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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: LAW3038 Module Title: PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL LAW
Module Provider: School of Law Short Name: LAW334
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: BREAU SC Dr (Schl of Law)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability
2 hour lectures each week, plus 2 hour seminars, running fortnightly.
Assessment Pattern
Unit(s) of Assessment
Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)
One piece of coursework (2000 words)
One three hour exam
Qualifying Condition(s) 
Overall Mark of 40%
Module Overview
This module is divided into three parts. In the first part the module considers the role of public international law and its impact on sovereign states. The formation of rules of public international law and how those rules impact on states is a primary focus of the first part of the course. This part also introduces the structure of the international legal system and how it operates to attempt to resolve disputes peacefully. If those efforts fail there is a legal regime that governs the law of armed conflict which is introduced in this course.
The second part of the course introduces students to the main rules of the international protection of human rights. It will address history, concept, institutions, procedures, norms and enforcement mechanisms of the international protection of human rights.
The third part introduces students to the main rules of international criminal law. It will address history, concepts, institutions, procedures, norms and enforcement mechanisms of international criminal law, and examine the chief crimes of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Students will explore the main weaknesses of the Rome Statute and the ICC’s dependencies on and relationships with State-Parties, The UN Security Council and Non-State Parties.
Public Law, Criminal Law.
Module Aims
This module will develop students’ skills regarding
  • research and independent study, especially internet research;
  • communication skills, especially oral presentation;
  • analytical skills, especially regarding the critical evaluation of law in its political context;
  • Encourage in-depth and independent learning.
Students address such questions as:
  • What is international law?
  • What are the sources of public international law?
  • Can law exist outside of the State?
  • How are states recognised in international law?
  • How does international law influence the actions of states?
  • When can a state resort to the use of force?
  • What are human rights?
  • What are the institutions for the protection of human rights?
  • How are human rights monitored?
  • How are human rights implemented?
  • How are human rights enforced?
  • To what extent does the individual hold rights under international law?
  • Can individuals bring an action under an international treaty?
  • Do regional systems of human rights protection offer more protection than the international system?
  • To what extent has the European Court of Human Rights added to the development of international law?
  • How effective are the UN treaty-based human rights’ bodies in contrast to that of the UN Commission of Human Rights?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the UN institutional structures and processes for the enforcement of human rights?
  • Is there a universal concept of human rights?
  • Is it feasible or indeed desirable to have universally recognised human rights?
  • What is an international crime?
  • What are the elements of international individual criminal responsibility?
  • To what extent can international criminal law restore international peace?
  • Are there alternatives to the ICC to achieve international criminal justice?
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course students should:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of public international law;
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the historical, philosophical, political and social context the governs international law;
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the historical, philosophical and social context the affects inter-state relationships and the impact of the globalising environment;
  • Identify the extent to which international law operates to influence the action of states while appreciating that law is only one aspect of the conduct of international relations;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the rules relating to the use of force in international law;
  • Assess critically the law on the use of state force;
  • Apply the norms of public international law to inter-state relationships;
  • Apply acquired knowledge to non-complex problems;
  • Undertake directed legal research to locate relevant materials;
  • Evaluate the historical origins of human rights;
  • Evaluate the sources of human rights, human rights law and the institutions;
  • Analyse and apply the principles of equality and non-discrimination;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of customary international law on human rights;
  • Demonstrate an understanding on the work of the united Nations Commission on Human Rights;
  • Analyse and apply the law and practice of the main international human rights treaties;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the regional systems for the protection of human rights;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how international human rights law is monitored, implemented and enforced;
  • Critically evaluate the implementation and enforcement mechanisms of international human rights law;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the status of the individual in international law and human rights law;
  • Critically evaluate the role of the individual in international human rights law;
  • be familiar with the historical development of International Criminal Law (ICL);
  • have acquired a critical understanding of the context of ICL today;
  • have an insight into the international ad hoc tribunals and semi-international courts;
  • be able to critically assess he relationship between ICL and national criminal law;
  • know the major crimes according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
  • be familiar with the main issues of the pre-trial and trial procedures of the International Criminal Court;
  • be able to analyse international criminal law problems and identify the relevant rules and issues;
  • Be able to demonstrate a critical awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of the International Criminal Court, including its relationships with the State Parties and the UN.
