20 August - 7 September 2018
Directors of Research: Prof. Christian J. Tams (University of Glasgow) & Dr. Anne-Laure Chaumette (Paris Nanterre University)
The usefulness of ‘international inspections’ is recognised in many areas of international law: in one way or another, inspections form part of international legal regimes in fields as diverse as international economic law (World Bank Inspection Panels), disarmament (IAEA, CWC, etc.), the law of the sea (e.g. Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) and human rights law (e.g. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), to name but a few. While the context varies, and with it the specifics of the inspectors’ mandate, inspections seek to assess whether a certain conduct is in line with international expectations/obligations. As such, inspections are best viewed as a form of exercising control of internationally regulated conduct: of variable effectiveness, they form part of international law’s administrative/executive function.
While particular forms of international inspections have been the subject of research, the concept as such remains under-researched and elusive. The 2018 Centre for Research and Studies of The Hague Academy of International Law aims to fill the existing gap by bringing together researchers embarking on a cross-cutting analysis of international inspections. Proceeding from examples in particular fields, the overarching aim of the analysis is
- to enhance our understanding of the concept of international inspections by distilling, in a comparative analysis, common features and differences of inspection regimes;
- identify and classify their key functions;
- assess the potential and limits of inspections; and
- identify best practices of designing and implementing inspection procedures.
- To what extent are international inspections distinct from inquiries or related forms of exercising international control over State conduct? What is the link between inspections on the one hand, and concepts such as ‘guarantees’ or ‘fact-finding’ on the other?
- What are commonalities, what are differences between the different forms of inspections recognised in international regimes? Is there a common core to the concept of inspections, and if so, what does it consist of?
- What lessons, if any, can be learned from the actual practice of inspections in different areas of international law? Have ‘best practices’ emerged, and should they be recorded?
- What is the role of individuals and NGOs in the framework of international inspections?
- Is there a tension between the powers of international inspectors and the sovereignty of States, and if so, how can the two be accommodated?
- How are international inspections regulated, and to what extent does international law restrict the powers of inspectors (e.g. with respect to human rights, to rules governing the conduct of inspections, and/or the protection of confidentiality)?
- What is the nature of powers enjoyed by international inspectors? Do they enjoy proper authority, or are they merely instruments of verification?
- What is the role of sanctions in relation to international inspections? Are inspections a substitute for, or subsidiary to, international sanctions? Do they complement sanctions? Or are they a (necessary) first step before sanctions are imposed?
- What are the legal consequences of inspections? Can they result in accountability or responsibility? Could they dilute the regime of responsibility?
- Are inspections effective? Are they efficient?
- What is the probative value of information obtained through inspections?