Books, articles, career advice and more

Books, articles, career advice and more

Simon Chesterman is Dean of the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law. This site has information about his books and articles, courses that he teaches, and career advice. more…
In Praise of Failure

In Praise of Failure

It is graduation season in Singapore and many other parts of the world, as enthusiastic young men and women celebrate the completion of their degrees and diplomas. As is customary, we send these students out into the world with parting words of advice and, hopefully, wisdom. Much of this advice can seem generic, but last […] more…
Tinkering with the Machinery of Death

Tinkering with the Machinery of Death

The death penalty is being reassessed in the three industrialised countries that continue to impose it: the United States, Japan, and Singapore. In centuries past, the death penalty was a spectacle for the masses. Four hundred years ago, those involved in the Gunpowder Plot — still merrily celebrated as Guy Fawkes Night — failed in their attempt to assassinate […] more…
Crimean War 2.0: Ukraine and International Law

Crimean War 2.0: Ukraine and International Law

Tomorrow, the people of Crimea will vote in a referendum on whether the peninsula should secede from Ukraine and unite with Russia. No one seriously doubts what the result will be. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approach to democracy is much like Alice in Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts: he prefers verdicts to be known in advance. […] more…
The International Court of Justice in Asia: Interpreting the Temple of Preah Vihear Case

The International Court of Justice in Asia: Interpreting the Temple of Preah Vihear Case

This forthcoming article in the Asian Journal of International Law examines the 2013 decision by the International Court of Justice interpreting its 1962 judgment in the Temple of Preah Vihear case between Cambodia and Thailand. The more recent decision is situated in relation to the Court’s evolving role in Asia. Only eight Asian states have accepted […] more…
Protecting and Sharing Personal Data

Protecting and Sharing Personal Data

By the time Singapore’s Do-Not-Call (DNC) Registry came into effect earlier this month, more than 400,000 numbers had already been entered online, by SMS, and by phone. Many Singaporeans, it is clear, are not particularly interested in unsolicited offers of investment advice, “exclusive” property offers, and so on. But the reaction to the last minute […] more…
Data Protection Law in Singapore: Privacy and Sovereignty in an Interconnected World

Data Protection Law in Singapore: Privacy and Sovereignty in an Interconnected World

The adoption of the Personal Data Protection Act has transformed the legal regime for data protection in Singapore. This book explains the history and evolution of data protection in Singapore, highlights issues that will need to be worked out in practice as the new law is implemented, and derives lessons that may be taken from […] more…
Who Rules the World?

Who Rules the World?

Have you ever wondered how the leaders of international organizations are chosen? The methods range from quasi-democracy through unilateralism to the random progression of alphabetical order by member state. This essay surveys the different procedures by which international organizations appoint their executive heads — whether designated president, secretary-general, managing director, or some other title. Such […] more…
International Law and the Rise of Asia

International Law and the Rise of Asia

The judgment by the International Court of Justice earlier this month on a border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia demonstrated the importance of international law to Asia. But how important is Asia to international law? Asian countries are significantly under-represented in the institutions of global governance. Historically, the countries of the region have also played […] more…
From Community to Compliance? The Evolution of Monitoring Obligations in ASEAN

From Community to Compliance? The Evolution of Monitoring Obligations in ASEAN

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been transformed from a periodic meeting of ministers to become the most important regional organisation in Asia’s history. An important tension in this transformation is the question of whether the ‘ASEAN way’ — defined by consultation and consensus, rather than enforceable obligations — is consistent with the […] more…
International Criminal Law with Asian Characteristics?

International Criminal Law with Asian Characteristics?

The history of international criminal law has been, for the most part, a European tale. Though it was American insistence that prevented the summary execution of hundreds or thousands of German officers after the Second World War — an approach favoured by Churchill and seriously contemplated by Stalin — the United States subsequently backed away […] more…
Syria Deal No Utopia for International Law

Syria Deal No Utopia for International Law

Two cheers for international law! A month ago, when I first contemplated writing a piece for The Straits Times on Syria and international law, I was preparing for war. As someone who teaches international law, I must periodically explain to my students why countries like the United States occasionally break the law. Until a few […] more…
Taking ASEAN Seriously

Taking ASEAN Seriously

If ASEAN is ever going to play a meaningful role in dealing with regional crises like haze, its members need to agree to carry out their obligations — and show that they have done so. THIS FRIDAY, Singapore celebrates its 48th National Day with the traditional parade and grumbling over songs. The day before, Singapore […] more…
US Intelligence, Inc.

