Using as the Starting Point the Article ‘WTO Rules against EU “Anti-Dumping” Duties on Indonesian Biofuel’ by Natasha Burton in New Economy on 26 January 2018, Discuss the Use of Anti-dumping Measures by the EU on Biofuels

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Written by Chloe Barratt

This post (edited for publication) is published on our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. Following the blogging success over the last couple of years, we decided to publish our students’ excellent work in this area again in this way. The module is an option in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It continues to be led by Associate Professor Dr Noëlle Quénivet. Using innovative learning and teaching methods, Noëlle developed this module to include the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

Anti-dumping duties are additional charges imposed by a state in response to the dumping of products into the ‘commerce of another country at less than the normal value of the products’ (Article VI GATT). They are a means of neutralising unfair trade practice, allowing states to protect their domestic industry if the dumping is having a negative effect on their economy. This blog will discuss how the European Union (EU) imposes anti-dumping measures on biofuels, a renewable source of energy that until recently was seen as an attractive alternative to fossil fuels. I will discuss how the issue that lies at the heart of the dispute with anti-dumping measures is, as Burton’s article highlights, how the extent of dumping is calculated. After examining the implications of anti-dumping measures, I will conclude that they are necessarily used to neutralise unfair trade practice and maintain economic and social stability within the EU.

Process of Bringing an Anti-dumping Measure

To ensure anti-dumping duties are imposed to counteract unfair trade practice, the process of imposing duties is heavily regulated. Accordingly, Article 1 of the  Agreement on Implementation of Article VI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (ADA) requires all investigations to be initiated and conducted in accordance with the provisions of the ADA. Whilst the World Trade Organisation (WTO) does not regulate the initial act of dumping, it is responsible for regulating the process a state must follow when initiating an anti-dumping measure. If, for example, the EU believes products are being dumped into its market it must first be able to show that the dumping is taking place. In doing so it must be able to calculate how much lower the export price is in comparison to the home market price and show that it is causing injury or threatening to do so. The high threshold for establishing the injurious effect of the dumping accompanied by an investigation (see Article 5 ADA) seeks to ensure that anti-dumping duties are used productively.

Why Calculations of Anti-dumping Measures Have Proven Problematic

Whilst the process of imposing an anti-dumping measure is well regulated, the element of calculating the extent of dumping was highlighted as problematic in Burton’s article. As the EU explains in the Commission Implementing Regulation 2018/1570, following the rulings in Indonesia and Argentina (see para 8), the method of calculation has now been clarified in light of the ADA (for the original reports of the dispute settlement body, see Indonesia (DS480) and Argentina (DS473)). 

The dispute between the EU on the one hand and Argentina and Indonesia on the other (see history here) follows a number of WTO challenges to anti-dumping measures (see discussion in Crowley and Hillman, ‘Slamming the Door on Trade Policy Discretion? The WTO Appellate Body’s Ruling on Market Distortions and Production Costs in EU-Biodiesel (Argentina) (2018) 17 World Trade Review 195-213) where the underlying issue was how authorities adjusted the prices of exporting producers. For example, when constructing a home market price for Argentine biodiesel, that is the price of which biodiesel was sold in Argentina, the European Commission chose to alter the price of soybeans to compensate for the distortion in soybean prices, caused by an export tax imposed by the Argentine government (see Crowley and Hillman, at 2).  The price was adjusted based on the fact that soybeans, the primary input of biodiesel, were considerably below the international price and the Commission reasoned the adjustment was what ‘would have been the price paid… in the absence of the export tax system’.

The dispute with Indonesia was similar in the sense that it also involved a problem with  calculations: the EU had replaced the actual price of crude palm oil that was within the producers’ records with an international reference price. The price of the palm oil was lower than international prices, which meant the EU imposed higher duties on Indonesia in response to what they calculated the extent of dumping to be. When deciding on the trade disputes in the cases of Indonesia and Argentina, the Dispute Settlement Body for the WTO found the EU had indeed acted inconsistently with both GATT 1994 and ADA.

Therefore, whilst there has been a period of uncertainty in calculating the extent of dumping, this imperfection has now been clarified by the WTO. The clear guidance now states that countries are not legally permitted to take government manipulated price control into account.

Social and Economic Stability 

Since the WTO cannot regulate the act of dumping, the ability for a state to impose ‘remedial and not punitive’ measures in response to dumping are essential to nullify unfair trade practice. The measures imposed by the EU on biofuels have been used to counteract the great harm that dumping poses to the economic and social stability of the EU. 

Biofuels being dumped into the commerce of the EU not only disrupts the trading of the fuels but also distorts the standard value of the commodity. EU producers are faced with unfair competition and in considering the vast difference in Indonesia’s access to the raw materials used for biofuels (i.e. palm oil) in comparison to the EU’s access,  the EU could not physically be expected to meet the competitors’ low price without a substantial economic loss. The subsequent effect on the domestic economy could see a closure in business and vast unemployment, which the EU is able to avoid with anti-dumping measures.

Conclusion

In summary, anti-dumping measures by the EU have been imposed to minimise the economic disruption caused by the dumping of biofuels. Whilst the EU was found to have miscalculated the extent of dumping, this was recognised and rectified by the WTO dispute settlement mechanism which in turn acknowledged the lawfulness of anti-dumping measures as such. Overall, these measures have been used productively to counteract unfair competition. 

Guest blog post: A student representatives’ perspective of the Times Higher Education awards ceremony

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Guest author: Mia Collins, 3rd Year Business and Management Student 

Currently in my final year of studying Business and Management, I have been fortunate enough to represent the department as its Lead Department Representative and the Finance, Business and Law faculty as its Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee member. These roles have demonstrated huge benefits to my educational and professional development, yet, the most monumental opportunity the positions have brought me is attending the Times Higher Education Awards in London. As a typical student does, I have had significant exposure to Bristol’s nightlife – but none of them compare to the night I had at the awards ceremony.

