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Privatizing the Provision of Water: The Human Right to Water in Investment-Treaty Arbitration

Ashley Otilia Nemeth

Despite its critical importance, the fulfillment of the human right to water is far from the reality for many today. One in three people do not have access to safe drinking water and more than half of the world’s population does not have access to safe sanitation. Achieving the international community’s commitment of universal access to safe water and sanitation by 2030 would cost states approximately$150 billion per year. Meeting those funding needs inevitably entails private, and often foreign, investment. When investments do not go as planned, foreign investors may turn to international arbitration for relief. While intended to protect investments, this legal regime has allowed investors to challenge regulatory measures that further human rights and to wield undue power over states. This Note analyzes investment-treaty disputes involving drinking water to understand how states have invoked, and tribunals have considered, the human right to water. The cases show an important evolution on the part of tribunals. Nevertheless, almost all of the tribunals fall short of integrating the human right to water in their analysis of substantive treaty claims. Interestingly, the cases also reveal that, despite invoking human rights defenses, states engage in actions that are difficult to justify as furthering the right to water. In turn, this Note argues that the “fair and equitable treatment” standard can and should include relevant human rights law as part of “investors’ legitimate expectations.” Such an integration creates opportunities for accountability on both sides of the ledger: Investors are expected to engage in human rights legal due diligence, and states are taken to task when they invoke human rights in a perfunctory fashion. The fair and equitable treatment standard presents an opportunity to expand fairness and equity in international arbitration not only for the disputing parties, but also for the people who stand to lose from their actions.

The Limits of Dual Sovereignty

Eleuthera Overton Sa

The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment provides that no person shall “be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” Yet the dual sovereignty doctrine, a longstanding rule of judicial interpretation, reads the Double Jeopardy Clause as applying only to prosecutions by a single sovereign. Successive prosecutions by separate sovereigns, including the United States and foreign nations, do not implicate double jeopardy. The Double Jeopardy Clause protects the individual from government overreach, but the dual sovereignty doctrine flips the script: It protects the interests of the sovereign at the expense of the individual. After many decades of criticism, the Supreme Court reconsidered and then reaffirmed the doctrine in Gamble v. United States. The current blanket rule solves one problem—the fear that sovereign interests will be thwarted by other sovereigns—but creates another: an incentive for two sovereigns to join up to evade constitutional requirements. In the shadow of the dual sovereignty rule, lower courts have articulated an exception where one sovereign manipulates another or uses it as a “sham” or a “cover” for its own aims. Without further guidance from the Supreme Court, however, courts are reluctant to find the exception to apply.

This Note offers a new approach to inter-sovereign successive prosecutions that would reconcile these two doctrinal threads and provide greater protection to defendants at the mercy of multiple sovereigns: application of the strict scrutiny standard. Courts should embrace the complexity of inter-sovereign prosecutions, which can range from situations of obstruction, where successive prosecution may be necessary, to manipulation, where it should be prohibited. Genuine protection of the right against double jeopardy demands strict scrutiny.

Farmland Deregulation and Third-Stage Land Reform in Taiwan

Jessica Li

After decades in which agricultural land could only be owned by farmers, Taiwan’s
2000 amendments to the Agricultural Development Act opened up the farmland
market to non-farmers. This decision, along with Taiwan’s accession to the World
Trade Organization and the increasing globalization of trade, has had effects on an
agricultural landscape that has traditionally consisted largely of smallholder
farmers. This Note explores the 2000 amendments within both the historical context
of first- and second-stage land reform in Taiwan and the current context of third-
stage land reform and trade liberalization. The effects are far-reaching—the most
expensive farmland in the world, escalating non-agricultural use, fields left idle.
This Note raises questions about the role of agriculture in developed societies and
discusses the nuanced nature of farmland market deregulation.

Who Should Pay for COVID-19? The Inescapable Normativity of International Law

Sebastián Guidi, Nahuel Maisley

Who should bear the costs of the COVID-19 pandemic? While multilateral institutions are beginning to consider how to distribute them, former U.S. President Trump and others have suggested suing China for damages. This “lawsuit approach” draws on a deep-seated conception of international law: States have a sovereign “right to be left alone”; the only limit to this right is a correlative duty to avoid harming others. Those harmed can, then, sue for damages. In this view, who should pay for the costs of the pandemic (and how much) is not a normative question about justice, but rather one about factual causes and actuarial calculations.

