strike on the UN school in Jabalia killed at least 17 people. Epa/Mohamed Saber

Attacks on UN schools in Gaza clearly breach international law

The shelling of Jabalia Elementary Girls' School in Gaza on July 30 by Israeli forces was a shocking example of modern military action. The shelling was the sixth time a United Nations school has been…
Hamas has built an elaborate network of tunnels but not civilian bomb shelters in Gaza. Hamas has built an elaborate network of tunnels but not civilian bomb shelters in Gaza. EPA/Jack Guez

Civilian deaths in Gaza conflict are not automatically a war crime

Inevitably, the United Nations Human Rights Council has expressed its condemnation of Israel and launched a war crimes inquiry. The vote on July 23 followed the usual political lines that have previously…
The process of delivering the justice that foreign minister Julie Bishop demanded for MH17 victims will be neither simple nor swift. The process of delivering the justice that foreign minister Julie Bishop demanded for MH17 victims will be neither simple nor swift. EPA/Andrew Gombert

Achieving elusive justice for flight MH17 victims will be a challenge

Addressing the United Nations Security Council, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop condemned the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as “barbaric” and “an absolute outrage”. She demanded justice…
Australia’s judiciary has emerged as a political and activist institution, frustrating the militarised strategies of the Abbott government in asylum policy. Australia’s judiciary has emerged as a political and activist institution, frustrating the militarised strategies of the Abbott government in asylum policy. AAP/Lukas Coch

High Court asylum case pits the executive against the judiciary

The full bench of the High Court will hear the case of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers currently on an Australian customs vessel over two days, starting on August 5. But when the High Court issued an injunction…
Australia has led the international community in condemning the downing of flight MH17 and the handling of the victims' bodies. Australia has led the international community in condemning the downing of flight MH17 and the handling of the victims' bodies. EPA/Robert Ghement

Global law and decency: our double standards on MH17 and asylum seekers

Following the shocking news of the destruction of flight MH17, foreign minister Julie Bishop wasted no time in boarding a plane for the United Nations in New York. Australian diplomats engaged in intense…
Tragedies such as the boat sinking off Lampedusa, Italy, In October 2013 help put Australia’s asylum ‘problem’ into a global perspective. Tragedies such as the boat sinking off Lampedusa, Italy, In October 2013 help put Australia’s asylum ‘problem’ into a global perspective. EPA/Ettore Ferrari

Australia puzzles a world with far more asylum seekers of its own

From the perspective of the global north, Australia has always been an oddity. Its policies often seem as strange and inexplicable as its fauna. “They are strange those Australians, strangers to the world…
Show of hands: the UN Security Council. Show of hands: the UN Security Council. EPA/Justin Lane

Explainer: international law and flight MH17

As the events surrounding the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine become clearer, more and more voices are claiming the plane may have been shot down by pro-Russian separatists in eastern…
The 153 intercepted asylum seekers are reportedly being detained at sea aboard the ACV Ocean Protector, pictured here in Hobart. The 153 intercepted asylum seekers are reportedly being detained at sea aboard the ACV Ocean Protector, pictured here in Hobart. Flickr/Grahame Bowland

Court to rule on intercepting and transferring asylum seekers at sea

Lawyers for 153 Sri Lankan asylum seekers on a boat intercepted by the Australian government applied for a full bench of the High Court to hear its case on August 5 at a directions hearing on Friday. Whereas…
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as it takes off from Schiphol airport near Amsterdam, the Netherlands, at 12.31 PM July 17. Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as it takes off from Schiphol airport near Amsterdam, the Netherlands, at 12.31 PM July 17. EPA/Fred Neeleman

Who handles the investigation on downed flight MH17?

