NewYorkUniversity
LawReview

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Margo Kaplan

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Using Collective Interests to Ensure Human Rights: An Analysis of the Articles on State Responsibility

Margo Kaplan

This Note provides a critical analysis of the United Nations International Law Commission’s treatment of the legal interest in the Draft Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts (Articles). It focuses on two decisions that the International Law Commission (ILC) made during the drafting process: 1) the decision to use a narrow definition of “injured state,” excluding states that suffer a breach of an obligation owed to them solely as members of the international community; and 2) the decision to replace a provision recognizing and regulating the practice of collective countermeasures with a savings clause that provides no guidance for the use of collective countermeasures, leaving the legality of such actions uncertain.

This Note argues that, although the ILC was correct to weigh the risks of allowing states broad discretion to act in the name of collective interests, the development of the law of state responsibility would have been better served had the ILC taken a more progressive approach to recognizing the interests of the international community in enforcing state responsibility. First, the ILC should have more broadly defined “injured state” to include states that suffer a breach of an obligation owed to them solely as members of the international community, but should also have limited the types of actions such states would be permitted to take in response to a breach. Second, the ILC should have adopted Special Rapporteur James Crawford’s proposal that the Articles specifically allow and regulate the practice of collective countermeasures in response to a gross and well-attested breach of certain fundamental obligations. This approach strikes a better balance between the potential value of collective countermeasures as a tool to help those without direct access to the international legal system and the risk that collective countermeasures will be abused by powerful states seeking to further their own interests.

Sex-Positive Law

Margo Kaplan

Sexual pleasure is a valuable source of happiness and personal fulfillment. Yet several areas of law assume just the opposite—that sexual pleasure in itself has negligible value, and we sacrifice nothing of importance when our laws circumscribe it. Many laws even rely on the assumption that sexual pleasure merits constraint because it is inherently negative. These assumptions are so entrenched in our law that they remain largely unquestioned by courts, legislatures, and legal scholarship.

This Article exposes and challenges the law’s unspoken assumption that sexual pleasure has negligible or negative value and examines how rejecting this assumption requires us to reconceptualize several areas of law. Until now, legal scholarship has lacked a robust analysis of how deeply this assumption runs through various areas of law and how fundamentally the law must change if we reject it. This Article fills that gap and provides a framework for “sex-positive” law that appropriately recognizes the intrinsic value of sexual pleasure. Such an approach transforms the debate surrounding several areas of law and requires lawmakers and legal scholars to undertake a more honest assessment of what we choose to regulate, what we fail to regulate, and our justifications for those choices.