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How does the United States enter and exit its international obligations? By the last days of the Obama Administration, it had become painfully clear that the always imaginary "triptych" of Article II treaties, congressional-executive agreements, and sole executive agreements, which has guided foreign relations scholars since the Case Act, is dying or dead. In 2013, as State Department Legal Adviser, I argued that: In the twenty-first century ... we are now moving to a whole host of less crystalline, more nuanced forms of international legal engagement and cooperation that do not fall neatly within any of these three pigeonholes .... [O]ur international legal engagement has become about far more than just treaties and executive agreements. We need a better way to describe the nuanced texture of the tapestry of modern international lawmaking and related activities that stays truer to reality than this procrustean construct that academics try to impose on a messy reality. I This Essay seeks to offer that better conceptual framework to evaluate the legality of modern international lawmaking. It illustrates that framework through two recent case studies of modern U.S. diplomacy: the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal.
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