Chair of Public International Law


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  • Tel: +44 (0)131 651 4565
  • Email: Nehal.Bhuta@ed.ac.uk
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Books and Reports

Nehal Bhuta, Freedom of Religion, Secularism and Human Rights, (Oxford University Press, 2018)

Debora Valentina Malito, Gaby Umbach, Nehal Bhuta, The Palgrave Handbook of Indicators in Global Governance, (Springer International Publishing AG, 2018)

Nehal Bhuta, The Frontiers of Human Rights: Extraterritoriality and its Challenges, (Oxford University Press, 2016)
Abstract: - Investigates the extraterritorial application of human rights law- Examines important topical issues, such as military occupation, piracy, economic development, and environmental harm- Critically analyses complex issues doctrinally and theoretically, of relevance for both scholars and practitioners

Nehal Bhuta, Susanne Beck, Robin Geis, Hin-yan Liu, Claus Kres, Autonomous Weapons Systems: Law, Ethics, Policy, (Cambridge University Press, 2016)

Articles

Nehal Bhuta, 'Law beyond the state: A reply to Liam Murphy', (2017), European Journal of International Law, Vol 28, pp 241-250

Nehal Bhuta, 'Comment: Sally Merry and Summer Wood, 'Quantification and the Paradox of Measurement: Translating Children's Rights in Tanzania', (2015), Current Anthropology, Vol 56, pp 218-219

Nehal Bhuta, 'The Ninth Life of the Alien Torts Statute - Kiobel and After ', (2014), Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol 12, pp 539-550
Abstract: This essay introduces the Journal's symposium on the US Supreme Court decision in Kiobel et al. v. Royal Dutch Shell et al. It reflects on the broader political and historical context of the Kiobel decision, and suggests that the underlying legal and political controversies concerning the Alien Torts Statute expose the fault lines of late twentieth century debates in the United States concerning the US's role in the world, and it relationship with international law. The essay also considers the multiple instrumental uses of historical claims about the jus gentium in the majority and minority judgments in Kiobel, and suggests that both opinions (and supporting scholarship) overlook an important dimension of the late eighteenth century understanding of the law of nations. Finally, the author concludes with the suggestion that a key result of Kiobel is a heightened insularity of US courts from direct engagement with international law, and reduced contribution of the US legal system to the fabrication of the international legal order through the interpretation and application of international law norms.

Nehal Bhuta, 'Kiobel and After ', (2014), Journal of International Criminal Justice, Vol 12, pp 539-613

Nehal Bhuta, 'Two concepts of religious freedom in the European Court of Human Rights ', (2014), South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol 113, pp 9-35
Abstract: In this article, Bhuta revisits the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights’ interpretation of religious freedom in the headscarf cases. He considers how recent historical work on the history of religious freedom and freedom of conscience opens up a new interpretation of these decisions. The court has been criticized as adopting a militantly secular approach to the presence of Islamic religious symbols in the public sphere, one seemingly inconsistent with its decision in the Lautsi case permitting the display of crucifixes in Italian classrooms. Bhuta’s essay argues that the inconsistency reflects not, or not only, a cultural hostility toward Islamic religious symbols, nor an unforgiving secularism. Rather, the cases turn on an understanding of certain religious symbols as threats to public order and harbingers of sectarian strife. This understanding evokes two different historical understandings of the concept of freedom of conscience: an early modern preoccupation with religious plurality as threatening public order, and a postwar understanding of religious freedom as the protection of secularized Christian values against the totalitarian propensities of modern politics.

Chapters

Nehal Bhuta, 'What should freedom of religion become? ' in Nehal Bhuta (ed.) Freedom of Religion, Secularism and Human Rights (Oxford University Press 2019)

Nehal Bhuta, Debora Valentina Malito, Gaby Umbach, 'Introduction Of numbers and narratives—Indicators in global governance and the rise of a reflexive indicator culture' in Debora Valentina Malito, Gaby Umbach, Nehal Bhuta (ed.) The Palgrave Handbook of Indicators in Global Governance (Springer International Publishing AG 2017) 1-29
Abstract: There is a pervasive sense in which we seem to be living under a new avalanche of numbers, and in particular an avalanche of indicators beyond the state and purporting to create knowledge on a global scale. As much as our indicator culture engenders a “faith in numbers”, the very expansion of the power of numbers and their role in (global) governance over the last 20 years has brought with it a heightened sense that quantification, indicators, and rankings are a way of doing politics that must be engaged with from within and without the specific disciplinary knowledge (such as statistics and econometrics) that underwrite their claims to objectivity. The chapters collected in this Handbook aim to capture the contemporary indicator culture, with all its discordant and contrasting orientations. The present introductory chapter considers three main dimensions. First, no chapter in the Handbook adopts a naively metrological understanding of indicators as simply “measuring” reality. Second, the normativity of measurement is a consistent theme of the contributions by both scholars and practitioners. Third, despite their popularity and seeming capacity to shape debates, the power of indicators remains highly contextual and dependent on how they are enrolled in particular, situated, networks of actors and influence.

Nehal Bhuta, 'State theory, state order, state system Jus gentium and the constitution of public power' in Stefan Kadelbach, Thomas Kleinlein, David Roth-Isigkeit (ed.) System, Order, and International Law (Oxford University Press 2017)

Nehal Bhuta, 'The frontiers of extraterritoriality Human Rights as Global Law' in Nehal Bhuta (ed.) The Frontiers of Human Rights (Oxford University Press 2016)

Nehal Bhuta, Susanne Beck, Robin Geiß, 'Present futures Concluding reflections and open questions on autonomous weapons systems' in Nehal Bhuta, Susanne Beck, Robin Geis, Hin-Yan Liu, Claus Kres (ed.) Autonomous Weapons systems (Cambridge University Press 2016) 347-383
Abstract: The debate concerning the law, ethics and policy of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) remains at an early stage, but one of the consistent emergent themes is that of uncertainty. Uncertainty presents itself as a problem in several different registers: first, there is the conceptual uncertainty surrounding how to define and debate the nature of autonomy in AWS. Contributions to this volume from roboticists, sociologists of science and philosophers of science demonstrate that within and without the field of computer science, no stable consensus exists concerning the meaning of autonomy or of autonomy in weapons systems. Indeed, a review of definitions invoked during a recent expert meeting convened by states parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons shows substantially different definitions in use among military experts, computer scientists and international humanitarian lawyers.At stake in the debate over definitions are regulatory preoccupations and negotiating postures over a potential pre-emptive ban. A weapons system capable of identifying, tracking and firing on a target without human intervention, and in a manner consistent with the humanitarian law obligations of precaution, proportionality and distinction, is a fantastic ideal type. Defining AWS in such a way truncates the regulatory issues to a simple question of whether such a system is somehow inconsistent with human dignity – a question about which states, ethicists and lawyers can be expected to reasonably disagree. However, the definition formulated in this manner also begs important legal questions in respect of the design, development and deployment of AWS. Defining autonomous weapons in terms of this pure type reduces almost all questions of legality to questions of technological capacity, to which a humanitarian lawyer's response can only be: ‘If what the programmers and engineers claim is true, then … ’ The temporally prior question of whether international law generally, and international humanitarian law (IHL) in particular, prescribes any standards or processes that should be applied to the design, testing, verification and authorization of the use of AWS is not addressed. Yet these ex ante considerations are urgently in need of legal analysis and may prove to generate deeper legal problems.

Nehal Bhuta, Stavros-evdokimos Pantazopoulos, 'Autonomy and uncertainty Increasingly autonomous weapons systems and the international legal regulation of risk' in Nehal Bhuta, Susanne Beck, Robin Geis, Hin-Yan Liu, Claus Kres (ed.) Autonomous Weapons systems (Cambridge University Press 2016) 284-300
Abstract: The debate concerning the law, ethics and policy of autonomous weapons systems (AWS) remains at an early stage, but one of the consistent emergent themes is that of uncertainty. Uncertainty presents itself as a problem in several different registers: first, there is the conceptual uncertainty surrounding how to define and debate the nature of autonomy in AWS. Contributions to this volume from roboticists, sociologists of science and philosophers of science demonstrate that within and without the field of computer science, no stable consensus exists concerning the meaning of autonomy or of autonomy in weapons systems. Indeed, a review of definitions invoked during a recent expert meeting convened by states parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons shows substantially different definitions in use among military experts, computer scientists and international humanitarian lawyers.At stake in the debate over definitions are regulatory preoccupations and negotiating postures over a potential pre-emptive ban. A weapons system capable of identifying, tracking and firing on a target without human intervention, and in a manner consistent with the humanitarian law obligations of precaution, proportionality and distinction, is a fantastic ideal type. Defining AWS in such a way truncates the regulatory issues to a simple question of whether such a system is somehow inconsistent with human dignity – a question about which states, ethicists and lawyers can be expected to reasonably disagree. However, the definition formulated in this manner also begs important legal questions in respect of the design, development and deployment of AWS. Defining autonomous weapons in terms of this pure type reduces almost all questions of legality to questions of technological capacity, to which a humanitarian lawyer's response can only be: ‘If what the programmers and engineers claim is true, then … ’ The temporally prior question of whether international law generally, and international humanitarian law (IHL) in particular, prescribes any standards or processes that should be applied to the design, testing, verification and authorization of the use of AWS is not addressed. Yet these ex ante considerations are urgently in need of legal analysis and may prove to generate deeper legal problems.

Nehal Bhuta, 'Measuring stateness, ranking political orders Indices of state fragility and state failure' in Alexander Cooley, Jack Snyder (ed.) Ranking the World (Cambridge University Press 2015) 85-111

Nehal Bhuta, 'The mystery of the state State concept, state theory and state making in Schmitt and Oakeshott' in David Dyzenhaus, Thomas Poole (ed.) Law, Liberty and State (Cambridge University Press 2015) 10-37

Working Papers

Nehal Bhuta, 'Joint Series on International Law and Armed Conflict: Fair Trial Guarantees in Armed Conflict' 2016

Nehal Bhuta, 'Reasoning With and Against Reason of State: Review of Thomas Poole, Reason of State: Law, Prerogative, Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2015)' 2016

Nehal Bhuta, 'On Preventive Killing ' 2015

Nehal Bhuta, Debora Valentina Malito, Gaby Umbach, 'Representing, Reducing or Removing Complexity: Indicators of Sustainability and Fiscal Sustainability' 2014

Nehal Bhuta, Debora Valentina Malito, Gaby Umbach, 'Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Producing, Using and Debating Corruption Indicators ' 2014