Contact: Allison Matthews
STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State alumnus who is an authority on international law addressed his alma mater this week as one of the highlights of the university’s observance of International Education Week.
James Kraska, the Howard S. Levie Professor in the Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, gave a lecture Thursday on “China’s Domination of South China Sea,” a topic he also shared as part of the university-sponsored Executive Lecture Forum in Jackson on Wednesday.
Kraska is a 1987 MSU political science graduate who also attended Starkville High School. In addition to his appointment at the U.S. Naval War College, he is a Distinguished Fellow at the Law of the Sea Institute at University of California Berkeley School of Law and Senior Fellow at the Center for Oceans Law and Policy at the University of Virginia School of Law, and a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
During his lecture, Kraska gave an overview of history of the region surrounding the South China Sea and recent developments as China has tried to position itself to dominate the complex maritime environment that is a crucial element of the global transportation system. More than $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea each year, Kraska said. The U.S. maintains a constant presence in the area, which also is bordered by countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Kraska explained the international dynamics and laws that come into play in determining control and authority of maritime space and resources, including fisheries and oil and gas reserves.
“We have overlapping claims to the South China Sea—that is states that are making legal claims to the same area. And they’re interacting with one another in these disputes, and there’s also a low penetration or integration of internationally accepted rules,” Kraska said.
“International Law tries to ameliorate conflicts among the states and tries to mediate the conflicts, but the principal instrument of international law is the Charter of the United Nations,” he said.
Kraska said one problem is that there is not necessarily agreement on what the terms of the U.N. Charter mean. He also discussed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which articulates what states are entitled to regarding sovereignty and jurisdiction off shore.
Kraska is retired from the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, with assignments in the Asia-Pacific and the Pentagon. He earned doctorates in law from the University of Virginia and Indiana University, Bloomington.
The lecture was among many events taking place this week at MSU. International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, and is a national effort to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn and exchange experiences.
“International Education Week allowed me to meet new people from different backgrounds, and I felt I was able to get involved with the MSU community more than usual,” said Jose Quan, an international business, finance and foreign languages student from Honduras.
Associate Vice President and Executive Director of MSU’s International Institute Rick Nader said the week allows the university to recognize and embrace global diversity.
“I encourage all students to go abroad,” Nader said, adding that it has career benefits, as well as personal enrichment benefits.
Ra’Sheda Forbes, interim assistant vice president of multicultural affairs and director of MSU’s Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, said the week offers value for all who participate.
“International Education Week provides domestic students the opportunity to engage in learning that ultimately shapes their awareness and enhances their comprehension of the world. It fosters an environment of inclusiveness for both domestic and international students as they recognize and reflect on the value and richness of diversity,” Forbes said.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.