MJIL Online

MJIL Online brings you timely short-form articles that represent a wide range of views on contemporary issues in international law. The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors only.


Daniel Mooney
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Reports indicate that United States and Cuban officials and Major League Baseball have been holding private meetings in the past months to figure out a way to allow Cuban baseball players to come to the United States legally to play in the MLB.[1] These talks are the latest in a string of attempts by the Obama administration to warm relations with Cuba.[2] These attempts will culminate in late March when President Obama will become the first U.S president to visit Cuba since 1928. The president, while in Cuba, will attend an exhibition game in Havana featuring the Cuban National team and the Tampa Bay Rays.[3]

Over 200 Cuban baseball players have defected from their home country to play professional baseball. Cubans are subjected to more complex MLB rules than other baseball players for several reasons. First, Cubans are forced to defect from Cuba to play professional baseball.[4] The MLB bars “the discussion or negotiation with anyone in Cuba regarding the signing of any player in Cuba.”[5] Ergo, no scouts or team representatives can contact any Cuban player while they are in Cuba. This policy essentially forces Cubans who have MLB aspirations to abandon their home and establish

Cole Lussier
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Domestic conflict in a small Central African country is once again leading the international community to reflect on its willingness to ensure human security and republican government in a nation long marred by violence and instability. Since April 2015, the Republic of Burundi has teetered on the brink of civil war, prompting concerns of possible ethnic cleansing and genocide.[1] With the memories of neighboring Rwanda’s genocide still weighing on the global conscience, the killings in Burundi have once again raised serious questions regarding the sanctity of state sovereignty and the moral urge to protect human life and democratic government.[2] 

Civil unrest erupted in Burundi in April 2015, following the announcement that President Pierre Nkurunziza would seek a third term in power.[3] To opposition members, this clearly violated the Burundi constitutional provision limiting a president to only two terms in office.[4] Yet, Nkurunziza’s supporters argued that this limit had not been reached because the president had been elected by the legislature for his first term in office, rather than the electorate-at-large.[5]

The ensuing dispute over domestic constitutional law was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court of Burundi, which among allegations of threats and the dissenting justice fleeing the country,

Jacob Greenberg
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
At the stroke of midnight on March 20, 2016, Greece began the process of designating all migrants arriving by boat for return to Turkey.[1] This major milestone in the refugee/migrant crisis was the product of deal struck by the European Union (EU) and Turkey just days earlier. Turkey agreed to receive and process all migrants arriving by boat in Greece. It will also sort those refugees fleeing war from other migrants.[2] The EU, in addition to paying to send the migrants to Turkey, has agreed to several other concessions. For each migrant the EU sends Turkey, the EU will resettle one vetted Syrian refugee. The EU will also send Turkey 3 billion Euros on top of the 3 billion it has already pledged to help it deal with the crisis, grant visa-free travel for Turks in Europe, and accelerate negotiations over Turkish accession to the EU.[3] 

Some analysts like The Economist are cautiously optimistic. Of the estimated 1.2 million migrants who entered Europe in the past year, most came through Turkey.[4] This plan both standardizes a system that badly needs organization and helps mitigate the incentive to illegally migrate to Europe.[5] Potential migrants will presumably be less

Christian Husby
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
On February 23, 2016, Tsinghua Unisplendour Corporation of China abandoned its attempted $3.78 billion purchase of a 15% stake in Western Digital, an American computer data storage company.[1] Tsinghua didn’t abandon the deal because it lost interest in the deal, and it wasn’t because it couldn’t get the financing; it was because of a decision by the Committee on Foreign Investment (“CFIUS”) to review the prospective deal.[2]

What is this committee that can scare off multi-billion dollar deals just with a threat of review? The CFIUS was organized in 1975 and charged with the duty of “monitoring the impact of foreign investment in the United States.”[3] At first, CFIUS’s powers were limited to requesting foreign governments to file reports about their foreign investment activities and to monitor investments.[4] This changed in the late 1980’s at a time of great fear in America about Japan’s economic rise.[5]

