International Law

Curtis A. Bradley & Jean Galbraith

There is a rich literature on the circumstances under which the United Nations Charter or specific Security Council resolutions authorize nations to use force abroad, and there is a rich literature on the circumstances under which the U.S. Constitution and statutory law allow the President to use force abroad. These are largely separate areas of scholarship, addressing what are generally perceived to be distinct legal issues. This Article, by contrast, considers these two bodies of law together as they relate to the United States. In doing so, it makes three main contributions. First, it demonstrates striking parallels between the structure of the international and domestic legal regimes governing the use of force, and it explains how this structure tends to incentivize unilateral action. Second, it theorizes that these two bodies of law are interconnected in previously overlooked ways, such that how the executive branch interprets law in one context can be and often is informed by the other legal context. Third, it documents these interactions over time for several important components of the law on the use of force and shows that this dynamic has played a significant role in justifying the practice-based expansion of unilateral war powers. The Article concludes by arguing that both scholars and policymakers seeking to shape the law on the use of force need to take better account of this interactive dynamic.

Andrew Lyubarsky

The Obama Administration has acted decisively to cure a long-standing wound the United States has inherited from the Cold War by seeking to normalize relations with Cuba. However, prospects for full normalization are currently impeded by over four billion dollars in judgments levied against Cuba by politically motivated state courts in Florida under the state sponsor of terrorism (SST) exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. These judgments create a serious obstacle and impede Cuba and its companies from transferring any assets into the United States. Because these judgments purport to punish Cuba for acts occurring during and immediately after the Cuban Revolution and Cuba was only placed on the SST list in 1982 for supporting insurgent movements elsewhere in Latin America, the courts manifestly exceeded their subject matter jurisdiction in issuing them. Nevertheless, several federal courts have afforded them full faith and credit and begun to enforce them against Cuba’s existing assets in the United States.

This Note therefore argues that the President can and should exercise his power to espouse and settle international claims to resolve these judgments pursuant to a sole executive agreement, whether or not he is able to secure congressional acquiescence for his actions. In doing so, the President can lean on a long record of historical practice affirmed repeatedly by the Supreme Court and buttressed by recent settlements of terrorism claims with Iraq and Libya. Finally, the U.S. government should be able to avoid a takings claim by SST judgment holders after the judgments’ resolution by funneling their claims into the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission and providing for some fractional compensation.

Ganesh Sitaraman & David Zionts

A decade of war has meant a decade of writing on war powers. From the authority to start a war, to restrictions on fighting wars, to the authority to end a war, constitutional lawyers and scholars have explored the classic issues (war initiation, prosecution, and termination) through the classic prisms (text, history, and function) for a new generation of national security challenges. Despite the volume of writing on war powers and the urgency of the debates in the context of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, war powers debates are widely seen as stagnant. We introduce a new set of perspectives into the war powers literature. Over the last four decades, behavioral psychologists have identified persistent biases in individual and group decisionmaking. The behavioral revolution has had a significant impact on legal scholarship—primarily in law and economics—and has also influenced scholars in international relations, who increasingly write about psychological biases and other decisionmaking challenges. These insights, however, have yet to be applied in the war powers context. This Article brings the behavioral literature into the conversation on war powers, showing how lessons from behavioral psychology are relevant to decisions on war and peace. It outlines a variety of psychological biases that bear on decisions about war and peace, applies these lessons to a variety of war powers debates, and discusses broader institutional design strategies for debiasing decisionmaking. The lessons of psychology provide new functional perspectives on classic war powers debates: the authority of Congress versus the President to initiate wars, the scope of presidential authority to use force, the ability of Congress to restrict the conduct of war, the War Powers Resolution and the termination of wars, and the role of the United Nations. Some of the decisionmaking biases point in conflicting directions, so there are no simple answers or tidy solutions. But understanding where important decisions risk going wrong is the first step in figuring out how to make them go right.

Samuel J. Rascoff

It has been widely assumed that deterrence has little or no role to play in counterterrorism on the grounds that the threat of punishment is powerless to dissuade ideologically inspired terrorists. But an emerging literature in strategic studies argues, and aspects of contemporary American national security practice confirm, that this account misunderstands the capacity of deterrence to address current threats. In fact, a great deal of American counterterrorisma cluster of refinements to traditional deterrence theory that speaks to a world of asymmetric threats. Yet the emergence of new deterrence has been largely lost on lawyers, judges, and legal academics, resulting in significant gaps between the practice of national security in this area and the legal architecture ostensibly designed to undergird and oversee it. In particular, the legal framework of counterterrorismprecisely the two fields thought to converge in counterterrorism. In this Article, I debut in legal scholarship a sustained analysis of new deterrence and highlight its consequences for national security law, thus ushering in a serious reckoning for jurists with counterterrorism deterrence.

