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).
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.
Recognizing the limitations of current international systems based in The Hague, David A. Kaye provides a strategy for promoting national-level justice and accountability mechanisms to prosecute perpetrators of mass atrocity crimes.
CFR's John Bellinger expects the U.S. Senate to approve the START nuclear arms treaty with Russia this year and urges says the Obama administration to more actively pursue other treaties, including the Law of the Sea.
CFR's John B. Bellinger III, who served as legal adviser to the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, says while President Obama has emphasized an approach to closing Guantanamo "that's deeply grounded in American values," he has left the door open to continued criticism.
Writing in the International New York Times, John Bellinger argues that referral of war crimes of the so-called Islamic State is far from a futile gesture. Such international arbitration, he notes, will simplify prosecution in the event that Islamic State leaders are captured alive.
John Bellinger argues that President Obama’s categorical dismissal of Guantanamo as a “facility that should have never been opened” needlessly politicizes the issue, alienating the congressional Republicans whose support he will need to close it. President Obama should use his State of the Union address the most compelling reason for Guantanamo’s closure: that its existence has now become a recruiting tool for terrorists around the world.
Despite recent calls for exceptions to diplomatic immunity, John B. Bellinger argues in the New York Times Room for Debate for the U.S. commitment to and importance of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to protect U.S. diplomats serving abroad.
John B. Bellinger III says, "Over the last 230 years, the Senate has approved more than 1,500 treaties. In 2013, Mr. Obama must demonstrate leadership by putting greater effort in securing Senate approval of essential treaties that advance American interests, including the Law of the Sea Convention."
Jeffrey H. Smith and John B. Bellinger III say that because a nuclear-armed Iran is a real threat to the United States, the president does have reason to argue for his constitutional authority to use force against Iran, but legislative approval would give him stronger legal and political ground to do so.
John B. Bellinger III discusses the upcoming Supreme Court hearing of arguments in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, which will decide whether corporations may be sued in U.S. courts for violations of international law under the Alien Tort Statute.
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.
John B. Bellinger III says that President Obama and the 112th Congress should comply with the Vienna Convention, to help ensure that Americans arrested abroad are given access to State Department officials.
John B. Bellinger III argues that the 112th Congress must update and clarify the legal authority for U.S. military and intelligence agencies to kill and detain terrorists who threaten the United States.
John B. Bellinger III discusses the anniversary of the Geneva Conventions and argues that the United States should use its political capital to clarify the Conventions and make them applicable to modern warfare.
John B. Bellinger III comments on a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states immunity provided by federal law to foreign governments against lawsuits for torture and human rights does not apply to foreign government officials.