About Section Policy

One of the Section’s stated goals is to participate in the formation of international legal policy by “[i]dentifying and influencing public policy issues important to international law, global business, and international institutions.” The Section is uniquely positioned to influence policy on international legal matters. There are three ABA legal policy development mechanisms: (1) an ABA Resolution with Report and Recommendation (R&R) that establishes official ABA policy; (2) “Blanket Authority,” which allows the Section to express a Section policy; and (3) “Technical Comments,” which are a special type of blanket authority comments. The Section uses all three mechanisms in developing international legal policy positions. More details about the Section policy development processes may be found linked at “How You Can Develop Policy” and the Drafting Groups Procedure.

R&Rs that are adopted and Blanket Authority and Technical Comments that are submitted are posted below. Once policy has been adopted, the Section, in coordination with the ABA’s Governmental Affairs Office, can lobby appropriate entities for its implementation. ABA policy can also be expressed in amicus briefs with the approval of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Amicus Curiae Briefs and the Board of Governors.

Resolution with Report and Recommendation

No one may speak for the ABA on an issue unless it is in accordance with adopted ABA policy. The R&R is the method for establishing policy for the ABA as a whole. Approval of a resolution by the ABA’s House of Delegates at the ABA’s annual or mid-year meeting is the normal means of establishing ABA policy. The resolution itself succinctly states the policy proposed for adoption. An accompanying report of up to 15 pages provides the background and rationale for adoption. An R&R normally originates in a Section committee, is prepared in a coordinated effort among Section committees and with input from other Sections and ABA entities, and must be approved by the Section’s Council. Following the Council’s approval, the R&R is submitted to the House of Delegates for approval. Specifics as to the process for developing R&Rs may be found in the Drafting Guide for Reports with Recommendations.

Blanket Authority

“Blanket Authority” is the authority granted to an ABA Section or Division to present its own policy position to governmental bodies, whether domestic or foreign. Such policy statements must be approved by the Section’s Council, be vetted by all other ABA entities, and contain a disclaimer that they are Section comments and not the positions of the ABA as a whole. The authority is usually sought when time constraints do not permit ABA House of Delegates review or the subject matter is so technical or so clearly within the special expertise of a Section that review by the House of Delegates or Board of Governors would be merely pro forma and other Association entities would have little interest or concern. The policy statement granted Blanket Authority is then sent to the relevant U.S. federal, state, or municipal legislative body or governmental agency or to an international organization or foreign governmental body. Specifics as to the process for developing blanket authority statements may be found in the Blanket Authority Handbook.

Technical Comments

“Technical Comments” are a subcategory of Blanket Authority comments where the commenting entity, the general subject matter of the comments, and potential recipients have been pre-authorized by the ABA Board of Governors, and special rules apply. Specifics as to the process for developing blanket authority statements may be found in the Blanket Authority Handbook.

Reports

In August 2019, the ABA Board of Governors adopted a procedure for the review of reports, papers, studies, or other documents that make policy recommendations or express policy preferences that Sections, Divisions, and other types of ABA entities intend to disseminate to the public. This review procedure is in effect until the February Midyear Meeting, at which time the Board will review and assess its impact. Under this procedure, the item must be submitted to the ABA Governmental Affairs Office and Policy and Planning Division at least ten days prior to proposed release (if not possible, at least two days in advance). They are charged, with other ABA entities, with ensuring that relevant interests and jurisdiction are given notice before public release and dissemination. Where the document expresses a policy recommendation or preference that are not based on ABA-adopted policy, it must prominently display at the outset the following disclaimer: “The views expressed herein represent the opinions of the authors. They have not been approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the position of the Association or any of its entities.”

Policy on Review and Approval of Reports by ABA Entities