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 2019 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 2019 Digest provides a historical record of key legal developments in 2019. Acting Legal Adviser Marik String summarized the contents of the 2019 Digest in the Introduction, stating in part:

This volume features explanations of U.S. international legal views in 2019 delivered by representatives of the U.S. government. The Secretary of State designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”), including its Qods Force, as a foreign terrorist organization (“FTO”). The United States formally commented on three projects of the International Law Commission (“ILC”): the draft Guide to Provisional Application of Treaties; the draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity; and the draft Guidelines on Protection of the Atmosphere. Other U.S. government attorneys and I also delivered remarks on the numerous topics covered in the report of the ILC on the work of its 71st Session. The United States joined a group of 23 countries at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”) in condemning the Chinese government’s targeting of ethnic Uighurs and other human rights violations and abuses in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, repeating that condemnation in other fora, including the International Labor Organization (“ILO”), the UN General Assembly and Third Committee, as well as through the imposition of U.S. visa restrictions and in the State Department’s annual report to Congress on international religious freedom. The State Department reiterated U.S. support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and again condemned Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea in a 2019 “Crimea is Ukraine” statement. The State Department issued statements of concern regarding Turkey’s attempts to conduct drilling operations in the waters off Cyprus and China’s coercive behavior against other countries’ oil and gas development activities in the South China Sea. Secretary Pompeo announced the administration’s view that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law. And after participating and providing a paper on its practices at the Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare, the United States also joined Belgium, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom in producing a technical compilation of practical measures to strengthen the protection of civilians during military operations in armed conflict for the follow-up meetings in Geneva in November.

There were numerous developments in 2019 relating to U.S. international agreements, treaties and other arrangements. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras signed Asylum Cooperative Agreements (“ACAs”) with the United States. The American Institute in Taiwan (“AIT”) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (“TECRO”) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) Regarding Certain Consular Functions. The United States and Croatia signed bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements. The United States concluded its first agreement under the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (“CLOUD Act”) with the United Kingdom. Protocols to tax treaties with Spain, Switzerland, Japan, and Luxembourg received the U.S. Senate’s advice and consent to ratification, as did the Protocol on the Accession of North Macedonia to NATO. In 2019, the United States negotiated new air transport agreements with The Bahamas and Belarus; and negotiated and signed or initialed amendments to the air transport agreements with Suriname, Argentina, Japan, and Kenya. The three parties to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) concluded their negotiations to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), with the U.S. House of Representatives approving the USMCA in late 2019 (and the Senate in early 2020). The United States ratified the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean and the United States and Canada continued negotiations in 2019 to modernize the Columbia River Treaty regime. The United States entered into six agreements pursuant to the 1970 UNESCO Cultural Property Convention. The United States signed the Singapore Convention on Mediation, ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Public Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled, and became the second State Party to the UN Convention on the Assignment of Receivables in International Trade. On October 17, 2019, in a joint U.S.-Turkish statement, Turkey announced a ceasefire in Northeast Syria after a week-long offensive. The United States suspended its obligations under the INF Treaty and subsequently withdrew from the Treaty (effective August 2, 2019) and submitted notification to the UN of its withdrawal from the Paris agreement on climate change (effective November 4, 2020). The President withdrew the Arms Trade Treaty from Senate consideration and the Secretary of State notified the UN that the United States did not intend to join. The United States revoked its denunciation of the constitution of the Universal Postal Union (“UPU”), remaining a UPU member after an extraordinary congress of the UPU approved reforms.

In the area of diplomatic relations, the United States recognized Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela, and joined Venezuela and other countries in invoking the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (“TIAR” or “Rio Treaty”). The United States also required the departure of two diplomats from Cuba’s mission to the UN.

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