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Treaties and National Sovereignty Conference

Co-Sponsored by The George Washington National Security and U.S. Foreign Relations Law Program, the GW Student Chapter, and The Federalist Society's Faculty Division March 27, 08:30 AMThe George Washington University Law School
Washington, DC 20052

The relationship between treaties and national sovereignty is somewhat complex. On the one hand, a nation’s  power to enter into treaties has long been viewed as a core incident of sovereignty. On the other hand, treaties generally confer not only mutual rights but also mutual obligations on their signatories. Therefore when a nation enters into a treaty, it theoretically both expands and limits its own national sovereignty by, on the one hand, obtaining other countries’ agreement to abide by the treaty’s limitations, but on the other hand accepting whatever obligations the nation undertakes pursuant to the treaty.

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 various 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, either by domestic courts or international bodies, and regardless, in some instances, of whether a nation has actually agreed to them, or agreed to them with reservations. This exacerbates the danger that countries that believe more strongly in the rule of law will find themselves, as a practical matter, asymmetrically giving up sovereignty that less law-abiding countries effectively retain. 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’s involvement in the international arena.  

The purpose of this conference is to stimulate reflection and discussion about these questions.  It will do so in the context of hearing presentations based on research papers and comments on those presentations the following topics:

  • Should the United States still be entering multilateral treaties? If so, what criteria should it apply in deciding whether to do so?
  • How much regulatory and monitoring treaty compliance authority should ongoing international governance bodies have in areas where there may be a need for international cooperation, such as the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)?
  • How do the treaty power and Congress’s power to implement treaties under the necessary and proper clause relate to the Constitution’s other limits on Congressional power, especially its creation of a federal rather than a national government? Does the latter suggest not only constitutional but prudential considerations that may bear on how the President and the Senate should exercise the treaty power?
  • How do reservations operate, especially in the context of human rights treaties?  

2015 James Kent Summer Academy

2015 Faculty Division Summer Conference for Students Interested in Academia August 03, 04:00 PMAnnapolis, MD 21401
Annapolis Maryland Main Street

The Federalist Society’s James Kent Summer Academy is a new program for students and recent graduates who demonstrate strong potential for being leaders among a future generation of legal scholars.  Participants will have an opportunity to engage in academic discourse, to learn about an academic career track, to deepen their understanding of key ideas about the law, the founding period, originalism, religious liberty, and markets and the law, and to receive some personalized career planning and publishing guidance.

The Academy will take place in early August in Annapolis, MD.  This all-expenses-paid conference will include seminar-style sessions guided by a group of leading faculty, informational sessions and workshops for professional development, and the opportunity to connect to a community of talented students and scholars.  Participants will also receive invitations to ongoing events and academic and professional development resources throughout the year.

The program is intended for students and recent graduates, including prospective or current clerks, with a serious interest in an academic career, who would contribute to the intellectual diversity of the legal academy, and who are beginning to develop their legal scholarship.  Applicants should possess strong academic qualifications.

2015 National Lawyers Convention

Save the Date! November 12, 12:00 AMThe Renaissance Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036

The Federalist Society's 2015 National Lawyers Convention is scheduled for Thursday, November 12 through Saturday, November 14 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. Check back in late summer 2015 for more information.

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