Drone Law: A Reply to UN Special Rapporteur Emmerson

by Michael N. Schmitt

In January 2013, Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, began examining the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA or “drones”) in extraterritorial lethal targeting, commonly labeled “targeted killing.” The following October, he released an interim report surveying the legal framework for the operations. It came on the heels of a report on the same topic by UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Christof Heyns. The two documents marked a sea-change in the ongoing debate over RPAs. Sophisticated yet accessible, the reports surgically dissected jus ad bellum (law governing the resort to force by States), jus in bello (international humanitarian law or IHL), and human rights norms. Together, they helped disentangle the often emotive, counter-factual and counter-normative dialogue that had obfuscated objective analysis.

This March, Emmerson released his 2013 annual report. It analyzes thirty-seven RPA strikes involving civilian casualties, proffers a sample strike analysis, and includes recommendations. In the report, Emmerson invites States to answer various legal questions regarding which “there is currently no clear international consensus, or where current practices and interpretations appear to challenge established legal norms.” States are to do so in advance of the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council in September. For Emmerson, “[l]egal uncertainty in relation to the interpretation and application of the core principles of international law governing the use of deadly force in counter-terrorism operations leaves dangerous latitude for differences of practice by States. . . . [T]hus an urgent and imperative need to reach a consensus” exists. The author agrees.

This essay examines Emmerson’s queries — replicated verbatim below — in an effort to assist States that answer his call. For States that do not, the analysis can serve as a useful tool in evaluating the responses of other States, as well as refining their own legal policy positions regarding RPA operations. Although the author provides his own views, he makes every effort to highlight competing positions.


What Price Financial Stability? Evaluating the European Union Financial Transactions Tax

by Andrew W. Hartlage

Though the global financial crisis reached an identifiable peak in the United States in September of 2008, events unfolded more slowly in the European theater. Banking crises in Cyprus, Greece, Iceland, and Ireland were punctuated by the failures of large financial institutions in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Benelux countries. Similarly, while the United States reached a significant landmark along its path of financial reform with the passage in July 2010 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,  Europe’s progress has been piecemeal, moving with fits and starts at the national, supranational, and international levels.

Despite some modest progress, significant threats to financial stability in Europe remain unaddressed, and the work of shoring up the European financial system continues. In February 2013, as part of this ongoing programme, the European Commission (“Commission”) proposed that some Member States levy a uniform tax on financial transactions beginning in 2014. This tax, known as the European Union Financial Transactions Tax (“EU FTT”), would apply to financial transactions between or with residents of participating Member States, and to transactions involving securities issued in participating Member States or derivatives of such securities.

This Essay argues that the EU FTT as proposed is flawed policy. Part I discusses how the European Union’s responses to the problem of financial stability are constrained by provisions in the EU’s foundational treaties. Parts II and III discuss the proposal’s wisdom as a matter of policy, and conclude not only that the EU FTT does little to solve the problems of financial instability in Europe, but also that the EU FTT threatens to undermine concurrent regulatory efforts to improve financial stability.


The Small Steps of the SPEECH Act

by Bruce Brown & Clarissa Pintado

     It had become the go-to punch line for English lawyers attending libel conferences in the United States. Speaking at a podium or debating on a panel, asked to explain a decade of growing defamation litigation in Britain against American authors and news organizations, they would shrug their shoulders and quip, with a nod to the late, great Johnny Cash, that London had indeed turned into a “town named Sue.”

     For many years, the joke was on us. Foreign libel plaintiffs had a considerable upper hand over American defendants in U.K. courts. By bringing suit in England, they could circumvent "actual malice" rules under New York Times Co. v. Sullivan and other substantive First Amendment rights.  What is more, contrary to the standards in the United States, English courts were willing to assert personal jurisdiction over a defendant publisher who was not deliberately targeting a British audience.

     That jurisdictional practice had a particularly significant impact in the age of online publishing when posting news articles on a domestic website makes the material available instantaneously around the world. Lack of due process added to a lack of free speech protections and made for a lethal combination. Not only did English defamation law tilt the scales dramatically toward plaintiffs, it also encouraged individuals to bring suit in the United Kingdom even if they had tenuous ties to the forum and the defendant virtually none.

     The SPEECH Act was a measured and modest response to a significant problem that had created a tangible chilling effect on publishers in this country. Enacted in 2010, the SPEECH Act held strong against its first challenge in federal court when the Fifth Circuit opted not to enforce a default defamation judgment from Canada against a Mississippi blogger. In Trout Point Lodge v. Handshoe, the plaintiffs failed to prove the two prime elements of the SPEECH Act: that is, that Canadian defamation law is not as protective of free speech as U.S. law and that defend-ant would have been found liable in a Mississippi court. Handshoe had posted content on his Gulf Coast online forum linking Trout Point to a corruption scandal in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. In its claim, Trout Point did not make sufficient assertions regarding a key element that a plaintiff must show to comport with U.S. Constitutional standards: falsity.

