Law of the Sea

During colonial times, the Spanish empire lost around 1500 warships carrying priceless riches from the gold and silver mines of the Andes and the Sierra Madre. Under international law, these sunken warships are immune from state jurisdiction and generally remain state property even after sinking. In the past decade, international law has sought to regulate their preservation and salvaging, both...

[Lieutenant Commander Yusuke Saito is a legal advisor in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and a military professor at Stockton Center for International Law, United States Naval War College. The views expressed in this article are of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the stance of the U.S. Naval War College and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.] Introduction The U.S.–North...

At Lawfare yesterday, two law professors at West Point defended the US's right to attack North Korea if it tests another nuclear weapon or fires another missile into Japanese waters: North Korea is extraordinarily close to becoming a global nuclear power. This very real possibility has reportedly resulted in the United States debating a limited military strike dubbed the “bloody nose” strategy. In...

[Xuechan Ma, PhD candidate at Grotius Center for International Legal Studies of Leiden University, the Netherlands, researching on the topic of international cooperation in disputed marine areas; L.L.M. & L.L.B. at Peking University, China. Email: maxuechan@gmail.com.] The Special Chamber of the ITLOS delivered its judgement of the Ghana v. Côte d'Ivoire case on 23 September 2017, which pertained to unilateral oil...

I have just posted on SSRN a draft of a (very) long article entitled "Specially-Affected States and the Formation of Custom." It represents my first real foray into both "classic" public international law and postcolonial critique. Here is the abstract: Although the US has consistently relied on the ICJ’s doctrine of specially-affected states to claim that it and other powerful states...

Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed that one of my pet peeves is the incorrect usage of international legal terms in public and diplomatic discourse.  Hence, Israel did NOT commit "piracy" during the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid despite lots of governments claiming otherwise.  Cuba is not under a "blockade" despite tons of Cuban government propaganda otherwise. So you can imagine my...

President Trump has indicated that he will announce a decision on future U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement later today at 3 pm.  Reports suggest that he has already made up his mind to withdraw.  That decision is likely to receive extensive attention (not to mention criticism) on the merits.  And certainly that attention is warranted.  But I believe an...

Last month, I blogged about the Syria War Crimes Accountability Act of 2017, a bipartisan Senate bill “[t]o require a report on, and to authorize technical assistance for, accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Syria.” I praised the bill, but pointed out that Section 7(a) was drafted in such a way that it permitted the US to provide technical...

As has been widely reported, 17 international-law scholars -- including yours truly -- recently submitted a 105-page communication to the Office of the Prosecutor alleging that Australia's treatment of refugees involves the commission of multiple crimes against humanity, including imprisonment, torture, deportation, and persecution. The communication is a tremendous piece of work, prepared in large part by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and...