Oona A. Hathaway

Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law

Oona A. Hathaway is the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at the Yale Law School; a Professor (by courtesy) of the Yale University Department of Political Science, Professor of International Law and Area Studies at the Yale University MacMillan Center and Director of the Yale Law School Center for Global Legal Challenges


Contact Information

Yale Law School

P.O. Box 208215

New Haven, CT 06520

Education & Curriculum Vitae

J.D., Yale Law School, 1997

A.B., Harvard University, 1994

Courses Taught

  • Foreign Affairs and International Law
  • Introduction to Transnational Law
  • Law and Globalization
  • Research and Writing on International Law
  • Civil Procedure
  • International Law and International Relations
  • State Behavior and International Law
  • International Humanitarian Law
  • Norms and Ideas in International Law and Politics (with Prof. Keith Darden)
  • The Law and Technology of Cyber Conflict
  • Philosophy of International Law (informal seminar)

Oona A. Hathaway is the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at the Yale Law School; a Professor (by courtesy) of the Yale University Department of Political Science, Professor of International Law and Area Studies at the Yale University MacMillan Center and Director  of the Center for Global Legal Challenges at Yale Law School.  She earned her A.B. summa cum laude at Harvard University in 1994 and her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal, in 1997. She served as a law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and for D.C. Circuit Judge Patricia Wald, held fellowships at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and Center for the Ethics and the Professions, served as Associate Professor at Boston University School of Law, as Associate Professor at Yale Law School, and as Professor of Law at U.C. Berkeley. Her current research focuses on the intersection of U.S. constitutional law and international law, the enforcement of domestic and international law, national security law, and the law of war. Her recent articles include "Outcasting: The Enforcement of Domestic and International Law" (Yale Law Journal, with Scott Shapiro); "The Law of Cyber-Attack" (California Law Review, with several co-authors); "Limited War and the Constitution" (Michigan Law Review, with Bruce Ackerman); "Presidential Power over International Law: Restoring the Balance" (Yale Law Journal), and "Treaties’ End: The Past, Present and Future of International Lawmaking in the United States" (Yale Law Journal). Professor Hathaway received the Carnegie Scholars Award in 2004, is a member of the Strategic Planning Committee of the American Society of International Law, the Executive Committee of the MacMillan Center at Yale University, and the Advisory Committee on International Law for the Legal Adviser at the United States Department of State. In 2014-15, she took leave from Yale Law School to serve as Special Counsel to the General Counsel for National Security Law at the U.S. Department of Defense, where she was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Yale Cyber Leadership Forum Launches

The Yale Cyber Leadership Forum is a two-day program on March 30 and April 1, 2017, that will focus on bridging the divide between law, technology, and business in cybersecurity.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Navigating EU Foreign and Security Challenges with Baroness Catherine Ashton

On November 12th, the Center for Global Legal Challenges and Yale Law Women hosted a conversation on European foreign and security challenges with Baroness Catherine Ashton, former High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Michael Vickers Visits National Security Law Class

Michael Vickers visited Yale Law School on October 19 as a guest speaker at the Wartime Practice of National Security Law course with Professor Oona Hathaway and Stephen Preston.  Vickers served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence at the United States Department of Defense and as United States Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Caroline D. Krass ’93 Speaks at YLS

The Center for Global Legal Challenges hosted Caroline D. Krass (YLS ’93), General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for a series of discussions with students and faculty on October 7, 2015.  Ms. Krass provided insight into pressing international and national security legal questions, as well as general perspectives from her sterling career as a government lawyer.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Stephen Preston Gives Talk at YLS

The Center for Global Legal Challenges and the Yale Law National Security Group hosted a lunchtime talk with Stephen Preston, former General Counsel of the Department of Defense on September 28, 2015. Mr. Preston spoke on a wide range of topics, including emerging threats to U.S. and global security interests, the crisis in Syria, the role of secrecy and transparency in national security law, and the mechanics of national security lawyering.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Professor Hathaway Appointed as Special Counsel to General Counsel at the Department of Defense

Professor Oona A. Hathaway ’97 has been appointed as Special Counsel to the General Counsel for National Security Law at the Department of Defense.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

National Security Lawyering Class Meets With D.C. Policymakers

Students in Professors Harold Hongju Koh and Oona Hathaway’s National Security Lawyering class recently took a four-day trip to Washington, D.C., where they met with officials, policymakers, and lawyers in various executive and legislative bodies to present their findings from a semester’s worth of study into deep questions on pressing national security issues. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Faculty Commentary: Yale Law Professors Weigh in on Syria Debate

