Digest of United States Practice in International Law 2014

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 2014 Digest is available at the left in PDF format. Individual chapters are also available at the left. Documents excerpted in the 2014 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 2014 Digest provides a historical record of key legal developments in 2014. Acting Legal Adviser Mary McLeod summarized the contents of the 2014 Digest in the Introduction, stating in part:

The United States made presentations before three UN human rights-based committees in Geneva in 2014 regarding its human rights record. In March, the United States presented its periodic report concerning the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”). In August, the United States made its presentation to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”). And the presentation to the UN Committee Against Torture (“CAT”) took place in November. These presentations provided an opportunity for the United States to review and reflect on our record and demonstrate our commitment to protecting human rights.

The United States negotiated and concluded several significant treaties, other international agreements, and arrangements in 2014. For example, negotiations with France resulted in an agreement regarding compensation for victims who were deported by rail from France to Nazi labor and death camps during the Holocaust. The Governments of Afghanistan and the United States signed the Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement. In the realm of trade and investment, the United States continued to pursue the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (“TTIP”) agreements, while participating in negotiations of an Environmental Goods Agreement and a new Trade in Services Agreement. The permanent five members of the UN Security Council and Germany, coordinated by the European Union, extended negotiations with Iran under the Joint Plan of Action (“JPOA”) toward a final deal constraining Iran’s nuclear program. A Protocol to the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone In Central Asia was signed, the agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation with the Republic of Korea was extended, and two agreements for peaceful nuclear cooperation entered into force, including the agreement between the American Institute in Taiwan (“AIT”) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (“TECRO”) and the agreement between the United States and Vietnam. Also in 2014, the United States signed a maritime boundary treaty with Micronesia and several bilateral maritime law enforcement agreements. And the U.S. Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification of four fisheries conventions and agreements in 2014.

The U.S. government also participated in litigation and arbitration involving issues related to foreign policy and international law in 2014. The United States government filed briefs in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including: Zivotofsky v. Kerry, regarding a law directing the Executive Branch to list “Israel” as the place of birth in passports and other official documents for certain individuals born in Jerusalem, contrary to U.S. foreign policy relating to the status of Jerusalem; OBB v. Sachs, involving claims against Austria’s state-owned railway and the interpretation of the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act’s commercial activity exception; NML v. Argentina regarding the scope of discovery into foreign sovereign assets; Kerry v. Din, involving the denial of a visa to the spouse of a U.S. citizen on terrorism related grounds; and two cases involving claims against military contractors, Kellogg Brown & Root Servs., Inc., (“KBR”) v. Harris and KBR v. Metzgar. 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, citizenship, and visas; cases brought by law of war detainees and former detainees; and cases concerning foreign sovereign and official immunity. The U.S. Supreme Court also issued a number of important decisions relating to international law or foreign policy, including: Bond v. United States, relating to implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention; Lozano v. Alvarez, regarding interpretation of the Hague Abduction Convention; BG Group v. Argentina, relating to jurisdictional prerequisites for arbitration pursuant to an investment treaty; and Daimler v. Bauman, regarding jurisdiction over foreign entities in U.S. courts. In arbitral proceedings, the Iran U.S. Claims Tribunal issued its final award in Case A/15(IV), and a NAFTA arbitral tribunal, constituted to consider claims brought against the United States by Canadian pharmaceutical firms, Apotex Holdings Inc. and Apotex Inc., issued its award, rejecting all claims.

This year’s Digest also discusses U.S. participation in international organizations, institutions, and initiatives. The United States provided the impetus for and strongly supported several notable resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in 2014, including: resolution 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters (“FTFs”); resolution 2166, demanding that armed groups in Ukraine allow international investigation of the downing of Malaysia Air flight MH17; and resolutions 2139, 2165, and 2191 on access for humanitarian assistance to Syria. The United States provided comments and information to the International Law Commission (“ILC”) on several topics, including expulsion of aliens, identification of customary international law, the effects of armed conflict on treaties, and U.S. practice relating to the provisional application of treaties. The United States responded to the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the right to privacy and other human rights in the digital age. The United States informed the UN Security Council of an operation to capture Abu Khatallah in Libya, as well as its operations against ISIL in Iraq and Syria and against the Khorasan Group in Syria. The United States filed formal objections with the UN Secretariat to the Palestinians’ efforts to accede to certain treaties. And the United States welcomed the re-election of Judge Donoghue to the International Court of Justice.

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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.

Complete 2014 Digest of United States Practice in International Law
Front Matter