Weekend Roundup: May 12-18, 2012
This week on Opinio Juris, Chris Borgen posted about Peter Watts’ short story on the legal and ethical questions relating to the use of autonomous aerial combat drones; Julian Ku shared Cato Institute’s Walter Olson’s observations on the revolving door between the UN and the US legal academy; Kevin Heller gave an account of his PhD viva at Leiden; and Roger Alford made us guess which six countries were the focus of the AP Comparative Government this week.
Peter Spiro continued last week’s discussion on US taxation of US expats with a post about Eduardo Saverin’s renunciation of US citizenship shortly before Facebook’s IPO, and the implications thereof for his future travels to the US. Peter also discussed a legislative proposal in response to it, the ex-PATRIOT Act, and its legality under domestic law and international human rights law if it were to become law. Following Michelle Bachmann’s acquisition and subsequent renunciation of Swiss citizenship, discussed last week, he also asked why some progressives hate dual citizenship.
Leila Hanafi’s guest post discussed the role of the ICC in providing transitional justice in Libya. Further on Libya and the ICC, Kevin Heller discussed the contrasting, and counter-intuitive, motions of the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor and the Office of the Public Counsel for the Defence on the issue whether Libya should surrender Saif Gaddafi to the ICC. Kevin also addressed the question whether the ICC can prosecute NATO forces for war crimes in Libya, and argued that UNSC Resolution 1970 which grants exclusive jurisdiction over the actions in Libya by nationals of non-ICC members to their home state is incompatible with the Rome Statute.
The main event this week was a book discussion on Professor Laura Dickinson’s book Outsourcing War and Peace: Preserving Public Values in a World of Privatized Foreign Affairs. The symposium, introduced here, addressed the implications of the rise of private military contractors for the protection of public values. Laura’s first post argued how public values are threatened. In her comments, Allison Stanger warned about the implications of the inevitable clash between market and civic values when important government functions are outsourced to the private sector. Deborah Pearlstein’s comments situated the issue of liability of private military contractors against the broader background of waning legal and political accountability in the use of American war power more generally. Scott Horton looked at how debates on the accountability of private military contractors complicated negotiations on Status of Forces Agreements in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Laura followed up with a post on the obstacles when trying to hold private military contractors accountable for their abuses through criminal prosecutions or civil tort suits. Steve Vladeck’s comments added to this by pointing to a series of recently decided or argued cases on contractor liability, included the lesser noticed United States v. Brehm, and questioned whether US jurisdiction might in some cases be too broad. Laura also posted about another suggestion from her book: to instill public values through government contracts. In his comments, Chris Borgen’s comments addressed the question of how to shift from the current lax contracting standards to new types of foreign affairs contracts that incorporate public law standards. Chris also provided a colorful example of the potential dangers with outsourcing. His St. John’s colleague, Jeffrey Walker, offered a view from practice on the feasibility of such contracts. Ken Anderson’s comments focused on the limits of contractual mechanisms in ensuring accountability.
Many thanks to our guest contributors and have a nice weekend!