Announcing the Volume 37 Editorial Board

The Michigan Journal of International Law would like to announce the Volume 37 Editorial Board:

Volume 37 Editorial Board

Editor in Chief

Luca Winer

Managing Editor

Neha Khandhadia

Business and Development Editor

Divya Taneja

Managing Article Editor

Jacob Styburski

Managing Executive Editor

Katherine Lewis

Managing Note Editor

Liz Grden

Managing Online Content Editor

Stephen Packer

Production Editor

Evan Nichols

Article Editors

Elizabeth Beitler

Peter Bratton

Rama Chehouri

Zhandos Kuderin

Molly Quinn

Sarah Sessler

Executive Editors

Liz Bundy

Dayna Chikamoto

Diana Duan

Kelsey VanOverloop

Margo Strakosch

Note Editors

Hana Damore

Lidiya Petrova

Jesse Stricklan

Online Content Editors

Melanie Capuano

Sarah Jaward

Congratulations to the new board!

Self-Determination and Puerto Rico

Javier  J. Rivera-Alvarado, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

The existence of the right to self-determination in international law is well established, but its precise meaning is still up for debate.[1] It has been defined as the right of all peoples “to determine their future, whether in the form of independence, integration in the administering state or some third state, or free association.[2] Although there is some debate on whether to classify self-determination as a right, a norm, or a principle, it may be understood as a qualified “right,” limited by competing considerations and the complexity in its application.[3] Moreover, context is of special importance to determining its contours.[4] Continue reading

South China or West Philippine Sea? United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and International Arbitration

Sam Fitzpatrick, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

On January 23, 2013, the Republic of the Philippines initiated binding arbitration in the Permanent Court of Arbitration after exhausting diplomatic and political remedies to resolve its dispute with China over the South China Sea.[1]  The Philippine’s memorial requested that the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in accordance with Annex VII of UNCLOS as administered by the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), arbitrate a dispute of maritime rights between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China.[2]  Specifically, the Philippines requested that the court determine the boundary between China’s historic “nine dash” claim to exclusive control over the islands and water in the South China Sea and the 200 mile exclusive economic zone off the coast of the Philippines.[3]  The overlap between these maritime claims has caused considerable and increasing diplomatic tension and confrontations between Philippine and Chinese naval vessels and fishermen over the past 20 years.[4] Continue reading

Chinese Regulation of Agricultural Biotechnology: Overview and Impact on Global Agro Trade

Evan Nichols, Vol. 37 Production Editor, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

Chinese regulators hold the keys to a market populated by nearly 1.4 billion people, 400 million of which are expected to be mainstream consumers by 2020.[1] This economic weight grants the power to shape the future of emerging industries. Agricultural Biotechnology (Ag-Biotech) is one such industry dependent on Beijing’s favorable regulatory treatment. Understanding China’s regulatory position vis-a-vis Ag-Biotech is vital to any assessment of this growing industry’s past, present, and future. Continue reading

FATCA, GATCA and the Controversial Withholding Provision

Abigail Zeitlin, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

For many years, there have been large discrepancies between different countries’ tax reporting standards.  This has allowed for certain countries, like the United Kingdom or Switzerland,[i] to become tax shelters and for other governments to lose out on millions of dollars in tax revenue. [ii] In the United States alone, it was estimated that the government lost out on $100 billion of tax revenue a year due to tax havens.[iii] This phenomenon led to the enactment of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, in 2010.[iv]  One major provision of FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to disclose the names of U.S. citizen account holders and their various transactions, with limited exceptions.[v]   If the institution does not report under FATCA, the U.S. will impose a 30% withholding tax on all transactions involving U.S. money and securities.[vi]   Although FATCA was enacted in 2010, because of the immense amount of bureaucratic muscle necessary to enforce FATCA, it is set to begin being enforced in 2016.[vii] Continue reading

