JILP Online Symposium at Opinio Juris

March 8, 2012

The NYU Journal of International Law and Politics is partnering once again with Opinio Juris for an online symposium.  The symposium will correspond with the simultaneous release this week of our Vol. 44, No. 2 issue, featuring a ground-breaking piece by Professor James Hathaway, a world-renowned leader in refugee studies and director of Michigan’s refugee law program, and Jason Pobjoy, a Ph.D. candidate in Law at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge and a visiting doctoral researcher at NYU.  The article, Queer Cases Make Bad Law, serves as a point of departure for contributions by other leading scholars, who examine and expand on issues raised by the piece. Here is a short summary of the article. and an introduction by Editor-in-Chief Jeff Stein.

On Thursday and Friday, several of the print contributors as well as other international experts will engage on various topics intersecting with LGBT asylum and refugee law raised by Professor Hathaway’s article here at Opinio Juris.  Rather than taking a traditional Q&A approach, we felt that it would be more productive to actually use direct quotes from the Hathaway/Pobjoy article and responses to ignite conversation. The first two panels focus on the definition of “being persecuted”, while the second panel focuses on the issue of “nexus”.  Click here to follow the symposium at Opinio Juris this week.


The Alien Tort Statute and Corporate Liability: Looking Ahead to the Supreme Court Decision in Kiobel

February 27, 2012

By: Maria Florencia Librizzi[*]

The Supreme Court will soon decide the fate of litigation seeking to hold U.S. corporations accountable under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) for aiding and abetting human rights abuses overseas. In September 2010, the Second Circuit held in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum that the statute did not apply to corporations.[1]  Since then, several other circuits have ruled otherwise, leading the Supreme Court to grant certiorari in Kiobel in October 2011. Oral argument is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28.[2]

The outcome of this case will be profoundly important. If the Court affirms the Second Circuit’s majority opinion, alien victims will no longer be able to sue corporations under the ATS. In many cases corporations will be free to profit from overseas human rights violations, while safeguarding their assets against compensation claims.[3]

Looking ahead to the Court’s decision, I summarize below the evolving jurisprudence of the ATS, including the circuit split over the statute’s applicability to corporations and the mens rea standard for aiding and abetting liability. If the Court limits itself to the Questions Presented in the certiorari petition, it will decide only whether the ATS applies to corporations. However, the Court may also resolve other points of contention among the circuits, including the mens rea standard for aiding and abetting liability. After reviewing the case law, I conclude with several arguments—instrumental, descriptive, and policy—in favor of recognizing corporate liability under the ATS.

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Video of our fall symposium, From Rights to Reality: Beth Simmons’s Mobilizing for Human Rights and Its Intersection with International Law, is now available!

December 9, 2011

Panel 2:

Panel 3:

Panel 4:


Fall 2011 Issue and Opinio Juris

December 7, 2011

The Fall 2011 issue of the Journal of International Law and Politics will soon be available at our official NYU website.  Stay tuned for our online discussion hosted by Opinio Juris featuring reactions from leading scholars to the following three articles:


Fall Symposium – October 14, 2011

October 10, 2011

On October 14, 2011, NYU School of Law will host a symposium entitled “From Rights to Reality: Beth Simmons’s Mobilizing for Human Rights and its Intersection with International Law.  The Journal of International Law and Politics is proud to co-sponsor this event with the International Law Society and Law Students for Human Rights.  It will examine Beth Simmons’s award-winning book, “Mobilizing for Human Rights: International Law in Domestic Politics,” and present reactions from leading scholars on the empirical effects and theoretical implications of promoting human rights through the instruments of international law.  Please RSVP here.

For more information, please visit our Symposium Page.


Our New Summer Issue (43:4)

October 10, 2011

Our summer 2011 issue is now available online at our official NYU website.

Also check out our book annotations.


Further Developing the ‘Playstation Mentality’

November 28, 2010

By Graham Dumas (J.D. Candidate 2011)

Philip Alston famously described the use of drones by the U.S. military and the CIA as potentially leading to a “playstation mentality,” in which the human and capital costs of strikes are so decreased from the perspective of the striking force that fewer precautions are taken in conducting such strikes. The criticism is valid, although it has been refuted by government lawyers from Harold Koh on down.

Yet reduced costs may not have universally negative results. Michael Walzer, in his seminal work Just and Unjust Wars, wrote about the moral duty on combatants to expose themselves to further risk in order to save the lives of civilians caught in combat zones. With drones, however, especially the land-based models described recently in the New York Times, the reduction or even elimination of risk to the human operator could make it easier for the military to warn effectively the civilian population ahead of or during operations. What is more, the moral ambiguity of using human soldiers as tools for the aim of reducing civilian casualties, which arises from the government’s duty to ensure (as far as possible) the right to life of its own forces, all but disappears with the use of drones.

One of the most effective uses of robotic vehicles in combat, then, may not be to kill the enemy, but to warn the innocent. The “playstation mentality” may thus reduce the apparent costs of giving effective advance warning to non-combatants–forces will be more willing to go farther to warn, just as they have been in executing strikes. Taking it a step further, there could be a legitimate argument that, as militaries acquire drone technology, they could become bound by article 57 of Additional Protocol I to use those drones to ascertain the status of potential targets and to ensure that civilians are not threatened during operations.

This is, of course, not to exonerate or justify the use of drones in warfare; the position I take is neutral and without prejudice to, for example, the U.S. military’s campaign of Predator strikes in the Af-Pak region.