Attentive readers will note our calendar had indicated that we were supposed to start a new symposium today on The Oxford Guide to Treaties. It appears, however, that we are not immune from hurricane Sandy’s effects. I’ve received several requests for postponement from participants given this week’s events and I’m also told that much of New York City and other areas in the mid-Atlantic remain off-line and thus would not be able to read along or participate. Thus, after talking it over with a few of my co-bloggers, we’re postponing the symposium for 1 week. So, instead of tomorrow, we’ll start next Thursday (Nov. 8) and run the symposium thru the following Monday (Nov. 12). So tune in next Thursday when we’ll begin a conversation on various questions of treaty law and practice, including (a) reservations; (b) dynamic and evolutionary treaty interpretation; (c) the new functions treaties perform; and (d) the role of new actors in the treaty-making process.
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I’ve long wondered whether and when the American Law Institute (ALI) might try to update its 3rd Restatement on the Foreign Relations Law of the United States. Since its 1987 publication, the two-volume set, culled together under the leadership of Professor Lou Henkin, has had a tremendous impact. It has been a frequent resource for U.S. courts and American international lawyers alike. I recall vividly how often I used it in my first few years in private practice and its prominent place on my bookshelf once I decamped to the U.S. Department of State. At the same time, part of the Restatement 3rd‘s visibility lies in the critiques it later generated at the hands of what Peter Spiro dubbed the “New Sovereigntist” movement. Beginning with the work of Curt Bradley and Jack Goldsmith, the 3rd Restatement has been viewed as the conventional doctrine against which all other constitutional positions in foreign relations law may be measured.
So, it’s with great interest that I learned today that this past weekend the ALI announced plans to begin work on a new 4th Restatement on U.S. Foreign Relations Law. My first question was who could shepherd such a project? After all, on many of the current Restatement‘s positions there exists a stalemate between staunch defenders of Henkin’s original pronouncements and revisionists who insist he and his cohorts got it wrong (or, alternatively, that some newer developments require revisiting the original doctrine). What the ALI did, however, was to appoint not one, but two “coordinating reporters” — Sarah Cleveland and Paul Stephan. Both are influential and well-respected scholars. And although I would hazard to say that some of Paul’s work exhibits revisionist tendencies while some of Sarah’s writing may be closer to the spirit of Henkin’s earlier work, I think both are independent thinkers who should be expected to work seriously and thoughtfully on the ALI’s core mission — which is to say primarily what the law is, rather than what they would each like it to be.
The ALI Council also approved three topics for immediate work and assigned eight reporters to it:
Jurisdiction and Enforcement: William Dodge, Anthea Roberts, Paul Stephan
Treaties: Curtis Bradley, Sarah Cleveland, Edward Swaine
Sovereign Immunity: David Stewart, Ingrid Wuerth
My understanding is that ALI hopes to have drafts of each of these portions ready for review in fall 2013 by Advisers and ALI Members. Decisions on who those advisers will be is expected in early 2013. Moreover, based on ALI precedent, the ALI Council also approved a group of “Counselors” for the entire project. And, that too, is a pretty impressive group: John Bellinger III, Daniel Bethlehem, David Caron, Joan Donoghue, Conrad Harper, Harold Koh, Carolyn Lamm, and David Rivkin.
One can only imagine the machinations that went into selecting these Counselors, not to mention the reporters themselves. But I will say on first glance there is some balance attempted in terms of scholars from all sides of the foreign relations and international law arenas. Moreover, there is a heavy dose of practical experience in both groups, and a clear tendency to favor those with experience working for the U.S. State Department (among the reporters and Counselors, I count at least 10 who spent time in “L” — the State Department Legal Adviser’s Office — or led it).
I was elected to ALI last year, and as such, I guess I will have the privilege of being able to look at and comment on drafts of the new Restatement as they come forward. I have no doubt, moreover, that this is a bit of a daunting task given the academic dissension on various points, not to mention the prospect for politically-charged disagreements. Still, I was pleased to hear from Paul Stephan when I asked him about the prospects for success that he feels quite positive that a 4th Restatement is achievable. As he put it: “There will be controversy and disagreement, but that is a lawyer’s life blood. My hope is that, at the end of the day, there will be somewhat more clarity, and a bit less confusion, in this area of law than currently exists.”
All in all, an interesting development and one that will bear close watching.
