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Speaking with One Voice on the Recognition of States

  • Campbell McLachlan (a1)

Extract

At first blush, the recent judgment of the U.S. Supreme Court in Zivotofsky v Kerry (Zivotofsky II) reads as a strikingly American affair concerning the enduring force of the separation of powers under a written Constitution. Finding that the President has the exclusive power to recognize foreign states and their territory, the Court holds that a statute of Congress encroaches upon this power and declares it unconstitutional. The reasoning of both the Court and the minority justices is largely a narrative of U.S. Constitutional history. So one might ask: does this decision really have anything to say of significance outside the U.S. context about the scope of the executive function in foreign relations?

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Copyright

References

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1 Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Kerry, 135 S.Ct. 2076 (2015) (hereafter Zivotovsky II).

2 Campbell Mclachlan, Foreign Relations ch. 10 (2014).

3 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003, Pub. L. No. 107-228, 116 Stat. 1350 (2002).

4 Zivotovsky II, 135 S.Ct. at 2085.

5 Id. at 2086, citations omitted.

6 Id. at 2090.

7 Id. at 2097-9 (Thomas, J, concurring).

8 Id. at 2101-2 (Thomas, J, concurring).

9 Id. at 2116 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

10 Id. at 2119 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

11 Id. at 2123 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

12 The Arantzazu Mendi, [1939] A.C. 256 (H.L.) 264 (U.K.).

13 Rio Tinto Zinc Corp v. Westinghouse Electric Corp (Nos 1 & 2), [1978] A.C. 547 (H.L.) 617 (U.K.).

14 Al-Jedda v. Secretary of State for Defence [2010] EWCA Civ 758, [2011] 773 Q.B. [212] (Eng.), but see now Serdar Mohammed v. Secretary of State for Defence [2015] EWCA Civ 843, 354 (Eng.), discussed infra.

15 Jones v. Garcia del Rio, (1823) 1 Turn & R. 297, 299 (U.K.).

16 Mighell v. Sultan of Johore, [1894] 1 Q.B. 149 (U.K.).

17 Contra, Marston, Geoffrey, The personality of the foreign state in English law, 56 C.L.J. 374 (1997).

18 Child, White & Beney Ltd v. Eagle Star and British Dominions Insurance Co, (1922) 38 T.L.R. 367 (Eng.).

19 Parent v. Singapore Airlines Ltd, 133 I.L.R. 264 (Can. Que. S.C., 2003).

20 R (Yollari) v. Transport Secretary [2010] EWCA Civ 1093, [2011] 1 Lloyd’s Rep. 274 (Eng.).

21 408 Parl. Deb., H.L. (5th ser.) (1980) 1121-2WA (U.K.). The United Kingdom has discontinued the practice of recognizing Gov ernments. This has become a question of fact: Republic of Somalia v. Woodhouse Drake & Carey (Suisse) SA [1993] Q.B. 54 (U.K.), save in exceptional cases: British Arab Commercial Bank plc v. National Transitional Council of the State of Libya [2011] EWHC 2274, 147 I.L.R. 667 (U.K., H.C., Q.B. Commercial Court, 2011).

22 160 Parl. Deb., H.C. (6th seri.) (1989) 494W (U.K.).

23 Buttes Gas v. Hammer (No 3) [1982] A.C. 888 (U.K.).

24 Duff Development Co Ltd v. Government of Kelantan [1924] A.C. 797 at 813 (U.K.).

25 Vallat, Francis, International Law and the Practitioner 54 (1966).

26 State Immunity Act 1978, § 21 (U.K.).

27 Zivotovsky II, 135 S.Ct. at 2097-98 (Thomas, J., concurring).

28 2 Locke, John, Two Treatises of Government 146 (1690). For an assessment and critique of the influence of Locke’s thinking on the common law conception of foreign relations see McLachlan, supra note 2, at 2.06–2.30.

29 Zivotovsky II, 135 S.Ct. at 2099 (Thomas, J., concurring).

30 Id. at 2116 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

31 Id. at 2123 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

32 4 William Blackstone, Commentaries *67.

33 Al-Jedda, supra note 14.

34 Serdar Mohammed, supra note 14, at 354.

35 Carl Zeiss Stiftung v Rayner & Keeler Ltd (No 2), [1967] 1 A.C. 853 (H.L.) 950.

36 [1977] A.C. 373 (P.C.) 399.

37 A failure to make this basic distinction lies at the heart of the unfortunate decision in Democratic Republic of the Congo v. FG Hemisphere Associates LLC (No 1) [2011] 14 H.K.C.F.A.R. 95 (C.F.A.) (H.K.).

38 Foreign Corporations Act 1991 (U.K.); Carl Zeiss, supra note 35 at 954 per Lord Wilberforce.

39 Legal Consequences for States of the Continued Presence of South Africa in Namibia (South West Africa) not with standing Security Council Resolution 276, Advisory Opinion, 1971 ICJ Rep. 16, 125 (June 21).

For their helpful comments, he would like to thank Maria Hook, Benedict Kingsbury and Guy Sinclair.

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