International Law

International law governs the relationships among nations and international organizations and includes humanitarian, criminal, military, maritime, trade, and environmental laws and treaties such as the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. RAND research has helped to clarify issues of global governance with regard to the environment, counterterrorism and security, piracy, human and drug trafficking, and finance.

  • The Indonesian frigate KRI Karel Satsuit Tubin in an exercise with the USCG Cutter Sherman, July 15, 2006

    Commentary

    Indonesia-China Tensions in the Natuna Sea: Evidence of Naval Efficacy Over Coast Guards?

    The notion that Southeast Asian countries should employ coast guards instead of navies to enforce maritime laws had been gaining currency. But many of the coast guard fleets lack sufficient capacity to deal with the threats along their coast and in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

    Jul 5, 2016

  • The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers JS Yamayuki (DD-129) and JS Yamagiri (DD-152) conduct formation drills during a passing exercise

    Commentary

    The Fallout from the Philippines Arbitration Case Against China

    What compels compliance with rulings based on international law? Whether or not China will pay a political price for ignoring a U.N. Law of the Sea Convention ruling will to a large degree be determined by how forceful other states respond in the aftermath of court action.

    Jun 30, 2016

  • The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis approaches the fast combat support ship USNS Rainier during a replenishment at sea in the South China Sea, March 4, 2016

    Commentary

    South China Sea Spat a Symptom of U.S.-China Jockeying for Advantage

    A spate of high-profile diplomatic feuds and military actions related to the South China Sea has raised concern about the direction of U.S.-China relations. Neither country is well positioned politically or economically to engage in a long-term, antagonistic relationship, let alone a major conflict.

    Jun 27, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a meeting with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during a summit held at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, February 16, 2016

    Commentary

    The Importance of Sunnylands for U.S.-ASEAN Relations

    The first ever Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit held on U.S. soil took place earlier this month. Its success should be measured by the fact that the U.S. prioritized relations with the region enough to host its first summit. It should be regarded as the beginning of a new era in U.S.-ASEAN relations.

    Feb 24, 2016

  • U.S. President Obama departs after his remarks and a tour of the Philippine Navy's BRP Gregorio Del Pilar at Manila Harbor, Philippines, November 17, 2015

    Commentary

    Obama Doubles Down on Maritime Capacity Building in Southeast Asia

    By contributing to coast guard capacity building by donating ships and funding, the United States has found an important and politically viable avenue to bolster maritme security to partners and allies in Southeast Asia.

    Dec 15, 2015

  • Report

    The Continued Evolution of U.S. Law of Armed Conflict Implementation: Implications for the U.S. Military

    RAND researchers examine potential strategic, technological, and normative trends that may affect the future evolution of U.S. policies that implement the Law of Armed Conflict, and assess the resulting implications for the U.S. military.

    Nov 9, 2015

  • Rita Hauser

    Content

    Rita Hauser, International Lawyer and Advocate for Peace in the Middle East

    Rita Hauser is an international lawyer and philanthropist who, in 1988, met with Yasser Arafat to persuade him to recognize Israel and renounce violence. She has served on the RAND Board of Trustees; she helped establish the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy advisory board; and more recently, she helped fund RAND's Strategic Rethink project.

    Nov 9, 2015

  • USS Lassen conducts exercises with Korean and Turkish navy ships

    Commentary

    How Will China Respond to Future U.S. Freedom of Navigation Ops?

    On October 27, the USS Lassen carried out the first freedom of navigation patrol to challenge China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. In assessing China's potential response to follow-on operations, the extremes of either complete inaction or a military attack can be ruled out.

    Oct 29, 2015

  • U.S. Army General receives a mountaintop briefing from American and Afghan Special Forces on Camp Moorehead, Afghanistan

    Commentary

    The U.S. Military: Between a Rock and a Repulsive Place

    There is a reasonable argument that the best route to address pedophilia and other human rights violations by Afghan forces is to remain engaged, and to make U.S. support conditioned upon remediation and accountability, as the Leahy law requires.

    Sep 29, 2015

  • Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea May 21, 2015

    Commentary

    China's Airfield Construction at Fiery Cross Reef in Context: Catch-Up or Coercion?