The night began on, rather, a stressful start; having only 1 hour to get to get ‘black tie’ ready, I was under significant pressure– for those who know me well enough, will understand exactly the level of stress I mean. Despite this, I was immensely excited. We ventured over to the JV Marriott Grovesnor House in London, where we were met with bubbly and snacks. Walking into the reception room, in itself, was an experience; everyone had gone above and beyond with their appearance and looked fantastic. Before the night had really began, this was a great opportunity for me to get to know the people who facilitate the day to day operations of UWE; as a team of 14 (2 being myself and Lily Liu, the only students in attendance), were able to get to know the likes of Steve West, Donna Whitehead and lot more. Before one too many glasses of prosecco, we got a #teamUWE picture:

(Don’t we scrub up well!)

After a chatter and a social, we were taken into the main awards hall. Merely walking towards the hall, you are greeted by the most amazing floor imaginable (see below). From the onset, everything about the night was glamourous. Once we (eventually) found our tables, we sat down to a starter of crispy salt cod fritter (essentially, the fanciest fish finger ever), followed by slow braised beef short rib with vegetables, finishing off with a Greek yoghurt tart and petits fours – yum.

As time went on, the more nervous we all became, and before we knew it, our category was up next. We had thankfully been shortlisted, for the second year in a row, Business School of the Year and were up against some intense competition. The category was announced… UWE’s participation was mentioned… a huge cheer from all of our 3 tables… on the very edge of our seats…the winner was announced… and THEN, ah. ESCP Europe Business School were awarded the winners of 2018. Despite not winning, this year(!), we didn’t lose spirit. We were up for Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration. Again, we didn’t quite get it this time; we did, however, receive a special commendation for our efforts. Not all bad, eh?

The night didn’t end there – a disco was to follow. Thankfully, we were sat the closest to the stairs, so UWE were the first to get to the dancefloor. I must add, we took over the ENTIRE dance floor, truly a UWE takeover. The night didn’t purely involve partying, it was a great opportunity for me to develop my networking skills and get to meet some senior figures from all across the country – one in particular, the Sponsorship Director of the Times Higher Education awards. After hours of singing our hearts – out at the very top of our lungs – lunging and squatting(?) to the beat and showing the other universities why UWE really are the best, the disco came to an end – it takes a lot of skill and endurance to be the FIRST and LAST ones on the dancefloor, but we executed it so well.

We got back to our hotel in the early hours of the morning and, with no voice left and feet in agony from high heels, we sat in the lobby, each with our takeaway laughing and chatting until it was time for bed.

The night as an entity was phenomenal, I am incredibly grateful to be 1 of the 2 students fortunate enough to attend. I’ve not only taken away great memories from it but have also made great relationships with senior staff whom I would never usually have the opportunity meet. A huge thank you to everyone who facilitated the evening and made it as incredible as it was. Every day I am more and more honoured to represent UWE and everything we achieve. Bring on Business School of the Year 2019!

Below are a few photos from the evening:

   

Student blog post: To which extent is it possible to include cultural genocide in the definition of genocide as stated in the ICC Statute?

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This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. Following from last year’s blogging success, we decided to publish our students’ excellent work in this area again in this way. The module is an option in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It continues to be led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module was developed by Noelle to include the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

Guest author: Nikita Isaac

In this blog post I am addressing the highly topical issue of ‘cultural genocide’ and its potential inclusion in the definition of genocide. Whilst there is no legal definition of cultural genocide, we can still consider it as falling within the definition of genocide as stated in Article 6 of the ICC Statute. Several definitions of cultural genocide have been propounded by academics, one being a ‘purposeful weakening and ultimate destruction of cultural values and practices of feared out groups’ (pp 18-19). I believe that cultural genocide is present in many situations such as Darfur. This blog post argues that it is possible to include cultural genocide in the definition of genocide.

Signature of the Genocide Convention (Source: here.)

The work of Lemkin who coined the term genocide supports my view as in his broad definition he included cultural genocide alongside physical and biological genocide. He believed that physical genocide and cultural genocide were ‘one process that could be accomplished through a variety of means(D Short, ‘Cultural Genocide and Indigenous Peoples: A Sociological Approach’ (2010) 14 IJHR 833, 835), whether through mass killings or coordinated actions aimed at destroying essential foundations of group life.

The resulting definition in the ICC Statute is far from what Lemkin envisioned as still today cultural genocide is unrecognised legally. The travaux préparatoires of the Genocide Convention included a section on cultural genocide which was then excluded from the final version even though it had been deemed a serious human rights violation and thought to be a stand-alone crime. It is this version, that of the Genocide Convention, that was adopted in the ICC Statute. Political factors had played a part in the exclusion of cultural genocide as the United States were against formulating criteria relating to cultural genocide given their historical relationships with indigenous peoples (L Kingston, ‘The Destruction of Identity: Cultural Genocide and Indigenous Peoples’ (2015) 14 Journal of Human Rights 63, 65). So, ‘[t]he wording of the Convention was shaped … not to criminalize their own behaviour’ (C Powell, ‘What do Genocides Kill? A Relational Conception of Genocide’ (2007) 9 Journal of Genocide Research 527, 532).

The ICC Statute preamble states that parties to the statute are ‘[c]conscious that all peoples are united by common bonds, their cultures pieced together in a shared heritage, and concerned that this delicate mosaic may be shattered at any time’. Thus, if culture is a protected interest by the states that are parties to the ICC Statute why is cultural genocide not recognised?​​​​​​​

This picture shows how indigenous children were stripped of their cultural identity when forced into westernised schools. (Source: here.)

The example of what has happened to some indigenous groups in North America such as the Winnemem Wintu (see article by Kingston) substantiates my view that cultural genocide should fit within the definition of genocide. Cultural genocide affects these tribes as their culture and identity are stripped away over time and destroyed, though they may not suffer physical harm. The Winnemem Wintu are federally unrecognized (Kingston, p 70) by the US government and so are unprotected. Of the 14,000 Winnemem Wintu people only 123 remain (Kingston, p 70). They have continually lost land from the 1800s onwards (Kingston, p 70) and their cultural life as they know it is being decimated in front of their eyes. Their very means of life have been restricted through fishing bans, using plants for medicine and loss of ceremonial grounds (Kingston, p 70). The definition of genocide clearly does not safeguard indigenous people even though the loss of culture to them is just as devastating as loss of life (Kingston, p 72; see also this video). The UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous People offers protection now, but it has taken over 60 years to reach this point and in that time indigenous people suffered detrimentally. I argue that culture can be seen as a fundamental human right. Yet, although this shows progress with regard to cultural issues, in no way does it criminalize the behaviour against indigenous people which means that there is still no international platform to criminalize cultural genocide.

This picture displays the shocking difference before and after a child was forced into school (Source: here.)

A case which reaffirms my opinion is Prosecutor v Krstic as it dealt with the genocide of Muslim men and boys in the safe area of Srebrenica (see video). It is interesting to note that the ICTY opened the discussion of cultural genocide stating that ‘[t]he destruction of culture may serve evidentially to confirm an intent, to be gathered from other circumstances, to destroy the group, as such (para 53). So, it is taken that cultural destruction satisfies the test of dolus specialis needed to fulfil the mens rea of genocide. Judge Shahabuddeen dissenting acknowledged, ‘it is not convincing to say that the destruction, though effectively obliterating the group, is not genocide because the obliteration was not physical or biological’ (para 50). So, referring back to the Winnemem Wintu, although they have not physically or biologically suffered, it does not mean that they have not suffered through other means. The Winnemem Wintu have suffered through losing their culture due to the construction of a dam on their historic and sacred land. This undoubtedly reinforces the claim that cultural genocide can be recognised via case-law despite not being expressly included in the statute of an international criminal tribunal.

(Source: here.)

Overall, I truly support the idea that it is possible for cultural genocide to be included in the definition of genocide as stipulated in the ICC Statute. As discussed, originally, a much broader definition of genocide was drawn up that included cultural genocide; however, this was excluded, thereby leaving indigenous people unprotected for decades. This has had a knock-on effect in the case law which, although making obvious references to cultural issues in relation to genocide, does not recognise ‘cultural genocide’ as a crime as such.

Student blog post: In light of the article by Melissa Bellitto, ‘The World Bank, Capabilities, and Human Rights: A New Vision for Girls’ Education beyond’ (2015) Florida Journal of International Law 91 discuss the role of the World Bank as a funder of education.  

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 This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. Following from last year’s blogging success, we decided to publish our students’ excellent work in this area again in this way. The module is an option in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It continues to be led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module was developed by Noelle to include the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

Guest blog post: Daniele Tatoryte

Introduction

This blog post examines the role of the World Bank as a funder of education. Defined as an international organisation that helps emerging market countries to reduce poverty and promote prosperity, the World Bank is part of the World Bank Group, which is a family of five international organisations, and is composed of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association. The World Bank funds a variety of projects notably relating to education by providing loans in developing countries. It has been involved in education since 1962, thus being the largest international funder of education for development in low-income countries and supporting them with $3 billion a year. Overall, the World Bank has funded 2512 education projects. In this blog post I will first discuss the issue of gender inequality and then discuss education in the broader framework of human rights as I believe that the World Bank’s important role in supporting education should be more human rights focused.

 Gender Inequality

The Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women is the key international legal instrument that seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women. In spite of its existence, girls (M Bellitto, ‘The World Bank, Capabilities, and Human Rights: A New Vision for Girls’ Education Beyond 2015’ (2015) 27 Florida Journal of International Law 91) are the most affected by education inequality as a large majority does not have access to education owing to cultural and social barriers (M Nussbaum, ‘Women’s Education: A Global Challenge’ (2004) 29 Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 332). It is submitted that if girls could access education, they would better tackle issues such as medical care and contribute to the economy of the State, which is the aim of the World Bank (Bellitto at 101). Scholars such as Nussbaum and Sen have criticised the fact that women are treated as economic commodities and that their worth is based on their ability to contribute to the formal economy (see discussion in Bellitto at 95). The best way to deal with this problem is to implement anti-discriminatory laws that eradicate discrimination, a good illustration being India that has adopted a rights based approach in primary education. The World Bank, UNESCO and the Global Partnership for Education are focused on improving gender equality and empowering girls and women through quality education. To attain these goals, projects such as The Education 2030 Framework for Action (FFA) aims to achieve greater results by 2030. Some of their goals are to train more teachers, to support gender equality and improve the quality of teaching. In this light it is argued that educational planning could be a good approach to take into account and tackle all factors affecting education.

(The first UNESCO chart below shows the number of children (according to education level and gender) who were not enrolled in education between 2000 and 2015 whilst the second   indicates that the number of children without access to education varies depending on the continent.)

