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Kittrie speaks at UK Foreign Office conference

April 30, 2010

Professor Orde Kittrie, of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, was a speaker at the Wilton Park Conference, "New Approaches to Penalising Nuclear Smuggling," Oct. 22-25, in West Sussex, England. Kittrie chaired and served as a panelist on the conference panel, "Corporate Sanctions and Business Choice."

Wilton Park is an agency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British Government. The nuclear smuggling conference in which Kittrie participated was co-sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which is funded by the Swedish Government.

The nuclear smuggling conference posed questions such as: How can would-be smugglers of nuclear materiel be deterred? What is the status of international capabilities on combating nuclear trafficking? What difficulties have prosecutions of traffickers encountered and why is it difficult to secure convictions? How can international capabilities be improved? What are the legal alternatives to criminal prosecutions?

In his presentation, Kittrie noted that "faced with the apparent impossibility of getting either the U.N. Security Council or foreign governments to impose strong sanctions in response to Iran's illegal nuclear program, U.S. officials and non-governmental organizations have in recent years creatively used law in three key initiatives designed to step up the economic pressure on Iran to comply with international law by halting that program."

Explained Kittrie, "These three initiatives are the Treasury Department's remarkably successful new breed of financial sanctions, a relatively ineffective effort to divest state and local government pensions from certain companies doing business with Iran, and a remarkably successful effort to pressure companies supplying gasoline to Iran into halting the sale of gasoline to Iran.

"Each of these initiatives," he said, "seeks to persuade specific third-country companies to stop doing business with the targeted state (Iran), including by putting those third-country companies to a choice between the U.S. market and that of the targeted state."

Kittrie suggested that these initiatives are interesting tools for enforcing international law because "direct outreach to a foreign company doing business with a target state can yield results much more quickly than does asking a foreign government to halt the business ties with a target state of companies in its jurisdiction - the foreign government often lacks political will or the necessary authority, or may face cumbersome bureaucratic procedures for exercising whatever relevant authorities it does have."

Kittrie added, "Once some companies decide to halt business with target states, there is an increased reputational risk to any competitors which continue such business, and so the competitors often quickly also cut off business ties to the target state.

"Such private sector decisions," he said, "can in turn make it more politically feasible for foreign governments to impose restrictions because the relevant companies in their jurisdiction have already given up the business."

(Kittrie's remarks drawn in part from Orde F. Kittrie, New Sanctions for a New Century: Treasury's Innovative Use of Financial Sanctions, 30 PENN. J. INT'L L. 789-822 (2009).)

Kittrie is the Director of the College of Law's Washington, D.C., Legal Externship Program and a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Law, Science & Innovation. His teaching and research focus on international law, especially nonproliferation and sanctions, and criminal law. Kittrie has testified on nonproliferation issues before both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and recently served as one of 12 members of a special Congressionally-created committee to make recommendations on how to better prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Prior to joining the law faculty, Kittrie served for 11 years in the U.S. State Department, including as the lead attorney for nuclear affairs.

Judy Nichols,
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law