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International treaty law occupies a more secure place in U.S. constitutional text than customary international law. Treaties, we know, are the “supreme law of the land” under Article VI of the Constitution and are routinely applied both in state courts and in federal courts under Article III. So the “awkward relationship” to which I will address myself is how U.S. courts should determine the meaning of an international treaty to which the United States is bound, when the parties involved in court have different views on the substance of the obligation that the United States has undertaken. Thus my general topic is treaty interpretation, and my particular examples will be drawn from treaties relating to the rights of individuals in courts in the United States. Such treaties need not be human rights treaties, and indeed my examples will involve two kinds of treaties that are not usually found in compilations of human rights instruments: extradition treaties and treaties on consular relations.


Human Rights Law | International Law | Law