Earlier this week, Harold Koh gave a speech. And it wasn’t about conflicts, drones, or cyberwar, topics that have dominated the attention of international lawyers in recent years. Rather, Koh’s speech was a meditation on the processes of international law-making that confront the State Department on a daily basis. It was, simply put, a survey of the current international legal landscape from the U.S. perspective.
Koh reviewed the formal U.S. treaty-making process, citing past victories like the New START Treaty and the Obama Administration’s continued push for Senate advice and consent to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the more recent Disabilities Convention. There was also a cogent defense of the use of congressional executive agreements, with reference to controversies over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (or ACTA), where frankly I find myself aligned with the federal government in not seeing what the fuss is all about (or, rather, if there’s a fuss, it’s one so fundamental as to put into doubt two centuries of Congressional pre-approval of U.S. treaty-making).
Beyond this survey of formal international lawmaking, Koh also emphasized compliance, including a nod to his prior scholarly work (and the C-175 process, on which I spent a good deal of my own time at the State Department):
In my academic work, I have described a pervasive phenomenon in international affairs that I call “transnational legal process:” that international law is primarily enforced not by coercion, but by a process of internalized compliance. Nations tend to obey international law, because their government bureaucracies adopt standard operating procedures and other internal mechanisms that foster default patterns of habitual compliance with international legal rules. When I became Legal Adviser, I found that this is even truer than I thought. For example, most people are unaware of the so-called “C-175” process, named after a 1955 State Department Circular setting out a standardized procedure for concluding international agreements. The few academics who have ever noticed that process often assume it is nothing more than a rubber stamp. But having now seen it from the inside, I can tell you that the process is exhaustive and designed to ensure that all proposed U.S. international agreements — even if concluded by a different agency — are subject to a rigorous legal and policy review by the State Department before an any agreement is negotiated and concluded. Through this process, the State Department plays the same kind of clearinghouse role with respect to international agreements that OMB plays with regard to federal regulations. The C-175 process ensures not only that we have the legal authority to conclude the agreement in question, but also that every agency’s lawyers fully understand the nature of the domestic and international legal obligations we will undertake, so that we can accurately evaluate whether the United States will be able to comply with its new international legal obligations.
On the subject of compliance, Koh highlighted that the Administration has not yet given up on complying with the ICJ’s Avena judgment. And in terms of customary international law (CIL), Koh reiterated the U.S. view that major parts of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea now codify CIL.
But, Koh’s talk also went well beyond the “formal” sources of international law, exploring the range of alternatives to treaty-making. He discussed U.S. political commitments, including cooperative arrangements with the Arab League, the Copenhagen Accords, and the recent Washington Communique on nuclear security. Koh dubbed these instruments as “layered cooperation”:
In any given area of international cooperation, the choice between international agreements and non-legal alternatives is not binary. Instead, the legal and the non-legal understandings are layered, and operate on different levels. Take for example the Arctic Council, a group of eight Arctic States — Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States — which has emerged as an impressive example of a non-legal mechanism to facilitate sustainable development and international cooperation in the Arctic. The cooperation that takes place within the Arctic Council — generally through non-binding means — is layered on top of a legal backdrop of the Law of the Sea Convention, and the customary international law it reflects, which answer important questions about sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Arctic. Now notice that the Council is not a formal international organization; it was not set up by an international agreement, and the majority of its work is not legally binding. But this has not detracted from — and has probably even enhanced — its success in facilitating robust international cooperation among the Arctic States at all levels, ranging from foreign ministers to bench scientists.
Koh’s speech also emphasized the increasing important role assigned in international lawmaking to non-State actors. He ended, moreover, on a high note:
Make no mistake: this is not your grandfather’s international law, a Westphalian top-down process of treatymaking where international legal rules are negotiated at formal treaty conferences, to be handed down for domestic implementation in a top-down way. Instead, it is a classic tale of what I have long called “transnational legal process,” the dynamic interaction of private and public actors in a variety of national and international fora to generate norms and construct national and global interests. The story is neither simple nor static. Twenty-first century international lawmaking has become a swirling interactive process whereby norms get “uploaded” from one country into the international system, and then “downloaded” elsewhere into another country’s laws or even a private actor’s internal rules.
