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Category Archives: International Law

China’s ADIZ at One Year

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 4:10 PM

A year ago this week, China abruptly declared an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering a large area of the East China Sea, including islands the legal possession of which China disputes with Japan.  Over on the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative – a terrific new online resource for information, analysis and commentary on Asian maritime . . .
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U.S. Delegation Asserts Article 16 of Convention Against Torture Applies Outside U.S. Territority in Certain Circumstances, but Law of Armed Conflict “Takes Precedence” In Situations of Armed Conflict

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 2:10 PM

As previewed by Charlie Savage in the New York Times this morning, the U.S. delegation appeared before the Committee Against Torture in Geneva today and announced a modest but important change in the U.S. Government position regarding extraterritorial application of Article 16 of the Convention Against Torture (which prohibits cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment in . . .
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The Obama Administration’s Position on the CAT

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 9:34 AM

The New York Times’ Charlie Savage has the scoop: WASHINGTON — A treaty ban on cruel treatment will restrict how the United States may treat prisoners in certain places abroad, the Obama administration is expected to tell the United Nations on Wednesday, according to officials. That interpretation would change a disputed Bush administration theory that the cruelty ban does . . .
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A Primer on Japan’s Constitutional Reinterpretation and Right to Collective Self-Defense

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Friday, November 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

By the end of the year, the United States and Japan are expected to release revised Guidelines for Defense Cooperation. For the first time in seventeen years, the two nations will modernize the framework that governs the U.S.-Japan alliance in times of both peace and war. While the revised Guidelines will encompass many areas of . . .
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Folk International Law and the Application of LOAC in Counterterrorism Operations

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Naz Modirzadeh’s fascinating series of Lawfare posts (here, here, and here) discussing her article, Folk International Law, provides an excellent primer on the potential consequences and confusion that result from amalgamating distinct legal doctrines, regardless of whether such creative tinkering is couched under the rubric of “policy.” In particular, I think the debate between Modirzadeh and Professor Marty Lederman actually underscores one . . .
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A Bit More On the Debate About the Extraterritorial Scope of the Torture Convention’s Provisions on Cruelty

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Monday, October 27, 2014 at 7:45 AM

In his piece on Nobel Peace Prize Laureates pressuring the President to disclose information about torture, Charlie Savage explains why some officials in the administration oppose the broad extraterritorial expansion of Article 16 of the CAT: The officials opposed to accepting the cruelty provision as applying abroad insist they do not want to resume abusive . . .
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New CNAS Program on Autonomous Weapons

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Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 9:56 PM

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) last week announced a new project on “Ethical Autonomy.” (This is a topic on which Ken and I have written, most recently in a piece co-authored with Daniel Reisner titled “Adapting the Law of Armed Conflict to Autonomous Weapon Systems.”) CNAS’s description of the project is below. The . . .
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Folk Law and Obama Administration Mythology: Four Stakes

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Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Marty Lederman and I have been engaged in a debate over the past few weeks, and last Monday he wrote a lengthy and thoughtful “Monday Reflection” over at Just Security concerning some of my arguments here at Lawfare and in my article, Folk International Law. I would like to use this post, my last in . . .
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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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The Debate About the Extraterritorial Scope of the Torture Convention’s Provisions on Cruelty is (Almost Certainly) Not About USG Interrogation Policy

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Friday, October 24, 2014 at 10:22 AM

A week ago Charlie Savage reported that the Obama administration “is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the [Convention Against Torture(CAT)] imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders.”  The provision of the Torture Convention in question is Article 16, which provides: “Each State Party shall undertake to . . .
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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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A Reply to Marty Lederman

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Friday, October 3, 2014 at 7:34 AM

Marty Lederman has a thoughtful response over at Just Security to my post from yesterday. I take his argument to be the following: First, that the Presidential Policy Guidance (PPG) does not purport to represent international law, but as policy it is actually better than international law; second, that any increase from the baseline of LOAC is a . . .
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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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Diane Webber on the ECHJ Opinion in Hassan

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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 7:58 AM

Diane Webber, a British lawyer who recently did a lengthy study of detention law in a variety of countries, writes in with the following account of the European Court of Human Rights decision earlier this month in Hassan v. United Kingdom (ECHR Application No. 29750/09, Judgment of Grand Chamber, September 16, 2014): In an important decision this . . .
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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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