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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Unintended Consequences: Gaddafi's Death and the Arab Spring
3:10 PM ET

JURIST Guest Columnist Jordan Toone, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Class of 2012, has spent over two years working and studying in the Middle East, including six months as an embedded civilian social scientist with the First Armored Division in Baghdad, Iraq. He writes about some of the unintended consequences Muammar Gaddafi's death may have on the Arab Spring and US foreign policy in the Middle East...

The death of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's longtime strongman, was a startling end to his 42-year rule and a poignant punctuation to the region's ongoing revolutions. The death of Gaddafi — the Arab world's longest-serving leader and self-anointed "King of Kings" — not only constitutes a major victory for the people of Libya, but serves as a graphic reminder that no Arab leader, regardless of power, prestige or resources, is immune to the wave of discontent that has rippled across the region.

Yet, as with most recent socio-political developments in the Middle East, the effects of Gaddafi's death are not as black and white as many observers are likely inclined to conclude, and, for several reasons, it may ultimately work to stifle the Arab Spring and further complicate US efforts to promote stability and peace in the region.

To begin with, Western intervention introduced a foreign dimension into what was otherwise an Arab-only, grassroots demonstration of popular will — an unprecedented development in modern Libyan history. Much has been written surrounding the controversial decision by the US and NATO to intervene militarily in Libya. To be sure, Gaddafi may still be in power had Western powers refrained from intervening militarily; and, by the same token, the argument can be made that the threat of Western involvement — military or otherwise — has facilitated and will continue to facilitate other revolutions in the region. Yet, even if it is accepted that Western intervention was necessary to depose Gaddafi, such intervention can be seen as truncating, or at least corrupting, a manifestation of the very thing Western intervention was meant to protect — namely, self-determination via popular will leading to a representative government. No doubt such trade-offs were contemplated in Brussels, Paris and Washington, DC leading up to the decision to intervene in Libya; yet, for better or worse, the upshot of Western intervention in Libya is that the Arab Spring is no longer totally Arab.

While time will tell whether the introduction of foreign elements into Libya's national liberation process will impact Libya's constitutional, political and socioeconomic development, one thing is certain; the effects of Western intervention in Libya and the resulting death of Gaddafi will be felt across the region. Most scholars writing on Western intervention and Gaddafi's death have warned of the dangerous precedent that Gaddafi's death — facilitated, if not caused, by US and French military intervention — will set in an ever volatile region. While no doubt a dangerous implication, this argument misjudges the reality on the ground, which is that not only is it highly unlikely that the US public would be able to stomach another intervention, but the likelihood that Russia and China, as permanent members of the UN Security Council, would consent to such intervention is next to impossible, as they have made clear in the UN Security Council negotiations surrounding possible intervention in Syria. The danger arising from Gaddafi's death is that given the global controversy surrounding Western intervention in Libya and Western powers' role in the death of Gaddafi, additional intervention is in fact less likely. This thereby emboldens remaining dictators in their quest to hang on to power. Iran and Syria, for example, know that Gaddafi's death and the circumstances surrounding it simply add to an already long list of barriers that work to significantly diminish the likelihood of further Western intervention in the Middle East, giving both countries additional leverage in their confrontations with the international community.

The more proximate danger associated with military intervention in Libya and the resulting death of Gaddafi is that it fosters the false impression among Arab protesters in Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere that their efforts may always be supplemented by Western force. Such an expectation is understandable. After all, if the US is willing to intervene in Libya, a country that had actively sought to improve its relations with the West in the previous two decades, then why would the US not also intervene in Syria, home to an anti-Israel, pro-Iran, Arab strongman intent on developing nuclear weapons? For American observers, the answer is complicated, but nonetheless legitimate and understandable: intervention would be difficult to obtain due to lack of international support; intervention in Syria would implicate far more dangerous scenarios, possibly including Israel and Iran; the opposition in Syria is not as organized or well-equipped militarily; and intervention in Syria could have dangerous spill-over effects in Iraq. Nonetheless, such answers are unsatisfactory to the Arab street, and add to the long list of "double standard" allegations already hampering US efforts in the region. In this sense, US intervention and Gaddafi's death may actually work to diminish the influence of the US on the Arab Spring.

Whether or not further Western intervention in the region is likely, Gaddafi's death will also work to embolden remaining dictators — in the Middle East and elsewhere — in their quest to hold onto power. In the minds of regional dictators, if Gaddafi — the "mad dog of the Middle East" who, since the Lockerbie bombing and the Reagan administration's hardline stance on Libya, had transformed himself into the poster child of carrot-and-stick diplomacy — could be taken out, then what would prevent the US from targeting less cooperative regimes? No doubt the images and videos of a bloodied Gaddafi — harassed and abused by Libyan rebels — that were broadcast around the world struck a chord with the region's dictators. This fact is especially troubling in regards to dictators with nuclear aspirations or capabilities, including, presumably, the theocratic regime in Iran and the Alawi regime in Syria. Gaddafi's death has reinforced these dictators' beliefs that nuclear technology is a deterrent, especially in light of how poorly Gaddafi fared only a few years after succumbing to Western pressure to abandon his nuclear program. Alternatively, dictators or theocrats such as Assad or Khamenei who, intent on holding onto power, will increasingly look to China and Russia to fortify strategic relations. Suffice it to say, Gaddafi's death has added several daunting sand traps to the stifling par five being played by US policymakers trying to navigate the always-difficult Middle East course.

Following Western intervention in Libya, the regimes in Damascus and Tehran are also eager to criticize Western intervention in Libya as a violation of Libya's sovereignty, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did recently in an interview with CNN. This is worth noting only because prior to Western intervention in Libya, many of the Arab World's dictators seemed much more inclined to respond to their citizens' demands and, in fact, encouraged other Middle Eastern leaders to do likewise. During the height of the Tahrir demonstrations in Cairo, for example, President Ahmadinejad, presumably speaking on behalf of the Iranian regime, urged Mubarak to respect the demands of his citizens. King Abdullah recently instituted notable steps to further women's rights in Saudi Arabia, in addition to announcing $37 billion in benefits to low and middle income Saudis. President Assad has also made conciliatory gestures to his people during the Syrian demonstrations of the past few months. Today, however, following Western involvement in Gaddafi's death, the rhetoric coming out of Tehran, Damascus and, to a lesser extent Riyadh, has returned to its familiar tune with its focus on the misdoings of the West rather than the plethora of problems facing them at home. The tragic upshot of all of this is that public discourse, at least in the Arab world, has turned from the remarkable and ongoing achievements of the Arab Spring to Western interventionism, thereby working to truncate, or at least distract from, the revolutions currently taking place in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere.

Another unsavory consequence of Gaddafi's death is that it comes at a time when the US is quietly navigating a labyrinth of weighty foreign policy decisions, all of which seem, in one way or another, to involve Iran. Placing Gaddafi's death in the context of these increasingly complex regional developments highlights several difficulties facing US policy in the region.

First, Gaddafi's death coincides with international attempts led by the US to pressure Iran into abandoning its quest for weapon-grade nuclear technology. The UN-approved, US-NATO intervention in Libya does nothing to strengthen Iran's relationship with NATO, which is already rocky due to NATO's missile shield plan in Turkey. Nor does Western intervention in Libya and the resulting death of Gaddafi work to foster trust between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). If anything, Gaddafi's death encourages Iran to further limit its cooperation with the international community. Western intervention in Libya and the resulting death of Gaddafi, also coincide with Ayatollah Khamenei's recent announcement that the position of the president in Iran is indispensable. While no doubt a result of ongoing hostility between President Ahmadinejad, the Parliament and the Supreme Leader, Khamenei's announcement in the days before Gaddafi's death raises the question of whether he is simply attempting to remove what would otherwise be one of the few legitimate targets for public dissatisfaction in Iran in the manner witnessed in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. If this were true, Gaddafi's death would only fortify Khamenei's thinking.

