Call for Papers: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as a Means of Enforcing International Law in Palestine - Events

Institute of Law - Birzeit University


The Theme of Volume XVII of the Palestine Yearbook
of International Law is "Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions as a Means of Enforcing International Law in Palestine". 


One of the
principle criticisms of public international law remains the relatively
impoverished mechanisms available for its effective enforcement, particularly
when compared with those that exist under advanced municipal legal systems. It
cannot be said, for instance, that there exists at international law a
practical equivalent of the long-established common law principle expressed in
the maxim ubi jus ibi remedium -
"where there is a right, there must be a remedy".[1]
To be sure, while international law includes a regime that governs
responsibility for wrongful acts of both States and, to a lesser extent,
individuals, with very few exceptions these norms can only be enforced with the
cooperation and express support of States, which in turn requires sufficient
levels of political will of governing elites that can be very difficult to
secure. The result has been to leave unaddressed a growing number of grave
violations of international law, many of which are at the core of regional or
global conflicts, where aggrieved parties are either powerless to defend their
rights or cannot rely on States to do so, even where such States may be under
legal obligations to act.[2]


Perhaps more than
any other international conflict, the situation in Palestine stands out as one of the greatest
exceptions to the principle that where there is a right, there must be a
remedy. For there exists a litany of rights that pertain to Palestine and its
people under international law, but with no effective means through which to
have them vindicated outside of the traditional mechanisms of State-centered
power and international institutions. Despite the ample goodwill of many
third-world States and the regional and international mechanisms through which
they operate, true progress has been woefully inadequate. What we are left with
is a world where Palestinians enjoy rights in theory, with practical
implementation left in the hands of a few actors who have little ability or
desire to effect their realization.[3]


In answer to the
seeming inability of the contemporary State-centered international system to
enforce Palestinian rights, there has emerged an alternative approach that
finds its base in the global grassroots and in the history of other similar
international struggles for justice and human rights. In 2005, Palestinian
civil society issued a uniform call for a global campaign of Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with its obligations
under international law and, in particular, the rights of the Palestinian
people. The BDS movement has followed closely in the footsteps of its
successful precursor in the South African anti-apartheid struggle, and has
become a key element of what Richard Falk, the United Nations Special
Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied
Palestinian Territory,
has called "the leading moral struggle of our time".[4]


As the BDS
movement continues to capture the imagination of ordinary men and women around
the world, the aim of Vol. XVII
of the Yearbook is to examine the
movement and its ideas through the lens of international law. The Yearbook
is edited at Birzeit University's Institute
of Law (West Bank, Palestine),
and published by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers (The Hague, The Netherlands). The Editor-in-Chief of the Yearbook is Mr. Ardi


Topics of interests include, but are not
limited to:


Why is BDS necessary from a legal perspective? Where has the
State-centric model of enforcement of international law failed? Where has
it succeeded? What are its limitations? Can these limitations be overcome?


What is the
international legality of BDS activities, including cultural, economic,
and social (i.e. academic, sport) boycott?


To what
extent can global civil society influence the enforcement of international
law, both domestically and internationally? How can it do this? What
examples can be drawn from Palestine
and beyond?


What methods
have been employed by global civil society to influence the enforcement of
international law in the past, and what lessons can be drawn from them?


What role can global civil society actors play in
influencing state-centric international institutions to adopt a more
principled and effective stance
vis-à-vis Israeli actions in Palestine?


Are there lessons to be learned from the methods
adopted by anti-apartheid legal
activists that can be applied in the BDS context?


What theoretical questions arise when considering the
role of non-state actors, specifically civil society, in enforcing
international law?



Important Dates and Contacts:


It is
preferred to express interest by e-mailing the Yearbook Assistant Editor
Ms. Reem Al- Botmeh and sending an abstract of the suggested paper.
Draft papers
to be submitted by 1 September 2011.
Final papers
with suggested amendments that might follow from the editing process, no
later than 1 October 2011.


For further information please contact:

You may contact Ms. Reem Al-Botmeh, Assistant
Editor of the Yearbook, at [email protected], or alternatively,
you may communicate directly with Mr. Ardi Imseis, Editor-in-Chief at [email protected].


Palestine Yearbook of
International Law - Editorial Board

Editor-in-Chief: Ardi Imseis

Consulting Editor: Anis F. Kassim
Assistant Editor: Reem Al- Botmeh
Copy Editor: Eliane Drakopoulos

Editorial Board: Anis F. Kassim, Camille Mansour, Ghassan Faramand,
Jamil Salem, Ardi Imseis, , Reem Al- Botmeh


[1] Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) at 163.

[2] One glaring example of this in the context of Palestine is the
continued political and material support Israel enjoys, as an occupying Power,
from a host of third party States who are duty bound as High Contracting Parties
of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative
to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (GCIV), 12 August
1949, 75 UNTS 287, to not only "respect" but to also "ensure respect" for the
terms of the Convention "in all circumstances" (art. 1). The GCIV outlaws, inter alia, collective punishment (art.
33), settlement by an occupying Power of its civilian population into the
territory it occupies (art. 49), and the destruction of real or personal
property not rendered absolutely necessary by military operations (art. 53).
Art. 147 prohibits a number of "grave breaches", equivalent to war crimes at
international law, including willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment,
willful causing of great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful
deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, deprivation
of a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, taking of
hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified
by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Under art. 146
of the GCIV, "the High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation
necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or
ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present Convention...  Each High Contracting Party shall be under
the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have
ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons,
regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it
prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand
such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned,
provided such High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case." See
generally, A. Imseis, "On the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Occupied Palestinian Territory"
(2003) 44:1 Harvard International Law Journal 65.  

[3] Without detracting from the
force of its all-important normative findings, one particularly good example of
this is to be found in the concluding segments of the Advisory Opinion of the
International Court of Justice on the Legal
Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. Following lengthy reasons in which the Court establishes that
the construction of the wall by Israel is contrary to international law, it
offers its view (at para. 162) that the "situation can be brought to an end
only through implementation in good faith of all relevant Security Council
resolutions", expressly invoking the Council's approval of the Quartet's
Roadmap in resolution 1515 (2003) "to initiate negotiations to this end" and
drawing attention "to the need for these efforts to be encouraged with a view
to achieving as soon as possible, on the basis of international law, a
negotiated solution of the outstanding problems" between the parties. But given
the dismal, even regressive, record almost 20 years of US-sponsored bilateral
negotiations between Israel
and the Palestine Liberation Organization has produced, one wonders just what
would be required to give effect to the august ends the ICJ speaks of? While
the principal judicial organ of the United Nations cannot be faulted for the
State-centered institutional framework within which it operates, there is
something to the argument that from a practical standpoint its normative findings
effectively fall flat through its exhortation to continue negotiations that
have roundly been condemned as a failure, not least for their complete disregard
of international law and legitimacy.  

[4] Richard Falk. "The Goldstone Report: Neither Implemented Nor
Ignored" (2010) Vo. XVI Palestine
Yearbook of International Law.