Public International Law

Experience

  • International and Regional Courts

    • The State of Qatar and Qatari entities and individuals in international claims arising out of the measures imposed by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt against Qatar, including winning an order for provisional measures in proceedings before the International Court of Justice against the United Arab Emirates, investment arbitrations and claims in other international tribunals.
    • Ust-Kamenogorsk Hydropower Plant, a subsidiary of Samruk Energy, as advocates to the appellant in the UK Supreme Court on a landmark arbitration appeal to determine whether the English Court has jurisdiction to grant an anti-suit injunction in circumstances where no arbitration is intended or in prospect.
    • The Attorney-General of St Kitts and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (St Kitts and Nevis), in constitutional proceedings brought against the Government by Members of Parliament seeking to carry a motion of no confidence in the Government. An application for an interim injunction was successfully resisted and an application to strike out the claim has been set down for a future hearing.
    • Oy Metsä-Botnia in connection with its $1.3 billion greenfield investment in the Orion pulp mill project in Uruguay and the Case Concerning Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay) in the International Court of Justice, which concerns that project. Argentina commenced proceedings against Uruguay in the ICJ pursuant to a bilateral treaty concerning the River Uruguay, which forms a shared border between the two countries, claiming that Uruguay had violated the treaty by allowing construction of the mill.
    • NML Capital Limited in a request by Argentina to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for provisional measures against Ghana arising from the arrest in Ghana of an Argentine frigate on NML’s application.
    • Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mex. v. U.S.), 2004 I.C.J. 1. Mexico on its claims against the United States for violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in respect of 52 Mexican nationals sentenced to death in state court proceedings in the United States. In March 2004, the ICJ held the United States liable in 51 of those cases and ordered the United States to review and reconsider the convictions and sentences.
    • The LaGrand Case (Germ. v. U.S.), 2001 I.C.J. 466. Germany on its claims for violations by the United States of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in respect of two German nationals sentenced to death in state court proceedings in the United States and of its obligation to abide by an order of provisional measures issued by the ICJ at the outset of the case. The ICJ upheld the Vienna Convention claims and, settling years of controversy, also held that provisional measures indicated by the ICJ are binding.
    • Application of the Republic of Liberia v. The Republic of Sierra Leone. The Government of Sierra Leone in responding to Liberia’s Application to the ICJ, submitted on a forum prorogatum basis, challenging the indictment and arrest warrant issued by the Special Court for Sierra Leone against Charles Taylor.
    • Case Concerning the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Para. v. U.S.), 1998 I.C.J. 248. Paraguay on its claims for violations by the United States of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in respect of a Paraguayan national sentenced to death in a state court proceeding in the United States and of its obligation to abide by an order of provisional measures issued by the ICJ at the outset of the case. Paraguay obtained a unanimous order of provisional measures, but after its national was executed in violation of that order, withdrew the proceedings.
    • Case Concerning Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Arg. v. Uru.). Oy Metsä-Botnia AB and its successor UPM in proceedings in the ICJ involving the company’s pulp and paper mill project in Uruguay.
    • Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mex. v. U.S.), 2004 I.C.J. 1. Mexico on its claims against the United States for violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in respect of 52 Mexican nationals sentenced to death in state court proceedings in the United States. In March 2004, the ICJ held the United States liable in 51 of those cases and ordered the United States to review and reconsider the convictions and sentences.
  • U.S. Supreme Court and other U.S. Courts

