This course introduces students to the legal rules and institutions that govern the international political system. The course provides a formal introduction to international law and emphasizes the relationships between law and politics in the behavior of states, institutions, and individuals in international affairs.
International law is both more relevant and more interesting today than ever before. From the war against terror to the war in Iraq; from the challenges of free trade to the dangers of environmental destruction; from prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to former heads of state appearing in court, international law has a direct bearing on many of the key issues in international affairs. This course examines how international law is created, how it operates, and what effect it has on these and other issues in contemporary international relations.
The course begins with an introduction to the nature and structure of the international legal system. Topics include: the subjects and forms of international law, the key institutional actors, the theoretical background to the international legal system, and the relationships between international law and international relations. The second part of the course turns to particular substantive areas of international law. The professor will select certain topics and there will be an opportunity for the class to help select additional topics to consider. Topics may include: international economic law and the WTO; international criminal law, the ICC, and the trial of Saddam Hussein; the protection of human rights and the detentions of “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo Bay; the use of force and the conflicts in Kosovo and Iraq; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the future of the United Nations. Additional topics may be added or substituted if international events so warrant.
This course is available to students who have not previously taken a course in public international law.