It gives me great pleasure as the Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and as a retired career officer in the U.S. Navy to introduce this primer on the law of the sea, prepared by faculty and students at The Fletcher School‘s LL.M. and Maritime Studies programs.

The law of the sea has played a central role in my professional life. It was the topic of my PhD dissertation at The Fletcher School. A sound understanding of its key principles and implications was important throughout my time serving our country, whether as a junior officer or as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Today, I regularly draw on its principles as I evaluate issues as disparate as the ongoing disputes in the South China Sea, the opening up of new maritime routes through the Arctic, or the preservation of transit passage through the Strait of Hormuz.

As policy makers within the U.S. government and elsewhere, you too will regularly face issues that demand an understanding of the law of the sea, as embodied in the Law of the Sea Convention and customary international law. The law of the sea forms the basis for the conduct of maritime commerce that is critical to international trade; codifies the rules of freedom of navigation that are essential to national security and commerce; and provides an international framework for the conservation, regulation, and exploitation of the resources of the oceans and continental shelves for the benefit of the environment and economic development.

We here at The Fletcher School know that you will find this primer to be a valuable resource as you address these issues in a complex and changing global environment. We are honored to have had the opportunity to prepare this primer and draw on the advise of experts acknowledged on the title page to make it available for your use.

Let’s get underway…

Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Dean, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy