Intl Law Infographic Primer

International Law


Negotiation Drags On at COP19 in Warsaw

Doesn’t China have an obligation to reduce its greenhouse emissions? Ongoing (and thus far, contentious) negotiations in Warsaw this week reveal the PRC’s “you first” approach–a policy approach that is explored in this Dot Earth interview with Zou Ji, deputy director of China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy:

For the other aspect, its international responsibility, my understanding is China will take its responsibilities as a large developing country, but certainly subject to its capabilities, also on an equitable basis. China will make the decision not only with the understanding of its own situation …but also the overall design of the global responsibility system, including looking at the share of burden or benefits in the process from other countries – for example the United States, Europe, Japan.

In these aspects China continues to keep the idea of common but differentiated responsibilities [background], very frankly.… China insists in the position to make the framework [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] the political and legal basis for the global regime and we do not see the necessity or need to rewrite or interpret the convention. There have been a lot of changes in the past years, but our observation is for the basis of the convention, its principles and supporting scientific facts, there have been no significant changes.

via A Closer Look at China’s ‘You First’ Stance in Climate Treaty Talks –

Other updates from 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw:

  • Why one group calls a coalition of Australia, Canada and Japan the “climate saboteurs
  • Full coverage, including live blogging from The Guardian and the G77 + China (132 countries) “walkout” during talks about “loss and damage”
  • Follow the negotiations blow-by-blow @Twitter #cop19 climate

Tell the Truth About the Arms Trade Treaty –

Let’s hear the case for the Arms Trade Treaty, which has the overwhelming support of the General Assembly:

Yet now, just days after the United Nations’ 154-to-3 vote, top United States officials are already hedging on whether President Obama will sign the treaty when it opens for signature at the United Nations on June 3 — let alone whether the United States will ratify it, an act that would require the approval of two-thirds of the Senate.

Sending such mixed signals is a grave mistake. The Arms Trade Treaty is consistent with America’s national security interests, foreign policy goals, business interests and moral traditions, which is why United States negotiators worked so hard to create it.

So what’s behind the foreboding whispers? Some truly cynical domestic politics, it would appear.

Those opposed to the accord have misrepresented what it does, suggesting that it would somehow infringe on American gun owners’ rights. It would do nothing of the kind.

via Tell the Truth About the Arms Trade Treaty –

How to Curb the Arms Trade With a Treaty?

The problem:  Conventional weapons are sold to the highest bidder, destabilizing countries, harming civilians, and undermining the rule of law.  (Heard of Viktor Bout, for example?)

The opposition: despots and terrorists, the NRA, US Senate and a few others.

But after two weeks of intensive negotiations — already in overtime after bartering last July failed — participants said the prospect for unanimous consensus among member states remained uncertain. Without that, negotiators would probably seek approval by winning support from two-thirds of General Assembly members at a vote next week.

Some states, like Iran and Syria, have consistently raised objections — evidently because the treaty could well endanger the legality of arms transfers to Damascus given the heavy civilian toll in Syria’s civil war.

India had wanted language stating that the treaty could not be used to suspend weapons transfers under existing defense cooperation agreements. The compromise language states that the treaty should not be used to break such agreements, but that any transfers must meet with its criteria.

Big arms exporters, like Russia and China, initially raised questions about the provisions tying sales to human rights criteria that might be subject to interpretation. Last summer, the Obama administration raised objections to the treaty that helped to force postponement of the talks.

The National Rifle Association, along with its allies in Congress, has long opposed the treaty, asserting it would impinge on the constitutional right to bear arms, an argument that treaty proponents dispute.

via U.N. Close To Curbing Arms Trade With Treaty –

So this is what consensus looks like: Lots of disagreements to lay on the table, then discussions–usually in the corridors, lobbies and receptions–and an agreement emerges (or doesn’t).  This is how diplomacy works, not too dissimilar from politics.

Brooks on Cyberwar, Cascading Brutality and Global Cooperation

How cyberattacks descent into a covert tech war–with commensurate wall that stifle trade and interchange–in an insightful perspective from David Brooks on how collective responses (“a Geneva Convention that bans cyberactivity against citizens and private companies”)

Americans and Europeans tend to think it is self-defeating to engage in cyberattacks on private companies in a foreign country. You may learn something, but you destroy the trust that lubricates free exchange. Pretty soon your trade dries up because nobody wants to do business with a pirate. Investors go off in search of more transparent partners.But China’s cybermercantilists regard deceit as a natural tool of warfare.

Cyberattacks make perfect sense. Your competitors have worked hard to acquire intellectual property. Your system is more closed so innovation is not your competitive advantage. It is quicker and cheaper to steal. They will hate you for it, but who cares? They were going to hate you anyway. C’est la guerre.In a brutality cascade the Chinese don’t become more like us as the competition continues. We become more like them. And that is indeed what’s happening. The first thing Western companies do in response to cyberattacks is build up walls. Instead of being open stalls in the global marketplace, they begin to look more like opaque, rigidified castles.

via The Brutality Cascade –

Dominic Tierney – The Rise of UN Derangement Syndrome

Concerns over ratifying the UN Law of the Sea Treaty?  We have found a name for it:

Worryingly, UN Derangement Syndrome has infected some wider elements of American conservatism. Dick Morris argued that a plot to create “one world government” is “happening.” Donald Rumsfeld wrote in his memoirs that the Law of the Sea: “would put all natural resources found in the seabeds of international waters … into the hands of what was ominously called the International Seabed Authority.” If the Senate ratifies the treaty, Stephen Groves wrote, the U.S. Treasury will be “raided for billions of dollars,” which will then be “redistributed to the rest of the world by an international bureaucracy.”

Twenty-seven Republican senators signed a letter opposing ratification of the treaty — just seven votes short of enough to block passage. They say that the treaty would undermine U.S. “maritime security,” redistribute wealth “from developed to undeveloped nations,” create “environmental regulation over virtually all sources of pollution,” and surrender American sovereignty to a “supranational government.”Its a terrifying vision — but, fortunately, its largely the product of overheated imagination. Consider the broad coalition that backs the Law of the Sea, and you might be reassured that its not as scary as its critics portray it to be.

Supporters include our national allies and the Democratic Party. The U.S. Navy strongly supports the treaty, which it says will enshrine rights of navigation and protect national security. Every major U.S. industry that works in the ocean is in favor, including shipping, fishing, telecommunications, and energy companies, because legal certainty will make it much easier for them to invest millions of dollars in offshore enterprises. And much of the Republican Party backs the treaty, including George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Richard Lugar, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, James Baker, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice.

via International – Dominic Tierney – The Rise of UN Derangement Syndrome – The Atlantic.