Monthly Archives: July 2014

States as “Supreme and Multiple Organs of Humanity” in the Fight against Genocide

We Syrians are human beings of this world” (Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Sept. 9, 2013)

What is the basis for states’ exercise of universal jurisdiction to adjudicate crimes against humanity? What is the source of the right and even the duty of the UN Security Council or perhaps also groups of states to use force to end genocide perpetrated by a foreign regime against its own people? Given the lack of explicit state consent to such powers, the answer must be that these obligations stem from an underlying concept of trusteeship toward humanity; that all states are subject to certain pre-state norms, Continue reading

Quixotic Altruism or an Effective Investment? On Unilateral Measures to Mitigate Climate Change

On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed the authority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a “permissible interpretation” of the Clean Air Act. Unless Congress intervenes, the EPA may now continue to issue standards that seek to mitigate climate change, in line with President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. In determining these standards, the EPA undertakes cost-benefit analyses that count the benefits of the restrictions for the entire world, not just the U.S. This policy decision is based on a 2010 report issued by a U.S. Government Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon, which concluded that “a global measure of the benefits from reducing U.S. emissions is preferable.”

Why should a national agency decide to take the global effects of climate change into account and thereby impose burdens domestically? Why would the U.S. Supreme Court indirectly acknowledge that such a policy might be legally required? Continue reading