The investigation into what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 and the location of the black box recorder comes down to a series of complex treaties and international law. Calls are being made by…
In its asylum policy, Australia takes advantage of the fact that international law is not automatically absorbed into its domestic legal system. In its asylum policy, Australia takes advantage of the fact that international law is not automatically absorbed into its domestic legal system. AAP/Lukas Coch

Australia’s global reputation at stake in High Court asylum case

The Australian government gave an undertaking to the High Court on Wednesday that it would not surrender or deliver the asylum seekers detained on an Australian customs vessel on the high seas to Sri Lankan…
In previous cases, the High Court has held that asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island have a right to procedural fairness. In previous cases, the High Court has held that asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island have a right to procedural fairness. AAP/Scott Fisher

Preventing asylum seekers' return to harm through the High Court

Later today, the High Court is due to hear a challenge to the screening and transfer of a boatload of Sri Lankan asylum seekers back to Sri Lankan authorities. Under international law, return of persons…
Australia may be placing the life of Tamil asylum seekers at risk by directly handing them over to a government they claim to be fleeing without first adequately assessing their safety. Australia may be placing the life of Tamil asylum seekers at risk by directly handing them over to a government they claim to be fleeing without first adequately assessing their safety. AAP/Scott Fisher

Handing over Tamils to the state they fled breaks international law

Australia appears to have reached a new all-time low in its violation of international obligations and its treatment of vulnerable people seeking Australia’s protection. If widespread media reports are…
Immigration minister Scott Morrison’s proposed changes to the Migration Act are designed to reduce adherence to Australia’s international legal obligations. Immigration minister Scott Morrison’s proposed changes to the Migration Act are designed to reduce adherence to Australia’s international legal obligations. AAP/Alan Porritt

Punishment not protection behind Morrison’s refugee law changes

Earlier this week, immigration minister Scott Morrison introduced the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill in response to a High Court decision that ruled invalid his move to cap the…
What would you pull out of the water if you knew you were watched? What would you pull out of the water if you knew you were watched? Dirk.heldmaier

Track boats with GPS to stop illegal fishers draining the seas

The ocean, seen from a beach or from a plane, seems vast, ancient and invulnerable. It’s hard to imagine that 90% of life on earth lives below the waves, across 1.3 billion cubic kilometres of water and…
The judicial and political options in Egypt for appealing Peter Greste’s jail sentence do not appear to give much hope to his supporters. The judicial and political options in Egypt for appealing Peter Greste’s jail sentence do not appear to give much hope to his supporters. EPA/Khaled Elfiqi

Can international law help to free Peter Greste?

The guilty verdict and jail sentence handed to Australian journalist Peter Greste and his Al Jazeera English colleagues Mohammed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed by an Egyptian court for conspiring with the Muslim…
The Senate inquiry into the violence at the Manus Island detention centre in February has heard that a key contributing factor to the riots was the delay in processing asylum seekers' claims. The Senate inquiry into the violence at the Manus Island detention centre in February has heard that a key contributing factor to the riots was the delay in processing asylum seekers' claims. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Slow refugee processing creates fear and uncertainty on Manus Island

It’s been a busy Refugee Week so far. The High Court dismissed a constitutional challenge to offshore processing of asylum seekers, while the federal Labor caucus rejected an internal motion calling for…
Detainees protest in the Woomera centre in 2002: ‘Animals in Australia have more rights than we have!’ one wrote. Detainees protest in the Woomera centre in 2002: ‘Animals in Australia have more rights than we have!’ one wrote. AAP/Tom Miletic

In Australia, animals have better rights than asylum seekers

Several years ago an asylum seeker wrote a letter about his experiences at the now-decommissioned Woomera Detention Centre. This is an extract: I have been in this cage for 13 months … Why should all these…
The transfer of asylum seekers to detention centres in Papua New Guinea is a clear violation of Australia’s international law obligations. The transfer of asylum seekers to detention centres in Papua New Guinea is a clear violation of Australia’s international law obligations. AAP/Eoin Blackwell

Asylum seekers: we can’t ignore our international law obligations

This week’s Four Corners investigation on the circumstances surrounding the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati at the Manus Island detention centre in February was uncomfortable viewing. The ABC…
Japan has been ordered to quit its scientific whaling program in the Southern Ocean. Japan has been ordered to quit its scientific whaling program in the Southern Ocean. Josh/Flickr