With regard to regional politics, Gaddafi's death comes at a time when Iranian influence in the Middle East has reached unprecedented levels. Iranian influence has never been stronger, not only in the so-called Shi'a Crescent (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Bahrain), but, increasingly, in traditionally Sunni territory, including Gaza, Qatar and Oman. Former foes of Iran have either been toppled or are facing domestic unrest. Unlike years past, the governments of Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen are "in play" for Iran. Iran's principle antagonist in its quest for regional supremacy is, of course, Saudi Arabia. Although both countries have experienced recent episodes of domestic unrest, both find themselves relatively unscathed by the Arab Spring and eager to exert their influence on the region in what is essentially a "proxy war" between the two adversaries. As the US has failed — again — to initiate any meaningful developments in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and as new or recently established governments feel less inclined to affiliate with Washington, Iran eagerly attempts to fill the void. Nowhere is this more evident than in Iraq, where the Iranian-backed factions of the Iraqi government continue to exert remarkable influence, evidenced most recently by the Government of Iraq's refusal to extend the timeframe for the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

So how does the Arab Spring and, specifically, Gaddafi's death play into all of this? President Obama recently stated that the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and killing of Gaddafi signify a resurgence of American leadership. At least for many Arabs, President Obama is mistaken. If anything, Gaddafi's death reinforces long-held inclinations among Middle Eastern leaders that Washington cannot be trusted. The old regimes have become wary of Washington, while the new governments want to start on their own two feet, free from foreign intervention. For leaders in the Middle East, the death of Gaddafi stands as a cogent reminder that cooperation with the West does not guarantee anything. Such a reality opens the door to increased Iranian influence in the region, and does little to diffuse the increasing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The result may well be that the Arab Spring will take back seat to the Saudi-Iranian dispute with Iraq — much to the fear of the US — being the principal pawn.

Overall, besides being a historic achievement in the history of Libya and, indeed, the Arab World, Gaddafi's death introduces several challenges that may ultimately work to undermine the development of the Arab Spring and US policy in the region. The Obama administration can mitigate some of these challenges by continuing to support — economically, politically, and diplomatically, as opposed to using force — the Arab Spring, while concomitantly seeking to reevaluate aspects of US policy in the Middle East that, unfortunately, overshadow the otherwise positive, commendable and meaningful contributions made by America in the Middle East and throughout the world.

Jordan Toone began his studies of the Middle East as an undergraduate at Brigham Young University. He completed the Arabic program at the American University of Cairo Center for Arabic Studies Abroad, and went on to receive a master's degree in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford.

Suggested citation: Jordan Toone, Unintended Consequences: Gaddafi's Death and the Arab Spring, JURIST - Dateline, Oct. 29, 2011,

This article was prepared for publication by Elizabeth Hand, associate editor of JURIST's student commentary service. Please direct any questions or comments to her at

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Lisbon Treaty and the New Framework for EU Foreign Affairs
5:07 PM ET

Konstantinos Margaritis is a Ph.D. candidate at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Faculty of Law. For his doctoral research, he is examining the protection of fundamental rights under the Lisbon Treaty. He writes on the changes in the field of external affairs under the Lisbon Treaty and the impact they will have on the EU as an international actor...

The Lisbon Treaty, earlier known as the Reform Treaty, was designed to reorganize and restructure the constitutional framework of the EU by amending the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) [PDF]. The aim, as stated in the preamble, is "to complete the process started by the Treaty of Amsterdam and by the Treaty of Nice with a view to enhancing the efficiency and democratic legitimacy of the Union and to improving the coherence of its action." While the full effect of the Lisbon Treaty is not yet completely understood, looking at the institutional changes that impact the field of external affairs allows for a heightened understanding of the EU as an international actor.

In terms of legal framework, between 1993 and 2009, the EU consisted of three pillars. This system consisted of the European Community, the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Justice and Home Affairs, which respectively dealt with matters of economics, foreign policy and criminal justice. However, when the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, the EU consolidated the three-pillar system and adopted one legal personality.

To replace the foreign policy pillar, Title V of the TEU was introduced with the Lisbon Treaty. The general provisions of the text set forth the basic objectives of the Union, in terms of creating a framework for more coordinated external action. These provisions heavily emphasized unifying concepts, such as the promotion of democracy and the rule of law, respect of human rights and dignity in the wider world.

Furthermore, in response to the absence of a coordinated foreign policy, the Lisbon Treaty expanded the role of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in an effort to coordinate foreign policy. The holder of this position is responsible for organizing EU policy in matters of external action, and speaking for the EU on matters of common foreign and security policy. Furthermore, the High Representative chairs the Council of EU Foreign Ministers and sits in the European Commission. In short, the High Representative serves as a foreign minister for the entire EU, allowing for the more cohesive development and expression of the Union's common foreign and security policy. While the High Representative represents the Union in the international arena, it is always in close cooperation with member states' diplomatic missions. Furthermore, the centrality of unity in the development and expression of foreign policy is reflected in the fact that the High Representative is responsible for trying to resolve diplomatic problems among the Union's member states.

