José E. Alvarez, the Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law, gave the General Course at the Xiamen Academy of International Law from July 8-18 in Xiamen, China. This is the first time that the prestigious General Course, consisting of 15 hours of lectures that are subsequently published as a monograph, was given by a U.S. national. The Xiamen Academy’s summer courses, located in China’s leading law school for the teaching of international economic law, draw over 100 participants from around the world. The lectures cover all aspects of international law. Past lecturers have included six judges on the International Court of Justice, as well as leading scholars from the United Kingdom, Japan, China, India, and Latin America.

Alvarez offered these observations on his visit:

Alvarez in China

“While Xiamen is a tourist city for citizens of China since it is a beach as well as university town, I had little opportunity to enjoy those aspects. Apart from the need to be constantly preparing for class – 15 hours of lectures in less than 2 weeks takes a lot of effort – my trip included two back-to-back typhoons, including during the weekend when I had planned a side trip to Taiwan. Fortunately, all the lectures went on as scheduled with minimal flooding or electrical disruptions, but constant rain and thunder puts a damper on sightseeing. The participants in the course were the best part of my stay. Over 100, from over 20 different countries, came to my daily lectures. Although they ranged from mere novices in international law to teachers in the field, it was surprisingly easy to raise questions that everyone, no matter their background, could understand. As might be expected, given the time period during which I gave the lectures, the Snowden affair led to interesting discussions about whether the U.S. and China have divergent or consistent interests when it comes to Internet freedom and cyber-security. For many of the students, great powers, no matter how different in other respects, often share common views about how to use international law and institutions to further their interests.”

Alvarez’s lectures, entitled “The Impact of International Organizations and Tribunals,” expanded on themes canvassed in his 2005 book, International Organizations as Law-Makers, which was translated into Chinese by Cai Congyan, a professor at Xiamen University. The titles of the individual lectures were:

1.     Legal Positivism and its Discontents

2.     The Institutional Challenge to Sources, Actors, Process

3-4.  The U.N. Charter Over Time: The Contemporary Security Council.

5-6.  The Contemporary General Assembly

7-8.  Explaining the U.N.: Frameworks for Understanding

9-10. The Contemporary WHO (and other forms of IO regulation)

11-12. The Multiple Functions of International Tribunals

13-14. The Responsibility and Accountability of International Organizations

15.  Contemporary Sovereigns

Posted on August 8, 2013