Delegations at Duke

by Duncan Hollis

What’s the hot topic in U.S. foreign affairs law these days? (Hint: it’s not Medellin, although I suppose that may change quickly). Rather, if tomorrow’s conference at Duke Law (co-sponsored by Harvard Law School) is any guide, it’s the issue of delegating authority under treaties to international organizations or other autonomous international bodies. Can the United States agree by treaty to empower an international body such as the Montreal Protocol Meeting of the Parties to take decisions that have domestic legal effect? The D.C. Circuit recently demonstrated that this is not entirely an academic question. What about having an international organization tacitly amend a treaty (i.e., the amendment enters into force for all parties by decision of the international organization, without having the amendment taken back to the U.S. Senate for advice and consent or some equivalent domestic authorization)? The papers for tomorrow’s conference explore these and other delegation issues. You can access them here (note, however, the authors’ request that you not cite or quote these works without their permission). If any Opinio Juris readers attend, I’d be interested in hearing what goes on at the conference itself. For example, do all the participants agree that delegation issues will materialize as a real problem for current or future U.S. participation in international institutions or is this, the D.C. Circuit’s views aside, more of an academic exercise?

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