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Stephen C. McCaffrey

Stephen McCaffrey

Distinguished Professor of Law
2017 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate
B.A., University of Colorado
J.D., University of California, Berkeley
Dr. iur., University of Cologne, Germany


Phone: 916.739.7179
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Office Hours

Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.


"International and environmental law have always been exciting to students and I am happy to be able to bring real-world experience in these fields to the classroom, especially since they will be practicing in an increasingly globalized and environmentally-threatened world." — Stephen McCaffrey

Distinguished Professor of Law Stephen McCaffrey is one of the world's foremost authorities on international water law. He received the 2018 Distinguished Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy, both for his lifetime of service in the development of international environmental law, and in particular for his work as special rapporteur for the International Law Commission on the preparatory work for what became the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses. Professor McCaffrey was named 2017 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for his unparalleled contribution to the evolution and progressive realization of international water law.

Professor McCaffrey served two terms as a member of the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC), from 1981-91 and chaired that prestigious body's 1987-88 session, only the third American to do so. From 1985-1991 he served as special rapporteur for the ILC's work on the law of the non-navigational uses of international watercourses. The resulting draft articles formed the working document on the basis of which the 1997 U.N. Watercourses Convention was negotiated by U.N. member States.

Professor McCaffrey was Counselor on International Law in the State Department's Office of Legal Adviser in 1984-85. He is a member of the UNECE Water Convention's Implementation Committee, which monitors compliance with that agreement by the parties. He was elected to this position by the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on nomination by Switzerland. Professor McCaffrey has served as counsel to States in a number of cases before the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and continues to do so. Beginning in 1999, he advised Palestine on water issues in the context of permanent status negotiations with Israel. Professor McCaffrey was the legal consultant to the Nile River Basin Cooperative Framework project, which resulted in the Cooperative Framework Agreement between Nile Basin States. He has consulted for States and international organizations in different regions of the world, including Africa, Asia, South America and Central America. Professor McCaffrey has served as Special Legal Adviser to the Secretariat of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation of the environmental side-agreement to NAFTA. He was elected Regional Governor of the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL) by ICEL members from North America in 2012 and continues to serve in that capacity. Professor McCaffrey has served as Counselor and as a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law, the preeminent organization in the field.

In addition to service, scholarship and teaching have always been driving forces in Professor McCaffrey's career as a law professor. He has published widely in the fields of international and comparative law, in the form of articles, book chapters, edited books and books of which he is the sole author. He has his own published books for the courses he teaches at McGeorge, including co-authored coursebooks on Public International Law, International Environmental Law, and Transnational Litigation, a treatise on the Law of International Watercourses for the seminar on that subject and a co-authored supplement, Global Issues in Environmental Law. Professor McCaffrey is Series Editor for the International Water Law Series published by Brill Nijhoff.

Courses: International Water Resources Law Seminar, International Environmental Law, Foundations of Water Law, Transnational Litigation, Conflict of Laws

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