Whaling in the Antarctic: Japan’s scientific program illegal

Japan’s Southern Ocean “scientific” whaling program is contrary to international law, the International Court of Justice found last night after a four week trial between Australia and Japan in June last…
When asylum seekers are handed over to PNG’s Manus Island, Australia cannot ‘contract out’ its international legal responsibilities with them. When asylum seekers are handed over to PNG’s Manus Island, Australia cannot ‘contract out’ its international legal responsibilities with them. AAP/Department of Immigration

Manus Island: the end does not justify the means

The Australian government cannot duck and weave and imply that events on Manus Island involving asylum seekers were lawless acts over which it had no control. A policy aimed at “stopping the boats” does…
The decision to investigate the Australian navy’s actions in towing back asylum boats could have been an opportunity for greater transparency. The decision to investigate the Australian navy’s actions in towing back asylum boats could have been an opportunity for greater transparency. AAP/Scott Fisher

Indonesia incursion report provides more questions than answers on turn-backs

The release on Wednesday of the review into the circumstances of how and why the Australian navy repeatedly entered Indonesian waters might have been expected finally to reveal information about Australia’s…
Foreign minister Julie Bishop, pictured with her Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman, in Jerusalem where she confirmed a change in Australia’s position on Jewish settlements. Foreign minister Julie Bishop, pictured with her Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman, in Jerusalem where she confirmed a change in Australia’s position on Jewish settlements. Twitter/AusAmbIsrael

Why Julie Bishop is wise not to judge Israeli settlements illegal

There was once consensus that the earth is flat. Similarly, the international legal situation of Israeli settlements is flatly said to be criminal. The truth is different and more complex. Ben Saul’s recent…
Brutal interrogations of Palestinian children by Israeli forces have the apparent aim of obtaining a confession that the child engaged in stone-throwing. Brutal interrogations of Palestinian children by Israeli forces have the apparent aim of obtaining a confession that the child engaged in stone-throwing. EPA/Mohammar Awad

Does Israel’s interrogation of Palestinian boys violate human rights?

Anyone who watched the ABC Four Corners episode Stone Cold Justice last night could not help but be moved by its vivid portrayal of the plight of many Palestinian boys at the hands of the Israeli army…
The government should have focused on a proper investigation into allegations that asylum seekers' hands were deliberately burned by the Navy. The government should have focused on a proper investigation into allegations that asylum seekers' hands were deliberately burned by the Navy. ABC

Navy burns: the government’s obligation to investigate

The Abbott government has reacted indignantly to allegations by Sudanese asylum seeker Yousif Ibrahim Fasher that asylum seekers were mistreated and had their hands deliberately burnt by Australian Navy…
Foreign minister Julie Bishop made news in Israel by declaring Australia would like to see which international law made settlements in occupied Palestinian territories illegal. Foreign minister Julie Bishop made news in Israel by declaring Australia would like to see which international law made settlements in occupied Palestinian territories illegal. Times of Israel

Settlements illegal under what law? Take your pick, minister

The Australian government has become an apologist for Israeli war crimes and a wrecker of sacred international humanitarian law principles. Last week, Australia’s foreign minister Julie Bishop asked to…
Australia has a duty to ensure asylum seekers who are facing trial after being sent to Nauru are not denied their rights to proper legal process. Australia has a duty to ensure asylum seekers who are facing trial after being sent to Nauru are not denied their rights to proper legal process. AAP

Australia has an obligation to support the rule of law in Nauru

Australia should respond to the extraordinary actions of the government of Nauru in deporting and terminating the employment of its only magistrate, Peter Law, and denying its Chief Justice, Geoffrey Eames…
The navy is permitted to intercept vessels in Australian waters, but the high seas or Indonesian waters are a different matter, as are tow-backs to another country. The navy is permitted to intercept vessels in Australian waters, but the high seas or Indonesian waters are a different matter, as are tow-backs to another country. AAP/Scott Fisher

Explainer: the legal implications of ‘tow-backs

Australia has been engaging in “tow-backs” of asylum-seeker boats. This has involved intercepting boats carrying asylum seekers at sea, before they reach Australia, and forcing them to return to Indonesia…
Where is this building? It really doesn’t matter. Where is this building? It really doesn’t matter. brionv

