ALI Member and Restatement of the Law Fourth, Foreign Relations Law – Immunity Reporter Ingrid Wuerth of Vanderbilt Law School presented the final 2016 lecture in the World Affairs Council series at UNC Asheville on Dec 6. Her lecture titled “International Law in the Age of Trump: A Post-Human Rights Agenda” touched on the recent developments in human rights law and its continuance as a global political benchmark.

From the lecture:

The Trump presidency will have a significant impact on international law, including a potential withdrawal from or re-negotiation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Iran nuclear deal. Although those two examples would pit the United States against much of the rest of the world, in other respects Trump’s election is consistent with ongoing global changes. To take a well-known example, Trump’s opposition to NAFTA appears to align with world-wide populism and hostility to trade agreements, as illustrated by Brexit.

Trump’s election is also consistent with other trends in international law. As I argued before the election, we are in the midst of a world-wide decline in international human rights and a related rise in power by China and Russia over the content of international law, a theme discussed last week by Anne Peters here. Liberal intervention on behalf of human rights—opposed by China and Russia—would  almost certainly have received a boost from a Hillary Clinton administration. Although it is difficult to predict what direction the new administration will take, it is likely that the U.S. will expend little energy on promoting the international legal protection of human rights (putting aside here international humanitarian law, the law of armed conflict, and other related areas of international law).

Read the lecture here.

Ingrid Wuerth

Reporter, Restatement of U.S. Foreign Relations Law: Sovereign Immunity

Ingrid Brunk is a leading scholar of foreign relations, public international law and transnational litigation. She joined Vanderbilt’s law faculty in 2007, was appointed director of the International Legal Studies Program in 2009 and was appointed director of the Branstetter Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program in 2018. She was named to the newly endowed Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law in 2015 and has served as the Law School’s Associate Dean for Research and in other leadership positions at Vanderbilt.


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