In accordance with a time-honored tradition, foreign sovereigns are generally immune from being summoned to court in another country. This doctrine of “sovereign immunity” was codified and modified in the Federal Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (“FSIA”). The FSIA divests United States courts of jurisdiction over defendants that are foreign states, subject to a number of general exceptions designed to provide a level of recourse for an aggrieved party against a foreign government. The FSIA codifies the long-standing attitude against suing foreign governments in the United States and “places in the federal courts the task of determining whether the general immunity provided by the Act attaches” in a given scenario, “weighing ‘the interests of justice’ and ‘the rights of both foreign states and litigants in United States courts.’” As such, the Act is designed to protect “both the rights of domestic litigants and foreign states.” However, the framers of the statute were, and those currently adjudicating disputes arising under the statute are, wary that “err[ing] in the former direction could implicate foreign policy concerns, while being overly solicitous of the status of foreign states could make it impossible for aggrieved parties to be made whole.” This virtual tug-of-war between these two interests was at the forefront of a case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 2013, Sachs v. Republic of Austria, a battle that ultimately reached the Supreme Court.
While the use of chemical weapons during the Syrian Civil War has once again brought chemical weapons use to the forefront of public discourse, the prohibition of chemical weapons use goes as far back as 1685, when French and German armies agreed “that no side should use poisoned bullets.” At the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907, Germany, France, England, the United States, and other nations formally agreed to regulate chemical weapons use by banning the use of poison gas. Unfortunately, these agreements were not respected during World War I, and the use of chemical weapons caused 1.3 million casualties. Since then, there have been several other notable uses of chemical weapons—Japan used poison gas against the Chinese in the 1930s, Mussolini used them in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) during World War II, the Egyptian Air Force used them in Yemen in 1967, and the United States used Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Perhaps the most horrific use of chemical weapons occurred in 1988 when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein used mustard gas and nerve gas on a Kurdish town in northern Iraq, “killing 5,000 people almost immediately.”
The macroeconomic policies of states can produce significant costs and benefits for other states, yet international macroeconomic cooperation has been one of the weakest areas of international law. We ask why states have had such trouble cooperating over macroeconomic issues when they have been relatively successful at cooperation over other economic matters such as international trade. We argue that although the theoretical benefits of macroeconomic cooperation are real, in practice it is difficult to sustain because optimal cooperative policies are often uncertain and time variant, making it exceedingly difficult to craft clear rules for cooperation in many areas. It also is often difficult or impossible to design credible self-enforcement mechanisms. Recent cooperation on bank capital standards, the history of exchange rate cooperation, the European monetary union, and the prospects for broader monetary and fiscal cooperation all are discussed. Finally, we contrast the reasons for successful cooperation on international trade policy.
Envision living with the constant fear of being tortured or killed for no other reason than having a different political opinion than those in power. While that may be difficult to imagine for those who live in the United States, unfortunately, many around the world must live with that fear or flee from their homes. That fear has mobilized an estimated 11,000 to 15,000 refugees to flee from Syria. The mass exodus followed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s siege of the western city of Homs, which is “the heart of an 11-month uprising against his rule.” In those early months of violence, only around 7000 Syrian refugees had registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”). However, given the persistent violence and the recent allegations that President al-Assad has used chemical weapons on or near civilian populations, it is unsurprising that current UNHCR projections estimate that there are over two million Syrian refugees. And according to the UNHCR, if current trends persist, there may be well over three million Syrian refugees by the end of 2013.
The law, when enforced, can be used to punish. It can be used to articulate social norms and standards, or to define and impose responsibilities. The law can also, however, be used to change incentives. When designed and implemented properly, a good law establishes an incentive structure to align legal responsibility with the actors most able to change a set of results–actors who possess the information, the institutional capacity, and the practical ability to make a difference in a situation our society seeks to improve. In the 111th Congress, Representative Jim McDermott proposed just such a law. The Conflict Minerals Trade Act took note of America’s role in the devastating humanitarian crisis it may be inadvertently fueling: the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC” or “DR Congo”), home to the minerals used in nearly every electronic product known to man. Indeed, as the conflict in DR Congo reaches catastrophic proportions, the interests of a broad range of actors have become affected–and not just those in the human rights sector. Mineral wealth extracted from DR Congo is likely inside of your cell phone, your laptop, and your iPod–raising issues of personal responsibility as well as corporate ethics. As individuals confront their consciences and investors contemplate their stock portfolios, issues once relegated to the realm of international human rights law have now entered many of our homes and purses without us realizing. The Conflict Minerals Trade Act, by altering an incentive structure, aimed to change that unawareness by bringing our trade legislation in line with both our best interests and our ethical responsibilities.