Module Content
Part I:
  • Sources of International Law
  • International Legal Personality and International Institutions
  • Recognition of States and Governments
  • State Territory and its Acquisition
  • State responsibility
  • The peaceful resolution of disputes between states
  • The Law of Armed Conflict Part I –Jus ad bellum
  • The Law of Armed Conflict Part II – Jus in bello
Part II
  • The role and nature of human rights law
  • The development of the law of human rights
  • The protection of human rights under the United Nations
  • The protection of human rights under regional systems
  • Monitoring, implementing and enforcing human rights
  • Substantive rights I
  • Substantive rights II
Part III:
  • The Development of International Criminal Law
  • Jurisdiction and Pre-Trial Procedures
  • Trial and Appeal Procedures
  • Sentencing and Plea Bargaining
  • International Crimes I
  • International Crimes II        
  • Individual Criminal Responsibility
  • Review classes – after Easter break  
Methods of Teaching/Learning
The method of teaching is by lectures and seminars. The lectures will introduce the students to the subject areas and provide an overview to enable students to understand the basic principles and underlying concepts. The seminar will open out the subject and consider key issues and theories. Students will be provided with signposts to background and supplementary reading. During seminars students will be expected to have researched the topic area and to apply that research to discuss given legal problems. Students will be expected to present logical arguments founded on legal authorities. Their ability to challenge the propositions of others and to respond to challenges to their own will be monitored and developed. The format of the seminars will include consideration of underlying value systems and philosophies underpinning public international law as well as their practical outcome. The teaching and learning strategy is designed to stimulate private study using derivative and original sources, both paper based and electronic and to develop an understanding and critical awareness of the essential principles and underlying philosophies and ethical values.
Selected Texts/Journals
Expected purchases:
Malcolm Shaw, International Law, 5th Edition, Cambridge University Press 2003
Antonio Cassese, International Criminal Law, Oxford University Press, 2003

Suggested Purchases:
David Harris, Cases and Materials on International Law, 6th edition, Sweet and Maxwell, 2004.
Background Reading:
Brownlie and Goodwin-Gill, Basic Documents on Human Rights, 2002
Cassese, International Law, 2nd edition, 2005.
Evans, International Law Documents, 7th edition, 2005
Malanczuk, Akehurst’s Modern Introduction to International Law, 8th edition, 2002
Robertson and Merrills, Human Rights in the World, 1996
Simi Singh, The future of International Criminal Law: The International Criminal Court (ICC), (2000) 10 Touro International Law Review 1 (WESTLAW)
Steiner and Alston, International Human Rights Law in Context: Law, Politics and Morals, 2000.
Wallace, International Human Rights. Text and Materials, 2001.
William W. Burke-White, The International Criminal Court and the Future of Legal Accountability, (2003) 10 ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law 195 (WESTLAW)
Reference only:
Alston and Crawford, The future of the UN human rights treaty monitoring, 2000
Broomhall, B., International justice and the international criminal court: between sovereignty and the rule of law, 2004
Cassese, A., Gaeta, P., and Jones, J. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: a commentary, 2002
Conforti, Benedetto and Francesco, Enforcing International Human Rights in Domestic Courts, 1997.
Dixon, Textbook on International Law, 5th edition, 2005
Dixon & McCorqudale, Cases and Materials on International Law, 4th edition, 2003
Dörmann, K., Elements of War Crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 2003 e-link
Ghandi, International Human Rights Documents, 1995
Higgins, Problems and Process, International Law and How We Use It, 1996
Hillier, Sourcebook on PIL, 1998
Hirsh, Law against Genocide: Cosmopolitan Trials, 2003
Janis, Kay and Bradley. European Human Rights Law, 2000.
John R.W.D. Jones, J., Powles S., (eds) International criminal practice : the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the East Timor Special Panel for Serious Crimes, war crimes prosecutions in Kosovo, 2003
Jørgensen, N., The Responsibility of States for International Crimes, 2000
Kittichaisaree, K., International Criminal Law, 2001
Mettraux, G., International crimes and the ad hoc tribunals, 2004
Ratner, S. and Abrams, J., Accountability for Human Rights Atrocities in International Law, 2001
Romano, C. Nollkaemper, A., and Kleffner, J. (eds), Internationalized criminal courts : Sierra Leone, East Timor, Kosovo, and Cambodia, 2004
Safferling, C., Towards an International Criminal Procedure,  2000
Schabas, W., Genocide in International Law: The Crime of Crimes, 2000 e-link
Schabas, W., International Criminal Court, 2004, 2nd Ed.
Shelton, Remedies in International Human Rights Law, 2000
Simbeye, Y., Immunity and international criminal law, 2004
Starmer and Keir. European Human Rights Law, 1999
Sunga, L., The Emerging System of International Criminal Law, 1997
Vigorito, R., “The Evolution and establishment of the international criminal court (ICC) – A selected Bibliography of Secondary Sources” 30 International Journal of Legal Information 92
Woodwiss, Making human rights work globally, 2003
Zappalà, S., Human rights in international criminal proceedings, 2003

AJIL – American Journal of International Law
EJIL – European Journal of International Law
ICQL – International Comparative Law Quarterly 
JICJ – Journal of International Criminal Justice (2003 - …)
Websites: – Official website of the United Nations – Official website of the International Court of Justice – International Red Cross - Lawyers’ committee for human rights (International Criminal Court) (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) (Special Court for Sierra Leone) (New England School of Law) (International Criminal Trial Project, Nottingham Trent Univ.) (International Committee of the Red Cross)
Law, Faculty of Law, ICTR case law) (University of Minnesota) (European Journal of International Law) (The American Society of International Law) (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) (The International Center for Transnational Justice)
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