Now I am sure that Hugo Grotius had it good in his time. But believe me: there has never been a more challenging and exciting time to be an international lawyer or an international lawmaker. I have been lucky to spend my whole career steeped in this heady environment as a lawyer, scholar, advocate and public official. To be sure, there will always be challenges. But still, I find no belief more contagious than the simple, idealistic conviction, shared by so many, that even in a new millennium, it is still possible to aspire to help build a vibrant world order based on law.
For those who want to see the whole speech — check it out here — it’s worth the read.
As Peter’s post yesterday noted, there’s a growing push to fundamentally re-align cyberspace governance via amendments to the ITU Regulations, which are set to be negotiated in December in Dubai. I’m not sure that the ITU is up to the task. But I do agree that the time is ripe for States and other stakeholders to agree on first principles or “norms” for cyberspace (note: although many think cybernorms need to come in the form of a treaty, I’m not sure that is a practical, let alone a good, idea — to me, it seems like a first step would be to agree on the norms and then those doing the agreeing can figure out what vehicle best serves their distribution).
In academic and non-academic circles alike, there’s been a rash of attention to the question of norms and rules for cyberspace. Last month, Harold Koh made headlines as part of a conference for government officials on cyberspace. I was at a conference at Penn Law on Monday discussing the status of international law and ethics with respect to both cyberwar and cyber-attacks falling short of the war threshold.
For the last two years, moreover, I’ve been participating in the MIT/Harvard/Toronto Workshops on cyberspace organized by Ronald Deibert of the University of Toronto, Roger Hurwitz of MIT, and Joseph Nye of Harvard. The workshops are truly inter-disciplinary conversations among political scientists, technologists, lawyers, government officials, etc. all of whom have varying levels of expertise on cyber-related topics. The workshops aim to produce White Papers that States and others may use in preparation for conferences like the one that will occur in Dubai in December. The thinking is that, just as conversations between academics and government officials developed and improved norms for other forms of technological innovation (think nuclear deterrence theory), so too might academics and government officials work together to articulate a set of shared norms for cyberspace.
The White Papers from the most recent Cyber Norms 2.0 workshop (held at MIT in September) are now available here (last year’s inaugural work product is here). I authored the report on the Laws of Armed Conflict, but interested readers should also check out the other six panel reports on topics ranging from assessments of Western and non-Western approaches to cyberspace to characterizations of cyber incidents.
I’m hopeful both that these sorts of “big thinking” workshops will continue in the months and years ahead and that over time these efforts might eventually assist in the (much needed) effort to find some common ground on how we want to think about cyberspace governance and what sorts of behavior we want to encourage and discourage there (an e-SOS anyone?).
I want to briefly interrupt the LJIL symposium to flag the fact that the Bond case is back on the U.S. Supreme Court’s radar screen and with it the prospect that the Court may revisit one of the most canonical cases of U.S. foreign relations law: Missouri v. Holland. The facts are a bit lurid — Carol Anne Bond discovered that her husband had impregnated a close friend, leading her to harass the friend, including the placement of caustic substances on objects the woman touched, which caused her to suffer minor burns. Bond was indicted for violating 18 U.S.C. §229, which forbids knowing possession or use, for non-peaceful purposes, of a chemical that “can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans”. That statute was enacted to implement U.S. obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The Supremes have already considered Bond’s case once before, ruling in 2011 that the Third Circuit was wrong to deny that Bond had standing to challenge her conviction on 10th Amendment grounds and remanding the case to consider that defense. As Peter blogged in May, the Third Circuit then upheld her conviction on the grounds that the Treaty Power afforded Congress powers to implement a treaty that it could not exercise on its own under Article I (in other words, the decision basically tracks Missouri‘s holding). However, both the Majority and one of the concurrences specifically asked the Supreme Court to clarify Missouri‘s boundaries.
Bond has since filed a petition for writ of certiorari. Over the last several weeks, the amicus briefs have begun to arrive. For example, the Cato Institute filed this brief urging the Court to take the case (counsel includes Nick Rosenkranz who’s spent a lot of time critiquing Holmes’ Missouri decision and/or Louis Henkin’s interpretation of it). On the other side, Yale Law School’s Center for Global Legal Challenges has this amicus brief urging the Court not to take cert (and includes Oona Hathaway who’s spent a great deal of her time examining the treaty power’s scope from a more nationalist orientation) The Yale brief cites my own earlier work, which suggested the Court would not re-engage with Missouri and flagged the then-little noticed phenomenon where the Executive had adopted various ways to police its own exercises of the Treaty Power, suggesting a narrower reach for Missouri than its text might suggest.