Google is unlikely to avoid UK courts on privacy

The question of accountability under national law for the wrongs committed by international companies has been debated and litigated for many years in many different courts and across many different countries…
Timor Leste claims that a treaty with Australia on regulating the exploitation of petroleum and similar resources in the Timor Sea is now invalid. Timor Leste claims that a treaty with Australia on regulating the exploitation of petroleum and similar resources in the Timor Sea is now invalid. EPA/Antonio Dasiparu

Explainer: Australia and Timor Leste in The Hague

Several issues of international law arise from Timor Leste’s dispute with Australia over the negotiations of a 2006 treaty regulating the exploitation of petroleum and similar resources in the Timor Sea…
Wanted: al-Liby is wanted in connection with 1998 US embassy bombings. Wanted: al-Liby is wanted in connection with 1998 US embassy bombings. US Department of State

Libyan terror suspect faces US court – but was his arrest legal?

Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, or Abu Anas al-Liby, as he is more commonly known, has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to kill and maim Americans abroad and to attack US national defence facilities…
Russian authorities boarded and detained a Greenpeace vessel for charges of piracy. Russian authorities boarded and detained a Greenpeace vessel for charges of piracy. EPA/GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL

Greenpeace piracy charges mock international law

All 30 crew of Dutch Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise, including an Australian, have been detained and charged with piracy by Russian authorities, after attempting to board an oil platform in the Arctic…
Maybe reducing the number of participants would help bring agreement. Maybe reducing the number of participants would help bring agreement. Andrea Lawardi

International climate agreements? There must be a better way

With the release Friday of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report of the state of climate science, the message has never been clearer: we have to do something to get…
Deadly force: the US navy’s humanitarian intervention in Libya in 2011. Deadly force: the US navy’s humanitarian intervention in Libya in 2011. Wikimedia Commons

International law is clear: no UN mandate, no Syria strikes

As the drums beat louder for the possibility of Western military intervention in Syria, we have seen discussion of an intervention on moral, strategic and practical grounds. But so far none of the major…
A legal challenge may loom to the Australia-PNG regional resettlement arrangement for asylum seeker arrivals if it does not meet our international law obligations. A legal challenge may loom to the Australia-PNG regional resettlement arrangement for asylum seeker arrivals if it does not meet our international law obligations. AAP/Dan Peled

Rudd’s PNG plan unlikely to comply with international law

The new asylum seeker arrangement between Australia and Papua New Guinea is almost certain not to comply with Australia’s international law obligations. In favour of the Australian government’s legal position…
What are the legal implications for proposals to ‘tow back’ and ‘push back’ asylum seeker boats by the Australian Navy? What are the legal implications for proposals to ‘tow back’ and ‘push back’ asylum seeker boats by the Australian Navy? AAP/Scott Fisher

Explainer: the legality of turning or towing back asylum boats

The Coalition promises it will “turn back” asylum seeker boats in Australian waters where it is safe to do so if it wins the next election. With Australian border patrols said to be at “breaking point…
Are whales sacred? That’s what Japan wants to know this week in the International Court of Justice. Are whales sacred? That’s what Japan wants to know this week in the International Court of Justice. Flickr/fugm10

Whaling in the Antarctic: Week 2 – Japan responds

Dispatches from The Hague: Tony Press, CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre at the University of Tasmania, is in The Hague for four weeks of hearings at the International…
Hearings have opened: is Japan’s whaling scientific, or just hunting? Hearings have opened: is Japan’s whaling scientific, or just hunting? International Court of Justice

Whaling in the Antarctic: Australia v. Japan - week one

Dispatches from The Hague: Tony Press, CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre at the University of Tasmania, is in The Hague for four weeks of hearings at the International…
Science or slaughter? Science or slaughter? EPA/Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

On law, science and whales: the case of Australia v Japan

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) meets this week to begin hearing its most prominent case in years. It pits two heavyweights, Australia and Japan, against each other in a legal and political dispute…
Lethal force: will more weapons increase the chance of a peaceful solution in Syria? Lethal force: will more weapons increase the chance of a peaceful solution in Syria? Freedom House via Creative Commons

Is it legal to supply arms to Syrian rebels?

