This Day in International Law: December 2

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By Gina Choi

On December 2, 1954, the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty (“Treaty”) was signed between the U.S. and the Republic of China, Taiwan, which formed the basis of close security alliance between the U.S. and Taiwan. Some of the terms and conditions of the Treaty remained effective in the Taiwan Relations Act passed by the U.S. Congress, which became a new legal basis for U.S.-Taiwan relations after the U.S. formalized diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and terminated the Treaty in 1979.

President Jimmy Carter’s termination of the Treaty without the approval of Senate was challenged by a few members of Congress including Senator Barry Goldwater and became the subject matter of the U.S. Supreme Court case Goldwater v. Carter. A majority of six Justices of the Supreme Court ruled that the case was not justiciable given the political nature of the dispute, and consequently, the termination was maintained. Three dissenting Justices opined that the case pertained to a question of whether the Constitution commits the President to certain political decision-making authority and should have been resolved by the Court as a matter of constitutional law.

This Day in International Law: November 4th

By Maribeth Lock

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa that began in the 1940s and persisted until the 1990s. On this day in 1977, the United Nations Security Council responded to the South African National Party’s continued imposition of apartheid by unanimously passing Resolution 418, a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa. This resolution followed the Security Council’s Resolution 282 (1970), which urged member states to participate in a voluntary arms embargo. The Security Council had also recently passed Resolution 392 (1975), which condemned the South African Government for its use of violence to enforce apartheid.

The impact to South Africa of the arms embargo was mixed. South Africa experienced immediate order cancellations of military goods from abroad, including submarines, fighter aircrafts, a missile boat, and enriched uranium. This had a direct impact on its ability to fight the South African Border War and to maintain its SAFARI-1 research nuclear reactor. However, the embargo prompted South Africa to further develop its domestic arms industry into what is today a multi-billion dollar industry. South Africa was also able to circumvent the embargo by smuggling and by hiring foreign technicians.

Ultimately, apartheid did not officially end until 1994. The country’s economic recession, combined with the continued protests and violence, made it clear to the South African Government and its observers that apartheid was not producing desirable socio-economic results. In 1989, F.W. de Klerk took control of the National Party and began to broker the end of apartheid. De Klerk’s administration repealed most of the legislation on which apartheid was based, and in 1994 it passed a new constitution that provided for democratic elections and enfranchised non-whites. The Security Council responded by repealing the 1977 arms embargo and all other restrictions against South Africa with its passing of Resolution 919.

This Day in International Law: October 28

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By Lauren Kelly- Jones

Oxi!

For Greek and Cypriot communities throughout the world, Oxi Day (“No!”) is celebrated on October 28th. On this day 1940, the Greco-Italian War began when Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas rejected Benito Mussolini’s 3:00 a.m. ultimatum – in which Italy demanded that Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy strategic sites without opposition – with a terse refusal.

At 5:30 a.m. Italy invaded Greece through the Greek-Albanian border, and encountered fierce resistance. The Greco-Italian War is viewed as a triumph in Greece and in 2009, Mark Mazower wrote that the Italian invasion of Greece was a disaster and the “first Axis setback” of the Second World War – it shaped the power structures of the conflict significantly.

Some accounts suggest that Metaxas’ response was not “Oxi!” (there are claims that it was “Alors, c’est la guerre”/ “Then it is war”), but Greece celebrates it – the bravery, the negative impact it had on Adolf Hitler’s timing for approaching the Russian front, the rejection of fascism – as a kind of Hellenic battle cry. In some sense, this is still the case – the term “Oxi” has been adopted as the nomenclature for recent anti-austerity protests.