I don’t know whether my earlier prognosticating that the Court will not re-visit MIssouri still stands (I certainly didn’t envision a chemical weapons prosecution of a jilted wife when I wrote it). But I do think the Court’s consideration of the cert question should assess all the non-judicial law-making on the treaty power front that occurred both before and after Missouri as well as the implications of that practice to establish alternative avenues to control the scope of the Treaty Power independent of any judicial safeguards of federalism. I suspect, moreover, we’ll know soon enough if that practice is sufficient to deter (or defer) the Court’s attention from Holmes’ famous opinion.
On September 19, the Supreme Court of Nevada ordered a new evidentiary hearing for Mexican national Carlos Gutierrez on his ability to overcome the State’s procedural bars to further consideration of his death sentence. I’ve posted a copy of the court’s order here.
Gutierrez was one of 51 Mexican nationals whose convictions and sentences were the subject of the ICJ’s Avena decision. Under that opinion, the ICJ found that the United States had violated its obligations under Article 36(1)(b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by failing to notify Gutierrez of his right to consular assistance. The opinion directed the United States to provide “by means of its own choosing” judicial review and consideration of Gutierrez’s conviction and sentence to ascertain whether the failure to provide such consular assistance was actually prejudicial to Gutierrez’s conviction or sentence. As regular readers know, the Supreme Court found in Medellin v. Texas that neither the ICJ’s Avena opinion nor President Bush’s memo directing the States to implement it were directly enforceable federal law that would trump State procedural default rules; a view affirmed in 2011 in Leal Garcia v. Texas.
But — and here’s the interesting part — the Nevada Supreme Court emphasized that nothing in the earlier Supreme Court opinions precluded it from implementing Avena. Consistent with Justice Stevens’ call in his Medellin concurring opinion that States implement Avena themselves, the Gutierrez court reasoned that “..while, without an implementing mandate from Congress, state procedural default rules do not have to yield to Avena, they may yield, if actual prejudice can be shown.” And, unlike Medellin or Leal Garcia, this case had a pretty striking ground for finding prejudice — the Court’s interpreter in Gutierrez’s death penalty hearing, Carlos Miguel Gonzalez, later pled guilty to perjury, having entirely made up his credentials as an interpreter. Moreover, the Nevada Supreme Court found evidence that this lack of credentials may have impacted Gutierrez’s hearing, with transcript reports showing Gutierrez’s interpreter having exchanges with the State’s interpreter over the accuracy of Gonzalez’s interpretations.
The opinion closes with a dramatic appeal to reciprocity. The Court explains its decision to grant Gutierrez an evidentiary hearing by claiming that
if a non-Spanish speaking U.S. citizen were detained in Mexico on serious criminal charges, the American consulate was not notified, and the interpreter who translated from English into Spanish at the trial for the Spanish-speaking judges was later convicted of having falsified his credentials, we would expect Mexico, on order of the ICJ, to review the reliability of the proceedings and the extent to which, if at all, timely notice to the American consulate might have regularized them.”
Thus, even with Congress having done zero to implement it, Avena seems to have some legs after all. This in turn suggests that as the remaining Avena defendants see their cases wind through the various state criminal justice systems, we should expect a mixed set of reactions. I’ve no doubt some courts will continue to simply cite Medellin and decline to consider, let alone enforce, the Avena order. But, Gutierrez, like the Torres case before it, suggests that some State courts can be persuaded by arguments describing U.S. interests in complying with international obligations alongside indications of prejudice in order to obtain the judicial review and reconsideration that Avena directed the United States to provide.
Hat Tip: Ron Bettauer and ASIL’s ILIB
Amidst the memorials to 9/11 yesterday came more tragic news with mob attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the consulate in Benghazi, including the deaths of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. My condolences go out to the victims’ families and the U.S. Foreign Service community, the Marines who guard them, as well as the local security and staff who accept the risk of working in places that are clear targets for violence. Stevens was the first U.S. Ambassador killed on assignment since 1979, but it seems all too frequently we get stories of attacks on diplomatic or IO premises, from those in Syria last year, to the 2003 attacks on the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq to the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salamm. For my part, I will never forget walking the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi several weeks after the bombing (before it was torn down), and witnessing first hand the horror perpetuated there.
