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Volume 21 - Issue 1


The Rise and Fall of Section 502B

Chappell, John Ramming | February 22, 2023

The first major foreign policy legislation of the human rights revolution of the 1970s,1 Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) is a latent oversight tool that Congress could use to promote human rights in U.S. security assistance. Section 502B may be the most potent provision of law regarding human rights and security assistance that has never been used. The provision prohibits U.S. security assistance to governments that engage in a consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights, requires the State Department to report on human rights issues, and provides Congress with a mechanism to enforce the statute’s prohibition. This paper traces Section 502B’s history and contends that Congress should incorporate Section 502B into its efforts to promote human rights in U.S. security assistance. Section I discusses how Section 502B functions. Section II then traces the introduction and strengthening of the statute in the context of a rise in congressional oversight and attention to human rights in the 1970s. Section III tracks the decline of Section 502B, pointing to executive resistance to implement the provision’s mandates, judicial tolerance of 502B violations, and legislative reluctance to enforce the statute. Section IV notes a quiet reemergence of interest in Section 502B since 2018. Finally, Section V offers recommendations for how and in which contexts Congress could invoke Section 502B to exercise oversight for U.S. security assistance.

A Chinese Law Wedge into the Hong Kong Common Law System: A Legal Appraisal of the Hong Kong National Security Law

Zhu, Han | February 22, 2023

This paper is the first to comprehensively analyze the key legal controversies surrounding the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) and its implementation. Based on doctrinal analysis, case studies, and the most up-to-date statistics, this study centers on three categories of legal disputes: (1) the constitutionality and legality of the NSL; (2) the disputed content of the NSL; and (3) the legislative procedural issues involving the NSL. The study shows that the enactment of the NSL is not only an unprecedented crisis facing the “one country, two systems” framework, but also marks a culmination of the intersection and conflict between Chinese law and Hong Kong common law. The NSL has torn down the bulwark originally designed by the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Chinese Constitution to block infiltration of Chinese law into Hong Kong. A mixture of Chinese legal elements and Hong Kong laws, the NSL is a wedge inserted into the Hong Kong common law system. Through this law, many Chinese legal concepts, theories, and rules have inevitably been, and will continue to be, channeled into Hong Kong’s legal system. A “thin” version of “one country, two systems” may emerge in a post-NSL, or even post-2047, Hong Kong. The implementation of the NSL in Hong Kong also provides a valuable, if not the only, lens through which to observe whether and how a well-developed common law system can function under a heterogeneous authoritarian legal system and how the two might interact.