News | Jan. 10, 2017

Summer at the Stockton Center

By Lt. Nick Rausa

When he established the Naval War College, Admiral Luce referred to international law as an "indispensable branch of the great study of war." Today, Admiral Luce would be happy to know that the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law still takes his words to heart. The Stockton Center is a unique institution cherished by scholars and practitioners, leading the way in the advancement and study of international law.

This summer, I served as a Stockton Center legal intern. Over the course of those two short but transformative months, I witnessed the excellence and expertise Admiral Luce expected in the study of international law. More important was the effect of that excellence on my understanding of being a naval officer. The Stockton Center is home to foundational legal research and writing regarding today’s most pressing strategic and operational challenges. Years before cyber warfare became a hot topic, the Stockton Center and Professor Michael Schmitt had constructed a comprehensive set of legal guidelines for this form of emerging warfare. Today, Professor Schmitt embodies the mission of the Naval War College by serving as the world’s leading expert on the law of cyber warfare and as the general editor of the Tallin Manual, cyber warfare’s most referenced and trusted legal manual. The Center is home to Professor James Kraska, a leading expert on the law of the sea. Professor Kraska and the Stockton Center are recognized leaders in understanding the complex issues at the center of South China Sea territorial claims. As these issues came to a head in the wake of this summer’s Permanent Court of Arbitration’s decision, various countries in the Indo-Pacific region approached Professor Kraska for help in interpreting and applying the court’s decision.

That thread of excellence extends throughout the entire Center and any project it takes on. As an intern, I engaged senior judge advocates assisting the Vice President of East Timor regarding ongoing maritime territorial disputes. I was involved in the early stages of autonomous weapon policy formation. I was involved in discussions regarding advising foreign members of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. I now see that the Naval War College is truly a leader in the international law community.

Most importantly, the Stockton Center not only identifies unique legal challenges, but helps frame those issues in an appropriate and practical context for world military leaders. Indeed, the lessons I derived transcended my role as a law student and hit at the central tenant of the Naval War College by making me a more capable naval officer. Thank you to the Naval War College and the Stockton Center for an unforgettable opportunity!

Rausa is an active duty officer in the U.S. Navy and a second-year law student at Boston College Law School in Newton, MA. He is attending law school though the Navy’s Law Education Program, which affords active duty officers the opportunity to pursue their law degree and transition in to the Navy’s Judge Advocate General Corps upon graduation. Prior to his selection to the Law Education Program, Rausa served as an officer aboard the fast attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN 706).
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