Thousands of non-binding agreements are shrouded in secrecy. A handful of publicly debated agreements – the Paris Climate Accords, the Iran Nuclear Deal or the Global Tax treaty – were made non-binding precisely to avoid a vote in Congress. Chicago Professor Curt Bradley, Harvard Professor Jack Goldsmith and Yale Professor Oona Hathaway sued the departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security to find out what else the executive branch, and its many agencies, have negotiated. In comprehensive empirical work, they explain why greater transparency and accountability is needed not only for binding executive agreements, but also for non-bindings. For example, Congress does not know what exactly the Trump administration agreed with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador in agreements that likely dump responsibility for refugees on weak states.
Non-binding agreements are on the rise globally, and greatly influence how states act. We should reorient international law scholarship and teaching to pay greater attention to this under-explored tool.
Borderlines from Berkeley Law is a podcast about global problems in a world fragmented by national borders. Our host is Katerina Linos, Tragen Professor of International Law and co-director of the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law. In each episode of Borderlines, Professor Linos invites three experts to discuss cutting edge issues in international law.
Read more at Berkeley Law: Borderlines