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 2018 Digest is available at the bottom of this page. The full text of key documents that are excerpted therein (and that are not readily available elsewhere) is available under the listing for the chapter in which the document is discussed. The 2018 Digest provides a historical record of key legal developments in 2018. Acting Legal Adviser Marik String summarized the contents of the 2018 Digest in the Introduction, stating in part:

…This volume reflects the work of the Office of the Legal Adviser during calendar year 2018, under the leadership of Legal Adviser Jennifer Newstead.

This volume features explanations of U.S. international legal views in 2018 delivered by representatives of the U.S. government. The Trump administration announced a new U.S. policy regarding the International Criminal Court (“ICC”), advising that it would use any means necessary to protect citizens of the United States, and other non-parties to the Rome Statute, from unjust prosecution by the ICC. The United States formally commented on two projects of the International Law Commission (“ILC”) in 2018: the Draft Conclusions on the Identification of Customary International Law and the Draft Conclusions on Subsequent Agreements and Subsequent Practice. Jennifer Newstead also delivered remarks on the ILC’s 70th anniversary, addressing concerns regarding the working methods of the ILC, discussing generally the topics on its current program of work, and expressing concerns about some new proposed areas of work. The State Department repeated U.S. support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and again condemned Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea in a 2018 statement, “Crimea is Ukraine” and Secretary of State Pompeo’s “Crimea Declaration,” as well as several statements at the UN. The State Department released a report documenting atrocities committed against residents in Burma’s northern Rakhine State during the course of violence in the previous two years. The President provided a report to Congress on the “legal and policy frameworks guiding the United States’ use of military force and related national security operations,” updating the previous report provided in 2016. The administration’s views were also conveyed in Congressional communications, including letters regarding U.S. authority to prosecute the campaign against ISIS.

There were numerous developments in 2018 relating to U.S. international agreements, treaties and other arrangements. U.S. extradition treaties with the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia received the U.S. Senate’s advice and consent to ratification. U.S. maritime boundary treaties with Kiribati and Micronesia also received advice and consent to ratification in 2018. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) was concluded to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”). The United States, Mexico, and Canada also concluded a trilateral agreement on environmental cooperation. The Department of State provided testimony to the Senate in support of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Public Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. The United States terminated, withdrew from, suspended its obligations or participation under, or announced its withdrawal from: the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes; the U.S.-Iran Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights; the Universal Postal Union; the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (“INF”) Treaty; the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty; and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) with Iran. The United States entered into new arrangements in 2018, including new air transport agreements with the Netherlands with regard to Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba; Grenada; Belize; the United Kingdom; and Haiti. The United States and Canada began a series of negotiations in 2018 to modernize the Columbia River Treaty regime. The United States extended two international agreements and entered into one new agreement pursuant to the 1970 UNESCO Cultural Property Convention. And the UN Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation was concluded at the 68th session of UNCITRAL Working Group II in 2018 with U.S. support.

In the area of diplomatic relations, the United States reestablished a permanent diplomatic presence in Somalia in 2018. Representatives of the United States government actively and repeatedly called out the Maduro regime in Venezuela through statements and resolutions at the Organization of American States, the UN, and through U.S. sanctions. The Department of State declared the chargé d’affaires of the Venezuelan Embassy and the deputy consul general of the Venezuelan Consulate in Houston personae non grata. The ordered departure of U.S. Embassy Havana staff instituted in 2017 ended on March 4, 2018, when a new staffing plan went into effect. The State Department announced the expulsion of 48 Russian officials serving at Russia’s bilateral mission to the United States and twelve intelligence operatives as well as the required closure of the Russian Consulate General in Seattle in response to several destabilizing actions taken by the Russian government. As announced in 2017, the United States proceeded with the opening of the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem and the merger of U.S. Embassy Jerusalem and U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem in 2018.

U.S. government works are in the public domain per section 105 of the Copyright Act.

Persons or organizations wishing to comment on this website or the Digest in general are invited to do so by sending an email to ldigest@state.gov.

Download 2018 Digest (PDF)

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future