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THE ROLE OF AN INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ADVISER TO GOVERNMENT

  • Stephen Bouwhuis (a1)
Abstract

At a time when globalization is driving greater connections between governments, this article examines a key facilitator of such connections, namely the international legal adviser. It elaborates on their role, how they are selected, how their offices are structured and what makes a good international legal adviser.

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1 See eg, Merillat, HCL (ed), Legal Advisers and Foreign Affairs (Oceana 1964); Merillat, HCL (ed), Legal Advisers and International Organizations (Oceana 1966); United Nations, Collection of Essays by Legal Advisers of States, Legal Advisers of International Organizations and Practitioners in the Field of International Law (UN 1999); Wickremasinghe, C (ed), The International Lawyer as Practitioner (BIICL 2000).

2 See in particular US Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility Report: Investigating into the Office of Legal Counsel's Memoranda Concerning Issues Relating to the Central Intelligence Agency's Use of “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” on Suspected Terrorists (2009) <http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/opr-1stdraft.pdf > .

3 The Iraq Inquiry <http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/> accessed 26 February 2012 (presently not expected to report until late 2013).

4 Adapted from Sullivan, L, ‘The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered’, Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, March 1896, 408.

5 Austin, John, Lectures on Jurisprudence or the Philosophy of Positive Law (Campbell, Robert (ed), 4th edn, OUP 1973) 220, note.

6 J Goldsmith cited in Margolis, D, Memorandum of Decision Regarding the Objections to the Findings of Professional Misconduct in the Office of the Professional Responsibility's Report of Investigation into the Office of Legal Counsel's Memoranda Concerning Issues Relating to the Central Intelligence Agency's Use of “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” on Suspected Terrorists’ (2010) 18.

7 SG Bradbury, ‘Memorandum for Attorneys of the Office: Re: Best Practices for OLC Opinions 16 May 2005’ <http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/olc/best-practices.pdf > . See also DJ Barron, ‘Memorandum for Attorneys of the Office: Re: Best Practices for OLC Legal Advice and Written Opinions 16 July 2010’ <http://www.justice.gov/olc/pdf/olc-legal-advice-opinions.pdf > .

8 Sir F Berman, ‘The Role of the International Lawyer in the Making of Foreign Policy’ in C Wickremasinghe (ed), The International Lawyer as Practitioner (BIICL 2000) 3–4.

9 H Corell, ‘Cooperation Among Legal Advisers on Public International Law’ in United Nations, Collection of Essays by Legal Advisers of States, Legal Advisers of International Organizations and Practitioners in the Field of International Law (UN 1999) 97, 360.

10 Cabinet Office Ministerial Code (2010) <http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/ministerial-code > .

11 The rescue of nationals from conflict zones, whether or not with the consent of the government on whose territory they are located, might be one such example.

12 Cheng, T-H, When International Law Works: Realistic Idealism After 9/11 and the Global Recession (OUP 2011) 222–3.

13 R Jennings, ‘Introduction’ in C Wickremasinghe (ed), The International Lawyer as Practitioner (BIICL 2000) xxiv.

14 See Lammers, JG, ‘The Role of the Legal Adviser of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Dutch Approach and Experience’ (2009) 18 TulJIntl&CompL 187; Riphagen, W, ‘The Netherlands’ in Merillat, HCL (ed), Legal Advisers and Foreign Affairs (Oceania 1964) 83; Principles to Guide the Office of Legal Counsel 21 December 2004 <http://www.acslaw.org/files/2004%20programs_OLC%20principles_white%20paper.pdf > .

15 Corell (n 9) 110.

16 See Department of Justice (n 2).

17 See eg, Sands, P, Torture Team: Uncovering War Crimes in the Land of the Free (Allen Lane 2008) esp 233–45.

18 Allott, P, ‘The International Lawyer in Government Service: Ontology and Deontology’ (2005) 23(1) WisIntlLJ 1718. See also Goldsmith, J, The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration (Norton 2007) 228–31.

