Over the course of the last 20 years, the Leahy Law has become one of the cornerstones of foreign and human rights policy. Yet, despite its largely unchallenged importance, field practitioners and other stakeholders have identified a number of substantive and practical deficiencies that greatly diminish the law’s ability to achieve the desired effect, and worse, may pose a risk to the United States’ interests. In reflecting on these deficiencies, and armed with decades of data and anecdotal evidence, this Article proposes adjustments focused on better aligning the law’s intent and effect. These recommendations range from semantic edits to substantive policy changes which may affect the way that Leahy operates in substantial ways. We should not fear revisiting the original intentions now that we have seen how the law operates. Like all things, the Leahy Law must be continually improved or it risks becoming an empty remnant of its former self. America needs to be a world leader in the area of human rights, but it requires functional tools in order to do so. Congress needs to sharpen the blade and it’s the author’s hope that, by implementing the changes presented in this Article, it can do just that.
Recommended CitationNandor F.R. Kiss, Leahy—Sharpening the Blade, 31 Pace Int'l L. Rev. 499 (2019)
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