     Although Trout Point Lodge represents the utility of the SPEECH Act against international forum shopping, the legislation has its critics. The Professors David Anderson and Mark Rosen do not always agree with each other on what they believe is wrong with the SPEECH Act, but they are both critical of Congress's modest but important steps in this area. While this article will briefly respond to their criticisms, much credit is due to the professors for giving the legislation - and the issues behind it - some much-needed academic attention. This is the phenomenon of "libel tourism." While England was not the only problematic foreign jurisdiction, it was by far the most notorious - the "libel capital of the world" - with several high-profile cases that resulted in complete capitulation from publishers. For American media companies, the threat of libel tourism had developed into a real concern. Media defendants were settling suits abroad as U.S. enforcement uncertainties loomed.





Are the ICSID Rules Losing Their Appeal? Annulment Committee Decisions Make ICSID Rules a Less Attractive Choice for Resolving Treaty-Based Investor-State Disputes

by Paul B. Maslo

     Most international investment agreements mandate use of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) rules for resolving treaty-based investor-state disputes. One of the primary advantages to arbitrating under the ICSID rules is efficiency. In arbitration, finality reigns supreme. The remedy of annulment - designed as a severe censure to cure only the most egregious violations of the arbitral process - constitutes a limited exception to the principle of finality under the ICSID rules.

     The review committees' decisions in Sempra Energy International v. Argentine Republic and Enron v. Argentine Republic, appear to have departed from this standard by couching serious errors in the application of the law as complete failures to apply the law, thus providing grounds for annulment based on the tribunals having manifestly exceeded their powers. If annulment committees continue to blur the distinction between misapplication and nonapplication of the law, the ICSID annulment provision could soon be seen as a disadvantage, effectively negating some of the primary benefits of arbitration: expediency and finality.






Should the United States Use Treaties to Make the World "More Like Us"?

by Simon Lester

     After a contentious debate last year, the U.S. Senate rejected an international treaty related to the rights of the disabled. The public discussion of this issue brought to light some important differences in views on whether and how the U.S. should use treaties to spread its values around the world. This essay uses the debate surrounding the disability rights treaty as a basis for exploring the United States’ use of treaties and other international agreements to push other countries to adopt specific domestic policies.Should we try to make the world like us? Are treaties a good way to accomplish this? Are there any negative repercussions from doing so? After considering these questions, the author proposes an alternative approach to spreading our values in the international arena.

VOLUME 54 :: No. 2

The Responsibility to Solve: The International Community and Protracted Refugee Situations

by T. Alexander Aleinikoff & Stephen Poellot ~ Apr 01, 2014

Today, more than half of the world’s nearly twelve million refugees are in protracted refugee situations and the vast majority are not on the road to a durable solution. We contend that the international community has a legal and moral duty to seek solutions to long-term refugeehood. We call this duty the “Responsibility to Solve” (R2S) and present three arguments for its recognition. The first flows from the human harms imposed on those left in the limbo of refugee status for an extended period of time; the second focuses on principles that underlie the international refugee regime, of the centrality of solutions and the necessity of burden-sharing; and the third derives from specific commitments of members of the UN General Assembly and signatories to the Refugee Convention to cooperate with UNHCR in seeking solutions. Recognition of R2S would provide a rhetoric and a moral fulcrum for renewed attention to solutions, in turn leading to enhanced funding for returns and local integration as well as more resettlement opportunities. It would also remind us that the principle of non-refoulement — while at the core of refugee protection — is not the ultimate goal of the international refugee regime. The responsibility of the international community to refugees is not simply to support camps or other arrangements that provide assistance to refugees; it is to end the condition of being a refugee.

Beyond Truth and Punishment in Transitional Justice

by Matiangai V.S. Sirleaf ~ Apr 01, 2014

Many societies have had to deal with issues of truth and punishment following a period of massive human rights violations. This paper evaluates the search for justice in the aftermath of atrocities in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia by examining each country’s approach to truth-telling and punishment. It demonstrates that scholars and practitioners have misplaced confidence in the ability of truth commissions and trials to contribute towards restorative, retributive, expressive, and utilitarian goals. It assesses the contribution of these mechanisms to their stated objectives from the perspectives of victims and the affected societies by using data gathered from field research. This paper finds that the combined use of truth and punishment mechanisms can produce mutually reinforcing effects on each mechanism’s ability to carry out its stated objectives. It argues that it is critical to limit the number of goals to which truth commissions and trials can reasonably be expected to contribute, as opposed to burdening them with multiple objectives, thereby creating unattainable expectations. Finally, this paper concludes that each institution should focus on its comparative advantage and pay careful attention to the messages sent regarding what the commission or trial can actually be expected to accomplish.