19 See Corell, H, ‘The Role of the Legal Adviser of the Department of State: A Report of the Joint Committee Established by the American Society of International Law and the American Branch of the International Law Association’ (1991) 85 AJIL 362–3.

20 WE Dellinger et al, Principles to Guide the Office of Legal Counsel, December 21 2004 <http://www.acslaw.org/files/2004%20programs_OLC%20principles_white%20paper.pdf > .

21 Strauss, DA, ‘The Solicitor General and the Interests of the United States’ (1998) 61 Law&ContempProbs 165.

22 Allott (n 18) 19.

23 See eg, Case Concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v Thailand), ICJ Reports 1962, 6.

24 See eg, Land, Island and Maritime Frontier Dispute (El Salvador/Honduras: Nicaragua intervening) ICJ Reports 1992, 351 and Application for Revision of the Judgment of 11 September 1992 in the Case Concerning the Land, Island and Maritime Frontier Dispute (El Salvador v Honduras: Nicaragua intervening) ICJ Reports 2003, 392.

25 See eg, Allott (n 18) 15.

26 American Law Institute, Restatement of the Law: The Foreign Relations of the United States (3rd edn, ALI 1987) section 111, particularly note h.

27 See eg, Bouwhuis, Stephen, ‘International law by the back door?’ (1998) 72 AustlLJ 794.

28 Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992) 175 CLR 1, para 42.

29 See eg, UNCTAD, IIA Issues Note No 1, (2011), 2.

30 See eg, United Nations, Harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, including guidelines on a common core document and treaty-specific targeted documents UN Doc. HRI/MC/2005/3, 1 June 2005.

31 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (adopted 24 April 1963, entered into force 19 March 1967) 596 UNTS 261.

32 See eg, Department of Defense: Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country (309A) <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2011/hst1103.pdf> and Army: Overseas deployments, <http://www.army.mod.uk/operations-deployments/22753.aspx > .

33 See in particular the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. sections 1–7.

34 Securities Exchange Act 15 U.S.C. section 78(j)(b) and see in particular Morrison v National Australia Bank 130 S.Ct. 2869 (2010).

35 Alien Tort Statute 28 U.S.C. section 1350.

36 Supreme Court of the United States Blog: Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum <http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/kiobel-v-royal-dutch-petroleum-et-al/ > .

37 See generally Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (adopted 17 July 1998, entered into force 1 July 2002) 2187 UNTS 3; Updated Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia <http://www.icty.org/x/file/Legal%20Library/Statute/statute_sept09_en.pdf > ; Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda <http://www.unictr.org/Portals/0/English/Legal/Statute/2010.pdf > ; and Agreement Between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone on the Establishment of a Special Court for Sierra Leone <http://www.sc-sl.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=CLk1rMQtCHg%3d&tabid=176 > .

38 See eg, Harold Hongju Koh, The Lawfulness of the U.S. Operation Against Osama bin Laden (2011) <http://opiniojuris.org/2011/05/19/the-lawfulness-of-the-us-operation-against-osama-bin-laden/ > .

39 See Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law: Item 7: The Organisation and Functions of the Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Legal Adviser: Document submitted by the Delegation of the United Kingdom, 11 September 2006, CAHDI (2006) 27, 3.

40 Allott (n 18) 14.

41 ibid 15.

42 ibid 15.

43 Department of Justice (n 2) 143.

44 Allott (n 18) 18–19.

45 Cheng (n 12) 223.

46 Chris Bowen, Australian Immigration Minister Transcript, Australian Broadcasting Corporation 1 September 2011 <http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2011/s3308075.htm > .