In 1987, Fujitsu, a Japanese informational tech company, proposed to purchase an 80% stake in Fairchild Semiconductor, a U.S.-based company, for over $200 million, but the deal was ultimately called off due to heavy pressures from the U.S. government.[6] Following this, in 1988, Congress passed the Exon-Florio Amendment. Exon-Florio responded to the

Angela Ni
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Vol. 38 Managing Note Editor
Free speech and separation of political spheres in China have always been tenuous. Publishing houses and bookshops in Hong Kong have spent years churning out books banned on the Chinese mainland, often focusing on poorly sourced secrets and rumors about the top echelons of China's ruling Communist Party.[1] However, the recent arrest of five Hong Kong citizens, who published books that revealed critical and salacious information regarding the Chinese leadership, ignited citywide protests and debates about Hong Kong’s true political status.[2] One of the booksellers, Lee Bo, disappeared from his warehouse in December 2015 when his publishing company was to publish a book on Chinese president Xi Jinping's alleged love affairs before his political ascent.[3]

Since the United Kingdom handed over sovereignty of Hong Kong to China in 1997, the “one-country, two-systems” regime has consistently come into political and legal controversy. Hong Kong has markedly disparate laws from China, which is the result of a 50-year compact between China and the UK, which administered Hong Kong before the handover, known as Basic Law.[4] Under Basic Law, Chinese legal authorities have no jurisdiction in the city.[5] Furthermore, it guarantees rights such as freedoms of

Sihang Zhang
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
About a week ago, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron announced June 23rd as the date for a referendum on the country’s membership to the European Union.[1] On that date, the British people will make their most important decision for the future of their country. The influence of the vote will spread deep and far outside of the country, with serious global economic impact.[2]

While the advocacy of Brexit—Britain departing from the European Union—has been expressed for several years, the prospect has been increasing in popularity. Today, largely thanks to Europe’s migration crisis and financial crisis around the euro, the poll shows Brexit is not a mere theoretical idea, but a real possibility, with some surveys even finding a majority of voters wanting to exit the EU.[3]

While David Cameron, together with his top ministers and Britain’s largest businesses clearly desire to remain in the EU (arguing that Britain should remain in order to retain its position and rule-setting influence in the EU and mitigate negative repercussions from other members by renegotiation with EU[4]) Vote-For-Leave side also enjoys prominent supporters including the justice secretary, Michael Gove, and London's mayor Boris Johnson, who has alleged that David Cameron has

Katherine McGuigan
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Vol. 38 Business and Development Editor
On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency in response to the Zika virus outbreak.[1] While the WHO does great work to monitor and control many international health concerns, lately it has drawn criticism for its lackluster response to crises. These criticisms were particularly acute regarding the Ebola outbreak. Many believe that if the WHO had taken action right when the outbreak was first reported, hundreds of lives could have been saved.[2] The Zika virus presents an opportunity for the WHO to learn from the mistakes it made dealing with the Ebola outbreak so that it may more effectively combat this latest international health crisis.

Zika is a disease that transmitted by mosquitos. People infected with the virus generally suffer from a mild fever, skin rashes, joint pain, and a headache for a period of two to seven days.[3] While these symptoms are relatively minor, the disease has risen to the level of international concern because of its apparent correlation with microcephaly—a condition when a baby is born with a significantly smaller head and brain.[4] The number of babies born with this syndrome has dramatically increased in the

Virginia Koeppl
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Vol. 38 Article Editor
On December 26, 2015, China sent three armed vessels, one of them designed to carry four cannons, into Japan’s territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands in the southern part of the East China Sea.[1] This is the first time that the People’s Republic of China has sent armed vessels into waters claimed by Japan.[2]

The sending of these three vessels signals a new phase of incursions intended to expand China’s control over the Senkaku Islands, and possibly the Ryukyu Islands.  The Senkaku group consists of eight uninhabited islands, with a total land area of less than seven square kilometers which lie roughly 120 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, 200 nautical miles east of mainland China, and 240 nautical miles southwest of Japanese Okinawa.[3] Despite their size, these islands are of immense economic and strategic importance.[4]