US Intelligence, Inc.

Among the stories and rumors prompted by Edward J. Snowden’s leaking of classified material – whistleblowing or treason, depending on where you stand – the revelations that may actually lead to a policy change concern the extent to which private companies now carry out intelligence collection and analysis in the United States. Around a third of […] more…
Getting Used to a Surveillance Society

Getting Used to a Surveillance Society

Outrage at the United States National Security Agency’s collection of data misses the point: The focus should be on how the data is being used.   HOW should we balance liberty and security? The answer is simple: We shouldn’t. The metaphor of a “balance” between liberty and security offers an attractive way to view the […] more…
Lee Kuan Yew the Lawyer

Lee Kuan Yew the Lawyer

Last night, the National University of Singapore conferred an honorary degree of doctor of laws on Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I was asked to serve as public orator, describing some of Mr Lee’s achievements in support of the award. But what is there to say about Mr Lee Kuan Yew that has not already been […] more…
A Chat Room of One’s Own

A Chat Room of One’s Own

The Internet has had a greater impact on access to information than any development in human history, with the possible exception of the invention of writing. We are more connected and better informed than ever before. So why does it often feel like what takes place on the Internet is so dumb? Two thousand years […] more…
Why Study?

Why Study?

With the release of A-level results earlier this month, students across Singapore — and their parents — are contemplating the next step in their education. Nearly 30 percent of the cohort will go to one of Singapore’s five autonomous universities, a number set to grow to 40 percent by 2020. With a further 10 percent […] more…
Climate Change: What Do We Owe the Future?

Climate Change: What Do We Owe the Future?

The bushfires that continue to ravage Victoria and New South Wales this Australia Day have added another nail in the climate change sceptics’ coffin: the temperature on the ground was literally off the charts. Previously capped at 50 degrees centigrade, Australia’s meteorologists recently had to add two new colours — deep purple and pink — […] more…
After Privacy: The Rise of Facebook, The Fall of WikiLeaks, and Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act 2012

After Privacy: The Rise of Facebook, The Fall of WikiLeaks, and Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act 2012

This article discusses the changing ways in which information is produced, stored, and shared—exemplified by the rise of social-networking sites like Facebook and controversies over the activities of WikiLeaks—and the implications for privacy and data protection. Legal protections of privacy have always been reactive, but the coherence of any legal regime has also been undermined […] more…
How Best to Protect Kids Online

How Best to Protect Kids Online

How many “friends” does your child have online? Who reads her blog or sees the pictures she uploads? And what survey forms is she filling in to win a chance at a prize? Some parents will know some of the answers to some of these questions. But it is highly unlikely that any parents would […] more…
Snowplough Parenting

Snowplough Parenting

Next week around 12,000 Singaporeans enter our university system. These students are privileged in many senses of the word. But their entry to university may have been helped by factors that will ultimately limit their ability to succeed. For many students, the path to university was made easier by hyper-attentive parents and an army of […] more…
Who Killed Privacy?

Who Killed Privacy?

It is more than a decade since the former CEO of Sun Microsystems infamously declared that privacy was dead, urging the reporters who had asked him about the subject to “get over it”. That was before the launch of Facebook, Google’s Street View, the iPhone, and a proliferation of other tools that many saw as […] more…
Academic Freedom in New Haven and Singapore

Academic Freedom in New Haven and Singapore

On April 5, Yale faculty will vote on a resolution challenging the Yale-NUS College, the liberal arts programme that will admit its first students in August 2013. The resolution reflects three distinct concerns about the joint venture. The first is an internal matter to Yale and relates to the decision not to seek a formal vote […] more…
Lawyers, Guns, and Money: The Governance of Business Activities in Conflict Zones

Lawyers, Guns, and Money: The Governance of Business Activities in Conflict Zones

This paper argues that the norms governing businesses in conflict zones are both understudied and undervalued. Understudied because the focus is generally on human rights of universal application, rather than the narrower regime of international humanitarian law (IHL). Undervalued because IHL may provide a more certain foundation for real norms that can be applied to […] more…
One Nation Under Surveillance

