Current Issue

  • Volume 31,
  • Number 1 -
  • Fall 2020


A Step Closer: Economic Integration and the African Continental Free Trade Area
Nsongurua J. Udombana

Post-colonial Africa views economic integration as an endogenous means for attaining self-reliant, sustainable development. Working under various regional and sub-regional economic institutions, states elaborated several norms in search of legitimacy in economic competence. However, several political and economic pathogens, including weak institutions, have blighted those efforts. This paper interrogates the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA or CFTA), which is the latest attempt to reboot the integration drive and achieve sustainable development. The CFTA seeks to create a geographic zone where goods and services will move freely among member states by removing trade distortions and boosting factor mobility, competition, and investment. After a rigorous analysis of the relevant normative instruments and examining the vertical and horizontal relationship between the CFTA and regional economic communities (RECs)/member states, the paper articulates some objective criteria for measuring the CFTA’s effectiveness. It concludes that, if faithfully implemented, the CFTA could maximize utility and increase welfare. For the analysis and conclusions, the paper deploys principles of public international law as well as economic theories, with a blend of political and moral philosophy.

Reframing Housing: Incorporating Public Law Principles into Private Law
Kristen Barnes

A new public-private law paradigm is developing with respect to the relationship of the state to private contracts. The paradigm melds private law concepts like unconscionability, good faith, and fair dealing with the public human rights principles of dignity and vulnerability. I trace this paradigm shift in the context of the housing law of Spain, where several rich cultural and legal resources have inspired a new sensibility with regard to residential mortgage loan contracts, rental agreements, and the overall duties and obligations of governments to address the citizenry’s housing needs. Although this reorientation reflects decisions from the European Court of Justice and from the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, it is equally driven by an organic transformation in our understanding of housing markets and redistributive justice. Rather than receive the new paradigm with myopic trepidation, observers should herald it as the beginning of a much-needed dialogue between the public, human rights discourse, private business interests, and economic markets.

Foreign Interference in Elections under the Non-intervention Principle: We Need to Talk about “Coercion”
Steven Wheatley

This article looks at the problem of foreign state cyber and influence operations targeting democratic elections through the lens of the non-intervention principle. The work focuses on the meaning of “coercion” following the 1986 Nicaragua case, wherein the International Court of Justice concluded that “[i]ntervention is wrongful when it uses methods of coercion.” The analysis shows that coercion describes a situation where (1) the foreign power wants the target state to do something and wants to be certain this will happen; (2) the outside power then takes some action, either by issuing a coercive threat, using coercive force, or engaging in the coercive manipulation of the target’s decision-making process; and (3) the target then does that something. The application of this understanding to the problem of cyber and influence operations targeting elections leads to the following conclusions: the hacking of the information and communications technologies used in elections is always coercive, and therefore wrongful, because the foreign power is trying to get the target state to do something it would not otherwise do; fake news operations are coercive, and therefore prohibited, where they are designed to get the electorate to vote differently; disinformation campaigns intended to cause policy paralysis or manipulate the views of the population also constitute coercion, and, therefore, violate the non-intervention rule. By explaining the meaning of “coercion,” this article demonstrates that the long-established principle of non-intervention can regulate the new problem of cyber and influence operations targeting elections.


Cutting Submarine Cables: The Legality of the Use of Force in Self-defense
Blair Shepherd