    Even if China really sees itself as undertaking legitimate activities to protect its rightful interests, it is not surprising that its rival claimants, as well as the United States and other countries in the region, see Beijing's island building activities as efforts to improve China's abilities to bully its neighbors.

    Aug 11, 2015

  • A Chinese Coast Guard vessel in the South China Sea maneuvers to block a Philippine supply ship with members of the media aboard, March 29, 2014

    Commentary

    China's Island-Building Stirs Fears, but Creates Openings for the United States

    News of proposed Navy patrols nearby disputed islands claimed by China suggests that the United States is toughening its response to Beijing's assertive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

    May 18, 2015

  • An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft takes off from Joint Base Balad, Iraq

    Commentary

    Armed Drone Myth 2: It's Counterproductive to Develop International Norms

    The challenge in establishing international norms for armed drones will be to define rules that preserve the rights of countries to use them in legitimate ways against legitimate threats (senior al Qaeda or Islamic State terrorists) while constraining illegitimate uses (political dissidents).

    Feb 18, 2015

  • Tool

    A Database of U.S. Security Treaties and Agreements

    The U.S. portfolio of treaties and agreements can offer insights into the distribution and depth of U.S. international commitments, including its military commitments, relationships, capabilities, and vulnerabilities in a given area.

    Dec 17, 2014

  • Report

    U.S. Security-Related Agreements in Force Since 1955: Introducing a New Database

    The U.S. portfolio of treaties and agreements can offer insights into the distribution and depth of U.S. international commitments, including its military commitments, relationships, capabilities, and vulnerabilities in a given area.

    Dec 17, 2014

  • Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (L) discusses a report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics on the floor of the U.S. Senate as Senators Debbie Stabenow (rear) and Patty Murray look on, Washington, December 9, 2014

    Commentary

    Why the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA May Both Be Right

    Given that many questions of fact regarding the CIA's program of enhanced interrogation techniques can probably never be conclusively answered, the real issue comes down to a value judgment: whether inflicting physical pain on prisoners is an acceptable means of reducing the risk of terrorist attacks.

    Dec 12, 2014

  • Mark Hulkower and fellow defense attorneys speak to members of the media outside of the U.S. District Court after five Blackwater security guards were charged with killing 14 unarmed civilians and wounding 20 others in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad

    Commentary

    The Future of Blackwater and Other Guns for Hire

    The story of how private military security companies came to play a pivotal role in wartime operations is an important one, and Ann Hagedorn, a former reporter for the Journal, was right to take it on.

    Oct 28, 2014

  • People participate in the so-called "last demonstration with illegal marijuana" in front of the Congress building in Montevideo, Uruguay, December 10, 2013

    Commentary

    Are We Entering a New Era of Cannabis Regulation?

    Although international drug treaties prohibit the production, distribution, and possession of cannabis for non-medical and non-scientific purposes, several jurisdictions have implemented new laws and policies, including some that remove criminal penalties for possession of small doses of cannabis.

    May 22, 2014

  • Russian-flagged tanker Renda navigates through ice on its way to the Alaskan port of Nome

    Commentary

    Crimea, Climate Change, and U.S.-Russian Relations: A Perfect Storm

    Russia possesses the world's most Arctic shoreline, water, and operating resources. But the United States is also an Arctic nation, even if much of the American public tends to under-appreciate this special status.

    May 6, 2014

  • Devyani Khobragade attends the India Studies Stony Brook University fundraiser event in Long Island, New York, December 8, 2013

    Commentary

    U.S.-India Dispute: A Diplomat and a Double-Standard Laid Bare

    From the perspective of India, not to mention Pakistan and many other nations, the United States expects privileges that it does not grant to others. If the U.S. subjects foreign visitors (particularly diplomats) to the strictest possible interpretation its own laws, it had better be prepared for other nations to do the same.

    Jan 9, 2014

  • crime, weed, natural, hemp, health, green, marijuana, nature, drugs, cannabis, grass, addiction

    Report

    Multinational Overview of Cannabis Production Regimes

    Commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, this international stocktaking of cannabis production includes a special focus on identifying and describing official policies on production regimes for non-medical and non-scientific purposes.

    Dec 23, 2013