International Law / Public

LAW 050 v00 Aviation Law

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

This course encompasses most aspects of air transportation, including airport and air traffic control liability, air carrier liability in the carriage of passengers and cargo domestically as well as internationally under the Montreal Convention and economic and safety regulation of domestic and international air transportation. The course also includes contributions by practitioners in the field.

LAW 050 v01 Aviation Law

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

The course, taught by practitioners in the field, covers contemporary and cutting-edge aviation topics such as international commercial aviation, aviation security, and the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (i.e., drones) into the national airspace. The course material will encompass most aspects of aviation law, including the law of international civil aviation, the economic and safety regulation of air transportation, aircraft registration and certification, aircraft accidents, airport law, government immunity from tort liability, and airline liability for the carriage of passengers and cargo domestically and internationally under the Montreal Convention.

LAW 091 v10 Comparative Constitutional Law Seminar

J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2-3 credit hours

How are constitutions created? What should we consider in designing a constitution? Can we have constitutions without constitutionalism? What is an authoritarian constitution? What influences constitutional revolutions and transitions? Is there such a thing as an unconstitutional constitutional amendment? Why have judicial review? How do judges interpret constitutions? Do courts protect rights guaranteed by their constitutions?

Comparative constitutional law has expanded exponentially in contemporary constitutional practice and as a field of study. Events around the world—from the Middle East to Asia, from Europe to Latin America—highlight the issues of constitutional design and constitutional rights at stake. This seminar examines issues of constitutional structure and rights adjudication in comparative constitutional contexts around the globe, from Western liberal systems to fragile democracies. We will explore fundamental questions on constitutional design, constitutionalism, constitutional change, judicial review, and the role of courts and constitutional interpretation. Drawing on examples from diverse constitutional cultures, we will also examine the protection of constitutional rights—such as religious freedom and individual liberty—from a global perspective.

3 credit JD students will be required to write a paper that meets the JD upperclass legal writing requirement. Students taking this seminar for 2 credits will be required to submit a final paper (no draft is required) of 18-20 pages.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the Comparative Constitutional Law course.

Note: This seminar requires a paper. J.D. students must register for the 3 credit section of the seminar if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement. The paper requirements of the 2 credit section will not fulfill the J.D. Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.

LAW 089 v00 Constitutional Aspects of Foreign Affairs Seminar

J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This seminar deals with the distribution of powers between the president and Congress in the areas of war, diplomacy, international organizations, foreign assistance, commerce, money, etc. as well as the distribution of powers between the national and state governments. Such related matters as the impact on individual rights and the political question doctrine in this context are also discussed.

Prerequisite: Constitutional Law I (or Democracy and Coercion).

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this seminar and the upperclass course, U.S. Foreign Relations and National Security Law or the J.D. or graduate course, Foreign Relations Law.

Note: FIRST CLASS ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY. All enrolled and waitlisted students must be in attendance at the start of the first class session in order to be eligible for a seat in the class. The faculty reserve the right to drop students from the class if they do not attend the first class. STUDENTS MAY NOT WITHDRAW FROM THIS CLASS AFTER THE ADD-DROP PERIOD ENDS WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE PROFESSOR.

LAW 982 v00 Cross-Border Commercial Regulation: Aviation and Maritime Law

LL.M Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

This seminar examines U.S. and international law applicable to aviation and maritime services worldwide. It includes the transportation of both passengers and cargo by air as well as sea. It reviews the evolution and progress made in international law liability conventions (Warsaw, Montreal 1999, Athens 2002) that are applicable to passengers and cargo involved in air as well as sea transport and mishaps/disasters. It examines the emerging applicability of both environmental and security laws and treaties in this area. In the context of public international law, the seminar focuses on the 1944 Chicago Convention and the evolution of restrictive bilateral air transport agreements into the current system of bilateral and multilateral open skies agreements that govern the movement of most passenger as well as cargo airlines of all nationalities throughout the world. The sometimes inconsistent application of U.S. and E.U. competition laws and policies is studied, particularly as they currently govern the developing practices of code sharing among international airlines and comparable global alliances among shipping lines. Also examined are the legal as well as economic (and practical) consequences of these alliances. Finally, the seminar examines the area of aircraft hijacking and the steps the international community has taken to meet these threats.

Recommended: Conflict of Laws: Choice of Law; International Law I: Introduction to International Law (for foreign-educated students, knowledge of these topics from home country study or practice is sufficient.)

