English summary

A step forward for modern international law

Ole Spiermann

On 27 June 2001 the International Court of Justice delivered its judgment in the LaGrand case between Germany and the United States concerning basic principles of consular protection. The judgment of the Court is a fine example of treaty interpretation, not least when it comes to determining the rights of individuals under treaty provisions. The judgment is worthy of serving as a model for, e.g., the European Court of Justice and the European Court on Human Rights. Several treaty provisions are tocan be construed as conferring rights on individuals, entitling them to invoke the responsibility of other subjects of international law that are in breach of the obligations in question. If no international court is accessible, the individual may invoke the responsibility before national courts. As demonstrated by the judgment in the LaGrand case, forceful remedies exist that may be awarded to individuals under international law. If the breach occurred in the context of a national proceeding, remedies will often be such that they can easily be implemented into that context. While international law influences national law in this way, national law also has a substantive impact on international law. Remedies awarded to individuals under international law are often based on analogies of national law. Furthermore, in the LaGrand case conceptions of a court of justice engrained in national legal systems underpinned the Court’s reasoning on the binding character of its orders with regard to provisional measures.

Danish Law and Racist Epressions

Pia Justesen

The paper discusses section 266b of the Danish Criminal Code, which comprises insulting and degrading including racist expressions. The paper attempts to systematize existing legal practice with a view to illustrate the borderline between legal expressions protected by the freedom of speech and illegal racist expressions covered by the Criminal Code.

To come under the provision of section 266 b, the group at whom the comments are directed must be distinguishable and the contents of the expression must be unequivocal. Likewise, the expression must satisfy a criterion of coarseness. Accusations of misuse of the Danish welfare system or denial of the Holocaust are not considered sufficiently coarse, while comparisons with animals or accusations of grave criminality are comprised by the provision. The scarce and not very clear existing legal practice indicates that Denmark has an extensive protection of freedom of expression and that this freedom seems to take precedence over the right to freedom from degrading racist comments. However, the recent increase in the number of court cases dealing with section 266 b may contribute to a clearer legal practice in the future.

Freedom of religion and belief in the Muslim World

Lars Gule

In this article Gule analyses the current absence of religious freedom in the Muslim World. The article shows how some contemporary Muslim thinkers attempt to give a specific Islamic justification of human rights and how this fails to give adequate protection to the individual. He makes a division between the extremely conservative and conservative on the one hand, and the moderate modernisers and secularists on the other. He adopts a sociological approach in an attempt to explain why freedom of religion currently is seen as such a threat by both governments and Islamist groups. Gule argues that the deficiencies in the Islamic human rights schemes and the lack of freedom of religion and belief in them, can be traced back to the construction of allegedly specific Islamic human rights concepts. The Islamic constructions of human rights are faulty simply because they are based on an attempt to cast, in the form of human rights language, the limited privileges granted to man by God and known through revelation. Gule shows, however, that various Muslim societies have historically shown a remarkable practical tolerance.

Patent Rights

Hans Morten Haugen

The patent is the type of intellectual property right (IPRs) to have attracted the greatest controversy in the last decades. Multilateral patent agreements have been in place for more than a century, but recently, patents have also included patents on life forms. The pharmaceutical industry and the seeds industry claim that patents are crucial to research with increased food production and better medical treatment as a result.

International organisations like FAO, WHO and UNDP have expressed concern about an expanding patents regime. They point to the risk that patents may exclude goods from the common domain that previously used to be generally available. The global public goods approach, developed by UNDP, can also be used as a starting points for discussing patents. On the other hand, WTO and the World Bank are giving expression to the necessity of viewing IPRs as an important part of the international human rights regime. There were several encounters last year between WTO staff and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, by which might have modified the WTO position slightly. The discussion will no doubt grow in intensity in the future.