With the UK and France free of their EU obligations to refrain from providing lethal assistance to the rebels and the US now deciding that the time has come strategically and politically to do so, all…
It’s hard to go places when no-one can agree on the road rules. It’s hard to go places when no-one can agree on the road rules. Flickr/mike nowak

Think politics is frustrating? Welcome to climate negotiations

The latest climate negotiations in Bonn have been stalled for two full weeks and climate multilateralism is in crisis mode leading up to the next major gathering in 2015. So, what is the problem? There…
Non-governmental organisations have joined forces to stop the increasing use of drones in warfare - do governments need to develop guidelines for their use? Non-governmental organisations have joined forces to stop the increasing use of drones in warfare - do governments need to develop guidelines for their use? EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

The debate over military technology: in defence of drones

The increasing use of drones, especially by the United States against the Taliban in Pakistan, has prompted wide anti-drone activism. Human Rights Watch has called for a “pre-emptive and comprehensive…
Heading into the next climate treaty, it looks like getting everyone on board will be more important than reducing emissions. Heading into the next climate treaty, it looks like getting everyone on board will be more important than reducing emissions. RB Reed

Universal and useless? The 2015 global climate agreement

It looks as though everyone will be happy to sign the next global climate agreement, due in 2015. Why? Because there will be very little in the agreement that will force countries to act on climate change…
Every Parent’s Nightmare tells the true story of Australian Jock Palfreeman, caught in Bulgaria’s corrupt legal system. Every Parent’s Nightmare tells the true story of Australian Jock Palfreeman, caught in Bulgaria’s corrupt legal system. ABC TV/AAP

The case of Jock Palfreeman and the human rights of Australians overseas

Australians running into trouble with the law overseas is a common topic in the news. The coverage is usually fleeting, ending with the announcement of a conviction or, less often, an acquittal. Belinda…
The demand for shark fins has pushed threatened shark species from 15 in 1996 to 180 in 2010. The demand for shark fins has pushed threatened shark species from 15 in 1996 to 180 in 2010. Choo Yut Shing

Small win for big fish: convention moves to protect sharks

Each year around 100 million sharks are killed for their fins. The sharks are often pulled from the water, their fins are sliced off and they are thrown back in to drown. The industry is built on the high…
The Institute of Cetacean Research has accused the Sea Shepherd of ramming its vessels at sea. The Institute of Cetacean Research has accused the Sea Shepherd of ramming its vessels at sea. AAP/The Institute of Cetacean Research

Arrrrrrrrr the Sea Shepherds really pirates?

The US ninth circuit Court of Appeal has decided today that Sea Shepherd activists are pirates. The decision begins with colourful rhetoric about the appearance of pirates throughout fiction, but it addresses…
To stop some countries doing all the renewable energy work and others doing none, we need incentives to cooperate. To stop some countries doing all the renewable energy work and others doing none, we need incentives to cooperate. Stefan Svensson

The role of international law and economics in renewable power

The UN has set out its ambition for an international policy on sustainable energy. But is the UN’s lead enough? What will it take to make nations follow? Creating and harnessing incentives to participate…
Boycotting the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is not Anti-Semitic; it’s a recognition of violations of international law. Boycotting the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is not Anti-Semitic; it’s a recognition of violations of international law. Flickr/delayed gratification

Establishing the facts about the boycott of Israeli academic institutions

The last weeks of 2012 saw a great amount of criticism levelled at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University and its director Jake Lynch following their boycott of an exchange program…
Sea Shepherd has just launched its new ship, the Sam Simon, but it might not see much action if a US court has its way. Sea Shepherd has just launched its new ship, the Sam Simon, but it might not see much action if a US court has its way. AAP Image/Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Carolina Castro

