International Law in Brief


International Law in Brief (ILIB) is forum that provides updates on current developments in international law from the editors of ASIL's International Legal Materials.
| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : June 01, 2020 |

On June 1, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court published its opinion in Nasrallah v. Barr. The case concerned judicial review of an order under the U.N. Convention Against Torture (CAT) of whether or not to grant relief to an applicant for protection. CAT relief is granted to a noncitizen if he or she demonstrates a likelihood of torture in the country of removal. The U.S. Government sought to remove the petitioner after he pled guilty to receiving stolen property, but the petitioner applied for CAT relief to avoid going back to Lebanon. The petitioner’s application for CAT relief was...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : June 01, 2020 |

On June 1, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court published its opinion in GE Energy Power Conversion France SAS v. Outokumpu Stainless USA, LLC, a case involving interpretation of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention). The issue was “whether the [New York Convention] conflicts with domestic equitable estoppel doctrines that permit the enforcement of arbitration agreements by nonsignatories.” GE was a subcontractor for three contracts between ThyssenKrupp Stainless USA, LLC and F. L. Industries, Inc., tasked with “design[ing],...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : June 01, 2020 |

On Friday, May 29, 2020, President Trump announced that as of that date, the U.S. relationgship with the World Health Organization (WHO) is terminated. According to the New York Times, the administration cited the WHO's handling of the current pandemic as one of the main reasons for U.S. withdrawal. The United States was one of the original proponents and supports of the WHO, and has been engaged with it since it began in 1948. The New York Times reports that it is unclear whether withdrawal can occur without Congressional approval. 


| By: Emma Schoenberger : June 01, 2020 |

On May 29, 2020, the European Court of Human Rights published an advisory opinion to the Constitutional Court of Armenia on retroactive application of law and whether references to specific articles of the Armenian Constitution within its Criminal Code were “compatible with Article 7 of the Convention.” According to a press release, the Constitutional Court had requested the opinion in its review of a case against Robert Kocharyan, the former president of Armenia, who had been “charged…under Article 300.1 § 1 (Overthrowing the constitutional order) of the 2009 Criminal Code,” but committed...


| By: Emma Schoenberger : May 29, 2020 |

On May 22, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in Cooper v. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), upholding the district court’s decision to dismiss the claims against GE and TEPCO. The case was “brought in California by United States servicemembers … [who] alleg[e] they were exposed to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant” when responding to the disaster. In reviewing the district court’s decision, the Court of Appeals evaluated whether a choice of law analysis between Japanese and California law was appropriate in...


| By: Justine N. Stefanelli : May 28, 2020 |

On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, declared to Congress that the State Department no longer considers that Hong Kong is sufficiently autonomous from China. As a result, he stated that “Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997.” As reported by the Washington Post, Pompeo’s declaration “could have far-reaching ramifications in its trading relationship with the United States.” A move by American diplomats to discuss the situation in Hong Kong in a virtual...


| By: Emma Schoenberger : May 26, 2020 |

On May 22, 2020, Eliot L. Engel (Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs) and Adam Smith (Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services) published their letter to Mike Pompeo and Mark T. Esper (Secretaries of the Department of State and Department of Defense, respectively) opposing the Trump administration’s “plans to withdraw . . . from the Treaty on Open Skies.” They noted that withdrawing from a treaty “without consultation with or notification to Congress . . . is in direct violation of Section 1234 of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.” The authors...


| By: Emma Schoenberger : May 22, 2020 |

The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal released a partial award in case A15 (II:A), concerning “the transfer of Iranian properties” from the United States back to Iran as required by the Algiers Declaration. Before evaluating each of the individual claims pertaining to specific pieces of property, the Court decided on the definition of property, when ownership transfers from one party to the other, when the US obligation began, and the extent of both the US and Iranian obligations under the Declaration. It then evaluated each claim individually and decided on reparations on a case-by-case...


| By: Emma Schoenberger : May 18, 2020 |

In May 2020, the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights published a Thematic Factsheet entitled “Constitutional matters.” The factsheet summarizes ways that rulings by the ECtHR have affected countries’ implementation of their domestic law, the structure of their court systems, human rights’ policies, and processes available to citizens and non-citizens to pursue the protection of those rights. It covers both “Reforms in Constitutional Matters” and “Changes in Constitutional Courts’ Case-Law”; under those sub-headings it covers categories like “...


| By: Emma Schoenberger : May 15, 2020 |

On May 14, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered its judgment in Joined Cases C-924/19 PPU and C-925/19 PPU FMS and Others [currently in French and Hungarian only]. A press release from the Court explains that the case concerns “Afghan . . . and Iranian nationals . . . who arrived in Hungary via Serbia, [and] lodged applications for asylum.” Hungarian courts “dismissed [their asylum applications] as inadmissible” and ordered that they “return to Serbia”; when they were refused re-entry in Serbia, “Hungarian authorities . . .  amended the country of destination…...