John B. Bellinger III

Adjunct Senior Fellow for International and National Security Law


International law and international criminal justice; international humanitarian law and human rights law; international tribunals, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court; treaty law and treaties, including the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention; foreign sovereign immunity and official immunities; international and domestic law applicable to use of force and counterterrorism operations, including detention and prosecution policies; intelligence law and covert action; espionage statutes; U.S. national security organization and process; U.S. national security statutes; foreign investment in the United States, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).


Program on International and National Security Law


John B. Bellinger III is adjunct senior fellow for international and national security law at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is also a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, DC, where he advises sovereign governments and companies on a variety of international law and U.S. national security law issues.

From 2005 to 2009, Mr. Bellinger was the legal adviser for the U.S. Department of State under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He led the U.S. delegation in numerous treaty negotiations and presentations to international bodies and represented the United States before the International Court of Justice in Mexico v. United States (Medellin) and before the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal. Before his confirmation as legal adviser, he managed Secretary Rice's Senate confirmation and codirected her State Department transition team. Mr. Bellinger served from 2001 to 2005 as senior associate counsel to the president and legal adviser to the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House, where he was the principal lawyer for the national security adviser, the NSC, and the NSC staff. He previously served as counsel for national security matters in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department during the Clinton administration, as special counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as special assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William H. Webster.

Mr. Bellinger is one of four U.S. members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which nominates judges to the International Court of Justice. He speaks and writes regularly on public international and national security law issues. His op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and International Herald Tribune. Mr. Bellinger received his AB from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1982, his JD from Harvard Law School in 1986, and an MA in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia in 1991.

Featured Publications

All Publications


Arctic Treasure

Author: John B. Bellinger III
Foreign Policy

John B. Bellinger III says President Obama should seize the opportunity presented by Republican support for increased domestic oil and gas production to urge the Senate to approve the Law of the Sea Convention.

See more in Arctic; Energy Policy; Oil


Kosovo's 'Moment of Opportunity'

The International Court of Justice ruling on the legality of Kosovo's independence declaration creates a "moment of opportunity," says former British ambassador David Gowan, but CFR's John Bellinger cautions that it isn't likely to set a precedent for other secessionist groups.


CFR Events

David Rockefeller Lecture - The International Criminal Court: A New Approach to International Relations

Speaker: Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court
Presider: John B. Bellinger III, Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP; Adjunct Senior Fellow, International and National Security Law, Council on Foreign Relations; Counsellor, American Society of International Law
September 21, 2012 2:45–3:00 p.m. () - Reception
3:00–4:00 p.m. () - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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The Synthesis of Law and Politics and the Evolution of International Justice

Speakers: John B. Bellinger III, Adjunct Senior Fellow, International and National Security Law, Council on Foreign Relations; Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP; Former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State, David J. Scheffer, Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law, and Director, Center for International Human Rights, Northwestern University School of Law; Former U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, U.S. Department of State; Author, All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals
Presider: Jeffrey Toobin, Staff Writer, New Yorker; Senior Legal Analyst, CNN
January 30, 2012 5:30–6:00 p.m. () - Reception
6:00–7:00 p.m. () - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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The United States and the Future of Global Governance: The Use of Force and Accountability in International Law - A U.S. Perspective

Speakers: David J. Scheffer, Professor of Law, Northwestern University, John B. Bellinger III, Adjunct Senior Fellow for International and National Security Law, Council on Foreign Relations, Matthew C. Waxman, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Law and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
Moderator: Jeffrey Toobin, Staff Writer, The New Yorker
May 7, 2009 - May 8, 2009

This meeting is on the record.

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