Category Archives: International Law

Why Isn’t Outer Space a Global Commons?

The United States does not view outer space as a global commons, according to Executive Order (EO) 13914 issued by President Donald Trump on April 6, 2020. This policy declaration will be welcomed by some, lamented by others, and surely many more will simply find it confusing—an intriguing range of reactions for a seemingly simple term to generate.

John S. Goehring’s article examines the role that notions of the global commons play in U.S. policy on the recovery and use of space resources. It argues the term “global commons” has more than one legitimate meaning, and, in failing to account for this complexity, the EO complicates, rather than simplifies, productive discourse not only about the space domain but also about other domains.

Fighting in the Unknown: Lawful Measures to Neutralize Subterranean Threats

Subterranean operations have been an aspect of warfare since the beginning of recorded history. No longer just the complex tunnel networks facing U.S. forces during the Vietnam conflict, in today’s modern society, infrastructure to support megacities such as subway systems and sewers provide a third dimension for military planners to consider in conflicts.

The need to neutralize such threats is highlighted by Michael Meier as he explores the lawful measures that can be taken to conduct these operations. Meier’s contribution to this understudied subject first sets the stage by reviewing the subterranean domain, then looks at applicable law for subterranean operations, and then finally applies the law to the various methods for neutralizing and destroying tunnels and other subterranean systems.

This overarching summation of the ways to neutralize subterranean threats highlights the extent to which the legal issues in particular require careful consideration by commanders and legal advisors.

The Role of Transnational Private Actors in Ukraine International Flight 752 Crash in Iran Under Economic Sanctions Pressure

Transnational private actors (TNPAs) conducting business in a sanctioned country may depart from that market when the costs of doing business with a sanctioned state outweigh any potential profit. When TNPAs cease operations in a sanctioned market, their withdrawal can ultimately denigrate the sanctioned country’s economy and bolster the effectiveness of sanctions imposed by the sanctioning state.

Mahan Ashouri examines the role of TNPAs operating in the Iranian market after the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and reinstatement of sanctions against Iran in 2018. His article explores the expanded role of TNPAs in the global economy, the risk calculation conducted by TNPAs operating in sanctioned Iran, and the great influence of TNPAs on the effectiveness of U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.

Ashouri ultimately concludes that TNPAs exited the Iranian market not out of strict compliance with international law, but out of a rational risk calculation. The decision of TNPAs to leave the Iranian market not only damaged Iran’s economy, by depriving the state of millions of dollars in trade and foreign investment, but also elevated the United States’ ability to leverage economic sanctions over Iran in order to renegotiate the nuclear deal.

However, Iran’s refusal to renegotiate amidst highly restrictive sanctions and its subsequent financial reliance on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps triggered a series of events that tragically led to the Ukrainian plane crash in Iran in January 2020.