    • Medellín v. Texas, 128 S. Ct. 1346 (2008). Jose Medellín in a second case before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking compliance with the ICJ's judgment in Avena and the determination of the President of the United States to comply. The Supreme Court decided that neither the President’s determination nor the ICJ judgment automatically constitutes binding federal law, but held that further action by the federal political branches or by Texas is needed to render the undisputed international obligation to comply with the Avena decision enforceable in domestic courts.
    • Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, 126 S. Ct 2669 (2006). Moises Sanchez-Llamas, a Mexican national, in a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the remedy of suppression was not available for violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
    • Torres v. Oklahoma, 2004 WL 3711623 (Okla. Crim. App.). The Government of Mexico as amicus curiae before the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals in seeking to enforce the ICJ judgment in Avena in the case of Osbaldo Torres, another Mexican national subject to that judgment. The Court granted Torres’s request for relief, and, relying in part on the Vienna Convention violation, the Governor later commuted the death sentence.
    • Carty v. Quarterman, 345 Fed. App’x 897 (5th Cir. 2009), aff’d sub nom., Carty v. Thaler, 583 F.3d 244 (5th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 130 S.Ct. 2402 (2010), and reh’g denied, 130 S.Ct. 3538 (2010). The Government of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland as amicus curiae before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court in a case in which a United Kingdom national had been sentenced to death in Texas without the consulate being notified of her detention pursuant to a bilateral treaty governing consular relations between the United States and Great Britain.
    • Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States, 128 S.Ct. 2229 (2008). The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as amicus curiae, arguing that the continued detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and the procedures of the military tribunals established to try those prisoners breached the United States' international treaty obligations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.
    • An international organization on the design of an alternative dispute resolution process for the assessment and settlement of mass claims.
    • Brzak v. United Nations, 551 F. Supp. 2d 313 (S.D.N.Y. 2008), aff’d, 597 F.3d 107 (2d Cir. 2010), cert. denied, 79 U.S.L.W. 3206 (U.S. Oct. 4, 2010). The United Nations in successfully asserting its rights under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations and corresponding U.S. law; obtained dismissal of suit against it and several employees and successfully defended the appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
    • Estate of Yaron Ungar v. Palestinian Authority, No. 18 MS 0302 CM (S.D.N.Y. 2005). The United Nations as amicus curiae in a case in which it asserted its rights under the U.S.-U.N. Headquarters Agreement in order to prevent a judgment creditor from executing against the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. The creditor withdrew the case following oral argument.
  • Bilateral Investment and Other Treaty Arbitration

