Opinio Juris and the Trump Presidency
A couple of weeks ago a group of Opinio Juris bloggers held a round-table discussion at St. John’s University Law School about the international law and policy issues facing the next American President. In front of a full room, we considered issues ranging from relations with China and Russia, to the future of national security policy, human rights, international trade agreements and the UN. We fielded questions from the audience, went past our scheduled closing time, and still had not answered all the questions in the room. It was clear that there is a need and a desire for intelligent discussion on these and other issues of international law and U.S. policy. There were, and are, significant questions of law and policy before the American public.
Now we know who the next President will be. Sustained and informed commentary about international law and the United States’ role in the world has never been more relevant. We founded Opinio Juris as a forum for engaged and intelligent discussion on a broad range of international legal issues. We have fostered a dialogue with voices from varying political, legal, and national perspectives. Among the hundreds (if not thousands) of issues we have covered, we have had commentary by sitting Department of State Legal Advisers on Bush Administration policies in the War on Terror and also concerning the U.S. operation against Osama Bin Laden during the Obama Administration, as well as expert observations from the negotiations in Paris leading to the climate change agreement (see, for example, 1 and 2), examinations of the development of international criminal law, analyses of the work of international courts and tribunals, emerging technologies and international law, and conversations about U.S. policy on the conflict in Syria. For the last eleven years we have tried to reflect upon the breadth and depth of international law and policy.
As the U.S. begins its transition into what will be the Trump Administration, we will continue to provide commentary that is informed by expertise in international law and is engaged with the policy debates of our time. A brief scan of the list of initiatives Donald Trump listed in October as the priorities for his first 100 days in office is full of international legal implications. He stated that on his first day in office, among other things:
* FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205
* SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
* THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator
* FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately…
* SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure
Additionally, on the first day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:
* FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama
* SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States
* THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities
* FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back
* FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.
This is only part of the list. For example, other statements from President-elect Trump or his surrogates have concerned whether the new administration would honor U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law, the future of NATO, and commitments to address climate change, to take three examples. As the transition proceeds and President-elect Trump’s actual agenda takes shape, we will assess and address the international legal issues implicated by his proposals and stances. More generally, we will continue to thoughtfully consider the expansive international legal and policy issues facing the U.S. We hope to add to an informed public discourse.
We started this website as a forum for debate and discussion about international law and policy. Almost 10,000 posts later, this conversation has never been more important and we look forward to hearing what you have to say in the days and weeks to come.