LAW 1286 v00 Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery in the 21st Century: Legal Perspectives

J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

Slavery has been a phenomenon that has existed since before written history, yet it is only in the last 200 years that efforts to abolish it have gained traction. Today, increasing mobility, global supply chains, and continued social discrimination have created the environment for ongoing human exploitation, even though the formal practice of chattel slavery, or the legal ownership of one human being by another, is illegal virtually everywhere. Indeed, some estimate that there are more slaves today than at any other time in human history. Most recently, efforts to eliminate severe forms of human exploitation are being made under the banner of ending human trafficking (formally trafficking in persons).

This course will provide students an overview of the multiple legal perspectives on combatting human trafficking and modern day slavery. This will include the definitional tensions between different perspectives, alternative approaches to addressing severe human exploitation, and an overview of the current U.S. legal framework for eradicating human trafficking and modern slavery. Attention will be paid to commonly recognized principles in human rights, criminal and labor law, but also in such areas as international business, international adoption and international humanitarian law. The class will use a range of materials, including international treaties, decisions of international tribunals, congressional testimony, and legislative history (including floor statements, committee reports, and multiple versions of legislation, among others). At the conclusion of the class, students should be able to recognize the pervasive nature of modern day human exploitation and be able to identify risks of human trafficking in most areas of practice they may choose in the future.

Recommended: A prior course in public international law or international human rights.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this seminar and Human Trafficking in International and Transnational Law.

LAW 939 v00 Immunity Under International Law

LL.M Seminar (cross-listed) | 1-2 credit hours

The attempted extradition of Gen. Pinochet from the U.K. to Spain to account for torture and disappearances in Chile, a tragic car accident in Washington, D.C. in which a sixteen year old is killed by a Georgian diplomat, the alleged expropriation of your corporate client’s investment interests by a foreign government, a civil lawsuit against President Mugabe of Zimbabwe during a visit to the U.S., a criminal case in Chicago against a foreign consular officer for aiding and abetting a fugitive -- such cases bring into sharp relief the operation of international immunities. This mini-course aims to introduce students to the range of jurisdictional immunities recognized by international law and how they are implemented in domestic law. We will cover diplomatic and consular immunity, sovereign (or state) immunity, the immunities accorded to heads of state and government, and the special status of international organizations and their staff and member representatives, including the United Nations, its specialized agencies and individuals on special missions. Increasingly, practicing lawyers (especially those who represent governments and international organizations or who practice in places where embassies, consulates, missions and international institutions are located) need to be familiar with the reach of these rules and doctrines, and the exceptions thereto. Our focus will be on the practical application of the various international conventions, domestic statutes, and judicially crafted rules which define the law of international immunities.

Prerequisite: No prerequisites, but some familiarity with basic international law and the process of civil litigation would be desirable.

Note: Withdrawals are permitted up until the last class for this specific course.

LAW 790 v01 International Criminal Law

LL.M Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

Examines selected issues involving the application of criminal law to international activities and across national boundaries. The course covers both the procedural aspects of international cooperation in criminal matters (including extradition, prisoner transfer, mutual legal assistance, and recognition of foreign penal judgments) as well as the developing substantive international law (e.g., war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism, genocide, torture, and trafficking in drugs, people and firearms). Particular attention is paid to the question of jurisdiction over criminal activities at the international level, in the context of activities such as money laundering, organized crime, and computer crime, including the reach of Constitutional protections to investigations and law enforcement activities overseas. Addresses the structure, jurisdiction, and jurisprudence of the ad hoc criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and the statute and rules of evidence and procedure of the International Criminal Court.

Recommended: Criminal Law, Conflict of Laws: Choice of Law (or the equivalent Conflict of Laws: Choice of Law (International Focus)); International Law I: Introduction to International Law.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the J.D. course with the same title; or the J.D. seminar International Criminal Law Seminar: Tribunals and Crimes; or the J.D. course International Humanitarian Law; or the J.D. course International Criminal Courts.

LAW 145 v00 International Environmental Law

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This course focuses on international law applicable to the leading environmental and natural resource issues. The course covers climate change, ozone depletion, transboundary pollution, hazardous wastes and chemicals, biodiversity, agriculture,  fresh water, human rights and environment, environment and trade intersection, and financing of sustainable development.  The course provides a framework for addressing the legal issues, links international law with relevant national laws, and focuses on ways to strengthen compliance with international obligations.