For centuries, the international legal order has existed to regulate relations among States (and that remains true whatever one makes of its evolution to accommodate the regulation of non-State actors as well). To allow “relations” among States, however, requires means and methods of inter-State communication, of which embassies and consulates are the most visible symbols. As the ICJ put it in the case of US Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran (paras 38-40):
[t]here is no more fundamental prerequisite for the conduct of relations between States than the inviolability of diplomatic envoys and embassies . . . [T]he institution of diplomacy, with its concomitant privileges and immunities, has withstood the test of centuries and proved to be an instrument essential for effective co-operation in the international community, and for enabling States, irrespective of their differing constitutional and social systems, to achieve mutual understanding and to resolve their differences by peaceful means . . . [and] the inviolability of consular premises and archives, are similarly principles deep-rooted in international law…
Thus, violations of the diplomatic or consular mission premises like those that occurred yesterday are clearly unlawful under international law. The more challenging question is whether Egypt or Libya can be held responsible for these attacks. There are at least two ways this could occur: (a) via the law of state responsiblity; or (b) via their treaty obligations.
Here’s a quick follow-up to my book announcement last week. With OUP’s kind permission, I’ve posted the Introduction to the Oxford Guide to Treaties on SSRN. So, for those looking for a more detailed explanation of the book, its goals, and its methodology, feel free to download it there. Here’s the abstract:
From trade relations to greenhouse gasses, from shipwrecks to cybercrime, treaties structure the rights and obligations of states, international organizations, and individuals. For centuries, treaties have regulated relations among nation states. Today, they are the dominant source of international law. Thus, being adept with treaties and international agreements is an indispensable skill for anyone engaged in international relations, including international lawyers, diplomats, international organization officials, and representatives of non-governmental organizations.
This Introduction introduces readers to the Oxford Guide to Treaties, a volume that seeks to provide a comprehensive review of the rules and practices surrounding the making, interpretation, and operation of these instruments. Leading experts provide essays designed to introduce the law of treaties and offer practical insights into how treaties actually work. Foundational issues are covered, including what treaties are and when they should be used, alongside detailed analyses of treaty formation, application, interpretation, and exit. Special issues associated with treaties involving the European Union and other international organizations are also addressed. These scholarly treatments are complimented by a set of model treaty clauses. Real examples illustrate the approaches treaty-makers can take on topics such as entry into force, languages, reservations, and amendments. The Oxford Guide to Treaties thus provides an authoritative reference point for anyone involved in the creation or interpretation of treaties or other forms of international agreement.
I had a good day yesterday. I received a package in the mail from Oxford containing copies of my book – The Oxford Guide to Treaties. It represents the culmination of a three year effort on my part to compile a comprehensive and current guide to treaty law and practice. To do this, I started with a fairly simple premise — in this age of specialization, why not ask the world’s leading experts on various issues of treaty law and practice to write about their particular areas of expertise and edit those contributions together in a way that covers the entire field. With these academic explanations as a starting point, I then sought to build a set of sample treaty clauses — examples of how existing treaty texts have addressed the manifold issues associated with constructing what has now become the dominant form of international cooperation. I’ll admit the effort proved quite a bit more daunting and rigorous that I had imagined at the outset. But, looking at it last night, I’m feeling truly thrilled with the results.
The truth is, moreover, I couldn’t have done this book without a lot of help — the OUP staff was phenomenal (not to mention patient) with my sundry questions and suggestions. And, of course, this project wouldn’t exist without all my fellow contributors. They were universally thoughtful and committed to the idea of laying out the state of play in their respective areas, including existing doctrines, disagreements, and areas where progressive development may be warranted. I could fill a whole blog post (and may yet still) acknowledging what each of the twenty-seven contributors brought to the table and how grateful I am to each of them. For now though let me single out David Bederman who authored his chapter in what he knew to be the final months of his life. That sort of effort leaves me speechless.
I hope to blog more about the book in the coming months. But, for those readers interested in purchasing it – you can do so today in Europe. U.S. readers can order it now as well, although I understand U.S. copies won’t be published till mid-October. In the meantime, for those interested in knowing more about the book, the final table of contents follows after the jump.
