Humanities and Social Sciences

Polish Yearbook of International Law


Polish Yearbook of International Law | 2017 | No XXXVII |


States and individuals are the essential building blocks of international law. Normally, their identity seems to be solidly established. However, modern international law is widely permeated by the notion of freedom from natural or societal constraints. This notion, embodied for individuals in the concept of human rights, has enabled human beings to overcome most of the traditional ties of dependency and being subjected to dominant social powers. Beyond that, even the natural specificity of a human as determined by birth and gender is being widely challenged. The law has made far-going concessions to this pressure. The right to leave one’s own country, including renouncing one’s original nationality, epitomizes the struggle for individual freedom. On the other hand, States generally do not act as oppressive powers but provide comprehensive protection to their nationals. Stateless persons live in a status of precarious insecurity. All efforts should be supported which are aimed at doing away with statelessness or non-recognition as a human person through the refusal to issue identity documents.

Disputes about the collective identity of States also contain two different aspects. On the one hand, disin tegrative tendencies manifest themselves through demands for separate statehood by min ority groups. Such secession movements, as currently reflected above all in the Spanish provin ce of Catalonia, have no basis in in ternational law except for situations where a group suffers grave structural discrimin ation (remedial secession). As the common homeland of its citizens, every State also has the right to take care of its sociological identity. Many controversies focus on the distin ction between citizens and aliens. This distin ction is well rooted in domestic and in ternational law. Changes in that regard cannot be made lightly. At the universal level, international law has not given birth to a right to be granted asylum. At the regional level, the European Union has put in to force an extremely generous system that provides a right of asylum not only to persons persecuted in dividually, but also affords “subsidiary protection” to persons in danger of bein g harmed by military hostilities. It is open to doubt whether the EU in stitutions have the competence to assign quotas of refugees to in dividual Member States. The relevant judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 6 September 2017 was hasty and avoided the core issue: the compatibility of such decisions with the guarantee of national identity established under Article 4(2) of the EU Treaty.

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This article is in tended to provide a legally sound explanation of why and how the contemporary International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law legal frameworks offer tools to address the uncertain ty, lack of in formation, and the consequences thereof in relation to missin g persons and victims of enforced disappearances in the context of armed conflicts which predated the adoption of such frameworks. To this end, three scenarios will be examin ed: the contemporary claims of the families of those who were killed in the Katyń massacre in 1940; the claims for in formation and justice of the families of thousands who were subjected to enforced disappearances durin g the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939; and the identification efforts concernin g those reported missin g while in volved in military operations in the context of the 1944 Kaprolat/Hasselmann in cident which took place durin g the Second World War. The analysis of these scenarios is conducive to the development of more general reflections that would feed in to the debate over the legal relevance of the distant past in light of today’s in ternational legal framework.

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This article aims to investigate the phenomenon of the rule of law promotion exercised by the EU through the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs). First, the article emphasizes the unique combination of normative and market power the EU uses to diffuse its norms through trade liberalization. Next, it provides an insight into the particularities of the European Neighbourhood Policy as a policy context for the conclusion and implementation of the Association Agreements, including the DCFTAs with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, as well as the conceptual problematic and scope of the rule of law as a value the EU seeks to externalize. Using the DCFTAs with Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia) as a single group case study of the transparency dimension of the rule of law, the central part of the article analyzes the DCFTAs substantive requirements, directed toward promoting transparency in the partner states (while categorizing the requirements into the most general ones; cooperation-related; and discipline-specific) and the legal mechanisms that make these clauses operational (e.g., the institutional framework of the AAs, gradual approximation and monitoring clauses, and the Dispute Settlement Mechanism). In concluding, the article summarizes the state-of-the-art of the rule of law promotion through the DCFTAs, distinguishes the major challenges the respective phenomenon faces, and emphasizes the prospects for and difficulties of using the DCFTAs as an instrument of rule of law promotion.

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The main topic of this article is retroactive application of procedural criminal law. In this text the question will be posed – and answered – whether the application of a new procedural provision that entered into force in the course of an ongoing proceeding should in that proceeding be considered as retroactive and in what scope or/and under what conditions can such retroactivity be allowed for. As will be shown the solutions in national jurisdictions differ according to the common law – continental law states divide. This problem will be discussed in the light of a decision in the ICC Ruto and Sang case. In this case the ICC Appeals Chamber had to answer several questions pertaining to the temporal application of new procedural provisions. Firstly, the Chamber had to decide whether a general ban on the retroactive application of substantive law should also apply to procedural criminal law. Secondly, the ICC Appeals Chamber had to analyze the criteria according to which it would evaluate whether the change of rules of criminal procedure in the course of an ongoing trial was to be considered as having a retroactive effect, and whether the change in the rules of admission of evidence could be considered detrimental to the accused. Thirdly, it will be shown that the ICC Appeals Chamber has chosen the common law concept of “due process rights” rather than the idea of “intertemporal rules” known from the continental doctrine, and why it chose to do so.