With a fervent debate raging over what actions should be taken against the Syrian government in the wake of a suspected chemical attack that killed more than 1,000 Syrians— including hundreds of children — Yale Law faculty offer their opinions and insights on a range of issues impacting the conversation. Below is a sampling of the most recent commentaries and interviews.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tackling National Security and Foreign Relations Policy: Seminar on Legal Debates in U.S. International Lawmaking and Foreign Affairs

Each week of the fall semester, Yale Law School Professor Oona Hathaway ’97 meets with eight students in a small seminar room to tackle some of the most complex and pressing issues of national security and foreign relations policy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Professor Oona Hathaway ’97 to Deliver Inaugural Lecture April 12

Professor Oona Hathaway ’97 will deliver her inaugural lecture as the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law on April 12, 2010.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chairs Conferred on Harold Hongju Koh, Oona Hathaway ’97, and Jean Koh Peters

Chairs have been conferred by the Yale Corporation on Harold Hongju Koh, Oona Hathaway ’97, and Jean Koh Peters.

Academic Publications

The Worst Crime of All: The Paris Peace Pact and the Beginning of the End of War (with Scott Shapiro) (forthcoming 2016, Simon & Shuster)

Asking for Directions: The Case for Federal Courts To Use Certification Across Borders, Yale Law Journal Forum (November 2015) (with Michael Wishnie) 

Fighting the Last War: The United Nations Charter in the Age of the War on Terror, in The U.N. Charter (Joseph Lambert & Ian Shapiro, eds.) (2014)

Consent-Based Humanitarian Intervention, 46 Cornell International Law Journal 499 (2013) (with Julia Brower, Ryan Liss, Tina Thomas, & Jacob Victor)

The Power to Detain: Detention of Terrorism Suspects After 9/11, YALE JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW (2013) (with Samuel Adelsberg, Spencer Amdur, Philip Levitz, Freya Pitts, and Sirine Shebaya)

The Treaty Power: Its History, Scope, and Limits, CORNELL LAW REVIEW (2013) (with Spencer Amdur, Celia Choy, Samir Deger-Sen, Haley Nix, John Paredes, and Sally Pei)

Fighting the Last War: The United Nations Charter in the Age of the War on Terror, in THE U.N. CHARTER (Joseph Lambert & Ian Shapiro, eds.) (forthcoming 2013)

Tortured Reasoning: The Intent to Torture Under International and Domestic Law, 52 Virginia Journal of International Law 791 (2012) (with Aileen Nowlan & Julia Spiegel)

Between Power and Principle, in THE ROLE OF ETHICS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW (Donald Earl Childress III, ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

The Law of Cyber-Attack, CALIFORNIA LAW REVIEW (2012) (with Rebecca Crootof, Philip Levitz, Haley Nix, Aileen Nowlan, William Perdue, Julia Spiegel)

The Relationship Between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law in Armed Conflict, MINNESOTA LAW REVIEW (2012) (with Rebecca Crootof, Philip Levitz, Haley Nix, William Purdue, Chelsea Purvis, Julia Speigel)

International Law at Home, YALE JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW (2012) (with Sara Solow & Sabria McElroy) (examines the enforcement of international treaties in U.S. courts in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Medellin v. Texas).

International Law at a Crossroads, YALE JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (2012) (with Sara Solow & Sabria McElroy).

Outcasting, YALE LAW JOURNAL (forthcoming 2011) (with Scott Shapiro) (examines the functional and jurisprudential underpinnings of international law

Human Rights Abroad: When Do Human Rights Treaty Obligations Apply Extraterritorially?, ARIZONA STATE LAW JOURNAL (forthcoming 2011) (with Philip Levitz, Elizabeth Nielsen, Aileen Nowlan, William Perdue, Chelsea Purvis, Sara Solow, and Julia Spiegel)

Limited War and the Constitution, MICHIGAN LAW REVIEW (2011) (with Bruce Ackerman) (argues that a new legal framework is required to reassert congressional control over limited warmaking by the United States)

The Case for Promoting Democracy Through Export Control, Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 17 (2010) (critiques the claim that the presidential system of separation of powers can be easily exported to developing countries)

Presidential Power over International Law: Restoring the Balance(YALE LAW JOURNAL, October 2009) (examines the role of the president in U.S. international lawmaking)

Treaties' End: The Past, Present and Future of International Lawmaking in the United States, YALE LAW JOURNAL (2008) (examines the use of treaties and congressional-executive agreements from historical, comparative, and empirical perspectives and argues for greater action in replacing most treaties with congressional-executive agreements)

Treaties' End Replication Files
Note: some of these files are in the .do and .dta formats. The Stata application is required to open them properly.
Treaties' Data Table 1
Comparative Constitutions
Comparative Constitutions Final
Global Constitutions Codebook 04-01-08
Figure 1
Oceana Database Revised for Table 2

