As security threats grow increasingly transnational, political discourse in the United States and Europe around how to address those threats is, ironically, turning increasingly nationalistic. Yet some of the greatest challenges facing the international community at the nexus of international law, justice, and policy are best addressed by looking both outward and inward, as the essays in this compendium seek to suggest.
“The Justice Stephen Breyer Lecture Series on International Law 2014-2016” is part of a body of work which seeks to address both traditional and cutting edge areas of international law where norms are still being tested and shaped. The wider project aims to explore complex and transnational themes such as countering violent extremism, cybersecurity and internet governance, and evolving forms of warfare to shape norms, guide jurisprudence, and offer frameworks for concrete policy solutions. Starting in 2014, this effort has featured an annual lecture series which addresses critical issues of international law and policy named for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
This compendium collects essays by the first three keynote speakers in the Justice Breyer lecture series with an introduction from Brookings Senior Fellow Ted Piccone.
Brookings Senior Fellow Ted Piccone frames the compendium with his thoughts on how international law serves U.S. national interests in an international order that has anchored decades of global peace and prosperity.Continue Reading
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer explores the development of U.S. and transnational legal norms in our modern, interconnected, and interdependent world.
Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, examines the intersection of security and justice surrounding the elimination of Syria’s declared chemical weapons.
Legal scholar Harold Hongju Koh delves into the emerging law governing 21st century war in response to the rise of violent extremism and the use of new tools of warfare.
President López Obrador's extension of the term of Supreme Court chief Arturo Zaldívar is part of his strong effort to recentralize power in the Mexican presidency and hollow out the independence and power of other Mexican institutions. His other moves to bend the justice system to his will include a reform that lowered the salary of judges but did not improve the quality of prosecutors and his unwillingness to allow an independent selection of the attorney general, with López Obrador himself retaining the power of appointment. His latest move with the two-year extension of Zaldívar’s term is especially worrisome. Zaldívar is also the president of the powerful Federal Judiciary Council. The council appoints and dismisses judges, sets career advancement rules and disciplines judges. Zaldívar will be setting the council’s and, thus, the whole judiciary’s, agenda and priorities for two years. This allows López Obrador to influence how courts will rule in cases regarding the executive branch, what cases they take up and the legality of new policies. These moves are taking place when the effectiveness of the judiciary in Mexico remains limited and deeply concerning. The attorney general’s office has proven weak, unwilling to take up key cases such as against the suspects in the brazen attack on Mexico City’s security minister, Omar García Harfuch—an event that symbolized the impunity with which Mexican criminal groups operate. Mexico’s justice system showed itself equally meek and disappointing in inadequately investigating the alleged complicity of former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos and dismissing the case, potentially the most significant case of corruption and criminal collusion charges against a high-ranking Mexican official in two decades. A decade and a half after Mexico initiated its justice system reforms, 95 percent of federal cases still go unpunished. President López Obrador has scored some points, but the already precariously weak rule of law in Mexico, and thus the Mexican people, will suffer.
Beijing has shown time and time again that it frankly does not care what the international community disapproves of. It is playing by its own rules, like it or not.