Also contributing to increased coordination is the fact that as an international actor with a legal personality, the EU may conclude international agreements with other countries or international organizations. By crystallizing this, the Lisbon Treaty simplified the conditions under which and the process through which the Union concludes agreements. As article 216 of the TFEU mentions, the Union may also conclude international agreements in case of necessity in order to achieve one of its objectives. According to article 218 of the TFEU, the council keeps the initiative, and recommendations need to be submitted by the commission and the High Representative if the agreement is related to common foreign and security policy. The role of the European Parliament has increased. When the council adopts a decision concluding an agreement under paragraph six, it needs the parliament's consent in some cases, and the parliament's opinion in all the other cases where the agreement is related to common foreign and security policy.

The Lisbon Treaty also provides for increased coordination in terms of the protection of its citizens' personal data. Before the treaty went into force, the TEU did not provide any legal basis for data protection. However, the Lisbon Treaty not only recognized a subjective right to the protection of personal data, Article 39 of the TEU now establishes that specific rules will be laid down by the council on the protection of personal data processed by member states in the area of common foreign and security policy.

In the field of common commercial policy, the power of the European Parliament has also increased under the Lisbon Treaty, as the new article 207 of the TFEU enhances the role of parliament concerning decisions taken in the executive. The Union also enjoys exclusive competence in this area, giving it the sole power to determine the course of the Union's trade with developing countries, which includes areas such as tariffs, trade subsidies, import quotas and voluntary export restraints.

The objectives in the development cooperation area have been modified. The main objective now is to fight poverty. Article 208 of the TFEU highlights the primacy of that goal in stating that the "Union development co-operation policy shall have as its primary objective the reduction, and in the long term, the eradication of poverty." The Union has the power to conclude international agreements for the purpose of development. Furthermore, it has the power to take measures with regard to financial assistance when needed.

Another example of the increased coordination and consolidation of power fostered by the Lisbon Treaty is article 214 of the TFEU, which deals with humanitarian aid. The amendments contain provisions for ad hoc assistance, relief and protection, for people in developing countries that are victims of natural or manmade disasters. In the area of humanitarian aid, the Union is again endowed with the power to conclude international agreements with respect to the principles of international law and human rights.

As explained in the Annual Report 2010 on the European Community's Development and External Assistance Policies and their Implementation in 2009, the EU was the largest provider of development aid. In fact, the EU was responsible for more than half of global official development assistance, which is calculated at €48.2 billion. Furthermore, the EU has developed policies for financial assistance throughout the world. Under the program named V-FLEX, during 2009 and 2010 some €215 million were committed to assist 11 African and two Caribbean countries in combating economic crisis and shortfalls in their national budgets.

The EU's dedication to the protection of human rights is demonstrated from an institutional perspective by its prospective accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR sets minimum standards and seeks to provide a European framework for the protection of human rights. Furthermore, widely accepted human rights form the basis for mandatory rules that parties have no freedom to derogate from. Accordingly, all EU legal acts have to be adopted in accordance with the level of protection guaranteed by the ECHR. As such, the EU submits its legal acts to be examined by the European Court of Human Rights, a supra-national court specialized in human rights protections.

Another novelty of the Lisbon Treaty concerns the provisions on common security and defense policy. As in other areas of external action, the purpose of the Lisbon Treaty amendments in the area of defense is to harmonize the policy of the member states in terms of security and defense and to promote cooperation. For example, Article 42 of the TEU refers to the situations in which the EU may use military force on missions outside the Union. Those situations "shall include joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistant tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including post-conflict stabilization." Apart from a clearer codification of when the use of military force is appropriate, the Lisbon Treaty provided for the concept of enhanced cooperation in the area of defense policy. This allows for a minimum of nine EU member states to establish advanced cooperation in an area within the EU's competence without requiring the involvement of other member states. Lisbon also provides the framework for the development of a permanent structured cooperation in defense, which would allow member states with higher-level militaries to form a permanent defense structure under EU structures.

