S. Practicing International Law: Maritime Conflicts and Law of the Sea

Course Information

Course Number
Curriculum Level
Areas of Study
Lawyering, National Security Law
Additional Attributes
Experiential Credit

Section 001 Information


Section Description

“Practicing International Law: Maritime Conflicts and Law of the Sea” is an immersive seminar examining contemporary challenges related to the international law of the sea from the perspective of international lawyers and national security policymakers. Taught by both Professor Matthew Waxman and Robert Harris, Assistant Legal Adviser for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State, the seminar will focus on the legal regime that applies to more than 70 percent of the earth's surface, touching on vital strategic and economic interests of governments around the world. Problems to be explored include: U.S. efforts to preserve global rules through its "freedom of navigation" program; the complex international legal rules related to effective law enforcement at sea to respond to crimes ranging from piracy, drug and human trafficking, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; available legal processes for the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes, with a focus on current tensions in the South China Sea; and intergovernmental negotiation of maritime boundary agreements between countries with overlapping maritime entitlements.

Some introductory knowledge of basic international concepts (e.g. customary international law, treaty ratification) is assumed; it is therefore very strongly recommended that students have already taken at least one other international law course.

This intensive seminar is structured to accommodate in-class simulation exercises. We also anticipate hosting virtual discussions with some practitioners. This expanded format will allow for team-based, role-playing exercises and for discussion among students, faculty and guests about the substance and practice of international law.

To receive credit, students must complete a short written assignment in advance of the first class and must actively participate in class discussions and exercises, demonstrating familiarity with the reading material and critical thinking about it.

School Year & Semester
January 2024
JGH 102b
Class meets on
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
10:00 am - 2:30 pm
Method of Evaluation
J.D Writing Credit?

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of the course, students will have acquired understanding of and/or facility in a specific body of law, including major policy concerns
  • Historical development of law and legal institutions
  • Collaboration and/or teamwork
  • Legal decision-making and advice

Course Limitations

Instructor Pre-requisites
Any prior course in international law (prior familiarity with basic international law concepts is required)
Instructor Co-Requisites
Recommended Courses
Other Limitations
Waitlist promotion will not occur automatically or numerically. The instructor will choose students from the waitlist.