International Law and the Trump Administration: An Online Series


The American Society of International Law is pleased to announce this online library of its 2017 video series, "International Law and the Trump Administration." This series was launched on February 1, 2017 and endeavors to educate the public on the relationship between international law and executive branch policies through discussions with bipartisan panels of former senior government officials. The Society's Strategic Initiatives Committee, in accordance with ASIL's non-partisian mission, launched the series to promote deeper understanding of international law principles, particularly in light of the 2016 U.S. presidential race and elections, during which international law topics featured prominently.

The full series includes 10 one-hour sessions and brings together senior former executive branch officials from administrations of both parties to discuss the policy choices facing the U.S. government and their implications for a range of vital international legal issues. All programs in the series are freely available to the public in both video (below and here) and audio formats.


 

Live Streamed on Thursday, December 14, 2017

Three days after his inauguration, President Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Since then, the administration has signaled further policy shifts that have caused many to question the U.S. commitment to its longstanding allies and its approach to regional economic, security, and environmental concerns. These uncertainties come at a time when the U.S. and its partners confront rapidly evolving challenges across the region, including the increasing assertiveness of China in both economic and military matters, an accelerating nuclear threat from North Korea, serious human rights violations in the Philippines and Myanmar, and a lack of hemispheric cooperation on such matters as climate change and trade.

This live online briefing, the tenth in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for formulating policy and advising the Executive Branch on issues involving the United States' engagement with nations in the Asia-Pacific region. They will discuss the legal and policy options open to the U.S. and its partners, the role of international institutions and alliances, and the future of U.S. transpacific relations.

Speakers
  • Michael J. Green, Center for Strategic & International Studies, former Special Assistant to the President for national security affairs and Senior Director for Asia, National Security Council
  • Jeffrey Prescott, Penn Biden Center, former Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor and senior Asia advisor to the Vice President
  • Mara Karlin (moderator), Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

 

Live Streamed on Monday, November 27, 2017

Three days after his inauguration, President Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Since then, the administration has signaled further policy shifts that have caused many to question the U.S. commitment to its longstanding allies and its approach to regional economic, security, and environmental concerns. These uncertainties come at a time when the U.S. and its partners confront rapidly evolving challenges across the region, including the increasing assertiveness of China in both economic and military matters, an accelerating nuclear threat from North Korea, serious human rights violations in the Philippines and Myanmar, and a lack of hemispheric cooperation on such matters as climate change and trade.

This live online briefing, the tenth in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for formulating policy and advising the Executive Branch on issues involving the United States' engagement with nations in the Asia-Pacific region. They will discuss the legal and policy options open to the U.S. and its partners, the role of international institutions and alliances, and the future of U.S. transpacific relations.

Speakers
  • Charles Kupchan, Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council
  • Kurt Volker, McCain Institute for International Leadership, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO
  • Constanze Stelzenmüller (moderator), The Brookings Institution

 

Live Streamed on Monday, October 30, 2017

The United States pursues a range of policy options in serving its national interests, from diplomacy to sanctions and other coercive measures to the use of military force. At various times, such measures have been undertaken unilaterally, or pursuant to Security Council authorization, or in accordance with obligations arising under international security agreements. Since entering office, the Trump Administration has continued military operations conducted by previous administrations against ISIS and other non-state actors, launched a unilateral missile strike against a Syrian government target in response to the use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, and contemplated possible military actions in response to nuclear weapons tests in North Korea.

This live online briefing, the eighth in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for formulating policy and advising the Executive Branch on issues involving the use of force and the law of armed conflict. They will discuss the international legal principles that apply to the permissible use of force by nation states and the extent to which those principles serve as an effective constraint on aggression, and will examine the interplay between international law, domestic legislation, and Executive Branch policies that US officials consider in determining whether a given exercise of armed force is legally permissible.

Speakers
  • Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School, former Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice and former special counsel, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Oona Hathaway, Yale Law School, former special counsel, Office of the General Counsel for National Security Law, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Laura Dickinson (moderator), George Washington University School of Law, former senior policy adviser, U.S. Department of State, former Special Counsel to the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense

 

Live Streamed on Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The international system put in place to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons has faced major challenges in recent years, with unstable governments and non-state actors accelerating their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities. The United States has long been a leader of international efforts to limit the spread of such weapons, through the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and other international agreements. President Trump has expressed skepticism about arms limitation agreements, including the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear program and the New START treaty between the U.S. and Russia. He has said that the U.S. "must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

This live online briefing, the seventh in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for formulating policy and advising the Executive Branch on nuclear security and non-proliferation. They will discuss the extent to which international law has been successful in containing the spread of nuclear weapons; the role that the U.S. has played in such efforts; and the current challenges posed by the efforts of both state and non-state actors to acquire nuclear capabilities.

