International Law


Neither Constitution nor Contract: Understanding the WTO by Examining the Legal Limits on Contracting Out Through Regional Trade Agreements

Joanna Langille

This Note seeks to describe the legal system of the World Trade Organization
(WTO) by analyzing the extent to which countries that are members of the WTO
can contract out of WTO obligations. The current literature on the WTO provides
two primary models through which we can understand the WTO’s legal regime: a
constitutional model and a contractual model. The constitutional model sees the
WTO as a legal system that cannot be easily varied by individual WTO members
because WTO commitments are made to all members. Alternatively, the contractual
model describes WTO obligations as easily variable by subsets of members, since
WTO commitments are made only on a bilateral (country-to-country) basis. This
Note addresses that debate by looking at the ability of WTO members to contract
out of WTO obligations through bilateral and regional trade agreements, whereby
two or more members define the trade rules governing their relationship outside of
the WTO legal regime. WTO law governing regional trade agreements reveals that,
on the one hand, member states cannot contract out of all WTO obligations; certain
core obligations cannot be varied. However, there remains significant scope for
contracting out through regional trade agreements on most subjects. Therefore,
both the constitutional and contractual models are insufficient and do not accurately
describe the nature of WTO obligations.

Catalyzing National Judicial Capacity: The ICC’s First Crimes Against Humanity Outside Armed Conflict

Carey Shenkman

This Note joins two previously parallel tracks of scholarship regarding the International Criminal Court (ICC). The first track studies the ICC’s authority to prosecute certain crimes that do not have links to armed conflict. This power means that the ICC could have jurisdiction over repression of mass civil uprisings of the type occurring in the Arab Spring. The second branch of scholarship concerns “complementarity,” or the principle of ICC deference to national prosecutions, and how that practice pressures reform in national judiciaries. This Note argues, at their intersection, that the prosecution of cases outside armed conflict by the ICC further encourages national judicial reform by mobilizing civil society groups. I call this “capacity catalyzing.” Because states wish to retain control over national prosecutions that may infringe upon their sovereignty, especially in the prosecution of cases outside armed conflict, these cases create an incentive for states to avert ICC prosecution by trying the cases themselves. I demonstrate this through two recent ICC cases that occurred outside armed conflict. In Kenya in 2007, pro-government forces and criminal organizations perpetrated killings against civilians during post-election violence. In Libya in 2011, anti-government protests snowballed over two weeks before civil war began. The ICC only focused on these crimes in its initial warrant. When crimes against humanity were allegedly committed, armed conflict did not exist in either country. The ICC’s involvement in these cases has encouraged national judicial reform.

Sinking Islands? Formulating a Realistic Solution to Climate Change Displacement

Sheila C. McAnaney

Forced migration from climate change has been a hot topic in academia and the media for almost two decades, partly because it puts a human face on the otherwise science heavy issue of climate change. Academics have put forward a number of international solutions for resettling displaced persons and financially supporting them and their host countries. However, these proposals often fail to account for the nature and scope of likely migration and the political realities of the international community. This Note adds to the literature by developing a framework for assessing the responsiveness and viability of any proposed solution to gaps in protection for climate displaced persons. It develops five principles based on a realistic examination of the nature and scope of climate displacement and the political realities of the climate regime, and it then evaluates leading academic proposals against those principles to discover which elements are the most efficient and realistic. Finally, this Note concludes by suggesting one possible nontreaty proposal that meets all five principles and fills existing gaps in protection.

The Forgotten History of Foreign Official Immunity

Chimène I. Keitner

The immunity of foreign officials from legal proceedings in U.S. courts has drawn significant attention from scholars, advocates, and judges in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Samantar v. Yousuf, which held that foreign official immunity is governed by the common law rather than the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). The common law of foreign official immunity, which the Samantar Court did not define, operates at the intersection of international and domestic law, and it implicates the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches. Conflicting visions of the substance and process of common law immunity have already emerged following the Samantar opinion and will continue to compete until the Supreme Court revisits this issue in a future case. At stake is not only the ability of suits to proceed against foreign officials, but also the relationship between the executive branch and the judiciary in matters affecting foreign affairs.

The original research into eighteenth-century practices presented in this Article yields two important observations. First, claims that defendants acted in their official capacities did not automatically bar adjudication on the merits: Foreign officials who were neither diplomatic officials nor heads of state were on the same “footing” as “every other foreigner” with respect to their “suability.” Second, the Executive believed that it did not have constitutional authority to instruct courts to dismiss private suits on immunity grounds. Although twenty-first century advocates might make policy arguments for blanket immunity or absolute executive discretion, such choices are not consistent with—let alone compelled by—the eighteenth-century practices and understandings recovered here.

U.S. Agency Independence and the Global Democracy Deficit

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.

Targeted Warfare: Individuating Enemy Responsibility

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.

The Domestic Implementation of International Regulations

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.

Counterterrorism and New Deterrence

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.

Pussy Riot and the First Amendment: Consequences for the Rule of Law in Russia

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.

Behavioral War Powers

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.