National Security Law

Georgetown University Law Center


Professor John Norton Moore

Spring 2014

One of the fastest growing areas of legal inquiry is national  security law, which began at Virginia with this course more than two decades ago and has since been taught at approximately half of the nation's accredited law schools. This course, taught by the principal founder of the field, is a comprehensive introduction, blending relevant international and national law. It defines national security and presents information about the causes of war and traditional approaches to preventing war, including information about the "democratic peace" and other newer approaches. The course examines the historical development of the international law of conflict management. It then takes up institutional modes of conflict management, including the United Nations system and the role of the Security Council. Addressing the lawfulness of using force in international relations, the course discusses the prohibition of war as an instrument of national policy, the Rio Treaty and the revised charter of the Organization of American States, and low-intensity conflict, intervention, anticipatory defense, and other continuing problems. It then examines several case studies of specific national security issues, including the Indochina War, the "secret war" in Central America, and the Gulf War, as well as case studies in United Nations peacekeeping and peace enforcement (including the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti, and Rwanda). It examines human rights for contexts of violence, that is, the norms concerning the conduct of hostilities, providing an overview of the protection of non-combatants and procedures for implementation and enforcement. It looks at war crimes and the Nuremberg principles, and recent efforts to develop an international criminal court as well as the Yugoslav and Rwanda tribunals. It briefly reviews American Security Doctrine, then turns to the general issues of strategic stability and arms control, examining nuclear weapons and their effects, and general arms control negotiations. It briefly addresses the security aspects of oceans law, then examines in detail the national institutional framework for the control of national security, including the authority of Congress and the president to make national security decisions, and the war powers and constitutional issues in the debate on interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The course then examines the national security process including the national command structure, and looks at secrecy, access to information, and the classification system. It reviews intelligence and counterintelligence law, and ends with a review of individual rights and accountability as they interface with national security.

National Security Law meets on Fridays, from 5:45 - 7:45 p.m. at the Georgetown Law Center, Hotung H1000