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Nukes, National Security and the Law: ABA Conference Topics  

Economics, nuclear weapons and climate change are among the many topics expected to be covered during the upcoming annual national security law summit taking place later this month in Washington, D.C.

ABA3The event, the 32nd Annual Review of the Field of National Security Law Conference, will be hosted over two days on Thursday, Nov. 17 and Friday, Nov. 18 at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel and will be sponsored by the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Standing Committee on Law and National Security. According to the ABA, the event will feature legal experts including past and present senior officials from the FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and other related agencies.

“From sanctions on Russia to export controls on technology flows to China, the United States and allied countries are increasingly turning to economic tools to address national security threats,” according to promotional materials for the event. “These tools complement or in some cases substitute for military options and raise their own sets of concerns about efficacy, international coordination and legality.”

These themes will be explored during an early conference on Thursday morning—10:30 a.m. to noon—entitled “The Economic Tools of National Security.”

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Other notable highlights of the conference will include:'

  • The “International Law and Justice: Lessons from Ukraine” panel
  • The “Nuclear Weapons and the Law: The Ukraine War and Beyond” panel
  • The “Changing Conceptions of National Security Law” panel
  • The “Why Should National Security Lawyers Care About Climate Change?” panel

“Following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s ‘code red’ report, it is increasingly clear that climate change is impacting national security law in new and complex ways,” according to the event’s agenda. “This panel will address how climate change is affecting a range of U.S. laws, including the natural disaster response legal framework and Defense Support of Civil Authorities.”

The panel will also touch upon the legal issues associated with climate security and the impact of international negotiations taking place at the 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), also known as COP27, happening in Egypt. The COP27 event marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UNFCCC, said Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

“I deeply believe that COP27 is an opportunity to showcase unity against an existential threat that we can only overcome through concerted action and effective implementation,” he wrote. “… Egypt will spare no effort to ensure that COP27 becomes the moment when the world moved from negotiation to implementation and where words were translated to actions, and where we collectively embarked on a path towards sustainability, a just transition and eventually a greener future for coming generations.”

Additionally, the national security conference will also include the presentation of the Morris I. Leibman Award in Law and National Security, which is given in recognition of advocates who demonstrate exceptional, sustained contributions to national security law. Per the ABA, this year the awards will be presented to:

  • Stephen Dycus, a professor of law emeritus at Vermont Law School and one of the founding architects of the academic discipline pertaining to national security law
  • Elizabeth Rindskopf-Parker, a dean emerita of University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and former general counsel to the NSA and CIA
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