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Sir Michael Wood

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.

Sir Michael is a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations and is a senior fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge.

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
  • United Nations law

Principal Cases: 

International Court of Justice

Agent for the United Kingdom in the Questions of Interpretation and Application of the 1971 Montreal Convention arising from the Aerial Incident at Lockerbie (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya v. United Kingdom) case (1999-2003)

Agent for the United Kingdom in the Legality of Use of Force (Serbia and Montenegro v. United Kingdom) case (1999-2004)

Representative of the United Kingdom in the Legal Consequences of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Advisory Opinion (2003-2004)

Counsel for Ukraine in the Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine) case (2007-8)

Counsel for Kosovo in the Accordance with International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in respect of Kosovo Advisory Opinion (2008-10)

Counsel for Belgium in the Questions relating to the Obligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v. Senegal) case (2009-2012)

Counsel for Peru in the Maritime Dispute (Peru v Chile) case (2009-14)

Counsel for Honduras (application to intervene), Territorial and Maritime Dispute (Nicaragua v. Colombia) case (2010-11)

Counsel for Timor-Leste in Questions relating to the Seizure and Detention of Certain Documents and Data (Timor-Leste v. Australia) case (2013-15)

Counsel for Colombia in Question of the Delimitation of the Continental Shelf between Nicaragua and Colombia beyond 200 nautical miles from the Nicaraguan Coast (Nicaragua v. Colombia) case (2013-   )

Counsel for Colombia in Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea (Nicaragua v. Colombia) case (2013-  )   

Counsel for Equatorial Guinea in Immunities and Criminal Proceedings (Equatorial Guinea v. France) case (2016-  )

Counsel for the United Kingdom in the Legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 (Advisory Opinion (2017-  )

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea

Agent for the United Kingdom in the MOX Plant case (Ireland v. United Kingdom), Provisional Measures (2001)

Counsel for Myanmar in Dispute concerning Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal (2009-2012)

Counsel for the United Kingdom, Responsibilities and obligations of States sponsoring persons and entities with respect to activities in the International Seabed Area, Advisory Opinion, Seabed Disputes Chamber (2010-2011)

Counsel for the United Kingdom, Sub-Regional Fisheries Organization, Advisory Opinion (2013-15)

Counsel for Côte d’Ivoire, Maritime Delimitation (Ghana v. Côte d’Ivoire), Special Chamber (2014-  )

Counsel for Italy, The Enrica Lexie Incident (Italy v. India), Provisional Measures (2015)

Inter-State Arbitration

Agent for the United Kingdom in the MOX Plant cases (Ireland v. United Kingdom), OSPAR Arbitration Tribunal (2001-03)

Agent for the United Kingdom in the MOX Plant cases (Ireland v. United Kingdom), UNCLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunal (2001-06)

Counsel for India in Dispute concerning Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Bangladesh and India in the Bay of Bengal, UNCLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunal (2009-14)

Counsel for Slovenia in Croatia/Slovenia (Land and Maritime Boundary), arbitral tribunal (2010-  )

Counsel for the United Kingdom in Chagos Marine Protected Area (Mauritius v United Kingdom), UNCLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunal (2011-15)

Counsel for Italy, The Enrica Lexie Incident (Italy v. India), UNCLOS Annex VII arbitral tribunal (2015-  )

International Criminal Court

Adviser to Jordan, Appeal against Pre-Trial Chamber’s finding of non-compliance and referral of Jordan to the UN Security Council in the Al-Bashir case

Inter-State Conciliation

Counsel for Timor-Leste, Timor-Leste v Australia, UNCLOS Annex V conciliation commission (2016-18)

Investment arbitration

Counsel for Kazakhstan in World Wide Minerals Ltd and Paul A Carroll, Q.C. v The Republic of Kazakhstan (2014-15)

Co-arbitrator in Emergofin B.V. and Velbay Holdings Ltd. v. Ukraine (ICSID Case No. ARB/16/35)

European Court (and Commission) of Human Rights

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

Counsel for Turkey in Demopoulos and Others v Turkey, European Court of Human Rights (property in northern Cyprus) (2009-10)

Court of Justice of the European Union

Counsel for the United Kingdom (intervening) in Government of Gibraltar v European Commission, General Court, Luxembourg (2009-11)

Counsel for the United Kingdom in United Kingdom v European Commission (concerning Estrecho Oriental), General Court, Luxembourg (2010-11)

Counsel for the United Kingdom (appealing) in Yassin Abdullah Kadi v European Commission (Kadi II, concerning EU implementation of UN sanctions), Court of Justice of the European Union, Luxembourg (2010-13) 

English courts

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, judgment of 27 January 2010 (UK implementation of UN sanctions) (Counsel for HM Treasury)

R (oao Maya Evans) v Secretary of State for Defence, Administrative Court, judgment of 25 June 2010 (detainees in Afghanistan) (Counsel for the Secretary of State)

Khurts Bat v Investigating Judge of the German Federal Court, Administrative Court, judgment of 29 July 2011 (special mission, high-ranking office and State immunity claims) (Counsel for FCO, Interested Party)

Mutua and Ors v Foreign and Commonwealth Office, High Court, judgments of 21 July 2011/5 October 2012 (claims in tort in relation to the handling of the Mau Mau emergency in Kenya: issues of State succession and limitation of actions under international law) (Counsel for FCO)

Kimanthi and Ors v Foreign and Commonwealth Office, High Court (various claims in relation to the handling of the Mau Mau emergency in Kenya: issues public international law) (Counsel for FCO) 

Evidence to Parliamentary and other inquiries

Submission in response to the consultation on the role of the Attorney General (CM 7192) (with Sir Franklin Berman KCMG QC)
 
Written evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill: HL Paper 166-II, HC Paper 551-II, Evidence, pp. 433-435 (2009)
 
UK Iraq Inquiry (‘Chilcot Inquiry’), 2009-2016, written and oral evidence at iraqinquiry.org.uk

Written evidence (Ev. 48) to the Foreign Affairs Committee, Seventh Report, House of Commons, 2010-2012, ‘The Role of the FCO in UK Government’, published 12 May 2011

Commission on a Bill of Rights, Second Public Consultation, Submission, 21 September 2012 (with Elizabeth Wilmshurst)

FCO Career

Assistant Legal Adviser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London

(1970-1981; 1984-86)

Assistant Legal Adviser to the Governor of Southern Rhodesia (1979-80).

Legal Adviser, British Embassy, Bonn (1981-84)

Legal Counsellor, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1986-91; 1994-96)

Counsellor (Legal Adviser), United Kingdom Mission to the United Nations, New York

(1991-94)

Deputy Legal Adviser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1996-99)

Legal Adviser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1999-2006).

 

Member of the United Kingdom delegation to various international conferences and meetings, including:

-           United Nations General Assembly (1972-73, 1991-94, 2000-2005)

-          Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (1975-81)

-           Preparatory Commission for the International Seabed Authority (1996)

-           Lancaster House Conference on Southern Rhodesia (1979)

-           Paris International Conference on Cambodia (1990-91)

-           ‘Two-plus-Four’ Negotiations on German Unification (1990)

-           United Nations Security Council (1991-94)

-           Dayton Proximity Peace Talks on Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995

-           Rambouillet/Paris Meetings on Kosovo (1999)

 

Leader of the United Kingdom delegation to:

-           Assembly and Council of the International Seabed Authority (1995-2000 and 2002-05)

 

Meetings of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1995-98, 2005)

-           Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (2002-03)

-           International Conference on the Revision of the SUA Convention and Protocol (International Maritime Organization) (2005)

 

Various law of the sea and bilateral maritime delimitation negotiations

Rapporteur of the UN Committee on Applications for the Review of Administrative Tribunal Judgments (1991-94)

Education and Career: 

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

Institute of European Studies, Brussels University (1969-70)

Called to the Bar, Gray's Inn (1968)

Bencher of Gray's Inn (2000)

CMG (1995); KCMG (2004) 

Publications: 

A selection of Michael's most recent publications include:

"Reflections on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: A Living Instrument" in J. Barrett (ed.), Law of the Sea - UNCLOS as a living treaty (forthcoming, 2016) 

“Custom’s Bright Future. The Continuing Importance of Customary International Law” (with O. Sender), in C. Bradley (ed.), Custom’s Future. International Law in a Changing World (2016)

“The emergence of customary international law: Between theory and practice” (with O Sender), in C Brōlmann, Y Radi (eds.), Research Handbook on the Theory and Practice of International Lawmaking (2016)

“The present position within the ILC on the topic “Identification of customary international law”: in partial response to Sienho Yee, Report on the ILC Project on “Identification of Customary International Law””, Chinese Journal of International Law (2016)

“The CAHDI and the peaceful settlement of disputes”, in Council of Europe (ed.), The CAHDI Contribution to the Development of Public International Law: Achievements and Future Challenges (2016)

“2016 Lalive Lecture. Choosing between Arbitration and a Permanent Court: Lessons from Inter-State Cases”, 32 ICSID Review - Foreign Investment Law Journal (2017)

“Legal Advisers”, in A. Zidar, J.-P. Gauci (eds.), The Role of Legal Advisers in International Law (2017)

“Self-Defence Against Non-State Actors - A Practitioner's View”, 77 Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht (2017)

“Concluding Observations” in special issue on ‘Beyond the Identification of International Customary Rules,19 International Community Law Review (2017)

“Non-ingérence: frappez avant d’entrer” in H Ascencio et al (eds.), Dictionnaire des idées recues en droit international (2017)