US court harpoons whaling protesters

On Monday a US federal appeals court granted an injunction requiring the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to stay at least “500 yards” (457 metres) away from Japanese whaling vessels. It is a significant…
More and more people are flying. International emissions regulation isn’t keeping up. More and more people are flying. International emissions regulation isn’t keeping up. Dave Sag

The not so friendly skies: the EU, aviation and climate change

Aviation has – and has had for some time – an emissions problem. That problem was illustrated in dramatic fashion last week when it was announced that the European Union (EU) would freeze until late next…
Failing to reach a decision on protecting Antarctic waters doesn’t mean the process is over. Failing to reach a decision on protecting Antarctic waters doesn’t mean the process is over. Dean Lewins/AAP

Don’t write off Antarctic marine protected areas

The annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) wound up in Hobart on Thursday last week without declaring a system of marine protected areas (MPAs…
Shark fins are a delicacy in Asia, which can sometimes lead to unsustainable fishing practices. Shark fins are a delicacy in Asia, which can sometimes lead to unsustainable fishing practices. mario ruckh/Flickr

Shark protection developments have no bite

Whether it’s from fishing and by-catch, finning or even culling, global shark populations are under a growing threat from human activity. But how successful is international law at protecting some of the…
Rape as a weapon of war needs to stop – but how can local and international communities help? Rape as a weapon of war needs to stop – but how can local and international communities help? EPA/Nicolas Postal

Rape as a weapon of war: what the law can do

During the chaos of war, rape is used by the powerful as a deliberate strategy to destroy any opposition. The law, seemingly, has little role to play. After all, during conflict the normal rules of law…
Humans as well as animals are affected by climate change. A treaty could keep them safe and reduce forced migration. Humans as well as animals are affected by climate change. A treaty could keep them safe and reduce forced migration. AAP

We need a treaty to help people displaced by climate change

Climate change will lead to significant human displacement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other groups warn that the effects – including rising sea levels, heavier floods, more…
Australia had a special interest in fixing the ozone hole. Australia had a special interest in fixing the ozone hole. Jon Tunley

Setting a good example: Australia and the ozone layer

SAVING THE OZONE: The final part our series exploring the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer – dubbed “the world’s most successful environmental agreement” – looks at Australians…
Reduced ozone means increased UV radiation, and that leads to skin cancer. Reduced ozone means increased UV radiation, and that leads to skin cancer. Tracey Lawson

Saving the ozone layer saved human lives

SAVING THE OZONE: Part seven in our series exploring on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer – dubbed “the world’s most successful environmental agreement” – explains how the…
Is there a relationship between the ozone hole over Antarctica and the global climate? Is there a relationship between the ozone hole over Antarctica and the global climate? AAP/Dean Lewins

The Antarctic ozone hole and climate change: an anniversary worth celebrating

SAVING THE OZONE: Part five in our series exploring the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer – dubbed “the world’s most successful environmental agreement” – explores the parallels…
By collecting air at pristine Cape Grim since 1978, scientists have been able to track the concentration of ozone depleting substances. By collecting air at pristine Cape Grim since 1978, scientists have been able to track the concentration of ozone depleting substances. AAP/Bureau of Meteorology

What are ozone depleting substances?

SAVING THE OZONE: Part four in our series exploring the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer – dubbed “the world’s most successful environmental agreement” – looks at the substances…
This is bad, but it would be a lot worse without the ozone layer. This is bad, but it would be a lot worse without the ozone layer. garth.kennedy/Flickr

How does the ozone layer protect Earth from radiation?

SAVING THE OZONE: Part three in our series exploring on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer – dubbed “the world’s most successful environmental agreement” – explains why we…
For more than three decades Antarctica has experienced the most severe depletion of stratospheric ozone. For more than three decades Antarctica has experienced the most severe depletion of stratospheric ozone. NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Explainer: what is the Antarctic ozone hole and how is it made?