 

 Human Rights and Education

So, how can this problem be tackled? First, one may argue that the World Bank is bound by human rights law. After all, it has international legal personality as it fulfils three requirements: (1) it is independent from its member states in its functioning; (2) it possesses the capacity to create international rights and obligations; (3) and it possesses the capacity to bring or defend international claims (see here at 364-365). Unfortunately many courts do not have jurisdiction over international organisations and so there is no international judicial remedy against the World Bank. That being said, the Inspection Panel of the World Bank plays an important role as a control mechanism. If the funding provided by the World Bank is not used correctly, a claim can be brought by a minimum of two individuals so that the Inspection Panel can start an investigation. For example, in Nepal a claim, later dismissed, was made that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation applied to vocational education. Another solution could be to direct the funds of the World Bank to local NGOs, rather than to central governments and education ministries (see here at 61-62), with a view to making education more effective and compliant with human rights law.        ​​​​​​​

Conclusion             

From my point of view, the World Bank and the State should work together to overcome social and cultural barriers affecting gender inequality in education. Undoubtedly, there has been a marked improvement in providing education and achieve gender equality. That being said, I could also argue that the approach the World Bank is adopting towards education is more economic than human rights based as primary education is supposed to be free and accessible to everyone. If access to education depends on one’s ability to pay for it then the human rights to education is violated. Moreover, it should be stressed that education is a necessity for the economic growth and development of these countries. On the one hand the World Bank provides these developing countries with funding to improve their economy but on the other, it takes away their financial independence and obliges them to violate human rights law by complying with conditions such as the privatisation of schools. Consequently, the implementation of a monitoring body independent from the World Bank is essential to improve its functioning and ensure that all its actions comply with human rights law.

A summary of this blog post in the form of a Prezi presentation is available here.

 

 

Student blog post: With Reference to the Case-Law of the European Convention on Human Rights Do Prisoners Have the Right to Vote and, if yes, to which Extent?

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This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. Following from last year’s blogging success, we decided to publish our students’ excellent work in this area again in this way. The module is an option in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It continues to be led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module was developed by Noelle to include the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication

Guest author: Magdalena Vakulova

Introduction

The right to vote has always been a hot topic. In fact, fights to achieve universal suffrage have been here for centuries, and still continue today. Even though the right to vote is one of the basic principles of democratic society and the strongest ‘say’ the citizen can have as well as one of the fundamental human rights encapsulated in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) there are still many ambiguities over potential restrictions to this right.

The current law in the United Kingdom denies the right to vote to prisoners while incarcerated (People Act 1983, part 1 section 3). However, according to Hirst, a case decided by the European Court of Human Rights, the denial of right to vote for prisoners falls outside the given margin of appreciation as the automatic ‘blanket ban‘ contradicts the very essence of this right.

Referring to the relevant case law I will examine the right to vote for prisoners in the UK. I decided to focus on the UK because the judgment (Hirst v UK) was not only the first one in a long series of cases relating to universal suffrage for prisoners but was also applied in different jurisdictions across Europe. I will be arguing that even though the States were given a wide margin of appreciation to exclude prisoners from the voting process, this can only be done if it does not violate the whole essence of the right. In my opinion reasonable restrictions of this right should be allowed and approved as compatible with Article 3, 10 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

Mr Hirst’s Argument

In this video Mr Hirst, convicted of murder, argues in favour of prisoners’ right to vote as a basic human right. 

The Right to Vote as the Basis of Democract

First, we must understand that the right to vote is not only a basic aspect of citizenship but also viewed as the ‘core principle’ (L Beckman ‘The Right to Democracy and the Human Right to Vote: The Instrumental Argument Rejected’ (2014) 13 Journal of Human Rights 381) of the democratic system (Watch this video which explains why a voting right for everyone is so important in a democratic society.) In order to ensure effective democracy within the State the basic human rights of every citizen (Scoppola v Italy, para 51) must be preserved and this without discrimination or unreasonable restrictions incompatible with the terms of the ECHR (Hirst v UK (paras 27 and 41)). Moreover, everyone’s right to participate in voting is implied in Article 21 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and more explicitly outlined in Article 25 of the ICCPR where the right to vote is established as a binding norm of international law. Further Article 3 of Protocol 1 to the ECHR states that the right to vote is not only the key aspect of effective political democracy but also an important element of the Convention system (Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt v Belgium, para 47). Therefore the exclusion of prisoners from the right to vote must be reconcilable with the purposes of Article 3 of Protocol 1 (Hirst v UK (No. 2), para 62). However, in my opinion, the UK has departed from this fundamental norm as it has prevented prisoners from exercising this basic right and so has fully blocked their access to the democratic system.

The Margin of Appreciation and UK Arguments 

In the case of Hirst v UK it was held that a blanket ban on prisoners’ right to vote under s. 3(1) of the 1983 Act is not compatible with Article 3 of Protocol 1. Even though the States are endowed with a wide margin of appreciation and the rights under Article 3 are not absolute, the automatic ban falls outside these margins (Hirst No 2, para 82) as it is not proportionate (Scoppola, paras 93-102; Hirst No 2, paras 76-85) (see also Sauvé v Canada (Supreme Court of Canada), paras 37 and 54-62).

The first  argument that the UK submitted to the European Court of Human Rights was that as prisoners had breached a social contract, they lacked moral virtue and therefore did not deserve this right. The second ground of the government’s reasoning was that this restriction was a punishment which helped enhancing civic responsibility (Hirst No 2, para 50).

The Response of the ECtHR to the UK Arguments 

The ECHR rejected the UK arguments. Firstly, it argued that the lack of moral virtue is contradictory to the fact that the State requires prisoners to fulfill other civic duties. Moreover the ECHR emphasized that the right to vote is a right and not a privilege (see also Sauvé, paras 14, 19-24 and 37; Hirst No 2, paras 59 and 75) which you deserve through a good moral virtue.

