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Sydney Law School PhD candidate awarded prestigious publication prize

17 February 2020
Best article on the law and practice of the International Court of Justice
Callista Harris has been named as the recipient of the Law & Practice of International Courts and Tribunals Rosalyn Higgins Prize.
Callista Harris (left) at the UN International Court of Justice

Callista Harris (left) at the UN International Court of Justice

The annual Law & Practice of International Courts and Tribunals Rosalyn Higgins Prize is awarded to the author of the best submission dealing with the law and practice of the International Court of Justice.

The award assessors including Pierre Bodeau-Livinec (co-Editor-in-Chief), Freya Baetens (co-Editor-in-Chief), James Crawford, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Dire Tladi and Attila Tanzi, selected Callista Harris as the 2019 recipient for her article, Claims with an Ulterior Purpose: Characterising Disputes Concerning the ‘Interpretation or Application’ of a Treaty.

Callista, who completed her LLB at the University of Sydney, holds an LLM from the University of Cambridge and acts as counsel before international courts and tribunals. Her article considers the limits on the jurisdiction of international courts and tribunals when they are hearing disputes between countries.

“Specifically, my article deals with the issue of whether courts and tribunals with jurisdiction limited to a specific ‘area’ of international law, such as the law of the sea, can decide questions relating to other ‘areas’ of international law, such as sovereignty,” says Callista.

“The starting point for the article is an United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea tribunal decision from 2015 between the UK and Mauritius, in which the tribunal declined to hear certain claims brought by Mauritius because, in the tribunal’s view, the dispute between Mauritius and the UK was really about sovereignty, not about the law of the sea, which was the tribunal’s ‘area’. The article argues that the approach taken by that tribunal is not analytically correct – the tribunal should not have declined to hear the claims on the basis it did.”

“This issue of courts and tribunals being faced with disputes involving questions beyond their ‘area’ of international law has arisen in a number of disputes that are currently pending, for example, two sets of proceedings between Ukraine and Russia, which relate to events in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.”

Commenting on Callista’s article, the award assessors said: “While focusing on a rather classical topic (juxtaposing ICJ and arbitral decisions), this excellent article is very well documented, accurate and up-to-date. It is clear and thorough in its analysis and concludes with a balanced but clear positioning. It represents an innovative way to approach this topic.”

Read the full article in Law & Practice of International Courts and Tribunals Issue 18.3.

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