Eve Levin  //  3/16/17  //  Topic Update


Trump has promised a foreign policy of America First. His conduct thus far suggests that he will follow through on that promise, but in ways that risk violating domestic and international law.

What does Trump mean for international law? Analysis comes from Monica Hakimii (EJIL: Talk!), Ralph Janik (Opinio Juris), and this panel, co-sponsored by the Federalist Society and the International Law Association, with John Bellinger and Rosa Brooks (Youtube).

The Trump administration backed off a draft executive order reinstating CIA “black site” prisons after it leaked, though provisions about Guantanamo Bay remain (NYT)

o   Here is the original Executive order; here is the revised order.

o   Steve Vladeck argues that legal developments since the Bush era mean such an order couldn’t entirely undo Obama-era restrictions on black sites. (Just Security). Jack Goldsmitch (Lawfare) and Deborah Pearlstein (Opinio Juris) agree.

o   William Lietzau and Ryan Vogel argue that U.S. detention policy as practiced for “over a decade” is sound policy and within the U.S.’s international legal obligations (Lawfare); John Bellinger disagrees (Lawfare).

o   Stewart Patrick suggest Trump push for the development of international law to address the use of force against and detention of non-state terrorist groups (CFR).

Trump’s “Muslim Ban” violates international law, including the principles of non-refoulement and non-discrimination, a group of UN Special Rapporteurs said in a joint report. (WaPo).

o   Here’s the statement.

o   Jonathan Hafetz argues the ban violates the U.S.’s obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, the ICCPR and CERD (Opinio Juris).  Jamil Dakwar agrees (Al Jazeera). Jay Shooster also agrees that the ban violates the U.S.’s obligations, focusing on the ICCPR and CERD (Just Security). James Hathaway agrees (Just Security). Liam Thornton also argues the ban violates the U.S.’s international legal obligations (The Conversation).

o   The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program issued an extensive report detailing the international legal consequences of the ban as applied to asylum seekers, here.

o   The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights also “expressed concern” regarding the executive order, here.

Reinvigorated U.S. involvement in Yemen is both politically and legally unsound, writes Kate Kizer (Just Security), following the issuance of a UN Report in February concluding that the Saudi-led, U.S.-supported coalition has committed “widespread violations of international law,” here.

o   Waleed Alhariri and Alex Moore comment on the report’s key findings and the implications for the U.S. (Just Security)

Trump issued an Executive Order withdrawing from the TPP, making good on a promise from the campaign (WaPo)

The Trump administration is considering a moratorium on multilateral treaties and a decrease in funding of international organizations, according to draft EOs leaked in January. (NYT; WaPo).

o   Here’s the draft EO on multilateral treaties; here’s the draft EO on international organizations.

o   Courtenay R. Conrad and Emily Ritter argue the drafts signal the administration’s hostility to international law in general, and to human rights law in particular (WaPo).

o   Julian Ku argues that neither EO would be of much consequence, at most slowing down the treaty ratification process (Opinio Juris). 

o   Scott Sullivan argues the draft EO on multilateral treaties reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between security and human rights (Just Security).

The Administration’s trade policy agenda document submitted to Congress on March 1 suggested a willingness to defy WTO rules, in contrast to the Obama administration’s concern for WTO compliance (NYT).

o   Simon Lester speculates on and critiques possible details of the Trump Administration’s position on WTO dispute settlement (International Economic Law and Policy Blog).

Intercepting General Flynn’s conversation with Ambassador Kislyak constitutes a violation of the VCDR, says Mohamed Helal (Opinio Juris).


Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump threatened to take aid away from Palestine if Palestinian leadership remained unwilling to negotiate with Israel. Vice President Mike Pence announced that the new embassy in Jerusalem would open in 2019.

Updates | The Week of January 15, 2018

1/14/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump refuses to certify that the Iranian nuclear disarmament deal is in America’s best interests, but is expected to allow the accord to continue. The Trump administration announces it will suspend most security assistance to Pakistan.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Updates | The Week of December 18, 2017

12/24/17  //  Daily Update

President Trump said in a speech on national security that Russia and China “seek to challenge American influence, values and wealth,” but did not directly address Russian interference in the 2016 election. A majority of nations in the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution rebuking America's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the US embassy to the city.