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Category Archives: International Law

U.S. Policy on the South China Sea

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Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 5:00 PM

At the end of last week, Senators McCain and Reed of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senators Corker and Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter about the South and East China Sea to Secretaries Kerry and Carter. China’s recent and dramatic reclamation efforts in the South China Sea prompted the . . .
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After Bibi’s Reelection: Why a Pivot to the UNSC is Still a Mistake (Part 1: Settlements)

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Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 2:45 PM

As the White House continues to direct a cascade of criticism at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some commenters are beginning to ask whether the ongoing verbal offensive serves any strategic purpose. More are already theorizing about what precisely the President and his staff mean when they announce they are “reassessing” or “reevaluating” their policies . . .
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The Power of Citizenship Bias

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Monday, March 23, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Following up on my post from last week on the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of the UK Parliament, which inter alia recommended that British law for the first time introduce distinctions between citizens and non-citizens for the purpose of regulating electronic surveillance, I’d like to briefly comment on another relevant development. . . .
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NSC Spokesperson Says U.S. Has “No Intention” of Using U.N. Security Council to Legalize Non-Legal Agreement With Iran

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Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 9:29 PM

I was just about to post on this presser, where State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki refused to answer whether the United States would bless any nonbinding agreement with Iran in a UN Security Council Resolution, a possibility I analyzed this morning.  And then I read this BuzzFeed news story by Hayes Brown, which cites my post, and in . . .
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How a U.N. Security Council Resolution Transforms a Non-Binding Agreement with Iran Into a Binding Obligation Under International Law (Without Any New Senatorial or Congressional Vote)

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Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 8:37 AM

It is now clear that any deal with Iran will by its terms be a non-binding agreement.  That means the United States will have no international law obligation to comply with the agreement, considered in isolation, and that only diplomatic and political considerations – which might not be trivial – will stand in the way . . .
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Non-Legal Agreements: Easier to Make, Easier to Break

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 9:05 AM

If, as Marty and I just argued, the deal with Iran is a non-binding agreement under international law, then, as we stated, “there is little doubt about the President’s constitutional authority to make the deal on his own.”  I think Senator Cotton agrees.  I take that to be the import of his statement this morning . . .
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The Case for the President’s Unilateral Authority to Conclude the Impending Iran Deal is Easy Because it Will (Likely) be a Nonbinding Agreement Under International Law

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at 8:38 AM

[Cross-posted at Just Security.] In Marty’s post yesterday about the letter that 47 Senators sent to “the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he briefly addressed the question of “whether the President has the constitutional authority to complete the agreement in question without further congressional involvement.”  The answer to that legal question depends, he wrote, “largely on what . . .
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More on the Senate’s Role in the Impending Iran Deal

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 6:58 AM

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has responded here to the letter from the 47 Republican Senators, on which I commented yesterday.  Just as the Senators’ letter purported to school Iran on U.S. constitutional law of foreign relations, Zarif says that the Senators “not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the . . .
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The U.S. Intelligence Community and Non-Neutral Principles

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Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Last week, Ben’s NSA Constitution Day speech emerged after a long “declassification” process.  One puzzle Ben grapples with in this speech is why reasonable, educated Americans have–and will continue to have–such a high level of discomfort with what the NSA and other intelligence agencies do. The types of activities NSA is asked to do and the secrecy . . .
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Why We Shouldn’t Import Guantánamo: A Holistic Perspective

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 11:40 AM

It is with great reluctance that I wade into Gabor and Steve’s debate about how to close the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay. I’ve made no secret of my distaste for what I’ve described (okay, okay, flippantly described) as “the atmospheric punditry some have come to expect from this blog.” (Although, I must confess that, . . .
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Does the Palestinian Turn to the ICC Mandate a Cut-off in Economic Assistance?

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Monday, February 9, 2015 at 1:45 PM

The Palestinian turn to the International Criminal Court has Israel’s supporters fretting over potential prosecutions and international delegitimization. But as a recent letter from 75 senators to Secretary of State John Kerry illustrates, the most immediate repercussions will likely be felt by Palestinians themselves—in the form of an automatic cutoff in American economic assistance. The . . .
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Is Jordan Attacking ISIS on a New Legal Theory?

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Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 4:00 PM

In the past few days, in the wake of ISIS’s horrific burning of a Jordanian air force pilot, Jordan has adopted a highly combative tone toward the group.  It has matched this rhetoric with action: Its air force carried out dozens of strikes against ISIS targets on Thursday.  This is a significant increase from the number and pace . . .
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How Not to Close Guantanamo: Bring It Here

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Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 9:46 AM

Ben asks “What Would it Take to Close Guantanamo?” and he provides a thoughtful response weighted toward the political landscape. But there’s another not-so-merely-philosophical question that underlies his question: what does it mean to “close Guantanamo?” For purposes of rapprochement with Cuba it may have to mean U.S. out of Guantanamo altogether. That’s not going . . .
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The Legal Basis for the Mughniyah Killing

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Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 1:30 PM

The Washington Post and Newsweek report that the CIA in 2008 worked with Israel’s Mossad to kill Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah’s operations chief, in Damascus, Syria.  The Post says that Mughniyah “had been implicated in the killing of hundreds of Americans, stretching back to the embassy bombing in Beirut [in 1983] that killed 63 people, including . . .
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Neither War Nor Peace: Israel’s Northern Borders

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Friday, January 30, 2015 at 11:49 AM

For now, the recent eruption of violence along the Israeli-Lebanese border appears to be contained. With thousands of its fighters bogged down in Syrian battles, Hezbollah’s strategic context is radically different from 2006, when a carefully planned kidnapping of Israeli soldiers dragged Israel into a bloody war in southern Lebanon.  Most analysts seem convinced that . . .
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Throwback Thursday: Rewards and Bounties

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Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 9:17 PM

On January 5, Dominic Ongwen, senior commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, was captured by Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR). Subsequently, the rebels transferred Ongwen to the US military, who has maintained a small force in the region since 2011 to assist in the hunt for the LRA’s commanders. The question was what . . .
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Supreme Court to Decide Another Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act Case

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Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 2:56 PM

The Supreme Court granted certiorari on Friday in OBB Personenverkehr AG v. Sachs, a case involving the commercial activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).  Although the case was the subject of an en banc decision by the Ninth Circuit, the grant nonetheless comes as a bit of a surprise, both because the . . .
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How Many People Are We Really Deporting?

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 7:13 AM

Under the shadow of Mexico’s twin volcanoes in the tiny mountainous village of San Mateo Ozolco, Erasmo Aparicio stands outside his house, arms crossed, black hood pulled down over his hair. “Fucking Mexico, no fucking money,” he spits out in defiant English. Now a campesino by his own description making 100 pesos—or just under $7—a . . .
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The ICC Opening of a Palestine Preliminary Examination: A Non-Event

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Friday, January 16, 2015 at 11:42 AM

Today’s announcement by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court that she is opening a “preliminary examination” into alleged crimes on Palestinian territory since June 13, 2014 is really a non-event and should not be seen in any way as an indication of what the ICC may or may not do in the future.  It . . .
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China Releases a “Position Paper” in the Ongoing Philippines-China Arbitration

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Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 3:30 PM

As readers might recall, two years ago the Philippines launched an arbitration process against China under the auspices of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Although its exact claims remain shrouded from public scrutiny, Manila apparently asserted that—to simplify a bit—Beijing had violated the international law of the sea by claiming . . .
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