Stephen McCaffrey

Stephen McCaffrey

Carol Olson Endow. Prof of Law
2018 Distinguished Elisabeth Haub Award Environmental Law and Diplomacy Laureate
2017 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate
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"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."

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 for 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 also was named the 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.


BA, University of Colorado
JD, University of California, Berkeley
Dr iur, University of Cologne, Germany

Curriculum Vitae
Research Focus

Representative Scholarship and Activities

full list of Professor McCaffrey's publications is available (pdf).

Promoting Equity, Cooperation and Innovation in the Fields of Transboundary Waters and Natural Resources Management: The Legacy of Dr. David J.H. Phillips, (John S. Murray and Melvin Woodhouse, co-eds., Brill Nijhoff, 2017).

International Law for the Environment (with Edith Brown Weiss, Daniel B. Magraw, Stephanie Tai & A. Dan Tarlock) (2016 West), with Documents Supplement

The International Law Commission's Flawed Draft Articles on the Law of Transboundary Aquifers: The Way Forward, 36 Water Int'l 566 (2011).

Beyond International Water Law: Successfully Negotiating Mutual Gains Agreements for International Watercourses, 22 Pac. McGeorge Global Bus. & Dev. L.J. 139 (2012) (with Alex Grzybowski & Richard K. Paisley).

The Politics of Sharing Water: International Law, Sovereignty and Transboundary Rivers and Aquifers, in The Politics of Water 18 (Kai Wegerich & Jeroen Warner eds, Routledge 2010) (with Kate J. Neville).

Sovereignty and Cooperative Management of Shared Water Resources In a Time of Shrinking Availability: The Role of International Law 114 (ISARM2010 International Conference: Transboundary Aquifers: Challenges and New Directions, UNESCO, Dec. 6-8, 2010).

Public International Law: Cases, Problems and Text (with Dinah Shelton & John Cerone, LexisNexis 2010).

Forward to The Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses: Options for Regional Regime-Building in Asia, at xxv (Nahid Islam, Wolters Kluwer 2010).

Symposium, Beyond International Water Law: Successfully Negotiating Mutual Gains Agreements for International Watercourses,22 Pac. McGeorge Global Bus. & Dev. L.J. 139 (2009) (with Alex Grzybowski & Richard K. Paisley).

The International Law Commission Adopts Draft Articles on Transboundary Aquifers,103 Am. J. Int’l L. 272 (2009).

Workshop Papers, Small Capacity and Big Responsibilities: Financial and Legal Implications of a Human Right to Water for Developing,21 Geo. Int’l Envtl. L. Rev. 679 (2009) (with Kate J. Neville).

Transnational Litigation in Comparative Perspective (with Thomas O. Main, Oxford 2010).

International Watercourses, in Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Sept. 2009.

Comments on the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on The Law of Transboundary Aquifers 2006, Mar. 30, 2008, available at

Global Issues in Environmental Law (with Rachael E. Salcido, West 2008).

Criminalization of Environmental Protection, in International Criminal Law, vol.1, 1013 (M. Charif Bassiouni ed., 3d ed. Brill 2008).

International Waterways and Watercourses, in The New Oxford Companion to Law, at 626 (Peter Cane & Joanne Conaghan eds., Oxford 2008).

International Organization and the Environment, in Progress in International Law (Russell A. Miller & Rebecca M. Bratspies eds., Martinus Nijhoff 2008).

The 1997 U.N. Watercourses Convention: Retrospect and Prospect, 21 Pac. McGeorge Global Bus. & Dev. L.J. 165 (2008).

Doctrinal Divisions and Issues in Environmental Law, in Encyclopedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives, vol.1, 485 (with Rachael E. Salcido; David S. Clark ed., Sage 2008).

International Commission of the Oder, Jurisdiction of, Case, in Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Sept. 2007.

Some Developments in the Law of International Watercourses, in Promoting Justice, Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Through International Law: Liber Amicorum Lucius Caflisch, at 781 (Marcelo G. Kohen & Lucius Caflisch eds., Martinus Nijhoff 2007).

The Law of International Watercourses (2d ed. Oxford 2007).

Bridges Over Water: Understanding Transboundary Water Conflict, Negotiation and Cooperation (with Ariel Dinar et al., World Scientific 2007).

Colorado River Basin Water Management: Evaluating and Adjusting to Hydroclimatic Variability (with others, Comm. on the Scientific Bases of Colorado River Basin Water Mgmt., Nat’l Res. Council 2007).

International Environmental Law and Policy (Casebook) (with Edith Brown Weiss et al., 2d ed. Aspen 2007).

Federal Court: The “Roadless Rule” Reinstated, 37 Envtl. Pol’y & L. 54 (2007) (with Anna E. J. Frostic).

The Jordan River Basin: 2. Potential Future Allocations to the Co-Riparians,32(1)Water Int’l 39 (2007) (with David J. H. Phillips et al.).

The Jordan River Basin: 1. Clarification of the Allocations in the Johnston Plan,32(1) Water Int’l 16 (2007) (with David J. H. Phillips et al.).

European Commission of the Danube, Jurisdiction of the (Advisory Opinion), in Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Sept. 2007.

Liability and Compensation Regimes Related to Environmental Damage, in United Nations Environment Programme, Training Manual on International Environmental Law (with Maria Cristina Zucca, UNEP 2006).

Understanding International Law (LexisNexis 2006).

Freshwater Resources, in United Nations Environment Programme, Training Manual on International Environmental Law (UNEP 2006).

The Shrinking Dead Sea and the Red-Dead Canal: A Sisyphean Tale?,19 Pac. McGeorge Global Bus. & Dev. L.J. 259 (2006).

Sharing Water, Sharing Benefits: Working Towards Effective Transboundary Water Resources Management, A Graduate/Professional Skills-Building Workbook (Aaron Wolf ed., World Bank 2007).

The Danube River Basin, in The Multi-Governance of Water: Four Case Studies, at 79 (Matthias Finger et al. eds., SUNY 2006).

Of Paradoxes, Precedents and Progeny: The Trail Smelter Arbitration 62 Years Later, in Transboundary Harms in International Law: Lessons from the Trail Smelter Arbitration(Russell A. Miller & Rebecca M. Bratspies eds., Cambridge 2006).

The Fifty-Sixth Session of the International Law Commission, 35 Envtl. Pol’y & L. 109 (2005).

Negotiator’s Handbook on International Freshwater Agreements (UNEP 2005).

The Human Right to Water, in Fresh Water and International Economic Law 93 (Edith Brown Weiss et al. eds., Oxford 2005).

Water Conflict and International Law, in Water: Value and Rights-Conference Proceedings (Imad Khatib et al. eds., Palestine Academy Press 2005).