Speakers
  • Stephen Rademaker, Covington & Burling, former assistant secretary of state, Bureau of Arms Control and Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State
  • Lynn Rusten, Nuclear Threat Initiative, former White House National Security Council staff and chief of staff, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State
  • David Koplow (moderator), Georgetown University Law Center, former special counsel for Arms Control, Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense

 

Live Streamed on Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Advances in technology over the past several decades have resulted in a world that is highly dependent on the security and reliability of computing systems. The reliance on these systems has opened up the world to the threat of cyber operations that can influence everything from secure communications between governments to the control and management of weapons technologies to public access to information. International law has long struggled with how to address cyber operations and took a significant step forward in 2013 with the Tallinn Manual, which covered the major issues of conflict and cybersecurity. President Trump has repeatedly identified cybersecurity as an issue important to his administration.

This live online briefing, the sixth in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for formulating policy and advising the Executive Branch on the United States' engagement with international organizations and foreign governments on cybersecurity issues. They will discuss the extent to which international law is even relevant to cyber operations; the role that the Executive Branch plays in protecting its citizens and government activities from cybersecurity threats; the various efforts in the international system to address security threats that change on an almost daily basis; and what tools the administration and the United States Government has to respond to these potential threats under international law.

Speakers
  • Ashley Deeks, University of Virginia School of Law, former assistant legal adviser for political-military affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Brian Egan, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, former legal adviser, U.S. Department of State
  • Michael Schmitt (moderator), Stockton Center for the Study of International Law, U.S. Naval War College

 

Live Streamed on Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The United States has a long history of welcoming individuals who have fled their home countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution. Approximately two-thirds of all refugee resettlement referrals are undertaken by the U.S. and every U.S. President since Reagan has reaffirmed the important role refugee resettlement represents in supporting U.S. values. Since his election, President Trump has indicated an intent to reevaluate the United States' commitment to refugee resettlement, citing national security concerns and a distrust of the current vetting process. Two executive orders (January 27 and March 6, 2017) which proposed a suspension of all refugee admissions were blocked by U.S. federal courts.

This live online briefing, the fifth in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for formulating policy and advising the Executive Branch on the United States' domestic and international obligations towards refugees. They will discuss the international legal principles that apply to the resettlement of refugees; the role that the Executive Branch plays in implementing the United States' international obligations; and will examine the interplay between international law, domestic legislation, and Executive Branch policies U.S. officials consider in addressing refugee issues. To receive the streaming link, sign up using the form below.

Speakers
  • Alex Aleinikoff, director, Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School, and former general counsel of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • Sam Witten, counsel, Arnold & Porter Kay Scholer LLP, and former principal deputy and acting assistant secretary of state for Population, Refugees and Migration
  • Jane Stromseth (moderator), professor of law, Georgetown University Law Center

 

Live Streamed on Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Over the past several decades, international organizations and nation-states have entered into agreements of various kinds to mitigate environmental harms, including air and water pollution, the collapsing ocean ecosystem, vanishing forests and habitat, species extinction, the spread of hazardous chemicals, ozone depletion, and global climate change. The Trump Administration has indicated that it may seek to withdraw from a number of multilateral environmental agreements, including the Paris Agreement, signed by President Obama in 2016, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by President George H.W. Bush and ratified by a unanimous U.S. Senate in 1992.

This live online briefing, the fourth in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for formulating policy and representing the U.S. Government on international environmental issues. They will discuss the role of international law and institutions in protecting the environment; the strengths and weaknesses of multilateral environmental agreements that are currently in force; and the likely implications of U.S. withdrawal.

Speakers
  • Jennifer Haverkamp, former Special Representative for Environment and Natural Resources, U.S. Department of State, and former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Environment and Natural Resources
  • Claudia McMurray, President and CEO, Mainstream Green Solutions, LLC and former Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment and Science, U.S. Department of State
Michael Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia Law School will moderate this discussion.
Related Materials

The Paris Climate Change Agreement: A New Hope?

Whaling in the Antarctic (Australia V. Japan: New Zealand Intervening) (I.C.J.)

The Role of International Courts and Tribunals in the Development of Environmental Law

Can the Polar Code Save the Arctic?

Climate Litigation and the North-South Divide in International Environmental Law


 

Live Streamed on Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Modern nations have long relied on trading relationships to sustain and grow their economies, and globalization has intensified their interdependence. Although trade agreements and regulations have often been a source of domestic controversy, they have seldom been as hotly debated as they were during the 2016 election. Since taking office, the Trump administration has announced plans to withdraw from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and has signaled its intention to withdraw from or renegotiate a number of the trade agreements in which the United States currently participates, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

This live online briefing, the third in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for representing the U.S. Government in its trade negotiations around the world and developing and implementing U.S. trade policy. They will discuss the role that international law plays in global trade agreements and disputes; the institutions that address those disputes; what authority the President has, acting on his own, to modify or withdraw from those agreements; criticisms and proposed reforms of the current international trade system; and the possible paths forward for pursuing the United States' economic interests abroad in the Trump Administration.

