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“Challenging Acts of International Organizations before National Courts”

Vienna Conference Report

On 7 and 8 September 2009, the Section for International Law and International Relations of the University of Vienna hosted an international conference at the Vienna Law School – Juridicum entitled “Challenging Acts of International Organizations before National Courts” to which both the Brussels-based COST-programme (European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technological Research) and the Austrian Science Fund were sponsors.

Triggered by the recent Kadi decision of the European Court of Justice, the conference aimed at providing evidence that the legal challenge of acts of international organizations before domestic courts is a rather frequent yet not largely recognized phenomenon.

The introduction by Prof. August Reinisch thus presented four working hypotheses that framed the conference contributions on various instances in which acts of different international organizations formed the subject of domestic court decisions. The first presentation by Dr. Rutsel Martha dealt with “Challenging Acts of Interpol as an International Police Organization”. Second, the contribution of Prof. Sienho Yee on “Questioning the Lending Policies of International Financial Institutions before National Courts” was aimed at establishing the features of domestic court challenges involving these specialized organizations active in the financial sector. Prof. August Reinisch then presented “EPO Decisions before National Courts” in which different types of EPO challenges were presented, notably involving domestic challenges of European patents or the admission as a European Patent Attorney before national courts. The first day’s final presentation on “Asking National Courts to correct the Over-flight Charges of Eurocontrol” by Jakob Wurm focused inter alia on this organization’s competition law challenge before various European courts.

The second day commenced with a focus on the Kadi case, including a contribution by Prof. Peter Hilpold and Dr. Gregor Heißl (“UN sanctions before the ECJ: the Kadi case”) as well as a contribution of Dr. Antonios Tzanakopoulos on “Questioning the Legality of UN Security Council Resolutions in Light of Nada and other Domestic Court Decisions”. Prof. Cedric Ryngaert presented “Domestic Legal Remedies against OPEC” in the context of anti-trust challenges of OPEC. Prof. Kirsten Schmalenbach discussed instances in which decisions of the European School became the subject-matter of domestic court decisions in “Challenges against Decisions of the European School before German Administrative and other National Courts”. In the afternoon, the conference was concluded by two presentations. Prof. Jan Wouters and Pierre Schmitt presented their contribution on “Challenging Other UN Organs including Subsidiary Organs”, which was followed by a discussion of “Challenging International Criminal Tribunals before Domestic Courts” by Prof. Jean d’Aspremont and Prof. Catherine Brölmann.

Lively debates after each presentation of the domestic and international participants provided proof that the conference dealt with a highly relevant and innovative subject-matter from both a theoretical and practical perspective. A publication which includes the results of this thought-provoking conference is currently under preparation.

International Law in Austrian Courts

University of Vienna
Department for European, International and Comparative Law

Schottenbastei 10-16
A-1010 Vienna
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