In this Article, we explore this lawsuit approach—not for its legal viability, but for its conceptual implications. We exhaustively and critically assess the doctrinal discussion on China’s international liability for the pandemic while also pointing at deep theoretical implications that this novel crisis has for international law more broadly.

Specifically, we make three novel claims. The first is that the arguments made using the lawsuit approach (based on the International Health Regulations and the no-harm principle), when meticulously analyzed under existing international norms, run into unexpected obstacles. On top of the jurisdictional and evidentiary hurdles noted by many, we argue that the lawsuit approach faces difficulties stemming from the lack of deep normative agreement in international law on how to deal with unprecedented challenges such as COVID-19.

Our second claim draws on the first. Given the need to fill these normative voids, the lawsuit approach leads back to the global conversation about the allocation of losses that it carefully tries to avoid. This normative dependence cannot be spared by analogy with domestic law. Domestic law builds upon thick cultural understandings that fill empty legal concepts (such as “harm” or “causation”), making them readily operative. International law, however, lacks an equivalent thick culture to fill these voids and therefore requires complex reconstructions of what states owe to one another.

Our third claim further extends the foregoing reasoning. The lawsuit approach relies on international law as a means to achieve corrective justice while denying its implications for distributive justice. We argue that this is conceptually impossible. Allocating responsibility for the pandemic implicates inherently distributive concepts: To decide, an adjudicator would need to rely on a pretorian rule detailing how much effort and expense countries should dedicate to avoiding harm to other countries. That rule is conceptually distributive, independent of its content. The misfortunes derived from the pandemic are not conceptually different from the mis- fortunes of poverty, financial breakdowns, or climate change. Those going down the road of the lawsuit approach might be unpleasantly surprised by where that road leads them.

Autonomous Weapons Systems Under International Law

Erica H. Ma

Autonomous weapons systems (AWS) have been described as the “third revolution of warfare,” after gunpowder and nuclear weapons. Currently in development, these weapons systems are powered by advanced algorithms that can make decisions to target and use lethal force against enemy soldiers on their own, without human intervention. Countries around the world are eager to be the first to develop and capture the advantages of AWS, while scholars and activists have sounded the alarm on the legal and ethical issues of delegating the decision to kill an enemy soldier to algorithms. Described as the dehumanization of war, the unique nature of AWS highlights an unresolved international law issue of whether and how international humanitarian law and human rights law can operate concurrently in armed conflict. Specifically, AWS raise the question of whether international humanitarian law, specialized law that governs the armed conflicts in which AWS would be deployed, would be the sole body of international law that regulates AWS, or whether human rights law would also govern the use of AWS in armed conflict. This Note argues that: 1) Human rights law applies to the use of AWS and prevails over international humanitarian law where the two bodies of law conflict, and 2) AWS’ use of lethal force violates human rights law’s prohibition against arbitrary deprivations of life.

Exporting Islamophobia in the Global “War On Terror”

Khaled A. Beydoun

The War on Terror is far more than a domestic project aimed to deter terrorism and shore up national security. The War’s policy, strategy, and accompanying epistemology, since its very inception, created opportunities for other nation states to initiate—or expand existing—domestic programs that conflated Muslim identity with terror suspicion. In turn, adopting the fundamental presumption of the War on Terror that drove American Islamophobia, feeds state-sponsored Islamophobia in states where the War on Terror was formally adopted.

This Article theorizes how Islamophobia is exported by way of the American-spearheaded War on Terror, and how it fed and still facilitates the structural Islamophobic policies in China and India—where the host governments are unleashing two of the most ominous systems of Islamophobia in the world. While led by the United States, the War on Terror gradually became a global crusade, whereby states across the world found an opportune moment to persecute and punish their own Muslim populations to achieve their ends.

 

The Past, Present, and Future of United States-China Mutual Legal Assistance

Loren M. Scolaro

The Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAA) between the United States and China, effective since the late 1990s, reflects the development of cooperative law enforcement between the two countries. Study of transnational law enforcement between the United States and China and use of the MLAA has been limited because of the few notable cases and a lack of transparency. This Note will attempt to fill some of the gaps in the academic literature. 

