- Professor David Moore, Brigham Young Law
Ever since the Founding, the power of the United States to enter into treaties has been viewed as central to the then newly-created nation's ability to exercise sovereign power. But treaties confer both mutual rights and mutual obligations on their signatories. Therefore when nations, including the United States, enter into treaties, they arguably both advance and limits their ability to pursue their own objectives.
Several developments over the past few decades invite serious reflection about how the United States should think about this tradeoff. For one thing, treaties increasingly extend beyond customary areas of cooperation among nations to create obligations on the part of countries with respect to how they treat their own citizens. For another, many international law advocates, and some courts, increasingly argue that these obligations are legally enforceable, by domestic courts and/or international bodies, regardless of whether they have been implemented by legislation, of reservations on which a nation may have conditioned its signature, or even of whether a nation is actually a signatory. This exacerbates the danger, inherent in any treaty, that countries that believe more strongly in the rule of law will find themselves, as a practical matter, asymmetrically giving up sovereignty. On the other hand, the notion that there are supra-national norms that ought in some fashion to guide the conduct of nations has a long and distinguished pedigree, and has long been one of the lodestars of the United States’ involvement in the international arena.
This panel will consider the process for determining the content of international law, including the Law of Armed Conflict and International Humanitarian Law. The International Committee of the Red Cross and other committees established by multilateral human rights conventions are often thought to enjoy a special competence in this process. Should they? The panel will discuss these questions, including the debate between the ICRC and the U.S. on counterterrorism measures and the legality of bulk surveillance for national security purposes.
The Federalist Society's International & National Security Law Practice Group presented this panel on "Who Defines International Law?" on Friday, November 14, during the 2014 National Lawyers Convention.
The panel of experts will focus on international trade and what limits, if any, should be applied. Likely topics to be addressed will include Presidential fast-track trade negotiation authority, the benefits and burdens of free trade, whether trade is an effective tool of foreign policy (e.g. binding countries together, sanctions), and multilateral versus global trade deals. The panelists are expected to have differing points of view, and we expect a lively discussion.
The Federalist Society co-sponsored this panel from the International Law Weekend 2014 held at Fordham University School of Law on October 25, 2014.
October 25, 2014
Fordham University School of Law
From the time he entered office after being tapped by Boris Yeltsin to succeed him, President Vladimir Putin’s overarching objective was to consolidate power – at home and abroad. From earlier focuses on the Russian economy and quashing internal rivals, President Putin now seeks to recover geo-strategic assets lost in the Soviet collapse, which he called “the greatest geo-political catastrophe of the 20th century.”
President Putin's adventurism in the “post-Soviet space” was previously limited to cyber-activities in the Baltics, widespread regional economic and security pressure, and the 2008 invasion of Georgia. But in 2014 he aimed far higher by invading and annexing Crimea and then destabilizing eastern Ukraine. The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine has caused the West to re-assess its overall approach to Russia.
What is President Putin up to? How far will he go? What should the United States do to deter President Putin's ambitions to make Russia the dominant power in Eurasia? And what are our European allies willing to do?