Executive Order 13567: Executive Branch Policy Meets International Law in the Evolution of the Domestic Law of Detention

42 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2011

See all articles by Thomas Nachbar

Thomas Nachbar

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2011


This paper considers the March, 2011 issuance of Executive Order 13567: Periodic Review of Individuals Detained at Guantánamo Bay Naval Station Pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force. As its title suggests, the Order establishes a system of periodic review for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, but the release of the Order suggests much more than merely the adoption of new procedures for reviewing detention determinations. In a “Fact Sheet” issued with the Order, the Obama administration suggested some concrete changes to how the U.S. views the international law of detention, specifically with regard to Additional Protocols I and II of the Geneva Conventions. Those changes, when combined with the content of the Order itself, may signal an even more profound shift in the role of international law in the shaping of the domestic law of detention.

The paper proceeds by describing the Order in detail and comparing the procedures adopted in the Order with those that proceeded it, namely the Combatant Status Review Tribunals and the Administrative Review Boards previously used for Guantanamo Bay detainees. The paper next analyzes the the Order’s procedures under Article 75 of Additional Protocol I and Articles 4-6 of Additional Protocol II, as suggested by the Fact Sheet. Finally, the paper considers the broader questions raised by the Order and Fact Sheet’s stated approach to the international law of detention. By recognizing an increased role for Additional Protocols I and II, the Order and Fact Sheet go some distance toward providing an avenue to the incorporation of international human rights norms into the U.S. domestic law of detention, an approach that sharply diverges with previous U.S. positions on the law of armed conflict.

Keywords: Guantanamo Bay, detention, Geneva Conventions, law of armed conflict, law of war, international humanitarian law, international human rights law

Suggested Citation

Nachbar, Thomas, Executive Order 13567: Executive Branch Policy Meets International Law in the Evolution of the Domestic Law of Detention (December 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1967217 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1967217

Thomas Nachbar (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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