The MLAA, which is unique among mutual legal assistance mechanisms the United States has with other states, arose out of a rocky history of trying to meld two countries’ values and interests. In practice, both prosecution and defense attorneys have noted the MLAA’s limitations. Its provisions lack the accountability of other international agreements, and both the United States and China have taken steps towards unilateral investigation and prosecution of transnational crimes where American and Chinese interests diverge. While both countries have paid lip service to continuing the MLAA, there is no external enforcement, oversight, or incentive to increase cooperation. If the MLAA remains in its current form indefinitely, it is not likely to facilitate a stronger joint law enforcement relationship. Formalizing the MLAA as a treaty could demonstrate a deeper commitment to cooperation, but the current state of relations between the United States and China makes this step politically unfeasible. 

Foreign Affairs Prosecutions

Steven Arrigg Koh

Contemporary global crime and cross-border law enforcement cooperation have multiplied “foreign affairs prosecutions,” cases that encompass foreign apprehension, evidence gathering, and criminal conduct, as well as cases that implicate foreign nations’ criminal justice interests. Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, the fugitive Edward Snowden, and the cross-border crimes of FIFA and El Chapo all exemplify such foreign affairs prosecutions. This Article argues that foreign affairs prosecutions represent a consequential shift in U.S. criminal law, offering the promise of closing global impunity gaps. At the same time, however, such cases risk defendant interests at home and U.S. foreign policy abroad. This Article calls for greater congressional engagement and judicial oversight to minimize such risks while still promoting accountability for cross-border, cyber, and international crime.

International Law and the Use of Force Against Contested States: The Case of Taiwan

Mikaela L. Ediger

Since the victory of Mao Zedong’s Communist forces in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has laid claim to Taiwan. In 2005, the PRC adopted a law stating that China can use force against Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China, if it undertakes to form an independent state. This law is an expression of the One-China policy: the idea that mainland China and Taiwan are part of the same country. However, present-day Taiwan is increasingly described as a de facto state with its own people, territory, government, and capacity for international relations. This Note asks whether international law on the use of force protects Taiwan from attack by China, given that Taiwan has many characteristics of a state but has not been formally recognized as such. Part I of the Note summarizes the debate over Taiwan’s statehood. Part II lays out the argument that non-state entities have no protection under international law on the use of force. This argument relies on a Westphalian conception of the international system, positing that states are the only subjects of international law. The Note then poses three “post-Westphalian” challenges to that argument: first, that “peoples” in pursuit of self-determination have legal protection from attack by states; second, that the United Nations Charter has been interpreted to forbid changing non-state entities’ legal status by force; and third, that states have an obligation under Article 33 to resolve their disputes without threatening international peace and security. Part III applies this legal framework to Taiwan. It finds that though the two sides of the debate are incommensurable because they are based on different understandings of international law, Taiwan’s geopolitical situation shows that arguments based on the Westphalian conception of statehood create absurd results. The post-Westphalian view that allows Taiwan limited rights under international law on the use of force better comprehends the geopolitical reality of contested states.

Towards Permanently Delegitimizing Article 98 Agreements: Exercising the Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over American Citizens

Antoinette Pick-Jones

This Note discusses one method to permanently delegitimize Article 98 agreements: exercising International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction over Americans to prosecute them for alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan (“the Situation in Afghanistan”). Since their inception, Article 98 agreements have threatened the ICC’s mission by limiting states parties’ ability to assist the ICC in exercising jurisdiction over Americans. This Note considers potential proceedings against an American in the Situation in Afghanistan as a case study to demonstrate how, in practice, Article 98 agreements undermine the ICC’s anti-impunity mission. First, this Note describes the principles and procedures followed by the ICC. Second, this Note discusses the United States’ legal justifications for Article 98 agreements and responds to these justifications with the most prevalent critiques of Article 98 agreements. Although the legal bases for the agreements under Article 98(2) of the Rome Statute are controversial, this Note assumes that the agreements are legally valid as originally intended by the parties. However, this Note also assumes that Article 98 agreements are never binding on the ICC and thus cannot prevent the ICC from exercising its territorial jurisdiction. Finally, this Note explores the allegations against Americans in the Situation in Afghanistan and considers how Article 98 agreements are likely to hamper the ICC’s proceedings. This Note concludes that the Situation in Afghanistan is an opportunity to demonstrate the need to permanently delegitimize Article 98 agreements, and that it can serve as a catalyst for change, even if Americans are not prosecuted.

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