This Day in International Law: March 3

By Lauren-Kelly Jones

Thus began the Second Opium War – also known as the Arrow War, or the Anglo-French War – which followed the First Opium War (1839-52). Britain sought a series of allowances from China to extend their trading rights: full access for British merchants, an ambassador in Beijing, legalization of the opium trade, and exemption of imports from tariffs. Ultimately (in 1860) the Qing Dynasty were defeated by the foreign powers, and the resulting “unequal” treaties helped to weaken the dynasty, which eventually fell in the early 20th Century.

This Day In International Law: February 24th


Photo Credit: Trent.


By: Jackie Momah

On February 24 1924 Mahatma Gandhi was released from prison. In his fight against the British rule over India in the colonial era, Gandhi was arrested many times. In this instance he was arrested in March of 1922, the charge given to him was sedition. In protest of the British colonial government, the Raj, and their enactment of the Rowlatt Act of 1919, Gandhi organized and spearheaded a non-violent movement of civil disobedience. This Act gave the Raj the power to hold Indians suspected of sedition without trial. Inspired by Gandhi’s ideals, the Indian National Congress launched a campaign of non-cooperation against the Raj. Gandhi travelled nationwide, urging the people to boycott British products, schools and law courts, to resign from government employment and refuse to pay taxes, in a showing of a dignified and organized protest giving the people a voice. This movement was accurately described as a “full-scale grassroots operation throughout the country”.

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Self-determination in Western Sahara: A Case of Competing Sovereignties?

By: Maribeth Hunsinger

Western Sahara is a disputed territory in the Maghreb region of North Africa, bordering Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania. It boasts phosphate and iron reserves, and is believed to have offshore oil deposits. Spain colonized the territory in 1884 and exercised control for over one hundred years, until Morocco wrested de facto control over large parts of the territory.

Some, however, still see Western Sahara as “Africa’s last colony,” with the Kingdom of Morocco exercising colonial power over the native Sahrawi people. No member states of the United Nations (UN) have recognized Moroccan sovereignty. While there remains political support for Morocco’s claim in the West, many countries are increasingly recognizing the legitimacy of the independence claims by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

This piece explores the basis for these respective claims, and in particular the proposition that self-determination in Western Sahara should not serve to decide between “competing sovereignties” but to allow the Sahrawi people to decide whether to retain their sovereignty.

  Continue reading Self-determination in Western Sahara: A Case of Competing Sovereignties?