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COURSE NAME: "Public International Law "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Pamela Harris
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 10:00-11:15 AM
OFFICE HOURS: Mon - Weds - Friday: 9-12, 14-16

This course examines the basic concepts of public international law, to enable students to critically evaluate the interplay between legal claims and power relations. Starting with a theoretical overview of the character, development and sources of international law, the course examines such law-generating and law-implementing institutions as the United Nations, international arbitration and adjudication, international criminal tribunals, national systems and regional organizations. Such substantive areas as the law of war (the use of force and humanitarian law), international criminal law, human rights, and environmental law will be given special attention.
1. Introduction: what does it mean to say that law can or should govern the behavior of states?
2. Sources of international law: custom, treaty, jus cogens
3. International legal identity and territory
4. Jus ad bellum: prohibitions on the use of force
5. Jus in bello: legal restraints on violence in armed conflict (International Humanitarian Law)
6. International Criminal Law
7. Jurisdiction and Immunity
8. International Law in National Courts

1. Understanding of the basic concepts of public international law, as well as critical awareness of key substantive areas
2. Ability to understand and critically evaluate the interplay between legal claims and power relations at the international level
3. Enriched understanding of current events and contemporary international relations.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
International Law for International RelationsBaşak CaliOxford UP978-0-19-955842-1  
Crimes Against HumanityGeoffrey RobertsonNew Press 9781595588630ebook 

Midterm exam Issue-spotter. See sample exam on moodle25%
Final Examination2 1/2 hour comprehensive exam consisting of an issue spotter and multiple essay questions.35%
Class participationCome to class, be prepared, pay attention, listen to others and contribute.10%
Research Paper8-10 page research paper on an international law topic, chosen by student in consultation with the instructor.30%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the issue and demonstrates a nuanced understanding of the strongest arguments on both sides, and a creative resolution of the issue.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised. There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice. Work at this level demonstrates an ability to provide strong reasons for a certain position. Discussions reflect the student’s own critical assessment, going beyond the simple description of lecture and reference material.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, describing the basic information offered in the lectures and reference readings, but not critically engaging with it.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material. Important information is omitted, irrelevant points included, or basic errors have been made.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question, or is lacking in basis academic integrity.

Class Participation, for which Attendance is fundamental, is 10% of your final grade. You get two "free" absences (no excuse necessary), after which additional absences will start to pull down this part of your grade.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Week I   What is international law?: introduction and theory                                                 

Glennon, Why the Security Council Failed
Koh, The Obama Administration and International Law

Week II  Where does it come from?: history and institutions  

Cali, ch. 3 (Anghie, Basic principles of international law: a historical perspective)

UN Charter 

Week III  Sources of IL: custom

The Paquete Habana
Cali, ch. 6 (Beckett, Customary international law)

Weeks IV-V Sources of IL: treaties and jus cogens

Cali, ch. 5 (Voyiakis, International treaties)
Vienna Convention Reservations Handout
Human Rights Council, General Comment No 24

European Court of Justice, Kadi

Week VI   International Legal Personality, Territory 

Cali, ch. 9 (Borgen, States and international law: the problems of self-determination, secession, and recognition)
ICJ Advisory Opinion (Summary) on Kosovo Secession, pp. 1-6 (skim), 7-8, 14-15, and Judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada
, in Reference re Secession of Quebec

Week VII   Midterm Review and Exam 

Week VIII  Jus ad bellum 

Cali, ch. 10 (Rodley & Cali, Use of force in international law)
Robertson, ch. 13, Toppling Tyrants (just pp. 728-748)
Robertson, ch. 12, Terrorism (670-679); Department of Justice White Paper

Robertson, ch. 14, The Guernica Paradox

Week IX-X  Jus in bello

Cali, ch. 11 (Griffin & Cali, International humanitarian law
Geneva Conventions

Robertson, ch. 5, War Law (pp. 292-313 [general], pp. 313-332 [weapons])
Robertson, ch. 12, Terrorism (pp.691-707 [Targeting killings])

Film, The Law in These Parts

Week  XI   International Criminal Law                                 

Robertson, ch. 6, An End to Impunity?
Robertson, ch. 10, The International Criminal Court

Week XII  Jurisdiction and Immunities

Robertson, ch. 8, The Case of General Pinochet
ICJ + Italian Constitutional Court, Germany v. Italy

Week XIII International Law in National Courts       

de Burca, International Law before the Courts

Week XIV Final Review