The First Condition of Progess? Freedom of Speech and the Limits of International Trade Law

by Tomer Broude & Holger P. Hestermeyer ~ Apr 01, 2014

Can international trade law be utilized to promote the freedom of speech in the face of repressive censorship? Even before Google’s abrupt departure from China, associated with Chinese restrictions on speech, academics and advocates argued that the World Trade Organization dispute settlement system can be used to promote freedom of speech and access to information in China and elsewhere by targeting internet censorship as an illegal trade barrier. If this were indeed one area in which international trade law might protect a human right in the face of adverse political restrictions, it could serve as a powerful vindication of economic liberalization that is otherwise often considered to contradict or compromise human rights. Through careful analysis of the gaps between human rights and international trade law we take a skeptical perspective towards this line of thinking, arguing instead that international trade disputes relating to censorship (such as a potential “Google” case) are indifferent towards the freedom of expression and ultimately promote economic interests with little, if any, impact on restricted speech.

Legal Vortex in the Strait of Hormuz

by James Kraska ~ Apr 01, 2014

The regime of straits used for international navigation is one of the central features of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Neither the United States nor Iran, however, are party to UNCLOS, and the two adversaries disagree about the application of the treaty to relations between them in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran claims that the generous navigational provisions in UNCLOS may only be enjoyed by states that are party to the Convention. The United States claims that the right of transit passage in UNCLOS is reflective of customary international law, and therefore applicable to non-parties. Transit passage permits an unrestricted right to travel on the surface, under the water, or in over flight through international straits. The dispute is complicated by Iran’s claim to a territorial sea that is twelve nautical miles in width — another key provision of UNCLOS, which departs from the historic norm of three nautical miles. Iran claims that the twelve nautical mile territorial sea is now part of customary law, but rejects the notion that other states enjoy the right of transit passage. The two regimes, however, are inseparable — Iran may not have a twelve nautical mile territorial sea, and yet disregard the rights of other states to exercise transit passage in the Strait of Hormuz.

How to Train a Toothless Dragon: Finding Room for Improvement in China’s Transfer Pricing Regulations

by Jessica L. Ho ~ Apr 01, 2014

One of the unintended consequences of economic globalization is the rise of transfer pricing manipulation, through which companies use international networks to shift their profits in order to minimize (or even eliminate) tax liability. China, for example, remains a top destination for foreign investment, yet it saw fifty-five percent of companies with foreign investment reporting an operating loss as late as 2005, primarily as a result of rampant transfer pricing manipulation practices. In an attempt to mitigate the loss of millions of yuan in tax revenue, the Chinese government passed a series of reforms in 2008 to minimize transfer pricing manipulation through enhanced reporting requirements, increased penalties, and Advance Pricing Agreements. The reforms have increased transaction transparency to some extent, but greater efficacy is hampered by local tax officials who often are unable or unwilling to utilize the reforms’ heightened reporting measures to detect transfer pricing problems. This Note argues that, if the Chinese government is truly interested in discouraging transfer pricing manipulation, then it should instead pass regulations that focus on ex post review and enforcement. Specifically, the government could better educate its local tax officials to recognize transfer pricing issues and also could cooperate with tax authorities in other countries to share information about transfer pricing offenders. Transfer pricing manipulation is a difficult issue to resolve, but it is important to consider how Chinese regulations targeting this issue can improve, particularly as China continues its transition to a new national leadership.

Problematic Precedents: The Conflicting Legacies in the Genocide Jurisprudences of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

by Kendra Wergin ~ Apr 01, 2014

This Note presents the first comprehensive review of the genocide jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. While the Tribunal has issued several convictions for genocide committed in Srebrenica in 1995, it has failed to convict every person charged with genocide in other Bosnian municipalities during 1992. These acquittals rest principally on the complicated analysis of the mens rea component of the crime of genocide. This Note identifies the conflicting legal reasoning applied in the municipalities cases and explains the implications of these precedents for the two remaining genocide cases against former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadžić and General Ratko Mladić.

Public and Private in International Investment Law: An Integrated Systems Approach

by Julie A. Maupin ~ Apr 01, 2014

Members of the invisible college of international investment lawyers are engaged in a fierce battle over the conceptual foundations of their common legal enterprise. The debate centers on whether the international legal regime governing foreign direct investment is a de facto transnational public governance system or merely an institutional support structure for the settlement of essentially private investment disputes. These attempts to establish the public versus private nature of the regime are misconceived. International investment law deals with both public and private concerns, impacts upon both public and private actors, and crosses over traditional divides separating public law from private law and public international law from private international law. In light of these overlaps, the regime should instead be analyzed from an integrated systems perspective. This approach better comports with the regime’s complex interlocking nature. It is also better suited to the pragmatic challenge of accommodating the conflicting claims of diverse stakeholders within the confines of an outmoded but rapidly evolving legal schema. I illustrate this with concrete examples of minor interventions at three different levels of the regime that could produce major shifts in the prevailing balance between investor and non-investor rights at other levels of the regime.


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