Catherine Amirfar, co-chair of the Public International Law Group at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and former Counselor on International Law to the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State, and Ashika Singh, a senior associate at Debevoise in the International Dispute Resolution Group and a former Attorney-Adviser in the Legal Adviser’s Office, were invited by Just Security to contribute an essay to the Good Governance Papers. The Papers explore practical legislative and administrative proposals “to restore and promote non-partisan principles of good government, public integrity, and the rule of law.”
Ms. Amirfar and Ms. Singh’s piece analyzes U.S. withdrawal from international agreements. The article discusses how, in the last century, the President has increasingly exercised an assumed right to unilaterally withdraw the United States from treaties and other international agreements. This practice appears to have reached a high-water mark under the Trump administration, with President Trump withdrawing or threatening to withdraw the United States from numerous international agreements and institutions, including the World Health Organization, the Open Skies Treaty, and the Paris Climate Agreement, among others.
Ms. Amirfar and Ms. Singh argue that an assumed right of unilateral presidential withdrawal in all circumstances is inconsistent with the constitutional scheme for separation of powers between Congress and the Executive, debilitating to U.S. foreign policy interests, and destabilizing to the international order. To reset the scales, Ms. Amirfar and Ms. Singh offer practical and principled solutions that would allow Congress to clarify its role in treaty withdrawal.
Read the essay, which has been published alongside the other papers in the series, here.
Just Security is a leading online forum for analysis of U.S. national security law and policy based at NYU Law’s Reiss Center on Law and Security.
Debevoise’s Public International Law Group is widely regarded as one of the world’s best. It is one of the only firms in the world that has been consistently ranked in Band 1 for both public international law and international arbitration by Chambers & Partners. Members of the team have experience at the most senior levels of government, business, international organizations, and NGOs. Debevoise handles matters of unmatched significance, complexity and diversity. Lawyers in the group have extensive experience in treaty interpretation and enforcement before international courts and tribunals. Debevoise is one of a select group of law firms that has prevailed in treaty cases before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and has won several of the most prominent investment treaty awards on record. The team also has broad experience in litigating issues of public international law arising before domestic and international courts and non-governmental organizations.