Press Release – January 30, 2006
International Legal Scholars Affirm US International Law Obligations: Seek Adoption of Resolution by American Society of International Law
International legal scholars are
urging the leadership of the American Society of International Law to take a
public stand against policies and practices of the three branches of the
Federal Government that violate international law obligations of the
Scholars and supporters who are members of the American Society of International Law have requested in a letter to ASIL President James H. Carter that the international law society adopt a draft resolution at its centennial meeting in March that would affirm international law as well as United States obligations under international law.
ASIL has taken positions on only a handful of issues in its 100-year history. The draft resolution is supported by scholars with over 270 years of combined membership experience in ASIL.
“Where there have been fundamental challenges to the principles of
international law by high-ranking public officials, professionals are morally
bound to express their concern,” said Carl Q. Christol,
distinguished professor emeritus at the
The eight-paragraph resolution addresses the international law of self-defense, the laws of war and occupation (laws of armed conflict), the four Geneva Conventions, torture, cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment or punishment, and secret incommunicado detentions.
“Torture, ill-treatment, and secret
incommunicado detention are emphatically prohibited by international law,” said
Jamie Mayerfeld, associate professor of political science and adjunct associate
professor of law, societies and justice, at the
emphasizes the command responsibility of
Itzchack E. Kornfeld, General Counsel of OAsys Environmental Solutions and Visiting Professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia and ASIL Member for about 10 years, stated he supported the resolution because “First, since the ASIL is a law related organization, the law demands of its officers to stand-up straight back and with commitment in its protection; and second, as a member of ASIL I believe that the organization cannot seek refuge behind the sanctity of meetings and “professionalism” while concomitantly refusing to speak for justice and all that is right, especially when every member who is a member of a State or D.C. Bar promises to protect the Constitution of the United States.”
Ewen Allison, a non-ASIL member stated he joined
the effort as, “I don’t want to be one of those who stood idly by while
Americans forgot what
Another non-ASIL member
leading the Project to Enforce the Geneva Conventions, Charles B. Gittings, Jr.
Even new ASIL
members like John Lunstroth a graduate student of the
Some have supported the resolution on moral as well as legal grounds. Mary-Ann Greifeneder Allison, a non-ASIL member, stated “My reasons for supporting this resolution are multifold. It begins with the fact that I oppose the use of torture and rendition flights on moral grounds. Through my studies (I majored in political science, with a minor in law) I learned enough about public international law to know that the current administration’s policies are inconsistent with international human rights, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law. In short, both the mind and the heart coincide in opposition to the Bush administration’s policies in this area.”
Bergen, a journalist and legal commentator, author of The Twilight of
Democracy: The Bush Plan for
As noted by, Thomas Doyle another non-ASIL signator, at an earlier meeting of the Society, on April 13, 1945, in an address to the Society entitled “The Rule of Law Among Nations,” Robert H. Jackson who led the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and sat on the United States Supreme Court and a distinguished jurist cited frequently in the recent confirmation hearings of Justice John Roberts and Judge Samuel Alito as regards presidential power stated, “The trouble has been that the advocates of International Law have had too little of what Mr. Justice Holmes called “fire in the belly,” while the extreme nationalists have had too little else.”
“It’s an uphill struggle, kind of like herding cats, but with faith and solidarity between ASIL members and non-members, I think the Society will do the right thing under its Constitution and adopt the resolution. We ask for as much support as possible from around the world. It’s time for action to keep our honor clean.”, said Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, Toledo, Ohio.
For further information, please contact: Benjamin G. Davis, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toledo College of Law, 2801 W. Bancroft Street, Toledo, Ohio 43606 Tel.: 419 530 5117; Fax: 419 530 2439; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Society of International Law web page www.asil.org.
Cover Letter and Draft Resolution with co-signators available at http://www.law.utoledo.edu/faculty/BDavis/BDavis.htm