Under the international law of the sea, control of the Senkakus may convey exclusive economic rights to nearly 20,000 square nautical miles of undersea resources.[5] Art. 76(4)(a) of the Convention on the Law of the Sea declares that “[f]or the purposes of this Convention, the coastal State shall establish the outer edge of the continental margin wherever the margin extends beyond

Ashley Harshaw, Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Following North Korea’s long-range rocket launch on February 7, 2016, South Korea and the United States are urging for strong sanctions against the Kim Jong-un regime. But, it is unclear what kinds of sanctions will be effective in influencing North Korea’s behavior. The successful functioning of the rule of international law depends on the consent of states. Since North Korea seeks to remove itself from the limitations of international legal norms, what is the legal framework in which other countries may retaliate against North Korea?

South Korea and the U.S. maintain that North Korea’s rocket launch violated international law, as set out in various United Nations Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from rocket launches using ballistic missile technology.[1] North Korea insists that the launch was merely a satellite for peaceful purposes.[2]

A series of retaliatory actions has already taken place between the rival Koreas and the U.S. Shortly after the February 7 launch, South Korea suspended operations at the Kaesong industrial zone, a jointly run factory park located in North Korea, as punishment.[3] In retaliation, North Korea expelled all South Korean workers from Kaesong, froze the assets of South Korean firms, and put the area under military

Christine Prorok
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Vol. 38 Online Content Editor
In a world where information posted to the Internet is so widely available and difficult to control, data privacy can seem out of reach. However, a right that was recently recognized in the European Union has attempted to push back on the notion that once information has been posted online, it is lost into the void. “The right to be forgotten” is the right of Europeans to request information be removed from a search engine when that information is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to [the purposes for which it was processed or collected] and in the light of the time that has elapsed.”[1] The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) established this right and emphasized the need for sensitivity for the data subject’s private life.[2] The search engine implicated in this case was Google, an American-based company. However, that did not prevent the court from ordering the removal of the link in question, because Google Spain processed the information.[3]

This judicial decision left many questioning the status of freedom of expression and access to information.[4] With a new European data protection law on the horizon,

Corina McIntyre, Vol. 37 Associate Editor
In October 2015, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) struck down the U.S.-E.U. transatlantic “Safe Harbor” pact used by thousands of companies to transfer European citizens’ data to the U.S. For 15 years the Safe Harbor pact had “allowed more than 4,000 companies to avoid cumbersome E.U. data transfer rules by stating that they complied with E.U. data protection law.”[1] The E.U. argued that the pact “exposed Europeans to mass surveillance by the U.S. government” and failed to provide necessary privacy guarantees.[2] The ECJ held that the pact violated Europeans’ privacy rights and that E.U. member states can consequently override the pact.

The decision affected an estimated 4,500 companies that store customers’ personal data. The practical consequences of the ruling were predicted to initiate a costly effort by companies to preserve their ability to “transfer Europeans’ personal data to the U.S. before regulators move[d] in with fines or orders to suspend data flows.”[3] And the economic ramifications are hardly insignificant. In addition to storing human resource type documents, the data was used in the online advertising business to the tune of billions of dollars in trade.[4]

Since the decision, E.U. and U.S. regulators have been in negotiations

Sung "Chris" Lee
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Vol. 38 Online Content Editor
Low steel prices have been driven by Chinese steel glut: China is dumping steel globally to get rid of the massive excess supply. As China shifts away from growth driven by the manufacturing industry, it is flooding the worldwide steel market with its excess capacity. China plans to cut some of the excess capacity by 100 to 150 million tons as part of an effort to restructure its economy, but it did not specify the deadline.[1] 

The steel industry is in a state of turmoil, as steel manufacturers continue to bleed with losses. And among them, European manufacturers—including ArcelorMittal and Tata Steel—have taken the biggest hit. With steel sectors in European countries, including the UK, at the brink of collapse, steel manufacturers are now pleading for a tariff on Chinese steel imports.

