Living in an interconnected world, it’s important for lawyers to have a grasp of international law, even if it’s not their primary area of practice. At Georgia State Law, students have several opportunities to learn about the subject while further developing their legal analytical skills.
Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law Natsu Taylor Saito teaches International Law, a course that provides an introduction to the subject in the public domain. Students learn the basics of international law and apply that framework to case studies involving contemporary disputes.
“Most fundamentally, I hope the students come to appreciate the rich history and contemporary significance of the international legal system, as well as that the fact that it is truly law, law that is respected by most of the planet’s nearly 200 states, most of the time,” Saito said.
The main goal of the course is for students to begin developing critical analyses about what can be learned from international law, as well as the shortcomings of the international legal system as it is currently constituted.
Another opportunity for students is through courses with Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law Jonathan Todres, who teaches about the impact of international law on children and families. His courses are Human Rights and Children and a seminar, Global Perspectives on Children and the Law.
“Children constitute one-third of the world’s population, and yet they are often overlooked in law and policy circles,” Todres said.
Human Rights and Children aims to bring a focus to children’s issues and simultaneously introduce students to international human rights law and the mechanisms and institutions for enforcing children’s rights. Students are also able to see how the law works in a real world setting by taking his Global Perspectives course, which includes a study abroad component in Costa Rica.
“Students have opportunities to interact with key stakeholders at the international, national, and local levels and learn about both the lived experience of children and ways the law can advance child well-being,” Todres said.
These courses are beneficial for students regardless of what type of law they intend to practice. Studying international and comparative law can help students in reflecting on and analyzing US law.
“International law gets applied and enforced in domestic courts far more often than it does in international venues and it plays a critical role in hundreds of U.S. Supreme Court opinions,” Saito said. “So, even if students don’t intend to engage in transnational work, it’s important for them, as lawyers and as citizens of the world, to have some basic familiarity with the principles and institutions of international law.”
Written by Mara Thompson