Since the sea level rises for deterioration of the earth’s atmosphere for threats of future pandemics, many issues threaten human health and prosperity in the 21st century unless nations and states work together.
Fortunately, however, there are people around the world coming together to find solutions. FIU law professor Charles Jalloh is one of them.
Jalloh serves the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC), a globally elected body of 34 eminent jurists working to seek consensus and codification around the world’s most serious problems.
Their role as independent experts is to help codify and progressively develop international law for the General Assembly, where 193 UN member countries are represented.
“If lawyers and legal experts can agree on things, it can increase the likelihood that states can agree, right?” said Jalloh.
Seats are allocated by continents under a system countries agreed to in 1981 to ensure that every part of the world is properly represented. Potential new members are nominated by their home state for a five-year term. And then the candidates are voted on by all members of the General Assembly.
Jalloh was nominated by Sierra Leone for one of the African seats. He was endorsed by all 55 African Union countries and elected by the assembly in 2016. Sierra Leone also nominated him for a second term.
Jhe I WILL SEE to meets in Geneva, Switzerland, on an annual basis for weeks at a time. Building a universal consensus sometimes takes years. Jhe commissions must Translate its laws in five languages and involve people from all legal backgrounds—from civil straight for Islamic straight. Aat the end of the day, they all try to agree. Jhey don’t vote.
jaloh served as chistoric 70th session editorial board hair (2018)where the The ILC discussed a wide variety of topics, including immunity of state officials from foreign criminals jurisdiction, treaty interpretation and protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts. In 2019, his colleagues elected him rapporteur for the 71st session.
“[Watching Jalloh] working to achieve consensus on a variety of difficult issues is something I keep in mind to this day,” says Thomas Campbell, CRF law alumnus who assisted Jalloh in Geneva. “There’s nothing too crazy not to get along with. Everything can be worked out one way or another.
Wanting to give back to young lawyers, Jalloh has developed a program that helps students gain invaluable experience. On his initiative, he and FIU Law manage a scholarship that takes students to Geneva to write, collaborate and do research alongside him at the ILC. CRF students work alongside peers from around the world.
“When I was there, there were a bunch of NYU students,” said Ashira Vantreesthird-year law student. “Jalloh had just taught in Sweden, so we had other research assistants from there. There were assistants from India. It’s really unique because you see the next generation of people who are interested in international law, like academic law, all from different institutions but doing the same things as you with the same goals..”
The issues affecting humanity are changing and the ILC is working to adapt. For example, members discuss what international law should be regarding sea level rise, which both displaces people and takes away usable territory for states. The impacts are numerous, both for the concept of nation/state, which is at the heart of international law, and for populations.
“We talked about environmental refugees, and no one really has an answer, because international law has never really considered endangered countriesJalloh says. “Australia has people who knock on her door and say, ‘Hey we have nowhere to go.‘”
Jalloh and his colleagues propose how they can legally guide countries and states in protecting global commons.
“A lot of these new questions don’t have clear rules. Things are happening so fast,” says Jalloh.
Since its inception, the commission has worked vigorously to create international law. He has made significant contributions to various areas of international law, Jalloh explained, including law of the sea, international criminal law, treaty law, state responsibility and diplomatic immunity.
The ILC has also worked on issues around some of the most heinous crimes and how to hold people accountable. Genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression (between countries) have all been defined by the ILC.
As for the actual effectiveness of these international laws, Jalloh has studied this extensively. He has spent the past two decades as a prolific scholar of international criminal law and international human rights law. His education includes a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph, a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Civil Law from McGill University, and a Masters in International Human Rights Law, with distinction, from the University of Oxford, where he was a Chevening Scholar. He also holds a doctorate. of philosophy, specializing in international law from the University of Amsterdam.
Jalloh was called upon to study international criminal law partly from personal experience. His home country, Sierra Leone, was mired in a horrific civil war during his teenage years. Jalloh left at 19 for Canada, where he was granted refugee status.
“I was really excited about what I had been through,” says Jalloh. “My passion was really going to college and this field of work.”
He becameme founding publisher of African Journal of Legal Studies and the African Review of International Criminal Justice.
Jalloh has also published many books. His latest book, The Legal Legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, documents the impact of the international court that the UN helped set up in his home country after the war. This was a first in the history of international law; his work traces the legacy he left to African states and also to international law more generally.
Jalloh has also focused his research on the effectiveness of the ILC and its role in the development of international law. In 2018, he led the organization of a symposium in Miami with FIU Law Review which invited ILC members, state delegates and leading international law scholars from many countries to discuss the role and contributions of the commission to the development of international law. The event was mentioned in the CDI’s report to the General Assembly and gave rise to the publication of a special issue of the colloquium by the law review.
Jalloh has received numerous honors as a professor, including the FIU Faculty Senate Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activities in 2018 and the Fulbright Lund Emeritus Chair in Public International Law 2018-2019 at the University from Lund in Sweden.
After being nominated for a second term at the ILC by Sierra Leone, Jalloh again received the endorsement of African Union countries. The General Assembly is due to vote on the members of the commission in November.