Dusty Koenig
On February 21, 2012, members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot stormed the historic Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow and performed a “punk prayer” to protest the policies of Vladimir Putin’s government. The band members’ subsequent arrests and prosecutions set off a global firestorm of criticism. While some critics focused on the disproportionate sentences handed down by the court following the band’s convictions, or the meaning of justice meted out by an unjust regime, the mainstream reaction was by and large one of disbelief at such an apparently egregious crackdown on free speech. This Note argues that such criticism largely missed the mark by casting the Pussy Riot affair in terms of free speech, despite the likelihood that the punk rockers would have faced a similar fate even under American free speech law—a tradition of protected speech more robust than any other. Instead, criticism of the injustice perpetrated by the prosecutions is better aimed at the inadequate procedural protections of a Russian judiciary in desperate need of reform. As Russians are already aware of the deficiencies in their judicial system, they would likely be much more amenable to international criticism that acknowledges that the Pussy Riot prosecutions did not trample on free speech rights but were nonetheless unjust due to the lack of procedural safeguards accorded to the band members. Such an approach, by more accurately criticizing the real issues Russia’s fledgling democracy faces, promises to further Russia’s development by keeping lines of communication open between the Russian electorate and the West.
Paul E. Hubble

Critics have accused transnational regulatory networks (TRNs) such as the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision of being undemocratic, but they rarely step back and ask if democracy is the right criterion for evaluating regulatory networks. Such critics often point to the seemingly robust checks of domestic administrative law and argue that similar mechanisms should constrain TRNs. However, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, a significant banking regulator in the United States, is not democratic. Using the Federal Reserve Board as a case study, this Note challenges critics’ claims that there is such a wide gulf between domestic and global procedures.

Samuel Issacharoff & Richard H. Pildes

Legitimacy of the use of military force is undergoing a fundamental but insufficiently appreciated moral and legal transformation. Whereas the traditional practices and laws of war defined enemy forces in terms of categorical, group-based judgments that turned on status—a person was an enemy not because of any specific actions he himself engaged in but because he was a member of an opposing military force—we are now moving to a world that, implicitly or explicitly, requires the individuation of enemy responsibility of enemy persons in order to justify the use of military force. Increasingly, the legitimate use of military force is tied to quasi-adjudicative judgments about the individual acts and roles of specific enemy figures; this is the case whether the use of force involved is military detention or targeted killing. This transformation transcends conventional debates about whether terrorist actions should be treated as acts of war or crime and is more profound in its implications. 

This readjustment in the basic premises underlying the justified use of military force will have, and is already having, implications for all the institutions involved in the use of military force and in the processes by which decisions are made to use force. For the military, this change will generate pressures to create internal, quasi-adjudicative processes to ensure accurate, credible judgments about the individual responsibility of particular enemy fighters. For the executive, these changes will propel greater engagement in decisions that had previously been exclusively within the province of the military. For the courts, this transformation toward individuated judgments of responsibility will inevitably bring about a greater judicial role in assessing wartime judgments than in the past; this expansion has begun to occur already. These changes are not yet directly reflected (or at least fully reflected) in the formal laws of war, but we anticipate that as these changes embed themselves in the practices of states, especially dominant states, these changes in practice will also eventually be embodied in the legal frameworks that regulate the use of force. This Article will identify this fundamental transformation as the central factor driving struggles over the proper boundaries of military force and then explore the ramifications of this change for issues like military detention and targeted killings.

Maximillian L. Feldman

In response to the challenges of globalization, U.S. agencies at times reach agreements on regulations with their foreign counterparts and then subsequently implement those regulations domestically. Some have suggested that this model of rulemaking gives agencies determinative incentives to implement the international regulation as negotiated—and thus to ignore public comments in the domestic rulemaking process. In this Note, I use the Basel Accords as case studies to show that agencies do not necessarily implement international agreements as a fait accompli. Nevertheless, I argue that international agreements may illegitimately influence the domestic rulemaking process and that courts must therefore be more vigilant in reviewing these types of regulations.

Benjamin C. Fishman

Recent settlements in the United States and France of human rights litigations against oil companies Unocal and Total have made it clear that litigation is a viable tool for holding companies to account for their involvement in human rights abuses abroad. This Note argues, however, that the Unocal and Total settlements inadequately reflect the public importance of the cases, which sought to force Unocalnamely, the prospective intervention in ongoing situations of injustice and the articulation of public norms. Instead, by channeling much of the settlement funds into community development projects unrelated to the human rights abuses, and by failing to demand any fundamental changes in the defendant companies' conduct, the settlements replicate a pernicious element of contemporary "corporate social responsibility" efforts: the characterization of good corporate behavior as a matter of charity rather than as a matter of right.

This Note argues that future settlements of human rights cases against corporations can—perhaps more effectively than fully litigated cases—better reflect the promise of public law litigation by setting up legally binding systems to monitor corporate conduct. Such systems could effectively prevent the type of human rights-threatening behavior transnational corporations are most likely to commit. Furthermore, such monitoring systems would be norm-producing, insofar as they would continually elucidate how corporations threaten human rights, and would generate an evolving repertoire of ways to address such threats. In so doing, monitoring systems could serve as bases for NGOs' international human rights campaigns and as models for replication outside of the litigation context, thus further disseminating norms of appropriate corporate conduct.

Amy Powell

To date, no international criminal tribunal has seriously considered using a jury trial. In the International Criminal Court (ICC), for example, a panel of judges appointed by the Assembly of States Parties acts as the fact finder. In this Note, Amy Powell examines the theoretical justifications for a jury in the context of international criminal adjudication. She concludes that the use of a jury--or, at a minimum, the integration of the important values underpinning the institution of the jury--would greatly benefit the ICC by protecting important principles of justice.

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