SAVING THE OZONE: Part two in our series exploring on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer – dubbed “the world’s most successful environmental agreement”. Yesterday’s article…
The Montreal Protocol negotiators should get a lot of credit for developing such a flexible treaty. The Montreal Protocol negotiators should get a lot of credit for developing such a flexible treaty. hhesterr/Flickr

Saving the ozone layer: why the Montreal Protocol worked

SAVING THE OZONE: It might not seem so long ago that the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica had us in a frenzy over CFCs in hairsprays and insecticides. In fact, on September 16 2012…
Australia has signed up to three international agreements to outlaw shark finning, but sharks still wash up minus fins. Australia has signed up to three international agreements to outlaw shark finning, but sharks still wash up minus fins. Alex Hofford/EPA

Australia not doing enough to prevent shark finning

Another critically endangered grey nurse shark has washed up on a northern NSW beach, with its fins removed. Shark fins are valued at more than A$400 per kilogram. This high market value encourages the…
Tuna fishers agree that too many tuna are caught. But there is no good system to decide who should catch less. Tuna fishers agree that too many tuna are caught. But there is no good system to decide who should catch less. Justin Woolford

Who pays for conservation in the world’s biggest tuna fishery?

The world catches too many tuna. Thanks to our high levels of fishing, some tuna species are under threat. Everyone involved in the fishing industry agrees that fishing effort needs to be reduced. But…
Universities such as Yale need to respect the human rights of their staff and students. Universities such as Yale need to respect the human rights of their staff and students. Flickr/Snap Man

University or business? Yale’s Singapore partnership violates human rights

Yale university’s decision to set up a liberal arts college at the National University of Singapore (NUS) while accepting Singapore’s restrictions on students’ rights to free speech and freedom of association…
Western Governments will be recklessly ignoring their human rights obligations if they continue to support Shell in its US supreme court case. Western Governments will be recklessly ignoring their human rights obligations if they continue to support Shell in its US supreme court case. EPA/George Esiri

Oil for lives? When governments help bad corporations

We all know corporations do bad things. Big corporates have been publicly named and shamed for their participation in causing harm to people and the planet, and they are not always held to account. As…
Libyans celebrated when Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was arrested, but he won’t get a fair trial while his lawyers are detained. Libyans celebrated when Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was arrested, but he won’t get a fair trial while his lawyers are detained. EPA

Melinda Taylor’s detention in Libya is an attack on defence lawyers everywhere

The detention of Melinda Taylor in Libya since June 7 has thrown into the spotlight the roles, responsibilities, and risks associated with being a lawyer in the international realm. Taylor is necessarily…
The UK Supreme Court has ruled in favour of extraditing Julian Assange. The UK Supreme Court has ruled in favour of extraditing Julian Assange. EPA/Kerim Okten

Assange extradition: what next for Wikileaks founder?

Julian Assange’s legal battle has taken a new direction overnight, with the UK Supreme Court ruling in favour of his extradition to Sweden following the issue of a European arrest warrant in November 2010…
Australia’s newly declared continental shelf may be as big as its land mass, but its not a stealth attack on Antarctica. Australia’s newly declared continental shelf may be as big as its land mass, but its not a stealth attack on Antarctica. AAP

Explainer: Australia’s extended continental shelf and Antarctica

Despite recent commentary in the media, Australia’s proclamation of its extended continental shelf does not represent new “claims” in Antarctica and does not contravene the Antarctic Treaty. With Australia…
Why has Paul Watson suddenly been picked up in Germany on a Costa Rican charge? Why has Paul Watson suddenly been picked up in Germany on a Costa Rican charge? Kay Nietfeld/EPA

What’s in it for Germany? Sea Shepherd arrest ‘absolutely unusual’

Captain Paul Watson, founder of the marine conservation organisation Sea Shepherd, was arrested last week in Frankfurt, Germany, on an international arrest warrant issued by the Costa Rican government…
Ratko Mladić’s trial is more than likely to exceed three years in duration. Ratko Mladić’s trial is more than likely to exceed three years in duration. EPA Valerie Kuypers

Ratko Mladić’s long-awaited trial adjourned on second sitting day

The trial of former Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) Colonel General, Ratko Mladić commenced in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) this past Wednesday. Mladić’s arrest at his cousin’s…
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses Iran “Nuclear Day” gathering. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses Iran “Nuclear Day” gathering. EPA/Press TV

