The Obama Administration, International Law, and Executive Minimalism

American Journal of International Law, Vol. 110, p. 646, 2016

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2016-65

17 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2016 Last revised: 10 Nov 2017

See all articles by Ashley Deeks

Ashley Deeks

University of Virginia - School of Law

Date Written: December 19, 2016

Abstract

The Bush Administration took a maximalist approach to the jus ad bellum and jus in bello, staking out broad claims about what international law permitted in resorting to force and detaining and interrogating Al Qaeda members. In contrast, the Obama administration established more minimalist policies that authorized a narrower scope of action than what international law permits and often avoided bold rhetorical claims about what international law allows. The Obama approach improved relations with allies and deferred difficult inter-agency debates. But it also incurred costs by slowing the development of international law and making it more difficult for other states to interpret the precedential value of U.S. actions. As a result, this paper argues that the administration’s international war powers legacy will be a modest one.

Suggested Citation

Deeks, Ashley, The Obama Administration, International Law, and Executive Minimalism (December 19, 2016). American Journal of International Law, Vol. 110, p. 646, 2016; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2016-65. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2887619

Ashley Deeks (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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