47 See eg, Goldsmith (n 18) 160–2; Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Deputy Legal Adviser at the time, letter dated 18 March 2003 <http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/43719/document2010-01-27-100908.pdf > . See also comments by the Attorney-General of the province of Hama in Syria, Mohammed Adnan al-Bakkour, reported in Bakri, Nada ‘Syrian Official in Hama Resigns to Protest Bloodshed’ New York Times, 1 September 2011.

48 Goldsmith (n 18) 25–35.

49 See eg, Strauss (n 21) 175.

50 Goldsmith (n 18) 94, further 163–4.

51 See eg, HCL Merillat, ‘Summary Report’ in HCL Merillat (ed), Legal Advisers and Foreign Affairs (Oceania 1964) 26–7.

52 This is the practice in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the United Kingdom which seconds officers to legal postings places such as New York, Geneva, Brussels and The Hague (see Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law: The Organisation and Functions of the Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Legal Adviser, 19 June 2007 CAHDI (2007) 10 rev 87) and the United States which may assign Attorneys to Missions such as Geneva and the Hague.

53 See eg, Fitzmaurice, Gerald, ‘Notes and Comments: Legal Advisers and Foreign Affairs (Review Article)’ (1965) 59 AJIL 80–6.

54 For the United States see Bilder, Richard, ‘The Office of the Legal Adviser: the State Department Lawyer and Foreign Affairs’ (1962) 56(3) AJIL 635–6.

55 For the United Kingdom see Merillat (n 51) 7.

56 Bilder (n 54) 641, 655; Merillat (n 51) 7; Stanley Metzger, ‘United States of America: Background Paper’ in HCL Merillat (ed), Legal Advisers and Foreign Affairs (Oceania 1964) 154–5; Watts, Arthur, ‘International Law and International Relations: United Kingdom Practice’ (1991) 2 EJIL 161; Young, MichaelThe Role of the Attorney-Adviser in the U.S. Department of State: Institutional Arrangements and Structural Imperatives’ (1998) 61(2) Law&ContempProbs 138, 143.

57 Marcel Cadieux, ‘Canada: Background Paper’ in HCL Merillat (ed), Legal Advisers and Foreign Affairs (Oceania 1964) 34–35.

58 For example, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht QC served as Legal Adviser of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from 1975 to 1977.

59 Fitzmaurice (n 53) 74.

60 For Japan see Yuichi Takano, ‘Japan: Background Paper’ in HCL Merillat (ed), Legal Advisers and Foreign Affairs (Oceania 1964) 54–66. For the United States see CAHDI (n 52) 105.

61 Harold Hongju Koh <http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/HKoh.htm > .

62 See eg, Gregory Shaffer, Michelle Ratton Sanchez and Barbara Rosenbeg, Winning at the WTO: The Development of a Trade Policy Community within Brazil: Documento de Trabajo No. 14 Area de Relaciones Internacionales FLACSO/Argentina (2008).

63 For example see then Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, cited in Kyriakides, KAThe Advisory Functions of the Attorney-General’ (2003) 1(1) Hertfordshire Law Journal 85. See also Lord Goldsmith cited in Kyriakides, 90.

64 The advices relied upon by countries taking action against Iraq in the Second Gulf War are one of the most notable examples. See eg, the advice of John Yoo, US Deputy Assistant Attorney General of 8 November 2002, <http://www.justice.gov/olc/2002/iraq-unscr-final.pdf > ; the advice of the Attorney-General of the United Kingdom of 7 March 2003 <http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/freedom_of_information/notices/annex_a_-_attorney_general's_advice_070303.pdf> and the advice of Bill Campbell QC, First Assistant Secretary, Office of International Law and Chris Moraitis, Senior Legal Adviser, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia <http://mjil.law.unimelb.edu.au/go/issues/issue-archive/volume-4-1 > .

65 See eg, the opinions section on the US Department of Justice <http://www.justice.gov/olc/opinions.htm > .

66 Australia is perhaps the best example where the Office of International Law in the Attorney-General's Department bills for advice but the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not.