Learning goals for this course: To enable students to become effective counsel, litigators, negotiators, arbitrators, judges, or legal advisors on a broad range of international environmental and natural resource problems; to understand international negotiations; and to be able to apply legal concepts developed in the course within different national settings for implementing international law. 

LAW 814 v00 International Human Rights Law

LL.M Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

Out of the ashes of World War Two and the Holocaust arose the recognition of individual criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity under international law and a concomitant recognition of internationally protected human rights. This course provides an intensive survey of international human rights law and practice, with a principal focus on interpretation and implementation of human rights norms in the practice of states. The course examines the development of the substantive law of human rights (including international treaty instruments, "soft law," and customary international law) and international, regional, and domestic systems of oversight and enforcement, focusing on UN organs such as the Human Rights Council and treaty bodies. The course includes treatment of the principles of international humanitarian law, and highlights selected contemporary and ethical problems in international human rights law such as genocide and torture, application of human rights norms to non-state actors (including corporations), universality of human rights norms and cultural relativism, and the need to protect human rights while countering terrorism, including issues relevant to U.S. law and practice. Along the way we examine issues related to international immunities, impunity, human rights litigation under the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act and Torture Victim Protection Act, and international criminal tribunals. We also review the more recent treaty texts adopted by the United Nations General Assembly such as the Convention to Protect Against Enforced Disappearances and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Recommended: International Law I: Introduction to International Law.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and International Human Rights Law, or the J.D. course, International Human Rights.

LAW 814 v02 International Human Rights Law

LL.M Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

How can the international legal system address some of human kind’s greatest weaknesses? This course provides an intensive survey of modern international human rights law and the legal institutions and systems of oversight that support it. Through a mixture of lecture and class discussion, we will look at how and why these mechanisms developed, and critically analyze how they -- as well as States, non-State actors, and individuals -- succeed or fail in practice to promote and protect human rights at the international, regional, and domestic levels. We will cover the foundations of the modern system including the International Bill of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions, as well as subsequent developments including treaties and declarations regulatingthe use of certain weapons, prohibiting torture, protecting the rights of persons with disabilities, protecting refugees, promoting the rights of indigenous peoples, eliminating racial discrimination and discrimination against women, and establishing the international criminal court. We will also look at how “soft law” has developed to address emerging human rights-related fields such as corporate social responsibility and data privacy protection. Highlighting contemporary issues in international human rights, we will ultimately ask ourselves how current international human rights mechanisms can address today’s conflicts, including refugee crises, natural resource disputes, and international campaigns against terrorism.

Recommended: Prior enrollment in International Law I: Introduction to International Law (or equivalent).

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and International Human Rights Law and Practice.

LAW 235 v02 International Law I: Introduction to International Law

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This course deals with the nature and sources of international law and major developments in the international legal system. It considers such topics as treaties, executive agreements, and customary international law; the recognition of states and governments; jurisdiction over disputes with international elements; foreign sovereign immunity; various methods for international dispute resolution, especially courts and international arbitration; the role of international law in the U.S. legal system and the allocation of foreign affairs powers between the President and Congress; the roles and operations of the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international and regional entities, such as the European Union and the World Trade Organization; Law of the Sea; International Criminal Law; how the international system protects (or fails to protect) human rights and the environment; and the use of force against other countries, rebellions, or terrorist groups.


Learning goals for this course:

Ability to analyze and interpret treaties, judgments and other international law instruments. Awareness of relationship between international and domestic law, how international law is made and applied, how domestic legal systems differ in their approach to international law.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the first-year elective International Law I: Introduction to International Law, or the LL.M. course International Law Essentials: The U.S. Perspective.

LAW 235 v08 International Law I: Introduction to International Law

J.D. Course | 3 credit hours

This introductory course deals with the nature, sources and operation of "public international law," with some of the most important contemporary challenges to the international legal system, and with the international community’s evolving responses to those challenges. It includes such topics as the law governing treaties and other international agreements; the recognition of states and governments; methods for international dispute resolution including litigation in the International Court of Justice; the United Nations and other international and regional entities; international human rights and international criminal law; law of the sea and international environmental law; and the rules governing the use of force. Some attention is also given to the role of international law in the U.S. legal system; questions of jurisdiction, foreign sovereign immunity and the act of state doctrine; and the allocation of foreign affairs powers between the President, the Congress, and the Judiciary. We will discuss a few of the most pressing illustrations of the operation – or shortcomings – of the international legal system in the context of current problems or crises. As a first-year elective, this course is intended to offer a contrast or a complement to the bulk of the first year curriculum, by exposing students to dispute resolution mechanisms other than litigation in U.S. courts, including through international courts and tribunals as well as international arbitration.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for this course and the upperclass course by the same title, or the LL.M. course International Law Essentials: The U.S. Perspective.

