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The international protection of refugees and asylum seekers: New thinking, or no future?

GuestBlogger28 February 2016

pencil-iconWritten by Gaiane Nuridzhanian, PhD candidate, UCL Laws
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On 24 February 2016 Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, Emeritus Professor of International Refugee Law at the University of Oxford, spoke at UCL about the current migrant crisis and the new approaches to employing the existing framework of international protection of refugees and asylum seekers to overcome it.

According to Professor Goodwin-Gill, one of the gaps of the current international legal system for refugee and asylum seekers protection lies in the failure to establish a framework based on co-operation and reciprocity. Indeed, such basic instruments as the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees do not contain provisions, which identify a specific state responsible for assisting a refugee or asylum seeker or a third state that should extend its co-operation to the refugee receiving state.

The system can be improved by refining the existing institutions rather than by revising the treaty base. For instance, revising the UNHCR statute to expressly include stateless and internally displaced persons within its mandate, providing proper funding for the UNHCR, enhancing UN inter-agency co-operation and devising an early-warning system to be managed by the UN bodies.

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Chevron Case: Ecuador’s Defense

GuestBlogger25 November 2015

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Written by Ira Ryk-Lakhman, MPhil/PhD candidate (UCL Laws)

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Dr Martins Paparinskis (on left) with Dr Diego Garcia Carrion

On Friday, 13 November 2015, Dr Diego Garcia Carrion, the Attorney General for Ecuador came to UCL to present his book “Chevron Case: Defense of Ecuador”, and discuss the Ecuadorian position in one of the most important and controversial international dispute settlement cases at the moment – Chevron v. Ecuador. Importantly, the event was not intended to constitute a full and exhaustive legal or factual discussion of the case and the parties’ contentions, but merely a presentation of the main points of the Ecuadorian perspective.

The Ecuadorean Attorney General’s presentation was co-organised by UCL Laws and UCL Global Governance Institute and Investment Law and Policy. Dr Martins Paparinskis, convenor of International Law of Foreign Investments course at UCL Laws, chaired the event. The event was filmed by the Ecuadorian Embassy, and complimentary copies of the book were handed to the participants.

In brief, in September 2009 Chevron brought its claim against Ecuador to an investor-State arbitration tribunal under the US-Ecuador BIT. The claim primarily alleges denial of justice by Ecuador’s courts in a domestic dispute relating to environmental and social harms due to contamination resulting from oil production in Lago Agrio region (Chevron’s position on the dispute). The case is still pending, and raises hard questions about international investment arbitration, which are of considerable conceptual and practical importance. Can international investment arbitration successfully address the public elements of private disputes? What is the role of parties, non-parties, and participants in investment arbitration? Can investment arbitration resolve the interplay between different substantive and procedural regimes of domestic and international law? Is ad hoc arbitration an appropriate regime of dispute settlement for dealing with legal and factual issues of such complexity? How do States’ representatives think and act upon these issues?

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