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Category Archives: International Law

The Convention Against Torture: Extraterritorial Application and Application to Military Operations

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Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 10:37 AM

Belatedly, I want to join the discussion about the extraterritorial application of the Convention Against Torture (CAT), about which Jack commented on Friday, drawing on an article by Charlie Savage earlier in the week. The New York Times opined on the issue on Tuesday in one of its typically misleading, “don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts” editorials that suggested that the . . .
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Pushing Treaty Limits?

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Monday, October 20, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Suppose the United States government helps to negotiate, and subsequently champions, certain framework treaties–ones justly viewed as imposing significant constraints on all signatories. Down the road, the United States occasionally even calls out counterparties for their looser policy innovations, when the latter push the outer boundaries of what’s permitted under the treaties; a treaty-created monitoring body . . .
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CVSG in Samantar v. Yousuf

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Yesterday, the Supreme Court asked for the views of the Solicitor General in Samantar v. Yousuf.   According to the petition for certiorari, the issue in the case is “Whether a foreign official’s common-law immunity for acts performed on behalf of a foreign state is abrogated by plaintiffs’ allegations that those official acts violate jus cogens norms of international . . .
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U.N. Special Rapporteur Report on Mass Digital Surveillance and Article 17 of the ICCPR

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Here it is, via First Look. The latest from the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC, concludes as follows (note the language in paragraph 59): 58. States’ obligations under article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights include the . . .
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Folk International Law and Syrian Airstrikes

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Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 7:21 AM

Earlier this year, I published an article called “Folk International Law,” in which I argued that there were many unappreciated and little understood costs to the convergence of LOAC and international human rights law. I suggested that the legal debate over targeted killing had driven US-based human rights advocates to contribute to and participate in a . . .
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Why Article III Matters: A Reply to Peter Margulies on al Bahlul

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 10:23 PM

I must confess that I don’t fully understand Peter Margulies’ response to my post from earlier today. My post argued that the bottom-side briefing in the D.C. Circuit in al Bahlul offers a relatively weak (and, in my view, already debunked) explanation for why Congess can allow allow military commissions to try enemy belligerents for wholly domestic offenses without . . .
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Article III and the Bottom-Side Briefing in al Bahlul

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Jane already flagged the merits brief filed by the U.S. government on September 17 in al Bahlul v. United States, the major challenge to the power of the Guantánamo military commissions to try non-international war crimes that was remanded by the en banc D.C. Circuit to the original three-judge panel back in July (and in which oral argument is . . .
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Readings: Geoff Corn on Precautionary Measures in the Law of Armed Conflict

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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 4:30 PM

(Author’s note: Apologies to Geoff and everyone else – I somehow managed to delete the last couple of paragraphs of this post when it went up.  I’ll recover them–including the part of the post that actually introduces Geoff’s paper!–and get it back up Tuesday. I’m sure everyone felt a trifle let down to have the . . .
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Strikes in Syria: The International Law Framework

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 2:25 AM

[Cross-posted at Just Security] As is now well-known, the United States last night hit approximately 25 targets inside Syria, some of which were directed at ISIL, and some at a group that has only recently been brought to the public’s attention – the Khorasan Group, which is reportedly comprised of al Qaeda militants and led by senior al Qaeda officials . . .
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Transatlantic Dialogue on Int’l Law and Armed Conflict: Verdirame on Theory, Human Rights, and Conflict

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 6:20 PM

The newest installment in the Transatlantic Dialogue series is now posted at ICRC’s Intercross blog. It is from Professor Guglielmo Verdirame, and it addresses the larger implications of IHRL’s expansion into the armed conflict setting, including implications for matters of theory. A preview: The relationship between theory and practice in international law eludes easy explanations. . . .
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Government Files Response in Al Bahlul v. United States

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 6:57 AM

Last month Guantanamo detainee Ali al Bahlul filed his opening brief in Al Bahlul v. United States, in a bid to overturn his conviction for conspiracy to commit war crimes, the single military commission conviction against Bahlul that the D.C. Circuit left standing in its July 14, 2014 en banc ruling (the court vacated his convictions for material support and . . .
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Narrowing Down the U.S. International Legal Theory for ISIS Strikes in Syria

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Friday, September 12, 2014 at 10:08 AM

In late August, I suggested several possible theories the Administration might invoke to argue that the use of force against ISIS in Syria is consistent with international law. In the wake of President Obama’s speech on Wednesday night and supplemental Administration statements, do we know anything more about which theory or theories the Administration has picked? . . .
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Deteriorating U.S.-Russian Relations and Treaty Compliance

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Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Proceeding in lockstep with a general chill in relations brought about by the Ukraine crisis, the United States and the Russian Federation are currently at odds over compliance with international arms treaties, most notably the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Agreement (INF). Reuters reported that American and Russian officials will meet in Moscow today to discuss allegations . . .
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Regulating Foreign Surveillance Through International Law

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Monday, September 8, 2014 at 1:45 PM

This Friday, the U.N. Human Rights Council will hold a session to discuss the right to privacy in the digital age. The Council is considering these issues in the wake of a General Assembly Resolution adopted in December (which affirmed that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online) and a report . . .
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Transatlantic Dialogue on International Law and Armed Conflict: When Does LOAC Cease to Apply?

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 11:17 PM

As Dapo Akande of Oxford and Tracey Begley of the ICRC explain here and here, the next few weeks will see a series of short pieces posted here at Lawfare, at EJIL:Talk! (the blog of the European Journal of International Law), and at Intercross (the blog of the ICRC) giving readers a flavor of the . . .
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U.S. Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria? Possible International Legal Theories

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Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 3:04 PM

In the wake of Thursday’s statements by Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey and Friday’s comments by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, it sounds like the U.S. Government is at least considering whether to conduct air strikes against ISIS in Syria. A decision to do so clearly is not a done deal. As the Times . . .
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Israel-Gaza and the Law of Armed Conflict: Recommended Readings

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Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 11:12 AM

A number of friends and colleagues have asked me recently for recommended readings on the law of armed conflict and Gaza. I’ve decided, therefore, to post some of my suggestions and some explanation as to why I chose them. I hope to update this compilation as I improve it and perhaps as more is written. . . .
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Does Maliki Have a Valid Constitutional Argument (and Should We Care)?

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Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Nouri al Maliki seems to have backed down from his efforts to defend with force or threats his role as Prime Minister of Iraq. But he continues to press a second approach: a court challenge to the constitutionality of the decision by the Iraqi President to charge another member of Maliki’s party as the Prime Minister-designate. . . .
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Air Strikes or Supply Drops in Iraq?

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Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

The New York Times reports:  WASHINGTON — President Obama is considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis among as many as 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop after death threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, administration officials said . . .
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Libya Chaos Means a Backward Step for Responsibility to Protect

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Over on CNN’s Global Public Square, I’ve written about recent events in Libya – including the evacuation of American and many foreign diplomats – and what they mean for the Responsibility to Protect. The piece begins: The 2011 international coalition intervention in Libya was supposed to be a step forward for the Responsibility to Protect . . .
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