Monthly Archives: June 2016

March 18, 1967. Afternoon. Secretary of State Dean Rusk conducts a briefing on Vietnam for state governors in the Fish Room of the White House.

At White House, with President Johnson in attendance, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk briefs US governors on the US-Vietnam War. The briefing took place March 18, 1967, not long before Rusk set up a “dissent channel” for State Department diplomats frustrated by US foreign policy. (photo credit)

In my current role as leader of the 38-year-old Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law, I tend to take a close look at any reference to our Center’s namesake, Dean Rusk, who served as the only Secretary of State to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

And so it is with the US diplomatic topic du mois, the “dissent channel” at the Department of State.

This channel is much in the news these days, on account of a Page 1 New York Times story leaking a dissent-channel letter by 51 diplomats at State who want more use of force in Syria than President Barack Obama to date has authorized. (Worth-reading questions about the “leak” here.) And then there was yesterday’s Times story by Ellen Barry, about a dissent-channel “Blood Letter” that forestalled career advancement for the eponymous letter-writing diplomat.

Quite a surprise, amid all this, to read this explanation of the dissent channel, in a transcript of the June 17 Daily Press Briefing by a State Department spokesperson:

“This procedure, this vehicle has been in place since Secretary of State Dean Rusk was in office in 1971.”

Why a surprise? Because by 1971, Rusk was regaling Georgia Law students as the revered Sibley Professor of International Law.

At the briefing, an unnamed reporter took immediate issue with the spokesperson’s account:

QUESTION: And just – can we be clear about when it actually began? Because Rusk, I think, was gone by ’69 when the Nixon Administration came in. So I don’t think he was Secretary of State in 1971, but I could certainly be mistaken.

[ANSWER]: I think it was 1971 and —

QUESTION: Okay.

[ANSWER]: — my reading of the history said that Rusk had something to do with it. But I’m not going to quibble with you —

QUESTION: No, no.

[ANSWER]: — over the history of the program.

Uncharacteristic of these kind of transcripts, the spokesperson’s assertion is supported by a footnote [1]. It says only “William P. Rogers.” That’s the name of the man who became Secretary of State in 1969, after Rusk left government service for the last time. But a quick look at Rusk’s bio on the Department’s site would have confirmed the premise of the reporter’s question.

So what’s right, and wrong?

On the small point of timing, the spokesperson is wrong. But on the larger point of establishing a channel for dissent, unique among the world’s diplomatic services, the account is spot on. To quote a memorial published the year that Rusk died, in the Department’s own publication, Dispatch:

Dean Rusk left his mark not only on the nation and the world, but also on the Department of State as an institution. At a time of tremendous domestic social change, he encouraged minorities and women to enter the Foreign Service. He established the Dissent Channel and the Open Forum to give members of the Department alternative ways to make their foreign policy views known.

 

(Cross-posted from our Center’s Exchange of Notes blog)

draftpolicyIt is my great honor to note today’s release for public comment of the draft Policy on Children of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor.

Since my December 2012 appointment as Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict, I’ve had the privilege of helping to convene consultations and taking part in the construction of this draft Policy. As part of that process, as noted on page 11 of the draft, we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, were honored in October 2014 to host the Prosecutor, members of her staff, and nearly 2 dozen other experts from academic, nongovernmental groups, and intergovernmental organizations. Our “Children & International Criminal Justice” conference featured a morning public plenary and Prosecutor’s keynote (pictured below), followed by an afternoon of closed-door breakout sessions. (Proceedings from that event, to appear in our Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, are nearing publication.)

Addressed in the draft Policy, which spans 37 pages, are:

► Overarching concerns, such as the nature of a child and childhood, the experiences of children in armed conflict and other contexts within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and how the Rome Statute of the ICC and other documents treat crimes against and affecting children; and

► Practical concerns, such as how the Office of the Prosecutor engages with children, in all aspects of its work, including preliminary examination, investigation, charging, prosecution, sentencing, reparations, and external relations.

As stated in the press release accompanying today’s publication:

In highlighting the importance of the Policy, Prosecutor Bensouda stated: “when I assumed 8_events2the role of Prosecutor in June 2012, one of the principal goals I set for the Office was to ensure that we pay particular attention not only to ‘children with arms’, but also ‘children affected by arms.’ This Policy demonstrates our firm commitment to closing the impunity gap for crimes against or affecting children, and adopting a child-sensitive approach in all aspects of our work bearing in mind their rights and best interests. It is also our hope that the Policy, once adopted, will serve as a useful guide to national authorities in their efforts to address crimes against children.”

The Office welcomes public comment on the draft. Such comments should be e-mailed to OTPLegalAdvisorySection@icc-cpi.int, no later than Friday, August 5, 2016.

Following revisions based on the comments, the Office of the Prosecutor expects to publish the final Policy on Children in November of this year.