John Bellinger has held several senior Presidential appointments in the US government, including as The Legal Adviser to the Department of State from 2005 to 2009 under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House from 2001-2005.
A globally known authority on public international law, Mr. Bellinger represents individuals, corporations, and sovereign governments in litigation in US courts and before international institutions. He has extensive experience in US foreign relations litigation involving the Alien Tort Statute, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the immunities of foreign governments and government officials, and the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. He also advises clients on other public international law matters, including international humanitarian law and human rights law and treaty law. He is a leading US authority on the Law of the Sea Convention. He also counsels US and foreign clients on national security legal and policy issues, including US and multilateral financial sanctions and asset controls, the extraterritorial application of US criminal and civil laws, and transactions reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
As the State Department Legal Adviser-a Senate-confirmed position and the most senior international lawyer in the US Government-Mr. Bellinger directed more than 170 lawyers on domestic and international law matters affecting US foreign relations. Before joining the State Department, Mr. Bellinger managed Secretary Rice's confirmation process and co-directed her State Department transition team. In 2009, Mr. Bellinger received the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award.
Mr. Bellinger has argued cases before the International Court of Justice (Mexico v. United States – (Medellin)) and the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague. He has appeared on numerous briefs in US federal courts, including the Supreme Court, in litigation involving international law issues.
As Legal Adviser to the NSC, Mr. Bellinger advised the President, Cabinet officials, the National Security Adviser, and NSC staff on a wide variety of national security and international law issues. He was present in the White House during the 9/11 attacks and later represented the White House in dealings with the 9/11 Commission; he was one of the principal drafters of the legislation that created the Director of National Intelligence.
Prior to his service in the Bush Administration, Mr. Bellinger served as Counsel for National Security Matters in the Criminal Division at the US Department of Justice (1997-2001); Of Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1996); General Counsel of the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the US Intelligence Community (1995-1996); and Special Assistant to Director of Central Intelligence William Webster (1988-1991).
Mr. Bellinger is an Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he directs events on international law. He speaks regularly about international law matters on US and international television and radio, and has given lectures at more than two dozen US and foreign universities and law schools and numerous international law conferences. He has testified before Congress on a variety of international law issues. He is the author of numerous law review articles and op-eds on international law, including op-eds in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and The International Herald Tribune. Mr. Bellinger is a senior contributor to The Lawfare Blog: Hard National Security Choices, part of the Harvard Law School-Brookings Institution Project on Law and Security.
Mr. Bellinger is a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on International Law and the Department of Defense Legal Policy Board; one of four US Members of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague; and a member of the US "National Group", which nominates judges to the International Court of Justice. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law, and the American Law Institute.
Mr. Bellinger is a graduate of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and he holds an MA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and a JD from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard International Law Journal.
- As counsel for Government of Israel, secured dismissal of lawsuits against senior Israeli judges and government officials in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Wisconsin, and New York under the Alien Tort Statute and other statutes.
- As counsel for Government of Israel, secured dismissal of subpoena issued to a former Israeli national security official in Wultz v Bank of China (D.D.C. and S.D.N.Y.).
- Representing the Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais in a lawsuit filed under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (N.D. Ill.).
- Representing General Electric Company in Cooper v. Tokyo Electric Power Company – litigation arising out of the Fukushima nuclear incident (S.D. Cal.).
- Prepared a brief for the Seventh Circuit on behalf of the US Chamber of Commerce as amicus curiae in the Alien Tort Statute case of Flomo v. Firestone.
- Prepared a brief for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of the National Foreign Trade Council and other trade associations as amici curiae in Carijano v. Occidental Petroleum (involving forum non conveniens).
- Prepared a brief for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of the National Foreign Trade Council and other trade associations as amici curiae in the Alien Tort Statute case of Bauman v. DaimlerChrysler.
- Prepared two briefs for the US Supreme Court on behalf of BP USA, Caterpillar, ConocoPhillips, General Electric, Honeywell, IBM, and Monsanto as amici curiae in the Alien Tort Statute case of Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.
- Testified on behalf of the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments.
- Prepared a brief for the DC Circuit on behalf of the Government of Colombia asserting immunity on behalf of the former President of Colombia in connection with a subpoena for testimony in Giraldo v. Drummond Company.
- Advised the former President of a Latin American country on immunity issues in connection with an Alien Tort Statute suit.
- Represented the current President of a South Asian country on immunity issues in connection with a suit under the Alien Tort Statute.
- Advised European state-owned banks on immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act in US criminal proceedings.
- Serve as adviser on transnational litigation to the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform.
- JD, Harvard Law School, 1986, cum laude
- MA, University of Virginia, 1991
- AB, Princeton University, 1982, cum laude
- District of Columbia
- Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser
Legal Adviser (under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice), US Department of State
Counsel for National Security Matters, Criminal Division, US Department of Justice
Of Counsel, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
General Counsel of the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities, US Intelligence Community
Special Assistant to Director (William Webster), Central Intelligence Agency
Member and Adjunct Senior Fellow in International and National Security Law, Council on Foreign Relations
Counselor, American Law Institute's Restatement Fourth of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States
- Member, Board of Directors, The Stimson Center
Member, American Council on Germany
Ex officio member, International Judicial Relations Committee, 2006 – 2009 (appointed by Chief Justice Roberts)
Fellow, British-American Project
Selected as Young Leader, Transatlantic Forum, BMW-Herbert Quandt Stiftung, Lake Chiemsee, Germany, 2001
Member, American Society of International Law
Member, Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Public International Law
Member, Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague
Selected as Young Leader, European Union Visitors Programme, Brussels, 1999
Selected as Young Leader, American Council on Germany/Atlantik-Brucke Young Leader Conference, Hamburg, Germany, 1997
Member, Advisory Committee, ABA Committee on Law and National Security
Member, American Law Institute
Member, Defense Legal Policy Board
Council Member, The American Law Institute
Member, Board of Governors, St. Albans School, Washington, DC (1997-2004; Vice Chairman, 2002-2003; Chairman, Governance Committee, 2002-2004)
Member of Vestry (1991-1994) and Senior Warden (1993-1994), St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Arlington, VA
Member, Advisory Board, Princeton Scholars in the Nations Service Initiative
Member, Advisory Committee, St. Albans School of Public Service
Trustee, Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation