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 2022 Digest is available at the bottom of this page. The 2022 Digest provides a historical record of key legal developments in 2022. Acting Legal Adviser Rich Visek summarized the contents of the 2022 Digest in the Introduction, stating in part:

The legal work illustrated in this year’s Digest was in many ways shaped by world events. On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a brutal full-scale further invasion of Ukraine. In response to Ukraine’s entreaty to rally international support, the United States looked to international law, international institutions, and domestic law as tools in organizing and advancing international action. The United States’ efforts to respond to Russian aggression and stand in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty is evident in nearly every area of legal practice, and accordingly in most of the chapters of this volume. The United States participated in the development of five UN General Assembly resolutions in 2022 addressing the Russian further invasion of Ukraine. When Ukraine initiated proceedings against Russia under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide before the International Court of Justice (“ICJ”), the United States filed a Declaration of Intervention in support. The United States imposed sanctions, visa restrictions, and other measures on Russian and Belarusian officials believed to be involved in actions threatening the sovereignty of Ukraine. In addition to exercising existing authorities, the President issued new measures, including Executive Order (E.O.) 14065, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions With Respect to Continued Russian Efforts To Undermine the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of Ukraine”, in February, and E.O. 14071, “Prohibiting New Investment in and Certain Services to the Russian Federation in Response to Continued Russian Federation Aggression”, in April.

These robust efforts to respond to Russia’s aggression were further bolstered by legal diplomacy. The Office of the Legal Adviser participated in multilateral meetings of foreign legal advisers on a variety of legal issues related to Russia’s war against Ukraine, including at the Meetings of the Council of Europe Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law, U.S.-EU legal dialogues, the Annual Meeting of Allies’ Legal Advisers at NATO, and frequent meetings with G7 legal counterparts.

Calendar year 2022 also saw a return to in-person and hybrid meetings as COVID-19 pandemic response measures eased. Whether virtual, written, or in-person, U.S. officials provided views and positions on critical topics. The United States expressed support for the negotiation of a UN treaty relating to cybercrime and participated in sessions of the Open-Ended Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Committee of Experts previously postponed from 2021 due to the pandemic. In August, a U.S. delegation of more than 30 members, including participants from a dozen federal agencies and representatives from state and local government, attended a meeting of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in Geneva, Switzerland. In a letter to the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), I expressed support for a renewed dialogue about developing a model state law on consular notification requirements. In September and October, the Office of the Legal Adviser delivered remarks in support of appointing a drafting committee for a uniform or model act on consular notification and access at meetings of the ULC. The United States participated in meetings of the World Health Organization’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body developing a new instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. In November, the United States participated in the UN Climate Change Conference (“COP27”) and announced initiatives to advance U.S. commitment to climate action. Also, in November, the United States endorsed the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas.

There were further developments in 2022 relating to U.S. international agreements, treaties, and other arrangements. The United States made swift progress towards supporting Finland and Sweden’s bids to become NATO allies. In July, the United States signed the Protocols to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 on the Accession of the Republic of Finland and the Kingdom of Sweden (the “Protocols”). In August, the U.S. Senate passed resolutions providing advice and consent to ratification, President Biden signed the U.S. Instruments of Ratification to the Protocols, and the State Department deposited the Instruments. The U.S. Senate also considered and approved for ratification other agreements in 2022. It passed a resolution providing advice and consent to ratification on two law enforcement treaties with Croatia—an extradition instrument and a mutual legal assistance instrument—which were ratified by the United States in November. The U.S. Senate also gave advice and consent to U.S. ratification of the Kigali Agreement to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

In its relations with other nations, the United States supported significant diplomatic initiatives. The United States facilitated discussions between Israel and Lebanon on their maritime boundary, with the U.S. negotiating team helping to bring a maritime boundary agreement into force. In addition, the United States engaged in outreach and dialogue over maritime claims. The State Department released two Limits in the Sea studies—No. 150 on the People’s Republic of China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, and No. 151 on Panama’s maritime claims. Diplomatic efforts to address climate change also continued in 2022. The Biden-Harris Administration unveiled a new policy on sea-level rise and maritime zones. Other regional diplomatic efforts, such as the Negev Forum and the African Leaders Summit, similarly saw significant U.S. participation.

The United States responded to developments worldwide. In response to crackdowns on the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran, the United States imposed sanctions on Iranian officials under E.O. 13553, which authorizes the imposition of sanctions on certain persons with respect to serious human rights abuses by the Government of Iran, and E.O. 13846, which authorizes sanctions on persons who engage in censorship or other activities with respect to Iran. In addition, the United States participated in a UN Human Rights Council special session addressing the human rights situation in Iran and co-signed joint statements on the human rights situation and internet shutdowns. To address the humanitarian and security situation in Haiti, Secretary Blinken announced a new visa restriction policy under section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act against Haitian officials and others involved in the operation of street gangs. Further, the United States co-drafted UN Security Council Resolution 2653 to impose travel bans, asset freezes, and arms embargo measures on those threatening the peace, security, or stability in Haiti. The resolution was unanimously adopted by the Security Council.

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