On September 16, 2007, allegedly without any provocation or justification, personnel from the security firm formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide1 fired into Baghdad’s crowded Nisoor Square and killed seventeen Iraqi civilians. To date, neither the firm nor its employees have been held accountable for this incident. Moreover, a report issued by a U.S. House of Representatives oversight panel in October 2007 indicated that “Blackwater employees had been involved in at least 196 firefights in Iraq since 2005, an average of 1.4 shootings per week.” The report also stated that in 84 percent of these incidents, Blackwater personnel were the first to fire even though, by contract, they were allowed to fire only in self-defense.
Unfortunately, Blackwater is neither the first nor the only security firm to commit human rights abuses. In the late 1990s, personnel from another security firm, DynCorp International, allegedly bought women and girls as sex slaves while deployed in Bosnia. The only punishment rendered on the personnel responsible for these human rights abuses was the termination of their employment contracts. Moreover, despite these allegations, the firm later received a contract in Iraq worth $250 million.
Around the world, efforts by states to accommodate cultural pluralism vary in form and vigor. Some multiculturalist states cede to cultural minorities the authority to govern in certain substantive areas, such as family law. Not surprisingly, feminists have raised concerns that a state’s reluctance to govern in areas traditionally seen as “private,” and leaving those areas of law to customary legal systems, leaves women within those minority communities vulnerable to discrimination. The potential clash between multiculturalism and equality has been the focus of much theorizing in the last decade. Much of the discourse has been abstract, polarizing, and minimally productive. Furthermore, the ways in which women act with agency, engaging with and reformulating cultural policy, has received insufficient attention. Many women value cultural identity, even as they work to eliminate discrimination within their cultural communities.
The international human rights community, however, has not always viewed women as committed, active members of their cultural communities. By viewing African women almost exclusively as victims of their culture, the international human rights community has historically undervalued the potential for African women to reformulate cultural policies within their communities. The two primary human rights treaties for the promotion of gender equality in Africa, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW” or “the Convention”) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (“African Charter” or “the Charter”), are dismissive of culture and gender equality, respectively. The Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa (“the Protocol”) attempts to remedy the shortcomings of CEDAW and the African Charter and offers new hope for promoting gender equality on the continent. In addition to strong substantive rights, the Protocol provides important procedural rights to ensure that women have a voice in the ongoing examination and reformulation of cultural practices and customary law.
How can Congress play a role in formulating national security policy? This Article identifies one way that Congress already plays such a role: in its oversight of executive branch decisions regarding foreign investments in the United States. The executive’s role in this relationship is passive; it is best understood as a congressional notification service. This Article considers the implications of such a service, which could serve as a model for increased congressional involvement in other aspects of foreign affairs. It offers historical support for the descriptive claim that Congress plays a central role in policing foreign investments for national security concerns; the mildness of the executive role is shown both qualitatively and quantitatively through a content analysis of the “boilerplateness” of executive approvals of foreign acquisitions. The role Congress has played in national security and foreign direct investment policymaking has implications for theories of presidential administration and executive discretion in foreign affairs, and also for practicing lawyers interested in defining what exactly the scope of “national security” might be. The Article concludes with a review of these implications.
This Article explores parallels between the development of the international whaling and climate change regimes. It argues that the experiences of the International Whaling Commission (“IWC”) provide an instructive parable to the evolution and development of international environmental law regimes, where successful policies depend heavily on the interplay between science and policy – namely, global climate change. The Article aims to demonstrate the similarities between the historic path of whaling politics and the present path of international climate change politics, with particular reference to the political interpretation of science. This Article argues that international climate change policymaking is following too closely in the footsteps of the IWC and that, in order to avoid a similar collapse of the commons, the politics of climate change must change course.
In 2005, cross-border investment exceeded $1.3 trillion globally. Yet the international law governing the protection of foreign-owned property remains unsettled even in U.S. courts. Not only do American courts often refuse to reach the merits of expropriation claims, but they also frequently ignore relevant authority and rely upon the outdated and muddled Restatement (Third) for guidance. This article, which focuses on breach and forced renegotiation of contract claims, is the first of five planned articles that examine different theories of expropriation under international law. Together, these five articles try to construct a new and comprehensive analytical framework for adjudicating expropriation claims.