Although serious steps have been taken towards a common Union defense policy, the EU's ability to function independently of member states under the Lisbon Treaty is still limited. Every decision in the area of common defense policy has to be taken by the European Council acting unanimously, and every member state must adopt those decisions in accordance with their own constitutional requirements. Furthermore, each member state's decisions regarding defense policy must be respected. This requires high levels of political will, as achieving complete consensus in an issue as divisive as defense policy is not easily accomplished. A perfect example of this is the ongoing Libya conflict. The lack of consensus has inevitably led to the lack of a common defense policy. On the basis of their different interests, the EU's major military powers have adopted completely different measures for dealing with the promotion of peace and stability in Libya. France and the UK have approved a strategic plan that includes military intervention, while Germany has abstained from any kind of military operation and in turn has favored greater political pressure.

The changes underlined above seem to develop a new EU strategy for the international arena. Under the new institutional framework, the Union is able to act with heightened autonomy and, as such, it demonstrates a united and more highly integrated policy in its external affairs. New unifying concepts are also focused on to achieve strategic coordination in terms of development, the promotion of the rule of law and human rights, and the battle against poverty. Furthermore, these uniting policies aid in the creation of a more positive profile of the Union in the world and in accomplishing alliances with developing countries. As the solidarity clause dictates "the Union and its member states shall act jointly in a spirit of solidarity." Going forward, the course of the Union will be determined by the political will of its member states, their decisions in how to deal with the challenges of the twenty-first century and their approaches to the new framework established by the Lisbon Treaty.

Konstantinos Margaritis holds an LL.M. in International and European Public Law from Tilburg University in the Netherlands and has an LL.B. from Democritus University of Thrace in Greece. He is a member of Heraklion Bar Association, and is an associate at Antonios I. Bitzarakis Law Firm.

Suggested citation: Konstantinos Margaritis, The Lisbon Treaty and the New Framework for EU Foreign Affairs, JURIST - Dateline, July 24, 2011,

This article was prepared for publication by Megan McKee, the head of JURIST's student commentary service. Please direct any questions or comments to her at

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Judicial Diplomacy: The International Impact of the Supreme Court
11:07 AM ET

Ryan Suto, Syracuse University College of Law Class of 2013, is the President of the Syracuse chapter of the American Constitution Society and recently moderated a panel discussion on the issue of WikiLeaks and the Constitution. He writes on how the US Supreme Court must begin to engage in public diplomacy through its rulings...

The reasons for the American Revolution were submitted to a candid world in the Declaration of Independence. Later, these values were enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These distinctly American works are among the most influential legal documents of the modern era. Nonetheless, over the course of two centuries that once candid world has changed greatly. The influence of the US, both legally and otherwise, has waxed and, more recently, waned. However, if the US wishes to maintain its position as one of the world's leading legal systems, the nation's Supreme Court could stand not only to be more cognizant of the impact its decisions have in legal systems all over the world, it could stand to work to maximize that impact.

To enhance American legal influence, the Supreme Court must engage in what can be termed as public diplomacy. Public diplomacy can be defined as the image of a state or its people, as maintained by a government, organization or people. As such, the Court should endeavor to facilitate the understanding of its decisions, which are used to explain and test US legal values the world over. The world currently faces challenges that are inherently global in nature. For example, the legal questions associated with WikiLeaks, the Arab Spring and Internet neutrality and censorship, are all matters that transcend borders. While the international nature of these issues proves political and legal isolationism faulty, hard power intervention also has grave shortcomings. As such, the Court's ability to indirectly apply legal force and influence presents itself as an attractive alternative, and it should be maximized accordingly.

The US has its greatest potential for influence in nations drafting new constitutions, forming new governments and otherwise attempting to progress and modernize. In these countries legal foundations are often still being set, making them more likely to look to foreign decisions for guidance and precedent. The fact that many foreign courts have cited US Supreme Court opinions demonstrates their influence beyond US borders. For example, quite recently India's Supreme Court found a constitutional right to counsel, citing many Supreme Court decisions as precedent. In its own precedential decision, the Supreme Court of India wrote, "[i]n our opinion, a criminal case should not be decided against the accused in the absence of counsel. We are fortified in the view we are taking by a decision of the US Supreme Court in Powell v. Alabama." The Court further cited Gideon v. Wainwright and Brewer v. Williams in its holding.

Nonetheless, foreign court decisions that cite to the Supreme Court have generally declined. This likely reflects either a decreased foreign interest in the US legal system or the US's decreased interest in public legal diplomacy. Either way, it remains important that the US recover its jurisprudential influence, as this is a tool too valuable to lose.