But so far, the response from various European governments have been meek. Europe has imposed 13% tariffs on Chinese imports as a remedial measure, but this is criticized as a toothless measure.[2] The proposed tariff on Chinese steel imports have similarly been condemned as a “slap in the face” for the UK steel industry.[3] On February 8th 2016, Ministers from France,

Alicia McCaffrey
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Vol. 38 Note Editor
Many law students are familiar with the Argentina bonds arbitrations because of their popularity in Transnational Law classes. These Argentina bonds arbitrations are one example of a genre of cases debating the legality of strict government regulations. These scenarios generally involve a government wanting to place fairly extreme regulations on a multinational corporation in order to reach some sort of public policy goal, and a multinational corporation that argues the regulations are so extreme as to be practically expropriating its business or violating the “fair and equitable treatment” provisions in the countries’ bilateral investment treaty (BIT). A new set of these kinds of cases has emerged recently as multinational corporations, together with the countries in which they are headquartered, challenge the Australian government’s “plain packaging” requirements for cigarettes.

In 2010 Australia committed to implementing strict packaging requirements for cigarette packaging by 2012.1 The packaging, commonly referred to as “plain packaging,” mandates that cigarette packages display large images and warnings about the health effects of smoking. Only the name of the brand is displayed in small, plain text at the bottom of the package. Britain and Ireland have similar regulations.[i]

The first arbitration regarding the validity

Forthcoming Author in the Press: S.I. Strong
Volume 37 Issue 1 of the Michigan Journal of International Law is nearing publication, and one of our authors has been discussing the topic of her article.

Kluwer Arbitration Blog recently published a piece written by MJIL author S.I. Strong that previews her forthcoming article on international commercial arbitration.

Professor Strong writes that, while a "reasoned" or "fully reasoned" award is required by the agreements that govern international commercial arbitration, there is relatively little scholarship as to why this requirement is necessary or what this would even look like in a legal regime that includes elements of both common and civil law.

Professor Strong's forthcoming article in Volume 37 will fully unpack the reasoned award requirement, how to write such an award, and provide key comparative insights between common law and civil law legal systems in this arena. In the interim, Professor Strong's paper is available here.

Joon Yoo
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Vol. 38 Executive Editor
Across the United States, the recent trend among many wealthy foreigners interested in luxury U.S. real estate is the use of limited liability companies, or LLCs, in purchasing high-end properties in total secrecy and anonymity. For the last several years, “nearly half the residential purchases of over $5 million were made by shell companies rather than named people”[1] and in 2014, over 80 percent of the units of a landmark luxury property in New York City were sold to shell companies.[2] In terms of dollar amount, roughly “$8 billion is spent each year for New York City residences that cost more than $5 million each.”[3]

The problem with allowing shell companies like LLCs to purchase real property without requiring them to disclose any names of individuals is that foreign money involving illicit gains or sources can be safely hidden from the reach of official investigations and scrutiny of other countries. While today’s federal banking guidelines instruct banks to make reasonable efforts to avoid giving aid to those who try to move corruption money, there is no identical guideline or legal obligation imposed on transactions involving foreign money coming into the U.S. via shall companies

Christina Foster, Vol. 37 Associate Editor
North Korea, the self-declared nuclear state, claims to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb.[1] The testing occurred at 10:00am local time on January 5, 2016[2] and is one of several experiments carried out by leader Kim Jong-Un and the late Kim Jong-Ilin what is becoming a routine violation of international law. Last May, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused North Korea of “flagrant disregard for international law,”[3] and the country is clearly showing no signs of letting up. While the United Nations Security Council has adopted several resolutions which impose sanctions on North Korea, these resolutions are merely soft laws that lack teeth. Even more problematic are the conflicting international policies and wavering stances of powerful nations, such as China and the United States. To achieve the objectives of the resolutions that target North Korea’s nuclear program, the leading countries of the world need to effect stricter sanctions and follow through as a united front.

While North Korea’s nuclear proliferation is just one of many international concerns that the United States and its allies currently face, in Pyongyang, developing a nuclear program has long been at the forefront of the government’s ambitions.[4] To North Korea,

The Michigan Journal of International Law would like to announce the Volume 38 Editorial Board:

Volume 38 Editorial Board
Editor in Chief
Katie Reyzis
Managing Editor
Zach Anderson
Business and Development Editor
Kate McGuigan
Production Manager
Will Quinn
Managing Article Editor
Erin Collins
Managing Executive Editor
Lauren Richards
Managing Note Editor
Angela Ni
Managing Online Content Editor
Amy Albanese

Article Editors
Kt Delong
Jacob Greenberg
Virginia Koeppl
Silvia Raithel
Executive Editors
Emily Golding
Jenn Nelson
Joon Yoo
Note Editors
Cody Marden
Alicia McCaffrey
Online Content Editors
Sung "Chris" Lee
Christine Prorok
Congratulations to the new board!

Amy Albanese
Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Vol. 38 Managing Online Content Editor
For over a year, there have been reports in the international press of Syrian and Iraqi antiquities being sold by ISIS as a source of revenue.[1] The reports detail how ISIS is profiting through the sale of Syria’s antiquities on the international art market, some even going so far as to call it a major source of funding.[2] The most recent set of complete trade statistics shows that, in fact, the importation of Syrian antiquities into the United States has remained similar to the pre-2012 sanctions.[3] This is a stark contrast from all other Syrian goods, which have sharply declined from $429.3 million worth of declared goods, to just $12.4 million in declared goods.[4] Yet, in 2014, the importation of “Antiquities over 100 years old,” “Worked Monumental Stone and Mosaic Cubes” and “Collector’s Pieces of Archaeological, Historical or Numismatic Objects” represented $6,633,903, or 54%, of all U.S. imports from Syria.[5]

There is disagreement as to the extent to which ISIS profits from the sale of antiquities. One of the highest estimates comes from the former Indian ambassador to Syria, who stated that ISIS derives anywhere between thirty and fifty percent of its

Silvia Raithel, Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Negotiations towards the Common European Asylum System (“CEAS”) began in 1999 in the city of Tampere, Finland.[1] EU Member States wanted a unified asylum system, based on binding legislation, in order to address several key problems.[2] One problem the CEAS sought to address was asylum shopping.[3] This is a practice whereby asylum seekers whose applications for asylum in one EU Member State are denied apply for asylum in another EU Member States.[4] A second problem the CEAS sought to address was disparate asylum outcomes in different EU Member States.[5] This led asylum seekers to gravitate towards EU Member States where their application was more likely to be approved.[6] A third problem the CEAS sought to address was differing social benefits for asylum seekers in different EU Member States.[7] This led asylum seekers to file their petitions for asylum in the EU Member States that had the best social benefits for asylum seekers.[8]

The adoption of the CEAS took place in two phases.[9] During the first phase, between 1999 and 2005, “several legislative measures [harmonizing] common minimum standards for asylum were adopted.”[10] These minimum standards included five key components: (1) the Asylum Procedures Directive,[11] (2) the Reception

Erin Collins, Vol. 37 Associate Editor
Throughout law school, much of our coursework focuses on the black letter law. However, it is equally important to keep in mind the way that particular laws can have a disparate impact on individuals, and when various laws can be used in order to prohibit individuals really achieving some sort of access to justice. To demonstrate this point, this short article will look at potential obstacles to access to justice regarding gender-based violence for women in Tunisia.

Tunisia is through to have some of the most progressive women’s rights legislation throughout the Middle East/North Africa region. The Personal Status Code was promulgated in 1956 under Tunisia’s first president Habib Bourguiba.[1] While there have been several revisions to this code, it functioned to abolish polygamy and repudiation; establish a legal right for women to ask for divorce; create a minimum age for marriage; and require consent of both spouses to marriage. The next year, Tunisian women were granted suffrage, and by 1959 they received the right to run for public office.[2]

Tunisia’s 2014 Constitution further codified women’s status in society. Article 21 contains a general provision recognizing equal rights and duties for men and women as well as

Katrien Wilmots, Vol. 37 Associate Editor
The chances of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union seemed remote only a couple of months ago. However, recent surveys of the British public and talk in parliament have made the idea of a “Brexit” not just mere talk but an actual possibility.[1] The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been focusing on negotiating a deal with the EU in order to avoid a Brexit,[2] but recent developments do beg the question what the consequences of an exit would be, and more specifically what the international legal consequences would be.

