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 Wuerth is the Helen Strong Curry Professor of International Law at Vanderbilt Law School, where she also directs the international legal studies program. She is a leading scholar of foreign affairs, public international law and international litigation. She serves on the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Public International Law, she is a Reporter on the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Fourth) on U.S. Foreign Relations Law, and she is on the editorial board of the American Journal of International Law. She has won Fulbright and Alexander von Humboldt awards permitting her to spend substantial time in Germany and she is an elected member of the German Society of International Law.


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