Secondly, it was held that incarceration per se is not a reasonable justification for violating fundamental rights. Whilst the ECHR to some extent approved the idea of a voting ban being understood as a punishment (Hirst No 2, paras 74-75, see also Dikson v United Kingdom) it however stressed that any such restriction  needed to have a clear link between the punishment and the restriction (see Hirst No 2, Joint Dissenting Opinion of Judges Wildhaber, Costa, Lorenzen, Kovler and Jebens, para 8 and Dissenting Opinion of Judge Costa, para 3). Yet, there was no such evidence that the UK had even thought about the link to the offense (see discussion by Weston) or any other justification of the punishment. In contrast the UK applied the automatic ban to every prisoner. The UK reasoning was not objective at any point and therefore I agree that the ban contradicts the very essence of the universal suffrage (see Mathieu-Mohin, para 52).

Conclusion 

In my opinion the reasoning of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst was correct as the UK’s justification for the ban was discriminatory and not legally tenable. In this light I think that the UK should carry out debates and amend the current legislation so that the restriction of the right to vote is possible to some extent at least. Furthermore I believe that enfranchisement will help prisoners in their rehabilitation.

Student blog post: On the basis of the Article ‘Port of Rotterdam Reveals Scale of Brexit Challenge’ discuss the legal issues relating to non-tariff barriers and trading standards imposed on imported goods.

Posted on

This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. Following from last year’s blogging success, we decided to publish our students’ excellent work in this area again in this way. The module is an option in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It continues to be led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module was developed by Noelle to include the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

Guest author: Victoria Meller

One of the most discussed phenomena of recent times is the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, i.e. Brexit. While the exact implications of Brexit will only become apparent once the UK officially leaves in 2019, the departure will undoubtedly have consequences on the economic relations of the UK with the EU as well as with the rest of the world.

The focus of this blog post is on the effect of Brexit on trading standards, i.e. tariffs and non-tariff barriers on imported and exported goods. I will examine the challenges that UK businesses and consumers might face.

Tariff and Non-tariff Barriers

Tariffs are external taxes paid on imported and exported goods as they cross the border whereas non-tariff barriers are trading requirements on goods, such as certain quality certificates which need to be shown at the border, or quantitative measures such as quotas. States usually prefer to pay tariffs to abiding by non-tariff barriers as the latter can limit or prevent a certain type of product from entering a State.

One fundamental principle of international economic law is the principle of non-discrimination. It is imposed by the World Trade Organization on all its members and consists of two components: the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment (Article I GATT 1994) which states that each trading partner must be treated equally and the national treatment (Article III GATT 94) which stipulates that foreign goods shall be treated in the same way as national goods. Exceptions to the principle (Article XIV) include preferential treatment towards developing nations (which goes against MFN but is for the greater good of disadvantaged nations) and being part of a regional free trade agreement. The UK, as a member state of the EU, is part of the single market and customs union, which operates as a tariff-free trade zone and applies the national treatment principle within its borders though it does discriminate against non-EU goods but is allowed to do so as it is a regional trade agreement.

In light of the article by Acton (Financial Times, 28 December 2017) this blog post highlights specific issues relating to the import of agricultural goods into the UK as it is claimed that 70% of imported food comes from the EU.

Price Rises

If the UK is unable to negotiate a free trade deal with the EU, then Brexit will result in the UK adopting the universal WTO tariffs as well as having the EU common external tariff of 2.3%  being imposed on it. This may result in price rises on foods such as fruits, vegetables, and wine which cannot be produced in the UK and are primarily imported from other EU States. As demonstrated in the table below, tariffs on e.g. dairy produce might rise to 39.9% on EU exports and 39.4% on UK exports. The higher prices would be caused by not only higher tariffs being placed on imports from the EU but also international imports entering the EU before reaching the UK. As the article explains, the latter situation is likely to happen since the UK does not have sufficiently large ports in comparison to EU ports such as Rotterdam.

 

Source: J Protts, ‘Potential Post-Brexit Tariff Costs for EU-UK Trade’, Civitas, October 2016, available here.

Double Control

Goods imported from outside the EU will go through a double border control which will inevitably cause delays. This will have the greatest impact on goods which rely on the just-in-time production system, such as food manufacturers (e.g. Kellogg’s). The just-in-time inventory system relies on manufacturers producing enough to meet demand, and only storing a limited amount of excess goods in inventory. Hence quick delivery onto shelves is essential. Double border control will mean double tariffs and non-tariff barriers such as certifications. This will affect the time they reach consumers and thus create costs for businesses.

As for non-tariff barriers, these will have huge implications on agricultural goods, as they are subject to stricter regulations and sanitary standards because of their public health consequences and fragile nature.

Non-tariffs 

Non-tariff barriers are believed to be 2-3 times the cost of tariffs on goods. With that in mind, sanitary standards and rules of origin (see Article IX GATT) of exported goods should remain strict for the UK post-Brexit. This will be to prevent the UK from acting as a ‘back door route for goods into Europe’. Since the UK will no longer be an EU member it may decide to relax trading standards, e.g. allow imports of chlorinated chicken which is banned across the EU. However, I think that the UK will nonetheless uphold most of the EU trading regulations and replicate them into its domestic law. This is because the majority of those regulations were voluntarily upheld by EU member states, as opposed to being imposed on them. In addition, as aforementioned, the UK does not possess sufficient ports for trading and so will likely continue to rely on EU ports. 

Source: Michael Acton ‘Port of Rotterdam Reveals Scale of Brexit Challenge’, Financial Times, 28 December 2017, available here.

Uncertain Future

Regardless of the many challenges that may initially arise due to Brexit, I think the UK could possibly benefit in the long run from withdrawing from the EU as it will no longer be restrained by the EU in terms of product standards and consequently be able to negotiate free trade deals on its own terms with any State and freely decide which tariffs and trading requirements to impose. I believe the UK will learn to adapt to this new set of circumstances, but only time will tell.

Student blog post: Common Reporting Standards – Criminal Information Nowhere to Hide?

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This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as an excerpt from an LLM Dissertation by Yen Lai. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

Our financial world today remains as a black hole whereby the illicit capital flow or unreported assets of financial criminals are utterly difficult to gauge on its extent, especially in the tax haven. The real magnitude of criminal use of tax haven is always uncertain, because of its bank secrecy facilitates criminal activities like tax evasion, money laundering and conceal the illicit money trail related to other white collar crimes.  The tax scandals such as Panama Paper and Paradise Paper could be tip of the iceberg. The aftermath revealed the inefficiency of authorities when tax information is needed to be “leaked” by financial firms because it is extremely hard to keep track on the money trail with intention to hide over the world.

Currently, the most extensive feature of the Common Reporting Standard by OECD consists of a model of Multilateral Competent Authorities Agreement that allows information to be exchange automatically after a jurisdiction signs into it. This Automatic Exchange of Information is particularly useful in transmitting information such as the money flow between jurisdictions, the changes of residence, the purchase or disposition of property, value-added tax refunded, etc.  This will provide timely information on non-compliance where tax has been evaded. However, there is a foreseeable problem of too much or too little information being exchanged between jurisdiction and how the investigators process and utilise the data will be highly concerned.

Firstly, the US as one of the major economy and ranked as second most secrecy jurisdiction, is not a signatory to CRS, but adopted own FATCA. There will be too many bilateral or multilateral Competent Authority Agreements (CAAs) become available to facilitate the automatic exchange of information within the CRS.  The matter of cost and efficiency arise with the problem of too much information.  Secondly, there is lack of provision to demand a jurisdiction to sign a CAA with another jurisdiction, even if the latter complies with confidentiality and data protection safeguards.  A secrecy jurisdiction can be a signatory to CRS, upholding its reputation, by choosing another secrecy jurisdictions or major financial centres to exchange information.  Thirdly, there is incompleteness in the non-reciprocity mechanism for developing countries as there is no provision of a timeframe on when a full reciprocity would be required.  Fourthly, it is a big obstacle to require a consensus from the jurisdictions that have signed the CRS before accepting a new jurisdiction.  It indicates a risk of secrecy jurisdiction acts on self-interest purpose.  Fifthly, non-reciprocity is offered to jurisdictions without an income tax, which means secrecy jurisdictions can send information but not receiving information from another jurisdiction.  This can promote the status quo and corruption of a secrecy jurisdiction because the prosecution of financial criminals will be hard without the information on its residents’ foreign income from another jurisdiction.

It is perceptible that CRS is a voluntary scheme that mainly depends on a jurisdiction to fulfil its commitment through their national legislation. The UK has passed numerous legislation in tackling tax evasion while complying the CRS. The problem with the UK legislation is that it is too hard to prosecute a company for the facilitation of tax evasion by their customers or suppliers.  Moreover, the Big Four accounting firms involved in numerous scandals outbreak show a growing consensus in facilitating the wrongdoing of their clients.  Hence, Criminal Finances Act 2017 has significant reform that introduces two offences to held account for ‘fail to prevent’ the facilitation of UK tax evasion and far-reaching to the evasion of foreign tax that was assisted by any firms incorporated in the UK; rather than trying to attribute the criminal acts in proving the “directing mind” of the firm.  The new offences come with greater powers for law enforcement to regulate the risk profile of financial sector and professional services firms in relation to tax evasion issues and their compliance programmes.  Other than that, the UK lawmakers passed several regulations in complying the CRS, such as extending the Data-gathering Powers Regulations 2016, International Tax Compliance Regulations 2015 and the Client Notification Regulations 2016.

In conclusion, CRS does not aim to change a secrecy jurisdiction’s fiscal policies but merely to eliminate the secrecy through exchange of information. Positive movement can be seen in the increasing number of jurisdictions that have signed up to the CRS, compliment by the progress in the law-making of each jurisdiction. CRS’s automatic exchange of information demonstrates a transparency improvement and certainly better than previous exchange information on request. Notably, the CRS will not be a succession until all jurisdictions implement it, as of the nature of tax evasion and facilitation of tax haven involve uncountable complexity network.

Bibliography

Primary source:

Statutes and statutory instruments:

Criminal Finances Act 2017, ss 45-46

Data-gathering Powers (Relevant Data) (Amendment) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/979

Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (2010) 26 USC § 6038D; 26 USC §§ 1471-1474

International Tax Compliance (Client Notification) Regulations 2016, SI 2016/899

International Tax Compliance Regulations 2015, SI 2015/878

Secondary source:

Reports:

European Parliament, ‘Organised Crime, Corruption, And Money Laundering: Recommendations on Action and Initiatives to Be Taken’ (CRIM Special Committee 2013)

Knobel A and Meinzer M, ‘Automatic Exchange Of Information: An Opportunity For Developing Countries To Tackle Tax Evasion And Corruption’ (Tax Justice Network 2014)

Knobel A and Meinzer M, ‘”The End Of Bank Secrecy”? Bridging The Gap To Effective Automatic Information Exchange’ (Tax Justice Network 2014)

OECD, ‘Standard For Automatic Exchange Of Financial Information In Tax Matters: Implementation Handbook’ (OECD Publishing 2017)

Mitchen A and Sikka P, ‘Tax Dodging Is Their Business’, The Pin-Stripe Mafia: How Accountancy Firms Destroy Societies (Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs 2011)

Teka R and Donaldson R, ‘Corporate Liability For Economic Crime: Submission From Transparency International UK’ (Transparency International UK 2017)

 

Journal articles:

