Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Fall 2015



Course Number

DIPL 3104

Course Description

This course explores the history and nature of international law and the structure of international institutions as they address particular issues confronting the global community, with a focus on the creation and implementation of international law, 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 particular topics, such as the use of force, human rights, and international environmental law. The course will explore multilateral agreements; treaties; “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 a new post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The course will explore the roles of state and non-state actors in international law and organizations, including the growing role of 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.

Students will develop critical thinking through an introduction to legal reasoning and concepts in 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.