Enforceability of international tribunals' decisions in the United States

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Date: Fall 2006
From: Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy(Vol. 30, Issue 1)
Publisher: Harvard Society for Law and Public Policy, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 879 words
Lexile Measure: 2520L

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The United States has committed itself to many international institutions that make decisions affecting this country's rights and duties under international law. These international decision-making bodies include the International Court of Justice at the Hague, the North American Free Trade Agreement arbitration panels, and the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization. The very important question arises of what effect, if any, such bodies' decisions should have in U.S. courts.

In 2004, the "principal judicial organ of the United Nations," (1) the International Court of Justice (ICJ), determined that the United States had failed to comply with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations' requirement (2) that foreigners arrested in the United States be informed of their right to contact their consulate for assistance. (3) The case, known as Avena, involved fifty-two Mexican nationals tried and convicted of capital crimes in the United States. (4) The ICJ decision held that California, Texas, and seven other states caused the United States to violate the Vienna Convention when they failed to inform fifty-one of these individuals of their right to contact the Mexican consul in conjunction with their arrests. (5) Most importantly, the ICJ ruled that the United States must remedy these violations by providing "review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the Mexican nationals." (6) The ICJ further...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A161399671