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  • Issue Brief posted April 16, 2015 by Steven Groves U.N. Conference Debating a Ban on Autonomous Weapons: Understanding Key Issues

    This week, a ban on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) is being debated at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) in Geneva. The U.S. delegation has been non-committal on such a ban, and U.S. policy currently permits the Department of Defense (DOD) to pursue the development of LAWS in a responsible manner. At the conference, the United States should…

  • Issue Brief posted April 16, 2015 by Michaela Dodge, Steven Groves, James Phillips Senate’s Iran Nuclear Bill Misses the Point

    Two days ago, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) unanimously passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, a bill that attempts to bolster the congressional role in the Obama Administration’s negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program. While the effort is well intentioned, the bill sets up Congress to allow the Administration to act as if it had…

  • Backgrounder posted April 1, 2015 by Luke Coffey, Steven Groves, Daniel Kochis, Brian Slattery True North: Economic Freedom and Sovereignty Must Be at the Heart of the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council

    The United States takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Canada on April 24 during the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada.[1] Holding the chairmanship offers the U.S. an opportunity to shape the policy agenda in the region. The U.S. should focus its chairmanship on establishing achievable goals. To this end, the U.S. should…

  • Backgrounder posted March 5, 2015 by Steven Groves The U.S. Should Oppose the U.N.’s Attempt to Ban Autonomous Weapons

    As many as 40 nations are currently developing military robotics.[1] Indeed, some weapons already in use may be considered “autonomous” (or may be easily modified to be autonomous). These include Raytheon’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), a “rapid-fire, computer-controlled, radar-guided gun system” designed to destroy incoming anti-ship missiles;[2] Israel…

  • Issue Brief posted December 11, 2014 by Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves U.S. Refusal to Ratify Rome Statute Vindicated by ICC Afghanistan Report

    The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) for the International Criminal Court (ICC) recently released its annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities, which updates the status of its examination of alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan and other situations to determine whether a full investigation is warranted. Unlike previous reports, which broadly identified…

  • Backgrounder posted October 1, 2014 by Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves, James M. Roberts Why the U.S. Should Oppose the Creation of an International Anti-Corruption Court

    The idea that “grand corruption” by world leaders and powerful individuals able to shield themselves from domestic accountability should be considered a crime against humanity has percolated for years among anti-corruption advocates and international law experts. As these advocates argue, the destructive impact of grand corruption, which they argue contributes to extreme…

  • Commentary posted September 29, 2014 by Steven Groves, Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D. Obama Says No to Landmines

    On March 6, 2014, America’s highest-ranking military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, called anti-personnel landmines (APLs) “an important tool in the arsenal of the armed forces of the United States.” Yesterday, President Obama banned the armed forces from using them. Why? To comply with a treaty — the Ottawa Convention — that the…

  • Backgrounder posted June 26, 2014 by Steven Groves Accession to Convention on the Law of the Sea Unnecessary to Advance Arctic Interests

    Much has been said in recent years about a “race” or “scramble” to secure resources in the Arctic Ocean as polar ice recedes, inevitably leading to conflict in the region. But reality paints a very different picture. Over the past decades, Arctic nations have worked together to advance their shared goals for the region, and relations among the United States and other…

  • Issue Brief posted April 30, 2014 by Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves, James Phillips Palestinian Intent to Accede to 15 Treaties and U.S. Response

    President Mahmoud Abbas announced on April 1 that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will seek to join 15 international conventions and treaties. This is a new facet of the existing Palestinian policy of seeking international recognition by other governments and membership in international organizations to bolster claims of statehood absent a negotiated peace treaty with…

  • Backgrounder posted April 24, 2014 by Steven Groves, Dean Cheng A National Strategy for the South China Sea

    On December 5, a Chinese warship nearly collided with the USS Cowpens, a guided-missile cruiser operating lawfully in the South China Sea (SCS). This was only the most recent incident highlighting the unsustainable situation in the SCS. In a throwback to the time of John Selden’s Mare Clausum,[1] China has claimed sovereign rights to the entirety of the SCS within a…

  • Issue Brief posted March 11, 2014 by Steven Groves, Brett D. Schaefer Human Rights Committee’s Review of U.S. Record: Things to Watch For

    On March 13–14, a U.S. delegation will defend America’s human rights record before the Human Rights Committee (HRC), the treaty body that monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The delegation should expect harsh criticism from the HRC, whose members regularly accuse America of committing gross violations of human rights.…

  • Commentary posted February 11, 2014 by Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves The U.N. Preaches to the Vatican

    The international “smart set” regularly chastises the United States for not ratifying the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). One need only look to a recent report by the CRC’s treaty committee for full justification of U.S. reticence. Human-rights “experts” on U.N. treaty bodies like the Committee on the Rights of the Child often take liberties with…

  • Commentary posted January 20, 2014 by Steven Groves The U.S. Doesn't Need the U.N.'s Disability Treaty

    Backers of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities received a major blow last month when Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the top GOP member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, announced he would not support ratification. And that's good because ratification of the CRPD will not benefit Americans with disabilities. The United States…

  • Commentary posted November 21, 2013 by Steven Groves The Shameful Selling of the Disabilities Treaty

    Perhaps the American people have come to expect less than straight talk from the White House. But blowing smoke that misleads Americans with disabilities -- including U.S. veterans badly wounded in combat -- crosses a red line even by today's standards. That is precisely what the White House and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are doing in their…

  • Backgrounder posted November 15, 2013 by Steven Groves U.S. National Human Rights Institution: A Bad Idea

    For several years elements of the international human rights community have advocated that the United States should establish a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) to promote and monitor implementation of international human rights treaties, norms, and standards in the United States. However, creating a NHRI is a bad idea. Human rights activists would use a NHRI to…