Technology and Law Going Mental

On 28 August 2020, Neuralink gave a much anticipated update on their progress to connect humans and computers. In the near future, the activities within our brain will be recorded, analysed, and altered, shaking our conception of inaccessible mental processes. A multitude of legal issues will arise, in particular to what extent fundamental and human rights protect mental processes and neurological data collected by (therapeutic or enhancing) brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) from being accessed by states without the individual’s consent. To date, however, there remains a significant gap as neurological data does not enjoy absolute protection from any interference within the existing European human and fundamental rights frameworks. This gap could be remedied by introducing new mental rights.

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The Africanization of International Investment Disputes – from Past to Present

The depiction of Third World resistance to investor-state dispute settlement as a homogeneous one is an oversimplification. While the plurality of Third World Approaches to International Law scholarship is emphasized by its name (“Approaches”), descriptions such as ‘Third World’ and ‘Global South’ tend to leave room for generalization and simplification. Such a simplification may easily discourage flows of much needed capital into African states. I will show that African states have been rather instrumental in shaping today’s ISDS regime and outline an African approach to international investment law.

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One day (Vandaag) …

Yes I do … have a migration background. Yet, due to mere genetic randomness, my “Germanness” has hardly ever been challenged – at least until the moment when it comes to the correct spelling of my family name: “KHan” not “KaHn” – Dschinghis, not Oliver – please! Occasionally, I still get carried away with coquetting in my lectures: “I would be inclined to say – I am a case of successful integration.” Some students may then be slightly embarrassed, in particular after a controversial discussion about immigration policy. But that’s it basically, my personal home story about “racism”! But to be very clear and unambiguous: my father’s story is a much longer and a much more painful one! But that’s another story.

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To Vote or Not to Vote?

The COVID-19 pandemic poses considerable challenges to democracies across the world. This is particularly apparent with regard to the holding of elections which states have approached in various ways. States face the following tension: On the one hand, the obligation to protect the rights to health and life requires states to limit the spread of the pandemic by reducing human-to-human contact. At the same time, these measures encroach upon the right to political participation. Against that background, an intricate balancing of the various interests in light of international human rights law seems necessary.

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Investment Law in Corona Times: How Myths Fuel Injustice

One of the leitmotivs of the discourse around the pandemic is that ‘there cannot be going back to business as usual’ (see here and here). Yet, it is business as usual that is alarmingly looming in Corona times. In this context, at least two developments are worthy of note: the first is the much discussed risk of a wave of Covid-related investment claims. The second, possibly less noticed, is that countries are silently expanding the scope of a system that does not adequately strengthen sustainability in economic relations, despite laconic initiatives to this purpose.

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States of Emergency

The fifty days of the ‘COVID-19 and States of emergency’ Symposium covered the height of the global legal reaction to the pandemic, offering a snapshot of countries in collective crisis. It began with a call for a global conversation on the kind of legal norms which should govern the situation of worldwide pandemic. This final contribution aims to trace the central themes, questions and issues raised by the Symposium.

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Impacts of COVID-19 – The Global Access to Justice Survey

In addition to initiating a humanitarian crisis, the coronavirus outbreak is triggering multiple impacts (social, political, economic, environmental etc.) on the global stage, whose consequences – both negative and positive – were not only unforeseen, but remain unpredictable. We can be sure, however, that they will inevitably touch, one way or another, our justice and legal aid systems.

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The Rule of Law Stress Test: EU Member States’ Responses to COVID-19

By mid-March, all EU member states were in a state of emergency, whether they officially declared one or not. Across the EU many human rights were severely restricted, particularly the right to free movement. Not every state of emergency is the same, however. Some exceed what is foreseen in international human rights law.

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Democracy and the Global Emergency – Shared Experiences, Starkly Uneven Impacts

Curating analysis of these developments since early April through the COVID-DEM project, and reading across the 62 published contributions to this outstanding symposium, there are clear commonalities across all democracies affected. Beyond these commonalities, the effect of the COVID-19 response on the democratic system has been – and will be – starkly uneven across democracies worldwide, due to the different democratic ‘starting point’ of each state as the pandemic hit.

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Is there a space for federalism in times of emergency?

In many legal cultures, federalism is the real “F word”. It stands for inequality, privileges, inefficiency. For many, there seems to be an inherent contradiction between the obvious requirement of a coordinated line of command in case of emergency and a pluralistic territorial structure. A closer look at the comparative practice shows a different picture. Has federalism really been an obstacle to effective decision-making? Or rather the opposite?

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