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Regular version of the site
Bachelor 2022/2023

Public International Law

Type: Compulsory course (Private Law)
Area of studies: Law
When: 3 year, 3, 4 module
Mode of studies: offline
Open to: students of one campus
Language: English
ECTS credits: 4
Contact hours: 60

Course Syllabus


The course on Public International Law examines the nature, principles, and instruments of Public International Law, studying in depth the structure and mechanisms of the international legal system, analysing and discussing the main issues that currently challenge the international community. This course is primarily aimed at providing the students the necessary tools to understand and study the nature, sources and role of Public International Law as well as to analyze and discuss the resolution of international disputes. In the first part, the course will cover a wide array of introductory and substantial topics such as the sources and subjects of PIL, states’ sovereignty and jurisdiction, the UN legal system and the interrelations between domestic and international legal systems. In the second part the course will address specific branches of PIL, such as International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law, Law of International Security, International Economic Law, and International Environmental Law. Moreover, the course will deal with current and emerging issues of PIL, such as terrorism, migration, cyber operations, unilateral sanctions, etc. The course will analyze and discuss treaties, decisions of the UN bodies and other international legal instruments. A special emphasis will be made on the relevant case law of international and national courts. During the course on Public International Law students are supposed to participate in a Moot Court exercise simulating a case before one of the international courts and complete a written test consisting of open questions and a case study. There is an oral examination at the completion of the course.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The main purpose of the course is to develop skills to apply norms of Public International Law, conduct legal research individually and in a team and solve cases involving the issues of PIL.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • ─ the PIL terminology and academic legal writing; ─ the sources of international law and learn how to identify the applicable law to solve possible case law (weekly classes, exams, written assignments);
  • ─ to analyze scientific publications and reports on PIL topics.
  • ─ to apply a systematic legal approach and using comparative methods;
  • ─ to carry out professional activities in the field of Public International Law, Human Rights Law and/or Humanitarian Assistance;
  • ─ to develop a professional methodology to work, learning to conduct exhaustive legal research, correct identification of relevant judicial decision and applicable law, which will be necessary for the fulfillment of their future scientific and professional tasks;
  • ─ to develop practical abilities of legal research and analysis of customary law, treaties, soft law, decisions, and doctrines;
  • ─ to identify legal issues in the field of PIL and to develop an independent analysis of such issues;
  • ─ to learn and use specific terminology and sources of PIL;
  • ─ to represent individuals in front of domestic and international courts, as well as quasi-judicial bodies;
  • ─ to use appropriate referencing and bibliographic methods;
  • ─ to use national and international regulatory acts and judicial decisions to protect human and civil rights and freedoms, and legitimate interests of legal entities;
  • ─ to use the major legal databases on international law and European law such as Peace Palace Library, ICJ website, Court of Justice, HUDOC, EURLEX, JSTOR, Lexis Nexis, WESTLAW, and the major journals, blogs or dedicated websites for carrying out research activity and analyze current issues in the international law field.
  • ─ the role and importance of international law in the regulation of social relations; ─ the basic principles of Public International Law (PIL), its main features (sources, subjects), the structure and mechanisms of the international legal system, the role and functioning of global and regional international organizations; as well as the role, functions and procedural mechanisms of the international and regional courts, special tribunals and quasi-judicial human rights bodies;
  • ─ the law of treaties and the role of states and international organizations in law-making; historical evolution of - international law, human rights law and the other PIL branches and their current trends.
  • ─ to read and correctly analyze case law (International Court of Justice, ICC, ICTY, ICTR, ECtHR, EUCJ, and international arbitration courts) using lawyering skills and legal argumentation;
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • Introduction to Public International Law (PIL).
  • Sources and Norms of Public International Law.
  • States as Subjects of International law.
  • The Law of Treaties.
  • Public International Law and Municipal Law.
  • International Organizations.
  • Coercion and Responsibility in International Law.
  • International Protection of Human Rights.
  • Diplomatic and Consular Law.
  • Prohibition of the threat and use of force in International Law. International Security Law.
  • International Humanitarian Law.
  • The Settlement of International Disputes.
  • International Criminal Law.
  • International Economic Law.
  • International Environmental Law.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking Oral exam
    Form of the exam: oral in the form of an interview on the whole syllabus without giving time for preparation of the answer (held in small groups).
  • non-blocking Colloquium
    A colloquium (oral pleadings in the framework of the Moot court; max = 10 points). Group task for a colloquium: present orally an application to the ECHR or a response to it.
  • non-blocking Home-task
    A home task (preparation of a written memorial (team-work, 2-5 students); max = 10 points). Group task for a home task: draft an application to the ECHR, a response to the application, or the judgment.
  • non-blocking Classroom-based work
    This course uses interactive educational technologies (work in small groups, interactive seminars; brainstorming sessions, extensive home-reading). Students are expected to be well prepared, they must carefully study all materials indicated before the seminar. Students are expected to spend 3-4 academic hours of home reading, researching, and preparation per week. Every lecture will be followed by the correspondent seminars as specified in this syllabus. In order to be prepared for the lectures, it is necessary to use the sources enlisted in this syllabus. To prepare for the seminar, it is necessary to study carefully the material assigned before the lesson. Particular attention should be paid to the basic principles, sources, and the correct terminology of Public International Law. When preparing, it is recommended to refer to the works of the highly qualified PIL scholars. It is compulsory to study, analyze and make references to the decisions of international judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. Lectures by authoritative international scholars on various topics of the course can be viewed online at the Library of Audiovisual Materials on UN International Law at http://www.un.org/law/avl/ . Comments on the most pressing issues of Public International Law can be found on the websites of the different blogs, e.g. of the European Society of International Law blog at: http://www.ejiltalk.org. The students will be evaluated on their performance during the seminars. Each student is expected to attend all the seminars and be prepared on the topic of the seminar in advance. The students must study the assigned material. The knowledge of the students can be assessed in class through written tests (close and/or open questions), as well as on the ground of his/her active/inactive participation in class discussions.
  • non-blocking Written test
    A written test (in class; in a written form; max = 10 points) Three open questions (the use of additional materials is forbidden) and one case study (the use of additional legal sources, notes, and the Internet is required). Duration: 1 h 20 min.
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • 2022/2023 4th module
    0.1 * Home-task + 0.2 * Classroom-based work + 0.1 * Colloquium + 0.2 * Written test + 0.4 * Oral exam


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Shaw, M. N. (2008). International Law (Vol. 6th ed). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge eText. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=304677

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Aspremont, J. d’. (2015). Epistemic Forces in International Law : Foundational Doctrines and Techniques of International Legal Argumentation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=970454
  • Koskenniemi, M., Rech, W., & Jiménez Fonseca, M. (2017). International Law and Empire : Historical Explorations (Vol. First edition). Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1506334
  • Morss, J. R. (2017). The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law. Leiden Journal of International Law, 30(3), 793–797. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0922156517000255
  • Roberts, A. (2011). Comparative International Law? The Role of National Courts in Creating and Enforcing International Law. International & Comparative Law Quarterly, 60(1), 57–92. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020589310000679
  • The Oxford Handbook on the Sources of International Law. (2017). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/law/9780198745365.001.0001