Ambrosanio M and Caroppo M, ‘Eliminating Harmful Tax Practices In Tax Havens: Defensive Measures By Major EU Countries And Tax Haven Reforms’ (2004) 53 Canadian Tax Journal 685

LeVine R, Schumacher A and Zhou S, ‘FATCA And The Common Reporting Standard: A Comparison’ [2016] Journal of International Taxation

van Duyne P, ‘Money-Laundering: Pavlov’s Dog And Beyond’ (1998) 37 The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 359

Websites:

Christensen J, ‘Panama: The Making Of A Tax Haven And Rogue State – Tax Justice Network’ (Tax Justice Network, 2016) <http://www.taxjustice.net/2016/03/30/panama-the-making-of-a-tax-haven-and-rogue-state/> accessed 4 September 2017

Fitzgibbon W, ‘EU Encouraged To Name European States In Tax Haven ‘Blacklist’ – ICIJ’ (ICIJ, 2017) <https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/eu-encouraged-name-european-states-tax-haven-blacklist/> accessed 4 December 2017

Fowler N, ‘The OECD Information Exchange ‘Dating Game’ – Tax Justice Network’ (Tax Justice Network, 2016) <https://www.taxjustice.net/2016/10/25/oecd-information-exchange-dating-game/> accessed 1 November 2017

Martin N, ‘The Common Reporting Standard: Are You Ready?’ (PwC, 2016) <https://www.pwc.co.uk/who-we-are/regional-sites/london/insights/the-common-reporting-standard-are-you-ready.html> accessed 10 February 2018

 

 

Student blog: What Are the (Dis)Advantages of a Collective Security Mechanism Based on ‘an attack upon one… is an attack upon…. all’ as Enshrined in Article 5 of the NATO Treaty?

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This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. We offer this module in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It is led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module includes the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication. Continue reading “Student blog: What Are the (Dis)Advantages of a Collective Security Mechanism Based on ‘an attack upon one… is an attack upon…. all’ as Enshrined in Article 5 of the NATO Treaty?”

Student blog: How Can a State Control Pollution around its Landmass?

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Author: Adrianna Nowak

This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. We offer this module in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It is led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module includes the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

For many years states marginalised the problem of pollution caused by shipping. The International Maritime Organization in the beginning of its work dealt mainly with maritime safety. In the 1950s, States started recognizing the issue of oil spills. The result was the International Convention for the Prevention of the Pollution of the Sea by Oil. The Convention established prohibited zones with limits of discharge. Still, pollution was a minor concern of the International Maritime Organization. Torrey Canyon, the biggest oil spill up to that time, raised the question about the necessity of further regulations. Accordingly, after the IMO’s extraordinary session, in 1973 the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships  (MARPOL) was adopted. My post aims to discuss how a State can control pollution caused by shipping using MARPOL and the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the main focus being on pollution caused by oil (see video on the extent of the problem). The adoption of these two conventions was indeed the start of States properly addressing the issue of pollution. However because of the lack of cooperation between well developed countries with developing ones, full effective control of pollution still remains difficult (see eg the issue of the flag of convenience).

The Issue of Enforcement

Oil spills, which are less frequent than other causes of sea pollution, have nevertheless devastating effects. The consequences of this kind of incident are twofold: irreversible damage to marine life and very high costs of cleaning up the polluted area (see eg Exxon Case before the US Supreme Court). Annex I of MARPOL deals with the prevention of pollution by oil. This part of the Convention incorporates the oil discharge criteria, the requirements of the equipment and the mandatory obligation of the Oil Record Book for every cargo vessel. Each State is responsible individually for the implementation of domestic regulations which comply with the rules of the Convention. As the International Maritime Organization has however no power to enforce its rules (Szepes, ‘MARPOL 73/78: The Challenges of Regulating Vessel-Source Oil Pollution’ (2013) 2 Manchester Student Law Review 73, 87), it is very important for States to control pollution around their landmass by monitoring foreign flagged vessels around their territory. Even if there is no legal body to enforce MARPOL’s rules, it is yet necessary for the International Maritime Organization to be aware which vessels are the main causes of the pollution as this can lead to consultations with States which violate the Convention.

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Office of Response Restoration, 25 Years Later: Timeline of Recovery from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Jurisdiction of a Coastal State and its Need for Cooperation

Ships are able to be a subject of more than one system of law, which can be national, regional and/or international. The example set by Torrey Canyon showed that the application of domestic law by an injured State over its territorial waters alone is not enough to control the emission of pollution by foreign flagged vessels. As a matter of fact, the disaster revealed an issue regarding the operation of the law around a coastal state. Initially, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea gave a coastal state the power to enforce its national legislation only within its territorial waters (Article 2 UNCLOS). As a result of the French and British reactions to the Torrey Canyon disaster, a coastal state can now enforce domestic law within its exclusive economic zone (Article 56 UNCLOS). UNCLOS extended the jurisdiction of a coastal state over its exclusive economic zone but only when a vessel which violated law in the Exclusive Economic Zone, entered that State’s port (Article 220(1) UNCLOS). Coastal state is also empowered in special situations to arrest and detain a vessel which violated its law (Article 220(6) UNCLOS). The degree of a coastal state’s power seems to be high but without the cooperation of flag states, being successful in controlling pollution is not possible. The jurisdiction of a coastal state within its exclusive economic zone is limited and applies only when the violation is serious. In all scenarios where an infringement is not significant a coastal state depends on the flag states’ jurisdiction (Szepes, ‘MARPOL 73/78: The Challenges of Regulating Vessel-Source Oil Pollution’ (2013) 2 Manchester Student Law Review 73, 94-96)On the high sea, jurisdiction always shifts to the flag state and it is rather alarming that only a small percentage of investigations result in convictions and fines (Szepes, ‘MARPOL 73/78: The Challenges of Regulating Vessel-Source Oil Pollution’ (2013) 2 Manchester Student Law Review 73, 91).

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Garry Taylor, ‘The Law of the Sea and “Creeping Jurisdiction” of Coastal States’, 21 July 2015

MARPOL and UNCLOS are the most important treaties that define the legal framework governing States’ ability to control pollution. When properly implemented by their parties, they can be successful instruments of control of pollution. The problem is that because of economic convenience, owners of world’s merchant tonnage do not register their vessels in States where environmental protection is an important matter. A high percentage of representatives of the world’s trade industry argues that the costs related to the registration of vessels in developed countries are too high and thus reduce their ability to make profits. For many States, applying high standards of environmental protection is still difficult and the only way to be successful in this area is to cooperate and support developing countries. Small steps, like increasing environmental awareness in developing countries, can help with the improvement of the control of pollution; without it, the world might be in the near future be faced with the problem of the mass extinction of certain marine species.

Student blog: The UWE Freedom of Speech Policy and the European Convention on Human Rights

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Author: Xavier Baker

This post (edited for publication) is contributed to our blog as part of a series of work produced by students for assessment within the module ‘Public International Law’. We offer this module in the second year of Bristol Law School’s LLB programme. It is led by Associate Professor Dr Noelle Quenivet. Learning and teaching on the module includes the use of online portfolios within a partly student led curriculum. The posts in this series show the outstanding research and analytical abilities of students on our programmes. Views expressed in this blog post are those of the author only who consents to the publication.

In recent years, freedom of expression on university campuses has been a hot topic. Political figures, prominent journalists and spirited students have waged into the heated discussion, fanning the flames of the debate and polarising opinion.

On the surface, UWE appears to be compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), defining the extent of free speech in the Freedom of Speech Policy. However, I will be arguing that there are numerous flaws within university policies and practices that hinder their ability to fulfil key societal roles.

‘Freedom of expression is a fundamental British value…’ (see video) and a qualified right found in Article 10 of the ECHR. This includes the freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart information; each element is crucial to the functioning of higher education facilities.

However, I believe that in the modern day universities have lost sight of their role in society. They should be institutions that secure free speech, expand public knowledge, stimulate ideas and develop global leaders for the future. This is being compromised by limitations on free speech.

In my view, UWE’s policy raises several concerns, thus reducing the extent to which the university complies with Article 10 of the ECHR. The most controversial section of the policy is paragraph 6 (2) which states that reasons for refusing access to premises ‘…include, but are not limited to…’ the list within paragraph 6, and at the discretion of senior members of staff (paragraph 10). This suggests that, although unlikely, UWE has the potential to not allow any events, regardless of the potential offence caused. Despite Article 10 (2) permitting restrictions to freedom of expression in a democratic society that relate to ‘public safety’ and ‘prevent disorder or crime’, I feel that UWE’s document lacks clarity. Consequently, the extent of compliance is muffled by the level of ambiguity. Moreover, the Court’s jurisprudence (see eg Özgür Gündem v Turkey, 16 March 2000, paragraph 43) displays the vital importance of free expression for the well-functioning of democratic societies.

Looking at paragraph 6 of the UWE Free Speech Policy in more depth uncovers further areas of controversy. For example, paragraph 6 (2) iii explains that UWE refuses access to premises where events are ‘…likely to give rise to an environment in which people will experience, or could reasonably fear…’ abuse, violence and/or intimidation. The case of Ceylan v Turkey (8 July 1999, paragraph 34) supports the argument that UWE’s policy complies with the Court’s interpretation because ‘a wider margin of appreciation’ is said to be given to States if expressions incite violence. However, the Court has continually reiterated that Article 10 protects expressions ‘…that offend, shock or disturb.’ (Handyside v UK, 7 December 1976, paragraph 49). Students Unions banning pop song Blurred Lines throughout 2013 epitomizes the result of inconsistencies in the interpretation of Article 10 by the Court, and the extent to which receiving and imparting information in universities has been restricted (see here). Nevertheless, UWE is only compliant with the Court’s interpretations of Article 10 where access to facilities for events is denied due to genuine risks to public safety and possibilities of disorder or crime.

As a consequence of questionable policies and practices, many students claim a ‘right’ not to be offended. From a legal perspective this strongly conflicts with securing freedom of expression, an opinion supported by Baroness O’Neill. As a panellist at Theos Annual Lecture in 2015, O’Neill explained that there cannot be a human right ‘not to be offended’ because ‘offence’ is subjective (see here). Echoing O’Neill’s opinion, I oppose the Safe Spaces and No Platform policies that UWE is subject to as a member of the NUS, as explained by current NUS president in this video.

I feel that the Safe Spaces policy is an example of the NUS crumbling under government pressure to protect Britain against the rising threat of extremism and terrorism. This has unfortunately occurred at the expense of freedom of expression. The Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 (Section 31) adds further legal responsibilities to an extensive list of statutes that influence university policies (see diagram below). The 2015 Act encourages universities to interact with the Prevent Strategy, referenced by paragraph 2 of UWE’s policy. However, government reasoning is flawed because although statistics show that one third of Islamism-related terrorist offences between 2005-2015 were committed by graduates, this is in line with the proportion of the general population that have attended higher education institutions (see here, paragraph 10).

 

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© Xavier Baker

I will always condemn expressions that cause offence, and I am sympathetic towards universities as they are under pressure to provide safe, comfortable learning environments. However, I feel that universities should be facilitating debate, equipping students during their studies with skills that enable them to confidently combat hate speech. Therefore, despite being largely compliant with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and its interpretation, because UWE is subject to numerous laws and policies, students and academics are overprotected to the extent that the residues of free speech are constrained.