Weekend Roundup: November 3 – 9, 2012

by An Hertogen

With the US elections dominating the headlines this week, Peter Spiro argued that the impact of the US president on populations who are unable to vote in the election, and are not even allowed to make campaign contributions, reveals another limit of state-based institutions. Deborah Pearlstein asked whether President Obama’s promise that a “decade of war is ending” includes the “war” against al-Qaeda, and started thinking about the law and policy implications as the US shifts from the war paradigm to a counter-terrorism framework.

Two posts dealt with immunity from criminal jurisdiction. Kristen Boon discussed the sensitivity and the legal significance of head of state immunity, which was on the agenda this week at the UNGA’s Sixth Committee. In a guest post, William Dodge tried to make sense of the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Yousuf v. Samantar.

The main event on the blog this week was the symposium on the Oxford Guide to Treaties, edited by our very own Duncan Hollis, who introduced the symposium on Thursday morning. The symposium continues on Monday, so stay tuned for more!

A first series of posts dealt with the question of reservations. David Stewart addressed objections to reservations and  severability, and argued that the severability rule could be a disincentive to broad treaty adherence. Harold Koh asked what happens when a treaty reservation is invalid? Ed Swaine also addressed the severability issue and asked how it could be made less severe. Marko Milanovic defended the compromise reached by the International Law Commission in its 2011 Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties, and described the conceptual moves made to achieve the compromise.

A second series of posts focused on treaty interpretation. Richard Gardiner started the conversation pointing to various considerations beyond those listed in article 31 VCLT that can inform treaty interpretation. Jean Galbraith discussed the diverging ways taken by international and US domestic approaches to treaty interpretation, with international law accepting a strong teleological approach in contrast to the textual approach that has re-emerged in the US.

Finally, as always, you can find a list of upcoming events and our daily news wraps.

Have a nice weekend!


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