    • Occidental Petroleum Company and Occidental Exploration and Production Company (“Occidental”) in an ICSID arbitration, winning one of the largest ever BIT awards, $1.1 billion ($1.4 billion including interest). The filing of the claim was made two days after Ecuador terminated all of Occidental’s exploration and production rights and seized all of its assets in the country. Ecuador and Occidental have arranged for payment of this award.
    • Occidental Exploration and Petroleum Company against the Republic of Ecuador in an ad hoc arbitration brought under the provisions of the U.S. - Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) using UNCITRAL Rules, involving a dispute over Ecuador's refusal to refund value-added tax (VAT) paid by Occidental on its Ecuadorian investments. The Tribunal issued a unanimous decision awarding Occidental approximately $130 million. The award has been fully paid.
    • Claimant Tethyan Copper Company (jointly owned by Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals) in an ICSID arbitration against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and an ICC arbitration against the Pakistani province of Balochistan in disputes regarding a copper and gold mining project in the west of Pakistan.
    • Claimant Tethyan Copper Company (jointly owned by Barrick Gold and Antofagasta Minerals) in an ICC arbitration against the Pakistani province of Balochistan in disputes regarding a copper and gold mining project in the west of Pakistan.
    • Perenco Ecuador on novel jurisdictional and merits issues in an ICSID arbitration arising out of the Republic of Ecuador’s unilateral increase of its participation to 99% of all revenues from oil sales above a fixed “reference price” and its declaration that Perenco’s contracts had come to an end. In September 2014, the ICSID tribunal ruled that Ecuador breached its contracts with Perenco and violated its obligations under the applicable bilateral investment treaty to provide fair and equitable treatment, not to impede the investment, and against unlawful expropriation.
    • Mobile TeleSystems in its investor-state arbitration against Uzbekistan brought under the Additional Facility of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), including successfully defending an Article 45(6) application.
    • Holcim and its subsidiaries, Holderfin B.V. and Caricement B.V., against Venezuela in proceedings before ICSID under the Switzerland-Venezuela BIT and the Netherlands-Venezuela BIT, asserting claims that Venezuela’s nationalization of Holcim Venezuela constituted unlawful expropriation and discrimination. After Holcim filed its statement of claim, the parties agreed on a settlement providing for compensation of $650 million.
    • ExxonMobil and Murphy Oil in a NAFTA claim against the Government of Canada arising from requirements imposed by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Tribunal handed down its Decision on Liability and on Principles of Quantum ruling in favor of our clients that Newfoundland’s regulations violated NAFTA.
    • Verizon Communications and its subsidiary in the sale of shares in Compañía Anónima Nacional Teléfonos de Venezuela (“CANTV”), the largest telephone company in Venezuela, to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela after the Government announced that it intended to assume control of CANTV.
    • British Caribbean Bank Ltd, in successfully defending anti-arbitration injunction proceedings brought by the Government of Belize to avoid arbitration under a BIT in the courts of Belize and the Caribbean Court of Justice (before which Debevoise is believed to have been the first non-Caribbean firm to argue a case).
    • An Asian government in an inter-state treaty dispute in an ad hoc international arbitration under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
    • Autopista Concesionada de Venezuela, C.A. (“Aucoven”) in an ICSID arbitration against the Republic of Venezuela, where the tribunal issued a final award finding liability and damages against Venezuela involving claims arising from the breach of a concession agreement for a toll road in Venezuela.
    • Central European Media Enterprises (CME) in an arbitration against the Czech Republic brought under The Netherlands-Czech BIT and the UNCITRAL Rules, asserting claims that the Czech Media Council’s actions had deprived CME of its interest in the most successful commercial television station in Eastern Europe. The Tribunal issued an award of over $350 million, which the Czech Republic satisfied.
    • A leading business figure in international law claims arising out of his candidacy for President of the Republic of Georgia, and, following his death, his family in worldwide litigation over attempts to strip his multi-billion-dollar estate, including proceedings in England and the US and lengthy trials in Gibraltar.
    • First Eagle, a U.S. financial institution, on its claim against the Bank for International Settlements, in a dispute governed by public international law before a five-member tribunal constituted pursuant to the 1930 Hague Conventions. A final award was received in favor all the private shareholders for approximately U.S. $500 million.
    • The Government of Ghana against claims brought by Telekom Malaysia Berhad for over US $150 million in an arbitration under the UNCITRAL Rules pursuant to the Malaysia – Ghana BIT. The case settled amicably after final hearings.
  • U.S. Alien Tort Statute

    • Litle v. Arab Bank v. Bank Hapoalim et al., 611 F. Supp. 2d 233 (E.D.N.Y. 2009). Third party defendants Israeli banks in obtaining dismissal of claims for contribution under the Alien Tort Statute and the Anti-Terrorism Act.
    • The Coca-Cola Company in defense of a lawsuit alleging human rights violations against workers at a Turkish bottling plant.
    • In re Agent Orange Prod. Liab. Litig., 373 F. Supp 2d 7 (E.D.N.Y. 2005). Obtained dismissal of a class action involving allegations, among others, of violations of the laws of war on the ground that international law did not prohibit the challenged conduct. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the dismissal confirming that the alleged conduct was not prohibited under international law.
    • Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U.S. 692 (2004). The European Commission as amicus curiae urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take a rigorous international law approach to the ATS, including considering the jurisdictional basis of the statute under international law. The brief was cited in the opinions of both the Court and Justice Breyer.
    • Mushikiwabo v. Barayagwiza, 1996 WL 164496 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). Obtained a judgment for some U.S. $105 million on behalf of plaintiffs on claims under the Alien Torts Statute and Torture Victim Protection Act for violations of international human rights standards arising from the atrocities in Rwanda.
    • Karadžic v. Kadic, 74 F.3d 377 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 116 S. Ct. 2525 (1996). At the request of Yale Law School Professor (now Dean) Harold Hongju Koh, counsel to plaintiffs, a group of international and constitutional law professors as amici curiae urging the United States Supreme Court to deny a petition for writ of certiorari and thereby allow claims arising from the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia to go forward. The brief was published at 30 Hastings Int’l & Comp. L. Rev. 683 (1997).
  • International Human Rights Litigation

