International Law

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

International law is a controversial, contradictory field and one whose rapid growth makes its controversies and contradictions more, not less relevant. This survey introduces students to the fundamental elements of international law and their application to contemporary issues in ways that bring the contested nature of international law into focus: What does it mean to make, and be subject to, law that is international?

The first part of the course covers the history of international law and examines what makes up the field its subjects, the sources of its rules, and the assumptions and claims made about and for a system of law that operates apart from or perhaps above municipal law. The course also explores how law is crafted to address specific, sometimes irreducibly international problems such as the use of force, cross-border economic activity, environmental concerns, and human rights but also expresses broader aspirations about governance and humanity that can implicate other legal orders and challenge the state system.

Throughout, the course considers the nature and function of law which at the state level is typically hierarchical in the flat, anarchic environment of the inter-state system. The course includes perspectives taken from other disciplines, such as international relations, history and political philosophy, so as to enrich students understanding of a body of rules that is, by its nature, on the margins and frontiers of what we normally understand by law.

Exam is take-home.