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Tag Archives: United Nations

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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The Aboutalebi Visa Denial: U.S. Law and Historical Precedents

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Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 4:11 PM

President Obama’s decision to deny a visa to Iran’s would-be Ambassador to the United Nations, Hamid Aboutalebi, is based on U.S. law dating back to 1947 and has numerous historical precedents.  Although the U.N. and other countries have occasionally criticized the U.S. for refusing to grant visas to individuals to come to the U.N., it . . .
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More on UN Detention Procedures for Military Operations

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Monday, November 25, 2013 at 1:28 PM

About a month ago, I asked what had happened to the UN’s effort to develop a set of standard operating procedures to govern detentions that arise during the course of UN operations.  It appears that such a document exists in draft but is not public and has never been finalized. Against that background, I noted . . .
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Killer Robots and the Laws of War in Monday’s Wall Street Journal

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Monday, November 4, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Today’s Wall Street Journal carries an op-ed piece by Matt and me on the regulation of autonomous weapon systems, “Killer Robots and the Laws of War: Autonomous Weapons Are Coming and Can Save Lives. Let’s Make Sure They’re Used Ethically and Legally.”  Although the topic has not been especially visible in the United States (at . . .
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How Does the UN Define “Direct Participation in Hostilities”?

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Monday, October 21, 2013 at 5:00 PM

One theme of Ben Emmerson’s interim report on remotely piloted aircraft and targeted killings is that governments must be more transparent with regard to any civilian deaths they cause.  It’s easy to find lots of other calls for greater transparency on related issues.  For instance, many have urged the United States to be more transparent . . .
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Does the U.N.’s Syria Resolution Violate the Chemical Weapons Convention?

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 3:00 PM

As inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons begin their inspections in Syria, they could find themselves on a collision course with the United Nations Security Council resolution that put them there in the first place. Created in 1997, the OPCW’s job is to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty that . . .
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Syria Weapons Inspections: Iraq Redux?

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Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Mark Twain supposedly said “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.”   President Obama and Secretary John Kerry must hate the rhyme, as their frustrating experience confronting Assad and Syria echoes more and more President Bush’s experience with Saddam and Iraq during the summer and fall of 2002. And now the agreement reportedly hammered out in Geneva . . .
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The Value of Kosovo as a Non-Legal Precedent

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Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Jack’s post makes the point that the Kosovo precedent won’t get the U.S. government very far if it is looking for a solid international legal precedent for intervention in Syria.  That seems absolutely right.  But it also seems worth asking: if Kosovo isn’t a good legal precedent for Syria, how good a precedent is it . . .
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UN Special Rapporteur Calls for Moratorium on Lethal Autonomous Robots

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Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 6:04 PM

Christof Heyns, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings and other bad stuff has issued a statement reiterating his call for a “moratorium” on the use of lethal autonomous robots. It reads: GENEVA (30 May 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, today called for a global . . .
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Ben Emmerson on President Obama’s Speech

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Friday, May 24, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism—who Ben and I interviewed for a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast—issued the following statement on President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University: Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights welcomed the President’s speech, and the publication of policy principles governing counter-terrorism . . .
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Melissa Hathaway on Cybersecurity and the G20

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Friday, May 17, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Melissa Hathaway has a new essay that argues for putting cybersecurity and related issues on the G20 agenda: To counteract these [cybersecurity] risks, some governments and businesses are turning to international venues, seeking mechanisms to drive a path toward international cooperation and increased government intervention to “assert control,” all as part of an effort to . . .
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Arming Syrian Rebels: Lethal Assistance and International Law

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

On the Sunday talk shows, various members of Congress exhorted the United States to increase its assistance to the Syrian rebels, whether by providing them with additional (lethal) equipment, or by establishing a no-fly zone, or by entering Syria to secure its chemical weapons caches.  Last night the Post reported that the Executive Branch is seriously . . .
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The Frenemy Press on Ben Emmerson’s Statement

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Friday, March 22, 2013 at 10:07 AM

As Ben and Gregory McNeal posted earlier, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counterterrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, issued this statement on March 14 after a three-day visit to Pakistan, in which he concluded that U.S. drone strikes are, in the Pakistani government’s eyes, “a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” and that . . .
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In Defense of the Administration on Targeted Killing of Americans

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM

In writing my testimony for today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on drones and targeted killing of U.S. citizens overseas, I found myself writing a more complete explication of the essential legal rationale underlying the administration’s position on the subject than I have, to date, set down in one place. Some of it was drawn from . . .
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Hoover Task Force Short Essays #5, #6, and #7

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Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 7:37 AM

I’ve fallen behind in linking to the short essays being published by the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law. The latest come from Tod Lindberg, Amy Zegart, and Philip Bobbitt. Lindberg’s essay, entitled “Libya, Syria, and the Responsibility to Protect” opens as follows: At the 2005 United Nations World Summit, member states . . .
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Drone Strikes, the UN Special Rapporteur Investigation, and the Duty to Investigate

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Friday, January 25, 2013 at 11:14 AM

[Update – I’ve clarified some points below, at the bottom, in response to reader feedback] Ben Emmerson QC is a British human rights law specialist who currently serves as the UN Human Rights Council’s “Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights” (this poisition is one of several dozen thematic or country-specific investigative entities set up by . . .
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Senator Kerry’s Incoherent Testimony on War Powers

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Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 7:21 PM

In transition from long-time legislator to senior Executive branch official, and asked to reconcile positions that are impossible to reconcile, Senator Kerry in his confirmation testimony took a nuanced and not always coherent position today on the relationship between presidential war authority, congressional authorization, and U.N. authorization.  In the exchange below with Senator Paul, Senator . . .
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UN Assistance Mission Report on Torture in Afghan Detention Centers

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Over the weekend, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (“UNAMA”) released its report on the treatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghan prisons. Needless to say, it’s not terribly uplifting. From the executive summary (internal footnotes have been excised): Further to its mandate from the United Nations Security Council to assist the Government of Afghanistan . . .
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Great Lawfare Moments in Presidential Inaugurations

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Monday, January 21, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Despite the unsurprising focus on domestic policy in President Obama’s second inaugural address today, his speech was not entirely devoid of national security issues. “We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law,” the President said. While former President George W. Bush declared that the “best hope . . .
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The Obama Administration and Treaties

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 9:22 AM

I have an op-ed in today’s New York Times entitled “Obama’s Weakness on Treaties” arguing that the Obama Administration needs to work harder to get Senate approval of treaties in its second term.   Here are a few excerpts:   ON Dec. 4, the Senate rejected the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities . . .
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