Note: This course is a first-year elective. First-year day students select an elective offered in the spring.

LAW 235 v16 International Law I: Introduction to International Law

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This course deals with the nature and sources of international law and major developments in the international legal system, including the interaction of international law and municipal (domestic) legal systems. It considers such topics as treaties, executive agreements, and customary international law; the recognition of states and governments; jurisdiction over disputes with international elements; foreign sovereign immunity; various methods for international dispute resolution, including courts and international arbitration; the role of international law in the U.S. legal system and the allocation of foreign affairs powers between the President and Congress; the roles and operations of the United Nations and other international entities; how the international system protects (or fails to protect) human rights and the environment; and the use of force against other countries, rebellions, or terrorist groups.

Learning Objectives:

This course will expose you to a different legal system – the regime of contemporary public international law governing the conduct of states and international organizations – as well as the way that legal regime is incorporated in the law of the United States.

It also serves as a general precursor to other international law courses in the Georgetown Law curriculum, including International Law II (which covers international business and economic law), comparative law studies, and more specialized offerings.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the first-year elective International Law I: Introduction to International Law, or the LL.M. course International Law Essentials: The U.S. Perspective.

LAW 235 v17 International Law I: Introduction to International Law

LL.M Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This course is a broad introduction to public international law. Students will consider the nature of international law as law, sources of international law including customary international law, and the role of national and international tribunals in international dispute resolution. The course will also cover topics including the fundamentals of treaty law, statehood, recognition of states and governments, jurisdiction and immunity, state responsibility, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international environmental law, the law of the sea, and international commercial disputes. The course will touch on other relevant topics as time permits.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the first-year elective International Law I: Introduction to International Law, or the LL.M. course International Law Essentials: The U.S. Perspective.

LAW 235 v18 International Law I: Introduction to International Law

J.D. Course | 3 credit hours

This course provides a broad introduction to the nature, sources and operation of international law. The aim is to provide you with a solid understanding of the basic principles, instruments and institutions of “public international law,” both as a framework for further study and for dealing with the international legal issues you are likely to encounter in practice.

Accordingly, we will survey the law governing treaties and other international agreements, the nature and content of customary international law, the recognition of states and governments, the role and operation of international and regional organizations such as the United Nations and the OAS, issues of state responsibility, international human rights, the law of the sea and outer space, international dispute resolution mechanisms (including the role of the International Court of Justice and other courts and tribunals), and international peacekeeping and principles governing the use of force (including counter-terrorism efforts).

We will also spend some time on the role international law plays in the U.S. legal system as reflected, for example, in concepts of (and restrictions on) civil and criminal jurisdiction, diplomatic and foreign sovereign immunity, and enforcement of foreign judgments.

Without any question, developments during the summer will give us ample opportunity to discuss a number of “hot topics” as they arise (in such areas as international refugee law, rules on the use of force, responding to acts of terrorism, trade relations, cyber warfare, environmental law, cyber-crime, trafficking in drugs and persons, trans-border corruption, UN actions and sanctions, Brexit, etc.).

The course is appropriate for both J.D. and graduate students, both beginners who have never studied international law as well as those who have some prior exposure or experience. We welcome students who received their initial legal training in other countries.

It is important to attend all class sessions, especially the first class session where we will give an overview of the course and explain our expectations for attendance and performance.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the LL.M. course International Law Essentials: The U.S. Perspective.

LAW 076 v00 International Migration and Development

J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This seminar is intended for students interested in preparing a research paper on a topic related to international migration. The course will focus on trends in international migration, including future economic, social, demographic, political, and other factors that will influence population movements; the elements of a normative and legal framework on which coherent migration policies could be based; the relationship between international migration and such issues as economic development, economic growth and competitiveness, poverty alleviation, trade, national and international security, social support systems, human rights, transnational organized crime, and public health; and institutional arrangements that will enhance international cooperation to promote safe and orderly migration.

Note: Priority is given to students fulfilling the requirements of the Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies and to students enrolled in the Certificate Program in International Human Rights Law.

See the schedule of courses on the Main Campus Registrar's website for room assignments. Law Center students may register only through the Law Center's registration system.

This seminar requires a paper. J.D. students must register for the 3 credit WR section of the seminar (LAWJ-076-09) if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.