[UPDATE: OUP tells me that the book will be out next week in the US for American readers interested in getting a copy, not mid-October as I originally suggested].
As summer winds down, I’m beginning to look ahead to the coming semester in which I’ll be teaching public international law after a couple of years’ hiatus. As a result, I’ve spent the week, re-working my syllabus (and thanking Ecuador for giving me a wonderfully topical way to start off the class). Beyond current events, however, I’ve once again spent some time
procrastinating thinking about those international law cases I “must” have my students read — essential elements of the international law canon if you will. I’ve done this before — six years ago, in fact, I posted a top-5 list of public international law cases and encouraged readers to contribute their own “must-reads” for students entering the field of international law. Here’s the list I came up with then:
(1) The S.S. Lotus (France v. Turkey), 1927 PCIJ (Ser. A) No.10
(2) Mortensen v. Peters, 8 Sess. Cas. (5th Ser.) 93 (1906)
(3) Case Concerning Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States) 1984 ICJ 169, 1986 ICJ 14
(4) Filartiga v. Pena-Irala, 630 F.2d 876 (2d Cir. 1980)
(5) United States-Import Prohibition of Certain Shrimp and Shrimp Products (“Shrimp Turtle”) DS58/AB/R (1998)
I still like this list a lot. But, on reflection I’d probably remove Shrimp Turtle in favor of an older chestnut like the Reparations Case given that earlier cases’ import for the field of international institutional law (I also wonder about Filartiga as the best read on human rights, and although I’m inclined to keep teaching it in a U.S. classroom, I can see the argument for a case like Soering instead).
Of course, I hold no monopoly on making these sorts of lists. So, I thought I’d get those of you prepping your own courses (not to mention students preparing to continuing their international law studies) to chime in with further suggestions. What cases would you say every international lawyer must read?
Not likely it seems. The tragic shootings in Aurora, Colorado may be responsible for moving President Obama to talk about gun control as he did yesterday in New Orleans, despite a noticeable earlier reticence to engage that topic. But that speech was clearly aimed at a domestic audience, emphasizing a need for improved domestic regulations and responses to gun violence. There was no mention of the on-going talks in New York that seek to regulate the international trade in arms and (at least originally) ammunition. By most accounts, those talks aren’t going terribly well as negotiators enter the final 36 hour push to adopt a text before negotiations end on Friday.
On Tuesday, the Conference Chair, Ambassador Moritan of Argentina, circulated a new draft text that excluded any regulation of ammunition, which some States and many NGOs like Oxfam had wanted covered. As David Bosco describes it at The Multilateralist, one of the key obligations is also now clouded by a purpose requirement (which restricts arms trade for certain purposes, such as committing genocide, rather than just regulating the trade of specific arms themselves). Also absent are third-party compliance mechanisms. Now, none of these things are required in order for the negotiators to conclude a treaty. And this would be far from the first instrument to be heavy on rhetoric and light on changes to the status quo. But what does seem interesting here is the narrative that puts most, if not all, of these developments squarely on the shoulders of the United States.
Standing alone, I’m not surprised by the US position(s) on what the treaty should look like — it seems consistent with what I posted earlier this month. The Obama Administration is seeking to thread a very fine needle here — achieving some international regulation of the arms trade via treaty that it could sign onto without triggering much in the way of constitutional, let alone political, objections (so far, its efforts on the latter front aren’t going so well, given how little the last month of negotiations has done to assuage those who oppose the idea of an arms trade treaty entirely). Still, as news reports circulate about the Colorado shooter’s on-line purchases of guns and some 6000 rounds of ammunition, it does put the Obama Administration in an awkward position, especially if any of that ammo had foreign origins (although the shooter’s guns and protective gear appear to be of US origin, I’ve not seen anything one way or another on the origins of that ammunition). As the UN Conference is seeking to adopt a treaty text by consensus, the US can always stand firm and oppose provisions on ammunition or additional controls on State behavior. In doing so, however, the Obama Administration risks being put in the spotlight as anti-gun regulation at the very time when it would like to convey the opposite impression.
Our own Chris Borgen recently did an interview about Opinio Juris on a New York City Cable Show, Today’s Verdict. You can watch it here. Chris talks about the origins of the blog, past successes and our more recent work (mostly for an audience unlikely to know much about international law). To top it all off, Chris looks great on TV. Good job Chris!