John B. Bellinger

Hon. John B. Bellinger, III

Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP

John Bellinger heads the firm's Global Law and Public Policy practice. He joined the firm in 2009, after holding several senior Presidential appointments in the US government, including as the Senate-confirmed Legal Adviser to the Department of State and Senior Associate Counsel to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC) at the White House in the George W. Bush Administration.

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 Anti-Terrorism Act, and the diplomatic and official immunities of foreign governments and government officials. He advises clients on other public international law matters, including treaties and international agreements as well as international humanitarian law and human rights law. 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).

Chambers Global ranks Mr. Bellinger among the best international lawyers in the world, reporting that he has "second-to-none experience in public international law, international litigation and foreign sovereign immunity" and that his "experience at the highest levels of the Executive branch...gives him a distinct and important vantage point on legal issues." Chambers adds: "For any cross border work he's just extraordinary, he knows the area inside-out."

Mr. Bellinger was the State Department Legal Adviser–the most senior international lawyer in the US Government–from 2005 to 2009, serving under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He 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 Senate 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 from 2001 to 2005, Mr. Bellinger advised President Bush, Cabinet officials, National Security Advisor Rice, and NSC staff on a wide range of national security and international law issues, including counterterrorism issues after the 9-11 attacks. 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. He has testified before Congress on numerous occasions, is quoted regularly in the media on international and national security law matters, and has lectured at numerous US and foreign universities and law schools. He is the author of many law review articles and op-eds on international law, including op-eds in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Bellinger is a senior contributor to the Lawfare blog.

Mr. Bellinger is a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on International Law. He served from 2005-2019 as 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 and the American Society of International Law. He is a member of the Council of the American Law Institute; the boards of directors of the American Ditchley Foundation, the Salzburg Global Seminar, and the Stimson Center; and the advisory committee of Foreign Affairs magazine.

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.

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