An attack on Iran: the legal basis, or lack thereof

Talk of a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities has re-ignited debate over the right of self-defence under international law. Some academics, including Anthony D'Amato and Alan Dershowitz…
Scientists are clear that tuna catch needs to be cut, but figuring out who will fish less and where is much trickier. Scientists are clear that tuna catch needs to be cut, but figuring out who will fish less and where is much trickier. AAP

What a tangled net: unravelling the international complications of tuna conservation

The eighth meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission concluded in Guam on Friday 30 March 2012. Five hundred delegates from more than 40 countries argued for a week about how to reduce…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has resurrected former coalition government policy to “turn back” boats seeking asylum in Australia. Opposition leader Tony Abbott has resurrected former coalition government policy to “turn back” boats seeking asylum in Australia. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

Abbott’s asylum seeker policy floats in murky legal waters

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has said that under a coalition government every boat coming to Australia carrying asylum seekers will be sent back to Indonesia. The Indonesian police, the United Nations…
The legalities of whaling and protesting aren’t black and white. The legalities of whaling and protesting aren’t black and white. wietse?/Flickr

Sea Shepherd antics make a great story, but the real whaling news is elsewhere

Japanese whaling and Australian opposition to it has become as much a staple for the Australian media in summer as bushfires and the cricket. The level of interest has greatly intensified since Sea Shepherd…
Protesters have a point: big polluters' approach to patents isn’t helping developing nations clean up. Protesters have a point: big polluters' approach to patents isn’t helping developing nations clean up. Tck, Tck, Tck

Climate justice for intellectual property at Durban

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: In a global day of action for climate justice, thousands of protestors complained about the slow progress in international debates on climate change at the United Nations…
No new climate dawn at Durban? It’s not the end of the world. No new climate dawn at Durban? It’s not the end of the world. Andrew Roos

And what if nothing happens at Durban?

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Progress towards a binding international agreement on targets to tackle global warming has been more than glacial. Yet despite growing alarm among the climate science…
The Rena disaster could push New Zealand to stronger maritime laws. The Rena disaster could push New Zealand to stronger maritime laws. AAP

The Bay of Plenty oil spill: loading the dice against disaster

Last week the Rena, a Liberian-registered container ship, ran aground on Astrolaube Reef in the Bay of Plenty, around 12 nautical miles from the New Zealand coast. The stricken vessel has been stuck there…
The Australian government decides what help it will provide to travellers caught in civil unrest, like these foreign tourists in Thailand. The Australian government decides what help it will provide to travellers caught in civil unrest, like these foreign tourists in Thailand. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

What will your country do for you? Aussies in trouble overseas

The passport all Australians carry overseas is not just an entry or exit permit in and out of countries. It represents our nationality and our rights when abroad, as well as the rights and duties the government…
What is Australia’s responsibility for low-lying neighbours like Palau? What is Australia’s responsibility for low-lying neighbours like Palau? CasaDeQueso

See you in court: the rising tide of international climate litigation

The Pacific Island State of Palau recently announced it will seek an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), asking whether countries have a responsibility to avoid their emissions…
Laws designed to protect domestic workers could also help those trafficked from other countries. Laws designed to protect domestic workers could also help those trafficked from other countries. Flickr/Kara Allyson

How a simple signature can help stop people trafficking and worker abuse

Domestic workers now have greater protection from exploitative employers. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has adopted a convention which regulates working hours and prevents violence in the…
Colonel Gaddafi is a brutal tyrant, but his arrest warrant is a political move. Colonel Gaddafi is a brutal tyrant, but his arrest warrant is a political move. EPA/Sabri Elmhedwi

Gaddafi arrest warrant tests credibility of International Criminal Court

Arrest warrants have been issued for the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and Libya’s intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi. It follows a referral by the United Nations Security Council…

Research Briefs (1)

Where do emissions come from?

Country-by-country estimates of CO2 emissions typically include only those emissions produced from the burning of fossil…