Citizens should know about International Law

International Law is the body of rules governing the conduct of states towards other states, intergovernmental organizations, peoples, individuals, groups, nongovernmental organizations, and business firms.  Many people argue that international law is not “law “ because it lacks what Inis L. Claude Jr. calls the “five Cs” of national law – Congress (a central legislature), Code (a written compilation of all the legal rules), Courts (compulsory and binding dispute settlement), Cops (police), and Clinks (jails).  Yet even thought it is made and enforced by methods very different than the command-and-control approach of the typical national legal system, international law resembles domestic law in providing the set of common rules followed by the states and other entities inhabiting the international system.  Like national law, international law codifies definitions of appropriate and inappropriate conduct, expectations about the sorts of action that will occur in various circumstances, and definitions of the consequences of permitted and prohibited actions.  Knowing the current rules helps an observer anticipate what states are likely to do. Knowing the processes by which international law is made and modified helps an observer understand how the approximately 200 diverse independent states of the world develop the common under-standings of events and actions that enable them to interact more effectively.


Goals of the Course


The course helps students develop an appreciation of the international law-making process, knowledge of the current rules, and skill in applying them to particular situations.  Students have opportunities to build their own legal reasoning skills by analyzing the legal rights and wrongs of situations (some hypothetical, others real) typical of those arising in international relations today.


Site Materials


At present this is a “bare bones” site offering three sets of materials:


          The course syllabus (schedule of topics, readings, and class policies


          The set of problems to be discussed during the term


          Some resources for researching and writing about legal issues