International Humanitarian Law
6 May 2013
On 22 March, the Versailles Court of Appeal ruled that international humanitarian law does not create direct obligations for a private company involved in a tramway building project in Jerusalem. The lawsuit was initiated in 2007 against the French company Alstom for violations of international law on the basis that the company provided equipment for a tramway building project in Jerusalem, supervised by the State of Israel. Alstom signed a concession contract with Israel. The Court considered that the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949, Additional Protocol 1 to Geneva Conventions, the Hague regulations and the Hague Convention do not create direct obligations that may be placed upon private companies. The Court also held that, supposing that the Israel’s litigious concession contract constituted a violation of international law, this violation would not invalidate the contract (because the contract is governed by Israeli law and not by the French Civil Code).
Source: Cour D'appel de Versailles | Association France-Palestine Solidarite “AFPS” C/ Societe Alstom Transport SA | Code nac: 59A | 3ème chambre | R.G. N° 11/05331 | 22 Mars 2013 (in French)
Source: Rights as Usual | Backtracking on Responsibility: French Court Absolves Veolia for Unlawful Railway Construction in Occupied Territory
19 March 2013
Over 150 states have started negotiations on a draft Arms Trade Treaty, that amongst others seeks to restrict export of arms that would be used to violate international human rights or humanitarian law by other states.
At the opening the Conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that ‘We owe this landmark UN treaty to those who have fallen victim to armed conflict and violence, to all the children deprived of a better future, and to all those risking their lives to build peace and make this a better world.’ The UN General Assembly has set 28 March as a deadline for reaching agreement on the treaty.
Source: UN News Centre | UN chief urges consensus on robust arms trade treaty as conference begins
Source: Al Jazeera | UN chief urges approval of arms trade treaty
8 November 2012
On 31 October 2012, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (UK) rendered a decision in Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and another (Appellants) v Yunus Rahmatullah (Respondent), Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and another (Respondents) v Yunus Rahmatullah (Appellant). The case concerns the obligations of the UK vis-à-vis Yunus Rahmatullah, who had been handed over by the UK to the United States (US) and who arguably was treated by the US in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
The earlier decision of the Court of Appeal, that had granted the writ of habeas corpus, was upheld by the Supreme Court. The decision by the Court of Appeal was commented on at: http://dev.sharesproject.nl/obligations-of-the-uk-in-respect-of-a-pakistani-national-detained-by-the-us-in-afghanistan/.
Source: Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and another (Appellants) v Yunus Rahmatullah (Respondent), Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and another (Respondents) v Yunus Rahmatullah (Appellant), Appeal Judgment, UK Supreme Court, 31 October 2012,  UKSC 48