American Bar Association
Section of International Law: National Security Committee

Section of International Law:
National Security Committee

Next Committee Call

Dial-in information is circulated on the listserv.
The National Security Committee monthly call is on the second Thursday of each month at 3 pm ET. Please join us!

About the Committee

National Security Committee members examine political, military, economic, social, legal and naturally occurring events throughout the world and evaluate how they affect the security interests of the United States and other nations. Members analyze these events, and responses of decision-makers, in the context of the rule of law. Members are active in the areas of intelligence, immigration, cybersecurity, asymmetrical warfare, supply chain security, nuclear non-proliferation, space weaponization, international governing bodies such as the UN and NATO, and in various geographic regions worldwide. Members produce programs for regular ABA International Section meetings and other venues, including the United Nations and Capitol Hill, publish articles and promulgate policy proposals regarding national security topics.

Committee Activities


Enhanced Supply Chain Security: Combating Human Trafficking and Other Smuggling Through Legitimate Trade
Audio Recording
Combating Human Trafficking - Martin Garvey Presentation - December 16, 2015
Combating Human Trafficking - Allen Gina Presentation - December 16, 2015

ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting 2015
April 28 - May 2, 2015
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

Join us for the following panel discussion co-sponsored by the National Security Committee:

Russia/Ukraine and the Downing of Flight MH17
Friday, May 1, 2015 at 9-10:30 am
Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill
Room: Lexington

The political crisis in Ukraine has triggered a remarkable series of destabilizing actions by Russian and Ukrainian separatist forces which have been characterized 'hybrid warfare.' Such actions threaten the foundations of the international legal order established at the conclusion of the Cold War, and may be in direct contravention to international law. From the appearance of regular albeit unidentified pro-Russian forces in Crimea, or aka the 'Little Green Men,' to direct formal Russian military intervention, the holding of a highly suspect referendum and subsequent annexation of Crimea, to continuing efforts to support insurgency, including the apparent missile strike on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, the actions of Russia and its proxies harken back to an era the world thought safely relegated to the past. The claim that Russia will protect Russian-speakers anywhere in the world when threatened challenges fundamental principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. What is the international legal position on these activities? What liabilities should attach to them? What legitimate responses and prescription can Ukraine or the international legal community undertake in deterring or defeating hybrid threats of this kind, including but not limited to economic sanctions? This panel will seek to explore the actions that can be attributed to Russia in the Ukraine crisis; consider their legality under international law; and what liability attaches to such actions. The panel will also address the difficulties of bringing legal actions by governments or individuals to redress such injuries. Finally, the panel will consider appropriate and effective responses to such acts, and the legality of such responses under international law.

Program Chair(s)
James Bergeron, MARCOM/NATO
Jonathan Meyer, Attorney at Law


  • Gabrielle Buckley, Vedder Price, P.C. (Moderator)
  • William Banks, Syracuse University College of Law
  • Steven Hill, Office of Legal Affairs at NATO
  • Ruth Wedgwood, John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
Primary Committee
Export Controls and Economic Sanctions Committee

International Trade Committee
National Security Committee
UN and International Institutions Coordinating Committee

Program on International Humanitarian Law and Nuclear Weapons Spring 2012 Section Meeting, April 20, 2012 Program Summary Report and Transcript Audio How does, and how should, international humanitarian law (IHL) governing the conduct of warfare apply to nuclear weapons? At the Spring Meeting of the Section, a program sponsored by the National Security Committee addressed that question. The program featured Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, the Philippines’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Professor Gary Solis, a leading expert on IHL who taught at West Point, and Charles J. Moxley, Jr., professor at Fordham University School of Law and author of International Law and Nuclear Weapons in the Post Cold War World. Amb. Cabactulan, who was president of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, described the negotiation of an innovative provision of the Conference Final Document on application of IHL to nuclear weapons. And Prof. Solis and Prof. Moxley explained that while the United States in theory accepts that IHL applies to nuclear weapons, and while IHL is more and more integrated into the US military, in practice education, training, and doctrine are silent on the subject of IHL and nuclear weapons.

