Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Thank you very much for inviting me here today. I am especially grateful to Dean Chris Guthrie, Professor Mike Newton, and Mrs. Sharon Charney, who generously endowed this lecture series in memory of her late husband, Professor Jonathan Charney. Thank you, as well, to all the members of the Charney family for sharing him with the Vanderbilt community. Professor Charney taught at Vanderbilt for forty years and was one of the nation's preeminent scholars and practitioners of international law. He was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which resulted in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. At the time of his untimely passing in 2002, he was also the Co-Editor-in-Chief with Yale Law Professor Michael Reisman of the American Journal of International Law.

I feel particularly honored as the first alumnus of Vanderbilt Law School to deliver the Charney Distinguished Lecture in International Law. In a May 27, 2003, Joint Resolution, the Tennessee General Assembly honored Professor Charney for "his manifold professional achievements, his impeccable character, and his stalwart commitment to living the examined life with courage and conviction." His colleague, Professor Jeffrey Schoenblum, drew a more colorful sketch: "Jon could at times, and quite proudly and purposely, be one ornery guy .... He was for quality, for demanding performance. He was against sophistry, mint marks, and other indicia of status not substantiated by tangible intellectual product of unquestionable merit."

In his spirit, I will try to avoid "sophistry" and "mint marks." My aims are to help you understand how international law affects the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in practice and how DoD abides by the rule of law in international security affairs.