LAW 958 v00 International Negotiations Seminar

LL.M Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

Examines the concept and technique of international negotiations, including substantive aspects of international agreements. During a portion of class time, the seminar will divide into teams for simulated negotiations, including transnational negotiations between private commercial parties and with governments.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may receive credit for this course and International Business Negotiations. Students may NOT receive credit for both this course and the J.D. course, International Negotiations Seminar.

Note: First class attendance is mandatory. All enrolled and waitlisted students must be in attendance at the start of the first class session in order to be eligible for a seat in the class. The first class session will be held in H6005.

LAW 798 v00 International Telecommunications Policy and Regulation

LL.M Course | 2 credit hours

This seminar addresses global information and communications technology (ICT) regulation and policy. In particular, it offers a multi-faceted view of the legal, economic, policy and technological underpinnings of global ICT. We will examine 1) key national and regional approaches to ICT; 2) the roles of key intergovernmental institutions and regional organizations (e.g., the International Telecommunications Union, Internet Governance Forum, the World Trade Organization) in shaping and promoting regulatory policies; 3) the key issues posed by emerging technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles; and 4) the challenges posed by new methods of content delivery, such as video streaming and other internet-based services. This seminar will also examine key nations' domestic law, regulations, and policies governing international telecom services, wireless and satellite services, and spectrum management, including the cross-sectoral challenges arising in access to this scare resource. Specific focus is on the challenges that increased global access to content and new technologies present to established international regulatory approaches and the national regulators. Grading shall be based on the exam and student participation in class discussion throughout the semester; optional class presentations will also be taken into account.

Recommended: International Law I: Introduction to International Law (or the equivalent, International Law I).

Note: Students may not withdraw from this class after the add/drop period ends without the permission of the professor.

LAW 966 v01 International Trade Law & Regulation

LL.M Seminar (cross-listed) | 2-3 credit hours

Examines U.S. trade laws and regulations and World Trade Organization agreements affecting international trade, and the relationship of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and other international agreements to U.S. law and practice. Considers, in detail, the U.S. antidumping, countervailing duty, escape clause (Section 201) laws and regulations and the WTO agreements that establish multinational standards applicable to the use of those remedies. Examines the WTO agreements on services, intellectual property, and technical barriers to trade. Examines the statutory remedies, particularly Section 301, that are available to address foreign restrictions on U.S. exports of goods, capital, services, and intellectual property. Evaluates the role of Congress, the U.S. Trade Representative, and other U.S. agencies in setting trade policy and overseeing administration of the trade laws. Analyzes the WTO procedures for dispute resolution and key WTO panel and Appellate Body decisions. Reviews free trade agreements, including the North America Free Trade Agreement and the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as bilateral investment treaties. The course includes a weekly discussion of current events affecting international trade law and regulation.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the J.D. course, International Trade or World Trade Organization: Law, Policy and Dispute Settlement.

Note: The 3-credit section of this course meets the "Category 1" requirement for the WTO certificate program.
The two-credit class requires a final exam; the three-credit class requires a paper. J.D. students must register for the 3 credit section of the seminar if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement for JD students. The paper requirements of the 2 credit section will not fulfill the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement for JD students.

LAW 1334 v00 Justice and Accountability for International Atrocity Crimes: Bridging Theory and Practice Seminar

J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This seminar examines both progress and ongoing challenges in seeking meaningful justice and accountability for serious international crimes, including crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes. We’ll begin with an overview of the challenges of effective atrocity prevention and an examination of fundamental developments over the last few decades establishing international and hybrid criminal tribunals and other mechanisms of transitional justice, including truth and reconciliation commissions. Building on this foundation, and drawing upon legal scholarship, social science research, and country case studies, we will then explore a range of responses to key justice challenges recurring in a number of countries emerging from conflict. These challenges include: (1) the often complicated relationship between peace processes and justice initiatives; (2) the question of whose justice goals are being pursued and how national, regional, and international stakeholders interact in such efforts; and (3) the complexities of building enduring justice on the ground through meaningful domestic rule of law reform, outreach, cultural engagement, and other means. Students will write a substantial seminar paper within the subject matter scope of the seminar.