Piketty v. Merkel

David Stute, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

Earlier this month, Der Spiegel interviewed French economist Thomas Piketty,[i] who first rose to international fame with his 2013 study of wealth inequality over the past 250 years.[ii] In the interview, Piketty laid his finger on the stark divide in economic outcomes between the United States and the European Union (EU) seven years after the financial crisis.[iii] Two years into the crisis, the two had comparable rates of public debt and unemployment.[iv] But whereas the EU’s rate of unemployment has risen dramatically, that of the United States has dropped to 2008 levels.[v] Moreover, whereas the EU’s economic output remains below 2007 levels, the US economy has regained strength.[vi] And most devastatingly for the EU’s long-term prospects, youth unemployment across the EU was at 21.4 percent as of January, with rates exceeding 40 percent in Italy, Spain, and Greece.[vii] In contrast, US numbers for this demographic have come down from a high of nearly 20 percent in 2010 to below 12 percent in February.[viii] Continue reading

Prospects for Enhanced Infringement Procedures in the EU

Jesse Stricklan, Vol. 37 Notes Editor, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

            It is a fundamental assumption of the EU project that economic and political freedoms go hand-in-hand,[i] but recent political trends in some EU member states, particularly Hungary, seem to be challenging this consensus.  In 2010, Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party enacted reforms in pursuit of “illiberal democracy” to consolidate their grip over elections, governance, and the media, all the while asserting that an illiberal Hungary could exist in harmoniously within the EU.[ii]  The Fidesz reforms elicited outrage from both domestic[iii] and international[iv] human rights organizations and spread worry across Europe. Continue reading

The UN’s Global Focal Point: Top-Down Bureaucracy, or Bottom-Up Results?

Stephen Packer, Vol. 37 Managing Online Content Editor, Vol. 36 Associate Editor


The UN’s Global Focal Point for Police, Justice, and Corrections (“GFP”) is now two-and-a-half years old. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced its creation in September 2012, when he appointed the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (“DPKO”) and the UN Development Programme (“UNDP”) as the GFP for Police, Justice, and Corrections Areas in the Rule of Law in Post-conflict and other Crisis Situations.[1] As the cumbersome official title suggests, the GFP is an attempt to provide a more joined-up response to crises by various UN bodies, characterized as “delivery as one.”[2] This includes dividing support and responsibility into a two-tier structure, with DPKO and UNDP responsible at HQ level for responding to requests at country level from UN entities working in fields related to police, justice, and corrections (“PJC”).[3] But is the GFP just an example of top-down, supply-driven window dressing in response to failures, or is there genuine bottom-up, demand-driven need for it?

Continue reading

International Efforts to Facilitate the Abolition of Capital Punishment in the US

Nehal Khorraminejad, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

On January 27, 2015, the State of Georgia executed Warren Lee Hill, a 54-year-old man convicted of murdering another inmate while serving time for killing his girlfriend in 1985.[1] In his appeals, Mr. Hill’s attorneys argued that his mental disability (he had an IQ of 70) exempted him from capital punishment.[2] Nearly thirteen years ago, in Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court of the United States deemed the execution of the mentally disabled unconstitutional under the Eight Amendment.[3] However, the Court left the task of defining the contours of mental disability to state legislatures, allowing states like Georgia to establish overly-fluid definitions of mental retardation, resulting in all-too-common circumvention of the Supreme Court rule.[4] Certain state laws make it difficult for defendants like Mr. Hill to avoid the ultimate form of punishment, despite a strong showing of poor adaptive skills by the defendant. The day after Mr. Hill’s execution, a spokesperson for the European Union (EU) issued a statement expressing disappointment in Georgia’s decision to execute Mr. Hill in light of his condition.[5] In the statement, the spokesperson reiterated that the execution of a mentally disabled person is “contrary to widely accepted human rights norms and to the minimum standards set forth according to international human rights law.”[6] Continue reading

The Single Convention at 54

Peter Bratton, Vol. 37 Articles Editor, Vol. 36 Associate Editor

Global drug regulation dates to the earliest pages in the modern chapter of international law. Long before the Geneva Convention or even the Treaty of Versailles, politicians, medical experts, and religious leaders gathered in Shanghai to address what they called “the opium problem.”[i] 52 years and a half dozen treaties later, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs came into effect, unifying the regulatory threads.[ii] 183 signatories and another 54 years later,[iii] the Convention remains the primary narcotics treaty in effect today.[iv] Continue reading