“The interpretation of Security Council resolutions, revisited”, 20 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law (2017)

“The use of force against Da‘esh and the jus ad bellum”, 1 Asian Yearbook of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (2017)

“Self-Defence Against Non-State Actors – A Practitioner’s View” 77 ZaöRV/Heidelberg JIL (2017) 75-77

“Jurisdictional Immunities of the State (Germany v. Italy: Greece intervening)” (with O Sender) in E Bjorge, C Miles (eds.) Landmark Cases in Public International Law (2017)

“A Mystery No Longer? Opinio Juris and Other Theoretical Controversies Associated with Customary International Law” (with O. Sender), 50 Israel Law Review (2017)

‘Le droit de la mer coutumier’, in: M. Forteau, J.-M. Thouvenin (dir.), Traité de droit international de la mer (2017)

“Understanding the Advisory Jurisdiction of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea” in The Contribution of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to the Rule of Law: 1996-2016/La Contribution du tribunal du droit de la mer à l’état de droit: 1996-2016 (Brill/Nijhoff, 2018)

“The Caroline Incident (1837)” in T Ruys, O Corten and A Hofer (eds.) The Use of Force in International Law: a case-based approach (forthcoming, 2018)

“The Immunities of Members of Special Missions” (with A Sanger), in: T. Ruys, N Angelet, L Ferro (eds.) Cambridge Handbook on Immunities and International Law (forthcoming 2018) University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper. Available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3135386

“Security Council resolution 687 (1991) and the law of treaties” in M Bowman, D Kritsiotis (eds.), Conceptual and Contextual Perspectives on the Modern Law of Treaties (forthcoming, 2018)

“The Evolution and Identification of the Customary International Law of Armed Conflict”, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law (2018) (forthcoming 2018)

“Maritime delimitation and third States” (with E. Sthoeger), in M. Veber, V. Sancin (eds.), Liber Amicorum Bohte and Mirjam Škrk (forthcoming 2018)

“Security Council Resolution 685 (1991)”, in M. Bowman, D. Kritsiotis (eds.), Conceptual and Contextual Perspectives on the Modern Law of Treaties (forthcoming 2018)

“State Responsibility for Internationally Wrongful Acts: advantages and disadvantages of moving towards a convention”, in P. Bodeau-Livinec (ed.), Formes du droit international. Réflexions sur le devenir des travaux de la Commission du droit international (forthcoming, 2018)

“The Negotiation of Multilateral Treaties at the United Nations: a negotiator’s view”, in D. Malone et al (eds.), The Oxford Guide to United Nations Treaties (forthcoming 2018)

An extensive list of Michael's publications can be found in the attached document below.

 

Appointments and Society Memberships: 

Chairman, Committee on the Use of Force, International Law Association (2011-  )

Member of the International Law Commission (2008- )

Conciliator on UNCLOS Annex V list (conciliation) (2010- )

Arbitrator on UNCLOS Annex VII list (arbitration) (2010- )

Expert on UNCLOS Annex VIII list (special arbitration - marine scientific research) (2008- )

Member, Finance Committee, International Seabed Authority (1996-2006)

Member of the Advisory Body of Experts on the Law of the Sea (ABE-LOS) of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (2008- ) 

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

Member and Chairman, Appeals Board, International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1992 (2004-  )

Chairman, Joint Appeals Board, International Seabed Authority (2008- )

Member, Appeals Board, European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) (2016-  ) 

Member, Executive Committee, British Branch, International Law Association

Member, Editorial Committee, British Yearbook of International Law

Member of the Advisory Board of the Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Heidelberg)

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law (Luxembourg).

Member, Fachbeirat, Max-Planck-Institut für auslãndisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht, Heidelberg (2010-  )

Member and Vice-Chair, Scientific and Development Policy Advisory Committee, Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law, Heidelberg (2014-  )

Member, Advisory Board, International Litigation in Practice

Member, Advisory Board, The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals

Member, Advisory Panel (International), Indian Journal of International Law

Quotes: 

"He is a star individual because he is a silk that never took silk - everyone else in the list is a mere mortal." Chambers UK 2018

"Outstanding law of the sea expert." Chambers UK 2018

"One of the very top for public international law." Legal 500 2017

"His role for some 35 years as a lawyer with the FCO, including as its Principal Legal Advisor, gives him unique and valuable experience and insight. He is a pleasure to work with, and his advocacy is measured but compelling." Chambers UK 2017.

"Definitely among the top tier of public international law barristers." Legal 500 2016

"Very closely attuned to the thinking of the International Court of Justice judges and the way governments work." Legal 500 2015

"has an encyclopaedic knowledge of public international law - if he doesn't know about something related to this area it doesn't exist." Chambers UK 2016

"In this area, it's not possible to be effective at the highest level without a hands-on understanding of how international institutions operate, and he brings an abundance of that." Chambers UK 2015

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