LAW 936 v03 Law of War

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

This survey course covers the law of armed conflict and customary international law as applied on today’s battlefields. Is there really law in combat? When does the law of war apply? Does it apply to non-State actors? What is a war crime, and who decides? How is proportionality determined? What is the difference between a combatant, a terrorist, and a criminal? Is torture ever lawful? Is targeted killing lawful? What constitutes a cyber attack? What is the jurisdiction of military commissions and why is that a difficult question for Guantánamo? Can a superior’s order constitute a defense to war crime charges? Is indefinite detention lawful? Can the U.S. ever lawfully kill a U.S. citizen in a foreign state with which we are not at war? Such questions are the subject of the course. It is not a philosophy course, nor is it national security law, nor human rights law, although those topics are inextricably related. Our focus is on the law applicable in today’s non-international armed conflict battlefields. Military experience is not required to do well in this course.

Recommended: Completion of International Law I prior to enrollment in this course.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this course and the Law of War Seminar or War Crimes and Prosecutions.

LAW 936 v02 Law of War Seminar

LL.M Seminar (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

Surveys the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and customary international law as applied by the United States in warfare. From where does LOAC arise? What is a war crime – and who decides? What is “unnecessary suffering,” and what drives that legal determination? When does LOAC apply and what role do other rules of law, such as domestic U.S. law and International Human Rights Law play in regulating the conduct of armed conflict? Does it cover non-state actors? What are U.S. LOAC obligations, and how are they enforced? How does one distinguish illegal combatants from prisoners of war? Where do military commissions come from, and who may be tried by them? Could the atomic bombing of Nagasaki have been a war crime? Can a superior’s order constitute a defense to war crime charges? What is the U.S. position in regard to laser weapons? Land mines? Non-lethal weapons? Torture? Rendition? Reprisals? The assassination of enemy commanders? What is an illegal order, and what should a soldier do if she receives one? How may battlefield war crimes be prosecuted? Our inquiry will focus on the law applicable to the conduct of U.S. military operations in past and current conflicts, whether or not they be declared, whether they be internal or international. Although primarily focused on the law of land warfare, the law of air and naval warfare, as well as space and information warfare, will be considered.

Learning objectives:

To gain a firm understanding of the law of armed conflict and to consider, through discussion of practical exercise from the textbook, how the law is applied in an operational context.

Mutually Excluded Courses: Students may not receive credit for both this seminar and Law of War, the International Law of Armed Conflict Seminar or War Crimes and Prosecutions.

LAW 440 v04 Refugee Law and Policy

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

This course examines domestic refugee law and policy, with particular focus on asylum and other refugee-related claims for protection that arise in the U.S. legal system. Students will become familiar with the key actors in the asylum and refugee law arena, including the U.S. Congress, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the federal courts, and international entities.

The course objectives are: (1) to equip students with an understanding of the principles of refugee policy, asylum law, and the United States' procedures for refugee protection, and (2) to provide students with a practical appreciation of how refugee policy is formed and a working knowledge of asylum law, which will serve as a foundation for academic research, clinical study, employment, pro bono work, and/or internship opportunities within the U.S. government and the NGO community.

In addition to focusing on the refugee definition as interpreted by U.S. courts, we will examine the processes for adjudicating asylum claims -- where the system works and where it fails. We will also seek to understand the limits of asylum law and explore the toughest issues facing asylum adjudicators and policy makers today.

Note: Priority is given to students fulfilling the requirements of the Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies.

LAW 373 v00 Seminar on Humanitarian Crises

J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This research seminar will provide an opportunity to critically examine a number of humanitarian crises, including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Colombia, Haiti (earthquake -2010), Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, West Africa (Ebola-2014), and Yemen. Each of these crises will be analyzed in terms of: their causes; efforts to prevent, respond to and recover from the crisis; the extent to which international legal frameworks were applied and the impact of the crisis on legal principles; the engagement of different actors (from military forces to local faith-based communities); the extent to which humanitarian principles of neutrality, independence, and impartiality were compromised in humanitarian response; the relationship between refugees, internally displaced persons and ‘trapped populations’ as determinants of international attention; and difficult operational issues around access, negotiations with non-state actors, and the relationship between security concerns and humanitarian response.

Prior to the first class, law students must read the 1951 Refugee Convention and a very short excerpt, pp. 30-39, from a chapter he wrote on "Improving Legal Frameworks" in The Uprooted: Improving Humanitarian Responses to Forced Migration (2005).

Recommended: At least one course in Refugee Law, International Human Rights Law, or International Humanitarian Law. 

Note: See the schedule of courses on the Main Campus Registrar's website for room assignments. Law Center students may register only through the Law Center's registration system.

This seminar requires a paper. J.D. students must register for the 3 credit WR section of the seminar (LAWJ-373-09) if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.