67 See Sands (n 17) 126.

68 See eg, the Justice Canada (2008) Audit of the Public Law Function 8.

69 Berman (n 8) 10. See also Canbäck, Staffan, Samouel, Phillip and Price, David, ‘Do Diseconomies of Scale Impact Firm Size and Performance? A Theoretical and Empirical Overview’ (2006) 4(1) Journal of Managerial Economics 27.

70 See Corell (n 9) 365–6.

71 Fitzmaurice (n 53) 78.

72 The Australian Attorney-General's Department and the French Conseil d’État are particularly notable examples.

73 Berman (n 8) 9–10 (footnote included).

74 See also Fitzmaurice (n 53) 78.

75 Watts (n 56), 161.

76 Merillat (n 51) 6.

77 Department of Justice (n 2) and generally Goldsmith (n 18), although also see Margolis (n 6).

78 See CAHDI (n 52) 103.

79 See eg, Remarks by Harold Hongju Koh, Legal Adviser, State Department, at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law (as Released by the State Department): The Obama Administration and International Law <http://www.state.gov/s/l/releases/remarks/139119.htm > .

80 See CAHDI (n 52) 104.

81 M. Cohen, ‘Canada: Background Paper’ in HCL Merillat (ed), Legal Advisers and Foreign Affairs (Oceania 1964) 46; See also Clive Parry, ‘United Kingdom: Background Paper’ in ibid 108.

82 See Bradbury (n 7). See also Barron (n 7).

83 See eg, CAHDI (n 52) 87.

84 See eg, Treasury Board Secretariat (n 68).

85 ibid 19–20.

86 FD Berman, ‘The International Lawyer, inside and outside Foreign Ministries’ in Christopher Hill and Pamela Beshoff (eds), Two Worlds of International Relations: Academics, Practitioners and the Trade in Ideas (Routledge 1994) 85.

87 Interestingly the period between 2005 and 2010 showed a decrease in investor-state claims (see eg, UNCTAD IIA Issues Note No 1 (2011) 2 and see also Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Gillard Government Trade Policy Statement: Trading our Way to More Jobs and Prosperity, 14 April 2011, 14 <http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/trade/trading-our-way-to-more-jobs-and-prosperity.html > .

88 See eg, Donald McRae,‘Arbitrating Trade Disputes’ presentation at 60 Years in International Law: Seminar in Honour of Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, 20 October 2011.

89 This has in turn been viewed with considerable concern by those who could see the advantages of the less formal tradition.

90 Office of the United States Trade Representative, ‘About Us’ <http://www.ustr.gov/about-us > .

91 Although the majority of the former are trade policy experts rather than legal advisers.

92 See CAHDI (n 52) 104, although it should be noted that a significant part of the work of this Office also covers cases being considered by the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal.

93 See Berman (n 56) 82.

94 See CAHDI (n 52) 103.

95 ibid 104.

96 ibid 103.

97 ibid 103.

98 ibid 105.

99 ibid 105.

100 ibid 87.

101 Sir Wood, Michael, ‘The Role of the FCO in UK Government’ (2011) in House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee: The Role of the FCO in UK Government: Seventh Report of Session 2010–12 vol II, 4851.

102 See CAHDI (n 52) 88.

103 Data.gov.uk, ‘Opening up government’ <http://data.gov.uk/organogram/foreign-and-commonwealth-office > .

104 House of Commons Written Answers 15 March 2011, vol 525, part 132.

105 See CAHDI (n 52) 88.

106 Watts (n 56) 159.

107 See CAHDI (n 52) 88.

108 Watts (n 56) 160.

109 See eg, Treasury Board Secretariat (n 68) 32.

110 See CAHDI (n 52) 92.

111 ibid 90.

112 Advisory Centre on WTO LAW <http://www.acwl.ch/e/index.html > .

The views expressed in their article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of current or past employers. Thanks to Christopher Wilkinson and the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.

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