International Delegation and Domestic Sovereignty, LAW AND CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS (2008) (examines the debate over the delegation of legal and political authority to international organizations)

Domestic Enforcement of International Law: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in STORIES IN INTERNATIONAL LAW (Foundation Press, 2007)

Why Do Nations Join Human Rights Treaties?, JOURNAL OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION 588 (2007) (peer review journal) (examines why nations subscribe to international human rights treaties utilizing cross national data analysis and uses findings to assess a political theory of international law)

Replication Files:
JCR Replication

Rationalism and Revisionism in International Law, 119 HARV. L. REV. 1404 (2006) (with A. Lavinbuk) (assess the state of the academic debate over international law in light of a recent book on international law, The Limits of International Law, by Jack Goldsmith and Eric Posner)

Between Power and Principle: A Political Theory of International Law, 71 U. CHI. L. REV (forthcoming May 2005) (proposes a new conception of the relationship between international law and state behavior), to be reviewed in Legal Affairs.

The New Empiricism in Human Rights: Insights and Implications, 98 AMERICAN SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL LAW PROCEEDINGS 206 (2004)

Foundations of International Law and Politics (co-authored with Harold H. Koh) (a reader intended for legal and political science audiences) (forthcoming from Foundation Press in 2004)

Empirical Approaches to International Law, AM. J. INT’L L. (forthcoming 2004) (discusses the lessons that can be drawn from existing empirical research into human rights law and proposes promising avenues for future research)

The International Law of Torture, in TORTURE: PHILOSOPHICAL, POLITICAL, AND LEGAL PERSPECTIVES (Sanford Levinson ed., Oxford University Press forthcoming 2004) (explores the place of international law in efforts to bring an end to the practice of torture)

The Cost of Commitment, 55 STAN. L. REV. 1821 (2003) (arguing that traditional understandings of the costs of treaty ratification are insufficiently nuanced and that the cost of compliance varies according to the product of a country’s divergence from the requirements of the treaty and the likelihood that the nation will actually change its practices to comply with those requirements and then tests the theory offered using empirical evidence)

Testing Conventional Wisdom, 13 E.J.I.L. 185 (2003) (peer review journal) (arguing that empirical analysis can be an important and powerful tool for testing assumptions regarding state behavior)

Do Human Rights Treaties Make a Difference?, 111 YALE L. J. 1935 (2002) (analyzes quantitative data on over 150 nations during a 40-year period to assess the impact of human rights treaties on countries’ human rights practices and the empirical validity of current theories of international law compliance).

Path Dependence in the Law: The Course and Pattern of Change in a Common Law Legal System, 86 IOWA L. REV. 601 (2001) (develops and applies three strands of path dependence theory to explain change in common law legal systems and to offer a positive and normative account of stare decisis).

Positive Feedback: The Impact of Trade Liberalization on Industry Demands for Protection, 52 INT’L ORG. 575 (1998) (peer review journal) (uses tools drawn from political economy and rational choice theory, as well as empirical evidence, to propose and test a theory that helps explain variation in demand for trade protection).

Book Note, The Politics of the Confirmation Process, 107 YALE L. J. 235 (1996) (reviews John Anthony Maltese, The Selling of Supreme Court Nominees).

Popular and Other Writings

The Government’s Prepublication Review Process is Broken, Washington Post (December 26, 2015) (with Jack Goldsmith)

Going It Alone: The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement as a Sole Executive Agreement, ASIL INSIGHTS (Aug. 24, 2011) (with Amy Kapczynski)

Our Unbalanced Democracy, New York Times (August 1, 2011) (with Jacob Hacker)

Obama’s Illegal War, Foreign Policy (June 1, 2011) (with Bruce Ackerman)

The Death of the War Powers Resolution?, Washington Post (May 17, 2011) (with Bruce Ackerman)

The World After Bin Laden, Washington Post (May 3, 2011) (with Bruce Ackerman)

The Clock is Ticking on Obama’s War, Foreign Policy (April 6, 2011) (with Bruce Ackerman)

It's Not Up to the President to Impose a No-Fly Zone Over Libya, The Huffington Post (March 9, 2011) (with Bruce Ackerman)

Did Congress Approve America’s Longest War?, THE UK GUARDIAN (January 27, 2011) (with Bruce Ackerman)

How to Swing Arms Control: Obama Can Model Nixon and Clinton to Get a New Treaty Through Congress, LA Times (April 3, 2010) (with Bruce Ackerman)

Co-Counsel, Brief for Non-Governmental Organizations and Scholars as Amici Curiai in Support of Rehearing or Rehearing En Banc, Al-Bihani v. Obama, Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (March 22, 2010)

Hear the Uighurs: The Critical Guantanamo Case the Supreme Court Should Not Duck, Slate Magazine (February 17, 2010) (with Rebecca Crootof)

