Sunday, July 29, 2018
On Wednesday, our post linked to a Houston Chronicle article on family separation that (somewhat gratuitously) quoted University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner, saying “It is hard to think of examples where the U.S. government was influenced by the positions of any international human rights bodies.”
Since seeing that article, we've been trying to think of counterexamples, and it actually hasn't been too hard at all. Here are a few, big and small, that we came up with right away. Use the comment section to let us know if you think of more!
-- The Bush Administration's effort (through executive action) to bring states into compliance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs during the Medellin litigation;
-- the federal government's abandonment of torture during the Obama administration;
-- federal officials' compliance with UN suggestions that they consult more widely in preparing UN submissions by (1) holding consultations with grassroots groups and advocates; and (2) reaching out to state governments to gather information on human rights successes and challenges;
-- U.S. Supreme Court's rulings limiting the death penalty nationwide and citing, in addition to other sources, international law.
These examples were easy to think of. And in fact, one of Posner's own colleagues at the U. of Chicago, Vera Shikhelman, has written a series of papers on factors that affect national responses to UN Human Rights Council communications.
Next time the Houston Chronicle calls, perhaps Posner should do as his students do when they aren't prepared and take a pass.