This course provides a broad introduction to the nature, sources and operation of international law. The aim is to provide you with a solid understanding of the basic principles, instruments and institutions of “public international law,” both as a framework for further study and for dealing with the international legal issues you are likely to encounter in practice. We’ll also touch on the fields of “transnational” and “private international law.”
Accordingly, we will survey the law governing treaties and other international agreements, the nature and content of customary international law, the recognition of states and governments, the role and operation of international and regional organizations such as the United Nations and the OAS, issues of state responsibility, international human rights, the law of the sea and outer space, international dispute resolution mechanisms (including the role of the International Court of Justice and other courts and tribunals), and international peacekeeping and principles governing the use of force (including in the context of counter-terrorism efforts).
We will also spend some time on the role international law plays in the U.S. legal system as reflected, for example, in concepts of (and restrictions on) civil and criminal jurisdiction, diplomatic and foreign sovereign immunity, and enforcement of foreign judgments.
Without any question, developments during the summer will give us ample opportunity to discuss a number of “hot topics” as they arise (in such areas as international refugee law, rules on the use of force, responding to acts of terrorism, trade relations, cyber warfare, environmental law, cyber-crime, trafficking in drugs and persons, trans-border corruption, UN actions and sanctions, Brexit, etc.
The course is appropriate for both J.D. and graduate students, both beginners who have never studied international law as well as those who have some prior exposure or experience. We welcome students who received their initial legal training in foreign law schools.
It is important to attend all class sessions, especially the first class session where we will give an overview of the course and explain our expectations for attendance and performance.