Counsel of Record, International Law Experts Brief, Kiyemba v. Obama, United States Supreme Court (December 2009)

What Will Congress Do About Afghanistan?, Slate Magazine Online (December 9, 2009) (with Bruce Ackerman)

America needs to prepare for early Iraq pullout, THE FINANCIAL TIMES (August 23, 2009) (with Bruce Ackerman) (free registration required to view Financial Times content online)

The Iraq War is Now Illegal, THE DAILY BEAST (Jan. 1. 2009) (with Bruce Ackerman)

A legal time bomb in Iraq, THE GUARDIAN (U.K.) (December 12, 2008) (with Bruce Ackerman)

Bush should include Congress, THE BOSTON GLOBE (November 26, 2008) (with Congressman Bill Delahunt)

Bush's Final Illusion: The president's agreement with Iraq bypasses Congress. Again, SLATE MAGAZINE (October 21, 2008) (with Bruce Ackerman)

The Case for Replacing Article II Treaties with Ex Post Congressional-Executive Agreements, American Constitution Society Issue Brief (Nov. 16, 2008)

Testimony on “The U.S.-Iraq Bilateral Agreement: Constitutional and other Legal Concerns,” House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight, (Nov. 13, 2008)

Testimony on “Declaration and Principles: Future U.S. Commitments to Iraq,” House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight (Mar. 4, 2008)

Testimony on “The November 26 Declaration of Principles: Implications for UN Resolutions on Iraq and for Congressional Oversight,” House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight (February 2008)

What Bush Will Surrender in Iraq, TIME MAGAZINE (ONLINE), September 10, 2008 (with Bruce Ackerman) (arguing that the draft agreement with Iraq includes several unconstitutional provisions)

Into No-Man’s Land , THE L.A. TIMES, July 25, 2008 (with Bruce Ackerman) (arguing that the proposed memorandum of understanding with Iraq is unconstitutional and does not adequately protect the troops)

The War's Expiration Date, THE WASHINGTON POST ONLINE, Saturday, April 5, 2008 (with Bruce Ackerman) (arguing that the war in Iraq will become illegal on Jan. 1, 2009 unless new legislation is passed or the UN Mandate is extended)

An Agreement that Needs Agreement , THE WASHINGTON POST ONLINE, Saturday, February 15, 2008 (with Bruce Ackerman) (arguing that the proposed agreement between the United States and Iraq must be apporved by Congress to be legal)

Why We Need International Law , THE NATION, November 19, 2007 (putting forth a case for international law on the ground that international law benefits the United States' national interest)

A Tortured Way to Run A War on Terror, NEWSDAY, October 26, 2005 (op-ed discussing the Administration's efforts to stop Congress from regulating the military's treatment of detainees)

Judge Roberts and International Law & other posts, Supreme Court Extra: Think Progress (blog)

Debate Club: Is International Law Really Useful? (Jan. 2005) (on-line written debate with Eric Posner, a prominent critic of international law)

Supreme Court Brings Bush Administration Back to Earth, THE HARTFORD COURANT, July 1, 2004 (op-ed discussing the Supreme Court’s cases on the rights of prisoners in the war on terror)

The Court Puts the White House in its Place, NEWSDAY, June 30, 2004 (op-ed discussing the Supreme Court’s cases on the rights of prisoners in the war on terror)

Human Rights and Security, a paper for the United Nations High Level Panel on Global Security Threats (commissioned by the UN Foundation) (proposes ways the UN can use international law to more effectively shape what states do)

Two Cheers for International Law, 27 Wilson Quarterly 50 (Autumn 2003)(examines the role of international law in modern international politics)

Making Human Rights Treaties Work: Global Legal Information and Human Rights in the 21st Century, 31 INT’L J. OF LEGAL INFO. 312 (2003) (discussing why human rights treaties have been ignored in discussions of the war against terrorism and how they can be made more effective)

Making Human Rights Treaties Work, 4 YALE POLITIC 28 (2003) (discussing why human rights treaties have been ignored in discussions of the war against terrorism and how they can be made more effective)

Book Note, The Politics of the Confirmation Process, 107 YALE L. J. 235 (1996) (reviews John Anthony Maltese, The Selling of Supreme Court Nominees)

Whither Biodiversity? The Global Debate over Biological Variety Continues, 15 HARV. INT’L REV. 58 (Winter 1992/93) (journalistic piece examining the international debate over a draft treaty designed to maintain biological diversity)

Lifting the Veil, 19 HARV. POL. REV. 16 (Mar. 1992) (journalistic piece examining the political and social status of women in Kuwait, based in part on observations made during a visit to Kuwait). Winner of the Kennedy School of Government Political Journalism Award.