International Law

B665 is taught by A. Lubin, C. Ochoa, T. Waters

Public International Law (PIL) is the branch of law regulating interstate relations and the relations between states and international organizations, transnational corporations, paramilitary armed groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals. This survey course introduces students to the basic elements of PIL: its sources, subjects, and fundamental principles. Throughout the course we will explore the constitutive processes that make up the world order, examining the key actors and functions in the development and application of international law.

The course will be broken into two parts. In the first half we will spend significant time discussing the basic structures and features of PIL. This section will cover, among other things, the rules governing treaty law and customary law, the formation and responsibility of nation-states, the special role of international organizations and individuals in the international system, the relationship between international law and national law, and the jurisdictional scope of adjudicative bodies entrusted with the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

The second half of the course will delve deeper into specific subfields of law, exploring the manifestations of PIL s general structures and features in specific contexts. In this portion of the class we will explore, among other issues: sovereignty and the contingencies for the use of force, modern human rights law and the mechanisms for their international protection, the crises in managing our international economic infrastructures, international humanitarian law and individual criminal liability for violations of the laws of war, and the law governing old and new spatial frontiers: the high seas, the environment, and cyberspace.

Students completing the course will acquire substantial knowledge of the rules, current debates, and institutional designs that form part of doctrinal PIL. They will further be able to formulate critical arguments and counterarguments surrounding the broader aspirations of governance and humanity that are so intrinsic to modern international law and international problem-solving.

Course grades will be based on two take-home quizzes and an in-person, open-book final examination. Students will be expected to acquire a copy of the following casebook: JENS DAVID OHLIN, INTERNATIONAL LAW: EVOLVING DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE (2nd ed., 2021). The course has no prerequisites, and no prior knowledge will be assumed.