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This article analyses the relationship between the Court of Justice and other international jurisdictions. In particular, it addresses the following question: To what extent is the Court of Justice ready to accept that some aspects of EU law are subject to the jurisdiction of an international body? The answer to this question requires analysis of the precise scope of the principle of autonomy of EU law as this principle could potentially constitute grounds on the basis of which the Court of Justice excludes the transfer of judicial competences to external bodies. For this reason, the article refers to the most important decisions in the field: Opinions 1/91 and 1/92, Opinion 1/09, Opinion 2/13, judgment in C-146/13 Spain v. Parliament and Council and judgment in C-284/14 Achmea. It also discusses the consequences of the application of Article 344 TFEU.

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This article investigates the engagement of EU law with the interests represented and pursued by the Member States within the framework of the European Union. In principle, because the interests which the Member States feed into the EU governance machinery are formulated in political processes at the national level, and thus possess paramount political legitimacy, EU law may only interact with those interests when a clear and sufficient mandate has been provided for doing so. Such mandates follow from Treaty provisions or EU legislation. They embody common political agreements among the Member States by which they commit themselves to realising the specific interests they share, as well as achieving related common policy objectives. In practice, however, the boundaries of EU law’s mandate are difficult to determine with precision, and this may weaken the legitimacy of EU law’s interventions. The weaker legitimacy of the law raises particular problems in the law of the Single Market, where the interests pursued by national governments are subjected to filtering, moderation, and even transformation by the Court of Justice.

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Wasteful spending of public funds, leading to the creation of “ghost airports”, is often described as a regulatory failure and a major deficiency in European State aid control. It is pointed out that decisions to build or upgrade an airport are often ill-conceived, poorly implemented, and without economic justification. This raises the question whether European law, namely its State aid control system, contains inherent flaws or whether the European Commission’s decision-making process can be improved by increasing reliance on objective economic reasoning under the existing legal framework. This article provides an analysis of the decision-making problems leading to failed aid efforts; of the role of the economic approach in State aids; and of the standard of economic assessment required in State aid cases. The article concludes with de lege ferenda postulates.

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Taking into account that terrorism has grown in recent years, the EU institutions decided to update the legal framework which provides for fighting this phenomenon. Consequently, the Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA was replaced by the EU Directive 2017/541 of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism, which should be implemented by the Member States by 8 September 2018. This new act contains a long list of terrorist offences, offences related to a terrorist group, and offences related to terrorist activities. It also stipulates penal sanctions for terrorist offences and provides measures of protection, support and assistance for terrorism victims. This article is a commentary on these groups of provisions and compares them to the previously binding ones. Thus, it indicates the legal changes introduced by the Directive which have to be taken into account by the Member States while implementing it. The comparison of these new provisions with the previously binding ones is also helpful in answering the question posed in the title: Can the Directive 2017/541 be treated as a new chapter in combating terrorism by the European Union?

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The recast of the European Insolvency Regulation, which has been applicable from 26 June 2017, implements a philosophy of Euro universalism, according to which in solvency proceedings opened in a Member State where the debtor has its centre of main in terests (COMI) should have a universal scope and encompass all the debtor’s assets situated throughout the EU.

The wording of the Recast Regulation is in tended to comply with the ECJ case law concerning COMI, such as Interedil, Eurofood, Bank Handlowy or Mediasucre judgments. Nevertheless, it is now questioned whether the Recast Regulation strengthens or rather weakens the COMI/registered office rebuttable presumption and opens the gate for in solvency forum shopping.

As far as international company law is concerned, the issue of transfer of seat as well as forum shopping has been widely discussed. So far the ECJ has issued a series of judgments in which it has explained the European freedom of establishment and the cross-border activities of companies in the internal market.

Similarly, the US Supreme Court has issued several significant decisions, such as CTP Corp. v. Dynamics Corp. of America, Edgar v. MITE Corp., and International Shoe Co. v. State of Washington, in which the limits of acceptable forum shopping are better delin eated.

Based on the aforementioned, it may be concluded that European harmonization measures facilitating cross-border mobility should additionally assist in achieving predictability and efficiency, as well as the economic viability and security of the operations under consideration.

This contribution analyses and expounds on the lessons that can be learned from both the ECJ case law as well as US Supreme Court’s decisions on in ternational company law, in cluding an examin ation of their effect on in solvency forum shoppin g. There is no doubt that, if successful, harmonized legislation on these matters would be a great asset for the internal market.

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International law reflects systemic conditions compatible with its essence, which means that a space must exist inside the borders of that order for the presence of the phenomenon of general principles. The assumption that international law is a legal system ipso facto means that general principles must exist within its borders. A general principle of law is a necessary element of every legal order. It is a form and a tool in which the efforts of the individual seeking to comprehend a given phenomenon are materialized through imposing order on it rather than by breaking it down into unconnected and independent elements. Since law is an expression of order, law therefore applies general principles. The systematicity of law, and therefore of international law as well, creates the primary source of the binding force of any norm. Considerations of natural law or positive law justifications for the presence of general principles in international law are of little consequence, as the source of general principles is the systemic nature of the law. Order and hierarchy are part of the rationalized system in which norms of law present themselves. This dependency applies also to norms of international law. The role of the judge is to fill in the appropriate normative content (general principles) in fields constituting at one and the same time both a necessary element and a consequence of the systemic character of the international legal order. Within this context the principle of good faith constitutes one of the bases for considerations concerning the extent of the international legal order. The extent of international law reaches as far as the extent to which evidence of good faith are present among the subjects of international law. The impossibility of describing relations between two states by the use of the determinants of good faith, translated in turn into a normative general principle, determinates the limits of international law.

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There are different meanings and functions of what is called a “general principle of law.” This article seeks to address their importance as the basis for the systemic integration of the international legal order. When international law is considered as a legal system, its normative unity and completeness seems essential. This article argues that general principles of law are a necessary, although less visible, element of international legal practice and reasoning, which secure the systemic integration and long-lasting underpinnings of international law. In this sense they may be seen as the gentle guardians of international law as a legal system.

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This article discusses the classical question whether general principles of law form a separate source of international law. To this end it adopts the method of a posteriori analysis, examining the normative nature of various principles of law one by one. This analysis leads to the conclusion that only some principles have a normative nature, while others lack it.

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This article is devoted to current practices concerning the application of general principles of law in the light of their function in the international legal system. As a means of the application and interpretation of both treaty and customary law, general principles of law perform a crucial function in the system of international law, which is understood as set of interrelated rules and principles – norms. The role played by general principles of law in the international legal order has been discussed by academia for years now. Initially they were used to ensure the completeness of the system of international law. However, at the current stage of development of international law, when many of them have been codified, they are usually invoked by international courts for the interpretation of treaties and customary law and/or the determination of their scope. This means that despite their ongoing codification they do not lose their character as general principles and are still applied by international courts in the process of judicial argumentation and the interpretation of other norms to which they are pertinent. References by international courts to general principles of law perform the allimportant function of maintaining the coherence of the international legal order, which is faced with the twin challenges of fragmentation and the proliferation of international courts.

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This article discusses definitions of crimes included into the Act of 18 December 1998 on the Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation, and their usefulness in prosecuting individuals who committed international crimes. It is argued that the provisions of the Act cannot constitute a ground for criminal responsibility of individuals, as they violate the principle of nullum crimen sine lege certa.

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This article analyses the amendments of January 2018 to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance (INR) of 1998, which has raised doubts in light of in ternational law and provoked diplomatic tensions between Poland on one side and Germany, Ukraine, United States of America and Israel on the other. The INR is a national in stitution whose role is, among others, to prosecute perpetrators of in ternational crimes committed between 1917-1990. The article proves that the wording of the amendments is in consistent with in ternational law, as it ignores the principles of in ternational responsibility, definitions of in ternational crimes, and disproportionately limits freedom of expression. In consequence, it cannot be expected that third states will cooperate with Poland in the execution of responsibility for violation of the newly adopted norms.

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Editorial office

Board of Editors
Władysław Czapliński (Editor-in-Chief)
Jan Barcz (Member)
Anna Wyrozumska (Member)
Karolina Wierczyńska (Specialist editor)
Łukasz Gruszczyński (Specialist editor)


International editor
Bart M.J. Szewczyk


Language editor
James Hartzell


Statistical editor
Wojciech Tomaszewski


Advisory Board
Maurizio Arcari
Louis Malmond
Jerzy Kranz
Andrzej Mączyński
Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann
Jerzy Poczobut
Pavel Sturma
Vilenas Vadapalas
Roman Wieruszewski
Jerzy Zajadło
Andreas Zimmermann


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