Economic Sanctions: Are They Effective Tools of U.S. Foreign Policy? February 28, 2011 Program Recording (MP3)

Border Searches of Electronic Devices: A Discussion of Legal and Policy Issues This program discussed the Ninth Circuit's decision, U.S. v. Arnold, which held that the U.S. government has the authority to search the contents of electronic devices (e.g. laptops, blackberries and cellphones) of persons entering the U.S. -- including U.S. citizens -- without reasonable suspicion. Featured Speaker: Lee Tien, Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation, San Francisco, CA. Program Recording (MP3)

On The Rim Of The Abyss: Military Intervention to Neutralize a Potential Nuclear Threat View this program on FORA.TV

Program Materials: 2008 Amicus; 2009 Amicus; Statement of Lee Tien before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary - Subcommittee on the Constitution

Florida To Restrict Governments from Contracting with Companies that Do Business in Cuba and Syria Jason Poblete The State of Florida is in the political hot seat with certain foreign investors because of a proposed law approved by the Florida legislature that will prohibit companies from doing business with state and local governments who also happen to have business connections in Cuba or Syria. According to The Miami Herald, Florida Governor Rick Scott will sign Florida House Bill 959 (HB 959) that will, among other things, "prohibit state agency or local governmental entity from contracting for goods & services of more than certain amount with company that has business operations in Cuba or Syria." The measure is not new or novel. It will add Cuba and Syria to an existing statute restricting contracting with certain companies that do business with the Sudan or Iran. The new law is not settling very well with the governments of Canada or Brazil, countries whose nationals have a lot of investment in Florida as well as Cuba. According to various news accounts, officials from both the Canadian and Brazilian governments have supposedly weighed in against the law. Officials with the powerful Florida Chamber of Commerce have also chimed in with concerns about the effort to expand the reach of existing law. This is not the first time an expansion of “state sanctions” has been undertaken in Florida or Miami-Dade County. Home to a politically powerful Cuban exile community strongly opposed to engagement with the Castro regime, the proposal was introduced by a Miami-Dade area state legislator. It will be interesting to see how this ultimately unfolds. While states have legal authority under federal law to restrict this activity to the Sudan and Iran, there has been no explicit delegation for Cuba. I’ve been studying this issue for many years both inside and outside of government. In all likelihood, this will be challenged in court; however, in the near term, it is going to complicate business relationships of may foreign companies that do business in both Cuba and Florida. Affected companies will have tough choices to make about future business interests.

Join Us



Hendrix, Steven
Lindholm, Danielle
O'Neill, Philip


Carlson, James
Goodale, Geoffrey
Liebman, Todd
Lopez, Star
Meyer, Jonathan
Prestia, Joseph
Trujillo, Maximiliano
Vallandingham, Christopher


Drew, Rodger

Committee Roster  

News Items of Interest

Headlines and Links to international events with national security implications

Programs, Meetings and Events

Committee Events

National Security Committee Monthly Teleconference

April 14, 2016
The National Security Committee generally holds its monthly conference call on the second Thursday of each month at 3 pm ET. All members are welcome to join the call.

The Islamic State and International Terrorism: The Architecture of Response

April 15, 2016
Please be advised of an upcoming Program at the Section's Spring Meeting at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan, titled, "The Islamic State and International Terrorism: The Architecture of Response," on Friday, April 15, 2016 from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM.

Program Description:
From the rise of the Islamic State, to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, the international legal order is confronting new existential threats which strike at the foundation of the modern nation state. How can the international legal order successfully address the question of transnational violence, non-state actors and the rise of the Islamic State (IS)? What legal structures are required to coordinate effective responses to the spread of international violence from the Levant to the African continent? How are such “localized” phenomena as Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram to be addressed? Is an article VII enforcement action required pursuant to Security Council authorization? If so, what is the architecture required to coordinate the responses of Allied and regional organizations in enforcing such Security Council authorization(s)? What are the contextualized responses required pursuant to differing country conditions, including, but not limited to economic embargo and quarantine?

Committee Sponsor:
National Security Committee Co-Sponsors:
Export Controls and Economic Sanctions; International Trade; UN and International Organizations

Program Chairs:
Steven Hendrix, United States Agency for International Development, Abuja, Nigeria
Star Lopez, Diversity Fellow, American Bar Association Section of International Law, Orange County, CA
Jonathan Michael Meyer, Attorney at Law, New York, NY

Jonathan Michael Meyer, Attorney at Law, New York, NY

Robert “Butch” Bracknell, Office of the Legal Advisor, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Norfolk, VA
Jack Devine, The Arkin Group, Former Director of Operations, The Central Intelligence Agency, New York, NY
Steven Hendrix, United States Agency for International Development, Abuja, Nigeria
Russell T Porter, Executive Director, USAID Secretariat for Countering Violent Extremism, Washington, DC
Ruth Wedgwood, The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC

Section Events

Newsletters and Publications

Sites of Interest

Modified by Adam Vogel on March 16, 2016

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