Defining International Law Traditional: the rules determining the conduct of states in their dealings with one other Increasingly, though, individuals and corporations – not just states – viewed as subjects of international law Newer: the body of rules and principles, formal and informal, operating at the international rather than national level
Sources of International Law Explicit agreements (Treaties, conventions, protocols) UN Charter Geneva Convention Kyoto Protocol Customary Law (like “common law”) Widespread, representative and consistent practice of states Norms (general principles of morality and justice) UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Areas of International Law war human rights diplomacy environment
War When is it legal? “just wars” versus wars of aggression What conduct is legal? No chemical or biological weapons; no land mines Non-combatants should not be targeted Excessive force should be avoided POWs
Diplomacy Diplomatic recognition and immunity Embassies as sovereign territory
Human Rights New and controversial area How do you define it? Infringes on national sovereignty Broad political rights Helsinki Accords (1970s) U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) U.N. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) U.N. Convention Against Torture (1984) Rights of threatened groups U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (1965) U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women/CEDAW (1979) U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Genocide (1948 convention) Rwanda Bosnia Sudan?
U.S. and Human Rights Champion? Led campaign for rights in Soviet Union, then China Hypocrite? U.S. trained torturers during Cold War; and used torture at Guantanamo and in Iraq Targets counter that U.S. itself has largest number of prisoners; a vast population of poor and homeless; persistent racism U.S. hasn’t ratified many human rights conventions Economic, social and cultural rights Elimination of discrimination against women Rights of child
Superpower Exceptionalism Not just on human rights conventions U.S. also has not ratified ILO conventions on labor rights (1950s) CTBT Convention on the Law of the Seas Land Mine treaty Global Warming (Kyoto) protocol
ICJ = World Court A branch of the UN meets in The Hague (Netherlands) 15 judges serving nine-year terms selected by UN Hears cases brought by states against other states Example: border disputes (Honduras v. El Salvador) Jurisdiction? Shaky U.S. and mining of Nicaragua’s harbor (1986)
Option #2 National Courts U.S. courts Individuals can play, too High jury awards Greater enforcement power Belgian courts Human rights cases (Geneva conventions) Spanish courts (Judge Baltasar Garzón) The Pinochet case
Option #3 The Court of Public Opinion This is also called “shaming” NGOs International media And it often works!
An Example of Shaming: Canada and Harp Seal Pups
Realists are Right The powerful prevail Especially on security issues Example: International Criminal Court New permanent court (2003) in The Hague 18 judges Will replace ad hoc war crimes tribunals, hearing cases brought against individuals for crimes against humanity U.S. won’t participate
U.S. and the ICC U.S. secured U.N. resolution exempting U.S. nationals from ICC jurisdiction for crimes committed during UN operations U.S. demanded that other states enter into bilateral agreements promising not to surrender U.S. nationals to the ICC Clinton signed treaty on 12/31/2000; Bush took unusual step of “unsigning” on 3/6/2002
Then again … maybe the Liberals are right To back out of the ICC, GWB actually followed another international treaty Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties requires signatories to “refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose” of a treaty. Bush’s “unsigning” (by announcing U.S. intent not to ratify) cleared the U.S. from the obligations of the Vienna Convention