Speakers
  • Grant Aldonas, Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor, Institute for International Economic Law, Georgetown University Law Center; former Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade
  • Miriam Sapiro, Partner and Head of the Washington DC Office, Finsbury; former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and Acting U.S. Trade Representative
Lucinda Low, President, American Society of International Law; Partner and head of the Compliance, Investigations, Trade and Enforcement Department, Steptoe & Johnson LLP moderated this discussion.
Related Materials

The Chapeau of the General Exceptions in the WTO GATT and GATS Agreements: A Reconstruction

Atoms Versus Bits: Consumer Protection in the (Cyber) Trade Regime

The European Commission's Proposal of an "Investment Court System" for TTIP: Stepping Stone or Stumbling Block for Multilateralizing International Investment Law?

Delegitimizing Ivory: The Case for an Ivory Trade Ban Treaty

Int'l Law and Wildlife Well-being: From Theory to Action - CITES


 

Live Streamed on Thursday, February 23, 2017

The United States played a pivotal role in the establishment of the United Nations and 70 years later remains the largest financial contributor to the organization. Supporters of the U.N. emphasize its critical role in promoting peace and security, international cooperation, global health, and human rights, while critics point to the need for reforms to address structural, managerial, and political concerns. Although such criticisms are hardly new, the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign appeared to raise more fundamental questions about the continuity of the United States' commitment to the institution. The Trump administration has since indicated that it proposes to conduct a review of U.S. support for the U.N. and other international organizations, and a draft executive order signaled that the administration may propose drastic cuts in U.S. voluntary contributions.

This live online briefing, the second in the Society's series on "International Law and the Trump Administration," will feature former senior U.S. officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations who were responsible for managing the country's engagement with international organizations. They will discuss the role of the U.N. on a broad range of global issues; the challenges it faces in advancing its mission; its relationship to the United States and its importance to U.S. national interests; criticisms of the institution and proposed reforms; and the prospects for continued U.S. support.

Speakers
  • Bathsheba Crocker, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (2014-2017)
  • Mark P. Lagon, III, Centennial Fellow & Distinguished Senior Scholar, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (2004-2007)
Susan Karamanian, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies and Burnett Family Professorial Lecturer in International and Comparative Law and Policy, George Washington University School of Law moderated this discussion
Related Materials

Five Ways to Make the United Nations Even More Effective - by Sheba Crocker

Bolstering the UN Human Rights Council's Effectiveness - by Mark P. Lagon

Ebola, WHO, and the United Nations: Convergence of Global Public Health and International Peace and Security

"Uniting for Peace": Does it Still Serve Any Useful Purpose?

A Conversation with the U.N. Legal Counsel: Miguel de Serpa Soares

The Meaning of "Force" and the Boundaries of the Jus ad Bellum: Are "Minimal" Uses of Force Excluded from UN Charter Article 2(4)?

The Effectiveness of the International Court of Justice


 

Live Streamed on Wednesday, February 1, 2017

President Donald Trump's executive orders to date, as well as reports of intended policy changes, raise questions about the continuity of U.S. commitments to various treaties and international agreements now in place, including the Iran nuclear agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the North Atlantic (NATO) Treaty, and the Paris Agreement on global climate change, and, more broadly, about what role the United States will play over the next four years in advancing and maintaining the international legal architecture that successive administrations put in place.

This live online briefing—the first of a series on international law and the Trump Administration—will feature leading experts in the law of treaties and will examine such issues as the status of treaties and other international agreements under both international and U.S. domestic law; the obligation of nations to comply with the agreements into which they have entered; and the procedures under which they are permitted to withdraw from such agreements or repudiate their obligations under them.

The Society thanks the American Red Cross for its technical assistance with presentation of this event.

Speakers
  • Catherine Amirfar, Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, former Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser at the U.S. State Department
  • John B. Bellinger, III, Partner, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State
Michael Goldhaber, who served for 16 years as international correspondent for The American Lawyer, will moderate the discussion.
Related Materials

AGORA: The End of Treaties Collective Decision-Making in International Governance (Timothy Meyer)

Federalism, Treaty Implementation, and Political Process: Bond v. United States, (Curtis A. Bradley)

Paris Agreement and Consensus to Address Climate Change (Elizabeth Burleson)

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 & Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Michael D. Rosenthal)

June 17, 2013 - Arms Trade Treaty: Domestic and International Implications Panel


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