Living History Interview
Symposium: The United States Commitment to International Law, 1 Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems 241
19 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2012 Last revised: 22 Feb 2015
Date Written: 1991
The Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems journal publishes a “Living History Interview” with a person of international accomplishment and renown who has experience in the specific area of transnational law that the symposium addresses. The purpose of the interview is to explore what impact the law has had in that subject area, how the law is actually implemented, and how the law should be changed as we move into the twenty-first century. Sir Geoffrey Palmer was chosen because of his experience in dealing with the United States on an inter-governmental level. As former Prime Minister of New Zealand, he is able to address the US commitment to international law from the most fundamental level. In addition, he is able to address the small States’ concerns on US adherence to international law.
The interview includes the United States’ commitment (or lack thereof) to international law and how it could improve its commitment in the future. A renewed commitment to the rule of law at the international level combined with a determination to improve the compulsory dispute settlement procedures at the international level would be a very welcome development from the United States. It discusses the conflict regarding New Zealand’s nuclear-free policies and the difficulties that policy caused for the ANZUS treaty, as well as the issue of drift net fishing. Comparing the drift net and nuclear power episodes, Sir Geoffrey mentions the kinds of strategies and resources that small States must use when negotiating with large States. Small nations particularly need effective legal procedures for dispute settlement. They must also line up support for their points of view in the international forums of the world.
The interview turns to discussion of the Gulf War and the potential for revising the UN Charter to deal with some of the problems that have been ignored up to now, as well as a commitment to rebuilding the International Court of Justice. To deal effectively with international problems, compulsory dispute resolution is a must and an urgent matter. Sir Geoffrey raises the issue of the environment, stating that he believes it will be impossible to solve the global environmental crisis relating to the atmosphere unless we have two things: (1) a curtailing of the principle of sovereignty to some extent, and (2) compulsory dispute settlement mechanisms. We can no longer afford to be governed by the standards of the lowest common denominator.
Keywords: interview, international law, Rainbow Warrior, International Court of Justice, dispute settlement
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation