Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Spring 2018



Course Number

DIPL 3104

Course Description

This course explores the history and nature of international law addressing selected issues confronting the global community, with a focus on the creation, sources and implementation of international law; institutions of global governance; and relations between states and non-state actors.

The first part of the course examines the sources of international law; the second part applies this knowledge to topics such as the use of force and humanitarian law; human rights law; law of the sea and international environmental law. The course will explore bilateral and multilateral agreements and treaties; customary international law; “soft law” resolutions and declarations of the United Nations Security Council, General Assembly, ECOSOC and its working groups and expert committees; and outcome documents of UN conferences on human rights and sustainable development, including the formulation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the SDGs. The course will explore the roles of state and non-state actors in international law and organizations, including the growing role of civil society and the private sector in the United Nations system. By the end of the course, students will possess an understanding of the operation of the international legal system; the difficulties of negotiating and implementing agreements that form its rules; and the role of international law in international affairs and international relations.

Students will develop critical thinking through an introduction to legal reasoning and principles of international law. The course requires students to read closely, to think logically, and to become skilled in formulating convincing positions while understanding opposing arguments. Students will apply these legal reasoning skills throughout the course in assignments and class discussion. The ability to think critically and analytically, and to communicate an analysis clearly, are crucial skills not only for lawyers, but for practitioners of diplomacy and for all professionals.