The Office of the Legal Adviser publishes the annual Digest of United States Practice in International Law to provide the public with a historical record of the views and practice of the Government of the United States in public and private international law. The complete 2013 Digest is available at the left in PDF format. Individual chapters are also available at the left. Documents excerpted in the 2013 Digest that are not readily available elsewhere can be accessed through the link at the left for the chapter in which the document is excerpted.
The 2013 Digest provides a historical record of key legal developments in 2013. Principal Deputy Legal Adviser Mary McLeod summarized the contents of the 2013 Digest in the Introduction, stating in part:
Significant developments in the sphere of arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation led us to create a new chapter (Chapter 19) devoted to that subject in this year’s Digest, separating the topic from the chapter on the use of force with which it has previously been combined. Among the 2013 developments covered in the new Chapter 19 are: the conclusion of a bilateral protocol with Russia allowing cooperative threat reduction activities in that country to continue; the conclusion of the Arms Trade Treaty; the commitment of Iran and the P5+1 to a Joint Plan of Action to address Iran’s nuclear program; and the conclusion of a framework for the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons.
In 2013, the United States remained engaged in the development of international law by negotiating and concluding treaties and agreements. For example, in addition to the aforementioned Arms Trade Treaty, the United States joined other World Intellectual Property Organization members in adopting the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The United States signed several law enforcement-related agreements, including an extradition treaty with Chile, a mutual legal assistance treaty with Jordan, and asset sharing agreements with Andorra and Panama. The American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States signed an agreement on privileges, exemptions, and immunities. The United States signed a maritime boundary treaty with Kiribati and bilateral maritime law enforcement agreements with Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Micronesia. In the area of environmental law, the United States participated in laying the groundwork for a new climate agreement at the 19th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; became the first State to join the Minamata Convention to reduce mercury pollution; and concluded an agreement with the other Arctic States on cooperation in the event of an oil spill or related emergency. And the United States participated in ongoing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement as well as launching negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement.
U.S. government involvement in litigation and arbitration also contributed to the development of international law in 2013. The United States government filed briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in several cases involving international law, including: Bond v. United States, a case involving a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal criminal law implementing U.S. obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention; BG Group v. Argentina, a case regarding judicial review of an arbitral award issued pursuant to a bilateral investment treaty; and DaimlerChrysler v. Bauman, regarding jurisdiction over foreign entities in U.S. courts. The United States also participated in a wide range of litigation matters at other levels, including cases challenging U.S. policy and practice regarding passports and visas, cases brought by law of war detainees and former detainees, and cases concerning foreign official immunity. State and federal courts issued a number of important decisions relating to international law or foreign policy, including: the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., regarding extraterritorial application of the Alien Tort Statute; the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia and Fourth Circuit determining that charges could be brought for aiding and abetting piracy and other acts not committed on the high seas, construing the international law definition of piracy; and several court decisions deferring to U.S. suggestions of immunity and statements of interest in cases involving foreign officials and heads of state. The United States also participated in important arbitral proceedings, including hearings in Case A/15(II:A) before the Iran U.S. Claims Tribunal. In proceedings brought under NAFTA chapter 11, an arbitral tribunal issued an award dismissing all claims brought by Apotex against the United States.
The United States filed periodic reports, responded to questions, and made presentations before treaty bodies regarding several international human rights treaties in 2013. In January, the United States was represented by a large delegation from multiple U.S. departments and agencies, including at the state level, before the Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding implementation of its obligations under two optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In June, the United States submitted its periodic report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. In July, the United States filed its response to the Human Rights Committee’s list of issues concerning the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In August, the United States submitted its periodic report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture.
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