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Sir Michael Wood

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Sir Michael is a member of the UN International Law Commission. He was the principal Legal Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office between 1999 and 2006. During 35 years as a lawyer in the FCO, he attended many international conferences, including the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.

He spent three years at the United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations in New York, dealing chiefly with Security Council matters. He was Agent for the United Kingdom for a number of years before the European Commission and Court of Human Rights, and UK Agent in cases before the ICJ, as well as in proceedings before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and arbitral tribunals.

Specialisations: 

  • Public international law in general
  • International law of the sea, including maritime delimitation
  • International human rights law and the laws of war
  • English foreign relations law
  • Constitutional law of the British overseas territories

Principal Cases: 

Agent for the United Kingdom in numerous cases before the European Commission and Court of Human Rights (1985-90) (e.g., Soering v UK).

Agent for the United Kingdom in the Lockerbie and Legality of Use of Force cases before the International Court of Justice.

Agent for the United Kingdom in the MOX Plant cases, before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the OSPAR and UNCLOS arbitral tribunals (2001-2006).

Representative of the United Kingdom in the Israeli Wall in the Palestinian Occupied Territory advisory opinion, International Court of Justice.

Aziz v Aziz and Ors, Court of Appeal, judgment of 11 July 2007 (attack on dignity of Head of State) (Advocate to the Court).

Ahmed and Others v HM Treasury, Supreme Court (UN assets freeze) (for HMT).

Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v Ukraine), before the International Court of Justice (Counsel for Ukraine).

Declaration of Independence of Kosovo advisory opinion, before the International Court of Justice (Counsel for Kosovo).

Maritime Dispute (Peru v Chile), before the International Court of Justice (Counsel for Peru).

Demopoulos and others v Turkey, before the European Court of Human Rights (Grand Chamber) (property in Northern Cyprus) (Counsel for Turkey).

Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v Senegal), International Court of Justice (Counsel for Belgium).

Dispute concerning Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Counsel for Myanmar).

Bangladesh v India (Maritime Boundary), arbitral tribunal under Annex VII of UNCLOS (Counsel for India) .

Government of Gibraltar v European Commission in General Court, Luxembourg (Counsel for the United Kingdom (intervening)).

United Kingdom v European Commission (concerning Estrecho Oriental), General Court, Luxembourg (Counsel for the United Kingdom).

Education and Career: 

Cambridge University, MA LLB (First Class) (1969).

Publications: 

"The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents", 23 International and Comparative Law Quarterly (1974)

"The European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism", 1 Yearbook of European Law (1981)

"The Legal Status of Berlin" (1987, with I. D. Hendry)

"Participation of Former Yugoslav States in the United Nations and in Multilateral Treaties", 1 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1997)

"The Interpretation of Security Council Resolutions", 2 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1998)

"International Seabed Authority: the First Four Years", 3 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (1999)

"Northern and Western European Maritime Boundaries", in: Colson/Smith, International Maritime Boundaries, Vol. V (2005)

"Towards New Circumstances in which the Use of Force may be Authorized? The Cases of Humanitarian Intervention, Counter-terrorism, and Weapons of Mass Destruction", in: The Security Council and the Use of Force: Theory and Reality - A Need for Change? (eds. N. Blokker/N. Schrijver, 2005)

"The United Kingdom's Acceptance of the Compulsory Jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice", in: Festskrift til Carl August Fleischer (eds. O Fauchald/H Jakhelln/A Syse, 2006)

"Nécessité et légitime défense dans la lutte contre le terrorisme: quelle est la pertinence de l'affaire de la Caroline aujourd'hui?", in: La nécessité en droit international Société française pour le droit international, Colloque de Grenoble, 2006

"The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and General International Law", 22 International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (2007)

"The Selection of Candidates for International Judicial Office: Recent Practice", in: Law of the Sea, Environmental Law and Settlement of Disputes: Liber Amicorum Judge Thomas A. Mensah (eds. T M Ndiaye/R Wolfrum, 2007)

Three lectures on "The UN Security Council and International Law" (2006), available on the website of the Lauterpacht Centre for Intenrational Law, University of Cambridge. An expanded version of these lectures will be published in due course by Cambridge University Press as a book within the Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures series

"The Law on the Use of Force: Current Challenges", 11 Singapore Yearbook of International Law (2007)

"The Security Council and International Criminal Law", 5 Romanian Journal of International Law/Revista Română de Drept International (2007)

"The International Seabed Authority: Fifth to Twelfth Sessions (1999-2006)", 11 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (2007)

"The General Assembly and the International Law Commission: What Happens to the Commission's Work and Why?", in: I Buffard, J Crawford, A Pellet, S Wittich (eds.), International Law Between Universalism and Fragmentation. Festschrift in Honour of Gerhard Hafner (2008)

"The Principle of Non-Intervention" (with Maziar Jamnejad), 29 Leiden Journal of International Law (2009)

"Detention during International Military Operations: Article 103 of the Charter and the Al-Jedda case", 47 Revue de Droit Militaire et de Droit de la Guerre/The Military Law and the Law of War Review (2009)

" 'Constitutionalization' of International Law: A Sceptical Voice", in: K H Kaikabad, M Bohlinder (eds.), International Law and Power.  Perspectives on Legal Order and Justice.  Essays in Honour of Colin Warbrick (2009)

Halsbury's Laws of England, 5th ed.,'International Relations Law' (contributor), Vol. 61 (2010)

Entries in R Wolfrum (ed.), Max Planck "Encyclopedia of Public International Law" (online edition 2008), including:

  • Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law (CAHDI)
  • International Courts and Tribunals, Discontinuance of Cases
  • Final Act
  • International Seabed Authority
  • Legal Advisers
  • Macedonia
  • Peace, Breach of
  • State Practice
  • Teachings of the Most Highly Qualified Publicists
  • United Nations Administrative Tribunal, Applications for Review (Advisory Opinions)
  • United Nations Charter, Enemy State Clauses
  • United Nations Security Council
  • Use of Force, Prohibition of Threat

Appointments and Society Memberships: 

  • Expert on annex VIII list (special arbitration - marine scientific research) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (2008- )
  • Chairman, Joint Appeals Board, International Seabed Authority (2008- )
  • Member of the Executive Committee, British Branch, International Law Association
  • Member of the Editorial Committee of the British Yearbook of International Law
  • Member of the Advisory Board of the Max-Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Heidelberg)
  • Chairman of the Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law of the Council of Europe (CAHDI) (2007-2008); Vice-Chairman (2005-2006)
  • Chairman of the Twenty-ninth Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM XXIX), Edinburgh, June 2006

Lectures and Teaching: 

Senior Fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge.