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Category Archives: International Law

FBI Agents Embedding with JSOC Units in Combat Zones

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Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 11:49 PM

The Washington Post has a story this evening on an often-overlooked aspect of interagency cooperation in connection with both combat operations and counterterrorism:  FBI agents deploying into the field with JSOC units. Most of the story focuses on such deployments in the context of combat zones (Iraq & Afghanistan), with an emphasis on the extent . . .
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The AUMF and IHL’s Field of Application

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Our friends at the ICRC DC delegation have a wonderful blog, intercross, and often use it to host brief exchanges among scholars and practitioners on current IHL and IHL-related issues. Right now, they’re digging into questions about IHL’s applicability in connection with the 2001 AUMF (e.g., whether passage of the AUMF automatically brought IHL to . . .
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D.C. Circuit Affirms Denial of Preliminary Injunction in Abdullah v. Obama

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Friday, April 4, 2014 at 12:52 PM

The D.C. Circuit has just handed down a 12-page decision in Abdullah v. Obama, affirming the district court’s denial of Abdullah’s motion to enjoin the U.S. government from detaining him. Hani Saleh Rashid Abdullah, a Yemeni national, claimed his detention at Guantanamo violates a 1946 executive agreement between the U.S. and Yemen. He filed for habeas in 2005, and . . .
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The US and Human Rights: A Federalist Society Debate

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Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 7:36 PM

Criticizing the US stance on human rights treaties is practically an international sport, as evidenced by the bruising reception the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) gave to a US delegation last week.  As Bobby reported here, the US disappointed the HRC by declining to agree with former State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh’s recently disclosed . . .
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LOAC and the Crimea

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 4:06 PM

A disturbing news item:  it appears that Russian soldiers have killed at least one Ukrainian soldier at a Ukrainian military base in the Crimea, possibly heralding a violent resolution to the tense armed standoffs at various Ukrainian military facilities in freshly-departed territory.  Let’s hope this was a one-off episode, not to be followed by higher-intensity . . .
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The Precedential Value of the Kosovo Non-Precedent Precedent for Crimea

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Monday, March 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM

When the Obama administration invoked the 1999 Kosovo intervention as a precedent in the run-up to the planned Syria invasion, I wrote a post that argued that Kosovo was not a precedent for lawful international action.  The Kosovo intervention violated the U.N. Charter, but the West was less concerned with that fact than with limiting the intervention’s . . .
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The Obama Administration Embraces the Domestic-Only Reading of the ICCPR

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Friday, March 14, 2014 at 5:35 PM

It’s official:  the Obama Administration is sticking with the Clinton and Bush Administration positions on whether America’s ICCPR obligations apply abroad, denying that they do.  Charlie Savage has the details here.  The key quote from Thursday’s session before the Human Rights Committee: “The United States continues to believe that its interpretation — that the covenant . . .
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Can the ICJ Avoid Saying Something on the Merits About Spying in Timor-Leste vs. Australia?

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Last week Ben linked to the ICJ’s decision on provisional measures in the case that Timor-Leste (TL) has brought against Australia.  The Brisbane Times and other news outlets cast the decision as one requiring Australia to “cease spying on East Timor.”  That’s an overly broad characterization of what the Court actually required, and of course provisional . . .
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A Reply to Wittes on the United States and Extraterritoriality

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Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:34 PM

I’m usually a big fan of Ben’s cogent observations on Washington’s folkways.  Unfortunately, I can’t be as enthusiastic about Ben’s reply to my earlier post on Harold Koh’s memos regarding extraterritoriality of human rights treaties.  Ben overstates the duration of the United States’ position against extraterritoriality.  He also includes some pokes at Koh’s service as . . .
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A Dissenting Word on the Harold Koh Memoranda

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Monday, March 10, 2014 at 2:00 PM

I want to take issue with Peter Margulies’s laudatory remarks this weekend about the Harold Koh memos on extraterritorial application of the ICCPR and the CAT—you know, those memos that mysteriously showed up in the New York Times just as the United States was preparing to present its views on the ICCPR to the UN . . .
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Extraterritoriality and Human Rights: Time for a Change in the U.S. View?

