Dec 272012

Several days ago, the New York Times ran an op-ed written by former legal advisor to the Secretary of State John B. Bellinger III.  In it, Bellinger called for swift action in ratifying international treaties.  If you didn’t catch it, I highly recommend giving the essay a read.

Oct 252012

I came across a blog post by Matthew Waxman, a Columbia Law professor, regarding the current Iranian nuclear issue.  Waxman has written an essay featured on entitled, “What the Cuban missile crisis teaches us about Iran.”  It is definitely worth a look…  Any thoughts?

Oct 012012

I have previously blogged about a US Supreme Court case that seeks to determine whether foreign torture victims may sue their perpetrators in US Courts.  The Supreme Court revisited the issue today, which also happens to be the opening day of the Court’s term.  Based on the mood of several Justices (Kennedy, especially) and the US Administration’s position,  I suspect that foreign claimants will not have access to US Courts.  The Los Angeles Times has more info on the hearing.


Sep 112012

I am in the process of upgrading my blog and debuting a new website.  Ongoing software issues have made maintaining and upgrading the blog difficult; however, after the transition, everything should work much easier.

In the meantime…

The Sunday New York Times featured an article about US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assurance that US imposed trade sanctions against Russia will soon be repealed.

The US has had sanctions in place for decades, although they are not enforced.  Despite their non-enforcement, the sanctions violate World Trade Organization rules, which could allow Russia to enact harsh anti US trade policies.

The US Administration supports their repeal; however, Congress seems poised to condition the repeal on the passage of a bill, which, according to the New York Times, “would punish Russian officials accused of abusing human rights, denying them visas and freezing their assets.”

The Administration favors lifting sanctions without the human rights condition; however, the issue has gained political traction as former Governor and Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney has publicly supported the human rights legislation as a precondition to lifting sanctions.

Public international law often requires balancing factors, including pitting human rights and business/trade.  Should trade regulations with foreign nations be conditional on their human rights record, and if so, how extensive should the two be intertwined?

Mar 282012

Risa E. Kaufman, Executive director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School, provides an interesting perspective on  the Affordable Care Act.   In  “A Human-Rights Lens on the Affordable Care Act,”  Kaufman concludes:

The enactment of the ACA was an important and deliberate advance toward decreasing race discrimination in access to health care. Significantly, the ACA also furthers the nation’s international human rights treaty obligations, a point that should inform both the public discussions of the law and the Court’s consideration of its constitutionality.

Read the entire article here.

Mar 162012

A Ugandan gay and lesbian rights organization has filed suit against Massachusetts evangelist Scott Lively for “participat[ing] in a decade-long campaign in Uganda to persecute persons on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”  The American Bar Association Journal has the story as well as a link to the plaintiff’s complaint.

The suit is being filed under the Alien Tort Act, which you may remember has been a source of controversy of late and is currently being reviewed by the United States Supreme Court in a case involving Nigerian plaintiffs and a Shell Oil subsidiary.  More details here.

Uganda has been the center of a recent human rights outcry regarding the nation’s anti-homosexuality bill, frequently referred to as the “Kill the Gays” bill.  The proposal would punish homosexuality by life imprisonment or death.

Mar 062012

Last week, I blogged about Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, which was argued before the United States Supreme Court.

The issue was whether the Alien Tort Act allows foreign plaintiffs to sue US corporations for certain human rights violations; however, questioning ventured into the broader question of whether United States Courts could ever hear human rights cases when the alleged abuses occurred outside the United States.

It turns out that the Court may want to address the broader question.  The Court has asked the parties to file additional briefs and appear for reargument.  The Court ordered:

This case is restored to the calendar for reargument. The parties are directed to file supplemental briefs addressing the following question: Whether and under what circumstances the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1350, allows courts to recognize a cause of action for violations of the law of nations occurring within the territory of a sovereign other than the United States. The supplemental brief of petitioners is due on or before Thursday, May 3, 2012. The supplemental brief of respondents is due on or before Monday, June 4, 2012. The reply brief is due on or before Friday, June 29, 2012. The time to file amicus curiae briefs is as provided for by Rule 37.3(a). The word limits and cover colors for the briefs should correspond to the provisions of Rule 33.1(g) pertaining to briefs on the merits rather than to the provision pertaining to supplemental briefs.

Mar 022012


  • I blogged yesterday about the US Supreme Court hearing a case regarding foreign plaintiffs suing under the Alien Tort Act. published an interesting article that discusses the exchange and the judge’s perceived hostility towards the plaintiffs.
  • Chevron is pleased that an international arbitration tribunal has ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear Chevron’s claim against Ecuador.  The tribunal took its lead from treaty law.  This was not unexpected, and the saga continues…
  • Human Rights abuses in Syria continue to dominate world news, and today the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to condemn the Syrian regime’s continual abuses against it’s citizens.  The vote was 37 to 3.  Among the three nations voting no, China and Russia have continually blocked the UN from taking decisive action in this matter.  For now, the world will continue to watch the images from Syria in horror.