First Amendment protections in general and freedom of speech in particular, provides an illustration of how the Court may utilize public diplomacy to expand the influence of the US legal tradition. In legal terms, the US has only arrived at its current approach to the First Amendment in the last 50 years, and the meaning of those 45 words is still evolving. However, in that time the US has been at the forefront of developing human rights such as freedom of expression and individual liberty. During the twentieth century these legal principles have been our greatest and most valuable export. For example, the Court expressed the extensive protection of speech and acts offered by the First Amendment in its 1989 decision, Texas v. Johnson. In Johnson, the Court held that the First Amendment protected the burning of the US flag as a means of protest. Justice William Brennan, writing for the majority, stated that "[t]he way to preserve the flag's special role is not to punish those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them that they are wrong." The Court voiced to the world that disagreeable and offensive speech must be tolerated as freedom of expression and the protection of individual liberties are at the core of a free society.

The vital discussion of societal values was at the forefront of the Johnson decision, and it is this exact discussion that is absent from the current Court's decisions. For example, Snyder v. Phelps, a case decided this year, presented a perfect opportunity to engage in public diplomacy with regard to free speech. In this case, tort damages were sought against the Westboro Baptist Church for protesting at a soldier's funeral, spouting hate speech at the burial itself and on the Internet. While this case was viewed as controversial by the media and the general public, it garnered strong consensus on the Court. In an 8-1 decision, the majority held that the First Amendment protects those who stage peaceful protests near the funeral of a military service member from tort liability.

The majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts is certainly on firm ground legally speaking. However, he and the other justices that joined his opinion missed an excellent opportunity to engage in public diplomacy. At a time where many post-conflict, developing and emerging societies are grappling with the concept and consequences of free speech, the Court would do well to offer non-doctrinal reasons for ideologically illustrative decisions. Understandably, the idea of allowing the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church to go unpunished in a society that values respect and order over individual liberties seems offensive and repugnant. However, rather than engaging in constructive dialogue or explaining why the US values free speech, the Court does little more than state that speech is powerful and that in spite of the pain it can cause, this nation has chosen a path that protects it. The Court insufficiently explains the value of free speech. While previous decisions of the Court have noted how important free speech is for the development and maintenance of a healthy society, political vibrancy and open and honest debate, the Court's current decisions avoid such commentary.

The Court is certainly the best institution to explain to scholars, governments, lawyers and lay people alike the enduring legal values of the US, why they have been chosen and how they contribute to the development of a stable and democratic society. A return to the mentality that one of America's most important exports is its legal traditions would certainly benefit the US and stands to benefit nations building and developing their own legal traditions, and our relations with them. Furthermore, it stands to increase the influence and higher the profile of the bench. The Court already engages in the exercise of dispensing justice and interpreting the Constitution, and to deliver its opinions with an eye toward their diplomatic value would take only minimal effort and has the potential for high returns. While the Court is indeed the best body to conduct legal diplomacy, it has been falling short in doing so in recent sessions.

We are at a critical moment in world history. People in the Middle East and North Africa are asserting discontent with their governments. Many nations in Africa, Asia, and Eurasia are grappling with new technologies, repressive regimes and economic despair. With the development of new countries, such as South Sudan, the formation of new governments, as is occurring in Egypt, and the development of new constitutions, as is occurring in Nepal, it is important that the US welcome and engage in legal diplomacy and informative two-way dialogue. As a nation with lasting and sustainable legal values and traditions, the Supreme Court should be at the forefront of public legal diplomacy. With each decision, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to better define, explain and defend key legal concepts. This is an opportunity that should not be wasted.

Ryan Suto is pursuing a joint degree at Syracuse University, and will graduate with degrees in law, post-conflict reconstruction, international relations and public relations. He is a recent graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with degrees in political science and philosophy. He has also written articles on the development of the Nepalese constitution and institutional development in post-apartheid South Africa.

Suggested citation: Ryan Suto, Judicial Diplomacy: The International Impact of the Supreme Court, JURIST - Dateline, July 15, 2011,

This article was prepared for publication by Megan McKee, the head of JURIST's student commentary service. Please direct any questions or comments to her at

Link | how to subscribe | © JURIST

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