International Criminal Justice Questions

Question #1

Does the US abide by international law?

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Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked critically at how international law is made, how it’s reflected and recognized in domestic law and where they intersect (or sometimes collide). We’ve seen the US withdraw from international bodies, including human rights mechanisms, like the Human Rights Council, or actively try to undermine the ICC. You’ve also studied dualism and monism and see how the US interprets its treaty obligations through the lens of the Constitution (remember those RUDs!).

However, remember the Avena decision related to the Viena Convention on Consular Rights and how the US – at least unofficially – implemented it in the Medellin case.

Given that, do you think the United States abides by international law? If so, how is it reflected? If not, why does the US continue to engage in the international spaces it’s still in? What are the consequences of disengagement or trying to undermine international law’s impact? Could it eventually hurt the US’s position?

Question #2

Racial violence at the UN – worth it?

Given our class tonight on how to implement international human rights laws in the United States, what are benefits or challenges of taking an issue as large as racist state violence to a body like the U.N.?

As Professor Kamuf Ward referenced, there was an unprecedented effort this past summer in the middle of the racial justice uprisings to request that the UN Human Rights Council create a special commission of inquiry to investigate police violence against POC in the US, especially Black citizens. That led to an urgent debate on the issue, where the HRC heard testimony from George Floyd’s brother and ultimately issued a statement against his killing. The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights also issued a statement prior to that recognizing the roots of slavery in racist state violence.

Are these efforts worth it? Do they help shift policies and laws, or just public opinion? Or both?

Question #3

Land rights of minority or ethnic populations
In class we talked about how the sovereignty can sometimes come up against individual rights (especially human rights). Once a territory is established and meets the criteria for statehood, what about the ethnic minorities, indigenous communities, First Nations and others whose nations and identities are not defined by those boundaries? Here’s a brief commentary that looks at these two sometimes-competing principles in international law. What are your thoughts?

Territorial Integrity v. Self-Determination: Evaluating the Kurdish Independence Referendum –

Question #4

Universal jurisdiction

Coming off our class on jurisdiction, just this week a number of human rights groups submitted an amicus brief to a case before the Supreme Court – the most recent since the Kiobel case that we discussed in class – that will look further at the Alien Tort Statute. While Kiobel was about corporate liability under ATS and universal jurisdiction and the court put some boundaries on that, the Nestle case that the Court will be hearing this year answers definitively whether they can be held liable.
Do you think universal jurisdiction should include corporate actors, or just individuals?

Question #5

Human Rights Council reviews the United States

Today, countries who are part of the Human Rights Council at the UN reviewed the United States’ record on human rights. Each country only got a minute to offer comments and recommendations. What stands out to you most about the process, the recommendations made or the United States’ report?

Each question should be about 150-200 words

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