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Depending on whom you speak to these days (and the mood in which you find them), international law is either practically moribund, or it's more vibrant and important than it has been for years. To take the good news story first, international law issues have been at the forefront of public discourse over the past few years. Pick your issue: the U.N. Charter and the international law on the use of force? The Convention Against Torture? The Geneva Conventions? You'll find it on the front page these days. Journalists are phoning international law professors for background briefings, and students are flocking to courses on international law and human rights. On law school faculties, even those grumpy sorts who have always greeted the mention of international law with a skeptical "harrumph" have taken to buttonholing their international law colleagues in the hallways, demanding an explication of how the Torture Convention regards so-called "stress and duress" tactics.

Even the Supreme Court has weighed in, with recent decisions referencing everything from the European Convention on Human Rights (cited by Justice Kennedy in Lawrence v. Texas) to the Hague and Geneva Conventions (cited by Justice O'Connor in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld). For international lawyers who have long labored in obscurity, this is definitely good news. Right? Right.

Publication Citation

36 Geo. J. Intl. L. 669-682 (2005)