    • The Center for Reproductive Rights in securing UN recommendations to overturn El Salvador’s criminalization of abortion.
    • Human Dignity Trust in a joint intervention on behalf of the Human Dignity Trust, International Committee of Jurists and Commonwealth Lawyers Association, which saw a law in Belize that disproportionately affects gay men ruled unconstitutional. London co-managing partner Lord Goldsmith QC also acted as lead advocate before the Supreme Court of Belize in the course of the proceedings.
    • Vo v. France, ECHR Case No. 53924/00 (2004). Amicus curiae Center for Reproductive Rights in a case before the European Court of Human Rights, which cited the amicus brief extensively in its judgment in favor of our client’s position in the case, the first in which the ECHR was asked to grant an unborn foetus the status of a “person” under the European Convention.
    • Herrera Ulloa v. Costa Rica (La Nación Newspaper Case), Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 107 (Jul. 2, 2004). The Committee to Protect Journalists and a coalition of international media companies as amici curiae before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in support of a reporter convicted of criminal defamation in Costa Rica. In accord with amici ’s position, the Court held that the reporter’s conviction violated the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, and, in a concurring opinion, the President questioned whether international principles of free expression would ever allow such a prosecution.
    • Nemariam v. Ethiopia, 315 F.3d 390 (D.C. Cir. 2003). A class of individuals of Eritrean origin, nationality, or descent who were expelled from Ethiopia during the 1998 border war in a case brought under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act against Ethiopia and its state-owned bank seeking recovery for property taken in violation of international law. First obtained reversal of forum non conveniens dismissal, establishing plaintiffs' right to go forward on international law claims in U.S. court; Court of Appeals later affirmed dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction for failure to meet specific FSIA requirement.
    • Guy Malary v. Haiti, Case 11.335, Report No. Nº 78/02 (27 December, 2002). The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in its successful action before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights holding Haiti responsible for failing to investigate or prosecute the assassins of former Haitian Justice Minister and human rights advocate Guy Malary.
  • International Criminal Law, the Laws of War, and Law and Security

    • Prosecutor v. Bemba Gombo, No. ICC-01/05-01/08 (15 June 2009). Amnesty International as amicus curiae in the first case before the International Criminal Court to interpret the doctrine of superior responsibility under Article 28 of the Rome Statute, in which the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision relied on and cited to the amicus brief.
    • Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 540 U.S. 1173 (2004). Dean Harold Koh of the Yale Law School, Professor Louis Henkin of the Columbia Law School, and Executive Director Michael H. Posner of Human Rights First as amici curiae in a case considering the authority of the Secretary of Defense to hold as an enemy combatant a United States citizen arrested in the United States.
    • Al-Marri v. Wright, No. 06-7427, 487 F.3d 160 (4th Cir. 2007). Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch as amicus curiae in a case involving a Qatari national declared an enemy combatant by the President. After several rounds of litigation before the Fourth Circuit and the Supreme Court, the appeal was ultimately dismissed as moot after Al-Marri was transferred from military custody to that of the Attorney General.
    • In the matter of September 11 Detainees (2006) (Opinion No. 29/2006, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/4/40/Add.1 at 103). A class of predominantly Muslim and Middle Eastern immigrants detained in the United States after September 11 before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, obtaining a favorable ruling on behalf of an Algerian national who was the only remaining person in custody at the time of the ruling.
    • Appellate Division of the Office of the Prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone. First law firm to participate in an academic consortium providing legal advice on public international law questions raised during prosecutions before the Court.
    • Prosecutor v. Blaškic (Trial Chamber, 18 July 1997), aff’d in part, rev’d in part (Appeals Chamber, 29 Oct.1997). The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights as amicus curiae in arguing before the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in a case in which the Chamber enforced a subpoena against a state official.
    • In re Ntakirutimana, 1998 WL 655708 (S.D. Tex. 1998), aff’d, 184 F.3d 419 (5th Cir. 1999). The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights as amicus curiae in a case in which, relying on and quoting from the amicus brief, the court upheld the constitutionality of the federal statute by which the United States implemented its obligations pursuant to the UN Resolution establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.