This course provides an introduction to international law broadly defined. It presents the basic concepts that every lawyer should know about the international dimensions of law in the modern world, and offers a rigorous foundation for advanced courses in this field. After covering the sources of international law, we will discuss a wide range of specific topics, from international human rights and the use of force, to international environmental law, trade and investment, and international business transactions.
Why study international law? Legal systems today are highly interconnected. We will see that changes in laws that appear entirely domestic in character can have global consequences. Conversely, foreign countries’ laws, international norms, and treaties can shape how domestic legal systems evolve. With its dominant role in the development and enforcement of the rules connecting the world, the U.S. often finds itself at the center of both these forces. International law is essential for careers in many government agencies, international organizations and tribunals. In addition, American lawyers today often represent U.S. companies doing business abroad or foreign companies doing business here.
The course has no prerequisites, and no prior knowledge will be assumed. That said, LLM students and others who already have a background in international law are encouraged to take the course. A particular emphasis of this course will be the use of international law in domestic litigation and law reform. Additionally, we will examine how politics and culture inform the negotiation and enforcement of international agreements, and draw on a growing theoretical literature on international law and international relations.
This course is one of the 1L required international or comparative courses and is available to first-year and LL.M. students only.