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Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 8:11 AM

As Jack has frequently observed, legitimacy and effectiveness often go hand-in-hand.  The two comprehensive State Department memoranda by former Legal Adviser (and Yale Law School dean) Harold Koh released Friday on extraterritoriality under the ICCPR and Convention Against Torture make this point powerfully and persuasively (see commentary by Marko Milanovic here and Jennifer Daskal here).  . . .
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NYT on the United States’ Position on Human Rights Treaties

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Friday, March 7, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Well worth a read: Charlie Savage’s story, for the New York Times, regarding Obama Administration debate over whether the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture, impose legal obligations on the United States in places beyond its borders. The piece cites, among other things, two memos written by then-State Department Legal Adviser Harold . . .
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Security Programs take Center Stage in Austin During South by Southwest

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Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 6:57 PM

If you’ve never been to Austin during South by Southwest, you are truly missing out.  SXSW season begins today with the SXSW Interactive and Film Festivals, and I’m happy to report that the Strauss Center at UT is sponsoring or co-sponsoring an array of security-and-technology events over the next few days.  I’ll do my best . . .
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A Ukraine-Russia Issue: Does It Violate LOAC to Shed Your Identification While Still in Uniform?

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Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 3:55 PM

That is the claim put forward, with gusto, by Jonathan Eyal of the Royal United Services Institute in this Guardian article.  Eyal correctly notes the importance of the principle of distinction, and more specifically the obligation of combatants to distinguish themselves from civilians.  And if it were true that Russian forces in the Crimea were . . .
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Russia in Ukraine: A Reader Responds

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Stefan Soesanto writes in with the following thoughts on my earlier post on Russia’s introduction of troops into Ukraine as an international law violation: Amidst the ongoing political crisis in the Ukraine, numerous Western leaders have accused Moscow of violating international law by deploying unmarked Russian military forces across the autonomous Republic of Crimea. But . . .
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What’s the Deal with Crimea? A Brief History in Links

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 6:52 AM

Russia’s recent military actions in Crimea have many wondering what (and where) Crimea is, anyway. Here are the basics on geography and history. Crimea is a Ukranian peninsula in the northern Black Sea separated from Russia by the narrow Strait of Kerch. The vast majority of the peninsula is governed by the Autonomous Republic of . . .
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International Court of Justice Bans Australian Spying on East Timor and its Lawyers

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Speaking of Australian spying on its regional neighbors and its lawyers, which we were the other day, the International Court of Justice has handed down a decision in a dispute between Australia and East Timor. Here’s the Brisbane Times on the decision, which I have not read yet: Australia has been ordered to cease spying . . .
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Reflections on the Chatham House Autonomy Conference

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Monday, March 3, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Chatham House recently held a conference on autonomous military technologies, the focus of which was really the current debate regarding autonomous weapon systems. Kudos to Chatham House for leaning forward in this critical area and for bringing together the right mix of people for an engaging and productive conference. The event was held under Chatham . . .
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The Crimean Crisis: Commentary on International Law Ramifications

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Monday, March 3, 2014 at 2:34 PM

As a service to Lawfare readers, we have compiled some other web commentary on the legal aspects of the crisis in Crimea.  (Of course, interested folks should have a look at Ashley’s thorough articulation of the international law issues at play, and Paul’s take on the invasion’s cyber dimension.) While the situation percolated over the weekend, Eric Posner noted the (somewhat surprising) . . .
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Russian Forces in Ukraine: A Sketch of the International Law Issues

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Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Russian forces have seized control of Crimea and reportedly are digging trenches in the land bridge that connects Crimea with the rest of Ukraine. Is this a flagrant violation of international law regulating the use of force, or does Russia have some credible justification for what it’s done? Bottom Line Up Front (as DOD would . . .
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