Centre for International Law


Centre for International Law of the Institute of International Relations

International law is the main normative tool regulating the relationships among states and other international actors (international organizations, individuals, non-state actors). Changes in international relations bring about changes in international law, which has to react to new challenges. Since the end of the Cold War, a lot of new challenges have arisen – globalization, the increased role of non-state actors, the new emphasis placed on human rights, new approaches to the protection of the environment and mass migration waves.
The new Centre for International Law (CIL), which was established within the Institute of International Relations in spring 2016, endeavours to analyse these challenges and the way in which international law responds to them. The Centre will deal with various international law issues. Reflecting, however, the research profiles of its members and the long-term priorities of the foreign policy of the Czech Republic, it will place particular emphasis upon the following areas of international law: human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, the fight against terrorism, the use of force in international relations, and international organizations.
The Centre will produce three categories of outputs: academic articles contributing to the debate in a specific area of international law; policy-oriented papers addressed to the representatives of the Czech public institutions, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and popularizing articles that would expound international law issues to the general public in the Czech Republic. The Centre has the ambition of being international in terms of the quality of its outputs, and national in terms of its capacity to contribute to the national debate and spread knowledge about international law in the Czech Republic.

International Law Reflection

Attack on the CEU in Hungary - Attack only on academic freedom?

In 2014, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has declared to build an “illiberal state” in Hungary, while constantly referring to leaders like Vladimir Putin in Russia or Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey as examples. This has been seen by many as a gradual march toward authoritarianism. While this – and many other policies – have been heavily criticized by many ever since, these have gained a new momentum with the prime minister and his circles turning against the Central European University. (Tamás Lattmann)

A promising beginning of negotiations of a convention banning nuclear weapons

(This reflection follows up on International Law Reflections no. 10 from November 10, 2016, and no. 1 from March 1, 2017.)

The first round of talks regarding the negotiations of a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons (their use, production, ownership, etc.) took place on March 27–31, 2017, at the UN Headquarters in New York under the presidency of Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica. The second, and final round of talks, during which the finalization and adoption of the proposed convention is expected, should take place in New York from June 15 to July 7, 2017. (Miroslav Tůma)

Do Two Wrongs Make a Right? The Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria and the US attack

On Thursday 6 April 2017, the US carried out a missile strike in Syria. It did so in response to the chemical attack which had taken place two days earlier in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in the rebel-controlled part of the Idlib province, killing 80 and seriously injuring more than 200 civilians. The chemical attack has been uniformly condemned. The US attack, on the contrary, has attracted not only criticism but also statements of support and of praise. This is surprising provided that the two attacks both constitute a clear violation of some of the most fundamental norms of the international legal order. And that the latter attack may potentially threaten the stability of this order, and the values it protects, not less than the former one. (Veronika Bílková)

The nuclear weapons ban convention and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

This year, there will be an international conference (March 27th – 31st and June 15th – July 7th) in the headquarters of the UN in New York. The conference will have a mandate to negotiate an agreement to ban nuclear weapons. Besides being attended by member states of the UN, the conference will be attended by representatives of some non-specified international organizations and civic society representatives. The conference will be held on the basis of a resolution „Taking Forward Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations" which calls on the world to achieve progress in just that area. (Miroslav Tůma)

Where Two Are Fighting, the Third Has to Adjudicate – Ukraine and the Russian Federation at the International Court of Justice

The first hearing in the dispute between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was held at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague on 6th-9th March 2017. The hearing did not relate to the substance of the dispute, but to the request by Ukraine for provisional measures under Article 41 of the ICJ. The decision on the request has not been issued yet. Despite this, it might be useful to briefly summarize the case and consider Ukraine´s chances to succeed in it. (Veronika Bílková)

All’s wrong that starts wrong – withdrawals from the International Criminal Court

The Hague-based International Criminal Court, the world’s first temporary judicial forum, created in 1998 by the adoption of the Rome Statute, has been living difficult times during the past months. After years of struggle since its operations have started in 2002, the second half of 2016 has brought withdrawals, threats for withdrawals, and even a visibly collective strategy for a mass withdrawal of African states from the system. What keeps states in a similar structure, what makes them seriously consider a withdrawal, and what is the possible future of the International Criminal Court (ICC)? (Tamás Lattmann)

Can the Necessary International Legal Framework to Achieve a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World Be Reached?

The answer to this question can, to a certain extent, be found in the significant resolution of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security Committee), which was approved within the framework of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly at the end of October this year. The title of Resolution A/C.1/71/L.41 calls for progress in multilateral negotiations (Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations). Its significance, and we could also say its historically unprecedented character, lies in Article 8 of the operative part, which contains the decision …to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. The conference should take place in New York during two time periods (from 27 to 31 March and from 15 June to July 7) with the participation of UN member states, unspecified international organizations and civil society representatives. The mentioned article was added to the resolution based on a recommendation of the conclusion report of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG), which held talks in Geneva during the first half of 2016 on the evaluation of new legal measures and necessary norms to attain a nuclear-weapon-free world. To demonstrate their disagreement with the OEWG mandate, none of the nuclear-weapon states participated in the negotiations. Any disagreements were thus presented by representatives of allied or partner countries of the nuclear-weapon states (as the nuclear-weapon states provided the allied or partner countries with a so-called nuclear umbrella) which were taking part in the talks. (Miroslav Tůma)

No Revolution Has Taken Place: The Post-2015 Human Rights Foreign Policy of the Czech Republic

In 2015, two new conceptual documents were adopted in the Czech Republic, under the Government of Bohuslav Sobotka – the general Concept of the Czech Republic´s Foreign Policy and a more specific Concept of Human Rights Promotion and Transition Cooperation. The former document replaced an older text entitled Conceptual Basis of the Foreign Policy of the Czech Republic which had been adopted in 2011 by the Government of Petr Nečas. The latter document builds on the 2010 Concept of Transition Policy but it is broader in scope, covering not only transition policy/cooperation but also human rights promotion. (Veronika Bílková)

Referendum on the refugee quotas  in Hungary – protection of sovereignty  or much ado about nothing?

The migration crisis has stirred up political debates within the EU and its member states regarding not only possible solutions, but also about the future of the organisation. The first shock has come in the form of the Brexit referendum, the second one could have been the referendum in Hungary “against the quota system”, as the initiating government has calculated. The current analysis gives information about the referendum, and examines its possible effects in the near future. (Tamás Lattmann)

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Our Team

Doc. JUDr. PhDr. Veronika Bílková, Ph.D., E.MA

Co-ordinator of the Centre for International Law

Tamás Lattmann JD PhD

Member of the Centre for International Law

JUDr. Miroslav Tůma (plk. v.v.)

Associate Member of the Centre for International Law