A rather depressing moment in a talk by the beloved Harold Koh last night at Yale Law School. He is Legal Adviser to the State Department, i.e. the US’s foremost international lawyer.
He was speaking about international law and arguing, amongst other things, that foreign policy under Obama is an improvement from that under Bush. Amongst the “achievements” he listed this: (see photo of his powerpoint slide) which I have transcribed below:
“US Rejoined the HRC [UN Human Rights Council] in fall 2009 to much criticism focusing on the Goldstone Report, whose author has now partly recanted. Since then, US’ engagement has been working.
Major accomplishments include:
-first US Universal Periodic Review
-New Commissions of INquiry on Libya, Cote D’Ivoire
-shifting debate from defamation of religions
-new UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Association, new UN Working Group on Discrimination of Women.
He was asked mostly questions about Libya and asked about Bradley Manning’s treatment which was the subject of a letter signed by over 250 legal academics (and originated by Bruce Ackerman of YLS too). I think Harold has learned the ways of DC well: his response to the Manning protest letter was to say that it contained inaccurate statements (without saying what they are). It made me sad that a man who is capable of nuance ignores it when it suits his role, ie. Goldstone. Also makes me sad that he cited the Goldstone reconsideration as a “success” for the US. Sorry, no signature.