Law firms in London such as Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Hogan Lovells are already preparing for a possible Brexit and have assembled dedicated teams to advise the would be widespread consequences of an exit including “implications for tax, employment, financial regulation, intellectual property and company law.”[3]

As a member of the European Union, the supreme law of the land in Britain is EU law. In a landmark case in 1963, Van Gend en Loos v. Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen,[4] often described as the European equivalent of Marbury v. Madison,[5] the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that EU treaties are directly effective in their application

Tania Morris Diaz, Vol. 37 Associate Editor
On November 4, 2015, the Mexican Supreme Court (SCJN) concluded by a 4-1 vote that recreational production, possession, and consumption of marijuana is a human right. As a means of understanding the road to marijuana legalization, this article presents a brief overview of Mexico’s evolving drug policy over the past two decades, what the decision means now, and what is needed next in order for Mexico to legalize marijuana.

It was not until the 1980s and early 1990s with the fall of Colombian drug trafficking organizations that Mexico’s role evolved from “mere couriers” to “wholesalers.”[1] The inequality and poverty effects of NAFTA in Mexico strengthened these criminal organizations by providing cartels with a “huge pool” from which to recruit “foot soldiers.”[2] It was at this time that Mexico felt the weight of an inherent imbalance in the supply-demand aspect of international drug trafficking. In 1993, Mexico wrote a letter to the Secretary General voicing a strong desire that international focus shift from production to consumption and a strong critique of U.S. counter-narcotics operations on Mexican territory.[3] This ultimately sparked the first United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in 1998.


Rochelle Dreyfuss and Susy Frankel
From Incentive to Commodity to Asset: How International Law is Reconceptualizing Intellectual Property

Carlo Garbarino and Giulio Allevato
The Global Architecture of Financial Regulatory Taxes
David J. Stute
Privacy Almighty? The CJEU's Judgment in Google Spain SL v. AEPD

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Jason S. Levin, Vol. 37 Associate Editor
The New Year welcomed heightened political tension as legal woes between Ukraine and Russia intensified, two countries with an already tumultuous history.[1] On January 1, Russia responded to Ukraine’s December 31 default on the first tranche of debt, a $3 billion Eurobond, by initiating “procedures [for] . . . legal action.”[2] The action was filed in the London Court of International Arbitration (“LCIA”).[3]

The Ukraine-Russia debt deal, struck in December 2013, provided that Russia would “[purchase] $15 billion worth of Ukrainian Eurobonds.”[4] Ukraine’s Russian debt obligation is part of a larger restructuring effort, as Ukraine recently yielded to “private credito[r]” demands, deciding not to pay back Russia in full.[5] The International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) has classified Ukraine’s debt as sovereign (as opposed to private or commercial),[6] rendering them unable to restructure in opposition to the pool of private creditors.[7]

Ukraine has been working to comply with the conditions of a $17.5 billion IMF bailout.[8] Although Russia is one of the 188 IMF members,[9] the country refused to take part in the private creditor negotiations.[10] Thus, further embroiled in this controversy is the IMF’s role. In an effort to provide ongoing capital to Ukraine, the IMF recently

Cole Lussier, Vol. 37 Associate Editor
In American foreign affairs law, it is long established that the “external powers of the United States are to be exercised without regard to state laws or policies.”[i] Yet this does not mean that governors are required to ignore the effects of an increasingly connected global community and the opportunities it presents. Indeed, to varying degrees of success, savvy governors have attempted to tap into the international marketplace to establishing trade relationships and attract foreign investment to their states.

The role of states in international law is of course not new, and states have been involved in global legal matters in different ways. Of course, much of the discourse on the role of states and governors in international law has focused on formal roles. Whether it be giving effect to the judgments of international tribunals or dealing with the demands of a foreign state, forming bilateral or multilateral agreements with foreign states or their subunits, or enacting their own legislation that runs up against the laws of another country, states have simply been unable to avoid the global legal arena.[ii]

One of the most dynamic ways governors can engage the global community is by facilitating international trade