One Nation Under Surveillance

What limits, if any, should be placed on a government’s efforts to spy on its citizens in the name of national security? Spying on foreigners has long been regarded as an unseemly but necessary enterprise. Spying on one’s own citizens in a democracy, by contrast, has historically been subject to various forms of legal and […] more…
A Little Less Privacy, a Bit More Security

A Little Less Privacy, a Bit More Security

The European Union has announced that it will overhaul its data protection rules in 2011. Later this month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and Commerce Department will release their own reports on online privacy. Meanwhile, as part of the much-hyped efforts to prepare for “cyberwar,” the U.S. National Security Agency is strengthening ties with organizations […] more…
Private Security, Public Order: The Outsourcing of Public Services and Its Limits

Private Security, Public Order: The Outsourcing of Public Services and Its Limits

Private actors are increasingly taking on roles traditionally arrogated to the state. Both in the industrialized North and the developing South, functions essential to external and internal security and to the satisfaction of basic human needs are routinely contracted out to non-state agents. In the area of privatization of security functions, attention by academics and […] more…
Law and Practice of the United Nations

Law and Practice of the United Nations

A unique new course book demonstrating the interaction of law and politics in United Nations practice. Law and Practice of the United Nations: Documents and Commentary presents primary materials with expert commentary, demonstrating the interaction between law and practice in the UN organization, and also discusses the possibilities and limitations of multilateral institutions in general. […] more…
From Mercenaries to Market

From Mercenaries to Market

Frequently characterized as either mercenaries in modern guise or the market’s response to a security vacuum, private military companies are commercial firms offering military services ranging from combat and military training and advice to logistical support. They play an increasingly important role in armed conflicts, UN peace operations, and providing security in unstable states. Executive […] more…
Secretary or General?

Secretary or General?

The Secretary-General of the United Nations is a unique figure in world politics. At once civil servant and the world’s diplomat, lackey of the UN Security Council and commander-in-chief of up to a hundred thousand peacekeepers, he or she depends on states for both the legitimacy and resources that enable the United Nations to function. […] more…
After Mass Crime

After Mass Crime

International interventions in the aftermath of mass violence tend to focus on justice and reconciliation processes, elections and institution-building. The frame of reference is at the level of the state, although the experience of mass crime by a population is also at the level of the community and individuals. Insufficient attention has been paid to […] more…
Shared Secrets

Shared Secrets

Is collective security possible when the evaluation of and response to threats depend on access to intelligence that cannot be shared openly? Shared Secrets: Intelligence and Collective Security examines the role national intelligence does and could play in addressing threats to international peace and security, with particular reference to the contemporary threats of terrorism and […] more…
Making States Work

Making States Work

In the wealth of literature on state failure, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the question of what constitutes state success and what enables a state to succeed. This book – a joint project of the International Peace Academy and the United Nations University – examines the strategies and tactics of international actors, local […] more…
You, The People: The United Nations, Transitional Administration, and State-Building

You, The People: The United Nations, Transitional Administration, and State-Building

Transitional administrations represent the most complex operations attempted by the United Nations. The missions in Kosovo (1999-) and East Timor (1999-2002) are commonly seen as unique in the history of the United Nations. But they may also be seen as the latest in a series of operations that have involved the United Nations in ‘state-building’ […] more…
Just War or Just Peace?

Just War or Just Peace?

The question of the legality of humanitarian intervention is, at first blush, a simple one. The Charter of the United Nations clearly prohibits the use of force, with the only exceptions being self-defence and enforcement actions authorized by the Security Council. There are, however, long-standing arguments that a right of unilateral intervention pre-existed the Charter. […] more…
Civilians in War

Civilians in War

In World War I, only 5 percent of all casualties were civilian; in World War II, that number was 50 percent; and in conflicts in the 1990s, civilians accounted for up to 90 percent of those killed. Clearly, the 1949 Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians, while recognizing the changing face of war, has […] more…
Studying Law at University

Studying Law at University

Do you want to do well in Law from day one? Law is a challenging and competitive subject to study at university. You need to become familiar with its peculiar language and complicated practices as quickly as possible if you want to do well. Drawing on the experiences of hundreds of students, Studying Law at […] more…
Powered by Wordpress | Fluxipress Theme